Lucky L. A.-based food fanciers and the top chefs that feed them descended on Mark Peel’s legendary (and award-winning) Campanile Restaurant on June 10 to join him in celebrating the premiere of Bravo Television’s newest show, “Top Chef Masters.”
Peel is one of the master chefs that form this spinoff of the network’s popular “Top Chef.” This time, the chefs are some of the best in the business, competing for the title of top toque all in the name of their favorite charities. Their performances are judged by a group of renowned food critics, including Gael Greene.
Each week, four culinary stars are pitted against one another, in a series of challenges that test their ingenuity and creativity; one wins, and advances to toward a final showdown. Peel’s episode runs later in the season, as do those of his fellow competitors that made the packed party, including Rick Moonen of RM Seafood, Suzanne Tracht of Jar, Ludo Lefebvre of Lavo, Michael Cimarusti of Providence, and Lachlan Patterson of Frasca Food & Wine.
Peel, with second wife and television personality Daphne Brogdon (his ex is famed LaBrea Bakery founder Nancy Silverton) at his side, explained that doing the show was all about pushing the envelope for him.
“I like the idea of doing something way out of my comfort zone,” he admitted.
And while Peel happily gabbed with the other food rockstars of the L. A. scene during the bash, and welcomed “Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenberg and runner-up Stefan Richter, he admitted that things on “Top Chef Masters” (http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-masters) were not quite so cordial.
“There is normally a real camaraderie among chefs,” Peel explained. “We are usually pretty friendly with each other. But in this setting, on the show, your competitive juices really start flowing. Then it becomes a real challenge, because you are out of your own kitchen. Plus, I cannot tell you the last time I peeled my own carrots! That what we have assistant chefs for.”
Peel and his cadre of talented employees cooked up a wonderful spread for the viewing party, including yummy pulled pork sliders, meltingly fresh Burrata on flatbread, gazpacho with a nice zing, and gooey grilled cheese enhanced with chicken that paired well with the sparkling rose that sponsor Martini and Rossi were pouring, but at least one person wasn’t eating.
Super skinny “Top Chef Masters” host, the Korean-born beauty Kelly Choi, worked the room but avoided the groaning food stations. When asked by a partygoer whether she ever ate anything, Choi responded, “Yes, but then I puke it right up!” Think she was kidding? The jury is out on that one.