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Chrissy Camba

Culinary Competitor: Chicago's Chrissy Camba survives first week on Top Chef


by Jerry Nunn
Top Chef Seattle premiered last week on Bravo with 21 chefs, including Chicago competitor Chrissy Camba, being put to the test.

Chrissy, who lives in Lincoln Square and is a chef at Lakeview's Bar Pastoral, managed to overcome a tough twist, yet she didn't win her first challenge. Fortunately Chrissy wasn't eliminated and she continues representing Chicago on the show - now in its 10th year.

ChicagoPride.com's Jerry Nunn caught-up with Chrissy to find out how she plans to become the next Top Chef to win $125,000, a feature in Food & Wine Magazine and a showcase at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Chrissy. First off did you grow up in Chicago?

CC: (Chrissy Camba) I grew up basically in Schaumburg, so kind of by the Ikea. I went to college at Loyola. I have been in Chicago ever since. There have been some years where I wanted to move to places like San Francisco but something always comes up and I end up staying here.

JN: What is your nationality?

CC: Filipino.

JN: I heard that you are self taught and didn't go to culinary school.

CC: No, I didn't. I went to college for biology.

JN: How did you wind up cooking? Was it in your family?

CC: Not at all, my mom doesn't cook. I don't know actually how it happened but when I was in college what I was studying didn't interest me any longer. I saw all of my friends that I took classes with graduate and immediately go to medical school. I still hadn't taken the MCAT. I thought I would figure it out at some point.

JN: You've worked all over the place. How many restaurants in Chicago have you worked at?

CC: Five but in my free time I would stage (pronounced stauge). It is basically working for free and learning. You get to try out different environments.

JN: So you have just learned on your feet?

CC: Yes.

JN: What made you want to do Top Chef?

CC: Many of my friends have always said that I should be on there. I applied and was accepted to be an contestant on it.

JN: Do you know Sarah Gruenberg from last season's Top Chef?

CC: I don't know Sarah. I did know a line cook that worked for her and still does. He still works at Spiaggia. He said she was super nice and a great cook.

JN: She is. You are currently working at Bar Pastoral?

CC: Yes, it opened November 12th.

JN: It is a wine and cheese place?

CC: Yes, it will have small plates like snack size. There will also be a bigger size for small size entrée plates that you see at your typical restaurant.

JN: Would you like to open your own restaurant one day?

CC: I do. There is one thing that I haven't been able to shake off is that I want a charcuterie shop. I want to make my own bread.

JN: Did you have a big premiere party?

CC: No, I was working (laughs)!

JN: No fun.

CC: I know. We are pretty much opening up Bar Patoral at the same time.

JN: You must be working around the clock.

CC: Oh yeah.

JN: Chicago is known for its great restaurants.

CC: We do. It is crazy the amount of good restaurants we have.

JN: You have to represent Chicago in this show.

CC: I will. I'm the only one!

JN: Usually we have a few people from the area but it's all on your shoulders.

CC: No pressure there!

JN: I will be looking for some gay contestants. I didn't know Ty-Lor was gay from the last season until he mentioned it on the show.

CC: I will have to have look that up. I saw you at the TPAN event recently.

JN: Really? I was running around like usual. Well, see you at the restaurant and good luck on the show.

CC: Thank you!

Top Chef Seattle continues every Wednesday on Bravo, visit www.BravoTV.com for listings.

 
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