How I Almost Appeared on Top Chef


At this point, you’re probably well aware that last night’s episode of Top Chef Miami featured Andrea Strong as the top-secret food blogger “plant” in the highly dramatic restaurant episode. What you probably don’t know is that I too auditioned to be there at that table with Andrea. I was called in last winter to audition and, obviously, didn’t make the cut. What follows is the story of that process and maybe you can help me figure out what I did wrong and why they didn’t cast me.

The e-mail came from a Top Chef producer on February 23rd. It said: “I am contacting you because we are interested in the possibility of including you on this season of the show.”

I ran into the living room to tell Diana and Craig who were excited for me and we immediately started debating what they wanted me for. “They can’t want me to be a contestant, can they?” I asked. “I mean I’m The Amateur Gourmet, for crying out loud, that’s rhetorically the OPPOSITE of ‘Top Chef.'”

We all agreed that it must be for something else and sure enough, after a few more e-mails, it became clear: they were going to do a food blog episode and they would want me to be one of the food blogging judges. Could I come in to audition on such-and-such a date? “Sure,” I said and told everyone I knew in the world that I was going to audition to be a judge on “Top Chef.” (“But they already have ONE Ted Allen,” one of my friends quipped.)

The audition was held in the Bravo offices at 30 Rock (yes, like the TV show) and I was elated to get a special security pass to sweep past the tourists (I used to be one of those tourists, taking the NBC Studios tour) into a private elevator up to Bravo. I learned later that Bravo’s offices are on the same floor as Saturday Night Live which made me laugh because for the large bulk of my adolescence I wanted nothing more than to audition for SNL–I watched it religiously. If you would’ve told the younger me that the older me would one day be auditioning on Saturday Night Live’s hallway to be the on-air food blogger for a reality show about cooking the younger me would’ve called you a liar and challenged you to a fight only to run away when you put up your dukes.

The audition is now all a blur. I remember sitting in the little waiting area where they were playing Bravo shows on a TV. Then a young woman called me into a glassed-in room where another young woman (they were both my age) was manipulating a camera on a tripod. They had me sit in a chair in front of the camera and the first woman explained, “Ok, we’re just going to ask you a few questions about food and just answer them into the camera.”

It would be hard to recall exactly what they asked. I think they asked, “What do you look for in a restaurant?” And I think I gave my standard answer “One: waiters who sing an ORIGINAL RESTAURANT SONG on your birthday and put candles in the cake. Two: crayons on the table with WHITE paper placemats, don’t give me that brown s**t. And Three: Instead of a men’s room and a women’s room, the bathrooms should be marked #1 and #2 because no one wants to smell a stinky when you’re eating out.”

When they asked me “What makes a great chef?” I answered, “inverted nipples” based on Brillat-Savarin’s classic essay, “Inverted Nipples Make a Great Chef.” When they asked which five people alive or dead I’d want to eat a meal with I said: “Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and John Stamos.” When they said I could invite two more I yelled out: “No! I don’t want any more. I’m tired of DJ and Michelle getting all the attention.”

At that point, the two women turned off the camera and pressed a button on the desk. I heard very dramatic music and then in walked Padma. “Adam,” she said. “Pack your knives and go…really really far away and never come back.”

And that’s what I did and I never heard from them again.

[Thanks to James Felder for doctoring the picture.]

18 thoughts on “How I Almost Appeared on Top Chef”

  1. Well, for Padma, it was all about the clothes in season two…dunno if it is the same now. So, maybe the next time, you could come in with one of those Pirates of the Caribbean numbers she was sporting in that beach/surfer dude breakfast challenge?

  2. Ha! My first thought last night, when they revealed a (dun dun dun dun!) FOOD BLOGGER was among them, was , “why didn’t they get The Amateur Gourmet?”

    Ms Strong is being raked over the coals on the Television Without Pity forums.

  3. LOVE this post, too damn funny.

    OK, them not choosing you is prima faciae evidence that they have no clue what makes a good show and a good food blogger.

    I have never heard of this Strong person. Her reviews, which I felt got an inordinate but fascinating amount of TV time, were dry and tedious.

    Yours would have stolen the show!

    The CAPCHA question below sorta took me back, I thought for a second I had to type in something snarky.

  4. AG, this was absolutely hilarious. you were robbed! would have loved to see you on the show – do you think you would have been as nasty with your comments as Andrea was? last night, some nastiness was pretty much deserved…

  5. Adam, it’s obvious why you weren’t selected for the show … you’re too funny! Everyone knows that next to puppies and children, a funny gay guy always upstages the room. So Padma and Tom had you nixed because they didn’t want anyone confused that they are the stars.

  6. A Big Fan of the AG

    AG, your brilliant humor and witty repartee would have been totally wasted on this year’s TC. I’m so over the hyped up drama – maybe it’s because none of them can actually cook a decent meal the producers need drama to carry the show. Between the sweating, rolling eyes, and rooster-do, it’s more like a Warner Brothers cartoon than a reality show. Save yourself for a better crowd!

  7. I think they chose Andrea because her table looked ruthless. They were very serious and intimidating looking! You would have been hilarious and kind, which doesn’t quite go with Top Chef.I did like her review though, even the ruthless quality. I have a horrible taste in my mouth now, of macaroni and cheese made with rice.

  8. Wow, Top Chef really blew this one – you would have rocked the house. Ah well… As someone mentioned above, your name has been mentioned in the TV w/out Pity forums as being the obvious choice they should have made…. I, for one, whole heartedly agree. Maybe next time. Cheers AG.

  9. Now that’s great! Congrats on getting the opportunity. That had to have been nice. All in all, I’ve been disappointed in the quality of Top Chef this season because it seems these people panic when challenged to new tasks, well, some of them anyway. This last episode was a bust.

    Nice Risotto, er oatmeal…. :)

    Padma can go too…


  10. Reading all these comments is WAY more fun than watching ‘Top Chef (Wank)’. You are far too good for them, and far more interesting!


  11. I love it. I love your blog. I am happy that you atleast made it half the way, going to an adition is part of the fun.

    You would have been great on the show. How is Padma in real life? IS she as beautiful?

  12. Oh man, it’s too bad they didn’t let you on. But yes, I do sincerely hope ya didn’t say “Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and John Stamos.” Or maybe you did. You would’ve been the funniest, most watchable part of TC this or last season by far! (Ugh, I shouldn’t get started about Season 2 – horrid, horrid show.) And certainly the least brooding and melodramatic.

  13. It’s odd that Andrea was chosen here. Her blog is not one of the ones that are must-reads, and I actually question whether or not it’s a blog at all. She says right on her front page that it’s a “weekly”…which is not a blog in my mind.

    And, her reviews on show, which were focused upon waaaaay too much, didn’t offer much.

    I give Bravo credit for including a blogger, but pan their choice.

  14. Too bad they chose a needlessly bee atchy beeech (who obviously takes herself too damn seriously). I found the blog so funny I’m actually going to go out and buy the book.

    Wait…was I talking about Andrea Strong or Padma?

  15. Too bad they chose a needlessly bee atchy beeech (who obviously takes herself too damn seriously). I found the blog so funny I’m actually going to go out and buy the book.

    Wait…was I talking about Andrea Strong or Padma?

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