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No Reservations-Technique

Oh lordy, this is awesome.

Beef bourguinon, check.
Lobster, check
Spaghetti, check.
Omelet with Jacque Pepin. Are you kidding me?
Roast chicken with Thomas Keller? OY! If I remember correctly, this is what he made for his dad.

This is inspiring,and so simple and unadorned.

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  1. I don't have a clue what you're talking about. Please explain.

    11 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      He/she means tonight's No Reservations episode; instead of being about a country it's about some basic cooking skills.

      1. re: kleine mocha

        Thanks. Did you think it was awesome?

        1. re: c oliver

          I didn't think it was awesome. But it was informative on a basic level, v. un-Bourdain-like in comparison to the rest of this series, and a refreshing break for me. In fact--and I'm sure Bourdain would hate to hear this--but when he was teaching basic knife skills and using the onion as an example, I immediately thought of Rachael Ray, who has done the same on her show.

          1. re: gloriousfood

            I may be wrong, but my perception is that he would not be annoyed that Rachael Ray teaches people how to cut an onion- it seems he dislikes her recipes and the fact that she basically assembles a lot of pre-prepped food.

            About the episode- I was inspired by Jacques and Thomas K. and went off to practice my omelet technique with great results. Will be roasting chicken later Keller's way- without my usual butter baste! Can't wait to dig in.

          2. re: c oliver

            Awesome would be an exaggeration. It was interesting to watch Julia Child explain the boeuf bourguignon on her old show the morning after I watched NR; she also tasted and pointed out it would taste bad right after you have added the wine. Wonder if Tony was taking notes. She also demonstrates removing the wishbone before roasting a chicken, which prior to the Keller segment I had never heard of.

            Maybe pointing out that you need to let the steak rest for a bit made the whole show worthwhile for those who don't hang on Alton Brown's every word. ;-)

            1. re: kleine mocha

              Oh and I must say Jacques Pepin was making me crazy stirring his egg with a metal fork in the nonstick pan.

              1. re: kleine mocha

                I LOVE Jacques Pepin, and I tivo his "Fast Food My Way" show and watch every episode. I've learned so much from his shows.
                But yes, the metal utensils in the nonstick pan bother me.
                Also, he licks his fingers A LOT. I wonder who is eating that food after he prepares it for the show?

                1. re: kleine mocha

                  omg, i thought the exact same thing. plus i've never seen anyone mess around with an omelette like that. my omelettes come out just fine if i let the egg settle a bit and don't futz around with them so much.

                  1. re: kleine mocha

                    We finally watched this last night. It didn't look to me that JP was touching the bottom on the skillet but rather just stirring in the eggs themselves.

                    I agree with others here that from a CH standpoint I probably didn't learn anything other than Keller's removal of the wishbone and his trussing technique. But I think for the average Trave Channel/No Reservations viewer, it at least piqued their curiosity about techniques.

                    Someone also mentioned here "well, he's not a chef anymore." I'd say that has nothing to do with anything. Look at these celebrity TV people. I'd guess most AREN'T chefs anymore. But still....

                    1. re: kleine mocha

                      That was driving me crazy as well. I turned to my wife and told her to never do that.

                      1. re: kleine mocha

                        (the fork on the non-stick pan) That was driving me crazy as well. I turned to my wife and told her to never do that.

              2. It was really great, and has inspired me to do a proper boeuf bourguignon this weekend as a last hurrah before it gets hot. I've had two not-so-great ones this winter, so I'm gonna try my hand.

                If only we had home deep-fryers that made fries practical. Well, and if only I felt it was nutritionally sound to make fries at home...

                1. This 2-stage French fry technique intrigues me. Gotta try that.
                  Great episode. I'm gonna make my own tomato sauce this weekend, just to try it.
                  How the hell did Keller get that bird so perfectly golden brown?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pacheeseguy

                    I've used Keller's simple roast chicken recipe before, it really works, though the method he described was slightly different than the one I've used--on that he specifies that nothing else can be in the oven-veggies, taters, whatnot, as they create steam. That said, it turns out crispy, brown and PERFECT

                  2. I loved it! For the life of me though, I cannot hold an onion like that without the little sucker slipping out from under my fingers every time. Sigh.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Jen76

                      I think Tony is very good in the cooking instructor role and the show was entertaining. I've done the 2-stage french fries (it's in the Les Halles cookbook if you want to see it written out) and I think it's worthwhile to take the extra step.
                      Probably most home cooks who take cooking somewhat seriously knew most of what was presented but for people looking to move past the microwave I think this episode provided a good start in a fun, non-intimidating way.

                      1. re: Jen76

                        Jen, I don't have cable so I haven't seen what specifically was done, but discovered this trick years before the America's Test Kitchen people mentioned it: halve the onion from pole to pole. Peel back toward the root end, but leave the peel attached. You will then be able to anchor the onion to the cutting board by pressing down on the peel with your left hand (if you are right-handed) where it meets the root. Slice away with the knife in your right hand - your left hand is not on the onion at all.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Oh, that sounds like a great idea! Thanks! I will give it a try this weekend.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            GG - It worked beautifully! Thank you so much. Much easier.

                        2. Funny how everyone here seems to have liked the show. I had maybe too high expectations, but not only did I not learn anything new about techniques (those are basics, no?), AB also seemed bored to death by his own show. Probably one of the weakest shows this season, in my opinion -- lackluster, and no revelations for anyone who can cook.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: linguafood

                            linguafood, his audience here was the Travel Channel audience, not Chowhounds. It wasn't for us. It was for people who tune it to watch Andrew Zimmern mug for the camera while he eats perfectly ordinary foods around the world.

                            1. re: dmd_kc

                              Yah, I guess so. Didn't mean to come across as a know-it-all (cause I'm decidedly not)... but I couldn't shake the impression that AB seemed exasperated by the whole concept. Which is why his gushing blog entry surprises me even more.

                              Ah, who knows. Maybe I just had one of those bitchy days '-)

                            2. re: linguafood

                              I also wasn't too big of a fan of this show either. It was great to see some Class A chefs show off some techniques. But I didn't learn anything new from this show either. I do think this was probably very informative for the vast majority of his audience. It's kind of like Chowhounders complaining about Food Network cooking shows -- may not be new to them, but it is to a lot of people.

                              My take is that Bourdain wants to stay at home more often because of his family and that he will do more of these types of shows (food techniques, food obsessives). I think he's also taking his family more into consideration when picking new locations -- trying to pick places where he is more comfortable bringing them along. It's his show and he can do what he wants, and I respect that he wants to be closer to his family. But overall I am finding myself very disappointed with this season.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                Yep. Lackluster. I think he's getting tired of his own show. Maybe time to stop...

                            3. I really liked this episode. Great and useful tips (though the lobster bit seemed out of place). Thomas Keller's chicken looked amazing. I really hope we see a sequel to this episode and see some more great chefs cooking simple, yet elegant dishes.

                              1. I really enjoyed the show. I know how to cook enough to cook for my wife and myself and have it taste good. I'm not a pro, nor do I aspire to be one. Before I watched the show I didn't like lobster and from what I saw, I still don't. The insides looked horrible. I might try a lobster tail, someday in the future, but that's it.

                                1. LOVED it. And I have to comment on the cinematography this season. It's truly beautiful.

                                  Does anyone else remove the wishbone from the chicken? I couldn't follow how Keller did it and thought it looked like a waste of time, although clearly it made cutting it to serve easier.

                                  I wish Bourdain had explained WHY you let meat rest. I mean, people who don't do it should know why they should, right? I caught a blurb from him at the tail end about letting juices come together but that was it. I also wish he had explained how to properly season, especially with salt. So many cooks get it wrong.

                                  Pepin is awesome. He butchers pronunciations and uses metal on non stick but how can you not love that man's knife skills? He's a pleasure to watch.

                                  I enjoyed the guy who made pasta. Adding butter to pasta???! WOW. Who knew?

                                  I internally applauded the intro about how everyone should be forced to take Home Ec in school. YES. This is what Jamie Oliver needs to push on his new reality show. He's going in from the wrong direction...

                                  1. Although I didn't see this particular show, I read AB's blog. On Sunday he had a blurb detailing what to expect from a show he dubbed, "Higher Education." He said he was really proud and honored to have worked with the chefs.
                                    Here's a link to that blog post:

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Hey, Gio, thanks for that. I didn't know he had a blog (although every person with or without anything to say seems to have one!). I've got this episode TiVod hopefully (we've had some power failures lately) and look forward to it.

                                    2. http://anthony-bourdain-blog.travelch...

                                      Here is Bourdaine's blog after the show. He is positively gushing.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                        Scott Conant was in it? Mr. I hate onions and black pepper?

                                        He annoys the hell out of me.

                                        1. re: reiflame

                                          Conant only dislikes raw onion, and his recipes use black pepper all the time -- but sure, I see how he annoys on "Chopped." But Scarpetta's a hell of a restaurant, and his instructions on this show (especially the one to stir a bit wad of butter into your pasta before serving it) were pretty great.

                                          I think his "Chopped" persona is an unwise choice. He'll likely probably soon undergo the same lightening up that Bobby Flay has (largely successfully) pulled off if he wants the TV career to become his full-time gig.

                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                            This is a thread for another time, to be sure, but that's the danger of being a TV personality, isn't it? You run the risk of alienating people from your restaruant if you come off poorly.

                                            I don't live in NY, so Scarpetta's isn't really on my radar. It could be the best restaurant in the town, but given how annoying Conant is on the show I'd probably direct my dining dollars elsewhere.

                                            Was he annoying on No Reservations?

                                            1. re: reiflame

                                              I didn't think so. I thought he came off rather well.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                He was fine on No Reservations (the garlic and basil infused olive oil added to tomato sauce was the one interesting tip I came away with...I'll try it sometime), but he's peevish on Chopped. The only thing that ticks him off more than raw onions is cheese added to seafood.

                                              2. re: reiflame

                                                He seemed like a totally different person on NR. Laid back, even self-deprecating. Apologized to his mom, I think, for saying he likes his tomato sauce more sprightly and less cooked-down.

                                        2. The main things I liked about the show is this:
                                          1) We get some people giving instructions on somewhat simple things, BUT, they have obviously thought about the instruction and they were able to explain it thoroughly while not being too fussy about it. The extra bits of information is what the whole show was all about.
                                          2) They are good at what they do so I get a certain sense of comfort with their instructions versus some well meaning amateur.
                                          3) it is always a treat to see very skilled people doing what they do well. Seeing quality floats my boat.

                                          1. I didn't like the show. There are any number of shows, both new and in re--runs, where you get the cooking techniques thing. Bourdain has never come across as a particularly skilled chef, but his food travel shows are fantastic. I know that he had mostly other guys do the demonstartions, but I just found it to be unecessary, and probably a cheap way of fulfilling a contractural episode of the latest series. I've seen JP do omelets many times before, and the one he did on this episode was the worst I've seen him do. Yes, the metal fork thing got me, but he just seemed to make a bit of a mess of the thing before plating it.

                                            I was waiting for the moment when he could somehow get the credit card product placement in, but I guess it really couldn't be done.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: NealR2000

                                              I thought that omelet looked sub-par also...mottled brown and greasy looking, instead of the puffy ethereal-looking omelet I would have expected of him. And I'm surprised no one has mentioned Thomas Keller's handling of raw chicken, then touching all kinds of stuff in the kitchen without washing his hands---in particular the peppermill, which he inserted right into the raw-chicken cavity. If a health inspector saw this, he'd probably be shut down!

                                              1. re: Boswell

                                                You should watch Jamie Oliver's show two years ago where he made a BBQ sauce, then proceeded to put pork, chicken and something else in the same pot. Then he cooked the pork (or was it lamb) to med rare, after it sat in teh same bbq marinade as the chicken.

                                              2. re: NealR2000

                                                You know, making an omelet is something I've never been good at. I usually make frittatas because I don't have to flip them. Watching him - even if it wasn't perfect - must have helped me because this morning I made perfectly fluffy half-moon omelets for probably the first time ever. I did use a silicone spatula in my non-stick pan rather than the metal fork though.

                                              3. All star cast, weak episode. Nothing I haven't learned watching Food Network before it became Food MTV, and various shows on PBS (best channel for cooking now).

                                                In particular the steak. You can say that steak was cooked well because it was well done. How they took a beautiful thick cut steak then proceeded to leave it over direct flame for what, 20 minutes? then say it was cooked properly is beyond my comprehension. It was a well done piece of steak with a sliver of medium rare in the middle. Too much "gray matter" all the way around.

                                                My technique would put Bourdain's steak to shame.