Tiffani Faison

Weekend Vlog & Fitness Log

See what I did there?  Enjoy the (long!) vlog in which I shopped a lot at Alex & Ani, Sephora, and Barnes & Noble, ate at Tiffani Faison’s Sweet Cheeks Q, and celebrated my brother’s birthday!

And here’s how the week at the gym went:

  • Monday | Hard day.  Decided to avoid running, boo.
  • Tuesday | Instead of running, I took my very first spinning class!  Honestly, I’ve been afraid of this for so long but I bit the bullet and ended up totally loving it!  I’m going back for another today… perhaps as you’re reading this!
  • Wednesday | 1.5 miles
  • Thursday | 1.5 miles
  • Friday | Lazy day.  No running.
  • Saturday | 1.5 miles
  • Sunday | 1 mile.  Guess that’s a Sunday thing now.

So, no great distances this week but I went to the gym 5 out of 7 days and hey, that’s not too shabby!  The worst part of this is the days I didn’t go to the gym were days I simply didn’t feel like it.  Here, I think I could’ve done better.  This is not always the case (and spoiler alert: not the case this week) but when it is, I should be pushing myself a little more.

This week’s goal: no excuses.  No “I don’t feel like it” or lazy days.  Let’s see how I do!

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Top Chef Boston: First Thanksgiving

The Top Chef house is greeted by a lovely guest– Boston’s own Tiffani Faison, Top Chef season 1 alum.  I was just talking about Tiffani and her restaurant with some Boston bloggers earlier this week, so it was especially nice to see her on my TV!

Well, Tiffani takes the chefs on a little field trip to an Ocean Spray cranberry bog.  Growing up, our sports teams were part of the Cranberry Conference, so like, they’re pretty important to Massachusetts.  I’ve been super into cranberries as of late, be they in my sangria or dried and in cookies.  I’ve never had to harvest cranberries, though, which are cheftestants have to do.  The first four to fill up their crates get an advantage in the Quickfire!  Katie, Adam, Gregory, and Doug finish in that order.

Back at the Top Chef kitchen, Padma and Tiffani announce the cranberry Quickfire.  The 4 winners of the cranberry harvest get to use a high quality pantry to make a dish highlighting cranberries.  The rest of the cheftestants have a lower quality pantry of packaged goods.  Tiffani tells them to stay away from Thanksgiving and to make a year-round cranberry dish.

  • Mei has no problem with the lower quality ingredients.  She makes “sweet and sour pork, homie” that lands her in the top 3.
  • Doug’s doesn’t exactly take Tiffani away from Thanksgiving, but she says it “tastes like fall in New England.”  If you’ve been to New England in the fall, you’d know there’s no higher compliment than that.  Doug lands in the top 3.
  • Katie made cranberry borscht which a lot of people were skeptical of.  It worked out, though, since she won the Quickfire and immunity for the elimination challenge.
  • Katsuji, who used skirt steak for tartar, Adam, who didn’t even like his dish, and Stacy, who’s been struggling under the pressure of representing the city, are the bottom 3.

For the elimination challenge, the cheftestants are headed to Plimouth Plantation to cook and honor the First Thanksgiving.

Plimouth Plantation is a horrible field trip, and I’d imagine, an equally horrible place in which to cook.  There are a lot of pits and spits and smoking.  Traditional First Thanksgiving fare includes a lot of seafood.  Duh guys, this is Massachusetts!  Plymouth is coastal.

Tom is joined by Ken Oringer as he checks on the cheftestants.  All the smoke has everyone’s eyes watering.  “I guess some of the tears will give some flavor to my food,” ventures Katsuji.  Gregory thinks, “in the spirit of Thanksgiving, getting a bird on the table is important,” as he cooks goose inside a sweltering hut.

The Top Chef Thanksgiving table of course includes Tom, Ken, Padma, Gail, descendants of the Mayflower, and Wampanoag tribe members.

Here’s what the table is served:

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The cool thing is that all of the dishes are really well received.  Everyone impressed at this table, and I had no idea who to expect to be on the bottom!

On top this week are Doug, Katsuji, and Mei, who are all very much proving they’re forces to be reckoned with.  Katsuji wins!

On the bottom this week are Stacy, Melissa, and Gregory.  I’m sad to see all of them there.  I’m sad to see Stacy be asked to pack her knives, but there’s always Last Chance Kitchen!  Plus, Stacy seemed really relieved to get rid of that pressure.

With restaurant wars coming up next, it seems so unfair that we have to wait until December!

What did you think of The First Thanksgiving on Top Chef: Greater Boston Area?

Top Chef Boston: Not Complex to Eat!

The beautiful Padma Lakshmi and new judge/Top Chef alum Richard Blais welcome the new crop of cheftestants to Boston.  The sixteen hopefuls include the likes of Mei Lin, sous chef at Top Chef superstar Michael Voltaggio’s Ink, George Pagonis, business partner to Top Chef alum Mike Isabella, and Stacy Cogswell, executive chef of the Regal Beagle right here in my home city of Boston!

Padma announces that the first Quickfire is a Sudden Death Quickfire, meaning the loser will face possible elimination.  There are going to be a couple of these this season, she warns.  The first part of the Quickfire is a favorite of mine, the miss en place relay race!  The 16 cheftestants break into 4 teams:

  • The Red Team: Melissa, Joy, Gregory, and George
  • The Yellow Team: Ron, Stacy, Rebecca, and Katie
  • The Green Team: Doug, Adam, Aaron, and Keriann
  • The Blue Team: Mei, Michael, James, Katsuji

The relay is, of course, New England themed with the tasks being lobster, oysters, mackerel, and little neck clams.  Yum!

Blue team is out in front for the first three events, while yellow lags a bit.  Blue loses its lead at clams, because Katsuji has literally no idea how to open them.  It’s pretty painful to watch.  Ron on yellow makes up a lot of time, Green takes the lead and finishes just before them.  Blue gets their act together and slides into the third spot.  Red is the last to finish, meaning it’s time for part 2: the slowest person on the team is up for elimination.  The slowest is George, who also had trouble with clams.  He is to pick any cheftestant to cook against head-to-head.  If George wins, both stay.  If George loses, he goes home.

George picks Gregory, since he got the mackerel that George really wanted.

They have 20 minutes to cook.  Here’s what they come up with:

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Richard calls George’s dish elegant, but in need of heat.  He warns Gregory of trying to do so much, seeing more opportunity to mess up when there are three dishes instead of just one. Gregory ends up winning, sending poor George home very early! I really feel bad for this guy.   Blais said he put his heart on that plate, and mine is breaking for him.

With one cheftestant down, the rest face the Elimination Challenge.  Their challenge is to create an updated version of the first dish they remember cooking– a nod to Boston’s historic nature– for a Top Chef Food Festival at the Museum of Science.  The next day, they get 3 hours to cook for 250 guests.

Local legends like Barbara Lynch, Ming Tsai, and Top Chef alumni Kristen Kish and Tiffani Faison contribute to the atmospheric pressure. Tom, Gail, Richard, and Padma circulate trying the dishes. Marty Walsh (Boston’s Mayor) shows up mid-commercial break too, which is fun too.

Here’s what everyone made:

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Top Chef BOSTON, baby!

The best judges: Emeril, Padma, Gail, Tom, (with the best dance moves,) and Hugh!

The best judges: Emeril, Padma, Gail, Tom, (with the best dance moves,) and Hugh!

When I first heard the rumor that Top Chef season 12 would be set in Boston, I was excited.  However, you have to take that as what it is: a rumor.  This week, though, my wildest dreams came through when it was confirmed!

To have one of my favorite shows in my favorite city, the city I live in, is news I can’t even begin to comprehend.  When the confirmations were coming out left and right on Wednesday, it was literally all I could think about all day.

Now I’m working on how I can eat the cheftestants’ food this spring/summer…

In light of the good news of what I’m hoping will be my new favorite season, I wanted to revisit my other favorite Top Chef locations, in a top 3 list.

 

3. Season 11 – New Orleans

American Horror Story and Top Chef were both on at the same time, and both were set in New Orleans, so I was all about New Orleans!  I had a couple of favorite contestants this time around including my hometown hero, the wonderful and kind Stephanie Cmar.  Humble brag: I’ve had the pleasure of having coffee with her, and she personally introduced me to season 10 winner Kristen Kish.  Stephanie is awesome in real life and on screen.  My other favorite was the adorable Janine Booth, who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but I have tweeted back and forth with her, and that’s nice too.  The great thing about the New Orleans location was the utilization of new-ish judge Emeril Lagasse.  New Orleans is where he made a name for himself.  Emeril, who I used to watch on TV with my parents when I was growing up, gives me a nostalgic feeling that’s nice.  Also, he kind of looks like my uncles.

2. Season 8 – New York City

The second time Top Chef made New York its home was for the All-Stars season.  That it itself is enough to make this one of the best seasons.  Most of my favorites are all thrown together in one season including the  fierce Jen Carroll, hilarious Carla Hall, the joyous Tiffany Derry, and a man whose quotes liter my twitter feed endlessly, Fabio Viviani.  These are literally some of my favorite cheftestants period, so seeing them all in one episode is pure magic.  Fabio is always pure magic and watching his budding bromance with Richard Blais is fantastic.  I laugh every time I rewatch this season.  Actually, all of the contestants on this season were people I liked, so it can sometimes be a bit hard to watch your favorites pack their knives again.  But with so many fan favorites on one season, what’s not to love?

1. Season 6 – Las Vegas

Love those Voltaggios!  Forever my favorite season, Vegas is tied to my memories more so than any other season.  I can tell you what year of college I was in without looking up the year; I can tell you exactly where I was living.  This is the first season of Top Chef (and maybe the first show ever) I live tweeted.  Twitter has been instrumental in my Top Chef experience, and I tweeted through that finale like a fiend!  This is the first time my chosen contestant won the title of Top Chef.  Yes, I cheered for Michael Voltaggio.  The man is unstoppable!  Really, so was Bryan.  The two brothers both had such consistent success throughout the season, and it was amazing to watch.  Vegas, like New Orleans, opened my eyes to a culinary city I never would have expected.  Now whenever someone mentions Las Vegas, I say, “I want to go there!  But to eat!”

 

Here’s hoping Boston is the best season ever!  We have three cheftestants here– Tiffani Faison, Kristen Kish, and Stephanie Cmar.  I’d love to see them pop up on the new season.  I’d also love to see another Boston chef vying for the title.  Mostly, I hope to see Padma or Tom in my city soon!

 

photo via Bravo