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On the Town: Top Chef Takes Charleston

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Warehouse chef Emily Hahn; photograph by Tommy Garcia/Bravo Media

November 30, 2016

Top Chef Takes Charleston
Ahead of its December 1 premiere, we got the scoop on this so-very-Charleston season from a local chef and competitor

Last spring, 15 visiting chefs (plus one local) battled it out in the Holy City for the 14th installment of the beloved Bravo TV competition. Here, get to know Emily Hahn of Warehouse, the only “cheftestant” representing Charleston.

Her culinary style in three words: “Simple, eclectic, bright”
Chef she most wanted to beat: “Sheldon Simeon from Season 10. He’s very talented. I’ve been doing some Asian-inspired dishes, so I wanted to give him a run for his money.”
Her goals for each challenge: “I didn’t want to cry, and I didn’t want to be a jerk. I wanted to stay true to me. And being the only Charlestonian, I wanted to represent our city well and make a good showing for those who support me.”
Most challenging thing about being on the show: “The cameras and the pressure”
What home viewers don’t see: “There’s an immediate camaraderie among all the chefs. We’re all there with the same intention—to win. We don’t go in there to make friends or worry about feelings. But it was comforting to see the same fear, excitement, and competitive energy in everyone’s eyes.”
On seeing herself on TV: “It’ll certainly be interesting, like rereading childhood diaries. I’m excited to experience it all again.”

In addition to hometown hero Hahn, some of our very favorite locals—like BJ Dennis, Michelle Weaver, Kevin Johnson, and Carrie Morey—will appear on the show throughout the season, and several get to take seats at the judges’ table. Here’s what the chefs say about their adjudication tactics:

Frank Lee: “I took a holistic approach, accounting for the unfamiliar environment and the chefs’ experience levels. Once I started tasting the dishes, I became more critical.”
Rodney Scott: “After seeing the limited amount of time the chefs had and the effort that went into each dish, I was a little more lenient than I had set out to be.”
Sean Brock: “I was looking for overall deliciousness and at the chefs’ skills. I was very strict, but there were a few exceptional dishes that really surprised me.”
Mike Lata: “I didn’t want to pick the chefs apart but see if they made smart decisions. I’d ask myself: if I were to eat this dish at a restaurant, would I go back?”

To read more articles from our new December issue, click here.