Five (Super Random) Questions for Boston’s New Top Chef Contestants

Karen Akunowicz and Carl Dooley will compete in season 13.

Top Chef Season 13

Karen Akunowicz and Carl Dooley. / Photos by Andrew Eccles for Bravo

Coming off a Top Chef season set in Boston, the city will still be well-represented in the upcoming season 13.

Myers + Chang executive chef and reality cooking show veteran Karen Akunowicz will compete, as well as Carl Dooley, former chef de cuisine at Craigie on Main, who announced through the show’s website that he’s currently working on opening up a restaurant called the Table in Cambridge.

Season 13 will see 16 contestants travel across nearly 1,000 miles of the California coast with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Oakland, and the Greater Palm Springs area. The six-city road trip is a new format for the show, which has stayed in one location per season since its 2006 debut.

In advance of the two-part season premiere on December 2 and 3, we caught up with Akunowicz and Dooley to ask a few (super random) questions.

Who is your celebrity chef idol, and why?

Karen Akunowicz: I have always admired Gabrielle Hamilton, for her writing and cooking. Prune [New York City] has remained one of my favorite restaurants for over a decade. I also am a very big fan of Suzanne Goin [chef/restaurateur of four Los Angeles restaurants, including Lucques and the A.O.C.) and Cassie Piuma [Sarma].

Carl Dooley: Julia Child. She was passionate about old school French cuisine, and wanted to share it with America. She also lived in Cambridge, where I grew up, and was a total badass with a cleaver.

If you weren’t cooking, what would you be doing for a living?

KA: I would like to think I would be in human services, as my undergraduate degree is in social work. However, I bet I would be a hairstylist. My grandmother was a beautician—as they called it in those days—and owned her own shop. I love making people happy, and working with my hands. Hair and makeup are my biggest passions after food!

CD: Playing left field for the Boston Red Sox. My older brother named me after Carl Yastrzemski, and I grew up a huge Mike Greenwell fan. I may not be very good at baseball, but I play with a lot of heart.

Describe your cooking style in three words.

KA: Soulful, crave-able, fiery.

CD: Make delicious food.

Hypothetically, you’re cooking dinner for a first date, so you don’t know your guest’s taste, but you want to impress them and make them feel comfortable. What do you cook?

KA: I would definitely make pasta for a first date—or any date with my spouse, LJ. There is a lot to be said for turning flour and eggs into something as luscious as silky strands of pasta. It communicates care, time, and love. A simple sauce, really good olive oil, and a salad is perfect first date food to me.

CD: When my wife and I were dating, I had us make ravioli together. It was a cool way to impress her, but also get her involved. Anything interactive is always more fun on dates.

What’s the best part of the Thanksgiving spread?

KA: Wine. Just kidding. I love the bird! More than the turkey on Thanksgiving day, I love turkey sandwiches the day after. That’s what I am really after—those Tupperware containers my mother-in-law sends us home with! I am always so sad when the last of it is gone.

CD: My mother’s sweet potato gratin—we call them “the orange disks.” They’re the best thing she cooks, and she only makes them on Thanksgiving.

Top Chef season 13 premieres Wednesday, December 2, and Thursday, December 3, at 10 p.m. on Bravo.