Food & Drink

'Top Chef' tour makes a stop in Charlotte

A little piece of the Bravo TV show “Top Chef” will come to Charlotte Sept. 13 when the show's nationwide tour makes a stop at the Charlotte Tailgate Farmers Market in Southend.

“Top Chef: The Tour” is a 20-city interactive event that's been going on all summer. Charlotte is the 16th stop on the tour.

“Top Chef” is a reality show that brings together 16 “cheftestants” for cooking challenges that are judged by hosts Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi and food-world celebrities like Ted Allen, formerly of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and Anthony Bourdain.

No, they won't be tape footage for the show in Charlotte, and we don't have to worry about watching Padma tell anyone to take their knives and go.

Instead, the show brings a 48-foot trailer equipped with a kitchen and guest seating to a market or store in each city. Two chefs, usually previous contestants, fly to the city, buy all the ingredients in the market, then use them in three cooking demonstrations in the truck. And yes, they do give out food samples.

Andrew D'Ambrosi and Spike Mendelsohn – yes, the guy with the hats -- from last season will be Charlotte's visiting chefs. They'll do three cooking demos, at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. At each demo, 38 people get seats inside, while more people can watch on a screen on the outside of the truck.

Tickets are free, but to get a seat inside the truck, you'll need to sign up. You can do that starting early next week at, or you can get on a waiting list the morning of the event.

Lynn Shanklin Caldwell, manager of the fledging market that moved from Plaza-Midwood to West Park Road and Camden Avenue this year, has been lining up local farmers and vendors and hammering out the details for weeks.

“It'll be great local publicity, and a real kick in the pants for me to get a few things done at the site.”