Q&A with Top Chef’s, Tiffany Derry!

22 Dec

Yep, you heard that right! We are so excited for this post! We had the opportunity to ask Tiffany Derry of Top Chef Season 7 and Top Chef All Stars, questions about her experience on Top Chef, her new restaurant and recipes she created when she teamed up with Sargento. She was one of Cdog and my favorites and we could not be happier to hear all about Ms. Tiffany Derry! We hope you enjoy this as much as we did! After the Q&A, check out some of the amazing recipes Tiffany shared with us – green onion and bacon mac-n-cheese! Can you say YUM!?

How did you first get into cooking? What inspires you to cook? 

For as long as I can remember, I always enjoyed cooking and anything food-related.  Food has always been a central part of my family.  We’re eaters and laughers, and I think cooking was a natural fit.

What really inspires me to cook is the feeling I get when I’m cooking.  It’s such a high.  Just last night at the restaurant, I had the chance to cook on the line (usually I expedite the food), but last night I was cooking salmon and scallops – it was just so much fun.  I absolutely love what I do and I really enjoy seeing guests come in and get excited about the food I’m creating.

As a southern-raised girl (South Carolina), I have a deep appreciation for comfort food and sweet tea. What is your favorite comfort food? Especially during the holidays?

I would have to say my favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese.  It’s best when super cheesy and baked into a casserole dish. I developed a recipe with a few varieties of Sargento all-natural shredded cheese, including Extra Sharp Cheddar, Mozzarella & Provolone and Parmesan, which I mix together with bacon for crispy-ness and green onion for added flavor. It’s the ultimate mac and cheese recipe! The all-natural cheeses give it a rich, authentic flavor, and the bacon and green onion add a nice pop of texture and taste too.

Where is your favorite place to travel to? 

My favorite getaway is Costa Rica.  I have friends that live there and I usually get to go once or twice a year.  It’s nice being isolated with minimal contact to the outside world – no TV or noise. I love waking up, grabbing a cup of coffee on the balcony, watching the fog, smelling the flowers and hearing the birds.  Plus, you’re able to pick your vegetables in the morning for the lunch or dinner you’re going to be cooking later.

For those of us who don’t have a ton of time and/or resources on our hands, what’s your favorite, quick and easy recipe (either apps, entrees or desserts)? 

I am all about the appetizers!  It may sound complex, but my Gnudi with Brown Butter Peas and Mushrooms recipe is perfect for a quick, delicious starter that will really wow your guests.  It’s basically naked ravioli made with Whole Mile Ricotta and Shredded Parmesan Cheese from Sargento.  The flavors of the brown butter, mushrooms and peas aren’t too heavy, and it’s a great vegetarian option!

What is your favorite app using Sargento? 

Another great appetizer is my Pepper Jack Cheese Soufflé.  Again, it’s SO easy and delicious — all you need is a whisk and some strong arm motions.  After the ingredients are mixed together, you just pop it in the oven. People are really impressed by the soufflé with all the steam and cheesy-ness that oozes out.  They’re really not that hard to make and they’re a definite crowd pleaser!

Pepper Jack Souffle

Do you have any tips or tricks that you can share with all of us non-pro cooks?  

Just breathe.  Everyone tends to get really stressed out with holiday cooking but it’s important to relax.  I always say that you never mess up a recipe; you just create a new one.  Every mistake was supposed to happen!  Another important thing to remember is to be aware of the quality of ingredients you choose.  All-natural really makes a difference in cooking.  Most importantly though, just have fun!

What’s your favorite tool to use when cooking?  

It would definitely be a Japanese Mandolin.  It makes everything so perfect in a short amount of time. I’m never without one in the kitchen!

Tell us about your new restaurant, Private Social. Where is it located? What can guests expect from the new eats? What is your favorite item on the menu? What does the name suggest?

Private Social is located right in the heart of Dallas.  It’s my baby and I’m so excited to have been able to open it. The restaurant itself has a very modern look.  The “private” part of the name refers to the dining room, which provides that private dining experience. The “social” part is the bar area where we serve lots of small plates – it’s really conducive to mingling and sharing.

Many of my dishes are ones that are close to the heart and familiar but have a fun twist.  I have a few favorite items!  I love the Sweetbread with Smokey Ham Broth.  It has a nice mix of sweet and spicy. The Farm Salad with poached fried egg is also amazing.  I poach it, then fry it and serve it with bacon.  Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?  Lastly, I’m a big fan of the Braised Oxtail with Gnudi, because it incorporates interesting flavors. I developed a version of the recipe for Sargento and the at-home chef.

As a HUGE fan of Top Chef and a huge fan of Tiffany Derry (you were our Fan Favorite!), we have to know what it was like being on Top Chef? What was your favorite challenge? Is Tom really that tough? We have a feeling, he is just a teddy bear with a hard shell. 

Oh wow!  Being on Top Chef wass stressful, crazy, fun…a lot of emotions rolled into a five minute period.  That’s the crazy part — it can change really quickly.  Tom is definitely a teddy bear on the inside but don’t get me wrong, he does not play when it comes to the dishes.  What you see is what you get, but he’s a really nice person.

My favorite challenge was when we were in the Bahamas diving for conk.  It was actually the one where I got eliminated, but it was such a fun challenge.  The weather was really nice which was super helpful.

And last, as we mentioned we like to add a bit of humor to our blog, so what is your favorite joke of all time?

What kind of cheese is not yours? NA-CHO cheese!
Cheesy, I know.


 Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 8

You know I'm making this!



  • Preheat oven to 350° F. In large pot, boil water and add 2 Tbsp. salt. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a separate saucepan. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, or until thickened. Gradually whisk in milk and simmer 5 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat.
  • Put half of macaroni in 8×8-inch casserole dish and sprinkle with half of the cheeses, bacon and onion, salt and pepper. Repeat. Pour white sauce over.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until set and garnish with additional bacon and green onion before serving, if desired.


 Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Servings: 6



  • In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and cook, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 2 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add black pepper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and gradually add cheese mixture. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325° F. Lightly butter a 6-cup soufflé dish and dust with flour. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture, 1/3 of beaten whites at a time. Pour egg mixture into dish; it will be 1/2 to 2/3 full.
  • Bake 45 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve immediately.


  • A soufflé needs a straight-sided, round dish to rise properly. It will at least double in size as it bakes.
  • You can use 6 ramekins for individual soufflés and bake 25 minutes.

3 Responses to “Q&A with Top Chef’s, Tiffany Derry!”

  1. cdog December 23, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    THANK YOU CHEF DERRY! For giving us such a great interview with wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to try the souffle!


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