Monday, May 24, 2010

TV's Top Chefs Star in Online University

By MICHELLE LOCKE (AP) – You've watched them whip up delectable dishes, and a soupcon of drama, in the Top Chef kitchen. Now, stars of the hit Bravo TV series are ready to school their fans: Pack your knives and go... online.

Top Chef, formally launching this week, is designed to give users the experience of culinary school at their own pace, with 12 courses covering about 60 hours of content.

"It's so unique because it's truly a comprehensive program and it's really the first of its kind," says Nikki Cascone, Season 4 contestant and one of the instructors.

The site was created by Jeff Goldenberg, founder of Post Oaks Productions, a leading provider of live and virtual consumer training. He approached Bravo with the concept after getting hooked on the show. Given the green light, he hired trained chef Anthony Hoy Fong and Top Chef judge and culinary expert Gail Simmons to write the curriculum.

Both Simmons and Fong are culinary school graduates and they wanted to develop a program that felt was professional but also would resonate with home cooks.

While graduates won't come out professional chefs, "if you take this program to the end you will have, I believe, a really strong knowledge of the kitchen," says Simmons.

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