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Stamford native Stephanie Izard receives Bravo's Top Chef honors

The Stamford Times - Norwalk, CT, USA - During this season's edition of Bravo TV's "Top Chef," contestant Stephanie Izard had to conceptualize and bake an elaborate wedding cake in 24 hours, butcher an entire pig to create food for a garden party and reinvent duck a l'orange for celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito.

But it was the final challenge in Puerto Rico that the Stamford-born Izard will remember best, for it was there that she was named the winner of the fourth edition of the popular reality show, becoming the first woman to achieve the honor.

"I'm very excited to win. It's very exciting to represent women of course, but I just think of myself as a strong chef, male or female aside, and I am very proud of the whole thing," she said. "I think it's going to help me in my career. This is a great way to get my name out and get publicity for a new restaurant and I'm sure this is going to change my life in ways I can't even foresee."

For the final challenge, the remaining three contestants were required to cook a four-course black-tie dinner for nine that had to include fish, poultry, red meat and dessert.

Her winning menu included sauteed red snapper filet with truffled white asparagus and clam broth; seared quail breast with butter-poached lobster ravioli and mango; lamb medallions with maitake mushrooms, olives and braised pistachios; and ricotta pound cake with lime glaze, pineapple and salted banana cream.

"I was full of nerves and excitement," Izard said about waiting for the judges' reaction. "To finally make it to the last challenge that we went through so much to get to, and look at the people we were cooking for, of course we were all going to be nervous."

To prepare for her final challenge, the 31-year-old Izard invited groups of friends over for dinner parties to experiment with different foods.

"I approached it like a mystery basket," she said. "One night, I did a five-course, all-pork dinner. The important thing is to wait and see what looks great and apply your style, because if you're really set on making scallops and there are no scallops, you're in trouble."

Izard developed a love for cooking when she was a child thanks to a mom, who served foods from around the world for dinner rather than the standard franks and beans. Unsure of what career path to take while in college, she was encouraged by her father to go to culinary school and she soon graduated from Scottsdale Culinary.

"Once I set my mind
Source : Originally Published The Stamford Times - Norwalk, CT, USA, Jul 7, 2008
Celebrities : Stephanie Izard
Categories : Reality shows, Top Chef, Celebrity News, Celebrity Chef News
Posted 7/7/2008 12:07:57 AM | Permalink
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