Get set to embark on the gruelling journey of fellow countryman, Paul Qui, to culinary excellence in America through the Emmy award-winning culinary contest reality TV series Top Chef Season 9. Follow the Manila-born, Texas, Austin-based chef through the toughest of cooking challenges against a record field of contestants and cheer him on to his glorious achievement on beTV as he does the Philippines proud!
Premiering January 21, 2013 and airing weeknights, 7:40pm on beTV, the riveting Top Chef returns for its latest, ninth season which chef Paul Qui wins! Share in his roller coaster ride through 18 episodes to beating 28 other contestants to bring home the US$125,000 cash prize as well as earn the coveted title of ‘Top Chef’. “Filipinos have a lot of heart, a lot of drive. And I definitely got that from my parents,” said Paul, who grew up in San Juan in Metro Manila. He believes these traits helped him ‘bring home the bacon’ from Top Chef.
Indeed, Top Chef offers a fascinating peek into the competitive, pressure cooker of world-class culinary arts and the restaurant business at the highest level. Aspiring chefs compete for their shot at culinary stardom. Each episode of holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a ‘Quickfire’ test of their fundamental abilities, and the second is a more complex elimination challenge to test the versatility and invention of the chefs with trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering to a range of demanding clients. These not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a ‘Top Chef’. The contestants live and breathe the stress of master chefs as each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.
Shot mostly in the Texan cities of Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, Top Chef Season 9 sees model-actress-author Padma Lakshmi return as host. The Top Chef contestants have to win over head judge, celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, along with fellow judges, food writer and TV personality Gail Simmons, famed chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse, and critically acclaimed chef Hugh Acheson. In addition, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron (Monster), host Cat Cora (Iron Chef America), prominent chefs John Besh and Tim Love, as well as singer Patti LaBelle feature in selected episodes as guest judges. In 17 elimination challenges, local boy Paul Qui, then-executive chef of Austin Japanese farmhouse dining restaurant Uchiko, won eight of them and was on the winning teams in four others, got through twice even when he was on losing teams, and barely scraped through the tenth episode after a relatively below par performance. Along the way, Qui bagged a new Toyota Prius, a trip to Costa Rica, US$60,000, and tickets to the world premiere event of film Snow White and the Huntsman starring Charlize Theron, whom he impressed when she guest judged in episode 11, before landing the US$125,000 grand prize.
Beginning his march to glory from the second episode, Paul whipped up many immensely creative, mouth-wateringly colourful and delicious dishes from ‘grilled trout with Southeast Asian tomato salad’, ‘shrimp yuzu ceviche’, ‘chilled coconut soup with kaffir lime and ghost chilli’, ‘fried Brussels sprouts with grilled prosciutto’, to ‘bacon fat, crispy bacon, blackberries, chorizo and mushroom hash’. In an interview when he visited the Philippines, Paul shared that he even cooked one famous Filipino dish – adobo– where he added quail for a bit of a twist.
He also overcame challenges such as cooking up a dish ‘Fit for an Evil Queen’ for Theron; extracted ingredients that were frozen in ice to make a dish out of them outdoors in frigid weather; a dish out of random suggestions sent by US fans via Twitter; and even a rattlesnake! Not forgetting the epic finale episode which had head judge Colicchio praising the dishes as the ‘best finale food ever’ and Paul winning on a knife’s edge!
Since winning Top Chef Season 9, Paul has gone on to become an entrepreneur, founding East Side King, acommunity favourite among food trailers which are gaining national recognition in the US, and is truly a local boy who is making it big in the US.
When asked what Top Chef has taught him the most, Paul said, “As a chef, you are already trained to expect the unexpected. It’s taught me to do that times 10 because you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Paul also has this advice to aspiring Filipino chefs, “Just dive in. Being a chef is not the cleanest or most flattering job and the reality of kitchen is not as pretty. But just do it and jump in.”
To fully appreciate the great creativity, marvellous attention to detail and amazing talent of fellow countryman Paul, look no further than Top Chef Season 9 on beTV to cheer him on to glory starting January 21, 2013!
beTV airs on SkyCable (Channel 35), Dream Satellite (Channel 36), Cignal Digital TV (Channel 37) and, now on Destiny Cable (Channel 62).