Suzanne Tracht, executive chef and owner of Los Angeles chophouse, Jar, will feed hungry locals (although not necessarily her creations, to their misfortune) after winning both the Quickfire Challenge and elimination challenge of the second episode of “Top Chef Masters,” a new spin-off of Bravo’s popular cooking competition, “Top Chef.” The new show is designed for chefs who have already achieved their fame the old-fashioned way.
Challenged to create a dish inspired by the television show “Lost” using ingredients that could be found on a remote island, Tracht conceived of shrimp and coconut risotto. While surviving a deserted island may not be conducive to kosher eats (her recipe incorporates shrimp, sea urchins, clams, prawns, and oyster), the dish made-up for it by winning $10,000 earmarked for tzedakah.
Tracht will help locals survive the city through her charity of choice, SOVA, a non-sectarian program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles dedicated to alleviating hunger and poverty in part through its three food pantries, one of which is located a few blocks away from Jar on Beverly Boulevard.
“Sova is part of my community, and with the economy being as it is, there is more of a need to help those less fortunate by providing food,” Tracht told the Journal through e-mail.
A member of Temple Israel of Hollywood, Tracht’s contributions to SOVA, alongside her other charitable endeavors, is her way of giving back to the community. She’s considered one of the leading women chefs in the US; since Jar’s opening in 2001, the restaurant has earned international recognition and been inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News in May 2007. Jar’s sister chophouse, Tracht’s, is located at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel.
Tracht’s winning recipe earned her a place in the champion round of the competition, where the six winners of previous episodes will cook-off for the grand prize of $100,000 and the title of Top Chef Master.
“Of course I want to win as a chef, but I also want to win for SOVA,” she said.
How does she plan to take the title?
“By doing what I do best: I will cook from my heart.”