August 31, 2010
NASA Challenges Top Chef Contestants
A new dish is being prepared for astronauts working in space. Bravo TV's Emmy-award winning reality show "Top Chef" will feature a special challenge for the five remaining "chef'testants." The winning contestant will have his or her recipe prepared by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and flown on a future space shuttle mission.
Food preparation and taste have come a long way since the Apollo era. Today, the menu for astronauts includes 180 food and beverage items. These include tomato basil soup, chicken fajitas, shrimp cocktail, scrambled eggs and beef tips with mushrooms. They can also munch on nuts, granola bars and cookies. Beverages come in powdered form and include coffee, tea, apple cider, orange juice and lemonade.
As much as possible, NASA tries to provide astronauts with meals that look and taste like those on Earth. Crew members continually say that when they're in such an unfamiliar environment so far away, food is one of the main things that reminds them of home.
On Sept. 1, the chefs will participate in a challenge to create a tasty meal for the astronauts. They will be restricted by the same nutritional guidelines that NASA food scientists follow in the Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston.
This episode will feature the space program with portions shot at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The "Top Chef" production crew, accompanied by head judge Tom Colicchio and the five contestants, visited Goddard and filmed in the Network Integration Center.
Rumor has it that former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and current astronauts Sandy Magnus and Leland Melvin will make appearances.
The episode will air on Bravo at 10 p.m. EDT. Bravo has posted a teaser showing a portion of the show that was filmed at Goddard: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/season-7/videos/goddard-space-flight-center.
Image Caption: Image above: Anthony Bourdain, Padma Lakshmi and Buzz Aldrin dining during the "Space Food" episode of Top Chef. Photo credit: Bravo Photo