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Jen Carroll Goes 'Rogue'

The former cheftestant shares a side of herself the viewers didn't see on Top Chef.

By Jenni Pulos-Nassos

Here we go again! I’m excited to be sharing a different side of my life with you all, a side you didn’t see on both seasons of Top Chef. It’s almost been a year since I’ve gone out on my own and it has been a roller-coaster ride so far. I have had lots of changes in my life over the past year. I’m single again, I moved into a new apartment, started my own business, and have spent a lot of time with my family which I wasn’t able to do over the past few years when working full time. I’ve been keeping busy with my business, Carroll Couture Cuisine, doing a lot of charity events and private dinners/parties for people all over the country. It's all been a lot of fun, but has also been tough with the decision I made to split with my partners on moving forward with a restaurant in Philadelphia. At the end of the day, it was just not the right fit for me and I strongly believe that it was the right decision to make, even though it was heartbreaking. I’m now getting ready to move to NYC and start construction of Concrete Blonde.

Going to my friend Chef RJ Cooper's restaurant, Rogue 24, and teaming up with his staff for the week was some of the most fun I've had cooking ever! It was a totally new experience for me because of how the restaurant is set up. The kitchen is in the center of the dining room which allows everyone to interact with the guests -- the cooks even serve the guest and explain the food -- it is really special. I was able give everyone a preview of what the food at Concrete Blonde will be like. My menu is very seafood-focused with both subtle and complex flavors. I was really happy with the way all of the food tasted and how beautiful it looked. The staff was amazing and so talented they made my time in their kitchen very easy and comfortable. I am proud to be one of the Rogue Session chefs -- there are many on the list that I have a ton of admiration and respect for like Bryan Voltaggio, Katsuya Fukushima, Scott Drewno, Spike Gjerde, Jose Andrés, and Ruben Garcia to name a few.

To be invited to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival to cook at the opening party was an honor. I did this same party after my season of Top Chef Las Vegas and knew what a great opportunity I had been given to showcase my food to some of the best chefs and leaders in our industry. I was not expecting all of the challenges that arose for me. I almost didn't even make it to Aspen! The night before I was cooking at the James Beard House in NYC, my flight out was cancelled because of hail storms. By some miracle, I got a flight that got me into Aspen two hours before the party. If I wasn't already stressing about my late arrival into the kitchen... of course, my Baja scallops were nowhere to be found. They had mysteriously disappeared. After searching the hotel with the help of the Executive Chef, multiple sous-chefs and the purchasing supervisor and having no luck, it was time to come up with Plan B: FROZEN SHRIMP! I need to thank Chef Paul Qui for helping me get all the shrimp defrosted and cooked within an hour. (Oh and by the way -- the missing scallops were found two days later in the wine room!!)It was a lot of fun to be back in Aspen with Fabio, Richard, and Spike. One conversation that got a little heated between the three guys, that you all missed and would have probably never imagine them having was about how they all dress and who their stylists were. It was awesome to sit back and listen to them argue about custom-made button downs, jeans, shoes, do you buy the clothes or give them back -- I thought I was dreaming or in the room with my girlfriends -- priceless. 

I hope you all enjoy getting to meet my family and seeing our antics. I know I can't wait to see more of Spike's family, the Italian wonder twins, and Richard’s beautiful girls!

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