By AMANDA MOTLEY
A Fredericksburg local and University of Mary Washington alum are both competing in season 12 of the hit Bravo reality show “Top Chef.” Joy Crump is chef and co-owner fn the Fredericksburg restaurant FoodE, while George Pagonis is an executive chef and partner at Mike Isabella’s restaurant Kapnos in Washington D.C.
Both chefs are known for specializing in a variety of different dishes. Crump’s cooking is known for its vibrant flavors and locally grown produce. Pagnois’s food tips to a slightly different flavor similar to Greek Cuisine.
Crump began her culinary career in Los Angeles and then moved to Atlanta for culinary studies at the Art Institute of Atlanta. After graduating, she apprenticed at Woodfire Grill under Chef Michael Tuohy. When Chef Kevin Gillespie, a Top Chef contestant in 2008 (season six), bought the restaurant, Crump continued to work at the restaurant for two more years. In 2010, FoodE opened in historic district of downtown Fredericksburg.
One of the unique aspects of Crump’s restaurant is that most items on the menu are all from the region.
“We believe that the freshest, cleanest ingredients make the best dishes,” Crump and business collaborate Beth Black wrote on the restaurant’s webpage. “We also believe in supporting the local community by highlighting the products grown and harvested right here in this region.”
Pagonis’s first experience in the restaurant business was in a family owned Greek diner. Pagnois attended UMW and then earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. He has worked in many top restaurant kitchens including Zaytinya, Graffiato, Central Michel Richard and most recently Kapnos.
The show “Top Chef” pins chefs from all over the country against each other to compete for the top prize. Chefs are put through a number of challenges and judged by a panel of judges for the show.
Returning to the judge’s table for the new season in Boston are head judge Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Hugh Acheson. Former contestant Richard Blais will also join the show as a recurring judge. Blais, winner of “Top Chef” season eight, marks the first time in “Top Chef” history for a winner of the show to join the judging panel, according the show’s website. This will give the competition a new edge by offering the cheftestants guidance from a former competitor’s point of view.
“The cheftestants will bring out their knives as they battle it out for $125,000 furnished by Healthy Choice, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the title of ‘Top Chef,’” said the show’s website.
It is plain to see that both of these contestants will offer competition to the hit Bravo series. Neither party was available for comment at the time of article.