Food & Drink

‘Top Chef’ to pack its knives and go to Dallas for auditions

John Tesar of Knife Dallas in an episode from the current season of Top Chef. A casting call for the next season will take place Feb. 4 at Knife.
John Tesar of Knife Dallas in an episode from the current season of Top Chef. A casting call for the next season will take place Feb. 4 at Knife. Bravo

As any Top Chef fan knows, the show’s elimination catchphrase is “Pack your knives and go,” uttered by co-host Padma Lakshmi at the end of just about every episode but the season finales since she came aboard in season two.

In a couple of weekends, maybe aspiring North Texas “cheftestants” should turn that around to “go and pack Knife” — Knife Dallas, that is, where auditions will take place 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 4 (Knife is at 5680 North Central Expressway in the Highland Dallas hotel).

Chefs looking for information and the application can visit www.bravotv.com/topchefcasting. .

It’s part of a nationwide casting call that includes meet-and-greets with former and current Top Chef contestants — including Knife’s John Tesar, who is still alive on the current 14th season, airing at 8 p.m. Thursdays on Bravo.

Tesar, who also appeared on season 10, was famously once called “The Most Hated Chef in Dallas” in a D Magazine cover story and received national attention for his war against Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner, who didn’t like Knife as much as Tesar thought she should.

This season, Tesar has been making an effort to play nice and get away from the “Most Hated Chef” tag, but that kind of cratered during last week’s “Restaurant Wars” episode, when he and teammate Katsuji Tanabe went after each other over how much Tesar had contributed to the difficult challenge.

Tesar and Tanabe, another returning cheftestant known for his outspokenness and his tendency to put too many ingredients into everything, had a “frenemy” vibe going on in earlier episodes, but Tanabe’s jibes this time ultimately led Tesar to push back hard. (Tanabe was ultimately eliminated.)

Top Chef has had many current and former DFW chefs during its previous seasons, including current cheftestant Casey Thompson, formerly of Dallas’ Shinsei and Fort Worth’s now-closed Brownstone, who appeared on season three and on a season of Top Chef All-Stars.

Tiffany Derry (formerly of Dallas’ Private Social and who is working on opening Roots Southern Table this year in Dallas’ Trinity Groves), Tre Wilcox (culinary director at Julia Pearl Southern Cuisine in Plano and head of Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts) and Danyele McPherson (whose résumé include The Grape, Remedy and HG Sply Co.) have also appeared on the show.

Tarrant County alone has some colorful chefs we think we would be a good fit for the show: Stefon Rishel, the mohawked chef currently at Texas Bleu in Keller and formerly of Max’s Wine Dive; Ben Merritt of Fixture Kitchen + Social Lounge (Rishel and Merritt are former winners of Fort Worth, Texas magazine’s own local “Top Chef” competition); and Victor Villarreal, who has worked at many Fort Worth restaurants and is now culinary specialist at TCU.

Also, Hans Peter Muller, who is continually concocting new things at Swiss Pastry Shop; Kevin Martinez of Tokyo Cafe and Yatai Food Kart; Jesus Garcia of Oni Ramen; Molly McCook of Ellerbe Fine Foods; and Blaine Staniford of Grace and Little Red Wasp.

Also, Regino Rojas, the outspoken chef behind Revolver Taco Lounge; Kalen Jane, a former Hell’s Kitchen Kalen Morgenstern), of the upcoming Protein Fit Kitchen in Southlake.

And that’s just stream-of-consciousness at work. We’re sure there are others who’d be good candidates for the show, both in culinary expertise and in personality (although Jon Bonnell might be too busy and Tim Love already has appeared on Top Chef Masters).

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