On Thursday, December 7, Chef Brother Luck makes his debut on the first episode of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series, Top Chef on Bravo. Season 15 is shot entirely in Colorado, with segments in Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, Telluride and Aspen.
“It’s an honor to be on Top Chef and to be able to represent Colorado Springs,” says Luck. “I had applied in previous seasons and never heard anything, so I kind of put it in the back of my mind and moved on, decided to open up Four. And of course, they reached out to me back in October (2016).”
Just days after opening Four by Brother Luck, the chef suddenly left town to supposedly travel to Japan. Just recently, Luck shares that he secretly was in state the entire time competing against the other 14 chefs on the show.
“Leaving my restaurant for two months was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” says Luck. “It was a tough discussion. When I was given the dates and given the green light that I was actually on the cast it was the worst timing. I put everything into building my business the last four or five years. My wife and I have sacrificed everything to make this happen. We don’t have investors, we don’t have partners, this is truly a family owned business that we’ve made happen from day one.”
Luck looks back at his experience on Top Chef now as invaluable and credits the show with a new outlook regarding the way he classifies his culinary personality.
“I learned a lot about myself during the filming,” says Luck. “I’ve stopped trying to identify what type of cuisine I do because I’m so inspired by everything. I have a better understanding of what I think American cuisine is. I think it’s truly a melting pot of many cultures and I’m looking forward to continuing to pursue that understanding and education in my own restaurant.”
The format of Top Chef encompasses a progression of challenges with eliminations at the end of each week. The 15 individuals live together, eat together and compete against one another to earn the title of “Top Chef.”
Luck speaks highly of his fellow teammates and fondly states that “the cast is phenomenal.”
“It’s such a talented array of personalities and experience,” says Luck. “I will have those friendships for the rest of my life. It’s an experience no one will ever understand except us because we went through it together.”
“It’s surreal to have the opportunity to be a part of that group,” says Luck. “There’s been 15 seasons over the last 12 years and that’s less than 200 chefs across the country that can say they’ve been a part of Top Chef.”
Luck also values his interactions with the prominent judges as equally as enlightening and humbling.
“It’s huge to have someone like Tom Colicchio, Padma (Lakshmi), Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot, give you feedback on a consistent basis,” says Luck. “Tom talks to us like we’re in his kitchen and that’s how he treats the cast. We all look up to them.”
As the season premiere approaches Luck is busy working on the new winter menu at Four which releases during the second or third week in December. Look for innovative and unusual approaches as the season brings in rare cuts, like pig head, that Luck says illustrates a higher level of craft and creativity.
“Anybody can take lobster or beef tenderloin and make it taste delicious, they’re high quality ingredients,” says Luck. “But to take something like a cheek, ox tail or sweet bread and truly put technique to it, I think that’s the true test of a chef.”
Due to the abrupt nature of his departure to film Luck now realizes a learning curve as he fully reintegrates himself back into the setting at Four and his role as executive chef.
“It forced me to trust my staff more, it forced me to get out of my head, delegate, and let people do their jobs,” says Luck. “It’s exciting now because I’m able to come back now and learn my operation which is the most random thing ever: I have to learn my own restaurant. Now I’m getting to really grow into the restaurant and finally getting the opportunity to put my own personality on the atmosphere, the environment and the cuisine.”
Luck is under strict instructions to keep any additional details regarding Top Chef under lock and key but guarantees “it’s an exciting season” and it’s “full of surprises.” He notes the interesting choices the guest chefs make during challenges and how that reflects their perspective “of what they think Colorado is.”
During the airing on Thursday, December 7, at 8:00 p.m. Luck says there are plans to offer specials at Four while patrons watch the chefs start off the season cooking at a block party in Denver’s Larimer Square.
“I love the fact that they’re here in Colorado,” says Luck. “I didn’t have any idea. I’d already been cast before I found out. So to know that I was going to be able to cook in my home state as a local and represent us, our cuisine and our ingredients, that was amazing.”
*Header image courtesy of Brother Luck.