Talula Restaurant is one of our most popular haunts for gourmet tapas happy hours, romantic patio dining and an awesome Sunday brunch buffet. When we received word that one half of the husband and wife chef team had signed on as a Cheftestant to BravoTV’s hit series “Top Chef,” we knew something spicy was definitely cooking up in that South Beach kitchen! Reality television shows are more popular than ever and a number of South Florida chefs put their restaurants on the map by agreeing to rigorous schedules of living and working day and night in front of the camera.
Culinary Institute of America grad Andrea Curto-Randazzo will be one tough cookie to beat when she takes aim at some of the other up-and-coming toques who use their culinary skills to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes and the title of “Top Chef.” A wife and mom of three, Curto-Randazzo and her husband Frank host a nightly gathering of loyal locals at their cool, Collins Park bistro where foodies and families share their passion for delicious, soulful cuisine. The Talula website notes that Food & Wine Magazine awarded Curto-Randazzo the distinction of being one of the “Ten Best Chefs” during her tenure as Executive Chef at Wish Restaurant at the Hotel on Miami Beach. The couple opened their first restaurant together in 2003.
In recent weeks, the Randazzos announced their latest venture would be the Water Club, an indoor/outdoor dining experience at the IntraCoastal Mall in Sunny Isles. While a second operation in North Miami Beach is a huge undertaking, only close friends and family knew that Curto-Randazzo had also packed her knives to compete in the latest round of televised cooking competitions based in Washington, D.C. As the season premiere was made ready to air, the news broke via the Chef’s FaceBook network that she had joined the ranks of would-be reality TV stars who chop, slice and dice their way through rounds of cooking obstacles in pursuit of prizes and fame. Whether or not Curto-Randazzo makes her way to the “Top Chef” finals, the publicity generated by weekly TV appearances will elevate the buzz at her Miami Beach restaurants.
In seasons past, Chef Jeff McInnis of the Ritz Carlton South Beach gained national attention as he cooked his way through the difficult challenges played out on the fifth season of the weekly reality TV series. Cool, calm and cute, the nimble blonde chef gained matinee idol status as he simmered and sauteed past his fellow competitors. What proved to be his downfall was making dishes too complicated to ultimately succeed on “Top Chef.” Once he left the show, McInnis attracted flocks of fans to the DiLido Beach Club where his eclectic tapas menu is a happy hour hit.
Chef Micah Edelstein, who recently left Grass Restaurant and Lounge in the Design District, toiled with Tantra Chef Sandee Birdsong on the third season of “Top Chef” but did not make as big a splash as the loud and loutish culinary combatant who came to be known as “Headband Howie.” North Miami’s Bull Dog BBQ Chef Howie Kleinberg gained a passionate fan base as he sweated, swore and stomped through the third season of tough TV tasks. Capitalizing on his Bull Dog behavior, the Miami chef has already opened two Bull Dog restaurants since being told to “Pack His Knives and GO!”
Andrea Curto-Randazzo made the commitment to live in a house with 16 other dedicated culinary professionals who are cut off from friends, family and all things familiar while being filmed as they interact all day and well into the night during a very heated competition. Surrounded by producers who maintain the strictest secrecy, the chefs’ antics are screened week after week for American foodies to “Watch What Happens!” Show producers do a great deal of their own creative cutting and blending to edit together hours of candid footage into a dramatic weekly showdown that is as much about the chef’s personal rivalries as it is about the winning plates. TV fans get an intimate look at the personalities of their favorite chefs who must withstand the heat generated inside the kitchen and by the constant proximity of the warring housemates.
Season Seven of the hit reality cooking show premieres Wednesday night, June 7 on the Bravo TV Network. All of South Florida will keep their eyes on Home-Girl Andrea Curto-Randazzo as she makes her way through the ranks of Cheftestants and vies to become the next “Top Chef!”
Talula Restaurant is located at 210 23 Street on South Beach. Reservations (305) 672-0778.
Enjoy the Tapas Happy Hour with Sous Chef Kyle Tuesday through Friday from 5-8pm.