Jamie Lauren

Top Chef: New York competitor Jamie Lauren is jealous of the Quickfire Challenge, the high stakes challenges, and the Stardust dancers. (OK, maybe not that last part)

on Aug 19, 20090

The tables have turned, and here I sit, ready to blog a whole season of Top Chef .... It's hard to believe that just a year ago I was still in the middle of filming my season of Top Chef. My, how my life has changed! I am so excited to look at the show with a different set of eyes ... knowing what I know now about how the show works and the in and outs of the challenges, it is going to be interesting to watch the whole thing unfold and not be a part of it. After screening the first episode of Top Chef 6 I was pleasantly surprised at the high level of talent among many of the chefs. That being said, I was also terribly disappointed by a few of the competitors. I think this season is going to prove to be fairly exciting against the back drop of Sin City, but I am also hoping to see a little more personality from the contestants that will hopefully stand up to the excitement of Las Vegas and the world class caliber chefs that have restaurants there.

Let's move on to my initial observations: First: Holy Tattoos!! Jeez, I thought I had a lot of tattoos. Jennifer and Jesse put me to shame. Those are some serious chest pieces going on. These girls don't mess around, and it isn't only the girls; from what I can tell it seems that almost everyone on the cast has got some sort of tattoo happening ... and on my season it was only Eugene and I who were all tatted up. I smell an issue of Tattoo Life: Top Chef on the horizon (there's an idea, Bravo?). Second: the Voltaggio brothers competing! I know both of these guys from the culinary world and I can say they are both extremely talented at what they do. I think it's going to be really interesting watching brothers compete under the pressures of Top Chef. Third: as much as I love the idea of the show being set in Vegas, I also have forgotten how unfortunately cheesy Vegas can be ... Stardust dancers in the kitchen? It makes me want to rent Showgirls with a group of my queerest friends and bark obscenities at the television, all over again. Fourth: Is that guy Mike Isabella really that much of a misogynistic pig? His remarks about women in the first 20 minutes of the show made my stomach turn. He is not going to be liked among the female community if he keeps this up. I wish he and I were on the same season, I would have given him quite the mouthful. Mike, I can't wait until you and I have the chance to meet at a future Top Chef function. Another note to Bravo: please make sure and put us on the same leg of the TC Tour next year, preferably in a city filled with outspoken feminists.

Moving on, the first Quickfire Challenge: I am so jealous they get to do a relay race! My season didn't have one unless you count peeling apples, which is hardly the same thing. I love the idea of picking chips, and lucky for Robin she picked the prized yellow chip. Girlfriend gets to sit out the first challenge; she must have been relieved. This seems like a great first challenge because it is a good way to get to know the speed of your competitors, which is a pretty useful skill in a cooking competition. It doesn't take long for me to sense danger amongst the teams. I see Preeti getting paired up with Michael, Kevin, and Eve, and making a remark about opening clams, and that she has never done it before. It seems odd to me that she is the one who then ends up opening the clams (or failing to for that matter). Why didn't she speak up about her lack of experience in that arena? Why didn't one of her teammates offer to do it instead if they knew how? Didn't they think about the possible repercussions of losing? It's pretty easy to tell just by the relay race who has decent skills and who doesn't. My eyes are already focusing on the quick skills of Jennifer C., Mattin, and Bryan. After the winning team is announced I am shocked at the twist Padma brings up ... $15,000! Damn, I was on the wrong season. Out of the four dishes I agree with Tom and I choose Jen C. as well. I like the simplicity of the clam ceviche and I think the win is deserved. Sometimes on TC, simple really does work best. Lucky girl, too bad she probably wasn't allowed out to go and try some of that luck at the blackjack table.

55 comments
Girly Tattoos
Girly Tattoos

Hello : ) Why women and men (society generally) still pre-judge people who have body art. girls commonly? I'm a 26 year old F, have got 10 tattoos, lots of which can not be seen on my day to day travels. Five To Six in the summer are pretty much constantly on display. I don't strive for attention and i also have a loving boyfriend WITH NO TATTOOS .I get the impression that a majority of people think that tattooed people are blind, as we get stared at, even when we return a glance people carry on looking. When will society change?

Hetro Guy
Hetro Guy

Hey Jamie, you rock. Really wanted to see you in the finale last season making some kind of awesome soup. I kind of wiped last season from mind after Carla was "sabotaged" and Stefan fell flat losing to Hosea:weiner boy. His dishes never really seemed interesting.

I agree with you. Mike is an idiot. His high moments have been riding on the brothers this season (I can't remember which one(s), I can only tell them apart when one wears a hat making him look like eminem), funny how he appeared before the judges for Best and Worst. I don't think he has cooked anything well on the show by himself. I hope he doesn't stay around like Leah from last season did on the basis of team challenges.

As for your dish, vice of staying up late... WHOLE deep fried scallops, maybe skewered, maybe battered with some alcohol mixed in.

Kirsten
Kirsten

oh Jamie--

Along with so many of the other viewers I too feel you were on the wrong season---having been a Top Chef junkie from season 1, I am excited about this season- it reminds me a lot of season 4 with the cheftestants but with more zest! I was excited to see you in the Masters series and hope to see you throughout seasons to come! Good luck with the blog- I know I will be reading.

Ashley C
Ashley C

Jamie, you were my favorite from the beginning. I have a question for you, I have been cooking since I was 8 and I am now 25. I don't have any Culinary school degree, but i can cook my ass off. I would love to try out for Top Chef, but I Don't know if its worth the time since I have no Formal training, what's your view? Thanks for your time

Martha
Martha

If I was you I'd play on that never being home thing and cook with the desperation/urgency/spontaneity of the late night drunken cooking!

Last night I had chicken coated in a strange mixture of cajun seasoning & curry powder. I put it in a wrap with cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce and mint yoghurt! Maybe not top chef level, but freaking delicious! (At the time, at least!)

Congrats on landing this quest blogger nixer, you were definitely a memorable contestant and eloquent enough to keep it interesting - and opinionated!!

shahira
shahira

You should have won last season! Love your blog, continue sharing!

dennis esguerra naingue
dennis esguerra naingue

I'd like to say im so bless when we realised thers a program like this , anyway sad to say that we just discover your top chep shows , migth say im one your out of town avid fan when we watch your 1,2,3 and so on , i know its so late but better late than never rigth, to you chef tom colicchio you inspired people like us as chef ,im still working so far in cruise ship line abouut six year now born and grows made in philippines 34 yrs old two kids , dauthger loren dianne and dimple and my wife lora , we admired so much your shows always when my contract finished we both watching you episode hoping that never last cos your reality shows open us windows of our life very effective look like our selves when your given the comment iwas so feel it so much chef , now glad you give us the go signal to continue being love by cooking learn from your mistake and improve it , frove it that you can make it happen beyond the expected for me cooking is to express your intimate feeling to all of senses being satisfide (feed the hunger ) give your absolute best ..................thanx for all of this ,,,,god bless you guys............

C
C

I've never been moved to read a TC blog before, but seeing that you were the blogger tipped the scales. Thanks for a great and thoughtful synopsis with lots of laughs.

p.s. Loved you on your season, and was rooting for you to the bitter end.

peggym
peggym

I'm usually the one who sits with a prissy face when even slightly off-color jokes are made, but I laughed at Michael's rack of lamb. It is a Vegas vice.

Elle
Elle

Jamie!!! I am so glad you are doing a blog. You are hilarious and have great observations! Thanks for brightening up my day! :)

Jeff Alcott
Jeff Alcott

Jamie, I agree, it is evident after the first week or so to pick 4 or 5 chefs who will make it to the latter part of the season. Despite not being a chef, the tell-tale things I look for are intensity, confidence and passion for what they are doing. At the risk of sounding like a suck-up, Toni and I identified you in the first week or two as one of the strongest competitors in your season.

Nan W.
Nan W.

Jamie - glad to see you as a blogger. Add me to the chorus of folks who wanted to see you in finale last year. I love your comment about being on Tour with Mr. Isabella in a town of outspoken feminists. His comment during the relay about no woman being as good as him made me want to hurl something at the TV. What a pig! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs through the season!

Viewer
Viewer

i love jen c and i hope she wins! either her, one of the brothers, or eli.

Theresa
Theresa

I have no problem with Tom already knowing Jen (if he does). The show takes a lot of time to make the judges impartial and unbiased, as best you can (contestants arguing that their terrible dish was great would make a bad impression on any serious foodie).

Also, it seems that everyone knows everyone in the culinary world. I think the connections between contestants and judges is fascinating. The world renowned guest judges prove the quality of this show.

stephanie
stephanie

I agree with on all - especially about Mike I and his sexist comments. So does Gail.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Hey Jamie, glad you're blogging, enjoyed it! But seriously, how do you cook a perfect scallop? Everytime I try something different and it always ends up the same, wet with no sear. I'm not joking, what's the secret?

sk
sk

Jamie, Breakfast in Bed, every vice you can think of...sloth, gluttony, sex, staying out late, sleeping in (my personal fav), Okay, strawberries with creme freche, stuffed french toast, with rich cream cheese, citrus, maple syrup, bacon, Fresh squeexed o.j. That would have been a sure winner. Rich, satisfying, and brings back memories of lazy breakfast, what could have been better...those guys just tried to over think everything and make stuff too complicated.

eduardo
eduardo

JAMIE: I had a huge crush on you last season! Weirdness aside, yeah, as others suggested, you should have done some sort of delicious street food that you would find out late at night in a bar and club-filled street. You would have stayed within the challenge's rules and still not have limited yourself needlessly. Something like a super hotdog or sandwich. Then you add scallops on top.

eduardo
eduardo

JAMIE: I had a huge crush on you last season! Weirdness aside, yeah, as others suggested, you should have done some sort of delicious street food that you would find out late at night in a bar and club-filled street. You would have stayed within the challenge's rules and still not have limited yourself needlessly. Something like a super hotdog or sandwich. Then you add scallops on top.

Margaret
Margaret

No, I think it will look like the odds are against the women, but I think this season might be rigged in favor of Jen C. She seemed to already know Tom, and we know the Ripert/Top Chef connection. But even if that's so, she seems to be excellent.

Christina D
Christina D

Hey Jamie,

Great blog!

I would love to see you come face to face with Mike Isabella... my money is on you for taking the victory too. After watching the first episode on Wednesday night my husband and I were both disgusted by him.

We look forward to reading more from you!

Mona
Mona

Here's My Suggestion...........

Smokey Beer Cheese Soup - With Smoked Spicy Italian Sausage, Minced Garlic, Pale Ale Beer, Cayenne Pepper, Cheddar Cheese & Stilton Cheese. Serve this with toasted Garlic Bread with a sprinkle of Parma Cheese. I would consider this a "Hot Mess" type of dish, especially if you're rollin in the door after hours, if you know what I mean.

Emily
Emily

Hi Jamie,

I agree, I think the women will be gone pretty quickly. I think Michael will be in for a shocker one of these days. I don't think he's going to be able to keep up though - talk is cheap! Glad to see you hear blogging!

Jeannette from Ca
Jeannette from Ca

Jaime! My husband and I loved watching you last season. You seriously rock and so glad you represented SF chefs well.

I hope you'll be blogging after every episode, love how you tell it like it is and didn't ignore Mike's ridiculous comments. I hope he doesn't stick around too long or even better we see him redeem himself somehow.

keep blogging! peace

Alex from MA
Alex from MA

Hey, Jamie, great to see you blogging. We couldn't agree more about that horrible misogynist, Mike Isabella. The women should hog tie him, shove an apple in his mouth and roast him over an open fire. I think Jen C. might surprise you, though. She showed some promise, though someone needs to tell her how to pronounce ceviche.

Amy Marie
Amy Marie

Hi Jamie,

You are wonderful girl! First off thank you for blogging -- you obviously know what the heck you are talking about because the show played out like you said! Also thank you for asking us fans to post comments about specific things. As for the females possibly going on to win, or not, I think it's too early to tell on that one. You probably have to put up with a lot of male-dominated crap in the industry and maybe feel like it's an uphill challenge?

I agree with the other commenter who said it blew that you were sent home over one dish that went bad...that "we're judging on this one meal" policy really doesn't make much sense, especially in a finale situation. (On that note I really felt Stefan should have won in the finale partly because of how good he did all season. Also, you were consistently in the top 3, and you only made one mistake with over-reduced celery!) Your thoughts on the policy or on either situation?

As for your vice challenge, if you are on the go a lot, what about a take on fast food that I'm sure you would prepare way better than the crap in the drive-thrus. Seriously, seared scallops would be fantastic! Same with seared tuna, etc. Also ceviches. Just trying to think of something refreshing and packed with energy for your on-the-go lifestyle, and not a big fan of red meat.

Take care girl, looking forward to reading more of your witty and wise insights!

Viewer
Viewer

Glad to see you blogging. You are much more likeable here than you were on the show.

Agreed that Mike is a pig. What planet did they scour to find him??

Perhaps Jen Z. should have unpacked! That said, I'm glad I won't be looking at that neck tattoo all season. Simply dreadful.

Viewer
Viewer

You did a great job on your season. I think this season looks good ..just from the first show.. lots of promising chefs.. can't say anything negative when they have just started and have a Long way and much hard work.. "to go".

Esther B
Esther B

So excited to see you as a guest blogger! You were my favorite last season, and I was devastated to see you go before the finals. Can't wait to try your restaurant next time I'm in CA.

Thanks for calling out Mike for his appalling remarks. He obviously knows how to cook (I've been to his restaurant), which is unfortunate, because it means we'll probably have to suffer through several more weeks of his sexist commentary.

As for your vice . . . hmmm. What about a theme of the food itself staying out too late? Perhaps aged beef (refrigerated too long) stuffed with roquefort (cheese growing moldy) with a panzanella including dry bread cubes (sitting out too long), seasonal fresh tomatoes, and red wine vinegar (wine begun to ferment).

Brian
Brian

Didn't I see Eve and Preeti on that other show on the other network for the Next....Star. I don't remember them as particularly entertaining or showing a lot of food chops. Is the pool of potential contestants that small?

Jeanne
Jeanne

Loved your blog! I agree with everything you said! Isabella is such a fool!`But, so is almost everyone from DC! :)

Vinnie-C
Vinnie-C

So glad you're blogging this season!

Yes, I counted 3 sexist remarks from Mike and am looking forward to the battle of the sexes next week. And who the hell was it who asked Jen if she's a pastry chef? I think this season is going have a LOT of male egos competing for air time , and I hope that's their demise.

Bino
Bino

I am so glad Top Chef has returned!! Jaimie, it is great that you are blogging this season. I love your thoughts on the cheftestants this season -- agree with all of your comments. Hopefully, the remaining women will set that sexist creep straight. What a delight that would be!!

Jake - TC fan
Jake - TC fan

I completely agree about Mike Isabella. His comment about "being beaten by a GIRL" was so backward and one of the lowest things I've heard someone say.

Note to Mike: Grow up. You sounded like an insecure boy and give a bad name to New Jersey men.

John
John

Jamie, so glad you are our blogger this season. I was totally rooting for you last year and on Anita’s Masters episode. I hope that she has since seen that you were right. As to your vice dish, I think it all depends on “what spoke to you at the moment” and what you choose to do when you go out. I would have loved to see you make sambar in a bread bowl. The flavor profile would draw from the Indian influences you enjoy and localize it to San Francisco via the bowl. The spicy heat in the sambar could symbolize your zeal for living life and the depth of flavor would embody how you stay out late at night wanting to experience everything.

ferfer
ferfer

What do you have against Jen C? She was the Quickfire winner and she made it to the good table at the Elimination Challenge. Of COURSE there could be another woman winner this year!

Kelly H
Kelly H

Hi Jamie:

I'm so glad you are doing a blog--I love your sense of humor and take on everything. It was great to meet you at the Sunset Magazine function a few months ago--love your cooking a spin on cuisine!

Quincy
Quincy

Re: putting your biggest vice as you explained it onto a plate, I'd say a couple of soggy tacos and a bottle of beer. Oh, wait, no...that's MY late night on a plate...what would 2AM drunken scallops look like? Actually, that sounds pretty good...

It's great to see you in the blogs section and after just one, I'm a fan already! You were great on TC in the past and your comments are funny, poignant and dead-on. First off, Mike Isabella is an ass. And this is a straight thirtysomething male saying that about him. This, of course, probably means he'll be on here until the near end. With a few exceptions (twins look promising, Preeta looks completely overmatched well beyond the clams), I haven't really formed opinions on the cheftestants yet.

Twin Michael's "rack and coconuts" thing to me was just him having some fun with the elements of vices and Vegas. I wouldn't consider it offensive.

Johnny
Johnny

The first thing I thought when I heard Mike's comment was "YES, OFFENSE!!" I'm a feminist, which all sensible men should be as well. What really annoys me is that Mike does not understand that your skill as a chef has nothing to do with your gender; instead, your skills as a chef are determined by how much practice you have had, and how talented you are. By the way, I loved reading your blog. I think that you were (easily) the best chef in season 5, and I look forward to seeing more of you in the future. As for what you would have made, I have no idea, but I'm sure you would have thought of something that would have impressed the judges.

Kari
Kari

SQUEE! Jamie is blogging Top Chef! You were my favorite cheftestant (followed closely by Tiffani from Season 1, and, of course, Sam).

I am thinking Jennifer is the one to beat. They will keep the cocky pig for as long as they can because he pisses people off. And someone please tell Tom to NEVER, EVER wear a vest like that again.

And please to be guesting with Eric Ripert and Tony Bourdain. I beg this of you, Bravo.

Viewer
Viewer

I have to admit, you were the one I loved to hate on your season, but I enjoy your blog tremendously!

Jenni
Jenni

Jamie, I FLOVE you and am so happy you are blogging! Totally think you should have won last season and can't wait to eat at your restaurant next time I'm in SF.

I think Jen C. should go far. Love that she works with Ripert... She handled a**hat Mike I's comment about her being a pastry chef with remarkable aplomb, too.

Like that this year there is an incentive in Quickfire for chefs not to take middle of the road approach...assuming $15,000 reward stays on...

Stefanie
Stefanie

Did anyone notice Michael V.'s tattoos, the spoon on his arm and I think it's a fork and a knife on his hand. Anyways, I like them.

I want to see more of Ashley. I guess she's got to step out of the middle to get more air time.

Jantina in Arizona
Jantina in Arizona

Face it girl. Some men are pigs and at least that one just said what they all think anyway. As for your vice dish, I think it should be something that should be homey like mac and cheese but with stuff added to make it way out there to show, it's not home. I did like the cleverness some people thought out the dish. How come the Voltaggio brother just didn't come right out and say his vice was women's racks? What a chicken. Good guessin' on the outcome.

Gillian C
Gillian C

Ahhh Jamie! I loved you from Day 1 of you season and I plan to follow your blog all the day through Seaon 6 of TC!! I loved reading every line of your blog! It was hilarious! I'm sooo upset that Philly girl with the giant earlobes went home! I was really looking forward to watching her throughout the season! Jen C def has what it takes but I think she needs to store her attitude someone because she came off as a real 'you-know-what.' Arrogance is ok, b----iness is not. What can do you! Looking forward to your nex blog Jamie!

Robby Hecker
Robby Hecker

This blog is great, can't wait to keep on reading!!

kathybat
kathybat

I'm glad it wasn't just me noticing all the tats! They just kept rolling in LOL! I love seeing what someone felt strongly enough about to put on their body like that (mine represents my husbands name - 12 fox paw prints up the side of my back).

Glad to read your thoughts Jamie, you're one of the reasons the "we judge on this challenge only" - while understandable - sometimes really blows, I was rooting for you to go all the way last season.

Kate
Kate

Actually, I think Monica has a point here - a breakfast dish inspired by a bloody mary - hair of the dog, so to speak.

Viewer
Viewer

You are a smart lady Jamie . You should've won last season. I love the way you give all your heart and focus when u make a dish.Love ya.

Aleksey
Aleksey

It is great to have you blogging Jamie; I pulled for you from the first episode last season and stopped by your restaurant on my last trip to SF (you were gone for the weekend though).

Jen C. caught my attention right away. I think you are right that she might have what it takes. Shame she fell just short of showing up Mike in the quickfire. I'm sure she'll shove that stupid comment in his face later.

Looking forward to your next post, Jamie!