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Food in Pop Culture

Water Grill Names Amanda Baumgarten Executive Chef: Top Chef Not the Reason, She Says

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Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 12:15 PM

click to enlarge TOP CHEF
  • Top Chef
Just as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz told us, sometimes our heart's desire is no further than our own backyard. That was certainly the case for the owners of Water Grill who, after a nationwide search for a new executive chef, recently decided on Sous Chef Amanda Baumgarten to fill the spot.

Baumgarten tells us she's excited for her promotion, which took effect right away, but doesn't plan on any sweeping changes. "I'm sticking to what the Water Grill is to me, which means sourcing the best products in the ocean and using a seasonal menu. Spring's coming up so ramps, wild salmon..." she told us.

Baumgarten became nationally known as a contestant on Top Chef's 7th season. Amanda called Top Chef "an amazing experience" but added "I don't think it's the reason I got this job."

She added that for some, Top Chef becomes a career, but that she didn't go that route. She stressed that cooking, not television, is her main focus.

Baumgarten was a bit of an long shot on last year's D.C. season. At 27, she was one of the series' younger contestants, and of course was a sous chef at the time, whereas many contestants hold the rank of executive.

But Baumgarten feels they created a character out of her. "I think they painted me into the underdog on that show." In the end,"it's a game show."

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