Jennifer Carroll still gets teased at work for her televised admission that sometimes hair-pulling can be fun.
The "Top Chef: Las Vegas" fan favorite, who is executive chef at 10 Arts by Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton, says her "cooks go home after dinner service and watch the show, then they come in the next day and make fun of me."
The Somerton native is a good sport. While she takes her work seriously, Carroll, 34, says it's important to "have fun at work and laugh at yourself. When you're having fun in the kitchen it translates into the food."
Carroll, who attended St. Christopher's elementary and Mt. St. Joseph's for high school, studied criminal justice at Catholic University, before moving home to follow her cooking passion at the Restaurant School.
She cooked at Kansas City Prime, Sonoma, and Arroyo in Manayunk before joining Neil Stein's Avenue B where she worked under chef Patrick Feury, whom she calls "a really big influence on my career." After that Carroll was off to San Franciso, followed by Le Bernardin in New York where she first worked for chef Ripert.
Carroll says she's stopped constantly on the street by fans of the show and that business at the restuarant has picked up with patrons wanting to meet her. "I don't get to get to the dining room, but I'll invite people for tours of the kitchen," she said. One tourist was Jack Nicholson, who thanked Carroll and her cooks after a 10 Arts meal.
Viewers have seen Carroll facing elimination three times in recent weeks, but many are holding out hope that she may deliver the "Top Chef" title for the city which she says is "totally stereotyped." Carroll says culinary types in New York made fun of Our Town but as far as she's concerned, "Philadelphians are great foodies."