Top Chef D.C. alumnus Timothy Dean is making his list and checking it twice this holiday season. You may remember Dean from Season 7 of Bravo's smash hit. Dean's season of Top Chef was unprecedented because it featured five black chefs competing for the title, with Kevin Sbraga becoming the first African American to win the title.
Dean was unceremoniously booted from the show after falling short with a roasted turnip dish, but luckily, he didn't disappear from the scene. Instead he capitalized on the opportunity — opening a steakhouse in Baltimore called Prime. Dean, who readily admits that he never got a chance to cook "his food" on Top Chef, recently gave The Root some cooking and entertaining pointers, plus tips on how to make the perfect steak.
The Root: What are your top five tips for holiday cooking and entertaining?
Timothy Dean: 1) If you're doing a holiday party and you're cooking, put love in your food. 2) Take a recipe and put your personal signature on it. Add something that says you. 3) Don't drink or eat too much. People think that the holidays are a time to go crazy, but they aren't. Relax and enjoy your food and your family. 4) If you're baking, it is a science. Follow the measurements exactly, put your touch on it, and nine times out of 10, it will turn out lovely. 5) Contrary to popular opinion, this is the perfect time to try out a new recipe. With all of these food shows, recipe books and the Internet showing you how to cook, you can do it. So if you want to make that rack of lamb or foie gras, then go for it!
TR: Do you have a quick recipe you can share?
TD: My steak recipe. If you're serving meat, use salt and pepper on both sides. Put your special touch on it, but always use fresh herbs. It makes such a difference. You cannot go wrong with thyme, rosemary and sage. It's like putting a kiss on your steak.
TR: What do you want for Christmas?
TR: How did Top Chef change your life?
TD: There are a few million people that apply to the show, so just being selected gave me a boost of confidence that I could still cook at age 40. It just humbled me to say that if this is the best of the best, then I still got it and can continue making it happen in this field. On Top Chef I never really got the chance to show the world what I could do — what Timothy Dean food is. My restaurant, Prime, is giving me that opportunity.
TR: What's next for you?
TD: In addition to continuing to run my restaurant Prime, I'm opening another restaurant, Timothy Dean Steak, in Prince Georges County [Md.]. I think it's an ideal location because it's the population that I want to serve.
TR: Beyond cooking and entertaining, what words of wisdom do you have about Christmas?
TD: The two biggest things are to never forget the true meaning of Christmas, and don't spend money that you do not have.
Nsenga Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root, where she writes the Buzz section and contributes regularly. She is also a media scholar whose expertise includes race, class, gender and sexuality. Burton is an assistant professor at Goucher College and recently completed a chapter on South African soap operas for an anthology on black popular culture.