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Posted on Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 5:58 a.m.

Eve restaurant's Eve Aronoff ready for "Top Chef" reality-show stardom

By Jenn McKee

Eve Aronoff, chef and owner of Eve restaurant, will make her television debut on Wednesday when Bravo’s popular reality series “Top Chef” kicks off its sixth season, with Aronoff starring as one of 17 contestants.

Following the reality show playbook, “Chef” eliminates contestants — who live together, of course — by way of weekly culinary challenges. Taping the newest season, set in Las Vegas, took about six weeks.

Aronoff recently spoke with about her experiences.

Q. You hadn’t watched the show before, and producers approached you about applying. What made you decide to try out? A. It just seemed like an interesting life experience, or just something fun to do. … And in a deeper way, having a chance to be around people that were that passionate about what they did, and getting to meet other chefs. For me, that was the most exciting part.

Q. Did it take a while to get used to cameras being trained on you all the time? A. It was weird, because I wasn’t nervous being on camera, but I definitely was taken aback by the whole circumstance. It interrupted my free-thinking way of cooking. … I was much more self-conscious in thinking about each step, and why I was doing it, and what somebody would like instead of just cooking, which is what I’m used to doing. Just being in the moment.

Q. The editing on these shows often shapes each contestant’s persona. Are you nervous about watching the episodes for that reason? A. I’m not nervous about my image, because I think I was just myself. I might be ignorant, though. … I probably should have been a little more worried about the show, and the TV side, and how that works. But right now, I’m not worried about my image, because I just think I was honest.

Q. Will you just be watching the episodes on your own? A. I’m going to be working when show airs. We don’t have TVs [at Eve], so I’m planning to watch it, but not with a ton of people or a huge thing. Q. Did you meet people who became friends through the show, or does the time frame and atmosphere make that impossible? A. I met people that I really respected, and I wish we would have had more time and the environment to get to know each other better. But I bonded with my roommate. We spent a good amount of time together and have been in touch.

Q. How much did living with the other contestants add to the stress of the situation? A. Having cameras around in times that you wish could be candid, like, just trying to sleep, wasn’t my favorite part. I’m kind of shy. So I was just out of my element, thinking, “What did I sign up for?”

Q. I always wonder if accomplished chefs are like the rest of us in that they just throw cereal into a bowl in the morning. Do you do that? A. I love cereal. I’m a big fan. I really eat simply when I’m away from work, especially because at the restaurant I spend hours tasting different spices and flavors. So it’s a treat to just eat cereal and yogurt and roasted chicken and things that are simple.

Q. I just read Michael Pollan’s New York Times Magazine article in which one of the things he argues is that food shows like “Top Chef” ultimately make cooking an exotic spectator sport. What was your reaction to that piece? A. I think people … watch [reality shows] because they want to get a glimpse into the inside world of something else, whether it’s ‘Project Runway’ or ‘Top Chef.’ But ... reality is just reality, and it’s hard to create reality.

"Top Chef" Who: Local restaurateur Eve Aronoff and 16 other contestants, hosted by Padma Lakshmi. What: Competitive television show in which chefs faces challenges and elimination. When: Starts at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19. Where: Bravo cable channel.

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for She can be reached at

A video welcome to eve, the restaurant:



Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 6:29 p.m.

Top Chef is one of my all time favorite shows! I am so happy someone local will be on the upcoming season. Kudos to you Eve. I will be rooting for you.

Angela Smith

Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 10:36 a.m.

I just ate at Eve for the first time this week, after getting loads of recommendations to go their for our anniversary. Exquisite! Can't wait to check out the show... and go back again.

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Sun, Aug 16, 2009 : 7:56 a.m.

I think Eve Aronoff and her restaurant are one of Ann Arbor's greatest treasures on so many different levels. I'm so glad that, for whatever reasons, the Top Chef producers recognized her talents and grace, too. Lovely interview!