Stuff

Quickfire: the shitiest possible canned foods somehow made to taste good.
Elimination: the finest of all foods–fresh from the farm–made to taste shity.

What happened to this show?  Seriously?  And when does Tom Colicchio get his soul back?  And how was my culinary man crush duped into being part of this?

Lauren, my dear, it is not the brunoise

Although I fell asleep with boredom in my first attempt to watch Top Chef New York, I was awake just long enough to take personal offense to Lauren’s comment that the brunoise is “the hardest knife cut.”  Having spent countless hours practicing for the first portion of the Jr. Culinary Olympic competition (a knife skills practical exam) I know a thing or two about knife skills and brunoise being hardest is simply not the case.

Technically, a brunoise is a 1/8” x 1/8” x 1/8” dice.  Period.  Because a julienne is 1/8” wide people will sometimes say a brunoise is a julienne turned 90 degrees and cut again.  That could be the case, but a julienne is technically 1/8” x 1/8” x 2-2 ½”.  If you were cutting a lot of brunoise you’d probably want to start with something longer.

The classic knife cuts…

Large Dice – 3/4” x 3/4” x 3/4”
Medium Dice – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/2”
Small Dice – 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/4”
Brunoise – 1/8” x 1/8” 1/8”
Fine Brunoise 1/16” x 1/16” x 1/16”

Batonnet 1/4” x 1/4” x 2-2 1/2”
Julienne – 1/8” x 1/8” x 2-2 1/2”
Fine Julienne – 1/16” x 1/16” x 2-2 1/2”

Paysanne – 1/8” thick squares – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8”
Lozenge – 1/8 thick diamonds – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8”
Tourné – barrel shaped with 7 equal sides, 1/4″ flat on each end, 3/4” in the middle, 2-2 1/2” long

These are classic French knife cuts.  They’re what the American Culinary Federation uses for their competitions and they’re what culinary schools teach.  They have these standards so that as you roll from one kitchen to another there’s no need for a chef to explain what size they’re looking for when you’re asked to cut something up.  Your chef could simply say, “Everyone prep me up a 9-pan of brunoised carrots.” Then, because everyone knows what a brunoise is, he could collect those pans from the entire staff and mix them all together.  They should all be identical.  It’s a beautiful thing when a few people in a kitchen can all be so precise with their knife skills that they can each brunoise a different vegetable to later combine into an identically brunoised mix of vegetables.  They can then drop them into something like a consommé and leave informed diners quietly applauding their skill and attention to detail.

Of course your chef could also be

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Some

Top Chef

I’m assuming three women* run the blog Blogging Top Chef, and they’ve got some posts about the Top Chef tour that rolled into Whole Foods the other day.  If that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in, you can read about it.

* I’m assuming it’s three women because their profile lists three people: Chef Biatch, Chef Back Burner and Sous Chef Humor.  Plus they have the following About Me on their profile: In our kitchen breasts, buns, and brains aren’t just ingredients! So stop staring at our boobs and go read the blog.

»crosslinked«

Top Chef Finale

top chef chicago

You know when you’re watching the Final Four and you feel like you’re going to vomit? With fifteen seconds to go your team–the one you’ve been rooting for all season–is up two points but the opponent has control of the ball, and they’re driving slowly down court hoping to hit a three at the precise moment that leaves your team unable to respond.

For five minutes Wednesday night that’s how I felt.

I thought I was going to puke. My stomach was in a knot and those wily bastards at Bravo had edited their silly show in a way that left me concerned for the fate of my television. Ellie and I were on edge. We were ready to throw things.

Lisa was looking good

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A Bit on Blais

tofu

Tofu Steak Marinated in Beef Fat with Green Curry

I didn’t get a chance to comment on last week’s episode and I wanted to because I’m sorry but that tofu thing actually sounded really good.

Of everything I’ve ever seen made on Top Chef that was the one dish that for me was the most intriguing. Whether or not you get off on the whole weird food world or not, Richard, visually, is putting up some interesting food, and where some people make wacky dishes that come off forced or senseless, his seem to be derived from some Wonka-world he’s built a house in and thrived in a way that somehow does make sense.

As Dan once said though, he’s totally a ringer and was even on starchefs.com three years ago.

Here also is a blog with a tasting menu from his time at the now shuttered Element in Atlanta proving he’s a little more advanced than some of the other cheftestants.

Top Chef

artsmithNext week it looks like we get some more uptight-bitch vs Filipino smack-downs, and while that should be pretty entertaining, this week we got another relatively stupid episode of Top Chef.

Not being an Oprah supporter I didn’t know who Art Smith was prior to tonight, but I have to say he was a great judge and the high point of the episode. He actually gave a lot of constructive criticism instead of grunting or oooing over the things he liked and disliked.

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Top Chef Spoilers

dabearsThis season of Top Chef seems to be filled with more Real Worldesque drama than ever before. It’s annoying and it detracts from what made the previous seasons so enjoyable to watch even when the challenges were ridiculous like that airplane one.

And speaking of challenges we’ve had two now that were aimed at lower brow food the chefs would most likely never serve in their restaurants. I didn’t get the impression that the Sandra Lee crowd was the mainstay of Top Chef viewership but perhaps I’m wrong.

Really though this show should be called Top Cook and not Top Chef because they’re judging cooking more than any of these people’s ability to lead. How could they have time to lead with all the constant posturing? It’s like stags fighting it out for a mate.

Never-the-less, spoilers…

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This is my house.

Stephanie and RichardSo far I think this season of Top Chef is the worst. There are no clear favorites and all the overly-arrogant personalities leave me wondering how they even have the jobs they have because some of their resumes are fairly impressive.

I guess being on TV is just a free pass for being a douchebag.

Do not click on if you have not watched Episode 3.

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Top Chef 4

topchefFrom the hilariously inappropriate but appealing dressed Padma Lakshmi who acts as the comedic straight-woman as she delivers her product placements as if she was having a normal conversation; to the celebrity chef guests and Tom Colicchio who actually attempt to judge these challenges as if they were everyday situations for a cook to be in; Top Chef and all it’s ridiculousness returns tonight and I can’t wait.

At the end of the day most of these people can cook, and aside from a few of the quick-fire challenges which give an unfair advantage to the long-straw wielding chefs, we mostly get to see good cooks cook decent looking food from scratch…and isn’t that what a television show about food should be Sandra Lee?

With each season the contestants have improved immensely and I think this year will prove to be the most entertaining yet. Though, if history repeats itself they will be getting the winner wrong again as we find ourselves once again in a flop year where deserving winners will succumb to the snarkiest and strangely-haired deserving ones.

  • Flip – Howard was the obvious win.
  • Flop – Ilan totally robbed Sam…and Marcel for that matter.
  • Flip – And last year Hung showed us that yes, being a good cook/chef has nothing to do with being a likable fellow.
  • Flop – ???

I could wax on about the quick-fires and take a guess at what this year’s candy machine or supermarket aisle will be, but Michael Nagrant at hungrymag.com has far funnier remarks about possible Chicago quick-fire challenges than I do.

Our major fear is that quick fire challenges will revolve around hackneyed ideas like re-inventing deep dish pizza or the Chicago style hot dog…

Fear not Nagrant because according to the Entertainment Weekly I was reading this morning, not only will we be getting the deep dish pizza challenge in the first episode, but the Top Chef crew will be pulling all the stops in the season opener by giving us an apparently less puffy version of Rocco Dispirito right out of the gate.

I guess that means the BOTOX has settled in.

I’d love to type more in this post on my Dell Precision Workstation which offers both the ultimate performance and reliability before the post is uploaded to Hostgator’s state of the art servers housed in their World-Class facility, but I’ve gotta go…I just spilled something and need to locate my Quilted Quicker Picker Upper Bounty paper towels so I can clean it up and place it into my Glad ForceFlex bags.

Symon Says

mike symonMichael Symon has a blog now, and it’s titled exactly what you’d expect it to be: Symon Says.

And as I can’t mention Symon without people instantly thinking about his recent claim to fame, I might as well comment on that too.

Honestly, I hate Iron Chef . Maybe that’s a little strong, but the silliness that surrounds it annoys me. The few episodes I can stand are the ones with Jeffrey Steingarten judging because really, how could anyone be more of a hilariously jaw dropping asshole?

For me, as I’m a big Tom Colicchio fan, my personal choice in the realm of reality based food programming is Top Chef. But don’t think for a second I’m not aware that it’s equally annoying for a totally different set of reasons. The over-the-top product placement is incredible, and I love watching Padma Lakshmi try to keep a straight face as she says more and more ridiculous things with each passing week. The big reason I like though, and especially so this year, is that many of their challenges show whether the chefs involved have real culinary chops; even when they’re silly.

So it came as a surprise when The Next Iron Chef reeled me in and flung itself forcefully into the number two spot. I knew I’d be watching from the start because if you look over on the right, in the list of blogs I like is Chris Cosentino’s Offal Good.

But I knew even though I’d be watching the show, it came as an especially big surprise when I was actually lured into liking the show.

Unlike Top Chef there appeared to be no ringers chosen for personality over skill. Every chef on the show was outstanding, and while some had TV friendly personalities, it was more of an added bonus than their main reason for selection.

More importantly, the challenges were well conceived (mostly) and did an excellent job showing who amongst a cast of great chefs was the truly outstanding one.

And there I was rooting for my man Cosentino until a couple episodes in it was pretty obvious that although he was putting up some killer food, it would be coming down to Mr. Southern, John Besh, and the seemingly insane Michael Symon. I made the the only logical decision and quickly jumped ship like the true fair weather fan I am by realigning my cheers with Symon. You should know, however, that although Ellie and I chose to go to Kansas City in September for our anniversary, Cleveland was our second choice, and specifically so we could eat at Lola and Lolita; Symon’s restaurants.

In the end Ellie was right all along proving to be an admirable alternate .

You can tune in Sunday for the first Symon battle royale, and as you would expect, with so much ridiculous Thanksgiving program cluttering up FoodTV right now, it’s the Thanksgiving special. I’ll actually be watching for once, because let’s face it, Symon makes good TV — he’s insane. Plus, it should be interesting to see what they’ll be giving them to work with. Turducken anyone?