Recipes the Top Chef All Stars L.A. Contestants Are Cooking Up While Social Distancing

This year's Top Chef All Stars L.A. contestants share their favorite quarantine recipes, from masa ball soup to ginger chicken and broccoli

By Allison Crist Apr 15, 2020 5:01 PMTags
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It's time to step up your cooking skills!

And who better to help you in the kitchen than a few of the Top Chef All Stars L.A. contestants?

Season 17 of the series is currently playing out week to week on Bravo (Thursdays at 10 p.m.), but the expert chefs are now at home, practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak like everybody else. Unlike most, though, they're not exactly filling up on cereal or frozen pizza—at least not exclusively! Instead, they're dining on their own unique creations—whether that means putting a spin on a classic or creating something new entirely. 

If your stomach is already growling, you're in luck. Top Chef vets Brian Malarkey, Lisa Fernandes, Nini Nguyen and Jennifer Carroll all shared their detailed recipes for everything from masa ball soup to a five-minute roasted chicken.

So hop off the couch and head to the kitchen—it's your time to shine, Top Chef-style.

Get more of this year's contestants by watching Top Chef All Stars L.A. Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo!

Top Chef All Stars: L.A. Contestants' Comforting Foods for Quarantine

Jennifer Carroll

Prior to this year's Top Chef All Stars L.A., Carroll appeared on season six of the Bravo series. She later returned for the season eight All Stars season while also participating in Last Chance Kitchen season seven. 

While at home, Carroll said she's been keeping large batch sauces that she can use in multiple ways. One of her favorites? Jerk sauce.

"Jerk sauce can be used on EVERYTHING!" she explained. "Chicken, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mangos, pineapple, eggs, rice, even delicious baked into bread, cakes and drizzled on Vanilla ice cream. Trust ME it's sweet, spicy and savory."

Jerk Sauce 


1.5 cup peeled garlic clove
12 bunches of scallions
1.5 boxes of light brown sugar
6 grams of Allspice
18 grams of cinnamon
30 grams of thyme
6 grams of nutmeg
30 ounces of soy or tamari sauce
3 cups molasses
2 cups rum
2 whole habanero peppers with seeds
1/2 cup blanched preserved lemon
1 cup Dijon mustard
30 grams salt
1 cup olive oil


Add all ingredients except oil to a blender and blend until smooth. Stop blender and scrape down sides. Turn back on and slowly emulsify in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. 

This recipe makes about 5 quarts. You can freeze it or share with family, neighbors and friends. 


Lisa Fernandes

Fernandes was a contestant on season four, the Chicago-set season. 

As for right now, she said she's been loving Chinese food—especially dishes that incorporate ginger and garlic, like her take on this recipe. And if you run into any trouble while cooking it, Fernandes said to message her on Instagram

Ginger Chicken & Broccoli


1-pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 egg, scrambled
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar; light brown or white is fine
3 cups broccoli
Optional: sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, sambal, sriracha, sesame oil, rice
*Cooked Jasmine rice is best but whatever you have at home is fine! Follow the instructions for your rice based on the package. 


Bring a pot of water to a boil with some salt. When it's boiling, cook the broccoli for about 3-5 minutes, or until it's tender. Drain and set aside.

Put the chicken and egg into a bowl. Coat well. Coat the chicken in the cornstarch.

In a pan on medium heat, add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom. Cook the chicken on both sides until golden brown. Make sure the chicken is 165 degrees in the middle.

In the same pan, add the garlic, onions and ginger. Cook until golden. Put the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and pepper flakes in the pan. Add the chicken back until the sauce coats everything. Add the broccoli and stir well. Serve over rice!

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Nini Nguyen

Nguyen is a veteran of season 16.

She's offering up a recipe that she used on this year's Top Chef All Stars L.A. in episode two. 

Masa Ball Soup


For the broth:

2-3 pounds chicken with bone
3 stalks lemongrass
1 whole onion
6 kaffir lime leaves (if you have)
4-inch knob of ginger
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 can coconut milk (full fat)

For the masa balls:

1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons melted coconut oil

For the garnish:

2-inch ginger, thinly sliced
Lime wedges
Green chili
Green onions
Pulled chicken


For the broth:

Place all ingredients except the coconut milk and simmer for about 1.5 hours. In the last half hour add the coconut milk. Strain and pick chicken meat off bone.

For the masa balls:

Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls and then combine. Let the dough chill in the fridge for about an hour or until dough is stiff.  In a pot filled half way with boiling salted water, place masa balls in and simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Brian Malarkey

Malarkey was an early competitor on Top Chef from season three.

As of late, he said he's been obsessed with roasted chicken.

"It's the ultimate comfort food for me and my family, but waiting for it to roast is not always ideal," he explained. "So when the family's hungry, I use this 5-minute chicken recipe that is only 5 ingredients; It is just as homey and wholesome, without the wait."

Crispy Skinned Pounded Chicken Breast in 5 minutes with Lemon Salsa Verde


4 each chicken breast with skin
3 each lemons
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch Italian parsley, rough chop
salt and pepper
pan spray


2 Large saute pans
Medium mixing B=bowl
Tongs and spoon


*You may have to do this twice—2 breasts each time—as to not overcrowd the sauté pan.

Cover the chicken breasts with a kitchen towel and start pounding—you want to thin the breast out evenly so that it cooks very quickly giving it incredible texture and maximum juiciness. Season the pounded breast with salt and pepper.

Put one of the large sauté pans over high heat, add pan spray and the 4 breasts skin side down. Spray the bottom of the other large sauté pan and place on top of the breast. Now put something heavy on top of the sauté pan to weigh it down—the more weight the better (i.e. pot of water, bricks). Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the chicken is white on the side facing up.  Flip the breast over and the skin should be crispy golden brown. Remove from heat and place onto a large platter or individual plates.

Salsa Verde:

With a microplane, zest and remove the yellow from the lemons and put into the bowl. Next, remove the peel and segment the lemons (as seen on The Today Show) and add to the bowl. Add olive oil, parsley and capers. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if you like. Now, spoon it onto your beautiful chicken breast!

Watch Top Chef All Stars L.A. Thursdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo!

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)