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Top Chef Really Important Things To Do Before You Start the Show

g
grant.cook Dec 23, 2011 05:21 PM

This seems to happen in every season (and in Masters as well), so I am going to state it for any prospective competitors who happen to read this blog..

IMPORTANT TIP #1: if you are going to be on Top Chef, learn how to use a pressure cooker (and that includes intensive lid locking and removal practice.. )

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  1. chris2269 Dec 23, 2011 05:40 PM

    IMPORTANT TIP #2: Have that person you hired as your Pastry Chef teach you one good dessert recipe you can memorize and have under your belt. If time permits spend a day making souffle. These will give you a leg up on most others if you need to use them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chris2269
      b
      brooklynkoshereater Dec 26, 2011 07:33 PM

      YES! Ever since the season finale where Hung came back with a mastered chocolate dessert I've been saying that anybody prepping to go on Top Chef MUST come ready with several dessert options. Even if they're basics - if they're good, they'll get you through to the next round.

      1. re: chris2269
        m
        Marianinha Dec 27, 2011 09:51 AM

        This lack of dessert knowledge kills me every season. Learn to make crème anglaise, or pastry cream. They are so similar and basic, and if you know how to make them you can make ice cream, flan, crème brulée.. anything....

        1. re: Marianinha
          b
          Blueicus Feb 17, 2012 09:31 AM

          Most, if not all contestants on the show actually do know how to make custards among other pastry items. The problem is that creme brulee is sort of passe now so I wouldn't make one unless I was asked to.

      2. k
        kimmer1850 Dec 23, 2011 07:14 PM

        IMPORTANT TIP #3: If you're a primarily a seafood chef take the time to learn basic meat butchery. Conversely, if you're a chef in a steakhouse learn to clean and bone fish.

        1. huiray Dec 23, 2011 07:28 PM

          IMPORTANT TIP #4: Look into cuisines beyond your own specific take on whatever you are cooking in your restaurant.

          1. ipsedixit Dec 23, 2011 07:34 PM

            IMPORTANT TIP #5: Don't shave other people's heads.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              j
              James Cristinian Dec 25, 2011 12:21 PM

              IMPORTANT TIP #5A: If you do attempt to shave someone's head, let's say Marcel for sake of arguement, go ahead and finish the job, because you will be sent home anyway.

              1. re: James Cristinian
                f
                freia Dec 26, 2011 12:04 PM

                IMPORTANT TIP #5B: Leave your douchiness at home if you are Marcel for the sake of arguement, to prevent your head from being shaved/

                1. re: freia
                  huiray Dec 26, 2011 12:15 PM

                  That's TIP #5B. ;-)

                  1. re: huiray
                    f
                    freia Dec 26, 2011 12:19 PM

                    Sure is! Edited to reflect! LOLOLOL
                    :)

            2. k
              khintx Dec 24, 2011 07:23 AM

              If you get really homesick and can't wait to get home to the fam and that new baby you miss so much, go ahead and pack your bags then cook a risotto for the elimination challenge. That's pretty much a guaranteed PYKAG dish.

              kh

              1 Reply
              1. re: khintx
                huiray Dec 24, 2011 07:31 AM

                Ah, but you still CAN'T go back* to the farm until filming for the whole thing is in the can. :-) And in future TCs (judging by this current one) you can't even call your folks or talk with them.
                So -
                IMPORTANT TIP#6: You will be away from anybody you may miss for the entire duration of the filming for the show so *be prepared* -– and practice not blubbering in loneliness before you get there and have those cameras shoved into your face All. The. F**king. Time. that you will be there.

                *excepting really, REALLY serious accidents or major, MAJOR, **Force Majeur** type incidents of some sort affecting you.

              2. huiray Dec 24, 2011 08:00 AM

                IMPORTANT TIP#7: All is grist for the mill. Anything that is caught by the cameras or sound recorders is fodder for the editors to make hay with. Try to be mindful of what you say or do. Anytime.

                1. s
                  smtucker Dec 24, 2011 09:54 AM

                  IMPORTANT TIP #8: Whenever Tom offers to buy you a drink, sends you out for a night on the town, or tells you to "go enjoy," make sure that your knives are sharp.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: smtucker
                    r
                    ratgirlagogo Dec 24, 2011 12:41 PM

                    Addendum to IMPORTANT TIP #8: When you go out to your "party" for god's sake DON"T DRESS UP IN PARTY CLOTHES. In fact don't even PACK any sequined minidresses or five-inch heels.

                    1. re: smtucker
                      goodhealthgourmet Dec 25, 2011 07:52 AM

                      another addendum to #8, make sure your knives are ALWAYS sharp. you never know when it's going to be time to chop onions for a relay race.

                    2. Shrinkrap Dec 24, 2011 09:37 PM

                      Oo! Oo! (waving hand for teacher to call on me, but not ready..)

                      # 9...."something about scallops...."

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: Shrinkrap
                        iL Divo Dec 26, 2011 01:16 PM

                        permission to amend please Shrinkrap: tip # 9 so #9A
                        ***or***something other than scallops

                        does anyone know some other form of (anything) to use (to impress) other than scallops?
                        are they typically used because they're quick or impressive or?

                        1. re: iL Divo
                          cowboyardee Dec 26, 2011 01:26 PM

                          Scallops: quick-cooking; goes well with many different flavors, garnishes, and sauces; shows off a little technique in getting the sear and doneness right; just the right size for tasting plates; absolutely delicious. In other words, perfect for a timed competition, cliche or not. Haters gonna hate.

                          1. re: cowboyardee
                            iL Divo Dec 26, 2011 03:09 PM

                            was just asking cowboy \?/

                            1. re: iL Divo
                              cowboyardee Dec 28, 2011 10:12 AM

                              Was just answering, iL. I think scallops are particularly well-suited to a timed, varying format cooking competition like Top Chef, which is why contestants keep using them despite the haters. I wasn't trying to imply that you were one of said haters.

                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                iL Divo Dec 28, 2011 12:13 PM

                                aaaaah, ((cowboyardee)) tnx

                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                  Shrinkrap Dec 29, 2011 06:40 PM

                                  For the record, I am not a hater. I just notice that they seem to be the butt of jokes, perhaps because they are easy to "phone in"....I am not sure if I am using that right. What would non-haters tips be, about how to use them successfully? That's what my tip would have been, except I don't have one.

                                  1. re: Shrinkrap
                                    cowboyardee Dec 29, 2011 10:44 PM

                                    I guess the main issues with scallops are:
                                    1) they are easy to work with, assuming they're good quality and you know how to sear em well without overcooking them
                                    2) perhaps because they are so easy to work with, they are a bit of a Top Chef cliche

                                    The ways to deal with these problems are as follows:
                                    1) Don't use scallops when you have a lot of time to make a dish, because the judges will be asking you what you did with all your cooking time. They're mainly ideal when time constraints are tight/ Make sure the rest of the dish shows work and is impressive and ambitious.
                                    2) The judges rarely send anyone home for making a Top Chef cliche - much more often, they send people home for making cooking mistakes or altogether bad dishes. But a highly original dish is more likely to win a challenge. So scallops are a fine way to make it through a challenge with tight time constraints where you're prone to messing up a dish thoroughly - a good way to avoid being sent home. But not necessarily the best way to win a new Toyota or impress the pants off those of us in Viewerland.

                                    My posts are meant to be all in good fun, and I hope no one is seriously offended at being called a 'hater.' I'm a hater of all kinds of stuff. But not scallops.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                      iL Divo Dec 30, 2011 04:06 AM

                                      I understand you cowboyardee. :)
                                      I have probably used the term (hate) some time in my life referring to scallops.
                                      I don't care for them but enjoy other things that many wouldn't {like} smoked eel.
                                      maybe my issue is it's very predictable to me when someone says "I'm doing scallops 2 ways" or "I'm doing a scallop blah blah blah". at that point you've lost me
                                      one...because I don't like scallops so I'm now disinterested
                                      two...yet again another scallop dish
                                      I'm pretty sure the judges get tired of it too, "O G YEAH, another scallop dish"
                                      seems to me that a tiny piece of any other protein could be done just as quickly.
                                      portion out a small fillet of sirlion or chicken breast or piece or fish or pork tenderloin, please TC contenders...change it up

                              2. re: cowboyardee
                                t
                                therealdoctorlew Dec 26, 2011 06:27 PM

                                IIRC there was one cooking competition show where the scallops that were available were the commercial pyrophosphate and water enhanced "scallop product" that can't be seared. The chef that chose them was hosed by the booby trap scallop product.

                                1. re: therealdoctorlew
                                  huiray Dec 26, 2011 07:12 PM

                                  You mean the frozen scallops in Rick Tramonto's restaurant's cooler that Spike Mendelsohn chose [and he had first choice from winning the quickfire!!] which got him sent home? :-) Season 4 Episode 12.

                                  1. re: huiray
                                    t
                                    therealdoctorlew Dec 27, 2011 08:00 PM

                                    Yes.

                              3. re: iL Divo
                                u
                                UptownKevin Dec 26, 2011 01:47 PM

                                Not sure why you would even bring up scallops. After all, it's called Top Chef, not "Top Scallops."

                                1. re: UptownKevin
                                  iL Divo Dec 26, 2011 03:08 PM

                                  ummm, because I was replying to a post that mentioned scallops (?) UptownKevin

                                  1. re: iL Divo
                                    mattstolz Dec 26, 2011 05:46 PM

                                    i think this was uptown's attempt at humor.

                                    def a quote from the show (fabio i believe)

                                    1. re: mattstolz
                                      iL Divo Dec 26, 2011 07:35 PM

                                      sorry missed that, miss a lot of things......no excuse I'm just tired

                                      tnx GHG

                                      1. re: mattstolz
                                        u
                                        UptownKevin Dec 27, 2011 11:13 AM

                                        Yea, it was my attempt at humor. I thought it was witty. And that was the big quote from Fabio that season.

                                        1. re: UptownKevin
                                          iL Divo Dec 27, 2011 03:30 PM

                                          sorry UTK, I didn't remember that.
                                          my apologies for not reading it the way you meant.

                                      2. re: iL Divo
                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 26, 2011 05:51 PM

                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNNuWW...

                                      3. re: UptownKevin
                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 30, 2011 05:56 PM

                                        i'm beginning to think salmon is this season's scallop - i feel like we've seen it way too may times. even worse, the dishes rarely sound interesting or tasty, and the chefs can't seem to cook it properly.

                                      4. re: iL Divo
                                        Shrinkrap Dec 27, 2011 01:04 AM

                                        Be my guest!

                                    2. s
                                      smartie Dec 25, 2011 07:39 AM

                                      #10 do not wear high heels to the first day, you know you are going to have to cook.

                                      #11 have a good look round some markets so you know what some of the odd vegetables are, and talk to a butcher about cuts of meat and how to cook them

                                      1. t
                                        therealdoctorlew Dec 25, 2011 07:46 AM

                                        #12 Don't be surprised when you lose. Everybody save one will. Have your exit speech ready. Choose one: Dignified thanks, disbelief, weepy regret, profanity, sour grapes.

                                        1. goodhealthgourmet Dec 25, 2011 07:58 AM

                                          #13: if you over-cooked your protein or served it raw when it wasn't supposed to be, start praying for divine intervention on your behalf.

                                          1. h
                                            hetook Dec 25, 2011 08:08 AM

                                            #14.STOP USING OLD TRICKS . ie SEARED LAMB,CARPACCIO AND CEVICHÉ.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: hetook
                                              cowboyardee Dec 28, 2011 10:14 AM

                                              What's wrong with seared lamb?

                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                h
                                                hetook Dec 28, 2011 10:45 AM

                                                nothing, it's just being done so many times.I think back since season1?

                                            2. t
                                              TuteTibiImperes Dec 25, 2011 11:05 AM

                                              TIP #15 -

                                              Do not let anyone else be responsible for a major portion of your dish. Even in a team challenge these are your competitors and they will not prioritize making your dish right over their own. If they screw it up it was still your dish and you will go home.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: TuteTibiImperes
                                                m
                                                Marianinha Dec 27, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                Best tip ever. Can't blame anyone but yourself if you do that.

                                              2. LurkerDan Dec 25, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                #16 Always have a backup plan or plans, because things WILL go wrong.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: LurkerDan
                                                  m
                                                  Marianinha Dec 27, 2011 09:54 AM

                                                  Keep it together. I hate it when people have a meltdown in the kitchen. I'll never understand how blubbery and over-emotional chefs become executives, or sous-chef's if they can't keep cool in these kinds of situations.

                                                2. DrBruin Dec 25, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                  Important Tip #17 - Tom Collichio doesn't like sweet desserts.
                                                  Important Tip #18 - Practice cooking with one hand tied behind your back (i..e. in a kitchen mitt)
                                                  Important Tip #19 - Try not to cut yourself.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: DrBruin
                                                    cowboyardee Dec 26, 2011 01:51 PM

                                                    19a: OK, you've cut yourself. Or broken a finger. Or briefly lit yourself on fire. Or maybe had a heat stroke. What now? Go to the hospital? NO. Assuming you mind getting the worst possible edit and convincing the entire country that you are a cowardly little weiner-child, you stay put until the challenge is over for the day.

                                                    Bonus points if you can successfully give yourself the Heimlich maneuver on an open oven door while still managing to flip your proteins for even cooking on the stove with your off-hand.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                                      b
                                                      bobbert Dec 26, 2011 08:00 PM

                                                      19a(1): Catch 22. Even if you suck it up and cook through your prep and then head over to the ER for stitches and it happens to be a big city ER where they triage gunshot wounds ahead of chefs who cut themselves prepping dinner which means you stay up all night for your stitches only to mess up steaks in 100 + degree weather... you will be attacked on chowhound for being stupid enough to go to the big city ER in the first place. So remember, if you have to go to the ER, have the doctors amputate something.

                                                  2. Kajikit Dec 25, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                    Important Tip #20 - at some point you are GOING to have to cook under primitive conditions, probably with canned ingredients that you wouldn't be caught dead with under normal circumstances. Teach yourself something brilliant to do with canned chicken, one pot, and a wood fire and you can't go wrong.

                                                    1. b
                                                      bobbert Dec 25, 2011 12:54 PM

                                                      Important Tip #21.
                                                      Learn this phrase: "This is my take on ____________(fill in type of dish, sauce, etc.)".
                                                      Do not call something a souffle or a carbonara if they are not exactly a souffle or the sauce is not a traditional carbonara. Tom hates that. Even if it tastes good, it better be what you say it is.
                                                      Your disclaimer? "This is my TAKE on a galantine..."

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: bobbert
                                                        b
                                                        bobbert Jan 12, 2012 08:15 AM

                                                        At the risk of gloating, I will point out that Ed did not read my tip #21. Do not call it an Almond Joy if it is not an Almond Joy. Ed! You're just like my wife. You never listen to me.

                                                        1. re: bobbert
                                                          kubasd23 Jan 12, 2012 09:54 AM

                                                          That was the first thing I thought of when Tom asked "Where's the coconut?" I was like.... uh ohhhhh he didn't listen!!

                                                      2. b
                                                        bobbert Dec 25, 2011 09:56 PM

                                                        Important tip #22: Get a really bad-ass tattoo.

                                                        1. a
                                                          AsperGirl Dec 25, 2011 11:44 PM

                                                          Important tip #23: Don't be that guy who goes onto Top Chef whipping up a disgusting, weirdly textured salmon-and-cream-cheese-baked-in-corn-husks entrée, and then proudly argue that you serve it in your restaurant after the judges have already informed you that it's horrible. That will get you the boot for being clueless. And before going on Top Chef, do put up a "suggestion" box and ask your staff for their anonymous opinions about those devilishly clever specials of yours

                                                          1. mattstolz Dec 26, 2011 07:05 AM

                                                            IMPORTANT TIP #24:

                                                            Learn something about the city(ies) you will be competing in. If there is anything quirky about them, chances are TC will exploit that for use in a challenge. Are you going to Kansas City? better learn how to make BBQ. New Orleans? Practice your gumbo. Maine? Please know how to cook a lobster about 100 different ways.

                                                            1. chowser Dec 26, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                              Important Tips 25-29

                                                              25) Know Whole Foods, inside and out, including learning what things they will never carry.

                                                              26) Learn to bake a cake, a big cake that can be tiered and learn how to tier and frost. Learn basic pastry bag skills, or at least how to arrange flowers nicely.

                                                              27) Learn to drive a Sienna.

                                                              28) Learn some basic interior design skills for restaurant wars.

                                                              29) Intentionally mess up dishes on a regular basis so you can learn to fix errors on the fly.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                Caitlin McGrath Dec 26, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                Thankfully, they've bagged the whole decor aspect of Restaurant Wars in the past couple of seasons, and let the contestants get on with cooking. No more mad dashes through Pier 1 and (god forbid) scented candles.

                                                                I'd to your 26: Important Tip #30: Learn how to make a) a basic cake; b) a custard, c) pastry dough before going on (or even auditioning for) the show. You WILL have to make a dessert, so get the basic formulas down.

                                                              2. f
                                                                freia Dec 26, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                                Note: edited version, as huiray made a great point LOLOLOL:

                                                                Tip #30: Deconstructed dishes just look messy.
                                                                Tip #31: A bold personality can be engaging and employable, but probably won't win you the competition. Concentrate on the food.

                                                                1. chicgail Dec 26, 2011 12:23 PM

                                                                  IMPORTANT TIP #32-36
                                                                  Forget scallops.
                                                                  Don't make risotto - a judge will bad mouth it or teach you how to do it right.
                                                                  Dont ever try to buy or cook frozen seafood. Or anything else frozen or pre-cooked for that matter.
                                                                  For Pete's sake, learn how to make at least one dessert that you can adapt and then practice until you know how to make it correctly.

                                                                  1. g
                                                                    grant.cook Dec 26, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                                    Tip #32 - unless you are specifically told (e.g. "Its okay to use dried pasta.."), generally aim for making subcomponents for the dish by hand versus buying it premade (e.g. sausage, pasta)..

                                                                    1. iL Divo Dec 26, 2011 08:04 PM

                                                                      tip #33
                                                                      learn a cute catchie noise that all can relate to only you, something like uh oh maybe hootey hoo
                                                                      tip #34
                                                                      plan way in advance if possible to have a very distant relative as an opposing contestant . it makes for good tv plus you might learn you actually like that very distant oh say cousin but beware, you might be beaten by cuz

                                                                      1. TrishUntrapped Dec 26, 2011 09:14 PM

                                                                        IMPORTANT TIP #37 For crying out loud, salt your food! Don't serve any dish underseasoned. The judges have superadvanced palates and even though you may think you "salted" your food normally, they will argue it has no taste or flavor. THEY WANT A SALT LICK.

                                                                        However, keep in mind the Gail Caveat. When the other judges say your dish tastes good and was seasoned perfectly, Gail will say it was waaay too salty for her and she likes salt.

                                                                        1. f
                                                                          freia Dec 26, 2011 10:22 PM

                                                                          TIP 38 : Molecular gastronomy is a funky name and sounds all cutting edge and all, but it won't win you the competition. Some stuff is cool, but I don't know why anyone would want to eat most of that stuff.
                                                                          TIP 39: Leave the foams at home. Not everything should be made into or have a foam. You might think its a showcase technique-y thing, but really, it just looks like you spit on the food you are about to serve.

                                                                          28 Replies
                                                                          1. re: freia
                                                                            m
                                                                            monopod Dec 27, 2011 09:30 AM

                                                                            Re: Tip 38, Richard Blais is a molecular dude and he won the competition last time around. So there's that.

                                                                            1. re: monopod
                                                                              LurkerDan Dec 27, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                              True, but he won last season in part because he stopped doing "tricks" for the sake of the tricks, and started using them only when they enhanced the quality of food. He said as much (or something similar). In season 4, which he didn't win, he was more focused on doing cool things and less focused on making delicious food.

                                                                              That said, Blais is obviously an amazing chef and in a ranking of all the chefs from all the seasons, would definitely be in the top 3 and arguably at #1 (I think the argument would be Voltaggio or him), so he can get away with it more than most cheftestants.

                                                                              1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                f
                                                                                freia Dec 27, 2011 09:54 AM

                                                                                Exactly. Once they ditch the party tricks and focus on real food, they have a better chance. And so many with the party tricks who rely on them don't get so far IMHO...

                                                                                1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                  chowser Dec 27, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                                                  I never got the feeling Blais did MG for the sake of MG. He made it to the finale of his season and choked. He did really well in his season and did focus on making delicious food. He didn't lose because of his MG "tricks."

                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                    f
                                                                                    freia Dec 27, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                                    Of course not, but the tricks won't ensure a win, and I personally find the results seem unappetizing. I've noticed a bunch of contestants show up with their bag of tricks (Marcel for example) and the attitude that they are cutting edge as they are doing new stuff, and it just seems gimmicky to me. They don't lose because of the MG, but they certainly don't progress if that is their focus. But of course, that's just MHO. I don't know why anyone would find, say, olive oil blended with maltodextrose to form an olive oil powder is appetizing. On the other hand, making balsamic vinegar "caviar" using MG techniques is intriguing, but does not a meal make?
                                                                                    The thing that creeps me out about MG is that on one hand, the current trend today seems to be all about the organic, locally grown wholesome aspects of food, whereas MG uses bizarre chemicals and combinations thereof to "repurpose" food into strange configurations. I don't know if I want to eat coffee mixed with alginate (I know its from seaweed) and dripped into calcium chloride solution to form "coffee caviar". The same goes with using Nitrogen to make a quick ice cream. While not MG per se, and while I understand that the nitrogen boils off, there has got to be some residual left in it. Just give me regular ice cream made the usual way. (and btw this is why I avoid Cool Whip, margarine, boxed dinners, etc. I know the chemical processing isn't something I enjoy)...JMHO of course...:)

                                                                                    1. re: freia
                                                                                      chowser Dec 27, 2011 10:08 AM

                                                                                      You could really say that about any technique. If used well, it enhances a meal; if used poorly, it doesn't but it doesn't make a meal. A flame torched top on a creme brulee is a great addition, flame torching by itself does not make a dessert, nor does it make a win. Regardless, Richard Blais did very well in his season so I don't think he was hindered by his use of MG.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                                                        f
                                                                                        freia Dec 27, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                                                        To paraphrase Fabio...."is this Top Chef or Top Chemist"?
                                                                                        LOL
                                                                                        :)

                                                                                    2. re: chowser
                                                                                      LurkerDan Dec 27, 2011 10:26 AM

                                                                                      I agree that he didn't *lose* because of his tricks; that wasn't really what I was saying. He himself pointed out that he changed his culinary focus for season 8, that prior to that, sometimes he did get too focused on doing cool things with food rather than focusing on flavors.

                                                                                      1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                        chowser Dec 27, 2011 10:33 AM

                                                                                        I'm just saying I didn't get that feeling that he was more focused on doing cool things with food in his season. He did really well in his season--a few wins, a few highs, only one low for his team challenge. He made it to the finale where he choked. None of that had to do w/ his using or not using MG. You can focus on flavor and use all the tools in your bag; they're not mutually exclusive.

                                                                                        1. re: chowser
                                                                                          f
                                                                                          freia Dec 27, 2011 10:41 AM

                                                                                          Sometimes the tools distract from the food, no? I mean, if used judiciously perhaps they can enhance, but the thing that I've noticed on TC is that the bio and the intro and the interview of such chefs revolves around MG, not around the food. Both Blais and Marcel were introduced and promoted this way if I recall correctly. I think its pretty common in that field, where the experimentation with MG overtakes the actual end result. You see it on other shows, too, like Chopped. I recall one episode where the first chef eliminated made olive oil powder, got eliminated, and in the second round a second chef made blueberry powder to show it could be done. He got eliminated too. Both instances where the cool factor of MG overtakes the end result as the use of MG was for the sake of MG, not to enhance the dish. You saw it in TC where to win, Blais recognized he had to give the MG a bit of a rest and just focus on the food. There isn't the integration between MG and the food for many of the MG chefs IMHO. So like I said, give up the MG for the most part and focus on the food. Top Chef, not Top Chemist.
                                                                                          OH and btw, I won't have creme brulee made with a torch as I know what residues a butane flame leaves on food...but that's just me....

                                                                                          1. re: freia
                                                                                            chowser Dec 27, 2011 10:57 AM

                                                                                            That's exactly what I was saying that overuse/improper use of any technique can be detrimental to the dish but that doesn't make the technique bad. A brulee can be wonderful (not necessarily with a butane one if you don't care for it) but not if used improperly, as with your tasting the butane, or on every dish. Blais didn't lose because he used MG. He did very well, with using it; and won the All Stars season having used it. I'm not saying he won because of it but it was another technique in his arsenal.

                                                                                            1. re: chowser
                                                                                              LurkerDan Dec 27, 2011 12:21 PM

                                                                                              You're ignoring some of the things Blais himself has said. And there's no doubt that he used MG more in season 4 than season 8, and I also think that there's no doubt that he was a better chef in season 8 than he was in season 4. But I'm not ragging on MG, and I'm not entirely agreeing with point #38, because I certainly agree that used well, it can add a lot to a dish. And WRT Top Chef, Blais is obviously the best example of it being used well, in both of his seasons.

                                                                                              Certainly, I think we can agree that if you're going to use it, make sure that its use will enhance the flavor and overall impression of your dish, not just make it look cool.

                                                                                            2. re: freia
                                                                                              kubasd23 Dec 28, 2011 07:01 AM

                                                                                              Just to be a PITA.... In chopped champions, Lauren made a cherry soda foam and they raved about it, talking about how creative and skilled she was :)

                                                                                              1. re: kubasd23
                                                                                                f
                                                                                                freia Dec 28, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                                                                You're not a PITA! I just think that any foam on food looks like one spit on it LOL!
                                                                                                I'm sure they are tasty, too. Just a personal bugaboo!
                                                                                                :)

                                                                                                1. re: freia
                                                                                                  cowboyardee Dec 28, 2011 10:08 AM

                                                                                                  How bout whipped cream?

                                                                                                  There are a lot of foams with thick, dense textures closer to that of whipped cream. I'm always surprised at how many of the people who claim to hate culinary foams seem to only be familiar with thinner, lighter, (usually) lecithin-based foams.

                                                                                                  1. re: freia
                                                                                                    kubasd23 Dec 28, 2011 12:53 PM

                                                                                                    oh I totally agree that it looks like someone spit on my dish!! They probably add some cool airy flavor experience.... but I wouldn't order a dish with it.

                                                                                                    1. re: kubasd23
                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                      freia Dec 28, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                                                                      Check out the link -- seems most of the respondents feel the same way....
                                                                                                      http://www.yumsugar.com/Do-You-Like-F...

                                                                                                  2. re: kubasd23
                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Dec 30, 2011 05:44 PM

                                                                                                    hey kuba, no spoilers for other shows please! i still haven't watched my DVR recordings of the Chopped Champions tournament.

                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                      kubasd23 Dec 31, 2011 03:02 PM

                                                                                                      ahhh sorry!!! I hate when I see spoilers, so I get it. Didn't mean to post a spoiler!! p.s. fyi, my name is Debra, just to make it easier :P

                                                                                                      1. re: kubasd23
                                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Dec 31, 2011 03:12 PM

                                                                                                        fine, i'll let it go just this once, but don't let it happen again, young lady! seriously though, it's totally okay - i wasn't *really* mad :) besides, it's my fault for being so behind on my DVR recordings, but i'm sloooowly getting through them.

                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                          mattstolz Dec 31, 2011 05:29 PM

                                                                                                          yeah i was gonna say! if you're still waitin to watch chopped champions, thats kinda like being angry about seeing past winners of Top Chef mentioned in this seasons top chef thread haha... pretty far behind

                                                                                                          1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                            goodhealthgourmet Dec 31, 2011 07:08 PM

                                                                                                            i just recorded all the episodes this week - i had no idea there had been a second Champions tournament and when i saw the listings i just assumed that it was pretty recent.

                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                              freia Dec 31, 2011 07:30 PM

                                                                                                              Don't feel bad--up here in Canada, we get these shows on serious time delay. Top Chef Texas is starting in a couple of weeks, and the second Chopped Champions is set for this week. I'm used to dealing with spoilers whenever I check out sites that are primarily American in content/posters :)

                                                                                                  3. re: freia
                                                                                                    iL Divo Dec 29, 2011 02:35 PM

                                                                                                    +1 freia ^^^great read^^^

                                                                                            3. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                              chicgail Dec 27, 2011 11:53 AM

                                                                                              That's how the Moto boys have been getting themselves in trouble this season. Ticks for the sake of tricks, rather than using the techniques to enhance the flavor of what they are cooking.

                                                                                              1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                mattstolz Dec 27, 2011 05:43 PM

                                                                                                the one thats left tends to get far too hung up on his idea even when it is a bad one. the cigar dish for example

                                                                                                1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                  chicgail Dec 28, 2011 04:08 AM

                                                                                                  That approach to food - tricks for tricks sake rather than to make food taste better - is emblematic of Moto.

                                                                                              2. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                cowboyardee Dec 28, 2011 11:06 AM

                                                                                                For every Marcel or Moto boy who uses visual gimmickry in cliched or uninteresting ways, there seems to be a Voltaggio or a Blais who makes good use of modern techniques and does quite well in the competition. Even someone like Angelo occasionally used modernist cooking techniques, but integrated those techniques into cooking that I would not consider 'molecular.'

                                                                                                On a related note, I have a pet peeve that comes up whenever people discuss MG - IMO, just using modernist techniques does not make you a part of the Molecular Gastronomy movement (yes, I realize the movement generally hates that term, but there isn't much of an alternative). Foams and fluid gels and sous vide cooking all fit perfectly well into many traditional dishes. Molecular Gastronomy is NOT about using those techniques, even though in many cases MG chefs invented or expanded said techniques. Molecular gastronomy is about changing the forms of food and playing with the expectations of the diner. You can cook a 'molecular' dish using nothing more specialized than a microplane grater, just as you can use powders unknown to most cooks in making a very un-molecular (mostly) traditional dish.

                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                            smartie Dec 27, 2011 05:29 AM

                                                                                            40, Don't make enemies of your fellow contestants, you know you are going to be paired with the one you hate most or who hates you, or they are going to be your team captain at some point and will therefore give you the most hated job that will bring you down.

                                                                                            41. Look competent but never arrogant at all times even if you are clueless.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: smartie
                                                                                              a
                                                                                              AsperGirl Dec 31, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                                              To be fair, #41 also applies to prospective Top Chef guest judges.

                                                                                              And also doctors, lawyers and engineers.

                                                                                            2. h
                                                                                              hetook Dec 27, 2011 10:57 AM

                                                                                              IMPORTANT TIP #42.Look to develop gourmet or prize-winning combinations from foods found in unlikely sources for Quick-fire challenges. ie.Dollarstores or vending machines.

                                                                                              1. Caitlin McGrath Dec 27, 2011 11:03 AM

                                                                                                IMPORTANT TIP #45: If you're going to serve eggs, make sure they're neither overcooked nor undercooked, ESPECIALLY if Gail will be judging.

                                                                                                1. h
                                                                                                  hetook Dec 28, 2011 04:15 AM

                                                                                                  IMPORTANT TIP #43.Get to know alternative cusines like Organic, vegan and vegitarian,

                                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                                    hetook Dec 28, 2011 04:17 AM

                                                                                                    #44.Learn a new fad cocktail.

                                                                                                    1. k
                                                                                                      kimmer1850 Dec 28, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                                                                      IMPORTANT TIP #46: Even if you don't have kids, don't plan on having kids or think kids have been sent from the 9th circle of Hell just to torment you...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the love of all that is pure and holy learn a little about them. Most of them like sweet and crunchy. Some of them have pretty sophisticated palates and will eat things other than chicken fingers. And, alcohol is a no-no. (I'm looking at you Sherry Chicken Girl (whose name I can't remember.))

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: kimmer1850
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                                                                                                        freia Dec 28, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                                                        LOLOL love the point above, especially Sherry Chicken Girl. I think we saw that on the Willy Wonka episode too of Top Chef Just Desserts, where Megan made those Bourbon candy pop thingees...albeit it wasn't specific that that this would be a challenge involving children (as in "you have x hours to make y for z number of kids), BUT being a Willy Wonka challenge, you'd think maybe kids were involved?

                                                                                                      2. d
                                                                                                        dwetherell Dec 29, 2011 02:59 PM

                                                                                                        Important Tip #47: For the love of God.....NEVER turn your back on your Pea Puree!!!

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: dwetherell
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                                                                                                          freia Dec 29, 2011 03:13 PM

                                                                                                          Um, that was MY pea puree? That I made out of sight of everyone, in 2 microseconds???? LOLOLOLOL

                                                                                                          1. re: freia
                                                                                                            iL Divo Dec 30, 2011 04:14 AM

                                                                                                            wonder if he ever fessed up?
                                                                                                            was it planned by the show execs for good tv?
                                                                                                            did he actually make it?
                                                                                                            is it one of those 'we'll never know' things?
                                                                                                            wonder how many think he made it as opposed to pilfered it?

                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo
                                                                                                              LurkerDan Dec 30, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                                                                              I doubt we'll ever know what happened (unless he admits to pilfering it in the future). They already said that they had no footage at all about the puree, and there are differing opinions from the other chefs.

                                                                                                              1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                                huiray Dec 30, 2011 08:48 AM

                                                                                                                FWIW they did hash it out a bit at the reunion show for that season. Alex Reznik reiterated he made it himself, Amanda Baumgarten backed him up by saying she did see him do it.

                                                                                                                1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                                  iL Divo Dec 30, 2011 01:41 PM

                                                                                                                  ''They already said that they had no footage at all about the puree''
                                                                                                                  now that you mention that, I remember that being discussed on the reunion show.
                                                                                                                  they all just looked at him and he smiled, like, "see there's no proof so, go ahead, be haters of me, but you'll never know the real answer." shame someone didn't challenge him to do it again, on the spot to prove it was in fact his recipe.............humm

                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo
                                                                                                                    cowboyardee Dec 30, 2011 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                    On the reunion show, the one chef - I forget her name, the younger lady - said she saw Alex making the puree that day. At any rate, it doesn't take as long to make a smooth pea puree as his accusers were claiming. I'd consider the matter reasonably closed. Seems like a big misunderstanding to me, where a dude loses his food (seems to happen often enough), sees someone he doesn't like making something similar and makes a loose accusation with no real evidence.

                                                                                                                    At any rate, I doubt Alex would have a hard time making a smooth pea puree on the spot if you asked him to. Plenty of us reading could do it easily, without being trained chefs.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                      p
                                                                                                                      piccola Dec 30, 2011 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                      It takes very little time if you have a food mill. But it is strange that they both thought to make pea purée -- not exactly a commonplace dish -- in the same challenge.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                        huiray Dec 30, 2011 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                        Amanda Baumgarten.
                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8247...

                                                                                                                        1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Dec 30, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                          That's her. Thanks.

                                                                                                            2. s
                                                                                                              SeoulQueen Jan 8, 2012 12:44 AM

                                                                                                              Important TIp #48: Make sure you are mentally and physically fit! Top Chef is a grueling competition filmed over a compressed time frame of 4-6weeks. They WILL put you in situations that are physically and mentally exhausting.

                                                                                                              You want to be remembered for your cooking, not for being overweight and almost passing out or for having a freakout in the stewroom.

                                                                                                              1. kubasd23 Jan 8, 2012 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                Important tip # 49: Remember that even though beer is available in the stew room, it's best not to drink a large amount of it if you still have to face the judges! (ahem Lauren and Leah)

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: kubasd23
                                                                                                                  mattstolz Jan 8, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                  I'm pretty sure Jen Carroll should also be included in this "ahem" list!!

                                                                                                                  1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                    kubasd23 Jan 8, 2012 05:43 PM

                                                                                                                    ah yes, I believe you are right :)

                                                                                                                2. Kris P Pata Jan 8, 2012 06:51 PM

                                                                                                                  Tip #50
                                                                                                                  Make fast friends with the counterpeeps -- meat, poultry and/or seafood -- @ Whole Foods. This will enable you to have dibs on your protein of choice (and choice proteins!) prior to the inevitable mad rush from your fellow competitors.

                                                                                                                  Tip #51
                                                                                                                  That seemingly, relaxing free night out on the town with the group? Be aware: It's a set-up for a challenge themed to the outing.

                                                                                                                  Tip #52
                                                                                                                  Overthinking the QF = A place among the least successful dishes.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Kris P Pata
                                                                                                                    mattstolz Jan 8, 2012 08:48 PM

                                                                                                                    <Be aware: It's a set-up for a challenge themed to the outing.>

                                                                                                                    it still blows my mind when the chefs are seemingly surprised by this.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                      chowser Jan 9, 2012 04:36 AM

                                                                                                                      I had to give credit to the chef in TCJD when he didn't eat the movie treats because he thought they might be told to cook w/ what was left of their snacks. I'd add the corollary, if you're eating a special treat/meal, pay close attention to it.

                                                                                                                  2. Firegoat Jan 9, 2012 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                    Tip #53 - Before you go on the show make sure to pose for some full-frontal nude photographs so that a) it will give viewers something to talk about and look up online while they are waiting for the next episode b) Give viewers an opportunity to compare and contrast how Top Chef ignores it while a show like American Idol would be kicking the contestant to the curb. (Ahem, Ty-Lor).

                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                      huiray Jan 9, 2012 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                      Oh? Does Ty-Lor B. have nude photos out there? Linky-link, please.

                                                                                                                      1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                        Firegoat Jan 9, 2012 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                        Here is a SFW link that gives the link to the NSFW if you so desire.
                                                                                                                        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                          huiray Jan 9, 2012 10:41 AM

                                                                                                                          Heh. Thanks. :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                            chicgail Jan 9, 2012 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                            eew, Way TMI.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                              gaffk Jan 9, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                              Damn my curiosity! I *knew* I didn't want to go there. Ugh, I think I'll go shower now.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                                viperlush Jan 9, 2012 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                                Suddenly an apartment full of (bad) nude paintings doesn't seem as weird.

                                                                                                                                1. re: viperlush
                                                                                                                                  huiray Jan 9, 2012 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                  I don't know what you people are talking about. Your responses are reminiscent of the hack that pictures of nude women are OK but picture of nude men are not. Sigh. I think his video and pictures add another aspect of him to his portrait. He's quite presentable, for that matter, in those pictures.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                    gaffk Jan 9, 2012 02:19 PM

                                                                                                                                    Speaking as a middle-aged woman, I wouldn't care to see nude pixs of the female cheftestants either. Especially if they were as hirsute as Tylor ;)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                      viperlush Jan 9, 2012 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                                      I referring to the nude painting that Malibu Chris showed in his video and that two of the contestants brought up nudity in their video's. I think that it is smart for Ty-Lor to be open and address his nude shots in the video rather than let the "elves" discover them and use it as a reason to tell him to PYKAG.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                                kubasd23 Jan 9, 2012 02:24 PM

                                                                                                                                Wow, soooo did not know he had those!! haha Of course I had to click to check it out ;-) Tastefully done

                                                                                                                              3. r
                                                                                                                                ratgirlagogo Feb 16, 2012 10:11 PM

                                                                                                                                Apparently it is incredibly important that you know how to ride a bicycle, icepick your ingredients out of a solid block of ice, ski (at least cross-country ski - but better bone up on that downhill!!) and be accurate in shooting a fucking rifle at a fucking biathalon target.
                                                                                                                                Strange? Different? Irrelevant? Hey, this ain't your dad's Top Chef!
                                                                                                                                And if this mishigas keeps up, it sure ain't mine :(
                                                                                                                                (just bumping this here since I brought it up in the other thread)

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