Meet the chefs competing for the last chance of making it to the next level of Top Chef Masters. From left to right we have Sunsur Lee, Debbie Gold, Rick Tramonto, Maria Hines, and Jody Adams.
It's a strange thing to be a blogger attending a public event which involves the subject in which you blog about. Strange things happen. Like wanting to tell the open bar trough drinkers to stop their loud chattering...don't you know the SHOW is on? While there was plenty of cheering for the hometown fav, there was a surprising cheer that erupted when the guest judge for the Quickfire was announced. What was even more surprising was that loud cheering and clapping came from me. (Note to self, if you want to be the fly on the wall, whooping and fist pumping is not the best way to be invisible).
That's right, a food photographer. Not just any food photographer. If you watched any of the past seasons of Top Chef from Miami on, you've seen his work.
This fish portrait is one of my most favorite food porn shots ever.
I love the way the tension in the curve of the body makes the viewer feel like the fish is alive and about to flop right out of the photo, I love the highlights glinting off the fish that repeat in the little puddles of water on the counter top. I'm amazed at how just a little sharp focus in the tail draws your eye down into that photo. What chef doesn't see that and not immediately start wanting to break that beautiful fish down and make an incredible dish with it? I am a huge fan of Stephen's work and I'm not ashamed to say his photography has had a definite influence on my own meager food porn efforts. If there was one Quickfire where the taste didn't fully blow out the rest of the judging criteria, this was it. The challenge was simple enough, make a fruit plate presentation.
Perfectly styled. Do the chefs listen to this? Do they think about the people they are serving the food to? Probably not because the twist to this challenge just sprang from Kelly's mouth and that it's a High Stakes Quickfire and the winner automatically moves on to the Champions Round. Dayumn. Let's hope we don't see anything like this class food porn.
A symphony of red and green textures and patterns and bloody clots of food.
Debbie's Deep Fried Pecan Stuffed Fig with Persimmon and Tangerine.
Looks a little monochromatic with the browns and yellows and the little dabs of herbs look lifeless.
Rick's Herb and Fruit Shooters.
The judges called it playful. It's not my style, too busy and I hate the inspirational cards. It's a food competition not a Hallmark commercial.
Jody's Fig & Walnut Tart with Pomegranate Syrup and Zabaglione
I like this plate, going from dark to light and a nice mix of color.
Susur's East Meets West Fruit Plate with Blackberry Ravioli and Thai Basil
That is all.
Maria's Northwest Trio of Apple Soup, Grilled Fig & Berries with Berry Mousse
I thought for sure this was the winner. Simple tastes and visually opening that fig up to draw the eye to what you want them to taste first. However the second judge for this Quickfire and one of the few judges I find myself agreeing with most often, Gail Simmons, said she was confused why these elements were on the plate together. How that criticism is applied here but not on Rick's or Jody's plate leaves me scratching my head. In fact I totally misjudged the outcome. Maria only got 3 stars from the judges, ahead of only Susur's dish. The winner with 4 stars was...
Damn right she's got Jazz Hands, she's going to the Champions Round