The top five things I loved about LA: 1) Since the other chefs on Top Chef Masters and I were on the set most days from 6am to 1am, we had the chance to really spend a lot of time together. We talked about family, how we got started, dishes that didn't turn out right, the quick fire challenges. We just had a great time.
2) I loved the take-out food we ate on the set. Everyday we had something really delicious. I loved the fantastic sushi and miso soup, Korean chicken, the fancy hot dogs (I had duck sausage with mustard).
3) On set, it was funny to hear the crew shout "chefs walking" when we arrived. "10-1" meant someone was leaving to go to the bathroom. We were taken to the set every morning by Jason who always wore these cool outfits even though he worked around the clock. The entire crew was great.
4) We stayed at the Standard Downtown. My normal morning routine had me up by 5:30am and I'd go to the coffee shop across the street, ordered a cup of coffee and read the NY Times. It was my alone time before I had to be on set. I'd explore the neighborhood when I could and discovered a great vintage shop across from the hotel. I got a nice Stevie Wonder t-shirt there.
5) The Grand Central Market downtown was just fantastic. I loved walking through all the stalls. I ate really well there. I had Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino and Mexican food. I ate great tacos and drank strong Cuban coffee. It was a treat. It's a great marketplace to visit; it's been around since 1910.
* Even though we were exhausted at the end of an extremely long day, Jonathan Waxman would always take us out to the best places to eat. I loved his spirit and he really took us on an adventure. We went to Animal, Mozza, Canter's Deli, Church & State and Street (Susan Feniger's restaurant). I loved her signature dish, Kaya toast (thick coconut jam on Malaysian white toast with soft fried eggs, drizzled in dark soy and dusted with white pepper eggs). We just ate and ate. It was a good time.