Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

Today’s the day.  Top Chef season six (Sous-Vide-a Las Vegas?) debuts tonight at 9, an hour earlier than usual and supersized with an extra 15 minutes of footage.  By this time tomorrow, we’ll see the field of 17 cheftestants thinned by at least one – two, if they follow the format in last season’s premiere.

We’ve already introduced you to Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT and Mike Isabella of Zaytinya, two chefs representing the DC metro area.  Skilled chefs with impressive resumes, they’ve both got the chops to go far in the competition.  Voltaggio’s sibling rivalry storyline should guarantee some good face-time for him (and his brother, Michael) – always a positive on competition shows.  And Isabella is the head chef at one of Jose Andres’ busiest restaurants here in DC, which means he knows how to handle pressure and turn out good food for large numbers with ease.

That brings us to our third (somewhat) local competitor – Jesse Sandlin.  Chef Sandlin will be representing Charm City this year, following in Jill Snyder’s footsteps (but hopefully sticking around a bit longer).  She’s the Executive Chef of Jerry Pelegrino’s Abacrombie Fine Foods & Dining.  Over the course of her career, she’s cooked her way from Maryland to Los Angeles and all the way to Australia before returning to Baltimore.  Check out her Top Chef bio, and you’ll learn that she considers bacon AND duck fat to be kitchen must-haves…sounds like we need to make a trip to Abacrombie soon!

We had a chance to chat with Chef Sandlin last week, and we quickly learned that she’s not one to hold anything back, either in the kitchen or in an interview:

Capital Spice: Congratulations on making Top Chef.  What drew you to the show in the first place?
Jesse Sandlin: I’ve been a fan for a while.  I hope my appearance on Top Chef encourages people to check out new places and try new things.

Photo Credit: Bravo

Photo Credit: Bravo

CS: And what was your approach to the competition?
JS: Honesty is the best policy when it comes to reality shows like Top Chef.  Sure, there’s a lot of footage that they have to edit down and those editorial choices can have an impact on how you come across, but if you’re being yourself the whole time it’s going to show through.

CS: You’ve cooked all over the world.  What brought you to Baltimore?
JS: I’m originally from Baltimore, and my family is still in the area.  I came back to be “Aunt Jess” to my brother’s kids and to be a part of the restaurant scene here.

Chef Sandlin’s approach to cooking and keeping secrets – and her take on a Baltimore institution making its way to DC – after the jump. (more…)

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