(this was an interview I did 2 weeks ago w/great stories on how Jen got started. The latest entry I've done is here: http://www.phillychitchat.com/2009/12/jennifer-carroll-top-chef-finale-news.html but it's not the entry where she is asked to pack her knives.)
The Top Chef: Las Vegas season premiered August 19th, 2009 with two Philadelphia chefs featured on the show. Now nearing the end of this season one of my favs, someone who I adore is still standing strong. Chef Jennifer Carroll of 10 Arts at the Ritz-Carlton on Broad Street in Philadelphia.
Every week since the show premiered, 10 Arts has had a viewing party on Wednesday evening. Back in August Jen's mom, Joan Elizabeth Carroll, who I met at the premiere party, wrote me to tell me that she liked my blog invited me to come any Wednesday to watch the show with them. Finally I had Wednesday free and I took her up on her offer. First I asked Jen a few questions that some of my readers were curious about (Nothing revealing as mums the word with her on the TV Show. She's got a good poker face.)
1) She swears she never thought about which brother was cuter. (I don't believe her)
2) Robin is exactly like you saw on TV, very intense and serious about her work.
3) Jen hasn't had any direct marriage proposals, but her dad, who's a race car driver, has fielded a few at work and is keeping a list.
4) The actual experience on Top Chef was much more intense than anything she ever experienced, especially because she wasn't working in a familiar kitchen, with familiar ingredients or under familiar conditions. The desert was hotter than you could imagine.
Jennifer's biggest fan is no doubt her mother, who never misses a Wednesday. There was a lot of laughter the night I was there (Jen was only with me about 5 minutes as she must stay in the kitchen when the show is on.) Made me wish I had spent more than just this one night there. Maybe we can catch the reruns next year.
Jen told me she was surprised at how stressful the show turned out to be. She's been an avid viewer for every season and thought that it would be more fun. I asked her why her bubbly personality doesn't come thru on the show, the one I get to see all the time. She told every aspect of the show her being on the job, and when she is "on the job" then she takes it very seriously as she does with her own job, plus it's a competition and she takes that seriously too. I had no idea but either she or her 1st Chef, Alberto, inspect every single dish that leaves the kitchen at 10 Arts.
Joan Elizabeth Carroll, Uncle & God Father Tom Lynch, Chef Jennifer Carroll, Kristine Lynch and Aunt Debbie Lynch ;
Doing the Top Chef program was the last thing Jen was thinking of doing, she had a full plate with 10 Arts, getting it off the ground, continuing to grow the restaurant, but Chef Eric Ripert encouraged her to do it. She's glad she did. She's so honored to be competing a long side of these top caliber chefs from around the United States, and even more excited to cook for some of the many chefs she admires. She loves cooking for the French chefs as that is where her heart lies having worked under Chef Eric Riper at Le Bernardin in New York City. She's really excited to be cooking for Chef Thomas Heller this week. (BTW Thomas Keller is at the King of Prussia Mall Friday at 1PM) I know a lot of my readers want to know about who Jen is dating: Currently Jennifer Carroll is married to her work, but is single and open to meeting a nice guy.
Mary Beth Carroll and Sunny
The Carroll & Lynch crew watch the chef's review.
Jen always enjoyed cooking. One of her first "dinner parties" was held in her family's backyard for her pets Camper the bunny and Scamper the guinea pig. It seems that that first meal of water and flour didn't turn out to well as scamper ran off after the meal.
Joan tells me that Jen was also concerned for feeding the birds in the neighborhood. After a rainstorm she would dig up the worms, place them on sticks and hang them on the fence for the birds.
In a couple weeks, 10 Arts will be rolling out a new menu which will might include variations of some of the dishes the Jen cooked on Top Chef. She can't cook the actually recipes as those are owned by the Top Chef organization, but do look for the Rabbit, which was one of Jen's favorite dishes. Currently there is rabbit on the 10 Arts Menu and it is delicious.
Also 10 Arts will be rolling out a two course lunch menu in a couple weeks, as well as having a $35, three course dinner served Tuesday thru Thursday.
This year they are also serving Thanksgiving Dinner.
Becoming a celebrity chef hasn't changed Jen much except more people want to meet the chef that just prepared their meal, but Jen would rather they come into the kitchen and meet her. She says her staff is used to that, and sure enough towards the end of the show I popped in for a picture. Jen wasn't there, she was upstairs interviewing another assistant chef as the restaurant has gotten so busy they've needed to hire more people.
Joan told me that her daughter Jen, the middle child, is fearless, a daredevil. When her sister Jessica (Kristine Lynch, Jessica Carroll and Patti Lynch) turned 30, Jen blindfolded both her mom and Jessica and drove them to an undisclosed location. When they took off their blindfolds they discovered that Jen had arranged for them all to go sky diving, even though none of them had ever done it before. They had a ball. Jen tells me she'd like to do it again. (OK there must be an adventurous guy out there who wants this well rounded fun women. I know Jen's single and terrific.)Joan doesn't know the outcome of any of the episodes and can be a bundle of nerves during the judging, and sits pensively waiting to see if her daughter has made it through another round.
Jen loves magic and Joan was surprised when the dish Jen made which was inspired by the Excalibur Hotel wasn't as magical. (It was a heartbreaking episode to see Jen so upset, but own it too.)
What a relief for everyone at the table as Jen's still standing, and really why wouldn't she, she knows her stuff. Although she's had a few missteps she's fare well over the past few competitions. Don't be surprised if she's the winner or right up there at the top. I think it's gonna be hard to beat that Kevin.
Do yourself a favor and go watch the Top Chef on one of the remaining Wednesdays, you can catch it in the bar area, but if you want a table in the dining room I suggest you make a reservation as the room was packed with Jen fans last Wednesday, many of who asked to meet Jen and sign a menu.
And if you're lucky maybe Joan Carroll will invite you to sit at her table. I sure do appreciate it as it was fun and informative.
I'll be back in December when 10 Arts will be having two closing finale parties 12/2 & 12/9; Having your Chef compete in Top Chef calls for an party, having her succeed to the Top 5 calls for extraordinary party.
One of Jen Carroll's favorite food to eat and cook with is beets: On October 28, Jen participated in a charity event called Dish It Up! and won http://bit.ly/49tv5j