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Classes Underway at Top Chef U

Hot & Cool Trends

By Cari Martens

You’ve seen them on TV. Now they can be your ‘professors’ at the new online culinary academy, Top Chef University.

The ‘chef’testants’ from the hit Bravo reality series, Top Chef, are now offering cooking lessons online. From basic boiling and sautéing to molecular advanced techniques, chefs such as Spike Mendelsohn and Kevin Gillespie will guide you around the kitchen—for the tuition fee of $24.95 a month or $199.95 for a full year.

‘Top Chef University gives fans the opportunity to learn from their favorite chef’testants as well as for people who don’t currently watch the show, but want to have comprehensive cooking instruction,’ says Bravo vice president Jennifer Turner.

The curriculum offers more than 200 lessons covering 12 courses. All told, there are more than 60 hours of video instruction. ‘Students’ get tested on what they’ve learned and receive digital report cards.

While you don’t get a diploma for your kitchen wall, you can become ‘Top Chef Certified.’

The “Faculty”

In addition to Mendelsohn and Gillespie, the instructors include: Ariane Duarte, “Top Chef: New York,” Brian Malarkey, “Top Chef: Miami,” Carla Hall, Finalist, “Top Chef: New York,” Chris ‘CJ’ Jacobson, “Top Chef: Miami,” Dale Levitski, Finalist, “Top Chef: Miami,” Marcel Vigneron, Finalist, “Top Chef: Los Angeles,’ Nikki Cascone, “Top Chef: Chicago,” Richard Blais, Finalist, “Top Chef: Chicago,” and Stephanie Izard, Winner and Fan Favorite, “Top Chef: Chicago.”

Below are some of the courses offered.

  • Basics and Techniques
  • Stocks, Soups, Sauces, Raw
  • Cooking Techniques I: Sauté, Boil, Grill
  • Cooking Techniques II: Roast, Braise, Fry, Confit
  • Poultry/Pig
  • Beef/Lamb/Offal
  • Global Cuisine
  • Entertaining, Molecular, Advanced Technique

Stephan Hengst, communications director for the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., finds the concept intriguing. “For the enthusiast who’s looking to get some more face time with their favorite Top Chef celebrities, I think it’s a great chance for them to be entertained and to be educated,” he told Michelle Locke of the Associated Press. He noted that a number of Top Chef contestants, including some winners, are CIA grads. But the online course “Doesn’t necessarily stand up to the rigors of a professional culinary education,” he said, in a British-style understatement.

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