August 26, 2009
Jesse Sandlin: Sacramento connection on "Top Chef"

Jesse Sandlin once cooked in Sacramento's kitchens, but can she handle the heat in "Top Chef?" We'll soon find out, as Season 6 of the popular reality TV show kicked off last week.

The 30-year-old chef is a Baltimore native, but Sandlin's resume includes cooking stints at Sacramento's Esquire Grill, Spataro Restaurant and Lucca Restaurant and Bar. Sandlin's since returned to Charm City, where she serves as executive chef for Baltimore's Abacrombie Fine Foods. But the self-taught chef is well remembered back in Sacramento, where she was mentored by chefs Andrew Tescher and Kurt Spataro.

"When she first came to work for us, she was a line cook and worked her way up to sous chef," says Spataro. "She had a great work ethic and was very colorful with lots of personality. She's well tattooed and pierced. She was just a great spirit and very eager to learn and grow. I'm hoping she goes all the way."

Lucca's since become a spot where Sandlin's Sacramento pals come to watch "Top Chef" and root her on. But how will Sandlin fare against the other "Top Chef" would-bes, not to mention the tough comments from judges that could make a chef wilt? Stay tuned ...

Meanwhile, peep this video clip of Jesse from "Top Chef's" web site

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