She is perhaps the most famous contestant and fan favorite to have ever competed in Bravo’s Emmy award winning highest rated show (Nominated for 4 more Emmys today!), “Top Chef”, having been the runner up in it’s highest rated season in Las Vegas and getting the reputation as the super sweet personality who was tough as nails when she needed to be (Philadelphia was so enamored by her almost winning that Philadelphia Style Magazine actually threw her a party to watch the final episode which was attended by the city’s finest including Mayor Michael Nutter and Chef Eric Ripert himself!).  The final episode where she absolutely went to culinary war (Many viewers and critics believe she should’ve won!) is the stuff TV legends are made of.  And to top it all off, she was invited back to participate in “Top Chef All Stars” where the judges saw her as the favorite to win the whole thing, but in episode 2 she actually got into a tiff with the judges about one of her dishes that unfortunately led to her being cut from the show (Again it was one of the first times that anyone has ever challenged the judges and to see her passion and belief in her stand was the stuff TV legends are made of, and earned her an amazing amount of respect from the millions of viewers watching).  These two stints on Bravo’s hit show have built Jen a tremendous fan base, but there’s one more thing that we need to keep in mind, she’s an absolutely amazing chef at the top of her game as well…

Chef Jen Carroll mans the head of arguably one of the finest restaurants in the country, “10 Arts” (Located at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia), owned by the “Culinary God” who may arguably be considered the finest chef in America/World, Eric Ripert (Considered to be the greatest seafood chef in the world).  Eric’s flagship institution, Le Bernardin, located in New York City (I ate there last year, and it was one of the top 5 meals I have ever had in my life), is ranked among the best restaurants in the world, and holds the maximum rating of four stars from the New York Times (4 years in a row!! The first restaurant to have ever done so and has never lost a star in 10 years!!) and three Michelin stars (Only 4 restaurants in NYC have this high a rating and considering NYC is the food capital of the Western Hemisphere, that’s just amazing!). Eric Ripert has made several guest appearances on cooking-based television shows, including guest judge and assistant chef roles on the second, third, fourth and fifth seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and had been considered to join season 8 of Top Chef as a permanent judge, but bowed out when Jen was selected as a contestant again. He is friends with and has appeared on many episodes of Anthony Bourdain‘s No Reservations. Le Bernadin is often referred to as the “Temple of Seafood”, so when he decided to open 10 Arts at The Ritz Carlton, he personally selected Chef Jen Carroll, who was then a sous chef at Le Bernardin under him, to man the restaurant, and all she has done is build it into a culinary juggernaut (The restaurant is a AAA Four-Diamond award-winner, and in 2009, was bestowed the Event of the Year award from the Philadelphia chapter of La Chaîne des Rôtisseur, the oldest gastronomic association in the world) establishing herself as one of the fastest rising young celebrity chefs in the country.  I see cookbooks and a Food Network show around the corner.

Here she sits down with “The King Of Kamelot” to talk about her experiences on 2 seasons of “Top Chef”, her humble beginnings in Northeast Philadelphia (She grew up 10 minutes from where I did!), what it’s like working for the man who is considered by many to be the top chef in America, how she feels about her exit from “Top Chef All Stars”, and who she would want cooking her last meal.  I have to say that having met so many chefs in my life, they can sometimes be pricks and very arrogant, but Jen was one of the sweetest, most personable, and humble human beings I have ever met.  She couldn’t have been more accommodating to me, and was sooo humble, truly nice, and reserved, despite the massive status she has achieved in the culinary world already and the enormous fan base she built on “Top Chef”, and working for the great Eric Ripert..It was truly a pleasure to interview and hang out with her all afternoon!!