As we mentioned earlier, we really were impressed by the scope of the entries we received for this contest.  If the producers of Top Chef just worked with the 80+ suggestions we received, they could easily fill an entire season of quickfire and elimination challenges in the nation’s capital.  You’ve certainly done your part to help show what a great backdrop DC could offer for Top Chef.

We’re grateful to Bravo’s “Eat Tastefully” for giving us the opportunity to offer this contest in the first place.  The winner will receive a prize package that includes a DVD set of Top Chef Season 5 and a copy of the new Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook.

Just to give you an idea of the kind of creative thinking we saw from all of you, we want to highlight a few of our favorites:

  • FrenchTwistDC – “Toothpick rule” quickfire challenge! With the no-free-meals-from-lobbyists rules in effect now, lobbyists can only feed congressional aides hors d’oeuvres and “food that you have to eat standing up using a toothpick.”


  • Jacques – “Contestants must create two dishes for a cocktail party of presidential historians and American history buffs. Each dish is inspired by and uses an ingredient associated with an American President. Draw knifes with president’s name and ingredient.  Guest Judges: White House Chef Sam Kass and Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Location: A White House-related/adjacent restaurant/hotel: one of Founding Farmers Restaurant, the Hay-Adams, W, or Willard Hotel, or the atrium space at Old Ebbitt Grill.”


  • statedinner – “Cheftestants will start at the Library of Congress. They will be presented with menus from various state dinners and will be asked to update them using local ingredients and their own personal style. The guest judge can either be the curator/head librarian of the Library of Congress or the White House Head Chef.”


  • leslie – “Location: Start with a visit to the Inn at Little Washington for a discussion of locally produced ingredients; Introduce Guest Chef Judge Patrick O’Connell, one of the finest chefs in the nation. Hold an elimination challenge at Montpelier, President Madison’s home to benefit the Archeology Research Program just a few miles away which would include a discussion of why it was included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1984. Prepare two dishes in the kitchen at the Inn at Little Washington for each of the 100 attending a charity benefit at Montpelier using the same protein randomly chosen from those selected for the competition by Chef O’Connell from the local area.”


  • Gunther Freehill – “Each contestant draws a knife with the name of a country with an embassy on or near Sheridan Circle. They are told to prepare two dishes: One that represents the country they have chosen, the other that is distinctly American but would appeal to people in that country.  Each contestant cooks in the kitchen of the embassy of the country they choose. Ideally, they would each have a partner in the person of the chef from the embassy. But the twist is that they can advise one another, but the Top Chef contestant cooks the first dish, the embassy chef the American dish.”

In some of these cases, it was the little details that set them apart from others who made similar suggestions.  In others, it was their absolute originality that made us smile.  We had a few obvious shills in and among the suggestions, but even they were respectful and obviously eager to show how they could be a part of showing what’s best about the DC food scene.

But there was one suggestion that stood out in our minds from the very beginning.  It had that “just-right” feel that makes you say “Of course!” when you read it.  Combining the uniqueness of Washington with the spirit of Top Chef and the very concept of judging, our winner hit the nail right on the head.

  • Amy – “Should definitely involve the Supreme Court Justices – the best-trained judges around! The contestants could be required to make quick, healthy meals during a quick fire for the justices to eat during conference. The Justices are a bit older – so focusing on foods that will taste good, but that are also giving you the nutrition you need when your entire day is spent sitting on the bench or researching.”

There’s something about the idea of seeing the chefs in their coats serving to the Justices in their black robes that worked for us.

So congratulations to Amy for her winning suggestion – we’ll be getting in touch with you today to arrange the shipping of your prize package.  And thanks to everyone who helped us make the case for DC as an ideal Top Chef host city.