Top Chef Insights

Ever wondered whether a Master Chef's guilty pleasure is simply peanut butter or mac 'n cheese? Want to find out what the latest menu trends will be for the coming season? Always wondered who inspires some of the leading chefs in the industry? We've asked these questions and have the answers for you here.

View archived Top Chef Insights interviews.

September's Featured Chef: Chef Barbie Marshall, The Farming Chef & Finalist on Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen

Chef Barbie was a featured chef in the Culinary Demonstration Theater at the 2014 International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of NY.

What made you want to become a chef?
I lost my father at the age of 14 to lung cancer. Up until then I'd always loved to cook. He was a retired police officer and his partner started a catering company after his retirement. The day of my dad's funeral he told me I was coming to work in the kitchen. I've never considered any thing other than working with food since.

With summer just passing, what seasonal changes did you make to your menu?

Some things have a really short season for example, the best local strawberries this summer were only in season for about a month, so I will use them as many ways as possible fresh in dishes and preserved for the rest of the year but once they are gone, I'll move on to the next thing. Like cherries, which came shortly after.

What was your favorite class in culinary school and why? 
I attended Johnson and Wales University's Norfolk Campus. Honestly, I loved every class I attended. I have some highlights but from Stocks and Sauces to Advanced Patisserie, I enjoyed every moment of class because I was a sponge soaking up as much as I could. It really set the ground work for soaking up information once I started working in kitchens.

Is there one comfort food that you're secretly obsessed with having at home?
I am secretly obsessed with Macaroni and Cheese. I could have pasta and cheese every night with different pastas and cheese and be a happy camper forever.

If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be? 
I'm fortunate enough to say that I will always go to my Mom's table before any restaurant. My mom is just amazing in the kitchen and does things that even I still can't.

More about Chef Barbie: 

Chef Barbie Marshall is the Chef Partner of SOOP Catering in Philadelphia, PA. Not afraid to get her hands dirty – both in the kitchen and in the garden the southwest Philadelphia native, started cooking at the age of 5 and there was no time at all before preparing dinner was a chore.  She developed a passion early on for feeding as well as teaching others to enjoy food.

Chef Barbie began cooking professionally when offered a job at Ritz Hall Catering at the age of 14. She continued to cooking for her friends while attending West Philadelphia Catholic High School. Chef Barbie attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in the Hampton Roads area. For 10 years Chef Barbie worked in restaurants including: The Smokehouse & Cooler, Cuisine & Company, Cobalt Grille and Todd Jurich’s Bistro. It was during this time she became avidly committed to local, sustainable ingredients.

Chef Barbie returned to Philadelphia cooking at The Philadelphia Fish & Company, 1224 Raw, Rx Restaurant, and SOOP Catering. In 2007, Barbie’s research and work on sustainable foods led her to accept a position as a farmer at Green Meadow Farm. Her years of farming combined with her culinary work led her to be called The Farming Chef as she utilizes ingredients she has grown from the soil to the plate.

A champion for sustainable foods and a healthy approach to eating, Chef Barbie launched into the national stage when she finished as a finalist on Hell’s Kitchen Season 10. Chef Barbie has been invited to participate in celebrity chef appearances and demonstrations from coast to coast, to speak on panel discussions ranging in topics including:  “Women in the Industry,” “Food TV Today,” and “Sustainable Farming.”


August Chef Insights - Cal DeMercurio, Corporate Executive Chef, Black Bear Diner
July Chef Insights - Johannes Bernau, Executive Chef, Who Song & Larry's
June Chef Insights - Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Tchoup Chop