Chef News

Kelly Liken didn't win Top Chef DC, but she's at the top of her game

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What will you do now that Top Chef is over? Do you want to open a group of restaurants or stay with one? My passion lies with Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail. It's my baby. But I'm interested in looking at all the opportunities that come from this. I look at Colorado in general as a really ripe market. Coloradans not only appreciate great food, but they're aware of where food comes from. Whatever I do, it needs to be something that makes sense and that works and you can keep the quality up, and that's daunting. Maybe there will be other restaurants, more TV work, cookbooks.

Do you think the judging on Top Chef is fair? I think the judges are really good at trying to judge according to technique and execution and keeping their personal likes and dislikes out of it. I can only imagine how difficult that is. It's impossible for subjectivity not to come into it at some point. If you don't like spicy food and someone serves you a spicy dish, or someone serves eggs and you hate them.... They do a great job trying to go by the rules, but they're human as well.

You clearly got on well with your fellow contestants, but Amanda seemed to really get up your nose. Honestly, she bugged me less than she bugged everyone else, because she drove everyone crazy. It's funny it got edited that way. But it bothered me that everyone underestimated her. I think we'll see a lot out of Amanda. She's young. Her technique is right on. She's a great chef, she really is. I'm not just saying that because I'm talking to a journalist.

Give me six words to describe your food: Fresh. Seasonal. Simple. Exciting. Regional. American.

Ten words to describe you: Creative. Intense. Fun -- at least, I think I'm the funniest person alive. I'm constantly laughing at myself. Leader. Chef. Loyal. Honest. Studious. Perfectionist. Talkative.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman