Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top chef insanity

Like most cooking shows, Top Chef has sustained itself by showing the world how chefs in America cook their food and what is the newest way to prepare dishes.  It has become a media goldmine as it is a Bravo network creation but other networks try to copy it with their own cooking reality contest shows.  Although none of them come into comparison with the Top Chef series.  Even though the first season was still the best, like any series, it is still fun to watch.  The thing about contests is this: these chefs have been hand picked.  So, when the best group of 20 or so signed up, they were the best at that time.  What I think is that the chefs from this past season and so forth seem to get lesser skilled each season.  That is why during this last episode, Hung was able to do almost all of Angelo's work and still have enough time and energy to help final preparations with Angelo. 

Now, what I find to be very humorous on the whole deal is the start of the new show: Top Chef desserts.  I didn't think there was the need for one until I remembered that some of the best chefs in the world, cannot make simple desserts.  I remember reading that Bobby Flay could not even make a cookie.  What gets me is that next year will we see a Top Chef Sugar Free or a Top Chef Cocktails?  A chef is a chef and the Top Chef should be one who can execute a dessert and a savory dish.

So, Top Chef desserts episode one:  We are introduced to the challengers in what reminds me of a group of challengers from Project Runway.  The group is so ego centered and filled with the Queen of the Universe attitude that it makes me wonder if I should ever pursue a baking degree as to be thrown in with this lot.  The head judge is a James Beard award winner in pastry and he has some delicious looking food. Johnny Iuzzini, is the head judge and his skills are what will make him perfect for judging the challengers.

The first challenge, the quickfire, was one that had me puzzled at why the producers picked these people.  The challengers had to make their signature dish and then twist it into a cupcake.  Easy right?  Well, you had a guy who eventually won, who had last made a cupcake in Home Ec, a woman who decided to make a meringue piped in the shape of a cupcake and a guy who only makes frozen or cold desserts.  You had some normal dishes turned into cupcakes with things like strawberry puree's inside and other good flavors.  The woman with the meringue didn't turn on her oven and so she didn't even finish.  The guy who calls himself the Snow Queen, I think it was, didn't make a cupcake but a gellato in a glass and called it his version of a cupcake.  So, right off the bat, you have at least one person who cannot bake, in a dessert competition.

The next step, is to work and make something that can be described as chocolate decadence.  What comes to your mind when that is spoken?  They had a table covered in every type of chocolate, well maybe not every type, but dark, milk and white.  What would you do?  A lot of people did simple things and didn't use that much chocolate.  I know what you are thinking now.  It is a chocolate challenge, so the idea would be to use as much as possible, yet people did not do so.  The loser was sent home for making a flour less chocolate cake with a broken mousse on top.  She screwed up as the mousse  didn't set and broke and instead of making another, she just left it be.  She lost for bad decision as they tell everyone on the regular Top Chef show: if you are not happy with it, don't serve it.

Does this show look good?  Well, the first challenge was nice, making what looked like a good start.  But with the preview of this show, what took place and was shown was nothing but crying, screaming, and drama.  Which is why I said it reminded me of project runway.  I don't know if I will be watching as I know that shows like this do keep the most drama -causing person as it makes for good ratings, but for people like me, I won't watch anymore.  So, I may watch an episode here or there, but overall, the tone that it set was one I could enjoy, but not with those contestants.  Should I be on the show?  Yes. 

What would I have done?

Well, maybe a coconut flavored cupcake with a vanilla cream icing on top with pie crust crumbles.
Elimination challenge would feature a flour less chocolate cake selection, maybe 3 of them stacked on each other with a nice raspberry spread on top, to help bring some moistness and bold flavors in.  I would do a dark chocolate layer, with a milk chocolate one on top and then a white chocolate one.  That much chocolate is great and should differentiate itself from one another.  The raspberry topping gives a burst of bold contradicting yet complimentary flavoring to the chocolate dish.  Just like a dollop of whipped cream would do also.  

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