Josh Valentine, a Del City native and the former chef/owner of The Divine Swine, has been flying under the radar on season 10 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” until last week’s episode.
As soon as host/judge/chef/Kojak2.0 Tom Colicchio said he was in the mood for Fried Chicken, JV perked up and so did everyone rooting for him. Using a brown paper bag, his grandfather’s seasoned flour recipe and a technique he may or may not have picked up on the late-late-late night tip at Bobo’s Chicken, Josh won he and his wife Courtney 365 bottles of wine.
That technique from Bobo’s? Smoking the chicken before you fry it. Bobo’s does it every Friday and Saturday night on Hood until either the sun rises or the line dies down. It’s impossible for me to believe Josh never made his way for some of that honey-drizzled dreaminess. But maybe not. Regardless where all his inspiration came from, the honor of serving a table that included Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and David Chang on top of the regular judges had to be surreal.
Anyway, Josh, who is now pastry chef at Matt McCallister’s FT-33 in Dallas, bagged the big prize after consecutive top-3 finishes. This is a welcome course correction for JV, who had struggled to survive several episodes before that. While season favorite Kristen Kish was eliminated last week, she still survives on the bones of the previously eliminated on Last Chance Kitchen. Last week’s survival bid had to be especially sweet for Kristen as she vanquished Josie and her clawed-chalkboard guffaw.
Our man JV, who hasn’t been shy about sharing the soul-poisoning qualities of Josie’s laugh. With 365 bottles of wine, an annoying thorn pulled from his thumb and having his win announced by David Chang, JV had to think they were filming a Christmas episode with the way things turned out.
Next up is an Alaskan voyage and a wrestling match with a cruise ship’s galley. My money is on Josh in any wrestling match, but we haven’t heard much of anything from chef Stefan Richter other than protestations of devotion to Kristen and a lot of bleeped verbiage. JV has made it to the final five, Kristen lurking on LCK not withstanding, and the next episode airs, as always, Wednesday night 9 p.m. on Bravo.
I’ve misplaced some of our previous podcasts, and will repost them ASAP. We will be recording a new one after the cruise episode. We’ll discuss the first of what we hope is consecutive wins for JV on Friday.