Top Chef Tour: Phoenix

I've been a Top Chef fan for many years now and can't get enough of the show. Seriously, I love it. During Season 4 I got to watch one of my high school classmates, Ryan Scott, compete in Top Chef Chicago. He's super charismatic, friendly and just made for celebrity chefdom. Since then I've had the pleasure of watching his star rise from afar... Hey! Is that Ryan on the Today Show with Kathy Lee? Why yes, it is. Is that guest chef on Millionaire Matchmaker Ryan? Yep! Him again! It goes on an on. Today I was able to catch him in all his celebrity chefness in person as the Top Chef Tour rolled into Phoenix! I was actually super lucky that Ryan (and producer Fred!) put me on the list because tickets to the event were snatched up before you could say Tom Collicchio. I went online the day they were released and struck out. So, a big thank you to both of them for getting me plus my sweet hubby and friend in. 

Here's the whole tented area that sprang up over night. Gotta love all that Top Chef orange. Here's me and the hubs before the event started and he took over official camera duty. 

Once we were seated in the tent, we were ready for the Quickfire! Ryan would be going head to head with Richard Sweeny from Season 5. 

Upon the arrival of the chefs, we were told the secret ingredient chosen by us Phoenicians: red beans. Random! 

My friend Bailey was chosen to be one of the guest judges! 

Big smile because it's super exciting to be a judge of course! 

The chefs had 15 minutes to prepare dishes with the secret ingredient. Rich brought out a mixer! 

Each chef was also able to bring one special ingredient of their own. Rich used coconut milk. Ho-hum.  

Ryan got way more cheers for bringing tequila! ; )

While they cooked, the chefs shared stories and secrets from their seasons and answered questions from the audience. Ryan was a hit! He got tons of laughs and everyone loved him. 

Finally, there was one minute left and it was time to plate! 

It went down to the last second!

Ryan three-plating it: 

Chef Ryan made a hummus with the red beans, fried plantains and also a mango ceviche. Everyone in the audience was served as well. Ryan's dish of course was my favorite. It was light and bright, and perfect for a hot Arizona day! 

Judge Bailey said his dish had Arizona flair! 

 Ultimately, all three judges chose Ryan as the quickfire winner!

Hugs all around! (Though I think Chef Rich is swiping the tequila!)

Afterwards I got to chat with my old high school classmate. I just love seeing where life takes old friends! 

And what fun introducing them to new ones : )

Bailey and I might have snuck onstage to play behind the kitchen. Maybe. 

And then who could resist free spatulas? We stood in line to get them signed. 

When Max is on photography duty, he doesn't miss anything. I think here we were pondering new uses for our spatulas, like nose scratchers? 

Thank you Chefs Ryan and Rich for fun entertainment, amazing food, and of course signing our spatulas! 

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