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Top Chef 'Just Desserts' and Season 7 casting

November 16, 2009 |  3:39 pm

On Sunday, swarms of starry-eyed chefs showed up at Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant to take a stab at becoming the next Top Chef. The Magical Elves production company was doing a double-whammy cattle call, where the pastry chefs auditioned for the first season of "Just Desserts" and the rest auditioned for Season 7 of "Top Chef."

Casting producer Donna Lee says that there have been some big names that have come out in other cities, but her lips are sealed on who. Eater LA reports that chefs from Ivan Kane's Cafe Was and the Dakota were in attendance, but here's a peak at a few of the promising under-the-radar hopefuls we had a chance to speak with:

Sandy Sandy Kim, Pastry chef and culinary instructor at the Art Institute of California, Orange County

Auditioning for: "Just Desserts"

Culinary training: CIA in Napa Valley

Favorite dessert to prepare: Laminated doughs, like croissants and danishes, where there are multiple layers being molded together. It's an art form and a mastery of technique. There's a science to it which has really been forgotten in American culture. My favorite to make is probably pan au chocolat.

Do you think Top Chef challenges will be difficult for pastry chefs, since the recipes are more exacting? You know, there are certain ratios, but there is still room for innovation. You have to guesstimate what kind of challenges will come up.

Do you watch "Top Chef"? No. I'm more of a reader. ... I really love books involving science. One of my favorite authors is Jeffrey Hamelman. He's really into technique and fundamentals.

 MichaelMicheal Shackelford, chef/owner Trelio Restaurant (Clovis, Calif.)

Auditioning for: Season 7 of "Top Chef"

Signature dish: Foie gras and waffles (pan seared foie gras, pistachio butter, duck confit atop Italian piselli cookie with a drizzle of balsamic reduction)

Favorite chef-testant: Hung. Everyone hated him ... but I think you need that to be successful.

Least favorite: I didn't like that big-haired molecular gastronomy guy, [Marcel]. His personality was just too abrasive.

Why should you be the next Top Chef?: What I do on a daily basis is so comparable to what "Top Chef" is. I know I have what it takes to do this show. It's just a matter of getting in. 

Gail or Padma?:Have you seen Padma eat that burger on the Carl's Jr. commercial? It's just so hot. ... Yeah, definitely Padma.

Jennie Jennie Parker, owner Parker Pastry/ pastry chef The Pacific Club(Pacifica, Calif.)

Auditioning for: "Just Desserts"

What makes you think you are suited for "Just Desserts"?: Look, I know I might be the underdog, but I love the competition. As far back as I can remember, food has been what I loved to do. It's just been a natural calling.

What's your favorite dessert to prepare?: Anything chocolate, so that there's leftovers for me to eat. I like to do petit-four-size desserts so that you get to try a lot. Less is more sometimes.

Is it difficult to watch the current Top Cheffers butcher desserts?: Honestly, I've been waiting for this show. I think it will allow for some interesting challenges. Pastry chefs traditionally have no knife skills, so a challenge like that for us would be really cool.

Favorite contestant: Carla, because she was fun and vivacious. And she could do those crostatas so well. 

Biggest personality pitfall that could bring down a cheftestant: Ego. It can either crush you or bring you to the top.

Do you ever find yourself crushing on Tom? Gosh. He's kinda cute in that Diet Coke commercial. He just looks so calm after drinking all that caffeine.

EdwardEdward Lipnickas, Personal chef (Bel Air)

Applying for: Season 7 of "Top Chef"

Most famous employer: Ron Meyer

Culinary point of view: I like to cook everything. I'm sort of ADD when it comes to cooking. Being a personal chef, you have to be very versatile. My marinated tri tip with tempura yams and Japanese succotash is always a hit, though. I like to cook really approachable food.

Why you're suited for "Top Chef": I'm always trying to do something that's trying to progress me. I like to experience as much as I can. I eventually want to open my own restaurant, and this would really help get me there. I've worked in every kind of restaurant --from high end to banquets -- so it's just a matter of experience. I miss the quickfire, fast pace of a restaurant and "Top Chef" certainly has that.

What part of your personality would make you most resilient on "Top Chef"? I don't get flustered easily. I work really well under the clutch in high-stress situations.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo credits: Krista Simmons