|Courtesy of 10 Arts|
|Michael Walsh and Jennifer Carroll accept a
On Sunday, September 13, 10 Arts by Eric Ripert (The Ritz-Carlton, 10 S. Broad St.) received the "Best Event of 2008" award from the Philadelphia chapter of the world's oldest gastronomic society, The Chaine des Rotisseurs. Officers of the Philadelphia Chaine voted unanimously to honor 10 Arts, which hosted the Philadelphia Chaine Induction Gala on September 21, 2008.
Above, Ritz-Carlton general manager Michael Walsh and 10 Arts chef de cuisine Jennifer Carroll (now appearing on Bravo's Top Chef) accept their award.
Last night, I was talking to a local chef who's a big Top Chef fan. He explained that any chefs who claims they never tune in to the show are most likely lying their clog-wearing asses off. Now that I know this ï¿½ what's up, chefs? Wasn't last night's episode French as shit? Did any of you have mortifying flashbacks to culinary school? Night terrors about aspic or anything? I'm here for you.
Quickfire: The world-renowned Daniel Boulud invites the cheftestants to his Vegas brasserie, and asks them to impress him with a dish highlighting snails. A tough enough challenge on its own (also a "high stakes," with $15K on the line) ï¿½ but then they learn that while the QF winner will earn immunity, the loser will be shipped home. "Whoever thought that a snail looked good to eat had to be really fucking hungry," quips Jen C.. That's kinda like a Philly version of that famous oyster quote from Jonathan Swift. "Escargot is like my whole youth, you know?" says Mattin as he preps his dish. No, we hadn't noticed you were farcically French.
Among Boulud's favorites ï¿½ Kevin, who Southerned up his dish with a candied bacon jam; Mike I, who impressed the big-shot chef with a soulful ouzo broth; and Jen C., who grilled ramps and threw yuzu into the mix. It's close, but Kevin ends up with the chip. (He also ends up with probably the dopest perk in Top Chef history ï¿½ more on that in a sec.)
Bottom three for the QF ï¿½ Jesse, Ashley and Robin. As they brace to hear who'll be sent packing, Tom C. throws them a bone, giving them 20 minutes to whip up an amuse bouche to prove their mettle. Jesse, who does the pre-dinner bites at her Bmore restaurant every night, doesn't impress with her tuna tartar, and Boulud says au revoir. "The thing I want people to know is that I don't suck this bad," she laments post-axing. That sounds depressing but it reminds me of an important distinction ï¿½ as much as I like to poke fun at the ridiculous things these people say on TV (my long-standing rule of thumb: If they're on the screen, you are allowed to make fun of them), some people just aren't predisposed for success when it comes to the spontaneous challenges these sick-in-the-head Top Chef producers concoct. I don't think it has much to do with raw ability, either ï¿½ remember Roy Yamaguchi stumbling on Top Chef Masters? Wacky on-the-fly cookery just ain't in their makeup. "Why do they sign up for the show, then?" you might ask. Wouldn't you?
Elimination: The cheftestants draw knives ï¿½ some are assigned classic French proteins, while others land classic French sauces. Then they pair up in six groups, combining a sauce with a protein to create a coursed tasting for some of the biggest French chefs in modern memory, including Boulud, Laurent Tourondel, Hubert Keller, Jean Joho, and "chef of the century" Joï¿½l Robuchon, whose restaurant hosted the dinner. Not competing? Main man Kevin, who gets to sit with all the culinary giants and eat dinner. The dude's face lights up like a bearded Christmas tree when he gets the news. Seriously unbelievable.
Not enough time to go into how big of a deal Robuchon is here, but please read former TC finalist Richard Blais' extended-Star Wars-metaphor writeup on the guy. My only quibble, Richard? If you're gonna get all Lucas on us, how could you not liken JR to Emperor Palpatine?! They got the same tailor and everything:
"To be cooking for the chef of the century, honestly I feel like throwing up," admits Ashley.
The cooking and service segments are intense and FrenchFrenchFrench, as are Robuchon's monolingual thoughts on the dishes (a little translator guy helped break it down), e.g. "If you go into the details, I'm caught a little off-guard" re: Eli and Laurine's middle-of-the-road lobster/sauce Amï¿½ricaine dish. At the top: Jen C. and Mike V. (love connex? seems that way), whose rabbit/chasseur plate was "cooked perfectly," according to Robuchon; and Bryan and Mike I., who took a big risk ï¿½ that paid dividends ï¿½ by desconstructing a bernaise to go with trout. Bryan is selected as the individual champ, his second Elimination W. I still think they look like lifeguards, but it's clear the Voltaggio brothers are serious, serious business.
At the bottom: Mattin and Ashley, who screwed up a veloutï¿½ with too much bacon (anyone else notice Mattin curtsy like freaking Madeline in front of all his countrymen? cute); and Hector and Ash, whose Chateaubriand steak was unevenly cooked and ill-presented. Hector, sadly, gets the boot for his sloppy meat-slicing, but there may be a buddy comedy in this duo's future ï¿½ Ash was already working on the treatment early in the episode ("So this Puerto Rican and this gay guy have to make dinner for Joï¿½l Robuchon ... ")
Next week: Cookin' in the desert with Tim Love.
Late pass, my bad.
Episode 3 of Top Chef was as well-intentioned as it was slow-moving. It did, however, provide us with a few fascinating insights, which I will now run down in bulleted list form:
- PREETI SAYS SHE BECAME A CHEF BECAUSE OF 9/11
- PREETI SAYS SHE BECAME A CHEF BECAUSE OF 9/11
- PREETI SAYS SHE BECAME A CHEF BECAUSE OF 9/11
- PREETI SAYS SHE BECAME A CHEF BECAUSE OF 9/11
There were a few other interesting aspects of this episode, but that really stuck with me for some reason. It's just a weird thing to say. But on a positive note, it opens up a world of possibility as far as pairing occupations with American calamities goes (new parlor game?).
- "I became a cobbler because of the Hindenburg."
- "I became a home appliance technician because of Columbine."
- "I became a occupational therapist because of the Kent State Massacre."
- "I became a Jiffy Lube franchisee because of the USS Maine."
Very fun, try it!
Quickfire: L.A. chef Mark Peel, who competed on Top Chef Masters, has the 15 remaining cheftestants to create a dish using potatoes. No one, not even the transcendently beautiful Padma (who came hard with it on this episode, right?), made a Peel/potato pun, and I was pleased about that. At the bottom: Eli, whose play on sweet potatoes and marshmallows was too sweet; Ron, who overcooked tuna; and the consistently not-good-at-this-show Jesse, who burned Peel's face off with too much cayenne in her soup. On top? Ashley, who executed gnocchi well despite Preeti dunking asparagus into her boiling water (terrorist!); Ash (co-dark horse nom with Ashley), who turned bad (sweet potato ice cream that wouldn't freeze) into good (sweet potato custard); and The Woman, Jen C, who won immunity for steamed mussels in a lemongrass potato sauce that featured three things I wish were conveniently transportable in one's billfold: duck fat, butter and creme fraiche. JEN C!
Other QF weirdness: Peel and Padma hated on Mike I's potato risotto ï¿½ Peel said it was too salty, while Padma patronizingly reassured the chef it was still a "nice idea" ï¿½ and dude started screaming favoritism on the Jen C-hearting judges' part. Jesse, who seemed aware of the heat her spice-based assassination attempt soup packed, yelled "Stupid me, I hate me!" and slapped herself in the forehead repeatedly.
Elimination: The chefs are told to cook a meal for 300 air men/women (the Thunderbirds) in a hangar in the middle of the desert. Mike V digs this, because he and Bryan's sister is enlisted in the Air Force. "Also," he adds, "who doesn't want to do something for their country?" Screw knife skills, patriotism is my new favorite desirable chef trait.
Mike I stops conspiracy-theorizing long enough to come up with a smart way to split up work ï¿½ since his fairer-sex archnemesis Jen C has immunity, she's tapped to be boss, with the remaining 14 cheftestants pairing up to put together to cook a total of seven dishes. Jen C kills it in her supervisory role, maestro-ing the crappy kitchen space so everyone can cook and sticking it to Hector for chit-chatting. Top four: Mike I and Mike V, who teamed up to talk about tattoos/cook a bacon-as-pork belly dish that looked eerily similar to something I recently ate at Michael O'Halloran's Kong (theirs; his); and Eli and Kevin, who bonded "on a fat kid level" while prepping braised pork shoulder and potato salad. Mike V ends up winning (Gail deems the dish "super mega delicious," which I believe is Canadian for "good"), but I'm thinking his W is tainted based on the face-palm quotient of this Bravo Photoshop (I swear I'm not responsible for this):
Just so you know, this image comes from Mike V's bravotv.com Q&A, which features inspiring exchanges like this:
Bravotv.com: Tom LOVED your idea to cook the bacon as pork belly. What gave you this idea? Have you done this before?
Braised bacon ... enough said.
Bottom this week ï¿½ Mike I, who was stuck here because the judges thought his salad contribution to Mike V's plate was weak; and Laurine and Preeti, who teamed up on a bland-looking pasta salad on Top Chef and thought that was OK.
Prior to judges' table, though, is where Preeti said her piece about how Osama bin Laden was indirectly responsible for helping her learn what a quenelle was. "We all experienced that day in many different ways ... the only thing that made sense was to cook," Preeti explains of 9/11/01, adding that she "went to culinary school a few years later." Yep, still a weird thing to say. Though it wasn't the reason Preeti was sent home this week (real reason: pasta salad foreal?), I'm going to go ahead and pretend it is.
Next week: Step 1: Learn you're cooking for Joel Robuchon. Step 2: Poop yourself.
We're barely into our recaps for Season 6 of Top Chef (here's Episode 1 and Episode 2), and Philly's already looking formidable. Above, check a clip from tonight's ep, where 10 Arts chef de cuisine Jennifer Carroll ï¿½ an early front-runner in our eyes ï¿½ puts the kibosh on idle chit-chat in an executive chef role. Don't cross this chick!
How many more episodes till we get tired of the Top Chef: Las Vegas gambling motif? Anybody got a wager?
Quickfire: The remaining chefs are herded over to a craps table in the Top Chef kitchen, where the prolific/generally unsettling Disney villain-like celeb chef Todd English makes them toss a pair of dice. (Our girl Jen C. thinks he is "pretty hot.") Whatever number they roll is how many ingredients they must incorporate into their 30-minute dishes. Who sucked? Jesse, whose mushy, sear-less scallops looked anemic (English called them "blonde" ... is that a term?); Eve, who couldn't balance the eight flavors of her grilled asparagus salad; and non-tattooed lifeguard brother Bryan, who used too much yuzu when sous-vide poaching his black cod. At the top? Tattooed lifeguard brother Michael V., with a liquid nitrogen gazpacho (very smart way to unify eight ingredients); Jen C., who did a little something with salmon; and Kevin, who won high praise from English for the perfectly boiled egg in an asparagus/celery salad. Michael V. ends up taking the $15K QF chip (and immunity) for his froze-up soup.
Before we get into the Elimination challenge, do yourself a solid and take this picture the fuck IN:
Sorry to say, but your boy Gaston Todd is a non-factor in this. What is more glorious ï¿½ Tom C.'s forced Billy Joel-style pose with a blazer that looks way, way too big for him? Or the transcendently beautiful Padma's rich lady Slinky/The Last Days of Disco belt? It's a lot to think about.
Elimination: Some horrible couple asks the poor cheftestants to pair eats for their horrible bachelor/bachelorette parties with horrible shots that horrible people like to take at horrible bars. (A Moscow Mule?!) The guys are assigned to cook for the girls' party and vice versa, and Jen C. does not like it. "It doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl, and I'm a little pissed off about it," she says. The challenge also sets my dark horse pick Ashley off on a sour-ass rant about gay marriage. Ashley, I couldn't agree with you more re: rights for same-sex couples, but is the second episode of Top Chef really the proper venue for this? Save it till the reunion show maybe? Also, my girl has taken to calling her "Wendy and Lucy," after that depressing movie where hobo Michelle Williams loses her dog:
Also This Week in Top Chef Gaydom: Ash is tasked with handling all flower duties for the men's team because he likes dudes ("It's true ï¿½ gay guys do better with flowers than straight guys," he explains), and Mattin laments that he can't flirt with the ladies at the bachelorette party because he's too busy cooking. Why is that last part lumped into this gaydom rundown?
The men's team ends up winning over the ladies, with Bryan, Hector, Eli and Michael V. at the top. Gail loooveesss Eli's tuna tartare, even though she "can't count how many tuna tartares I've eaten in the last 15 years of my life." I mean neither can I Gail but I don't really eat them very often. Also you might want to get your mercury levels checked out. Hector does some good stuff with tofu (there was a vegan at the party) and Michael V.'s almond sorbet with goat cheese is a hit, but V.'s brother Bryan ends up getting one up on his sib thanks to a "whimsical and fun" sweet/sour macaroon stuffed with guac, corn nuts and corn puree.
Girls in the bottom four: Eve, who already sucked once in the QF; Jesse, who again has execution problems; Preeti, who stood by her dish as a crowd-pleaser despite depressed-looking shiso leaves; and Wendy/Lucy/Ashley, who for some reason decided to do two dishes and screwed up a panna cotta (her other one was well-liked, though). Though Bmore girl Jesse seems to be on seriously thin ice with the judges, it's the slightly space-cadetty Eve who ends up getting the boot. Fair enough. I was so confused by the explanation of her "vice" dish from last week that any more Eveism might've induced a coma.
Next week: Cheftestants cook for 300 airmen. Canned food is involved.
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
The Elimination Challenge on Wednesday's season premiere was cooking a dish inspired by a personal vice. Zavala, formerly of El Camino Real and now at Xochitl, was sent home for a seitan-stuffed chile relleno (representing her fiery temper) that perplexed the judges. But the chef reveals that doing just this dish wasn't her initial plan. Zavala says she was under the mistaken impression that she had to cook two separate dishes, so she bought ingredients for a jalapeno cucumber gazpacho as well as stuff for the relleno.
"When I went back to the cast house, [I realized] we only had to have [one], so I thought maybe I should change my vice to that I don't listen well," laughs Zavala. (Note: When you say "one" on Top Chef, it's actually two plates, as you're actually required to double up your dish in the time limit ï¿½ oneï¿½ plate for photographers, one for the judges.) Weighing her options, she decided that doing the soup alone would be "kind of lame," so Zavala, who cooked with seitan regularly at ECR, said "fuck it ï¿½ I'll just go with it. ... I took a risk. That's what a Top Chef does, right? They take risks."
Zavala says that she observed that judges Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi, as well as guest judge Wolfgang Puck, were unfamiliar with seitan, or textured wheat gluten. "The only one who knew was it was was [judge] Gail [Simmons]," Zavala says. "She said, 'I've had it before and I enjoyed it. But for me, you didn't represent it well.' That was enough for me."
"I didn't sell it well and I didn't plate it very well," she adds of the dish, which is on the menu at El Camino Real. "But I definitely would've done it again. I felt other people kind of played it safe. I definitely wanted to stand out." She chalks up the dish's lack of heat (a criticism vocalized by the judges) to the fact that the woodfire grill in the Top Chef kitchen was extinguished by the time she got in the door. Since all 17 chefs couldn't fit into the kitchen at the same time, they had to cook in flights, and Zavala says there simply wasn't enough time to get the grill going again once her group hit the stoves, meaning she cooked her chiles at a lower temp than usual.
Zavala has nothing but kind words for her former employer Owen Kamihira, owner of El Camino Real, whom she says supported her all the way when she was filming Top Chef. That being said, she's extremely happy with her new gig ï¿½ she started a week ago ï¿½ at Xochitl under chef/co-owner Dionicio Jimenez. "I wanted to go a different direction with my career," she says.
Zavala laughs at the rumors that the Mexican restaurant hired her based on her appearance on Top Chef. "There was a lot of BS going on about why Xochitl hired me," she says. "Xochitl does not care about Top Chef at all. [Dionicio] is so old-school. He doesn't roll like that."
Zavala has no plans to put a seitan dish on Xochitl's menu.
Top Chef Masters, the 10-episode miniseries run that tested the limits of how much petty, humiliating crap one group of bewildered superstar chefs can be put through, is history. Who won?
The Chicago-based chef bested Hubert Keller and Michael Chiarello in a four-course cook-off judged by the Masters crew, the regular Top Chef-fers (Tom C., Padma and Gail, who should have a spin-off that involves them driving around in a Saturn and solving food-based mysteries) and past TC winners Harold, Ilan, Hung, Stephanie and Hosea.
The thematic approach for each course ï¿½ the final three had the help of their favorite sous chefs for the meal ï¿½ was melodramatic to say the least, but at the end of the day it was the ideal challenge for these three, all of whom
For the opener, the finalists whipped up a dish that represented their first food memory, Anton-Ego-scarfing-ratatouille style. Bayless, whose family ran a barbecue restaurant when he was a kid ("barbecue sauce coursed through my veins"), prepped smoked quail with watermelon. Chiarello got the ladies at the table to crack a little with his story of his momma guiding his hand over the gnocchi board. Keller accompanied his Alsatian lamb/beef/pork stew with a paint-a-peasant-portrait story about women in his teeny French village eating the stuff on laundry day. He's the only dude in history capable of making laundry day sound idyllic. "You can feel that he's been cooking that dish since he's been a child," coos Ilan, who probably used his leftover broth to drizzle-write his digits on a side plate for his new French BF.
Second, the chefs were asked to prep the dish that made them want to become a chef. Keller's beautiful salmon soufflï¿½ and Chia's polenta in a claspy jar were hits, but it seemed like Bayless ran away with this one thanks to a 27-ingredient Oaxacan black mole with ahi tuna. Alright fine, but I will say that I feel like food heads are predisposed to caressing mole over all other sauces because it's so whimsical and sexy, what with all the painstaking effort and million-and-one secret elemental components that comprise it. Mole is The Wire of sauces.
Third challenge ï¿½ each chef had to recreate a dish from his first restaurant. Ahh, so '80s. Bayless' cochinita pibil gave way to Chia's Miami-influenced ginger-stuffed rouget with mango salad and Keller's lamb chop with a vanilla merlot sauce. "Rick's speaking my language here," says Hosea.
Fourth and final task ï¿½ developing a "heady dish" that conveys where you're heading as a chef. Keller wants to stay budget-conscious since we're in a recession, so he serves sweetbreads (OK, affordable) and Wagyu beef cheeks (is Wagyu anything affordable?). Chia brines a short rib with five kinds of onions, while Bayless gets a little guff for draping chorizo "air" (too fussy for the Rickster?) atop a paella-type deal with tomato/jalapeno broth.
Each man gets stuck with a few quibbles at judges' table, but in the end, Bayless takes home the bragging rights and the $100K charity prize with a score of 18 stars, edging out Chia by one.
I definitely had some critical things to say about Rick and his presumptuous television personality, and I still think he's kinda enamored with the sound of his own voice, but it would be wrong of me not to point out that I didn't warm to the guy quite a bit as the championship round of Masters transpired. There's something about his geeked-out, child-like excitement over all aspects of Mexican cuisine ï¿½ even after cooking in the same style for decades ï¿½ that's infectious. I called his victory earlier this season and it's dope to see him give a hefty boost to his Frontera Farmer Foundation.
So congratulations of a well-deserved win, chef Bayless. (I'm still ambivalent about the fact that your brother is Skip Bayless, but we'll talk about that some other time.) Now producers: If Tom C. isn't a competitor next season, I'ma pitch a fit.
So I think I've finally pinpointed why I don't like Top Chef Masters as much as I loveloveloveamobsessedwith Top Chef. (Recap of the TCM finale is coming in a bit). Though this could very well be the product of flattering editing, these superstar chefs are so seemingly hellbent on doing nice things for other people that it feels very cheap and very wrong to ridicule them. (I tried anyway. I'm sorry, Rick Bayless! I kinda like you now because you care about others!)
While Top Chef: Las Vegas' 17 new cheftestants possess plenty of talent ï¿½ they weren't shy about flashing all the James Beard-ian-and-otherwise credentials around on last night's season premiere ï¿½ these kids aren't quite there yet. And that means I feel way more comfortable spending an inordinate amount of time concocting overly complicated ways to make fun of their hair.
To the kitchen!
Quickfire: In keeping with the Vegas setting, producers have made the QF format nice and cheesy this year, theming it around gambling. (How many chefs will spiral into baccarat-laden depravity before the finale?) This means the cheftestants are randomly drawing poker chips to determine teams, and more broadly, who'll have the best chance at a $15K QF cash prize. There's also a golden immunity chip that excuses you from competition ï¿½ Robin gets the first one of these while the remaining 16 kids split up into squads of four. First challenge is the mis en place relay we just watched on Masters ï¿½ popping clams, peeling prawns, cleaning lobsters and butchering two chops from the rib.
Well, Preeti has no clue how to pop clam shells, causing Tom C. to shake his head in disgust. (She's the chef at Google ... Google that shit!) "I might as well bring a beach chair and a fucking palm tree with me, because I might as well be on vacation," laments Preeti's big-bearded teammate Kevin, who turned down a full ride to MIT to cook in the ATL. "The hardest part of shucking clams is knowing how to do it," says Philly girl/former El Camino Real chef/current Xochitl sous Jen Z., who also struggles with the task. Fellow PHL gal/10 Arts maven Jen C., on the other hand, rips shit, inspiring a relatively sexist drunk-in-Seaside Heights-style rant ("A girl shouldn't be on the same level that I am") from Mike I., a former Stephen Starr chef who could definitely get away with chloroforming a member of LFO and assuming his identity Talented Mr. Ripley style:
The blue team ï¿½ Jen C., Bmore chef Jesse, one half of the look-like-lifeguards brother duo Bryan, and kerchief-ed Mattin (he's fabulous, he's French, he's read The Sun Also Rises) ï¿½ win the race, and Tom and transcendently beautiful Padma tell them they need to prepare a dish using the ingredient they rocked in the relay. Though Tom likes Jesse's shrimp and grits plate, describing it as a "big mouthful of ocean" (mmm!), our girl Jen C. wins the $15K chip with a simple clam ceviche. Buy me dinner, Jen?
Elimination: Each chef gets $150 to prep a plate based around a personal vice. Guest judge? Wolfgang mahfuckin' Puck. Since running down each and every contestant's dish would be about as productive as me taking note of the shoe sizes of a band of soccer hooligans as they stomped on my trachea, we'll just touch on a few. First of all, cheftestants ï¿½ there are vices other than drinking. So many of them incorporated liquor into their dishes in some way and justified it like "Well, I like booze, so ... " Yall cook. WE KNOW YOU LIKE BOOZE. Why didn't anyone cook a dish that represented a crippling Internet porn addiction, or a predilection for picking up loose women in a seedy bar (on seeded rye)? You disappoint me.
Jen Z.'s got a hot temper, she says, so she decides to stuff a chile relleno with seitan ï¿½ a dish she did at El Camino. "Why cook with seitan? Nobody fucking likes that stuff," laments Kevin, soldifying his status as this season's Guy Who Laments and Says Fuck A Lot. Laurine's vices are doughnuts, bacon, chocolate and beer (I like Laurine, not sure why ... ), so she combines as much into her dish. Hector's Puerto Rican so he deep-frys a steak. Jen C. works like 80 varieties of liquor into a lobster sauce. (OK if you're gonna take the I Heart Booze angle, do it like this.) Michael, the other lifeguard brother, gets real creative with it, fixing up a rack of lamb and breaking down a couple bulbous coconuts to represent boobs.
Top four: Jen C., Kevin, LFO Mike and Ron, a Haitian who cooks a well-executed fish dish to represent his 27-day journey across the ocean to get to the States. (Not really a vice, but hell of a story, and Tom is feeling it.) Kevin, whose vice of procrastination is conveyed by slow-cooking arctic char, takes home the very first Elimination. He looks very happy and does not say fuck.
Bottom four: Hector (achtung ï¿½ Wolfgang does NOT like his steak deep-fried), Jesse (dry chicken), Jen Z. (not feeling the seitan) and Eve, who employs the most confusing and convoluted strategy in the history of season premieres to explain how her tendency to overcomplicate (or was it oversimplify?) was conveyed in her shrimp/scallops curry cream dish, which was both complicated and simple and stupid and what?! She somehow eases her way off the chopping block despite cooking a trick-question SAT analogy, and our girl Jen Z. gets axed very first for her seitan dish, which Padma referred to as a "vegan bar midnight special." Z, you took a big-ass risk and it didn't pan out. I probably wouldn't have gone so left-field with it, but I respect the balls ï¿½ and I bet there's an army of skinny vegans out there crafting a glorious statue of you out of pliable tempeh to erect in some LEED-certified town plaza somewhere. See you over in Headhouse!
Next week: I will attempt to talk about more than four of the contestants.
Watch the Top Chef: Las Vegas premiere tonight at 10 Arts with the infinitely good-looking Eric Ripert
10 Arts (The Ritz-Carlton, 10 S. Broad St.) whose chef Jennifer Carroll is a contestant on the sixth season of Top Chef (premiering tonight at 9!), will host weekly viewing parties for the Bravo show every Wednesday throughout this season. 10 Arts exec chef Eric Ripert is coming through tonight to show his girl a little love, so stop in starting at 7 p.m. if you want to catch a glimpse of the dreamy Frenchman in all his ominous structure-scaling glory. (Seriously, look at that dude! What is he even doing in that picture?) The viewing parties will be held in the lounge, which boasts multiple flat-screens.
Oh and don't forget that Jennifer Zavala, formerly of El Camino Real and now over at Xochitl, is also a cheftestant this season. Check out A.D. Amorosi's Nov. '08 profile for some background on girlie.
Check Meal Ticket tomorrow morning for a recap of the premiere, as well as a recap of the Top Chef Masters finale.
God bless ya, Season 4 hothead Dale, for refamiliarizing us with one of the simplest joys of this show: watching one person in chef's whites post up on another person in chef's whites because the first person in chef's whites feels the second person in chef's whites is HATING. You, sir, are our Gatorade, you refreshing bastard, you. Ahhh.
Bravo played up the clash between the former finalist and Top Chef Masters competitor Michael Chiarello like crazy in the teasers leading up to Wednesday night's penultimate episode, for obvious reasons: Most of the cheftestants on TCM have been too nice, too tired or too professional to flip out. That's where Dale, who got all "whatchu gon do about it?!" with Chiarello after being talked down to, came in. Best part? Dude didn't cheapen the gulliness by apologizing after the fact. From a bravotv.com statement on the incident:
Looking back, I cannot see myself handling it in a different way. When confronted by this "Master" chef, I took his comments and tone to be insulting. Had this situation taken place with, for example Joel Robuchon, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, I know I would react differently, as I have had nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for these great chefs.
My apologies if my reaction negatively impacted my team and the other chefs in any way. Do I think how I reacted was appropriate? No, but inappropriate is part of the chef's life. Thatï¿½s who we areï¿½ï¿½ a degenerate, compulsive, irrational, egotistical and passionate breed that knows how to cook.
YO CHIARELLO, DALE IS COMING FOR YOU WITH THIS COMICALLY OVERSIZED WHISK!
But Episode 9 did have another redeeming quality, aside from our dude's scrappy short-fuse antics. It gave us insight into the Masters finalists' managerial styles, a true testament to their acumen as executive chefs.
Some people came off better than others.
Quickfire: Host Kelly Choi blindfolded the final four -- Chiarello, Hubert Keller, Anita Lo and Rick Bayless -- and made them taste random stuff to see what they could ID, with a lineup of ingredients both easily nameable (peanut butter, corn) and rather random (a few of them got papadum). Chiarello, who referred to the challenge as a "culinary whiteout," ends up naming seven ingredients correctly, edging out Lo and Bayless (six apiece). Keller, who named only five, deserved some bonus points for wryly stating that the best part of the challenge was "Kelly putting the blindfold on me." Hubert, you French cad!
Elimination: The final four must prepare a buffet lunch for 200 "Hollywood insiders." To help, each chef is allowed to pick sous chefs from a crop of a dozen former Top Chef-fers. Bayless grabs Alex (S5), Betty (S2) and the dude Richard (S4; he talked to Meal Ticket back in November). Lo gets Dale, S2 winner Ilan and S5er Jamie, aka the Duchess of Scallopshire aka we used to hate on her unfairly but now love her. Keller gets Elia from S2 (remember when she chopped all her hair off?), Antonia (S4) and S5er/recent guest judge Spike. This leaves Chiarello with seafood chef Brian (S3, looked like he was wearing mad makeup), the never-not-entertaining Fabio (S5) and cut-up former volleyball player CJ (S3).
Prior to selections, the four finalists are allowed quickie interviews with their potential sous chefs. This is where Chiarello solidifies his dickwad status for the evening, forcing interviewees to chop carrots and scolding them when they mispronounce his last name. Strong work, Mike.
During the prep stage, with all manner of chefs running amok through the kitchen, it's easy to see how people could get heated. But it took a special brand of douchebaggery to get Dale to flip his shit the way he did -- in this case, it was Chiarello condescendingly calling the guest chef "young man" in reference to a question about a fridge that really set him off.
"For the first 20 years of my career, I ate three Dales for breakfast," Chia explains.
"Michael had it coming to him," observes Alex. "He was acting like a douche."
As the chefs scramble to get their buffets in order ï¿½ each develops a menu in his/her wheelhouse, nothing too interesting to rehash here ï¿½ Choi drops an unexpected twist: The 200-head buffet, originally slated for inside the SLS Hotel, will now be outside under the baking sun. This royally screws Lo, who'd tasked Jamie with popping hundreds of oysters/clams for an elaborate raw bar spread. Keller, who worked beautifully with his team, ends up earning the W with his beautiful and complex 18-tiny-dish approach, and Lo gets the ax, earning just 17 stars. This elimination kinda sucked because it was wholly conditional; the judges criticized quite a few of Chia's dishes, and it's not a stretch to guess the results might've been different had they served their grub in the AC.
Next week: Masters finale, and Vegas premiere. For now, please enjoy this disjointed list of quotes from our Episode 9 notes:
- "It's very odd-looking." - James Oseland on Chiarello's buffet
- "It's a Top Chef world, and we've just got to make the best of it." - Bayless
- "I'm sweating like a mountain goat at the beach." - Fabio
- "Tastes like Mexico!" - Oseland on Bayless' buffet
- "It was furry and mealy. I thought maybe it was old swordfish." - Gael Green on Chiarello's buffet
- "I'd give you a galaxy of stars if I could!" - Oseland on Keller's buffet
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