Clam chowder, Boston cream pie, baked beans, Fenway Franks, Parker House rolls, chocolate chip cookies, the list of culinary highlights from around the Boston area demonstrates a diversity of foodie thought that reflects our history and culture. These are exactly the reasons why Mayor Menino’s office and Boston-based marketing agency, Digitas, are working together to bring season 10 of the Bravo show “Top Chef” to the hub.
The Emmy award winning series, which has featured fellow culinary capitals like San Francisco, Washington D.C., and San Antonio, is currently in the process of choosing the filming location of it’s next season. Executives at the Bravo network are reportedly looking at both Boston and Portland, Oregon as possible locations.
On February 1st, a lobbying campaign on Twitter called “#yougottatryboston” launched, aiming to convince the decision-makers at Bravo that Boston is the place to be. The mayor has sent out his own tweets and even sought to get local college students in on the act, playing to their propensity for documenting food choices through social media.
Besides the obvious cache of having such a popular series film in the city, there are a number of built in benefits that make the idea a rather tasty dish. Despite several years of increased diversity in the Boston culinary scene, many tourists remain unaware of what Boston’s restaurants have to offer. If “Top Chef” were to film here, the series would be able to demonstrate to viewers nationwide that our food skills are sharp, bolstering the local economy through increased tourism revenue.
Over the years, the Boston food scene has never been too far from the spotlight. Acclaimed chefs like Julia Child, Todd English, and Emeril Lagasse have all called Boston home, and the latter two have even appeared on “Top Chef” as guest judges. We’ve even had a number of chefs featured on the show, most notably, Tiffani Faison, who appeared both in the series’ debut season, where she was runner-up, and the recent “Top Chef; Allstars” edition. The popular chef opened her own barbecue restaurant in the shadow of Fenway Park, this past fall.
No word yet on how close the Bravo execs are to reaching a decision, but in prior seasons they have left it till as late as 2 months before filming in the fall. That should give them plenty of time to give the Boston food scene a try.
Tiffani Faison, who first appeared on season 1 of Bravo’s Emmy winning “Top Chef” series, and recently returned to compete on their “All Stars” edition, just opened her first restaurant in the Fenway area. Sweet Cheeks, a full-on barbecue and beer destination for the casual Boston set, features tables fashioned from old church doors and bowling alley lanes, sweet tea served in recycled Mason jars, and of course, every kind of tender-roasted hunk of meat you can think of, alongside a generous selection of brewery libations.
While this season of “Top Chef” saw Faison fall in episode 6, much sooner than her turn finishing runner-up in season 1, she does lay claim to being victor of the fall 2007 winner-takes-all “Top Chef’’ reunion special called “4 Star All Stars.’’ Faison won a $20,000 prize.
Faison has quite an extensive background of working at high profile establishments in the Boston and Nantucket area, and also formerly worked for celebrity chef Todd English, who has made various appearances on Bravo, PBS, and the Food Network himself, in addition to appearing on People Magazine’s list of “Most Beautiful People” in 2001. In March of 2010, she landed the executive chef position at the hot South End spot Rocca, which ended up closing just nine months later. Despite the disappointment, Faison went on to conceive of and now launch Sweet Cheeks.
Faison is currently being featured in the latest issue of Stuff Magazine, along with a slate, or plate rather, full of her fellow Boston culinary colleagues who have made appearances on other cooking competition shows.
Sweet Cheeks is currently open at 1381 Boylston Street.
Wednesday evening, the Bravo network debuted the premiere episode of “Top Chef’s” first all-star season, featuring eighteen chefs from the past 7 seasons. Two of these chefs hail from the New England area. Angelo Sosa, chef and owner of Xie Xie in New York City, is originally from Cheshire, Connecticut, and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Angelo competed in season 7 and made it to the top 3.
Chef Tiffani Faison, a finalist from the very first season, also happens to be a resident chef at restaurant Rocca in Boston’s South End. In honor of her debut as an all-star, Rocca held a viewing party at the bar, displaying the show on big screens, and serving Bud Light Lime, the chef’s favorite beer.
In the first episode, Tiffani, who was the first chef to be introduced, remarked, “I love competition–I’m gonna cook my nuts off.”
Host Padma Lakshmi addressed all the contestants before their elimination challenge, saying “You all are considered to be some of the best, but none of you took home the prize. To beat all the chefs in this room would be an extraordinary feat.”
All of the contestants were then presented with the ingredients from the last dish they cooked before being eliminated in their respective season, and asked to make the dish that caused their defeat, but this time, to make it a winner. Both Tiffani and Angelo successfully avoided the bottom 3, and moved on to the next round.
Rocca will be hosting viewing parties each week that Tiffani appears, promising “globally inspired bar noshes that go well with Bud Light Lime.”
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