Top Chef Tips

The experts off advice before Auditions for the next Top Chef season come to Miami October 25. We asked former local Top Chef contestants and guest judges to share their tips for aspiring contestants. Hint: Aspiring contestants may want to read this!

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Auditions for the next Top Chef season are coming to Miami October 25. We asked former local Top Chef contestants and guest judges to share their tips for aspiring contestants. Michael's Genuine's Michael Shwartz: "Be yourself. You gotta prepare. You need to identify your weaknesses and improve on them because they'll exploit them. Cleary it's a great opportunity for exposure, so if I have to hear another chef say they don't know how to do pastries, they need to figure out how before they get on the show so they don't screw it up."
Norman Van Aken: "Stay true to your strengths. Keep it more simple and less showy and you might make it to the Winners Circle."
Tantra's Chef Sandee Birdsong: "I don't want to be the typical 'be yourself' advice giver. But just be real, be true to your own style of cooking, and keep it simple. That's basically what you need to do. You literally have to compete with your style against other people and their style, and once you start trying other styles, you begin to unravel. Just go with what you know, simply put."
Gotham Steak's Alfred Portale: "The show's producers I think go for diversity in their contestants. You need a strong trait that people could identify with. Identify with a certain style of cooking. But more importantly, identify and amplify the trait that sets you apart from others. You really want to come across being confident, decisive, and focused. [They] want someone who can stand up and defend themselves and create a little conflict."
da Campo Osteria's Todd English: "This may sound cliché, but the best advice I would give is to stay true to yourself and stay true to your ingredients."
Hi-Life Cafe's Carlos Fernandez: "The number one thing is to bring your confidence game. Then is not the time to be humble, you really have to sell yourself. So get your accomplishments, write them down, and then really present them."
Michy's and Sra Martinez's Michelle Bernstein: "Don't act like an idiot. No matter how good or bad you cook, what people remember most is the way you play the game and interact with the other chef contestants. Cook simply; demonstrate what you're really good at and don't over complicate things."
DiLido Ritz-Carton South Beach's Jeff McInnis: "Before auditioning you should be prepared for your life to change drastically, if you're selected as a contestant on the show. Make completely sure that you are okay with being praised as well as criticized in front of the entire world. You're gambling with your image on national television, so make sure you behave as a gentleman or a lady (as if your grandma's watching)."
8 Oz Burger Bar's Govind Armstrong: "[The show] really tests to see if you can execute under pressure. The chefs are going to have to be versatile and well-rounded with solid cooking skills, and be able to work with other people and ingredients in order to survive. Focus, maintain, stay on point, and keep it together, and look back at past seasons to see what’s been thrown at past cheftestants, and really prepare for it. You need to also have a decent education on catering and pastries. You also can’t let your cockiness take over, because it could really cost you."
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