By Danielle Page
“There is a comfort and safety of being behind the scenes,” ICE graduate Adrienne Cheatham said in a video interview with The New York Times.
But on this season of Top Chef, Cheatham steps into the spotlight to compete for a chance to win — presenting her dishes to be judged by renowned chefs including James Beard award winner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, celebrity chef Curtis Stone and most recently, three-Michelin-star chef David Kinch.
It’s no surprise to see an ICE alum competing on this popular show — past seasons have included ICE graduates Arnold Myint and Ashley Merriman, and ICE alum Gail Simmons lends her expertise as a judge.
Not only is Cheatham an ICE graduate, she also spent time as an ICE chef-instructor, sharing knowledge she gained while moving up the ranks at three-Michelin-star restaurant Le Bernardin, where she served as executive sous chef. After spending eight years at the restaurant, Cheatham joined chef Marcus Samuelsson at Red Rooster, where she eventually became executive chef. Recently, she left this role to pursue opening a restaurant of her own.
“There’s always something that happens that gets in the way of being creative,” Cheatham told the Times, in reference to working in someone else’s kitchen. On this season of Top Chef, however, lack of creativity has been no challenge for her. Take Adrienne’s impressive Quickfire dish in last week’s episode: a beautiful seared scallop carpaccio with watermelon radish, black radish, radish blossoms and yuzu.
Whether she’s on the line or on television, Adrienne’s cooking reflects her unique food perspective. “My [culinary] voice is a reflection of everything about me — not just what I like to eat, but the kind of person I am,” Cheatham told ICE in an interview. “So a dish that I put together is an expression of love, of happiness, of learning. It’s a reflection of all of my life experiences that have created the person I am, and translating that into the food that I create.”
Currently, Cheatham is still in the running with five other chefs to beat. Tune in to Bravo Thursday nights at 10 p.m. EST to watch Cheatham compete to win the title of Top Chef.
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