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Top Chef Episode #2

Looks like this will be one at the Chicago zoo.
Maybe animal themes!?! :)

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  1. I got the impression that they might be cooking food for the tigers or cooking food with the pressure of tigers in the kitchen??

    1. It looks from the ads that they're in the Lincoln Park Zoo lion house. Until a couple of years ago they used to hold the Winter farmers market there. Just imagine perusing vegetables and whatnot while the great cats prowled and roared behind the stands. Pretty neat and occasionally terrifying for any youngsters in tow.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aelph

        crazy ads!

        They made it look like they were serving food in the lion house. Oh well, they *were* at Lincoln Park Zoo.

      2. Thought that Dale's swearing was totally inappropriate at Judges table. Its one thing in the kitchen, which I can handle but his swearing in front of the people that can send them home, was just horrible. He's totally annoying, a big whiner and it was rather pervasive throughout the entire episode, just seems bitter..

        10 Replies
        1. re: Xericx

          i was really pi$$ed that Dale tried to throw Niki under the bus, especially when he was the one who added the Pecorino cheese to the already ailing stuffed mushrooms. If I'd been judging, I would have been tempted to send him home for that stunt, or for sure to call him out for it. that was so wrong.

          1. re: ChefJune

            I was also ticked at Dale for throwing Nikki to the wolves (keeping it in a "zoo theme", of course. <g>) I had hoped to see/hear the judges blast him more for that, but ultimately, it was Nikki's choice to make the mushrooms (didn't someone do that last season and they came out looking dark brown and gross? When will they learn?)

            And after seeing the previews for next week, I'm thinking that Andrew is this season's biggest tool. I can't wait to see in what context he tells the judges "I'm not leaving - this is MY house!"

            There's something about Andrew that bugs me - he seems way too hyper (and not in a Hung concentration sort of way) and there seems to be a huge lack of focus on his part.

              1. re: newhavener07

                I'm more amused than annoyed by Andrew's, uh, twitchiness. He's got a certain Perry Farrell quality that is funny (and yes, pharmaceutical).

                1. re: jeanki

                  Yeah...he seemed a bit "augmented" to me rather than enthusiastic. Compared to the general repose of every other chef.

                  1. re: jeanki

                    I also think he was jumping with excitement at being in the presence of Wylie Dufresne - he nearly fell over when WD pronounced him the winner. It was kind of endearing, TBH.

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  I'm pretty sure Andrew has some form of ADHD.

                  Just joking...sort of...

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I think Dale is trying to be last season's winner. But he isn't very good at it.


                  2. re: ChefJune

                    Dale and Nikki both screwed up the mushrooms, but Nikki was the one who chose to serve them to the judges. If Dale had had his way, those bear turds would have stayed hidden. When will the chefs learn that it is always better to discard a bad dish than to serve it to the judges? (For that matter, when will they learn that you should never serve stuffed mushrooms?)

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      I think I agree, except for one detail: doesn't that automatically put the person who made them at great risk? (because s/he had no other dish?) Wouldn't it be sort of like taking a pass on that competition? Perhaps they thought it a better chance to risk serving them so as to be able to offer something rather than nothing?

                3. I loved the quick fire. I think that limiting the NUMBER of ingredients was genius... seems like in the last episode it took each chef 5 minutes to recite all the ingredients in their dishes, so just 5 is a nice change. Tough too! I thought it interesting that so many of them went with meat.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: heathermb

                    That was cool. Spike's laziness and wanting to "experience" the farmer's market really made him look bad. Mark did really well tonight. I wish there was more explanation and reaction on the food but there are still too many people.

                  2. I think Valerie deserved to go home for pronouncing "blini" like "bellini" all night, no matter how many times she heard other people pronounce it correctly. If you can't pronounce it, don't cook it. Actually, since they were the gorilla team and judging by the dishes from the farmers' market peaches were in season, maybe they should have made Bellinis! In addition, Valerie committed the distressingly common mispronounciation of "mascarpone" as "mas-car-PONE" instead of correctly pronouncing the final vowel sound: "mas-car-POH-nay." Shouldn't anyone who deals with Italian vocabulary on a regular basis know the basic principle that you pronounce all the vowels?

                    I like Andrew -- yeah he's a hyper potty mouth, but he's charming in a geeky sort of way. And the glacier was a pretty cool idea. On the other hand, they need to tell these people that beet salad with goat cheese is really trite and tired. The more I see Erik, the less I want to eat in a restaurant he cooks at.

                    Is that the best farmers' market in Chicago? Because from my Northern California point of view, it looked kind of lame.

                    27 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I'm thinking that the growing conditions in Chicago is not as good as N. California. Just came back from San Francisco and was awed again how wonderful the farmer's market is compared to NY's.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        My husband said the same thing about "blini" and bellini!

                        Did anyone else notice how, in classic Top Chef fashion, they telegraphed that Valerie was going to leave this episode? The moment they showed her and Stephanie hanging out and Valerie revealed that they had once worked together I thought, "she's toast."

                        1. re: Cookingthebooks

                          Oh, yes. I knew she was a gonner from the very beginning. Bravo needs to mix up the editing a bit.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          " I think Valerie deserved to go home for pronouncing "blini" like "bellini" all night, no matter how many times she heard other people pronounce it correctly"

                          LOL so true. Worse yet they were so inconsistant they looked horrible. She should have known the minute she started that wasn't going to work out. A bad idea executed poorly. I have to say I thought the stuffed mushrooms looked like the worse dish. I wouldn't even have tried one of those.

                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                            Definitely deserved to be ousted for "bellini", but those pancakes bore not resemblance to blini anyway.

                            why would you attempt to cook something you never cooked before? Unless you are a cooking prodigy, that alone would be an indication that you are out of your element in this competitive kitchen.

                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I wouldn't get too caught up in how peope pronounce stuff, how many people have said Matzoh-rella? And I believe Mascarpone is correct both ways, although true Italians do pronounce it either with an Nay or Nee at the end. The Bellini thing was annoying at first, but my girlfriend and I were more disturbed by the fact she even attempted that, let alone cooked them first. Wehn she said "200 Blinis" we said "GoodBye" at the same time.

                            1. re: jhopp217

                              The typical TC mispronounciation of mascarpone is mixing up the consonants and calling it mar-sca-pone

                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                              If they hadn't got rid of that woman, I would have run amok! Another mispronunciation that bugs me is "MAR-sca-pone"! Also, Valerie's voice--like nails on a blackboard!

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                the blini vs. bellini thing drove me nuts!!!

                                1. re: cor

                                  Did anyone notice that judge Gail Simmons was also mispronouncing them? She said bellini a few times as well...I'm pretty sure I saw Tom C. smirking at one instance.

                                    1. re: heathermb

                                      My roommate and I definitely noticed that too! Has everyone gone mad? Let's just put whatever sounds we want in... those little pieces of dirt were thicker than pancakes anyway.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    The contestants obviously used the
                                    Southern-Italian/American... pronounciation for mascarpone....remember they are Famous/Infamous for dropping final vowels when speaking Italian!!!

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I can not defend Valerie calling blinis, "bellinis", however regarding her pronunciation of "mascarpone": My father's family came from Southern Italy and Sicily and southern Italians tend to cut off the final syllable (often a vowel) when they speak. My grandparents, my father and dad's siblings all spoke fluent Italian and ricotta was pronounced "ricot" in my childhood home. Prosciutto was "proscuitt". That last vowel sort of dies a silent death, if you will pardon the pun <g>.

                                      1. re: MysticYoYo

                                        Mascarpone is not a Southern Italian cheese -- it's from Lombardy. I looked it up before I posted on three different sites and they all had "mas-car-poh-nay." But you're right "MAR-sca-pone" is even more annoying. That's not even Sicilian Italian, it's New Jersey Italian.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Thats why I called it "Southern-Italian/American" definitely in NY and NJ my Italian friends and neighbors dropped the final vowel...all I can say is that they seem to use a lot of both Ricott(a) and Mascarpon(e) in their desserts..my favorite Italian Ricotta Cheesecake has a good helping of mascarpone in it to smooth out the texture...great stuff...can't get it here though....sigh

                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                            Ugh, enough of this pronunciation debate! I don't care what a chef calls something, as long he or she knows what do with it. This kind of silliness is like a serving of Kwanzaa Cake to Sandra Lee fans. (So how exactly do you pronounce "Les Halles?")

                                            1. re: newhavener07

                                              If you don't care for the discussion/debate just move on....if you can't add anything to the discussion...page down....

                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                Assuming your question wasn't rhetorical: "Layz Allz"

                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                  Sorry Indy, but the H is aspirated, making the pronunciation "LAY AHL";

                                                  1. re: mnosyne

                                                    You're so right about the "ahl". I can't imagine what I was thinking when I over-enthusiastically stuck a "z" on the end of the second word.

                                                    The pronunciation of "Les" in front of the a word beginning with an "h" seems to be something of a conundrum. My French teachers drilled the "Layz" version into my head for Les Halles specifically. Challenged by you -- and since your pronunciation of Halles was spot on -- I did some research. To keep this food related and media related, I found the following excerpt from an online discussion with Tom Sietsema, food critic of the WASHINGTON POST.

                                                    Chatter 1: Please settle a debate. How, precisely, do you pronounce "Les Halles"?

                                                    Tom Sietsema: You say: Lay-AHL (there's no "s" sound on the end)

                                                    Chatter 2: Wrong, wrong. It's lay-zahl. H counts as a vowel, so you slur the s into the H. Also, this is how Tony Bourdain pronounces it in the audio version of his book (he reads it himself).

                                                    Chatter 3: Uhh, Tom...it's LAYS-Ahl. Since you have a vowel sound begriming the second word you pronounce the s in "Les"

                                                    Chatter 4: If anyone is questioning Tom's pronunciation, he is indeed correct. My grandmother was a university-level French professor, and one morning, after hearing us call it "Lez Ahl" (with the liaison between the two words) she erupted with the fact that it is, indeed "LAY AHL." If I recall, the lack of liaison has something to do with the name of the Paris neighborhood, which has its origins in Latin.

                                                    Tom Sietsema: Who knew that there was no right answer?

                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                      The lack of liaison is because Les Halles is a proper noun.

                                                      1. re: cor

                                                        You mean "elision" right? I'm sure Les Halles isn't so proper that it hasn't been host to many liaisons!

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Actually, elision is the removal of a vowel when two words "join," as in j'attends vs je attends.

                                                          Liaison is the redistribution of a consonant that would otherwise be silent, as in je suis une femme = je sui-zune femme.

                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                              The things I learn on this site. Amazing.

                                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            i definitely think they got to the farmer's market after noon-- everything looked wilted. it looked like a smaller, older market-- coolers rather than mechanical refrigeration, even for meat. probably grandfathered in.

                                          3. Wylie Dufrene. How Hong and Marcel would have peed in their pants for a shot at doing their thing for him.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              I think Marcel did, for the finale- I get all of the past seasons mixed up sometimes, but I think Chef Wylie was one of the judges for the Ilan/Marcel matchup?

                                              Also, I totally agree with the Bravo foreshadowing/editing... it's like the more they focus on someone in the first 15 minutes, you know it's either going to be really good or really really bad... and the "_____ and _____ are friends" segments always mean one's getting cut. Didn't they show a montage at a reunion special of everyone Casey became friendly with, they got cut during that segment?

                                              1. re: gyozagirl

                                                So what about the blurb showing the lesbian couple from San Francisco? They show them together as a matter of course but when will we know its a foreshadowing that one of them will be axed?

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  Maybe when they're pitted against each other or have a fight? ;-)

                                            2. Looks like Spike is setting himself up or Bravo portraying him as the saboteur of the group. At least Tiffani (Season 1) and Ilan (Season 2) were more discrete. Bravo tried to portray Hung as the saboteur, but I think he was hyper and spasmatic.

                                              This season seems to be lacking the cool competent chefs, such as, Harold, Sam and Tre... and of course, Howie. lol.

                                              Right now the show seems to be slowly heading down the Season 2 route where interpersonal drama will trump the food (fun).
                                              The couple - Zoi and Jennifer. Also, what's up with them having a blog before the season is over?
                                              The annoying hyper guy - Andrew.
                                              The saboteur - Spike.
                                              It ain't my fault so f-off - Dale.

                                              Overall, I'm still enjoying the show. :-)

                                              1. All in all a somewhat boring episode last night; there are still way too many contestants to really know the techniques/ personalities of the chefs and their dynamic in the kitchen hasn't played out yet. I was impressed by Mark being able to so quickly recover from forgetting something at the farmers market since we've seen that doom other cheftestants in the past; I remember the beach breakfast challenge a couple years ago as an example.

                                                Time and time again we see the chefs get sent to pack their knives not because they aren't competent chefs but because they make an error in judgement. These chefs need to learn if they are unsure of the dish they are trying to prepare to scarp it and make something they have confidence and trust in.

                                                56 Replies
                                                1. re: wingman

                                                  I agree on the "boring episode" comment - I meant to mention it above.

                                                  And I thought for sure that Mark was out of it when he left the mizuna behind at the market. Nice recovery.

                                                  And I also liked the Quickfire. The limiting of the "except" ingredients to salt, pepper, oil and sugar really made the cheftestants have to really think about how to flavor their choices with only being allowed a total of 5 ingredients. Interesting that Andrew also used balsamic without even thinking and ended up being eliminated from consideration. Looked like Wylie and Padma liked his Quickfire dish, too.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I second the geneal boringness so far...and just too many chef to keep track of.

                                                    Still, I liked the elimination challenge concept and thought it was fun and had a lot of potential for creativity. The Penguins were the only team to really run with it and I thought they did a great job with the black and white theme, the glacier, fishy treats, etc. Andrew delivered and he came off looking scatterbrained but like he knows how to make great food. I would love to try his squid dish.

                                                    I guess the thing that bugged me the most about this episode was how stressed and unhappy most of them looked most of the time. The all just seem really nervous. It's only the second episode! The only cheftestants that exude some sort of confidence or joy of cooking at this point are Lisa and Andrew...granted, we saw almost nothing of of a bunch of them this week (did they show Manuel even once?), there still too many.

                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                      Good point, the whole episode was a bit too much like work. After a day at the office, I want escapism, drama, fun--dare I say attempts to shave the head of an obnoxious chef? All this earnest drudgery is too much like a real kitchen.

                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                        I absolutely *do not* want the drama and attempted head shaving. But I wanted something more than this show turned out to be. It was just....well, meh.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          We DON'T want a repeat of lame season two.

                                                          I just figure that it is early days with still a large number of chefs working. so much that they really can't focus on story.

                                                  2. re: wingman

                                                    jfood is with you. plus 8 hours home from chicago he was not 100% focussed. But you saw 10 seconds here and 8 seconds there. Barely had a clue and too many dishes to even get a tongue-sense on.

                                                    Plus they had teams and then they were judged individually? She was responsible for that and he told me to add this!!!

                                                    And it was sooooo boring in jfood's opinion.

                                                    Here's his question. What the heck was thatthing that came out of the gym locker with all the numbers that "smokey" put in the mini-bathtub?

                                                      1. re: ultramagnetic

                                                        Weren't they limited to bringing $200 worth of their own stuff? How does this fit in....I'm sure they cost more than $200, don't they?

                                                        1. re: semmen

                                                          If they are limited to $200 then I would have a hard time bringing two knives let alone my normal tools. A decent chef's knife is pushing $200 and some well over that. :(

                                                          1. re: semmen

                                                            They have an immersion circulator in the Top Chef kitchen. Hung used it for his sous vide recipes. It is expensive, and not something a contender would bring along. They are allowed to bring ingredients that they think may not be available..

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Okay....but I agree it looked like Richard (? still too many chefs) pulled it out of a personal locker.

                                                              1. re: semmen

                                                                He did. and I heard him say that he had brought one when his team was planning their dishes.

                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                  I definatly heard that as well and they showed him getting it out of his locker. I would hope it's either 2k or what ever you can squeeze in your locker but $200 is clearly not going to cover it.

                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                    I quite honestly wasn't paying that much attention. But I do recall that Hung used one that appeared to be part of the Top Chef kitchen. In fact, a couple of others have used it too, so to me (persnickety me <g>), it says a lot about how much at least one contestant familiarized himself with what's available. I don't think I've ever seen an immersion curculater for much less than a thousand bucks, and that didn't include the bath.

                                                                    Oh... Wait a minute! Is he the guy that does the high tech cooking? If he is, he may have brought it to impress the judges with how serious he is about his craft. I've known a fair number of young athletes who confuse super expensive equipment with performance. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens with young chefs. Still, it's an expensive piece of equipment if it gets lost or damaged, so why not use theirs?

                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      I think it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest a chef is bringing gear just to impress. When you bring your own tools you know exactly how they function and what they are capable of. More importantly in a challange your are not at the mercy of the house tools (think pizza pan) being used when you need it. Gear gets stolen, lost, damaged etc. It's just part of the gig. When I was an Exec for Hilton I had my entire box stolen out of my office that was locked. It stinks but life goes on. I wouldn't even think about counting on any one else to have the tools I knew I was going to need as long as they were reasonable to transport.

                                                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                        Well then let's look at it another way. How many sous vide dishes can you make in one Top Chef season and not be thought of as Johnny One Note? It's about versatility.

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          Wasn't Hung's duck breast from last year's finale, the one that was described as Michelin 3 star quality, prepared using sous vide?

                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                            Who cares if someone does a sous vide a number of times in a season. Does anyone think a chef is a "Johnny One Note" if they saute or bake multiple times in a season?

                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                              Exactly. Sous vide is just a cooking technique. If any chef only used any one cooking technique, I suppose you could consider them a "Johnny One Note." In fact, didn't Sam in Season 2 get dinged for making to many uncooked (ceviche-type) dishes? But primarily using one cooking technique in and of itself doesn't make you a Johnny One Note, since there are an infinite number of "notes" that can be achieved by any cooking technique.

                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                              Seems a bit pre-mature to suggest he might be a "Johnny One Note" just based on that. There are some pretty fantastic Chef's out there using sous vide and I doubt we would refer to them as such or assume they might lack versatility. Perhaps he is more versatile because of it? Seems to me being prepared and thinking ahead are solid qualities in any Chef. I just can't find a fault in a Chef bringing his own tools.

                                                                              1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                Just curious- can one make a sous vide without an immersion circulator?

                                                                                1. re: julietg

                                                                                  Maybe... But then again, maybe not. The equipment is very sensative and able to keep water "spot on" at a specific temperature that is almost always much lower than you would use in "normal" cooking. I think somethiing like 160 degrees is the norm for sous vide. Then there is the curculater that -- gee how unique! -- circulates the water, thus ensuring a uniform temperature throughout the bath. Then the food is hermetically sealed in a cryovac bag and floated in the constant temperature bath for a specific length of time.

                                                                                  The probability of duplicateing that with any kind of improvised home cooking equipment is going to be iffy at best. Any home equipment you use to try to hold a set termperature is, by the nature of all home cooking equipment, going to fluctuate from a little bit to a whole lot. What can hold a temperature that low? Do crockpots hold 160 degrees, and how much fluctuation in temperature? Regardless, I am not wholly convinced it is a totally safe cooking method. There are more than enough microbes that just love that temperature range to scare me out of cooking that way.

                                                                                  Sous vide was originally devised by a guy in France -- probably a chef, but I don't remember for certain -- who didn't like the weight loss he got from cooking foi gras in the standard ways. Frugal chap, he was! Figured at however many francs a kilo the stuff cost, all that fat left in the pan was money out of his pocket. So he tried sealing a foi gras in a cryovac bag and gently gently heating it at a temperature that wasn't likely to render any fat out of it. Voila! It worked. The francs stayed in the foi gras instead of rendering out into the pan.

                                                                                  I've never tasted sous vide foi gras, but I suspect it is probably a bit spongy. And I do like cooking my foi gras in the "usual" ways because there are lots of delicious things you can do with that rendered fat. So I look at it as a two-for-one kind of deal instead of losing francs in the rendering.

                                                                                  Personally, I wish the method had never been created. I highly suspect it is the reason we have wet cured beef today. The principal is certainly identical. Wet cured beef goes to market at the same weight it came out of the slaughterhouse. Well, except for the parts that are cut away and discarded, of course. Dry cured beef loses up to 30% of its slaughterhouse weight in the hanging/aging process. But I find the difference in flavor and texture to be well worth it. I think of wet cured beef as "red Jell-O." It just tastes wrong.

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    I have to disagree with doing away with the method- I had the immense pleasure of eating several of David Chang's pork buns the other night. Very best pork, and unrubbery pork fat I have ever had in my life.

                                                                                    Per wikipedia,
                                                                                    "The method was developed by Georges Pralus in the mid-1970s for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troigros) in Roanne, France."

                                                                                    I wonder if he had an immersion circulator is all I'm asking.

                                                                                    1. re: julietg

                                                                                      It is actually a modern version of a old method of cooking something in a pig or sheep blander.

                                                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                      Wet-cured beef has been around a lot longer than sous vide. As you pointed out, beef producers had a lot of incentive to maximized the yield of their product -- they didn't have to get ideas from French chefs.

                                                                                      BTW, I sous vide cooking is usually done at less than 160 degrees -- more like 140. The point is that since the food can never get hotter than the water bath, it never gets to the temp where the proteins coagulate and the meat fibers shorten and toughen.

                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                        You're probably right. Personally, I hate the guy who invented braising. I think it happened about 40,000 years ago but it just lets cooks serve inferior cuts. I'd rather be only served primal cuts. The rest of the animal should just be discarded.

                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                          "I believe you may be confusing "primal" cuts - the first major subdividing into butcher cuts from the whole carcass - and "prime", which is a USDA classification of beef quality (and further confusing things more has nothing inherently to do with "prime" rib)..."

                                                                                          ... And that's what I had gotten to writing before I realized from your previous posts that you're probably just being too snarky for me to immediately realize at 8 AM on a Saturday!

                                                                                          Don't do that! LOL!

                                                                                          1. re: Scortch

                                                                                            Guilty as charged. Maybe I shouldn't post after a night out but snarky is my natural mode after cocktails....

                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                              As one Snark to another, go ahead! However, after a night of cocktails, I'm obviously not always quick to recognize my own kind!

                                                                                          2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                            So wasteful! Just because a cut isn't perfect after a couple minutes on the grill doesn't mean it's useless. I love braising, and my pot roast is tender and delicious. In miserable winter months I'll take something braised over something grilled every time.

                                                                                            1. re: mordacity

                                                                                              Pretty sure that was sarcastic on KTinNYC's part.

                                                                                        2. re: julietg

                                                                                          <Just curious- can one make a sous vide without an immersion circulator?> not under HACCP conditions.

                                                                                          FWIW, Blais is highly regarded in Atlanta, where he already had his own place, and I believe is Exec at another. not sure why he went out for this, but it certainly will give him wider exposure. OTOH, if he goes down in flames, might backfire.

                                                                          2. re: semmen

                                                                            i thought it was $200 worth of *ingredients*-- but you can bring whatever tools you want. $200 worth of stuff would be one--or a couple of-- knives for a lot of chefs.

                                                                          3. re: ultramagnetic

                                                                            OMG, jfood just googled and found it, thanks ultra.


                                                                            Jfood did not like the guy in the first episode, and likes him less now. Is he kidding?

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              I can understand not liking him, jfood, but why based on this? These things are in fairly wide use in restaurants, from what I understand and all they do is set a temperature. For a competition like this it strikes me as a pretty good move if you know how to use it because you can get something into the water bath and forget about it while you do other things.

                                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                not justthis see jfood post from episode 1 where he did not like the idea that he took 2 pans. then jfood thought the smoke effect was lame.

                                                                                Now he pulled that thing out of his locker, just too contriving.

                                                                                Add that to his attitude, he just rubs jfood the wrong way so far. It may change, but so far he is not near the top of the list. Let's see what this week brings. Hopefully this week the editing will not remind jfood of the play "The Complete Work of Shakespeare in Two Acts", last week was 60 minutes of drive-bys.

                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  My problem is this: if this is truly a competition to see who can create the best dishes, then why not level the playing field? I would prefer no allowance for foods brought from home, and certainly no additional equipment. If things keep sliding down the slippery slope, what's coming next season? Someone calls out and has their dish catered?

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    using a sous vide= ordering dominos? i don't follow. how does using any tool that's actually used in restaurants worldwide somehow jeopardize the competition? the contestent using a sous vide did not give his team any edge over the others-- he merely used a different method of preparation for (one component of) a dish.

                                                                                    not letting chefs use any of their own ingredients, as they would normally do in their own restaurants? or bring their own knives? nobody would even show up to a contest like that--much less watch it.

                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                      If it is to be a true test of everyone's skills, then let everyone use the same equipment and the same ingredients from the pantry. It isn't rocket science. And who said anything about Dominos? Is that where you'd order from if you wanted to win a competition? I was thinking French Laundry! '-)

                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                        right you are, Caroline-- it isn't rocket science, it's cooking. anybody can come in with her/his own gear, reflecting her/his own experience and cooking style. dude used a sous vide-- but so could anybody. it would be exactly the same if he'd whipped out a microplane-- "hey, no fair, that's cheatin' "? i don't think so-- anybody can bring in a microplane. microplanes are commonly used, like sous vides, in restaurants. if mister fauxhawk likes to use it, great. someone else would prefer using a thai hand julienner for prep? great by me. pink handheld immersion blender in your bag of tricks? you go girl. someone else learned from grandma and comes in with a cast-iron skillet and a wooden spoon? that's cool too-- there is absolutely nothing stopping them from blowing the rest of the competition out of the water. in short, *nothing* matters but what ends up on the plate, the same as in the real world.

                                                                                        asking chef contestants in 2008 to *only* make assigned dishes from supplied pantry ingredients, using only supplied pots & pans and supplied knives? and no fair using sous vides, microplanes, blenders, electric smokers, food processors, silicon, nonstick, anodized or plastic implements, dehydrators, modern electric ovens or in short anything else manufactured post 1951? -- sounds like cooking in a high school cafeteria to me. a "competition" like that leaves absolutely no room for chefs from different cooking schools, cultures and experiences to bring their skills to the table. *boring*

                                                                                        this is a *contemporary* cooking competition, where innovation and artistry are valued. hobbling the contestants by issuing each of them the same three german knives, the same 4 pots, the same cooking methods and the same tawdry ingredients would make for some really, reeaaaly boring viewing. plus, these chefs aren't dinosaurs, they perform in restaurants *now* and they use the best available tools and personalized specialty ingredients whenever possible to create their own particular styles of cuisine. they are free to explore a wide culinary world with regards to ingredients, spices, and technique, and customers seek them out because of their unique preparations.

                                                                                        your argument against the use of technology and commonly available tools in a cooking competition makes as much sense as saying: "ooh look at these neurosurgeons. they do pretty well *now*, but let's give them each: one antique scalpel, some cotton wadding, and some whiskey for anesthetic and see how well they do." it's quite flatly backwards, and backwards for no reason.

                                                                                        why take talented people and take them backwards, constrain them with regards to ingredients, or otherwise forbid them from using their skills? to my mind this type of thinking would be unacceptable in every discipline with the possible exception of traditional renaissance harpsichord playing-- interesting, maybe, as historical reliquary, but come to think of it, there isn't a wide audience for that type of thing. therefore no sponsors. therefore no show. not rocket science to the team at bravo, either.

                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          Do you try this hard to misconstrue what everybody says, or do you reserve it just for me. They HAVE all the equipment required for sous vide in the Top Chef kitchen. Hung used it several times, including for his winning duck recipe that won him the Top Chef title.

                                                                                          My opinion -- MY OPINION -- is that other than bringing their own knives (what would Padma say if she couldn't say "Pack your knives and go"?), it would be a greater challenge to the creativity and skills of all participants if they had limits on bringing in outside equipment. The cheapest model of immersion circulators I've come across are just under a thousand dollars. How many thousands of dollars do you think a Hobart commercial mixer runs? Do you think it is even remotely possible that not all cheftenstants (I hate that word) can afford thise kind of equipment?

                                                                                          MY OPINION is that it's unfair to allow competitors to bring in extra equipment. $200.00 worth of alternative ingredients is one thing, additional equipment beyond knives is another.

                                                                                          Your analogies are lacking.

                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            They HAVE all the equipment required for sous vide in the Top Chef kitchen.
                                                                                            Each TC has been done at a different location - we don't know if the Chicago kitchen was built with the capacity for sous vide. So why can't fauxhawk bring his along, just in case? The TC producers set the rules - if additional equipment used in their own kitchen is fair game, and 9 out of 16 have used an immersion circulator and bring theirs, the others are just out of luck and have to come up with some other way to wow the judges.

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              Presumably if they don't have something in their regular kitchen, they aren't used to using that utensil, don't rely on it to produce their style of food, and thus wouldn't want to use one anyway. Basically, I think it's fair if the cheftestants can use whatever they usually use. If there's a Chinese chef, would you keep him from bringing a wok?

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                I just read, I *think* on one of the blogs on the Bravo Top Chef page, that the Top Chef kitchen is recreated exactly the same for each city they film in.

                                                                                                1. re: dorilou

                                                                                                  Interesting. Well, I don't know squat about sous vide - if there's only 1 for each TC kitchen (again - without knowing details of what's in the kitchen for them to use, this is pure supposition), can several people use it at the same time? Perhaps that's why Richard brought his own?

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    One of the competitions for the next Iron Chef America had a challenge focusing on technological cooking. From that episode, I have a visual recollection of sous vide being a rectangular basin -- about the size of a farmhouse sink -- filled with water with a heater attached on the side. Assuming my memory is correct, several portions can fit in a single sous vide cooker, although I don't know if the same temperature is used for different proteins or purposes.

                                                                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                      Thanks for the info, Indy. Makes sense that you could fit several / a lot of packages in there at once - if a restaurant is doing a sous vide of a particular meal, you'll have to have enough room to make enough portions to make it worthwhile.

                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                        there's room for more than one package, but they all have to be cookable at the same temperature. and not everything takes the same temp. so if you want to be sure you can use it when you want it, and bringing your own is an option, I' d be bringing mine, in the same situation.

                                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                          ChefJune - thanks for the clarification on the temperature. Makes sense that Richard brought his along as a "just in case".

                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      There's certainly room for more than one cryovac bag in most baths, which is what the Top Chef kitchen is equipped with. You can see a couple of the smallest ones here:
                                                                                                      Also, in the left hand menu in the top section you can look over more sous vide equipment, as well as an anti-griddle (which you can duplicate with dry ice and a sheet of aluminum foil at a far more reasonable price). And there are even larger thermal baths. I have no idea of the size of the one in the TC kitchen, but I would expect it to be large enough to accomodate many simultaneous uses. I mean, they don't just have one mixer or one oven...

                                                                                                      If my understanding is correct, the "cheftestant" who brought his own equipment brought a thermal circulator, and not a thermal bath, which is complete unto itself. With a thermal circulator, you have to attach it to the side of a large container -- usually a large stock pot -- and it then heats and circulates the water. Since currents and the shape of a container's interior contribute to how steady a temperature can be held, I don't know if a thermal circulator is as accurate as a thermal bath.

                                                                                                      It just seems to me that it would be so much easier to use the TC kitchen's thermal bath than to cart a circulator from home..

                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                        It just seems to me that it would be so much easier to use the TC kitchen's thermal bath than to cart a circulator from home..
                                                                                                        I absolutely agree with you. But....if they're able to bring stuff from home, and this toy is what he wanted to bring... :::shrug::: Let him bring it.

                                                                                                2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                  for some challenges (the grilling/"BBQ" episode, for instance), limitations are placed of cooking methods and equipment.

                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            Maybe they should have a rule that each chef can only use the same size and brand of knife. <snort>
                                                                                            They each know the rules in advance. If they are not organized enough to be prepared then they don't deserve to win any how. It's a competitive field and it never hurts to have an edge over your peers. It's a competition not a social gathering.
                                                                                            I have to agree with Jfoods though. The smoke signals were lame and I was getting a visions of Joaquin Phoenix
                                                                                            in Gladiator rolling his eyes and twideling his fingers in the quintessential "Whoopie" pose.

                                                                                          3. re: jfood

                                                                                            I had forgotten that he was the one who took two pans. I agree, poor form. I also found the smoke precious.

                                                                                            I didn't have a problem with the immersion circulator, but I can see where you're coming from on it all.

                                                                                  2. re: wingman

                                                                                    About the leaving things out or forgetting items at the store/Farmer's Market...if it is not in the final dish, why bother mentioning it? If the finished product stands on it's on, just let it speak for itself. Do the waiters at restaurants tell you what the chef WOULD have made if they had this or that ingredient? They present the food for what it is. We all make mistakes in the kitchen...fixing them calmly and with skill is part of what makes a chef.

                                                                                  3. Wow, board is sluggish, reflecting pretty uninteresting episode. Wiley is just a snooze as a guest judge--I keep thinking he's going to check his Blackberry mid-sentence. His personality has been through the sous-vide machine. And the challenge was just silly. Team Vulture? Come on. And as much as I'm hooked on TC, I'm getting annoyed that they use the same exact music during the same points in challenges. Props to Padma, however, for looking better than ever.
                                                                                    I was intrigued by the hen-of-the-woods recipes in the first challenge--where can you get those?

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                      Is hen of the woods the same as chicken of the woods that I've seen on a couple of cooking shows? I assume it is. I ran across a blog a few months ago where a guy had one growing on a tree in his yard.

                                                                                      Off to Google hen of the Woods/chicken of the woods.

                                                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                        "Props to Padma, however, for looking better than ever. "

                                                                                        Yes, but I cringe at the silly "eye candy" promos. Like the one with her holding huge shears. WTF???

                                                                                      2. I was kind of annoyed that they did a team challenge so early on. I would have liked to have seen more individual stuff first.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: cor

                                                                                          I think they just can't figure out how to show two rounds of 15 individual dishes in an hour. But I agree, it's more fun for there to be teams once the audience knows more about their individual styles.

                                                                                          1. re: cor

                                                                                            If Dale wants to just cook by himself and doesn't want to be a "Team Player," he doesn't belong in a professional kitchen. He can go cook at his house. I realize it is a competition, but suck it up, dude.

                                                                                          2. Is it me or are the female contenders weaker (on paper) then the men this season?

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                              i agree, they seem to be lacking innovation... what's up with Tom hiding his hands..his wedding ring seems to be missing, just like Padma's...hmmmm..

                                                                                              1. re: antdistrict

                                                                                                I hadn't noticed, but I'm more inclined to think that Tom's trying to hold his hands still since Gail and Padma gave him a swat every time he touched his face last season ;-)

                                                                                                1. re: antdistrict

                                                                                                  Padma is either divorced or in the middle of the process so she wouldn't be wearing a wedding ring.

                                                                                              2. I agree with the comment that its a bit early to be having a team challenge. Valerie deserved to go home and Andrew is annoying and a spaz! I found it a little interesting that the other two women on Valeries team didn't try to talk her out of the blinis and they both knew it wasn't going to work. So much for teamwork!

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: lisamos

                                                                                                  but at least valerie tried to do vegetarian. i felt that the whole meal should have been veggie since that's what the gorilla's diet is and that's what the challenge was. although the banana bread dish did look yummy though.
                                                                                                  don't get me wrong, i think her dish flopped but i don't think it was the only one - and i at least think it was in the spirit of the challenge - and if it was just "make a nice meal challenge" i'm sure a lot of them would've done something different.

                                                                                                2. OK now I know who was out...the last 10 min of the show the broadcast just froze...i waited and waited and then fell asleep. stupid Time warner...

                                                                                                  1. Best line of the night was "nice sideburns." said by Wiley to Mark.

                                                                                                    Have to say nice comeback by Mark for winning immunity after missing an ingredient. Then have a really strong dish at the elimination challenge. He might be one of the early ones to watch.

                                                                                                    And within the first two minutes we knew who was in danger of elimination. The old 'we've become close and rely on each other.'

                                                                                                    I find that Spike (Kevin Federline) and Andrew are seemingly interchangeable.

                                                                                                    The folks at Bravo seem to has a fixation with the lesbian couple, not that there's anything wrong with that. The fact that they already have a featured blog makes no sense.

                                                                                                    I'm sure Mr. Potato in souffle is a good solid line cook his dishes seem to lack any sort imagination.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                      I think of him as this season's Miguel/Mikey/Joey/Howie stereotype.

                                                                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                        "I find that Spike (Kevin Federline) and Andrew are seemingly interchangeable."

                                                                                                        Spike and Ryan were the two who confused me personally as being interchangeable. They *are* two different people, right??

                                                                                                        1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                                                          I think you are thinking of Richard along with one woman Zoi's partner who are locked in the battle of the faux-hawks.

                                                                                                          1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                                                            Those two do look the same to me; I just think of them as "the one on uppers" and "the one on downers."

                                                                                                            1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                                                              No, Spike and Andrew have the scruffy reddish beards. Ryan has darker hair and looks like my son's elementary school principal, but I don't normally see *him* with such a deer-in-the-headlights look.

                                                                                                          2. Mayabe I'm burning out on TC, maybe I'm just grouchy, but while watching episode 2 I kept wishing they had contestants with taste buds!

                                                                                                            1. Ummm, why are there Manhattan restaurant reviews on Andrea Strong's blog for this episode of Top Chef CHICAGO? Bring the AB blog back!!!!!

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: julietg

                                                                                                                Yeah, I was *NOT* happy to see her blog - who cares? I'd much rather have Anthony Bourdain blogging on the season. But if NR is gearing up again for taping for next season, he might not have time.

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  IS this the same woman who write those bad reviews for the NY Daily News.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                    Yeah, it is. And please don't get me wrong- I actually enjoy the emails I get from from her own blog http://thestrongbuzz.com

                                                                                                                    I just don't see how Manhattan has anything to do with Chicago.

                                                                                                                    Many TC fans don't like her, because of the snarky bit she wrote after judging the restaurant wars episode last season. (see: http://www.chow.com/grinder/3560 )

                                                                                                                    I really don't see how this misguided blog entry helps her any...don't they have editors at bravotv.com? Well, then, they should.

                                                                                                              2. I found the episode boring because I don't yet have someone to get behind. At this point, none of the culinary skills or personatlity traits of any given individual have stood out in a positive way. In past seasons, I usually found someone straight away that I wanted to win. Not this season....I hope that changes soon.

                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Honey Bee

                                                                                                                  My early money is on Mark. I intuit he has the chops to at least stay a good while.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Plankwalker

                                                                                                                    is it me or have we seen literally almost nothing from Manuel these first two eps? I mean I know that there are so many chefs right now that someone has to take a back seat from time to time, but we haven't even seen his Quickfire dishes if I remember correctly.

                                                                                                                    Very strange...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Scortch

                                                                                                                      It's not you. Very little emphasis has been placed on several of the cheftestants. Valerie didn't even stand out to me until she got booted. Lisa also hasn't stood out for me, but some of the guys seem to be getting most of the attention - except for Manuel, that is. Andrew, Dale and Richard seem to be at the front of the pack for face time with the camera - could this mean that none of them are going to make it to the finale? Show them now, because they're going to be "aufed" (to use another term from a Bravo show <g>) by midpoint? Maybe Manuel ends up being a dark horse and comes on strong later on.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                        I think the term for a Top Chef exit is 'knifed'.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                          Yes, I thought of saying that. But it just seems so....well, final. :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            It's like this every season. There are so many at the beggining that don't have time to focus on all of them. If you notice in the quick fire they didn't even show all of the plates. At this stage they go for the high end and the low end.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                              I guess you're right. I almost wish they'd have a couple of two hour (or at least 1.5 hour) episodes in the beginning of each season to give us a little more meat on all of the cheftestants.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                Yeah, I agree. I just find it interesting that I think there has been so little shown of him (Manuel) that his presence actually surprises me when he actually DOES have screen time.

                                                                                                                                I may be noticing him not being noticeable a bit more than some of the others because of my somewhat advance familiarity with him via "Heat".

                                                                                                                                1. re: Scortch

                                                                                                                                  I'm reading "Heat" right now - do we know for sure that Manual is Memo?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: heathermb

                                                                                                                                    Without doing one modicum of research i will say only that took note of mention elsewhere on this board and simply allowed that to put him into the forefront of my brain even before the first ep aired.

                                                                                                                                    LOL. So there!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: heathermb

                                                                                                                                      Manuel's bio at bravotv says he used to work at Babbo. I read Heat from the library, so I don't have a copy handy to compare details. In his video bio he introduces himself as "Manuel, my friends call me Memo." I think I heard one of the cheftestants on TC refer to him as Memo.

                                                                                                                                      How's that for authoritative? ;-)

                                                                                                                              2. re: Scortch

                                                                                                                                He hasn't gotten much screen time, and I am still predicting that he is going to be a dark horse. Tom spoke to him during his Sniff 'n' Sneer (tm TWOP) and Manuel seemed very on the ball, articulate, and well aware of what his team was doing.

                                                                                                                          2. The first few episodes of any reality series are slow. It takes time to get to know the contestants, and to whittle down the field so that enough attention can be paid to each. Patience, fellow hounds, it will get better soon.

                                                                                                                            1. I thought this was such a good episode! I liked how they played out the animal theme for the menu instead of having them just cook the animal. Theyre such geniuses!