Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meet the Chefs - Elizabeth Binder

Hometown: Durban, South Africa

Profession: Previously Executive Chef, Bar Bambino, San Francisco, CA

Culinary Education: Christina Martin School of Food and Wine, South Africa

Favorite Simple Winter Recipe: Beet, parsnip, bacon, and apple soup

Lizzie was born and raised in South Africa, but earned her impressive culinary stripes in some of the best kitchens around the globe. With culinary inspirations from her fisherman father and great entertaining grandmothers, she’s ventured from the romantic wilds of Africa, through establishment Europe and foodie Australia, before falling in love with both America and an American and settling in Northern California. Energetic and charismatic, with a true commitment to authentic fresh food, Lizzie has spent time at Jardiniere in San Francisco, The French Laundry in Napa, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Most recently the Executive Chef of the acclaimed Italian-inspired Bar Bambino in San Francisco, Lizzie is presently on the hunt for her next adventure. She currently resides in Napa with her chef husband and two kids, Ben, who at age 6 has a studied seasoning hand, and Zaidie, a pasta-making princess at age 3.

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Top Recipe - Chris Cosentino's Blood Sausage, Poached Oysters, and Egg

Thanks, Chef Cosentino, for not expecting us to make our own blood sausage....

Blood Sausage, Poached Oysters, and Egg

4 Boccalone Sanguinaccio
36 oysters (clean and shucked)
2 cups rich trotter stock
4 duck eggs
4 tbsp. butter
2 tablespoons chive batons
2 tablespoons chive flowers
Buckwheat sprouts
8 pieces of crusty bread

Start the blood sausages in a cold pan with 2 tablespoons of butter; once there is color on one side, flip and put into oven at 350 degrees. While the sausages are cooking through, start the eggs, making sure that they are sunny side up. When the eggs are ready (2 minutes) put them on a warm plate, then top with 1 sausage per plate. While the stock is reducing (with one tablespoon of butter), grill the bread over medium heat and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Deglaze the sausage pan with the pork stock and add the oysters, letting simmer for 1 minute. Mix with one tablespoon of butter and add chives then season to taste. Top the sausages with the sauce and oysters, and sprinkle the chive flowers and buckwheat sprouts on the plate. Serve with bread.


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Friday, September 28, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Chris Cosentino

Top Chef Masters Season Four Champion, Chris Cosentino, talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant. 

CC: My restaurant Incanto, is in San Francisco in area called Noe Valley. It's an Old-World style Italian restaurant. We try to cook with an Italian philosophy. 

 In an average week, we get a 250 pound pig, whole - and two whole lambs or goats depending on what we intend to serve. We just work our way through the animals and change things up as we go.

We also have a project called Boccalone. We create 26 different cooked, cured and raw products. We sell all sorts of salumi. Five heart salumi... Fresh sausage... We have been doing it for about 5 years. I give people at home the ability to have the unique foods that are not available at the general market. If you want cheek bacon or back bacon you can order them and we will ship them. 

 These are the lovely Italian flavor profiles made with the best quality meats available for you to serve at home.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Chef Chris!

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All Top Chef Interview with Kerry Heffernan

Top Chef Masters Season 4 Finalist, Kerry Heffernan talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: Going in to the finale, did you feel like the underdog? 

 KH: From the beginning, the person that I felt I was competing with the most was myself. It didn't make any difference whether I observed what anyone else was doing. It was only about me doing the very best that I could do. 

 So I felt very strong going in for a number of reasons. For instance, the format suited me. Serving four plates, a composed meal, a menu, not just a bite, was definitely what I am trained to do. Honestly I felt very strong going in.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about City Harvest.

Thank you Chef Kerry!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Kerry Heffernan

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

ATC Love to Chef Kerry Heffernan

By week 9 of this 10 week competition, Chef Kerry Heffernan nearly had Chef Cosentino running scared. Possibly his greatest strength is his ability to cook with such classic technique. He utilized this strength in the final battle, four courses of letters to his wife, his family, and to himself, and produced four very delicious dishes.

While his meal was very strong, it wasn't quite strong enough to beat his competition, but we think it was probably very, very close!

Congrats, Chef Kerry, for *almost* winning. You're a great chef and hope to see you back on Top Chef again some day.

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Congratulations, Chef Chris Cosentino!

In what was probably a surprise to no one, Chris Cosentino created an offal-based meal that both shocked and amazed the critics (some of whom even hated it, possibly). While the meal made by his competition was delicious, Chef Cosentino's was both delicious and outrageous, and his boldness played a big part in his victory.

Congrats, Chef Cosentino! The Michael J. Fox Foundation is sure to be pleased with the over $140,000 you'll be sending their way!

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Recap of Top Chef Masters 4 Finale

I want to start out by saying that I rather enjoyed this season of Top Chef Masters. The challenges were overall more interesting than in past seasons, and the competitors had a bit more spunk. None more spunky than Chris Cosentino, who happily sparred with Art Smith through the first several episodes, then really settled down to some serious cooking closer to the finale.

This week, there was no Quickfire. Instead, Curtis cuts to the chase. Each of the two final chefs - Kerry Heffernan and Chris Cosentino - must compose a meal of four dishes that act as "letters." The first course must express a love letter, the second an apology, the third a thank you note, and finally, the fourth course must be a letter to oneself. The Finalmastercheftestants don't have to go it alone though - each gets one sous chef in the form of someone they have worked with for years. For Chris, it's his chef de cuisine at Incanto, and for Kerry, a long-time friend. No, not Tom Colicchio (that would have been cheating).

After a period of meal planning the chefs head out to shop. Kerry goes only to Whole Foods, which is close by, so he has more time for prep. Chris goes to three different stores, which cuts down dramatically on his cooking time. In the end, however, it didn't seem to matter.

The judges for this contest were a bunch of well- and not-so-well-known food critics, including the founder of Chow and Alan Richman from GQ. They're all hyper-critical and seem more than a bit jaded, but the final judgement comes from the shows own bunch, including Ruth and Francis. While Kerry's food was very delicious, and the seeming favorite of Mr Sweater, the other judges were wowed by Chris' bold choice to use offal in three of his four courses.

And we know who wins this thing. Personally, I think it was pretty obvious from the start.

Congratulations, Chef Cosentino!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Good Reason to Visit New York!

Well, it would be, were reservations actually available....


Bravo Media extends the success of “Top Chef” with the franchise’s first-ever branded restaurant, “Top Chef Kitchen,” in collaboration with the restaurant operators of “Distilled NY.” The one-of-a-kind dining experience opens Tuesday, October 16 for a limited time only, providing fervent fans the opportunity to experience the food they have come to love and crave over the past nine seasons of the Emmy-winning series.

“With Top Chef Kitchen we’re giving our highly passionate fans the ultimate foodie experience,” said Ellen Stone, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Bravo. “Fans can meet a range of our talented chef’testants and taste for themselves what it’s like to participate in a Top Chef dinner that, until now, they’ve only seen on TV.”

“Top Chef Kitchen” will feature unique menus created and executed on-site by “Top Chef” alumni and viewer favorites -- Richard Blais, Jennifer Carroll, Tiffany Derry, Tiffani Faison, Mike Isabella, Edward Lee, Antonia Lofaso, Paul Qui, Grayson Schmitz and Fabio Viviani, who will rotate as Executive Chefs throughout the run. Diners can go to or to the official reservations partner, to make a reservation, learn more about the restaurant, see chef schedules and review the menus. Cookware for the restaurant will be provided exclusively by Anolon Cookware.

“Top Chef Kitchen” will serve dinner nightly Tuesday – Sunday, starting October 16. Diners can indulge in a four-course prix-fixe menu with or without wine pairings, or reserve the exclusive “Chef’s Table,” an eight course tasting menu with wine pairings and the chance to be up close and personal with the Chef’testants. In addition to a full cocktail program, Top Chef Kitchen will offer a robust wine list including Quickfire Wines by Terlato Wines.

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Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.9

A Just Recompense on Mystery Guests: "We know, and the chefs seem to know, the mystery guests will be someone they know. Turns out, the critics get to cook. I love this idea. Francis Lam graduated from the CIA (not to mention the University of Michigan, but that had nothing to do with cooking), and I know from her book Garlic and Sapphires that Ruth is an experienced cook; I suspect James knows his way around the kitchen as well. But for all the chefs know, they’re dealing with their crazy uncle Eddie, another chef’s parent or spouse, or previously eliminated chefs (which would be pretty cool, actually)."

Mary Alice of Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on the Mystery Guest dishes: "Chris and James’ shrimp dishes look very similar - even down to the plating. Curtis tastes each and says 'I actually can’t decide which I like more!' to which James responds, Oh, just shut the f--- up.' Sassy Molassy! Lorena and Francis didn’t get their pasta cooked in time so they present a saute of swiss chard with chicken and stuff on top. Curtis likes the sauce but wants something to put it on. Kerry and Ruth created a sauteed chicken dish with bacon, rosemary and swiss chard cream. Their plating is quite different — Ruth used half a chicken while Kerry’s is just small pieces. Hilariously Curtis likes Ruth’s dish better."

LA Weekly on the Elimination Challenge: "Keffernan's team had whipped up a Chicken Florentine, Garcia's a lasagna, and Cosentino's a basic pork dish -- no bells and whistles in any of them. But the chefs took different approaches when it came to vamping them up. Keffernan stayed relatively true to the original form, guiding the students in creating a Florentine-inspired chicken with orzo and asparagus ragout. Cosentino went out of his way to teach the kids that what a pig eats is reflected in how it tastes, and used the pig's presumed diet to help them put together a pork loin with hazelnut brown butter, apples, and watercress. And Garcia, the queen of "food is love," kept it basic, enhancing the students' lasagna with better ingredients and technique, and serving it family-style."

Gossip & Gab on smart: "Kerry Heffernan took notes during previous seasons and made the wise choice to be kind to his mystery partner."

The Zagat Blog on scary Kerry: "Kerry is kind of intense and terrifying, ordering the kids around and yelling at them to move faster and push harder like a scary gym teacher, but he whips them into shape and turns a string-cheese chicken Florentine into a Florentine-inspired chicken with orzo and asparagus ragu. And Kerry wins again! This man is on fire."
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Top Recipe - Kerry Heffernan's Florentine-Inspired Chicken with Orzo and Asparagus Ragout

Florentine-Inspired Chicken with Orzo and Asparagus Ragout

Remove breasts (whole with skin and bone intact) of 2 small chickens, and cut each in half. Cut legs and remaining carcass into half-inch pieces.

6 ounces of orzo (or any pasta), cooked in salted boiling water till al dente. Shock in ice water, then drain well and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

4 ounces of baby spinach, cleaned and rinsed

One small bunch of asparagus finely cut on a bias, heads split

1 ounce of pine nuts, toasted and set aside

3 ounces of whole butter

2 ounces of heavy cream

1 quart brown veal stock

8 slices black truffle

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 sprigs tarragon, stems removed and leaves minced

Using a shallow roasting pan, place chicken legs and carcasses in a 450°oven. Brown legs, turning often until well-colored; strain all fat. Place browned bones into 4 quart sauce pot and cover with the veal stock (and water if necessary); bring to simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming constantly. Strain liquids, discard bones. Reduce liquid to 1 cup, skimming constantly and carefully checking the seasoning. Set aside but keep warm.

Heat a 10-inch sauté pan and add 1 ounce of heavy cream. Place spinach, stirring frequently until completely wilted. Season well with salt and pepper, and place the entire mixture into a blender. Puree well. Check seasoning, and set aside.

Heat a 12-inch sauté pan until quite hot, and add 1 ounce of canola oil. Place chicken breasts, seasoned very well with salt and pepper, skin-side down in the very hot pan. Cook on medium heat until chicken is well-browned, and then place in 400° oven for additional 10 to 12 minutes until just done. Set aside, keeping the chicken warm.

In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat 1 ounce of butter, adding sliced asparagus and salt and pepper, with 3 ounces of water. Cook over medium to high heat, adding garlic and cooked orzo when asparagus is barely tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Finish with minced tarragon and an additional ounce of butter, swirling to gently combine. Set aside and keep warm.

In a 6-inch sauté pan, roast toasted pine nuts and one ounce of butter. Heat until butter turns slightly brown. Immediately add mixture to blender, and purée well. Set aside.

Warm the spinach mixture, adding a bit of cream and butter if needed. Check seasoning and set aside.

Remove chicken from bones and slice on a bias, arranging attractively on four plates.

Add any accumulated juices from chicken to chicken stock, bringing combined liquid to a simmer. Check seasoning, strain again, and add sliced truffles.

Judiciously drizzle sauce around and over chicken so that there is just an attractive streak on the plate.

Spoon warm orzo and asparagus mixture into the center of the plate.

Spoon an attractive streak of spinach on the edge of the plate. Finish with a "Cordon" of the pine nut and butter mixture around the edge of the plate. Serve immediately.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Lorena Garcia

Top Chef Masters contestant, Lorena Garcia, talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: I do not recall hearing anything in the instructions about creating a "restaurant" dish. I only heard "elevate the dish to a master level." Were you told to create a restaurant dish?

 LG: No, really, to my recollection, we were told to "elevate the dish" to something that could be taught to the kids - something that they could learn and reproduce. It was lasagna, there was only so much we could do. It had to be something accessible and doable for them.

 ATC: If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

 LG: In the process of making the dish, I learned things about the sudents, like Jojo had type 2 diabetes, and maybe if I had known that, I might have modified things a little, but honestly, I still would have presented the dish family-style and I am imagining that the kids will prepare this again for their families.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Lorena Garcia Cucina.

Click here to learn more about The Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Thank you Chef Lorena!

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ATC Love to Chef Lorena Garcia

Chef Garcia's kids made her a lasagna, and she taught them how to make an elevated version of the dish. Unfortunately, it wasn't elevated enough to earn her a slot in next week's finale. Up to this point though, she had done very well in the competition, earning over 27K for her charity, which made her happy despite the loss.

Good luck Chef Lorena - you are a great competitor and we're eager to see what you dish up in the future.

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Congratulations, Chef Kerry Heffernan!

After nine long weeks of competition, Chef Heffernan finally won an Elimination Challenge, and it was a big one. His team of high school students learned a lot about making a brown chicken stock and preparing chicken properly, and their delicious results won him a slot in the finale.

Congrats for the huge win this week, Kerry! Good luck in the finale!

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Recap of Top Chef Masters 4.9

This week, the three remaining mastercheftestants had to take on the role of teacher, first in a Quickfire that paired them with three of the critics, then with high school culinary students.

The Quickfire was a replay of last season's "mystery teammate" challenge. With a wall separating the cheftestants from their partners, they had to make sure this other person cooked a dish very similar or identical to the one he or she was making. Chris was paired up with James Oseland, who put on a fake accent and turned out a dish much like the one Chris made, which earned them a win. Kerry with Ruth and Lorena with Francis also did pretty well, but not quite well enough.

The Elimination Challenge involved instructing two teenage culinary students through a restaurant-quality dish. The students first cooked the dish they wanted to make for their mentors, and then they were instructed on how to make the dish better. Chris seemed to really get into the spirit of the challenge, taking his kids on as actual chefs-in-training. Kerry did as well, but he acted more like a drill sergeant. Lorena, on the other hand, while claiming to love the challenge, seemed less in a teaching mode.

In the end, it was her not particularly inventive take on lasagna (she had them make...a lasagna) that got her canned. Kerry pushed his students to turn out something both flavorful and well-crafted, and that earned him a win.

Next week, Kerry battles Chris for the final prize. Who's gonna win? Place your bets here!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Just In: Top Chef Seattle!

The newest season of Top Chef premieres Wednesday, November 7th at 10/9C. Set in Seattle, Washington (which we all knew by now), twenty-one cheftestants will join Padma, Gail, Tom, Hugh, and Emeril, plus new judge Wolfgang Puck.

More info as it comes....

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Top Chef Masters 4.9 Previews

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.8

Mary Alice of Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on say what? "Critics' table -- or as Chris calls it, 'Top Chef Ulcer.' They call all four back. Everyone gushes over Kerry's progression from creamy to powerful. They question the sweetness of Lorena's chicken salad and the texture of her chocolate mousse. She admits she did not taste the chicken salad today, and James Oseland's eyebrows raise higher than any botox could ever hope for."

A Just Recompense goes ballistic on Kerry: "Kerry is very selfish! He has been a terrible teammate all along! And nobody ever calls him on it! Not even here on this blog! So I will call him on it! Kerry, you are selfish! You screwed Patricia on the Thai challenge! You got Clark sent home from the Grand Canyon! And now you destroyed Lorena’s dish! I do not know if he does it on purpose, or if he is just very focused and does not pay attention to other people. But if he is a chef, he should know better! And some one should scold him for it! Someone with more authority than me! I do not like Lorena, but I would treat her better than that! He cooked her salmon twenty minutes early so he could cook his shrimp! I would think the chef could handle cooking a piece of fish and some shrimp at the same time! It is not like they were cooking for 700 people, they were making three portions! And what makes me very angry is that Kerry wins! His Shrimp Farfalle with Herbs and Yellow Tomato Beurre Fondue was creamy and tangy. So what, he is Not Nice! I do not care if he is best friends with Tom Colicchio or not! City Harvest gets $2500 and it is hard to complain about that. Just because he is Not Nice does not mean his charity should be held responsible!"

LA Weekly on he's too nice to be a judge: "After tasting the dishes, Avello said the most refreshing, honest thing we've ever heard a guest judge say on this show -- that he was honored to taste the food of such amazing chefs and had no place complaining about any of it. (Right. On. Finally! Why do these guests judges suddenly act like they're Alan Richman?) But he had a favorite, and that was Heffernan's shrimp farfalle -- a dish that carried the weight of Garcia's seared salmon with rice that didn't make the plate."

Gossip & Gab is one of two recappers who don't know the difference between "tureen" and "terrine" (Mary Alice is the other): "All of the chefs were brought before the judge’s table for commentary. Kerry Heffernan got great reviews for all of his dishes. Lorena Garcia was taken to task over a few aspects of her dishes – like the sweetness and consistency of her chocolate mousse. Chris Cosentino received rave reviews for his tureen, as well as a comment on the inconsistency in the doneness of his meat dish. The bread was a flop for Patricia Yeo, and her dishes didn’t meld into a cohesive meal."

The Zagat Blog on whiteness: "As the chefs are setting up their picnic dinner the next day, the 300 patrons arrive. To the uninitiated, Diner en Blanc looks like a cross between a cult and a Tom Wolfe fan convention. The whole 'everyone in white' thing is schticky."

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Top Recipe - Chris Cosentino's Pork and Chicken Liver Pate with Hazelnuts and Truffles

Pork and Chicken Liver Pate with Hazelnuts and Truffles

5 lbs chicken liver
5 lbs pork shoulder
5 lbs pork belly
1 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch savory
1/4 cup garlic
1/4 cup shallot
1/2 cup sauterne wine
1 cup black truffles
2 cups hazelnuts
salt and pepper, as needed

Hay Carrots:
Baby carrots
2 bay leaves
1 orange peel
1 bunch thyme
3 cups hay
2 tablespoons salt

Cut the pork and marinate with shallots, garlic, and sauterne. Grind ½ through small die, and then ½ through medium die. Grind all together, mix with chopped truffles and toasted hazelnuts. Cook a piece to taste in a plastic wrap in boiling water. Let chill before tasting.

Line a terrine mold with pan spray, then lay down plastic wrap to line the mold. Pack in the ground meat. Tamper the molds to get out air bubbles. Bake in a 300 degree oven in a water bath until they reach 134 degrees internal temperature.

Press the terrines with a weight and let cool. Slice and serve with carrots, mustards and cornichons.

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil until tender (this should take about 18 minutes).


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Friday, September 14, 2012

Who Dat?

This ginger is a famous Top Chef. Can anyone guess who?

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Bravo Exit Interview - Patricia Yeo

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Patricia Yeo

Top Chef Masters contestant Patricia Yeo talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: What was the best thing about appearing on Top Chef Masters?

PY: Being with the group of chefs was just wonderful. I mean Kerry and Missy and Sue I have known for a while and we do events together, but we have never worked side by side. It was great getting to know other chefs like Takashi and Thierry - and of course Chris, I just love Chris.

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

PY: No, I actually can't watch myself so I haven't watched a single episode.

ATC: I totally understand.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Chef Patricia.

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ATC Love to Chef Patricia Yeo

This week's all-white picnic was the last battle for Chef Patricia Yeo. The concept for her three dish meal - a trip down the silk road, from India to China - sounded great, and the dishes may have been terrific when freshly prepared, but they just didn't cut it when served cold. The soggy/stale flatbread was probably the biggest offender, and ultimately lost her the competition.

Patricia did win $16K for Heifer International, and that's a pretty good take. Congrats for getting so far in the competition, and good luck in your future endeavors, Chef!

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Congratulations, Chef Chris Cosentino!

Seems like just last week when Chris won his second Elimination Challenge, doesn't it? This time around, the critics went absolutely gaga for his pork and chicken liver pate. They couldn't say enough good things about it, and for sure that's what won the challenge for him this week.

Only two weeks until the finale. Will we see Chris there?

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Top Chef Masters 4.8 Recap

This week's Quickfire Challenge was a bit complicated. The remaining four chefs - Chris, Patricia, Kerry, and Lorena - were split into teams of two. Only one chef could touch the cooktop, while the other chef was in charge of the pantry and tools. Chris and Patricia worked together well, as they always have in the past, but there was some tension between Kerry and Lorena. She seems to be a bit of a control freak, and Kerry just wasn't doing what she wanted him to do when she wanted him to do it.

Guest taster was Vegas odds maker Johnny Avello who didn't seem all that knowledgeable about food. He seemed to enjoy both Chris' and Patricia's dishes, but in the end, he chose Kerry's somewhat simple pasta dish as his favorite. No immunity, but Kerry and Lorena get to split $5K.

The Elimination Challenge was also a bit involved. Apparently there's this global thing called "Diner en Blanc," a pop-up restaurant event that is so wildly popular that the NY event had 33,000 applicants for 1,400 seats. In Vegas, there are only 300 diners, who must bring the tables, chairs, and silverware with them. The Top Cheftestants will provide the food, each of the four cooking for 75 people, plus another five portions for the critics.

After the usual trip to Whole Foods, they have 4 hours to prepare their picnic-style dishes, three of them, which will be served cold the next day. Chris goes typically over-the-top, with oil poached swordfish and pate; Kerry keeps things picnic-simple. And the girls do their own thing: Latin and Pan-Asian influenced chow (guess who does which).

The girls end up serving their food to the critics first, and there are mixed emotions. Lorena's chicken salad was too sweet and her chocolate mousse too thick. (The non-critic diners seemed to love it though.) Patricia's chile jam was pleasing to some, but not so much to others. The boys, on the other hand, did very well. Kerry's three dishes, which at first seemed pretty simple, got only positive comments from the critics, and Ruth insisted it was what she wanted to eat on every picnic. Francis thought Kerry hit it out of the park, but then couldn't stop raving about Chris' pork and chicken liver pate. The rest of the critics agreed, and awarded the win to Chris.

It seemed a toss-up between the girls as to who was going home, but Patricia seemed to make the most errors this week and ended up packing her knives.

So what did you think? Should Patricia have gone home? Please leave a comment.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Takashi Yagihashi

Photo:  Slurping Turtle
Master Chef Takashi Yagihashi talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

 ATC: If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

 TY: Yes. On the last challenge. I had to move very quickly and right away I started. I think I should have taken a little more time to look at the pantry and see what was available. I think I missed a lot of things I could have used that were hiding there. Maybe I should have taken another minute. That was my one regret.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you chef!

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Top Chef Masters 4.8 Previews

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.7

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on caring and sharing: "Chris and Takashi have a great time together, ribbing each other for the crowd. Takashi shares his Yuzo with the audience and Chris even borrows an egg from Takashi's fridge. As they are plating, Takashi suddenly realizes he's short one portion.

Chris looks up and sees what's going on and points to his extra piece of cooked bacon. Quote #1 of the episode: 'Takashi-San: Take it. Take it.' I actually get a genuine and huge flutter of happy warm fuzzies watching this."

A Just Recompense on the ring: "Back to the challenge: The critics are James Oseland, Krista Simmons, and Jane Goldman from Chris is particularly excited to see Jane, a San Francisco food critic. They vote by secret ballot, allowing further opportunity for producer manipulation. Curtis plays the ring announcer, which further depresses my mood. Don’t quit your day job, Curtis. Does Curtis even have a day job? The secret ingredient (oh wait, wrong game show) is bacon. Maybe I’m wrong, but this entire segment felt very staged. It went beyond editing; to me it looked more like retakes. Then again, I was in a bad mood."

LA Weekly on the Quickfire finale: "Heffernan and Yagihashi then went on to what would become the first of many head-to-head battles, whipping up a dish out of their perfectly portioned ingredients. Heffernan went with a parmesan-encrusted beef filet while Yagihashi topped the beef with a fried egg. Heffernan won out, which not only earned him immunity, but the right to actually sit out this week's elimination challenge and judge instead -- a move we're fairly surprised TCM made this late in the game."

Gossip & Gab on prep work: "Ouch. Not starting out very strong. The quickfire challenge tonight was prep work. The chefs raced to separate 18 eggs, grate two pounds of parmesan cheese, and portion a chunk of meat into five 7.5-8.5 ounce filets… without a scale. After Chris Cosentino was disqualified for butchering his portions (ya know, the bad kind of butchering), Patrica Yeo commented that speed was useless without precision. And then… she was also disqualified due to her petite filets. Oooh, that has to burn."

The Zagat Blog on Kerry who? "Kerry gets it first so it's him vs. Takashi - and Kerry wins with his Parmesan crusted beef over Takashi's beef tenderloin with sunnyside up eggs. Kerry, again! Who even knew he was on this show until now? He's been hustling us! He did casually drop in an earlier episode that he's Tom Colicchio's best friend, so maybe he got some strategy coaching."

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Top Recipe - Lorena Garcia's Flourless Chocolate Cake, Caramelized Pineapple and Dulce de Leche Sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Caramelized Pineapple and Dulce de Leche Sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cake:
4 separated eggs
1/2 cup of sugar, separated by half into two bowls
6 oz of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons of rum

Caramelized Pineapple and Walnuts:
1 pineapple, sliced to 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
Black sesame seeds
Walnuts, chopped, as needed

Dulce de Leche Sauce:
1/4 cup Dulce de Leche
1/4 cup white chocolate
1/2 cup milk

To Make the Chocolate Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Combine the egg yolks with one of the bowls of sugar (1/4 of a cup) and beat until the mixture doubles in volume and the eggs turn pale yellow.

In another bowl, beat the 4 egg whites and add the remaining sugar until soft peaks are visible.

In a large bowl, fold yolk mixture into the chocolate. Separately, fold in the whites after the yolk mixture has fully combined with the melted chocolate.

Line 4-ounce ramekins with butter and flour so that the cakes do not stick to the ramekins’ edges. Fill ramekins about half-way (until batter runs out) and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.

To Make the Caramelized Pineapple and Walnuts:

Place the sugar, pineapple, and walnuts in a sauté pan at medium to high heat, until the sugar caramelizes and the pineapple turns golden brown.

Add pinch of salt and black sesame seeds.

To Make the Dulce de Leche Sauce:

Stir all ingredients over medium heat until reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Pour onto the bottom of a dessert plate and place the caramelized pineapple on top of the sauce.


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Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ATC Love to Takashi Yagihashi

In what might be the most surprising elimination this season (at least to me), Top Chef Masters' own kitchen ninja sharpened his knives for the last time in Battle Chicken Liver against Patricia Yeo. He was also defeated earlier in the episode by Chris Cosentino in Battle Bacon.

It was beginning to look like maybe he would win this competition, especially since he had won several Quickfires and seemed to have immunity in every episode. But not in this one, unfortunately.

We'll miss you, Chef Takashi, and hope you'll pop up on Top Chef on a regular basis. Maybe as a regular judge! (hint, hint)

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Congratulations, Chef Lorena Garcia!

This week, Chef Lorena Garcia had two separate victories in the Elimination Challenge. First, she beat Chef Patricia Yeo in Battle Bacon, then she took down Chris Cosentino in Battle Sugar. After all of that, she definitely deserved the win, and the loot for her charity.

It's down to the final four...will we see Lorena in the finale? Stay tuned!

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Recap of Top Chef Masters 4.7

This week's episode felt more like a battle than any of the previous episodes. First off, the five remaining chefs had to wrestle with separating 18 eggs, grating 2 lbs of Parmesan to the rind, and cutting steaks from a tenderloin. Speedy Chris finishes first, but a couple of his steaks fall short of the required weight. (It seems hard to do this accurately without a scale, but top chefs can indeed do it by feel if they do it often enough. Apparently Chris was rushing.) Patricia finishes second but has the same problem as Chris. Finally, Takashi gets it right, as does Kerry. The two then go head to head to create a dish using the ingredients just prepped, in fifteen minutes, judged by the three chefs who didn't get the job done. And Curtis, of course.

After tasting, Kerry comes out victorious with his parm-crusted filet and gets $5K for his charity and immunity from elimination. Not only that, he doesn't have to cook at all in the Elimination Challenge. Which is...a boxing match, judged by special guest Sugar Ray Leonard. Las Vegas is, after all, the boxing capitol of the world. Or at least of the western US. The chefs draw knives and find that it's battle Boys and battle Girls, with Takashi and Chris taking to the ring first. Their secret ingredient is...bacon. After 20 minutes of a mini-Iron Chef competition, Chris is declared the victor of round one.

For the second round, Patricia takes on Lorena in battle...bacon. It seems close, but Lorena wins the match. The third match features winners Chris vs. Lorena in battle Sugar. Desserts aren't Chris' forte, but he makes a lovely zabaglione over fruit. Lorena is super ambitious and makes two desserts, which wins her the competition.

Round four is for the losers, Patricia and Takashi. All through the episode, Patricia is trash-talking Lorena; the magic of editing makes it seem like she might be the one going home. Patricia that is. But somehow she manages to make a better dish with the chicken livers provided for the final battle, and Takashi is sent packing. I was a little shocked - were you?

What did you think of the episode overall? Who do you think is going to take it all?

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top Chef Masters 4.7 Previews

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.6

A Just Recompense on traveling: "They travel in two cars: the Happy Car, with Chris, Patricia, and Takashi, all of whom are confident about both their Thai experience (Patricia even lived in Thailand for two years to study the cuisine) and their line-cook skills; and the Sad Car: Art, Lorena, and Kerry. Kerry doesn’t seem that sad, but he’s always pretty quiet so it’s hard to tell. Art gripes about the lack of a Southern challenge, and Lorena doesn’t know Thai but figures she can adapt similar Latin ingredients. The Happy Car dishes about the Sad Car: Patricia is worried Art and Lorena aren’t used to line cooking."

LA Weekly on sexy talk: "Von Teese served as judge for this week's Quickfire, which required chefs to use all sorts of stereotypical aphrodisiac ingredients to create a 'sexy dish.' There were oysters, there was chocolate, there were (edible) roses and Champagne, and many were apparently good. Though not as good as the innuendo-laced banter that went back and forth between the judges, with Von Teese calling Patricia Yeo's chawanmushi and spicy salad a 'soft caress then a quick smack,' and noting that Takashi Yagihashi's oysters 'felt good going down my throat.'"

Grantland on more sexy talk: "Moving forward, as one must, the chefs are presented with oysters, rose petals, chocolate, and other aphrodisiac ingredients to prepare a sexy dish for sexy dish Dita von Teese, whose face always appears in soft focus because she’s a hologram, stupid. Curtis Stone is visibly uncomfortable describing the “arousing aromas” and “sensual feel in the mouth” of the buffet table laden with uni & co., but really, who wouldn’t be? Really? A “sensual feel in the mouth?” Art covers his own mouth at this, because he doesn’t want to get pregnant (or maybe just because he had a precognitive dream involving chocolate in a Quickfire; cue spaceship noise)."

Gossip & Gab on my sentiments exactly: "This may be mean of me, but I’m really happy about who got eliminated tonight: Art Smith. I’m sorry. I just can’t stand anymore of his annoying talk of southern this and southern that. I’m southern too, you don’t hear me yakking about it every three seconds. But I digress."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on sartorial choices: "The critics are seated, joined by Chef Chutima and her daughter. James Oseland is seriously channeling Mister Rogers with his odd red cardigan ensemble. Maybe he's trying to overcompensate, modesty-wise, for last week's greasy bohunk debacle."

The Zagat Blog on me-ow: "Patrica lived in Thailand for two years so she thinks she's got a major advantage and takes control of this challenge. She assigns Art and Lorena to front of the house, Kerry to expediter and Takashi, Cosentino and herself to the line. Sounds about right, but Lorena is pissed. The tension is brewing and when Lorena leaves her prep out on the stove too long, it boils over. Cat. Fight. Patricia's yelling at her like an incompetent amateur and Lorena's getting all fiery and offended. All the men are terrified. Lorena was already told her food wasn’t sexy today. Hell hath no fury like a sexpot out-sexed."

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Monday, September 3, 2012

TC News & Information 9.3.2012

Hugh Acheson is featured in the September issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. You can see tear sheets of the article here. And of course, you can pick up your copy at newsstands, grocery stores, yadda yadda.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Top Chef 6's chef Kevin Gillespie and his beloved beard are leaving Woodfire Grill to open their own restaurant. He's rarely been in the kitchen recently anyway, since he's been working on a cookbook (out in October).

Top Chef Just Desserts season one champ Yigit Pura is opening his own patisserie in San Francisco. Called Tout Sweet, the bakery opens September 8th. Eater has a photo tour, and boy, does it look delish!

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Mike Isabella Knows Italian. Mexican Maybe Not So Much.

Pic from Graffiato Web site.
While Mike Isabella's first DC restaurant, Graffiato, has become somewhat of a local favorite, his second attempt, the Mexican-inspired Bandolero, has the critics shaking their heads. While WaPo critic Tom Sietsema seems to like the food well enough, he thinks the decor and noise level leave much to be desired. Now the Washingtonian's critic, Todd Kliman, has panned the food.

Not having been to either restaurant myself, I'm wondering what the general public thinks of Bandolero. And Graffiato, too. If you've been to either or both, ATC'd love to read your view in the comments.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Video Sunday - Paul Qui

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Top Recipe - Chris Cosentino's Sirloin Steak Larb Tartare

One might want to cut the recipe down quite a bit...maybe by 1/10th? :)

Sirloin Steak Larb Tartare

10 pounds 21-day aged rib eye
1/4 cup Thai chilies
6 bunches scallions, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
12 stalks lemongrass
2 bunches mint, julienne leaves
6 red onions, julienne and soak in ice water
1 tablespoon star anise
2 cups peanuts
3 cabbage heads, shaved
4 tablespoons palm sugar
2 cups lime juice
2 cups peanut oil
1 cup fish sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for frying
36 shallots
1 beef tendon

1. Trim and hand dice the rib eye into 1/4- inch dice. Refrigerate.
2. Toast the star anise and grind fine. Fry the peanuts and season with salt and pepper, crush in the food processor.
3. Mix in the mixing bowl all the meat with the peanuts, lemongrass, scallions, cilantro, and mint and chilies. Dress with peanut oil, lime juice mixed with palm sugar and fish sauce.
4. Add the onions and shaved cabbage. Adjust seasoning
5. Braise tendon for 2 hours until tender. Cool in cooking liquid.
6. Slice very thin then dehydrate overnight. Fry at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Season with salt.
7. Top meat with fried shallots and crispy beef tendon.

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