Chef Kevin Gillespie, a 2003 culinary arts graduate of The Art Institute of Atlanta, made it all the way to the final round of Bravo's "Top Chef." Chef Gillespie joins the ranks of several successful culinary grads from The Art Institutes schools who competed with distinction in TV reality shows. The final competition aired at 10 pm on Wednesday, December 9.
During previous episodes, Chef Gillespie won several "QuickFire" challenges, one by pairing escargots with an innovative bacon jam, as well as placing at the top or among the top three in nearly every elimination challenge. He was also at the judges' table with legendary Chef Joel Rubuchon, considered one of the world's best chefs (his restaurants have earned a total of 25 Michelin stars), during the elimination round of one episode, having won immunity in the previous challenge.
Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a "QuickFire" test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved "Elimination Challenge" designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover whether they have the customer service, management, and teamwork abilities required of a "Top Chef." The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home. More information can be found at www.bravotv.com/top-chef.
Kevin Gillespie is a native of Atlanta, and he says coming to The Art Institute of Atlanta was a natural progression. His parents took him to the Atlanta campus for a tour of the culinary school when he was a youngster - and he was hooked. Chef Gillespie was also hooked early on competition. As a high school senior, he entered The Art Institutes Best Teen Chef Scholarship Competition (www.artinstitutes.edu/btc), won the local competition, and placed sixth in the national competition. After graduation, Chef Gillespie first worked at the Atlanta Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, then briefly was a sous chef at two other restaurants. As he told "Points North" Magazine, "It wasn't my kind of thing: the large, super-hip, ultra-busy kind of restaurant." So he went to work at the Woodfire Grill for two years, before moving to Portland (OR). As a foodie, he loved Portland, but missed family back home, so he returned to Atlanta - and the Woodfire Grill, where he is now part owner and executive chef. His menu changes daily to incorporate fresh, organic, and sustainable ingredients from small local farms and vendors.