The Associated Press
You’ve watched them whip up delectable dishes, and a soupcon of drama in the “Top Chef” kitchen. Now, stars of the hit Bravo TV series are ready to school their fans. Pack your knives and go… online.
Top Chef University.com, which formally launched last week, is designed to give users the experience of culinary school at their own pace, with 12 courses covering about 60 hours of content.
“It’s so unique because it’s truly a comprehensive program and it’s really the first of its kind,” says Nikki Cascone, Season 4 contestant and one of the instructors.
The site was created by Jeff Goldenberg, founder of Post Oaks Productions, a leading provider of live and virtual consumer training. He approached Bravo with the concept after getting hooked on the show. Given the green light, he hired trained chef Anthony Hoy Fong and Top Chef judge and culinary expert Gail Simmons to write the curriculum.
Both Simmons and Fong are culinary school graduates and they wanted to develop a program they felt was professional but also would resonate with home cooks.
While graduates won’t come out professional chefs, “if you take this program to the end you will have, I believe, a really strong knowledge of the kitchen,” Simmons said.
Instructors were picked with an eye to their time on the show. So, Cascone, known for her pasta, is teaching about pasta and grains. Richard Blais, the chef from Season 4 who favored cutting edge techniques like cooking sous vide, is teaching the advanced course that includes molecular gastronomy.
The program, which costs $25 a month or $200 for yearlong access, begins with the basics — knife skills, pantry stocking — and moves on to stocks, soups, vegetables, proteins and dessert before finishing up with global cuisine and advanced techniques.
“It really is the only place on the Internet that takes you by the hand and leads you from beginning to end,” Goldenberg said.