Our favorite show Top Chef is back for a second season and already it’s easy to see more Asian influences making its way throughout the show. From Top Chef Judge Ming Tsai to an Elimination Challenge featuring Project by Project to Korean & Vietnamese inspired food teams to the latest Asian contestant Josie Smith-Malave. Our favorite show Top Chef is back for a second season and already it’s easy to see more Asian influences making its way throughout the show. From Top Chef Judge Ming Tsai to an Elimination Challenge featuring Project by Project to Korean & Vietnamese inspired food teams to the latest Asian contestant Josie Smith-Malave. Josie is an ethnic mixture of numerous backgrounds which she incorporates into her dishes and colorful personality. Born and raised in Miami, FL and currently residing in Brooklyn, Josie has been cooking all her life and says that it is her competitive nature that has gotten her where she is today. ASIANCE spoke with Josie on her Filipino heritage, her membership on the NY Shark’s Women’s football team and her experience on our latest indulgence, Top Chef.
I’ve always been a fan of Harold’s.
ASIANCE: Talk about your ethnic background.
Josie: I am a Puerto Rican, Italian, Filipino girl from Miami Florida…(laughs)
ASIANCE: Were you a fan of the first Top Chef?
Josie: Absolutely! With all the reality cooking shows making their presence, the only one that caught my attention was Top Chef. I respected their format.
ASIANCE: Did you have a favorite chef on the last season?
Josie: I’ve always been a fan of Harold’s. I use to work at The Lever House. So the Harrison guys would always come to The Lever House. I heard about him through the grapevine. We always heard the most recent news. The restaurant industry is a very small industry believe it or not.
ASIANCE: What prompted you to try out for Top Chef? How did that work?
Josie: I have a group of friends that think highly of me (laughs)…They always have their ears and eyes open for me to apply myself outside the kitchen world. My partner sent me an email that said they were looking for chefs for Top Chef and I put together an audition tape and then went to the open calls in my city… and here we are.
ASIANCE: How was Tom? Do you think it was tougher this year?
Josie: Chef Colicchio. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a self taught chef and one of the top chefs in the city. It’s amazing how he built his empire… I’m very happy to meet him in this scenario… He’s a tough judge and he has standards.
ASIANCE: Do you have any formal chef training?
Josie: Yes. I went to the Art Institute of New York City and received a degree in Culinary Education.
ASIANCE: How did you get along with everyone on the show?
Josie: What do you think? (laughs) Showing up for the first day, hmmm let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised that I was in the company of very talented chefs (laughs). We all came together under extreme circumstances. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
ASIANCE: Anyone in particular you didn’t get along with?
Josie: We’ll have to wait and see ha ha! What do you think? 15 chefs with 80 personalities!! Ha ha!
ASIANCE: What is your favorite dish to make?
Josie: My family, we have a long history of cooking. Growing up in South Florida everything is on the grill. We all have grills on our patio. I’m a big fan of sauces… I’ve been working on a book and making a line of condiments. It’s all about what sauces pair well when we serve it up with different sides.
ASIANCE: What is your favorite dish to eat?
Josie: Sushi and sandwiches. Any kind of sandwich. It’s the easiest food to eat with my schedule and I never have a chance to sit down to eat.
ASIANCE: What do you do in your spare time? I know football.
Josie: Besides working on my project, I’m still involved with New York. I’m involved with mini camps, motivational camps which get girls involved with sports. It’s important to have outlets for girls with energy. I’m hoping to run those camps. I was injured in a car accident and herniated my neck so I’m not playing football right now.
ASIANCE: What would you do with the $100,000 if you won Top Chef?
Josie: Well in today’s day and age, it’s like the new $10,000… My plans are so big!! I don’t know if it’s a pro or a con? It would help with launching my projects. Opening my own restaurant down the line is something I’d want to do. There is always a master plan. I’m very ambitious and driven. I know what it takes to open a restaurant. I’d like to do some consulting and help people open their own restaurants. I know what I would need to do to make it work. Something people don’t know about owning a restaurant is that it’s not just cool to own. You need to be there 24/7… I’m not ready to open a restaurant. I have a gourmet food takeout concept and I plan to sell my condiments. I also have a bar idea – a bar that serves food.
ASIANCE: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be a chef?
Josie: My school asked me to come back. My chef instructor who I give a lot of credit to teaches a 1 on 1 class. What I said to them and I’ll say to you is, you must be a professional. Experience comes with time. Have a good attitude, come with your equipment and be dressed to get to work. Having the right attitude is being a professional in my eyes. The restaurant industry is a small world you have no idea. So if you make a bad name for yourself, it’s going to be known. Don’t think you’ll be able to move into another restaurant. Technique is everything. If you think you can’t get that cut today keep doing it til you can… be professional… perfect your technique. Stay the course. It’s not an industry for the weak… so if you want it, go for it!