Top Chef at Phoenix Public Market

By Jonathan McNamara

The Summer heat didn't slow Downtown Phoenix Public Market down a bit this Saturday. While just across the street early morning people scrambled to get a seat at Matt's Big Breakfast, market shoppers selected fresh produce, traded crafts and oh yeah, got autographs from Top Chef cast members Richard Blais (season four) and Betty Fraser (season two).

See more Top Chef shots in our slideshow.

The two chefs were in town as part of 20-city road tour promoting the popular Bravo! cooking competition series Top Chef.

But there was more cooking for Top Chef fans than getting their books and T-shirts felt-tipped. Inside the Top Chef custom 18-wheeler, diehard fans with reserved tickets got to sit in on a cooking demonstration by the two chefs while dishing about the show.

It is unknown whether Mayor Phil Gordon and State Representative Robert Meza were ticket holders, but they two made it in to the tiny truck studio for the demonstration.

When asked if he's an avid Top Chef fan, Meza said, "Oh yeah! I was just telling my friend to get cable to watch it."

Meza and the rest of the audience watched Blais and Fraser prepare coconut shrimp served on an apple slaw. The shrimp were marinated in coconut milk, sriracha hot sauce and fruit juices for four hours, then dredged through unsweetened coconut flakes and placed on a baking sheet where they were sprinkled with a jerk seasoning. The dish was finished with a coconut rum and honey reduction which Fraser added liberal amounts of honey to.

"I'm not big on measuring," she said.

As Blaise put another heaping tray of shrimp into an oven, he turned to the audience and asked where all their questions were. "I know of you want dirt," he said.

Someone from the back row asks how long the competition actually lasted. "We were asked to be available for 30 days," Fraser said adding that contestants were completely disconnected from any form of outside communication during the competition. "My restaurant could have burned down and I wouldn't have known about it," Fraser said. "You kind of start to slowly go nuts and it makes for great TV."

How's Blais' restaurant business since putting his skills to the test on the tele? "Up 113% from where it was before the show," he said. "People ask me how to have a successful restaurant and I tell them 'go on a television show.'"

Where did the two chefs eat while they were in town? They checked out Elements on their first night in town and looked forward to eating at Pizzeria Bianco after the final autograph session...assuming they could, you know, get in.

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