Last spring, Divine Swine Pork Bistro owner/chef Josh Valentine came home to learn some interesting news from his wife, Courtney: “Top Chef” was holding a casting call in Denver.
He nodded with mild interest, but had no intention of following up thanks to the one-man show he was performing daily at the restaurant, which boasted breads baked in house, house-cured and house-smoked bacon and ham, burgers and sausage ground daily — even the ketchup was homemade.
Turns out Courtney buried the lead — the same thing I'm doing this instant.
“And we're going,” she said at the same time she showed Josh a pair of airline tickets.
Last week, the producers of Bravo's hit show announced the cast for its 10th season, and Joshua Valentine was among them. So, a kid who once wrestled for Del City High School and was taught to elevate his craft to art in the kitchen of The Coach House Apprentice Program, will be the first chef from Oklahoma to compete on the original “Top Chef” series. Oklahoma City native Rick Bayless won spinoff competition “Top Chef Masters” in 2010, but Bayless has made his culinary bones more in Chicago than at home.
About the time he was set to audition, Valentine mentioned he was going to try out. So when a cryptic note appeared on the front door of Divine Swine a few months later, mentioning how “life-changing opportunities” had caused the restaurant to close, I had an inkling the audition had not only happened but he'd crushed it.
And when a Josh 2.0 returned from his hiatus sporting a sleeker build, neatly waxed Snidely Whiplash mustache, and a smile wider than my belt line after a Candied Bacon Sticky Bun, I was sure.