Kelly Choi

Kelly Choi breaks down the buffet challenge.

on Aug 13, 2009

The Second Course: Picking (and Firing) Your Team
When the former Top Cheftestants all walked into the Masters kitchen, I was starstruck. Having been a fan of Top Chef from the beginning, I recognized all of the chefs, at least by face. Hey, there was tall CJ and Richard Blais, our molecular gastronomist. Look, there’s Italian
Stallion Fabio and Elia who shaved her head during the show. It was surreal to see everyone all at once, and at one point, there were so many bodies running around switching stations during the two-min interviews that it felt like utter chaos.

The Masters had now chosen their staff, and after they returned to the kitchen to start cooking for the Elimination Challenge, I just happened to be in the other room watching. I heard a voice yell, “Who you barkin’ at?” It was Dale. "What was going on?" I thought. “Whachoo gonna do about it?” Dale continued. He and Michael were in a standoff! Dale didn’t back down but Michael didn’t counter him either. It went on for a moment later but in the end, as you saw, nothing came of the spat. Stress levels were definitely high, and the chefs' tensions were
starting to bubble over.

The Third Course: The SLS Hotel and Buffet Lunch

What a rollercoaster day for all of our chefs.

They all woke up at the crack of dawn to start cooking. Pots boiling, pans sizzling, I tiptoed into the kitchen to tell them that we were moving venues in 30 minutes.Fast forward to the SLS Hotel. Now, I informed the chefs that the lunch would be outdoors in the blazing sun. Oh, and one more thing: cut a chef from your team. And please don’t kill the messenger! I was
sorry to our masters that every time I appeared, I had another psych-out to reveal.

When our lunch began, Gael, James, Jay and I couldn't be happier. We got to eat some ethereal food in a beautiful location on a hot, sunny day. The Hollywood insiders heightened our excitement and everyone was hungry.

Anita’s succulent pork spare ribs, Michael’s hearty risottos, and Rick’s avocado ice cream were memorable. Kudos especially to Richard Blais for helping Rick execute that luscious treat because it was a real hit.