Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ATC Love to Chef Tracy Bloom

"I'm not bad chef, I just had a bad day." Chef Tracy said, and we couldn't agree more. The Quickfire Challenge seemed to have her completely flummoxed, making a complete disaster of a first pie and then preparing a thin, burnt second pie.

The Elimination Challenge also presented difficulties when her plans to make her own sausage had to be shelved because the meat grinding process took too long. The idea of turning the meat into Italian sausage sliders seemed like a good idea, but apparently the judges were not impressed with the final result. Chef Tracy felt that if she had been "more emotionally prepared" for the competition, she would have done better. We will certainly miss her, especially the laugh.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Tracy Bloom. If you have anything negative to say about her or any of her competition, please leave a comment here.

Congratulations, Chef Arnold Myint!

Last week, Chef Arnold complained about not getting enough credit for his work. He certainly could not complain this week as he took the win for the Summer Picnic Elimination Challenge.

Even though Chef Ed's flavors were called "bright,"Chef Angelo's Vietnamese wraps were considered very nice, and guest judge Jonathan Waxman was "crazy" for Chef Amanda's grilled asparagus, the judges felt that Chef Arnold's Sesame Lamb Ball, Tabouli Salad, and Gazpacho was "full of flavor" and worthy of the win. With three different chefs winning the first three Elimination Challenges, its certainly anybody's game, but Chef Arnold has proven himself a tough contender each week.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef . If you have anything negative to say about her or any of her competition, please leave a comment here.

Reactions to Top Chef DC Episode 3

The cheftestants began a new day in DC by going through their morning rituals; e.g., Amanda brushed her teeth while sitting on a big blue ball, Kenny read a letter from his girlfriend, and Angelo bitched about Kenny. Then it was off to the Top Chef Kitchen where Padma introduced them to Johnny Iuzzini and Gail Simmons. In addition to being an executive pastry chef, Johnny will join Gail as the co-hosts for Bravo's upcoming Top Chef: Just Desserts. In keeping with the dessert theme, the Quickfire Challenge was to make a pie from scratch.

Many of the chefs freaked out since they had little or no experience with making desserts. Tracey seemed especially lost and had to make a second pie after she failed to measure her ingredients for the first and it came out of the oven looking like road kill. Alex showed his lack of pastry skill with a tapioca pie with almond crust which was dubbed a "total mess." Ed took the most bizarre track with a banana cream pie which incorporated salted peanuts and celery spuma (because we know celery and peanut butter went over so well during last week's school lunch challenge). On the positive side, Kelly's chocolate tart and Stephen's curried apple date pie got honorable mention and Kenny won with his Bananas Foster pie using Chinese Five Spice.

The Elimination Challenge was to make a summer picnic for 150 Capitol Hill interns at George Washington's home in Mount Vernon. We're treated to the usual shots of shopping at Whole Foods and the 3 hour prep session. There's still too many chefs in the competition to get a strong sense about any one chef, but Amanda is definitely getting the "not here to make friends" edit. From her calling out Alex for using an oven she'd claimed for herself to her feeling disrespected when the other chefs questioned her rib prep, she seems to be the one with a chip on her shoulder.

Later, at the picnic, the chefs were provided with charcoal grills to complete their dishes. Along with Padma, Tom, and Gail, the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" of Top Chef Masters Jonathan Waxman shows up to lend his expertise to the judging. A resident goose also decided to offer its own judgment on Chef Tim's food by taking a big dump on his table. Not a good sign.

After the picnic, the chefs returned to the stew room where we learn that Tracy is clairvoyant. Then the top four chefs are called to judges' table. Amanda, Ed, and Angelo all receive kudos, but Arnold takes the win with his Sesame Lamb Meatball, Tabouli Salad, and Gazpacho. Arnold is then given the task of calling out the bottom four: Tim, Stephen, Tracy, and Kevin. Chef Tim is criticized for his tough ribs and watery vegetables, Stephen's bacon-wrapped bass needed to spend more time on the grill, and Kevin's Puerto Rican fare was deemed too safe. Ultimately, it was Tracy who had to pack her knives and go for making undercooked Italian sausage sliders with too much fennel. I don't know why she didn't have a premonition about that.

So what did y'all think about this week's episode?

Poll Results - Why Should Have Been PPYKAG'd in Episode 2 of Top Chef DC

According to our poll, an overwhelming amount of voters (79%) thought Chef Amanda should have been asked to leave for her use of sherry in a dish served to children. Can't say I disagree with you.

Wonder how she'll fare this week. Tune in tonight and find out!

Top Chef DC Episode 3 Previews!

The cheftestants are none too pleased when they must put their pastry skills to the test for the Quickfire challenge by constructing a delicious pie from scratch – will the curse of the Top Chef dessert get the best of them? Then for the elimination round, the chefs prepare a classic picnic feast for a group of Capitol Hill interns at the home of the first U.S. president, George Washington – will the remaining chefs wow the interns and guest judge, past Top Chef Masters contestant Jonathan Waxman, or will they get schooled by the discerning eye of these go-getters? Find out tonight, 6/30, @ 9/8c.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daddy Ilan

Top Chef season 2 winner Ilan Hall is going to be a daddy. His girlfriend, Ayame Kawaguchi, is pregnant with the couple's first child. "Time to start a college fund for my baby on the way!" Ilan tweeted this week. Ilan tells Life & Style exclusively, "I hope I don't mistake him for a suckling pig!"

Congrats to Ayame and Ilan!

Recap Roundup: Top Chef DC Episode Two

Sandwiches and aprons and school lunches...our cheftestants were busy this week. So were our bloggers, actually, what with so many of them living in hotbeds of Pride weekend festivities. Fortunately, they were also able to take time out for a little recapping:

Jordan Baker with this week's goodbye haiku: "Jac’line Caterer / Left; color me unsurprised / Sugary pudding"

Minx Eats on the losing team's downfall(s): "Amanda wants to make chicken in a sherry jus. Really? She wants to feed alcohol to children? It's a myth that all alcohol burns off during cooking. Even after one hour of simmering, 25% can still remain. While Amanda is throwing her team's $ away on hooch, Jacqueline can't afford the chocolate she wants to use for dessert and has to resort to unripe bananas."

Cliffieland on Tracey's crush: "We also giggle as Tracey, our resident Rosie O'Donnell impersonator, takes the act to Tom Cruise-ian levels, revealing that she has a crush on Angelo."

What'ere, Jane Eyre on the losing teams: "Watch Judges' Table, where history is made, as the losing teams are called first for the first time ever. Angelo/Kenny/Tracey/Ed are there for their unhealthy menu, while Amanda/Jacqueline/Stephen/Tamesha did a poor job allocating their budget, and made crappy food to boot. Everyone immediately turns on each other, trying to wedge in reasons somebody else should get eliminated before the shot clock runs out."

Creative Loafing on weeding out: "Thankfully, another annoying person was kicked off. We’ve got about 11 of them (chef’testants who grate on my nerves and/or ears) left to be chopped, so I foresee this being a long season."

Single Guy Chef on team players: "As Tom goes around, Arnold is quick to talk about how he finished all his work so he could help the rest of his team. And Tom actually doesn’t like that because he wants accountability because there is an I in accountability. (Actually two I’s.)"

Max the Girl on Angelo's role: "By the way, I’ve decided that instead of making Angelo the villain of this season I’m just going to embrace the hotness. He’s the villain everyone wants to have sex with—like Eric from True Blood."

My Monkey Could Do That on the punning: "Padma mentions that good governments are bipartisan (um…OK) and that they will be participating in a 'Top Chef Bipartisan-dwich Quickfire'. PLEASE do not do this all season. Whatever new writer you hired to make all these puns, they are horrible. Everyone fake laughs."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Quickfire danger: "Timothy and Alex are partners, and Alex is freaking out because Timothy is being so aggressive, he's afraid Timothy's going to cut him. 'Every time I grab the knife, he's like, 'Tim, Tim, don't cut me, please don't cut me,' Tim says. 'I'm like, I'm not going to cut you ... at least not yet!'"

Inside Pulse on last week's loss: "It’s never fun seeing someone go home from a party, especially when it’s the person with the most visually interesting hair. But John’s departure last week means there is one less person to keep track of now, and since this is kind of like babysitting seventeen kids in a ball pit, we’re cool with the numbers dwindling."

Best Week Ever on the Elimination Challenge (and Jamie Oliver): "For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs must design a healthy, low-cost meal for a middle school cafeteria, a particularly pressing issue nowadays ever since Jamie Oliver’s show went on a competing network. Each group of 4 has a budget of $130, or $2.60 per kid, minus four dollars for labor or something (Sam subtracted only $4 for labor? Was that to simulate the school hiring 1910s immigrant mill workers?)"

Pop Watch (EW) on the setting: "There’s a place called Washington, D.C. where there are fat cats, along with bulls and bears, and people saying things like 'senate majority' and 'sexual relations.' In this land, things are blue and red, and there are a lot of white buildings, where famous stuff happened. Oh? What’s that? You’ve heard of this place? It’s where who lives?

Well, I’m with you, but apparently the Bravo producers are not because they want you to know that their new home turf is all politics and bad puns like 'bipartisandwich...'"

Gawker on Angelo's schemes: "Angelo is gaming the game. Angelo is the monster in the machine, the monster created by Magical Elves. He's the kid who read The Prince at an age before the id has been tamed by the super-ego." on Sam Kass's Kassiness: "Our chefs file in for the Quickfire and see this week's guest judge, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass. Woah! Was Michelle in charge of this hire? I am a straight man, I am just saying I don't think there is a place on that guy where you couldn't crack a walnut, am I right? (No locavoro.)"

Slashfood on kiddie cuisine: "Given that some of the chefs actually claimed to have kids, you'd think they would've avoided cooking the kinds of things that make kids stick out their tongues in disgust: Chicken thighs in sherry jus (Amanda)? Sweet potatoes so full of pepper they caused scrunched-up faces (Ed)? A haute-cuisine amuse bouche of peanut butter mousse on celery crudite?"

Fork in the Road (Village Voice) on Jacqueline's unsurprising goodbye: "Finally, the judges put everyone out of their misery by telling Jacqueline that she had to go home because, as Tom said, the kids treated her pudding like 'someone put a turd on the table' and, as Sam said, the amount of sugar she used was 'unconscionable.' And so we got to see another contestant's hopes and dreams being dashed to hell by dessert, a fate as predictable on this show as bad puns, warring egos, and gratuitous product placement."

Give Me My Remote on Padma's canoodling: "In one of the bumper clips, a student asks Padma, 'Can I have a hug?' Since she obliged, I am asking in this public forum: 'Padma, can I have a hug, too?'"

Open Table has some insider insight (that is not really surprising): "Angelo cackles over his win and no one else is happy, including my viewing partner Ed, who reveals, 'Angelo’s just cooking something from his restaurant – in fact, he cooked THE FIRST SANDWICH ON THE MENU. I hope I’m not pulling the curtain back too much, but the vast majority of plates that ‘Top Chef’ contestants put out are things they have done a million times.'"

Monday, June 28, 2010

TC News & Information 6.28.10

Check out this interesting interview with Top Chef producers company, Magical Elves.

Did Tom diss Toby? Read the TV Guide interview with Tom Colicchio here.

Michael Voltaggio is leaving the Langham. So what's next for the Top Chef 6 champ?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Poll - Pick a Better Duo

In Episode 2 of Top Chef DC, Chef Andrea Curto-Randazzo refers to chefs Angelo Sosa and Kenny Gilbert as "Starsky & Hutch." However, out of all of the famous duos in history, I'm thinking this might not have been the most appropriate comparison. Which of the following fits better?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Poll - Who Do You Think Should Have Been PPYKAG'd in Week 2?

This week, Chef Jacqueline got the boot for her overly-sweet banana pudding. Do you think that was fair, or do you think one of the other non-immune chefs from the bottom two teams should have been asked to leave instead? Like, um, Amanda for putting booze in food for kids?

Top Recipe - Top Chef DC Episode 2

See Michael Voltaggio prepare Kelly Liken's Pork Carnitas here.

Find the printable version of the recipe here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Jacqueline Lombard

Top Chef DC contestant, Jacqueline Lombard talks about her experience on the show.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for Chef Jacqueline's website.

Thank you!

Bravo Exit Interviews - Jacqueline Lombard

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ATC Love to Chef Lombard

This week, we said goodbye to Chef Jacqueline Lombard. Chef Lombard was ultimately sent home for an overly sugared banana pudding with strawberries. Unfortunately, her original plan - to make a chocolate banana pudding - was altered due to budget constraints and she had to compensate for bananas with a "white bread" taste with additional sugar.
This post is only for positive comments about Chef Lombard. If you have anything negative to say about her or any of her competition, please leave a comment here.

Congratulations, Chef Liken!

Congratulations go this week to Chef Kelly Liken, who's braised pork carnitas tacos with pickled onions and oatmeal tortillas impressed the judges with their balance, crunch, and great taste. The judges praised the entire team's ability to bring a lot of color and interest to their inexpensive school lunch.

Chef Liken also mentioned that improving school lunches is a cause close to her heart - she works with a local elementary school in her hometown.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Liken. If you have anything negative to say about her or any of her competition, please leave a comment here.

Reactions to Top Chef DC Episode 2

A new day dawns over the nation's capital and a new episode of Top Chef starts, showing us our cheftestants engaged in their daily morning rituals - shaving, brushing teeth, and pushups. Pushups? Wait - this must be an anti-obesity episode.

Padma's introduction of White House chef Sam Kass confirms it - the episode will tie in with the First Lady's Let's Move Campaign. Personally, I like my food filled with butter and cream but then again, I'm not an eighth grader with no choice about what I eat for lunch.

But enough of the preaching and onto the Quickfire...the Bipartisandwich Quickfire. This season really does offer all kinds of opportunities for ridiculous made-up words, doesn't it?

The Quickfire itself seems too easy at first - Tamesha even calls it, saying, "30 minutes for one sandwich? Really?" Oh, Tamesha, even though it's only the second episode, you should know by now that nothing is ever as it seems in Top Chefland.

And that is how pairs of chefs end up in stitched-together red and blue aprons, each only allowed to use one hand. Timothy wonders who got high and came up with the idea...and I can't say I don't share the sentiment. The footage that follows is ridiculous, a little hilarious, and potentially very, very dangerous, but somehow everybody escapes with all of their fingers. But dignity? Not so much.

The resulting sandwiches arrive on their plates as big, sloppy messes and the PAs don't even make them prettier before filming them individually.

Angelo (who has a sandwich shop...and still has an ego) and Tracy (who has a girlfriend with a daughter...and a crush on Angelo) take the win with their tuna and Asian slaw sandwich, and they get immunity. Kenny and Ed come in a close second and Kenny feels foiled again. Oooh drama. The mild sort.

Onto the Elimination Challenge: cooking school lunches for 50 middle schoolers, sticking to the set budget of about $2.60 per kid. Or, as I like to call it, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I realize it's on a different network, but I can't help but feel like if Top Chef really cared about its cause, they would've thrown Oliver a little bone. He's worked hard to improve school lunches and deserves some credit.

The chefs divide into groups of four and Sam Kass explains the components of a school lunch, saying each meal must have a main course and a couple of sides, including a vegetable and fruit and probably a dessert and, of course, must be delicious. Interestingly, while the chefs do have to adhere to the budget, there's no mention of the stringent nutritional guidelines that tie the hands of actual school chefs. And Jamie Oliver. Oops, there's the soapbox again.

The next thirty or so minutes run along predictably: the chefs shop in a warehouse and all have to make sacrifices to make budget. There's some in-fighting between Kelly and Arnold - the latter thinks the former is taking too much credit. Sexy Amanda decides to booze the kids up with sherry-braised chicken. Kenny grumbles about the lack of veg in his team's dish, but fails to speak up loud enough. Jacqueline's chocolate-less pudding is bland, so she adds more sugar. Oh, and we learn that Colicchio's mom ran a school lunch room for 20 years, so this is a cause that's close to his heart.

After a little time in a tight cafeteria kitchen, service begins. Here's what our intrepid cheftestants serve the kids:
  • Tracy/Angelo/Ed/Kenny: chicken burgers, sweet potato puree, celery and peanut butter (which was supposed to be foam but...wasn't), and apple bread pudding
  • Kelly/Arnold/Lynne/Tiffany: black bean cake and crisp sweet potatoes, braised pork carnitas with pickled onions, roasted pork salad brushed with chili oil, carmelized sweet potatoes and sherbet
  • Andrea/Timothy/Kevin/Alex : BBQ chicken, cole slaw made with yogurt, mac and cheese with a whole wheat crust, melon skewers with yogurt "whipped cream"
  • Amanda/Jacqueline/Stephen/Tamesha: braised chicken thighs with sherry jus, sweet onion rice with tomato, carrots, and green onions, bean and tomato salad with pickled onions, banana pudding with skim milk and strawberries on top
The biggest surprise of the whole episode comes back in the stew room, when Padma asks for Angelo and Amanda's teams...and it turns out they are the bottom two. THEY MIXED IT UP! And it only took seven seasons.

Ultimately, Kelly won for her braised pork carnitas (confirming her bossy approach? Maybe.) and Jacqueline went home for her sugar-laden banana pudding, but not before Ed and Kenny had to sweat it out and everybody wondered if Angelo took advantage of his immunity to try to sabotage his strongest competition (Kenny).

As usual, the episode left me with a few questions:
  • How is it possible that Amanda served boozy chicken (even if there wasn't any alcohol left) and didn't get kicked off? I suppose at least somebody from her group - whose meal looked like bad food somebody's grandmother would make - went home.
  • Could Gail Simmons be any better? "There are a lot of things I like...I like vodka." Me too, Gail. Me, too.
  • How did it take SEVEN seasons before they called the losers first? HOW?
  • Have we ever seen the judges so blatantly suggest that a contestant (Angelo) was out to sabotage someone else?
  • Similarly, have we ever seen the losers from different teams scrap it up in front of the judges, the way Stephen did with Kenny? Or, maybe we see that, but this early in the season?
It's still so early in the season that it's hard to tell everybody apart - Alex and Kevin, in particular, are strictly background for me so far. I'm anxious to whittle it down to five or six stronger contenders. But what about you? Thoughts? Praise? Complaints? Reasons to call your congressmen?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Top Chef DC Episode 2 Previews

With the economy and childhood obesity among the nation’s leading concerns, the Top Chef contestants are presented a unique challenge to help alleviate these issues. For their second test in D.C., the cheftestants have the important task of supporting First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity. The chefs must take over the cafeteria at a local school to create healthy, kid-friendly meals spending only $2.68 per child! Will the contestants be able to make something nutritious and delicious with such a limited budget? And they get first-hand feedback when white House Assistant Chef Sam Kass serves as guest judge. Who will impress and who will crash and burn? Find out tonight, 6/23, @ 9/8c on BRAVO’s TOP CHEF D.C.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poll - Will Angelo Win All?

Last week, cheftestant Angelo Sosa said he wanted to be the first to win every challenge in a season of Top Chef. That's some confidence there! But what do you think - does he have a chance?

Recap Roundup: Top Chef DC Episode One

And they're back! This week we said hello to our good friends Tom and a gorgeously babylicious Padma, along with 17 shiny new contestants all ready to take the nation's capital by storm. We had Quickfire chopping and frozen puff pastry to chew on...and it was good. But what did the bloggers think?

David Dust says what we're all thinking: "Padma (whose rack is exquisite after giving birth) and Tom Colicchio walk onto the roof (a la Tim and Heidi) and greet the Cheftestants."

Jordan Baker haikus once again: "John and his weird hair / Did not last long in DC / Maple flows through trees"

Minx Eats on the Quickfire duel: "By the fourth round, we're left with Alpha Male, Timothy, Kevin, and Inigo. It seems close between Inigo and Alpha, but Inigo wins the challenge with his roasted wing and thigh with curried onion jam. Next he must defeat the Six-Fingered Man."

Cliffieland introduces the cheftestants, including SYTYCD fave, Arnold: "Arnold Myint, 32 — Resides in Nashville: The chef with a serious case of the FAB-u-lous!! The child of Southeast Asian parents, is a mix of Nashville, Thailand and Tommy Tune. In preparation for the show, made up an interpretive dance, got a facial and hired a personal stylist to help him pick out nifty scarves. ... Oh, how I wish I was making this up."

Diana Takes a Bite on Angelo: "And then there’s Angelo Sosa from New York. The golden boy with a Michelin star under his belt, and this season’s Michael Voltaggio. He’s kind of a big deal. Like huge. He’s been to Monte Carlo and eaten at Louis XV and is going to guillotine everybody’s heads off and leave blood all over the stage."

Washingtonian on the not-so-sad goodbye: "John Somerville is sent packing. He chokes up in his exit interview, spews some New Age jibber-jabber, and I’m left wondering what he wrote in his journal that night. 'Dear Diary, I never got to play hacky sack in the Stew Room.'"

Serious Eats with more on Arnold: "Um, chill out, Arnold. It's Top Chef, not Top Complexion. And by the way, Frosty called. He wants his scarf back."

Popwatch on what we should expect: "Last season in Vegas, TC was all about gambling and casinos, so naturally with this season set in the nation’s capital, we can expect plenty of flags and Yankee Doodle music."

Miami New Times on what's great about TC: "I have to say that after the excellent level of cooking that occurred on Top Chef Masters, which just ended last Wednesday, the skills of some of these cheftestants is woefully amateurish in comparison. But that is the beauty of Top Chef; seeing the spectacular mistakes (John, why oh why use puff pastry you've never worked with before?), the in-fighting, the trashtalking and the potential for romance (shomance, bromance or otherwise)."

Slashfood on Kenny: "The good-natured but self-proclaimed "alpha male" Kenny Gilbert seems, at this early stage at least, to be the perfect combination of brains and brawn. He iced the competition when slicing, dicing and chopping, and a coffee-rubbed trout was right up our alley (even if the decorative, caramelized flourish on top seemed a bit much)." loving the TC...and the TC: "Thank god the original Top Chef is back -- after a few plodding months of the hippie-communist love-fest that was Top Chef Masters, the return to some fine American capitalist competition is going to be invigorating. Invigorating like the sight of Tom’s bald head shining like the dome of the Capitol building in our nation’s monument-filled capital city, Washington D.C. "

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on the very beginning: "The perma-stoic Tom C and the transcendently beautiful Padma — boasting some post-transcendently-beautiful-baby curves, I’ll holler! — herd the 17 new cheftestants onto some exposed roofdeck that looks like a great place to cultivate melanoma and task them with their debut challenge."

Best Week Ever also on Angelo: "Favorite #1. 'I want to win every challenge.' Not gonna happen, but Bravo’s already loving the cockiness. Are you perchance here to make friends?"

Food and More (AJC) on the departed: "John from Michigan, a middle aged white guy with Rapunzel-length dreadlocks who wears the permanent expression of a man with tempura-fried brain circuits. I’m guessing there was an unfortunate accident involving a toaster and spilled bong water. I love him."

Speakeasy (WSJ) summarizes the cheftestants: "The first few episodes of Top Chef are like speed-dating rounds, where we get flashes of personality from which to make passing judgments. Before the chefs emerge as real people, we see them as archetypes. New Yorker Angelo, for example, who casually drops his Jean-George Vongerichten and Alain Ducasse stints while meeting someone is the Bona Fide. Meet Kenny, the Swagger and Arnold, the Performer. Tiffany: The Hard Worker. Tracey: The Attitude. Lynne: The Conservative."

What'ere, Jane Eyre on the last man standing: "That leaves one odd man out, who's named Ed Cotton. He's miffed at being chosen last, and rattles off his impressive resume. Of course, he doesn't realize that being picked last would suggest the team-choosing chefs believe he's stronger rather than weaker, so he should probably leave "Critical Thinking" off of that CV."

Monday, June 21, 2010

TC News & Information 6.21.2010

Season 7 cheftestant Andrea Curto-Randazzo has a few words she'd like to share with Padma and the judges after episode one.

Season 6 finalist Kevin Gillespie is a favorite of bears everywhere and now even more so after giving an interview to A Bear's Life magazine. See some pics from the magazine here.

Catch season 5 finalist Stefan Richter on the June 27th season premiere of HBO's Entourage!

Top Chef 7 debuted to poor ratings. :(

Season 4 finalist Richard Blais is all steamed up about something. Read more here.

Video du Jour - Interview with Marcus Samuelsson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top Recipe - Top Chef DC Episode 1

Michael Voltaggio is doing this round of Top Recipe videos. Unfortunately, Bravo doesn't seem to have an embed code available, so here's the link.

The printable version of the recipe can be found here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

TC News & Information 6.18.2010

Season 7 cheftestant Alex Reznik talks to the LA Weekly blog.

The Daily Blender has a nice interview with Tom Colicchio. Read it here.

iVillage played 5 Questions with each of the season 7 Cheftestants. Check out the feature here.

DC Cheftestant Tamesha Warren "chews the fat" with DCist here.

Check out Skillet Doux's Power Rankings for season 7.

ATC Interview with Chef John Somerville

Click here for the All Top Chef podcast with Chef Somerville.

(Image credit:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Dinner At Chef Wilo Benet's Pikayo Restaurant

June 10. 2010

Hey there! Cliff here! While y'all wait on me to put together my recap of the new Top Chef: D.C., here's a morsel to keep those hunger pangs at bay ...

Last week, on the occasion of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party in San Juan, I had the occasion to finally hit Pikayo, the restaurant of famed Puerto Rican Chef Wilo Benet. Benet, best known (to folks like me who only know what they see on Bravo) as the guest judge for the finale of Season Four of Top Chef  and as a contestant on Season One of Top Chef Masters.

Being Puerto Rican myself, it's always a huge delight to see fellow Boriquas on TV, especially on Top Chef. (Of course, it's always a bitter pill to swallow when they crash and burn before making it to the end. But I still hold out hope.)

Now, a couple of years ago, right after the end of Top Chef: Chicago, my partner and I attempted to go to Pikayo back when it was located in the lobby of the sumptuous Museum of Art of Puerto Rico. But, as luck would have it, the day we had set aside to eat there they were filming some program for the Food Network and my plans were foiled.

Later, hearing of my plight, a cousin in Puerto Rico did me the immeasurable solid of getting me Chef Wilo's cookbook, Puerto Rico True Flavor.

Of course, in between not being able to find typical Puerto Rican ingredients in Central Ohio and that nasty "still can't cook" thing, I haven't attempted any of the recipes in there. Yet.

So, with all this in mind, on this trip we were bound and determined to eat there. The first thing we learned is that the restaurant has since moved to the spectacular Hotel Conrad in the Condado section of San Juan. (The lobby and bar of the hotel itself is are works of art and not something you'll want to miss.)

As it happened, we couldn't get anyone to go with us, since the place is rather well-known for its sky-high, fine dining prices. And since Puerto Rican cuisine is generally thought of as inexpensive home cooking-style food, my folks simply could not fathom paying $37 for a bistec encebollado (Puerto Rican skirt steak with onions) when it normally would go for under $12 anyplace else on the island.

Hence, we went alone. But what a treat it was when we walked in the door and found the Chef sitting at the bar.


Yes, it was him. And he could not have been kinder or more gracious. I told him about my Top Chef recap blogs, All Top Chef, my previous attempt to dine at his restaurant, his cookbook ... and my persistent inability (or sheer terror) to cook a damn thing. Naturally, he suggested I try recipies from his cookbook. And I all but promised I would. When I mentioned that we've used the premier all-time best-selling Puerto Rican cookbook Cocina Criolla, by Carmen Valldejuli, now in it's one-millionth pressing, he remarked that those kind of sales are the things dreams are made of.

After our friendly chat was done, we were seated in the elegant, modern and clean dining room and attended to by the dapper and friendly wait staff. (As it was a Thursday during off-season, we had the place all to ourselves. ... Also, I had forgotten that 7:30 p.m. really is way too early to be considering dinner in Puerto Rico. The crowd finally started arriving somewhere close to 9 p.m.

After examining the menu, we discovered that (as had been noted in online reviews) that class of Fiji water that had been so conveniently poured for us would be added to our bill at $2 a pop. (Not that I minded terribly, but I really have never seen that as an automatic thing anywhere before.)

And while we both lusted after many of the traditional Puerto Rican dishes on the regular menu, the sticker shock really did take hold. I was really eager to see what magic this great chef could perform that would transform a traditional toston (fried plantain) into something that was that, er, pricey?

So, we opted to order off the more reasonably priced prix fixe menu.

After our amuse and cocktails (I had a traditional daiquiri, seeing as it's a PR creation), our first course arrived.

I ordered the Portuguese Octopus, with Granny Smith Apple and Ver Jus Vinaigrette. It was delicious and the chef managed to counteract the usual chewiness of the octopus by slicing it very thinly. And the acid of the vinaigrette played off the tartness of the apple.

My partner ordered la sopa del dia, the Potato, Garlic and Truffle Oil Soup of the Day. He reported that it was equally delicious.

For my main course, I ordered the Double Cut Pork Chop on a bed of Risotto de Gandules and Fricasee Sauce. Here, I really saw a hint of the traditional PR cookery in one of these fine dining dishes, as the gandules (pigeon peas) are a staple on the island. And paired with the pork chop, which was, without question, the best I have ever had in my life, the dish was a home run.

My partner ordered the Chicken Breast with Truffle Cheese & Oven Dried Tomato Puree. As with the other dishes, he adored it and ate up every morsel with gusto.

For dessert, I opted for the Cheese Flan. Now, normally flan is not my thing at all. I've had all kinds of flan and, for one reason or other, the traditional custard dish doesn't do it for me, either for the taste or the texture. This flan, though. was something else entirely. The cheese was doubtlessly the reason it was so remarkable. It tasted like the greatest cheesecake you've ever had in your life, with a hint of traditional flan. It was amazing!

(Side note: When it arrived on the blue plate you see above, my partner thought it was being served in a blue sauce of some kind. At which point I broke into my Fabio Viviani impression and remarked, "There is-a no blue food!")

Being the resident chocoholic in the family, my partner couldn't turn down the Chocolate Decadence with Coffee Ice Cream. Not only was it a work of art, but it was a delicious, decadent concoction which really lived up to its name.

Once dinner was over, we paid our check and, while a few dollars poorer, were smiling over our incredible meal, we headed back to Isla Verde with stories to tell and the memory of a time well spent.

(See you folks in a few days for the Top Chef: D.C. premiere recap. Should be fun!)

ATC Love to Chef John Somerville

Chef John Somerville made a risky move by making a dessert as the first dish he would prepare for the Top Chef judges and it did not pay off. Since the challenge was to create a dish that would reflect where he was from, Chef John chose to focus on the maple which flows through the trees in Michigan. His Maple Mousse Napoleon with Crisp Macadamia Nut and Vanilla Sauce was not a hit, however. Tom Colicchio said that he couldn't taste the maple while others commented on how soggy the pastry was. In retrospect, Chef John felt that he should have made his pastry from scratch, but chose to use store-bought pastry to save money for the other ingredients. While the gamble did not work, we wish him well in his future endeavors.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef John Somerville. If you have anything negative to say about him or any of his competition, please leave a comment here.

Congratulations, Chef Angelo Sosa!

Chef Angelo hit the ground running by winning both the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. After peeling 10 potatoes, dicing 10 cups of onions, and breaking down four chickens in lightning speed, he wowed the judges with his Roasted Thigh with Roasted Wing, Onion Jam with Potato Noodles.

Later, in the Elimination Challenge where the chefs had to prepare a dish that reflected where they were from, Chef Angelo effectively represented his native region of rural Connecticut with Arctic Char with Pickled Shallots, Chilled Tapioca with Smoked Bacon Froth. Chef Angelo has certainly made a statement as the chef to beat this season. Congratulations once again!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Angelo Sosa. If you have anything negative to say about him or any of his competition, please leave a comment here.

Reactions to Top Chef DC Episode 1

The new season of Top Chef kicked off on the roof of one of the Smithsonian Institute buildings as the current batch of cheftestants gathered for the usual first day meet-and-greet. Once they were settled in, hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio introduced the Quickfire Challenge: mise en place. Testing their skill and speed, the chefs had to peel 10 potatoes, brunoise (small dice) 10 cups of onions, and break down four chickens into eight pieces. This first challenge of the season was a high stakes challenge with the winner taking away $20,000.  Only the first 12 chefs to peel 10 potatoes to Tom's satisfaction were able to move on to the next stage. Eight chefs moved on from the onion chopping, and after the chicken hacking, only 4 chefs were left standing.

Chefs Kevin, Angelo, Tim, and Kenny were asked to take their prepared elements and create a dish in 30 minutes with the assistance of the open-air pantry provided. Ultimately, Chef Angelo won with his Roasted Thigh with Roasted Wing, Onion Jam with Potato Noodles.

Before the cheftestants were sent off to check out their new digs in DC, Padma announced that for the Elimination Challenge, the chefs would be asked to create a dish that reflected where they were from. They would be serving their dishes to 300 young DC professionals at the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. With $300 to spend on ingredients, they were given 4 hours to prep their dishes in the Top Chef kitchen, and another hour to set up at the location.

As an added twist, the chefs were divided into four groups chosen by the final four chefs from the Quickfire Challenge. Since there would be only one winner from each group, the chefs choosing their teams had to pick the chefs they thought were least capable rather than most capable. Later, while some arrived at the house with plans to drink and socialize, others set about planning their culinary creations.

The next day, the 17 chefs did their shopping and returned to the kitchens to cook. Then they were transported to the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to prepare their small plates for the hungry guests and judges. This year, in addition to Padma, Tom, and Food and Wine's Gail Simmons, super chef Eric Ripert serves as semi-regular guest judge. After tasting all 17 dishes, the judges deemed those of Kevin, Alex, Kenny, and Angelo to be the best. As the new guest judge, Eric Ripert announced that Angelo had won the challenge with his Connecticut-inspired Arctic Char with Pickled Shallots, Chilled Tapioca with Smoked Bacon Froth.

After the win, Angelo had the unenviable duty of telling Stephen, John, Jacqueline, and Timothy that they were the bottom four and must face the music at the judges table. The judges felt that Stephen's ribeye was overcooked, John's store-bought pastry was soggy, Jacqueline's mousse was grainy and lacked fat, and Timothy's rockfish was too chewy with the skin left on. In the end, John's risky move to make a dessert did not pay off, and he was the first of the season to pack his knives and go.

So what did you think of the premiere episode?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top Chef DC Episode 1 Previews

Foodies, your wait is over! Bravo’s Top Chef returns TONIGHT for the ultimate gastronomic showdown. In season 7, we welcome back our favorite epicures Tom, Gail and new series-regular Eric Ripert to the Judges Table. 17 new cheftestants from all over the nation will gather in Washington, DC to compete head-to-head for a $125,000 prize and the title of Top Chef. Will this new crop have what it takes to be on top? Find out on the TOP CHEF D.C.

*Season 7 PREMIERE at a New Time!* Wednesday 6/16 @ 9/8c.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sponsored by...

Toyota and Dial Nutriskin are among this season's new sponsors. Does this mean we'll be seeing more tub scenes like this one from Top Chef Chicago?

Additionally, we'll be seeing ads from Samsung, Kikkoman, Snyder's of Hanover, and Hilton Hotels. Read more about this season's sponsors here.

Maybe we should create a drinking game to go with this season. Any suggestions? How about "take a shot every time you hear the word 'umami'"?

TC News & Information - Recipe Edition

Top Chef season 4 cheftestant Spike Mendelsohn was on The View recently preparing specialties from is Washington DC restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery, and his new cookbook. You can see the video here, and if you want the recipes for the Obama Burger, Michelle's Melt, and the Toasted Marshmallow Shake, click here.

Top Chef DC cheftestant Andrea Curto-Randazzo supplies us with a recipe for a delicious-sounding "Summer Peach & Aged Manchego Cheese Stuffed Pork Chop with Mushroom Ragout and Port Wine Reduction" here.

Season 5 finalist Stefan Richter puts bleu cheese on his pastrami sandwich. Not only that, he puts ketchup and mayo on it. What other scary non-traditional steps does he take? Check out his recipe here.

How about a somewhat more-traditional recipe: Bryan Voltaggio's Mom's Crab Cakes.

And doesn't this recipe from Stephanie Izard for bread pudding with fresh ricotta and apples sound yummy?

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 2 Finale

Another season of seasoned professionals, amazing food, and not-all-that-much drama has come to an end...and this year Marcus Samuelson, with his African and Swedish roots, takes home the top prize. But did the bloggers think he deserved it? We'll find out:

Jordan Baker is perplexed: "It’s not that I don’t think Marcus Samuelsson is a fantastic chef – he is, in case you hadn’t noticed, Marcus Bloody Samuelsson—but the show gave the impression that he won with one course in his meal that the diners flatly didn’t like, or at the very least didn’t 'get.'"

CBS News on a Colicchio faux pas: "In a bit of a spoiler, Tom Colicchio congratulated Samuelsson on Twitter just after 11 ET-two hours before the show was broadcast on the west coast."

Reality TV Magazine on Marcus's second dish (yum): "His second course, inspired by a duck dinner that he cooked while his grandmother was sick, would be salt cured duck with foie gras ganache and tomato jam. After he cooked this meal for his family, due to the praises and feedback he had gotten was the moment he knew he wanted to be a chef."

Grub Street on who got robbed: "It’s only fair to say that Susur was robbed (the Bravo poll showed 47 percent in favor of him), but Top Chef Masters has its own agenda to worry about, one which seemed this year to focus on giving the top prize to a hot, young chef with style and culinary flair to boot."

Reality Wanted waxes (ha! get it?) nostalgic: "Remember the effortless win that Rick Bayless gave us last season? While everyone competed, Rick sailed the Zen-master Mexican seas to the win. I really thought we would see Jedi Master Jonathan Waxman surf in on the same slow, steady wave, but alas it was not meant to be."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Poll Results - Predict the Winner of Top Chef DC

Results of the poll taken earlier this month show that 31% of those who voted think Alex Reznik of Ivan Kane's Cafe Was is going to emerge victorious at the end of Top Chef DC. Only time will tell if that prediction comes true!

Top Chef DC starts Wednesday, June 16th at 9/8C. Will you be watching?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Top Chef Fantasy Game

Ok, who played the Farfarazzi Top Chef fan game last season? I did, and I did pretty well, too! This season things are a little different because the Top Chef game can only be accessed via Pick a winning team and you may win $1000!

Click here to play.
Click here for official rules.

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 10

Find the written recipe for Marcus Samuelsson's lightly cured arctic char here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Congratulations, Chef Marcus Samuelsson!

Congratulations, Chef Samuelsson, for taking the title of Top Chef Master and winning $100,000 for your charity, the UNICEF Tap Project.

In the final challenge, you really showed the judges what it was like to be Chef Samuelsson, from growing up in Sweden to adoptive parents to bringing your Ethiopian heritage to the table with you as an adult. While your kitfo may have seemed a bit strange to the diners, they agreed that your willingness to share your heritage with your diners was one of your strengths, and ultimately it is probably what won the competition for you.

We are looking forward to the upcoming opening of your restaurant Red Rooster and we hope great things continue to come your way.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Samuelsson and his performance on Top Chef Masters. If you have anything negative to say about him or any of his competition, please leave a comment here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Finale

This week, the final episode of season 2 of Top Chef Masters, we find our three remaining chefs pitted against each other in a battle to the death to see who is indeed deserving of the title and $100K for their favorite charity.

The chefs are transported to LA's Union Station, which is mysteriously both empty and completely clean. Kelly Choi meets them and from a distance of about 25 feet, gives the chefs their final challenge. They must create a three-course meal that celebrates their journey as a chef. To the stirring strains of a Musak version of "Don't Stop Believin'" we hear her tell them that the first dish must be inspired by their first food memory, the second dish must be inspired by the experience that made each decide to become a chef, and the third course should describe them as chefs.

The chefs are then sent off to have breakfast in yet another abandoned spot in the train station and forced to reminisce. Afterwards, they are given wads of cash and are sent off to shop for supplies.

Back at the Top Chef Masters Kitchen, while "Who's Cryin' Now" plays softly in the background, the chefs cook and talk about their various food memories: how Rick Moonen caught clams with his Dad (which is why he's making oysters); how Marcus cooked Christmas dinner the year his grandmother was sick; and probably most affecting, the tragic story of how Susur Lee's first wife died in a plane that was shot down for allegedly crossing into Soviet air space.

♫♪♫ I'm forever yours, faithfully ♫♪♫

Breaking the mood, Kelly walks in wearing a short shiny red dress that would have made Heidi Klum proud, to give the chefs a surprise. No, not that kind of surprise. And not a horrible twist to the challenge, but rather something useful: help. We then see the sous chefs from their restaurant kitchens march in to the strains of "Open Arms."

The chefs now have even more time to do voice overs and reminisce about the past. Marcus Samuelsson shows a photo of a young girl whom he calls his "sister." He then says she is living in Africa and is struggling with the lack of water there. Now, Marcus, if that is indeed your sister, and you are a good brother, why the hell are you leaving her in Africa when you can give her all the water she wants in New York City?

Finally, the cooking is done and the chefs must serve the diners: Gail Simmons, Miss James Oseland, Jay Rayner, and the three finalists from season 1, Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless, and Michael Chiarello. While everyone loved aspects of all nine dishes, it seems that one of three courses for each of the chefs falls flat.

Back at Critics' Table, the chefs stand to get their star ratings from Kelly and the gang. They start off with Susur who gets 17 stars. Marcus is next with 17.5 stars. Finally, Rick gets 17 stars. In the end, Marcus wins the title of Top Chef Master and $100K by a mere half a star.

As "Separate Ways" plays in the background, the second season of Top Chef Masters comes to a close.

So what did you think of this season? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Top Chef Masters 2 Finale Previews

After a grueling season of out-of-the-ordinary challenges, three accomplished chefs – Rick Moonen, Susur Lee, & Marcus Samuelsson - stand to face their final challenge, but only one chef can be crowned the prestigious title of “Top Chef Master.” Who will ‘wow’ the judges panel with their expertise one last time? And who will fall short of incredibly high expectations? Find out tonight, Wednesday 6/9 @ 10/9c, only on BRAVO.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 9

And now we are three...

Jordan Baker on Waxman getting the boot: "It seems like the critics have penalized him for making things that are too “simple” for a Top Chef Master. Which. . .really? REALLY? He’s Jonathan Mother Fucking Waxman, fools. Simple, perfect food is what he does. You want shrimp on trapezes, you know where to find them."

Grub Street on Marcus v. Waxman: "You can decide whether it’s genuine or halfhearted praise, but Marcus’s response to his Quickfire challenge was, 'Jonathan’s recipes are easy to follow. I mean, they’re very direct. He uses things that are approachable.' This coming from the chef who later runs out of money trying to buy every ingredient in stock at Whole Foods. "

TWOP on Susur's lady dessert: "He plates it to look like a vagina, which turns some people off. And yet, the entire table falls silent while eating it because it's so good."

Onion AV Club on the Quickfire: "The soupification of those entrées really zapped my interest, though, a sloppy addition that felt more like a hassle than a challenge. Top Chef-throwback or no, I would have much preferred to see the chefs prepare each other's recipe with their own spin than see them scrap those dishes midway through for soup. Improvising isn't the same thing as having to deal with an entirely new set of instructions halfway through..."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Susur hotness: "Did you guys get a peek at Susur’s book cover? His long hair is caught blowing in the wind, like a still shot from Highlander. Man, the more we know, the more we love this guy."

Creative Loafing on that word: "I’m not even going to go into detail about how many times they used the 'v' word (you know, as in 'lady parts') this episode for no apparent reason other than they knew they could get away with it on Bravo. And we thought us podcasters were tasteless and childish."

Box Office Prophets kind of hates Rick: "The Masters head over to Whole Foods and nothing much happens, except that Rick grosses me out by reaching over the plastic barrier to fondle the seafood. He’s trying to show the Whole Foods attendant which pieces of seafood he wants, but still…that’s gross."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Perfectly Delish, Episode 3

TC News & Information

Kevin Gillespie's beard has fans, and they had a party.

The LA Times Daily Dish blog examines the strengths and weaknesses of the three Top Chef Masters finalists.

Get to know Top Chef DC competitor Andrea Curto-Randazzo a bit via this interview in the Miami New Times.

Carla Hall makes sardines tasty. Or so says this NPR article.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 9

The written-out version of Marcus Samuelsson's confit of salmon can be found here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Congratulations, Chef Marcus Samuelsson!

Throughout the competition, Chef Samuelsson has produced highly creative and delicious work, but only now was he able to best his competition in both the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenges. Pretty impressive thing to do when you're among the best of the best! His soupy interpretation of Jonathan Waxman's dish in the QF impressed James Oseland, as did his violet/pleasure/salmon work in the Elimination. Oh, the other judges loved it too, as did the Groundlings.

Chef Samuelsson has a real advantage in his depth of food knowledge and the flavorings and styles of other cultures. Not just the Swedish Chef, Marcus continues to wow us with his imagination. He's in the finals in this competition - but can his talent take him all the way?

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Samuelsson's work. If you have anything negative to say about her or her competition, please do so here.

ATC Love to Chef Jonathan Waxman

This week, the great Obi Wan was not able to use his Jedi mind tricks to convince the evil Empire known as Critics' Table to keep him on for another week. Although Gail Simmons said he probably makes the best roast chicken ever, that wasn't enough.

Chef Waxman's immense love of food and family shone through with every dish he created, and made him a joy to watch this season. Although we are very sad to see him go, we at All Top Chef think he had a great run and will continue to make people very happy with his cooking. He has had an illustrious career thus far and we have no reason to believe it will end here.

We wish you the best, Chef!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Waxman's work. If you have anything negative to say about him or his competition, please do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 9

On this penultimate episode of Top Chef Masters, our final four competitors get two somewhat difficult challenges. First: the Quickfire involves pairing up for a "Cookbook Swap" in which each member of the pairs has to cook a recipe from his partner's book. The recipes are pre-selected and a box of essential ingredients is provided to each chef. Marcus cooks from Jonathan's book (and vice versa) and Rick prepares a dish from Susur's book (which I just received in the mail yesterday, btw) while Susur cooks from his.

Marcus decides to change Jonathan's recipe to reflect his own background. Jonathan chooses to make Marcus' curry dish less-spicy. Susur is upset because he didn't get a reference photo of the dish and he "cooks with his eyes" and he "doesn't read English very well." (I'm pretty sure that last statement was pure bullshit.) Rick is just plain concerned, since Susur's recipes aren't exactly simple.

After much cooking time has elapsed, Kelly Choi flounced back into the room to announce a twist: the recipes must become soups that retain the integrity of the original dish.

Much bitching ensues. Time's up and the dishes are brought to Ms James Oseland for tasting. In the end, Marcus gets 3.5 stars for his brothy interpretation of a Jonathan Waxman dish.

Next, Kelly tells the chefs that they get the night off and are being sent to see a performance of the Groundlings, the improv troupe that produced the likes of Will Farrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Chris Kattan (and STILL we allow them to exist). The chefs get into their civilian clothes and head off to see the show in a relaxed mood. Eventually, they realize that they don't actually have the night off, particularly when Jim Rash (Community) starts asking the audience to shout out colors, emotions, and foods. And suddenly it's a rehash of the Elimination Challenge in Top Chef season 4 episode 7 in which Dale Talde and Richard Blais win with their interpretation of "green perplexed tofu." (A similar version of the game was played in a Quickfire in Season 6 episode 7 in which the cheftestants were assigned moods, tastes/textures, and ethnicities via slot machine.)

The chefs get to choose the trio of words with which they want to work, starting with QF winner Marcus who chooses "violet, pleasure, salmon." Susur takes "chocolate, lust, peanut butter," Rick has "red, anger, bacon," which leaves Jonathan with "burnt sienna, depression, avocado." Then it's off to Whole Foods to shop and then 2.5 hours to cook their themed meal for the Groundlings cast.

During the cooking, we find that: Jonathan plays the trombone; Susur is 15 at heart, what with his idea of using bananas and a cookie tuile "vagina" in his dish; the kitchen has an immersion circulator but not a vacuum sealer; and Marcus has no idea what color "violet" really is (a hint: it's neither red like beets, nor is it purple).

The critics for this meal are Gail, Jay, and Ms Oseland. There's criticism all around although Susur seems to get the least. Despite this, he's beaten out by half a point by Marcus, despite the fact that his plate looked like a crime scene and there was no violet to be found (the critics obviously had no clue, either).

Jonathan, who made a nice homey meal of chicken with avocado, scored a paltry (poultry?) 11.5 points and was sent packing. So sad to see Obi Wan go! :(

So next week is the final battle between Marcus Samuelsson, Susur Lee, and Rick Moonen. The winner was spoiled weeks ago, but who do you think it will be?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TC News & Information 6.2.10

Top Chef 6's Jennifer Carroll is Chef Chair of the 2010 Taste of the Nation Philadelphia. Catch the details here.

The SignOnSanDiego Newsletter has a feature on season 3 cheftestant Brian Malarkey.

Season 5's Carla Hall is preparing for summer. Here's the transcript from her appearance on NPR's Tell Me More.

Vote for Top Chef Masters 2 finalist Jody Adams (or your favorite chef) in the Mezzetta Celebrity Chef Sandwich Charity Challenge. Sandwiches and recipes can be found here.

Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 9 Previews

In an entertaining penultimate episode, the remaining four chefs’ sense of humor is put to the test when they all take a trip to the famous improv comedy club “the Groundlings.” But it is not all fun and laughter when the chefs find out that they must integrate a little improv into their food: how will they fare when they are given 3 words of inspiration from which to create a cohesive dish? And which 3 chefs will make it to the Finale? Find out tonight, Wednesday 6/2 @ 10/9c on BRAVO's Top Chef Masters 2 *4 Chefs vie for a spot in the Finale!*