Top Chef Takeover at Lake of the Torches Casino this month

Top Chef, in my opinion, is one of the best cooking and reality shows on TV. In fact its the only reality show I watch with any regularity (I haven’t missed an episode since about episode 3 of season 1). The frustrating thing is that as a viewer you never know what the food tastes like. You drool at things like Fabio Viviani’s pasta dishes or wonder what one of Richard Blais’ unique and creative riffs on a familiar dish (I hate to use the word molecular gastronomy) would taste like. Well now is your chance as Lake of the Torches Casino in northern Wisconsin (Lac Du Flambeau) is playing host to 3 Top Chef contestants (2 of them won) this month.

Unfortunately I kind of forgot to post this when I wanted to in July so you missed out on Season 1 Winner, Harold Deiterle who appeared last Thursday, August 4th. Fortunately two more are on their way; Season 5 and Season 8: Top Chef All Star participant (and fan favorite) Fabio Viviani and Season 4 runner-up and Season 8: Top Chef All Star winner, Richard Blais will be at the Lake of the Torches Casino later this month.


Fabio Viviani, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011

Even though he never was in contention to win the two season he participated in, Viviani made it pretty far in each of them. He is impossible to hate and won Fan Favorite in Season 5. He also has my favorite Top Chef quote of all time: “It’s Top Chef, not Top Pussy” He also had a similar quote “It’s Top Chef, not Top Scallop,” in response to Jamie Lauren’s use of the shellfish in every challenge. Viviani is making his 2nd appearance at Lake of the Torches.

Born and raised in Florence, Italy, Fabio is now the Executive Chef and owner of Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar in Moorpark, Calif., and Firneze Osteria Italian Restaurant and Bar in Toluca Lake, Calif. In addition, he wrote the cookbook’s “Café Firenze Cookbook, “Mangia e Bevi,” “Did I Really Make Breakfast” and “The Skinny Country.” He can be found at and at @fabioviviani on Twitter.

Richard Blais, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011

The last of the Top Chef contestants is “Top Chef All-Stars” winner Richard Blais. He is probably one of the most consistent performers on Top Chef and you’d often find him using unique techniques, like freezing things in Liquid Nitrogen to create his dishes. Yet his food always looked appetizing unlike some other molecular gastronomy chef creations which closer resemble science experiments than something you’d want to eat.

Blais has not only appeared on “Top Chef,” but also on season three of “Iron Chef America,” and on “Top Chef Masters” where he worked with renowned chef and “Top Chef Masters” winner Rick Bayless. Blais also hosted his own television series, “Blais Off,” on The Science Channel. As part of the show, he used scientific cooking techniques to reinvent classic foods and to take his experiments on the road to visit some of the most popular eateries in America. The best part of this is that the cost is only $35.95 and you get to meet the Chefs in person. For more information please visit   He can be found at and @RichardBlais on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Top Chef Takeover at Lake of the Torches Casino this month

  1. Great post! My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Harold’s appearance last week at the Lake of the Torches. We are huge “Top Chef” fans. We’ve watched every season! We were excited to have the opportunity to try a “Top Chef” meal.

    Unfortunately, we were a little disappointed. We weren’t disappointed in Harold by any means – he was extremely welcoming and wonderful to talk to. One of the great parts of the event is that Harold was actually outside of the kitchen and he was very willing to talk to us!

    However, we were disappointed in the food. First of all, I was expecting a plated dinner. It was a buffet. This was totally my fault for a lack of research on the event. I do believe that the fact that it was a buffet was the reason why we were disappointed in it as a whole.

    Overall, the food was the most disappointing part. There were a few great dishes including his salads. I especially loved the bibb lettuce salad with mango, manchego cheese and toasted marcona almond vinaigrette. Other fantastic dishes included a raw hamachi (w/ celery-avocado salad and cilantro) and Peekytoe crab and mango summer rolls with a passion fruit dressing.

    But, the rest of the food succumbed to the curse of the buffet. I felt that it was tailored to a midwestern, casino-patron audience – not the Top Chef loving audience that I expected. Other dishes included a pasta dish with sausage (which I could make at home), Thai-style fried chicken (basically fried chicken with a sweet thai sauce that didn’t add that much), chicken milanese (more fried chicken with a few tomatoes and spinach), a salty pork soup and pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin (very dry because of those nasty heat lamps).

    I didn’t see Harold in much of the food, which was the most unfortunate thing! My husband asked him what his favorite dishes were, and he pointed to our favorites (salads, spring rolls and the hamachi). It was almost like we could sense that he wasn’t that thrilled with the other dishes either.

    I can see Fabio’s style cooking working a bit better with the buffet format – but I guess we’ll see. I have no idea what Richard’s menu is going to look like. I’m interested to see what he comes up with! Unfortunately, we can’t make it up there for Fabio or Richard, but I hope someone can provide a review!

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