November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Omg, I was travelling last Wednesday and totally missed Top Chef! Not to worry, I TiVo’d it for you and am summing it up here.
If you’re pressed for time, Kuniko went home. If you have a little more, here’s how:
The guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge is Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine. The chefs are presented with a map and on it are 17 kinds of dumplings from all over the world. They sprint to the map to get their pick. Fortunately, Amazon has set them up with some handy-dandy Kindle Fires so they can research the dumpling they receive. There are three components to the dumpling–wrapper, stuffing and sauce–on which they’ll be judged. Oh and some authenticity as well.
Stefan picks Germany which is a big advantage since he grew up eating his dumpling. Josie seems to know what she’s doing as she rolls her wrapper out. There is somehow no flour of any type left in the Top Chef kitchen for Brooke to use for her dumplings. Then, when the buzzer goes, Kuniko has plated… NOTHING. She didn’t have time to get it on the plate so she is not eligible to be judged.
As Dana makes the rounds, she meets Sheldon for the first time face to face since he is one of Food & Wine Magazine’s People’s Best New Chefs. On the bottom were Brooke, Carla and Kuniko. On the top were Josie, Stefan and Micah with Josie winning the ultimate prize of immunity. Now it’s time for the Elimination Challenge.
It’s Thanksgiving Dinner and they’ll be cooking for the organization Fair Start. They will be divided into two teams and headed by some special leaders–Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse for a Top Chef first. Unsurprisingly, Tom and his team develop an Italian themed meal while Emeril and his group add a New Orleans creole twist. Josie declares it the “Civil War” of Thanksgiving. The teams prep and pack and there seems to be some all around good cheer in the kitchen as the Tom and Emeril show their stuff in the kitchen.
Once they get cooking the next day, things get a little messier of course. The kitchen is cramped with everyone in there and Stefan kicks some people out of his area. Then Stefan and Carla get in it for some reason or another. A word of advice to future Top Chef competitors: when the challenge is a team competition, make sure you completely finish your dish before you even begin thinking about helping out the rest of the team. Being the good Samaritan always seems to hurt your personal dish and put you in the bottom three.
The New Orleans team goes first and there are some pretty obvious issues with the meal–the turkey is under cooked, root vegetables are under-seasoned, the kale is too chewy, the gumbo utterly lacks all flavor except bitterness and the the potato pave is completely raw. The shining star is Brooke’s sweet potato biscuit.
Tom’s team comes out stronger. Apparently Tom’s family stuffing recipe includes fois gras, the carrot soup with turkey meatballs is creamy and beautiful, the greens are well dressed and the buttery mashed potatoes are a home run. Elizabeth’s mashed potatoes, CJ’s turkey and Carla’s soup are the top 3 with Carla being the ultimate winner.
Tyler, Kuniko, Josie and Sheldon are on the bottom. Sheldon’s kale was under cooked, Tyler’s gumbo had no flavor, Josie’s turkey was raw (but she has immunity) and the judges decide that Kuniko’s raw and undercooked ptotato pave is the worst offender. It is sad to see her go since she is sweet and I think secretly, a creative genius chef with expert skill. But our emotion subsides when we’re faced with previews from next week and an entire cow carcass hanging in the kitchen. Holy. Cow.
November 8, 2012 § 1 Comment
I am so excited to the see the return of one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. If you are as big a fan as I am, I hope you’ll be happy to hear that I’ll be recapping each episode here this season so you don’t miss a thing.
Last night’s Season 10 Premiere feels more like a pre-episode since we see the judges whittling down competing chefs to see who actually will go to Seattle. The judges who include Tom Colichio, Hugh Acheson and (newly added!) Wolfgang Puck, each have their own test for the cheftestants.
First, we’re at Craft with Tom and his hopefuls who he has working on different tasks in the kitchen. We meet John Tesar who we learn was voted “most hated chef in Dallas”-a title he wears with pride. There is Lizze Binder hailing form South Africa who immediately (in magical TV editing time) comments on Tom’s lovely baby blues. There is Micah Fields from the Standard who is seriously sweating as Tom peers over him working, Jorel Pierce who has the first crazy mustache of the night and Anthony Gray who seems like that inevitable co-worker who sort of sits back and eyes everyone else and never seems to be doing any work. We learn they’ll all be in the kitchen for REAL dinner service that night. Yikes.
Next we see Emeril and his hopefuls who he has challenged with making soup. Josh Valentine presents us with the second crazy mustache of the night. Jeffrey Jew who settles on a gazpacho despite the limited time, manages to pull it off, and is the first chef we see told to pick up a chef jacket and head to Seattle. There are friends Stephanie Cmar and Kristen Kish who cook together, live in the same building and have matching spoon tats. When we find that only former model Kristen Kish makes it through, it seems like the set-up was kind of cruel. Also asked to leave is Tina Borbeau whose seafood and chorizo soup didn’t make the cut.
Then we’re sent to Wolfy’s kitchen where he’s looking for omelets. There is the boisterous Carla Pellegrino who cracks her omelet and tries to cover it up with mushrooms and other toppings. CAUGHT. Despite Wolfgang declaring it “like a woman with too much make-up on” she is safe. While Eliza Gavin is cooking, Wolfgang casually drops that she should serve steak which she smartly obeys and she puts out a monster steak on top of her omelet. “Complicated’ but good enough to get her through to Seattle. Chrissy Camba assesses the situation, “He holds my future in his Austrian hands” and brings some of her heritage to the omelet. We learn Kunio Yagi is new to the States from Tokyo who came to America on her own to further her career. You can’t help but root for her. Tyler Wiard seems like he needs a little confidence boost as he faces his omelet and Daniel O’Brien rattles off his rankings on Yelp, etc. Yet after serving too much grease, he’s the only one of the bunch asked to leave. He has a bad attitude about it and you let out a sigh of relief. Dodged a bullet with that one.
I have a deep love for Hugh Acheson. To me he has that subtle, dry humor that is just absolutely hsyterical. And it’s nice to see the South have a representative up there! He asks his cheftestants for a “beautiful salad.” Brook Williamson serves up fried kale (the second time we’ve seen that tonight) which is the big winner of the group. We also meet Bart Vandaele who is actually knighted. Sir Chef. The group, which also includes Sheldon Simeon and Danyele McPherson, on the whole performs well. Only Community Food Program Founder Gina Keatley falls short.
We finish up back at Craft in LA where no one seems to be completing their butchering/scaling up to par so you don’t know who is making it through. But during dinner service that night, John proves his skills quickly and is asked to continue to Seattle. Micah’s positive energy in the kitchen seems to be the determining factor that gets him through. Lizzie is also safe but Jorel and Anthony are sent packing. Two crazy mustaches is too much for this season.
November 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
This past weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not one, not two, but three very special events were colliding and I couldn’t wait to get the weekend started.
We kicked it off Nashville style with the 46th Annual CMA Awards. This event was so much fun and I am so glad it’s home is in Nashville! Not only was it one star-studded performance after another, but the fans and the energy in the crowd had a contagious, anything-goes kind of feel- from cut-offs to ball gowns.
Next, my mom and my sister came into town for a visit and some wedding planning. Of course we had to show off our favorite joint, Patrick Martin’s, so they could taste what real bbq is.
We also wanted to bring them to what just might be our favorite date spot in Nashville, City House. Our waiter even let it slip that they were catering to Anthony Bourdain after his show. I love the wine in the picture below, Glornata Gemellaia, Sangiovese, Merlot, Paso Verdot, Paso Robles, CA 2010 which I’ve ordered at two different dinners now and it’s paired with everything.
And then I came face to face with my long-time celebrity personality crush, Anthony Bourdain. I spent many a lazy college afternoon watching No Reservations, devoured Kitchen Confidential (and the not quite-as-good Medium Raw) and stood in a jam-packed Barnes & Noble in NY to hear him speak with David Chang.
My answer to the “what’s your dream job?” question was always the same, “Anthony Bourdain’s sidekick.” Listening to him speak Saturday at TPAC, I got to hear the inside scoop of just what it would take to be on his team–namely, humiliation, exhaustion, lots of strange food, too much liquor and a dash of skirting the law. Maybe I should just enjoy getting my fix from his upcoming CNN show.
August 28, 2012 § 3 Comments
Even though I no longer live in NYC, I continue to stalk NY Mag’s food blog Grub Street since there are always interesting tidbits about the food world, celebrity chefs, etc. Today I saw this gem and wanted to share.
After 25 years of service, legendary Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago will close its doors. After setting the bar for excellence and breaking modernist culinary ground, the self-taught chef is closing out with bang–a $2,500-per-plate 25th Anniversary Gala. The event was hosted on August 19th for 60 guests. Guest chefs included Nathan Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine, remember that episode of Top Chef?) and Charleston’s farm-to-table and Southern cuisine champion Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady’s.
The video is a just a quick peak behind-the-scenes of the service that night. It shows the whole team reflecting on the restaurant and Charlie Trotter as a chef, working together, giving inspirational speeches… Seems like they had a great run and looking forward to their new pursuits!
June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Seems like it is the season for celebrity cookbooks as many a star in the food world has taken up the pen. Maybe some of these can make it on to your summer reading list or perchance, the Book Club here?
Gail Simmons chronicles her rise in the culinary word from line cook and personal assistant to Top Chef Judge and host of the Desserts spinoff in her memoirs Talking With My Mouth Full.
Marcus Samuelsson’s tale begins in Ethiopa, continues in Sweden and leads to a James Beard award, three stars from the New York Times and a state dinner at the White House in Yes, Chef.
Anthony Bourdain is everywhere. His graphic novel Get Jiro, a critique of modern food culture is out July 3rd and he is signed on to publish the Mission Chinese book. All while aiding in wife Nigella Lawson’s unnamed ABC cooking show.
I’m especially excited to read former Times Restaurant Critic, Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving out this fall.
Jessica Seinfeld has a follow-up to Deceptively Delicious in the works geared toward people who are “terrified” of cooking.
And it won’t be out until next spring but I am super psyched about, Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner, features staff meal recipes from New York restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants.