September 10, 2009
"Top Chef" to Jesse Sandlin: pack your knives and leave

In the end, the snails did in Jesse Sandlin. She was Sacramento's great "Top Chef" hope, a veteran of such local restaurants as Esquire Grill, Spataro Restaurant and Lucca Restaurant and Bar. She's since moved back to her native Baltimore, but still boasts a big rooting section here in Sacramento.

But Jesse got the boot on last night's episode of "Top Chef," after losing a "quickfire challenge" that required the contestants to cook escargot for a high powered judging panel that included Daniel Boulud and Joel Robuchon. Truth is, many viewers probably saw this coming. Jesse was among the bottom contestants after challenges in earlier episodes. (Remember her soup with all the cayenne pepper?)

The other Sacramento connection to "Top Chef" fared much better. That would be Kevin Gillespie, who once worked as sous chef under Michal Tuohy at Atlanta's Woodfire Grill. (Tuohy now serves as executive chef at downtown Sac's Grange Restaurant). Gillespie won last night's escargot challenge, and was not only given immunity from elimination, but donned a suit and was invited to dine and judge his fellow contestants with Robuchon and others. Score!

But Jesse, we still salute you from the River City. Congrats on making it so far on "Top Chef," and come cook for us in Sacramento some time. Ya hear?

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