Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kansas City Top Chef Masters Watch Party

Have you ever taken a test. I'm sure you have. Have you taken one of those life changing tests, bar exam, medical boards, maybe a mechanical engineers PE exam? Now imagine that you will be filmed while taking that exam. You will be asked about your answers. Once you're done, you will be graded and that grade will be revealed to you, while you are being filmed. You think it's over and your can digest the results in private. No. That experience will be shown to a national audience and you can say nothing about how well or poorly you did and and now you must share the stress and the mistakes you made on your test with family, friends and supporters. I imagine that's what was going through Debbie Gold's head while she greeted her guests at her Top Chef Masters Watch Party at the American in Kansas City on Wednesday night.

debbie and daughter
Debbie and her daughter Misha

As soon as the words "I'd much rather be home watching a movie" were spoken to the assembled 200 or so guests I knew she had not won and feared that she had pulled a Rick Moonen and left food off the plate. I was glad to be wrong about the second part but sad about being right about the first. Still Debby's fans seem to have a fabulous time eating, drinking, and cheering their favorite chef into the wee hours of the night.

Some of Debbie's very young kitchen crew.

ceiling detail

The beautiful ceiling of the American.

Debbie on the HUMONGOUS screen.


You know me, I'm all about the food and definitely all about shooting the food but unfortunately I was totally stymied by 2 issues, the crowd in the cramped quarters but even worse was the dimmed lighting. I did manage to get this shot of a table full of food. Actually it's mostly a table full of pork with a giant bowl of pork rinds I couldn't stop eating, copious amounts of prosciutto, some mini corn dogs on bamboo skewers, and some incredible smoked sausages.


Add to that some damned good chicken drumettes and some spicy boiled (?) peanuts that were just as addictive as the pork rinds. As you can imagine the platters emptied out quickly. There was also a dessert table with plates of little jellied niblets.

jellied desserts

But really I couldn't do them photographic justice under the circumstances so I asked the wonderful women running the show for a doggie box so that I could take them home and caress them with my digital fingers in leisure.

jellied shot of espresso

jellied pyramid

Ahhhhh, now that's some photographic love. It was a wonderful night and a good time was had by all. I only wish it had been one in a series of Kansas City Watch Parties.

UP NEXT: Let's Get Fruity.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The International House of Pub Food

When we last left our League of Extraordinarily Tipsy Gentlemen the Quickfire had just been won by Jonathan. The rest of the chefs hope to gain ground by acing the Elimination round where no silly Bravo Housewives hold their fate in their Mystery Meat Bosoms. However our gents will not be leaving the realm of bar because it's a Pub Food Challenge.

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Not just any pub food but British pub food in all it's fried starchy glory. It's either stick to your ribs good or spackle your house convenient, you choose. Since Jonathan won the Quickfire he gets to pick first from the six of what he wants to reinvent. Shepherd's Pie comes off the table. Now the remaining chefs must fight over the rest and fight they do. Our man about fish, Rick Moonen would love to rejigger Fish & Chips but so would my little French Cheese, Ludo. Suddenly it starts to get personal.


Dare I ask Ludo, where do you want Rick to take this meat?


Yeah.....just forget I even asked. Ludo (insert your favorite French surrender joke here) gives and ends up with Irish Stew. We will all come to regret this.

For once, shopping is interesting because the chefs describe the dishes they selected. Fish and chips and Irish Stew are pretty self explanatory but not everyone has had the pleasure of the four remaining dishes. Mark explains that Toad in the Hole is sausage cooked in Yorkshire pudding so he decides to upscale it by making a seafood sausage. Jonathan has Shepherd's Pie which is the lamb version of Cottage Pie where a minced meat is covered by a mashed potato crust and baked. Graham chose the Steak and Kidney Pie which is more cut up beef steak and kidneys covered in a thick sauce and covered with a crust and baked. (I'm sensing a pattern here). Wylie apparently chose Bangers (sausage) and Mash (mashed potatoes) for it's lack of green vegetables. I'm kinda sad that they left out the Jellied Eels as a possible choice.

jellied eel

Maybe next season. The gents get two hours to prep after their shopping. Graham wrestles with cleaning his kidneys. Mark is rolling right along with his seafood sausage.

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I wish I knew what he was using as a casing? Two hours is up and the boys pack their stuff and relocate to Tom Bergin's Tavern, a dark shamrock encrusted place just oozing with pub food or at least pub food grease.

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No time to gawk, you've only got an hour to cook. Or annoy your competition.

love affair

The Love Affair between Rick and Ludo continues in the close confines of the tiny kitchen.

The rest of the chefs seem to be humming right along. That is until Mark checks in on his Toad in the Holes. With only ten minutes left, his oven seems to have either malfunctioned or been turned down or off. For a Yorkshire Pudding, this is not a good thing. We've seen chefs pull amazing turn arounds in the past, will Mark be one of those chefs? Meanwhile despite all his bitching and moaning, Ludo feels pretty good about his chances with his version of Irish Stew.

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I would feel that way too.....if the challenge was to make your dish look like a beautiful piece of abstract art. Time to go to the green leather banquettes and see how our guys did.


In the banquettes tonight are the dueling Gails/Gaels, and Jay & Kelly. Seems James has been given the night off. Ludo is up first.

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The food Geek in me must point out Ludo's use of black radishes. I did a post on this spicy root veggie and knowing how this tastes gives me a good idea of what a wide range of flavors Ludo has got going on here. Immediately the "Questionable Dish" music starts playing in the background. I think Ludo will be taking some of the Critics meat. Rick is next with his Fish and Chips and damned if fish loving bastard didn't chicken fry some luscious pieces of black cod or sable fish. Frying black cod is like frying a big juicy chicken thigh. His fish gets raves. Wylie presents his version of Bangers and Mash next and actually added a wee bit of the green to his dish. The critics seem to enjoy it. Graham tries to apply some Baconization to his Steak and Kidney Pie. Gael Greene seems upset that Graham has eliminated most of the flavor from the kidneys. Mark tries serving his Toad in the Hole with all his fingers and toes crossed in the hopes that no one will notice the gloppy doughy thing at the bottom of the most Food Pornolicious dish I've ever seen.

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I really wish this dish had come to fruition because in theory it sounds wonderful. The critics however, can not ignore the sadness hidden beneath. Jonathan rounds out the final dish with a very simply done Shepherd's Pie with a lamb chop, loose mashed potatoes with a little Parmesan cheese. Stripping the dish to it's essence seems to have made the Critics happy.

Back in the Stew Room, the Battle Royale continues between Ludo and Rick.

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What are they arguing about? Who knows, perhaps the last Red Bull but they do seem to enjoy picking at each other. After Critics Table, I'm pretty sure Rick won't have to worry about Ludo because Ludo takes a beating for his non-Irish Stew. Joining him in the beat down was Mark and his failed Yorkshire Pudding. In the love category are Rick and Jonathan with Graham and Wylie holding down the middle. So who will fulfill their redemption fantasies?

rick and jon winners

He is the Walrus....He is the Fishman....cucucuchoo.

Next up? Watching the watchers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Story of My Life

Loving this artwork by Recovering Lazyholic.

This one too.
It's title? Fornication

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tell us something we didn't know.

The New York Post recently came out with their five best and worst judges of reality TV. Guess who was at the top of the list as the Best?


That's right, Gail Simmons. We've only been saying this for years but the list is also notable for who is on it's worst list - the insipid Toby Young and the pedestrian Gael Greene. Also interesting? Who is not on the list - Tom Colicchio.

Check out the whole list and be sure to check out Gail's new show Top Chef Desserts when it hits Bravo's airwaves.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hi I'm Top Chef Masters and I might be an Alcoholic...

epi3 chefs

The boys are back in town...
Yes, six returnees from Season One, each with something to prove. From left to right we have Mark Peel, Graham Elliot Bowles, Rick Moonen, Wylie Dufresne, Ludo Lefebvre, and Jonathan Waxman. Six very competitive men, reeking of testosterone. Will they come to blows? I doubt it, I mean it's not like we're watching an episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Still the Quickfire or How to get Lubed at 8 in the morning is not helping matters.

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Gak. I'm screwed. The challenge is to pair Stolichnaya vodka drinks with a dish the chefs create. Now if you read the comments of my earlier post, you've come to a couple of conclusions. One, the real hard core drinkers don't read this blog and two, those who do drink don't drink mixed drinks with their dinner. Appetizers...maybe. Maybe the judges will be articulate and astute consumers of fine food and vodka drinks?


DAMN! Doubly screwed. Orange County Housewives. Don't be surprised if they expect Botox Chasers after dinner. Oh yeah...


...Judge Gael Greene hiding her face in shame at having to share a table with the OC Wives (good god that thing on her head looks like an overly starched napkin stolen from La Cage Aux Folles). Back to the boys in the kitchen.

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With their drinks chosen and their little silver shakers (coming soon to a Top Chef Shop near you) in hand, the chefs have 45 minute to cook their dish.

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Cooking begins...

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...imbibing continues.


You know it's getting bad when the Gadget King can't handle a simple blender. Perhaps it's time for....A TWIST! A QuickFire Top Chef Masters Kitchen Sobriety Checkpoint*.


If you don't pass the nice California Highway Patrolman takes away your knives.

Meanwhile Jonathan Waxman has finishes his dish 20 minutes early,

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while Wylie channels the kids from Glee with his attempt at Jazz Hands.


(Stick with the cooking gig Wylie) Did he really pass the TC Master Kitchen Sobriety Checkpoint?

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Rick just wants to mess with the Frenchman's head.

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Which is not that hard to do.

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Jonathan relaxes while the rest of the chefs scurry madly around the kitchen. Finally Happy Hour is up and they head for the judges table. Which I will refuse to show you. The bimbos of the OC get too much TeeVee time as it is so no Bimbos for you.

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Which is a good thing because the Bimbos nearly unhinge Ludo.

But I will show you the food.

Graham Coriander Mule

Graham - Coriander Mule

Crudo of Black Cod with an Edamame and Red Onion Salad

Jonathan Lemongrass Mojito

Jonathan - Lemongrass Mojito

Pork Tenderloin and Poblano Stuffed Shrimp with Avocado Butter

Ludo - Nutmeg Apple Mojito

Ludo - Nutmeg Apple Mojito

Roasted Pork Chop with Rosemary, Thyme and Garlic

Rick - Forest Fruits

Rick - Forest Fruits

Cream Biscuit Berry Shortcake

Wylie - Russian Tea Room

Wylie - Russian Tea Room

Artic Char with Lentils, Bacon, Crispy Potatoes and Lemon Yogurt

Mark - Ginger Figgle

Mark - Ginger Figgle

Mussel Custard with Lime and figs

I'm not going to pretend to know how these dishes matched up to their drinks. I will say everyone scored well but there was one chef who scored a perfect 5 stars.

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That's right, the man who finished 20 minutes early, Jonathan Waxman. He assumed correctly that a smaller more appetizer-like dish would appeal much more to the Bimbos than a heavy pork chop or an overly sweet dessert. Kudos to Jonathan.

Next up, Pub Grub.

*This Imaginary QuickFire Twist has been brought to you by the Imaginary Voices in Big Shamu's Head.