Dallas scores big once again in reality TV. Three local chefs will compete on Top Chef: Seattle, the latest season of the Bravo cooking show hosted by Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi. It premieres Wednesday, November 7, at 9 pm.
The show will follow the same format as last season's Top Chef: Texas by opening with an unusually large number of contestants — 21 — including four from California; three from Los Angeles; two from New York; two from Boston; three from Colorado; three from Washington, D.C.; and one each from Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Georgia.
Dallas contestants are Danyele McPherson, John Tesar and Joshua Valentine, who will be the pastry chef at FT33, the new restaurant from chef Matt McCallister.
Oklahoma native Valentine, 33, got his A.O.S. in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu, Minneapolis. He has worked at Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis; Local, Stephan Pyles and Samar by Stephan Pyles in Dallas; The Coach House in Oklahoma; and Divine Swine.
Valentine says before filming began, he was unaware there would be other chefs from Dallas.
"I had no idea about the other Dallas chefs," he says. "I didn't know John other than by reputation and reading about him. I worked with Danyele at Stephan Pyles when Matt [McCallister] and I were there. She was a line cook."
He says that during the taping of the show, the three Dallas chefs didn't group together. "Everybody was fending for themselves," he says.
On the Bravo website, McPherson is described as the 31-year-old sous chef of The Grape, originally from Waynesville, North Carolina. She got her BA in anthropology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, followed by an "attendance" at the Culinary Institute of America, before leaving for an internship. Stephan Pyles is listed under her work experience.
New York native Tesar is the 54-year-old chef and restaurateur of Spoon Bar & Kitchen who attended La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Paris. His resume is lengthy: Club Pierre in Westhampton, 13 Barrow Street, 44 & Hell’s Kitchen, Vine and The Supper Club in New York, RM Seafood in Las Vegas, The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. Hey, there's no mention of The Commissary at One Arts Plaza.
The show will bring back Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen, the digital video series hosted by Tom Colicchio in which losing contestants get a second chance at appearing in the show's finale.
Dallas has provided endless contestant fodder for reality TV, from Mark Cuban and Michael Irvin on Dancing With the Stars to Sean Lowe of The Bachelorette to Sunny Sinclair on The Biggest Loser. Tim Halperin, Hollie Cavanagh and Kelly Clarkson appeared on American Idol; Jany Lee and Hilari Younger made it to HGTV's Design Star. Louise Black and Shirin Askari were contestants on Project Runway, and recently it was announced that Joe Kirkland (of Artist vs Poet) will appear on The Voice.
Oodles of Dallas chefs have gotten in on the reality-TV action, from Ben Starr and Jennie Kelley on MasterChef to Blythe Beck on Naughty Chef to Morgan Wilson and Lina Biancamano on Top Chef: Just Desserts. Plus there was Carrie Keep on Hell's Kitchen and Liza Garza and Melissa d'Arabian on Next Food Network Star.
Three area chefs have competed on Top Chef: Tiffany Derry, Casey Thompson (now in Napa Valley) and Tre Wilcox. Fort Worth chef Tim Love was on Top Chef: Masters, and Tesar was on Extreme Chef last year. (He won.) Bravo just announced Top Chef: The Cruise with Derry, Thompson and Love.