Top Chef

'Top Chef' alum shares a cheese souffle for the holidays

Dec. 14, 2011 at 3:02 PM ET

With so many holiday parties this season, how do you create a spread that won’t be forgotten – without breaking the bank? Former “Top Chef” contestant and fan favorite Tiffany Derry shares a couple of tips and a recipe that’s sure to please.

Make a spread featuring flatbreads and/or crostinis “and play around with the toppings – you don’t need a lot of money for that,” Tiffany explains. Offer a selection with different ingredients like a caprese, or sausage for the perfect variety of finger food.

Don’t get caught up in recipes: “If you know the basic ingredients, don’t be scared to play around.” Try experimenting with additional herbs, various cheeses, and so on.

Want a dish to wow the crowd? Tiffany, an avid cheese lover and now spokesperson for Sargento, shares her recipe for a bubbling pepper jack soufflé. “It comes out nice and airy and is stunning, and it’s an easy dish that doesn’t require a lot of work,” Tiffany says. “When it comes out, everyone is like ‘Oooh,’ and when you burst into it you can see the heat, the cheese oozing out – you’ll forget the rest of the food.” She suggests pairing the rich dish with a Pinot Noir.

Pepper jack cheese souffle

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Servings: 6


  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tsp. black pepper

In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and cook, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 2 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add black pepper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and gradually add cheese mixture. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Lightly butter a 6-cup soufflé dish and dust with flour. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture, 1/3 of beaten whites at a time. Pour egg mixture into dish; it will be 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake 45 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve immediately.


A soufflé needs a straight-sided, round dish to rise properly. It will at least double in size as it bakes. You can use 6 ramekins for individual soufflés and bake 25 minutes.

More holiday tips and recipes: