Chicken Little- Feet

Happy New Year!!

Yep, it happened. I can’t really believe it. (Laughing) I don’t even have that many words. I expressed just about as many sentiments as I have on the closing of the show. I have never been eliminated before! My current emotions are as fresh as the moment Padma said my name. I think the best words I can give you are here…

I do not regret going on the show. – I loved every minute of it. I created dishes for the challenge and to be very honest, never really got behind any of them. Looking at the pictures on the television, it is like they are someone else’s dishes. It is even hard for me to remember what I put in them! All except for the chicken feet. Isn’t that crazy?? For some reason, I remember everything. Maybe it is because I play it in my mind from time to time. Maybe it is because I was SO on board. I really WANTED to win! And by that I mean that I felt confident in my ability to impress the judges. I went for it on this challenge. What did I have to lose?! You either try, or you continue putting out dishes that you don’t remember. All around, I was happy on this season. I laughed HARD. I had a great time. I felt like a true alumni back in my alma mater with old professors and familiar school halls. I knew the way, if you will, I ate with the cool kids in the lunch room. Well, I never actually ate anything. The food they served us was pretty terrible. I think I lost 10 pounds while on TC! Sorry for the seg-way. There are lots of things that happen during the process of this show that you may not see. –It even happens to the best chefs on this show. If the judges felt I was the one to go home, then I am sure they made the right decision. I do know that since I did not pack my knives on Season 3, this was a surprise. More like a slap in the face. WAKE UP! Did he just say, “inedible”??!! I guess in my departure, I was okay because I was shocked. Let me quit rambling and get to it…

-Let us start at the beginning. When I woke up in the Top Chef house, it was as if it was any other day. SAME as any other. I woke up, and put my pants on one leg at a time. And then I put on one sock and then one shoe. One sock, and then one shoe. Don’t judge!! How do YOU do it?? Is that abnormal or something? Anyway, we then drove to the kitchen. Here is where my day took a different path. When we walked in, we found Padma standing alone. This is strange. Usually we would find an additional judge standing with her. There is definitely something up. When she announces (and this goes on a bit to long to be comfortable) that the judge has never before cooked in the Top Chef kitchen and that he is so fast ETC… we turn to find Tom Colicchio. To be honest, I expected Morimoto. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I love Tom! I have repeatedly said that he is my favorite judge (now Anthony Bourdain). But, I’m just sayin! And the other chefs are going around wheedling in their comments and the whole time I am thinking, what’s the catch? Am I missing something here? Did the chef judge for this episode get into an accident? Lock their keys in the their car? Did something fall through?? Other season saw the likes of Martha Stewart, Daniel Boulud, ROCK STARS for goodness sakes! Tom is supposed to walk around the kitchen in his blue chef smock and chef shoes -sans socks and critique us for ELIMINATIONS. He is now in the chef kitchen in his blue smock and chef shoes -sans socks cooking during a QUICKFIRE! What could he possibly have in store for us ladies and gentlemen??? Tom is going to create a dish using the Top Chef pantry. In the amount of time he can create a dish, we have the exact amount of time to do the same. Okay, let us all think about this. Did anyone else notice that Tom at his table had specific knives, a cutting board, certain pans, and AN OYSTER KNIFE? Do you know how many times we wished shellfish would be in those coolers with no luck!? This was not exactly random my friends…random in that there was no one else in the kitchen cooking with him! What was that last part, you ask? THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE IN THE KITCHEN COOKING WITH HIM! So, let me sum this up for anyone who has not caught on yet!

1. An oyster knife and a fridge stocked with shellfish

2. pans for the exact amount of ingredients

3. an empty kitchen to cook in

Now us contestants are sitting 14 deep at this point with a Toyota Prius at stake. We will be creating a dish in 8 some odd minutes- thank you for that Tom.

“And your time starts NOW!!” People are running, s— is flying everywhere! Ingredients are missing, pots and pans falling off of the burners… HOW does no one get burned!? When it is all over, and the kitchen has been destroyed once again, Tom has a lesson for us. Make sure to “grab everything you need in the pantry and have everything you need to cook on your station”. He even took his cutting board over to the burners to be able to “prep” (like that would ever happen!!). So, in a perfect situation, I would get my oyster knife out “in case” there are shellfish in the cooler and have everything I need down to the pan and have all of my tools out when the clock starts. Hello!? I could make anything in 8 minutes! I could make clam popsicles in 8 minutes for crying out loud! Let me give my opinion if I may, and I may, it’s my website… I have done a s#@*t ton of quick fires up to this point. Don’t you think I KNOW that if everything we needed for our dish was ready to go, I’d be able to make a dish in 8 minutes?! Especially with no one else in the kitchen but me?! Chef, you have schooled us none. And please, let me say…I appreciate your sage words of wisdom! Boy, I need to write a book… “How to cook in a Quick fire” (laughing again). But, let me give some props here to a very talented and successful chef. I have always looked up to Chef Tom. He did cook a great dish and we enjoyed every minute of it. But, did we believe this wasn’t planned? No.

So let’s get on to it, shall we? Elimination. It’s funny watching this time because I know the outcome. It’s painful, actually.

China town dim sum. We are shopping in an Asian market in China town. The kind that has the live turtles, pick your own perch and catfish out of the tank. The place that smells like the fermenting eggs and beans that line the shelves. A real Asian store. Antonia is trying to speak English to a stock person and she is asking for white bread. Gotta love that! The guy was clueless. I spent 10 minutes just looking for cornstarch. FOUND IT! Next to the pok pok in the basement. WHUT?! We will be serving guests at an authentic dim sum restaurant. One of the judges will be none other than Susar Lee. Have you seen this guy’s list of accomplishments?! Chef Lee and I have cooked at an event together after the fact. He is a nice guy. That is after we straightened out that my name is CASEY, not STACY. To his defense David Burke started it.

Now, I love shopping in China town. I am living in San Francisco and Texas currently and if you want to know what my spare time is like in SF, you will find me in China town. I have been to Hong Kong and LOVE visiting China town in New York. There is something about the way the people move through these places. Picking through produce in order to find the perfect durian. The butchers are slangin’ pork pieces that are sticking to a mirrored wall and abalone is in the makeshift waterfall tank system. It is GENIUS. And might I say, one of my favorite place to get produce for a good price! One of the last places on earth! We have our ingredients, we are under budget. Let’s roll to the kitchen. And what a kitchen it is. About half of the kitchen equipment worked. There were a total of 6 burners in the whole place. What do they need burners for? All they serve is dim sum (first clue). I don’t know if you have had a chance, but go and read Anthony Bourdain’s blog on this morning. His summary of the behavior of our guests is dead on. These people were out of control! Or in control! They were grabbing food off of the carts, but apparently, this is what they do! Seriously! Service begins. We are truly set up for disaster. Let me explain…from the way this challenge was set up in the beginning, we did not have a chance. It is a TEAM challenge. That means we are all going to work for ourselves. You read that correctly. It doesn’t matter what the rules say, only one person can win this competition. What we should have done is have one person pick up all of the dim sum dishes off of the steamers. One person on the fryers. Two people on the woks and the rest of the people assembling the plates and getting the food out. So what happened? Each person cooked and assembled their own dish. How did we as chefs overlook these details to make service better? That is the beauty of the group challenge. People immediately think of themselves, not for the betterment of the group or more importantly, the restaurant! Why would they? They are there to win, right? Why would anyone in their right mind offer to put themselves up top to “serve” and do a dish cooked in the kitchen below (still figuring this one out)? Pretty ridiculous, right? I think Jenn Carroll pointed out to the group that it doesn’t matter what you cook for the people as long as the chefs are served the quality food. I guess the producer’s were listening. Bit us in the arse. My own mother pointed out to me that the front of the house people never really make it out okay. What are the producers going to do when no one volunteers for these positions? Are they snickering when those poor people raise their hands and offer up the second position and take on the additional challenge? Are they getting ready for those peoples eliminations at that very moment? So much to think about!

Enough about all of that. I went home. Bottom line. The feet just didn’t stand up! (sorry) I want to thank everyone for all of the kind words and thoughts regarding the show. And to Anthony Bourdain- I am going to send you a basket of something! I have always been your biggest fan!!! Remember the time I chased you down in Miami?! I have enjoyed coming into all of your homes and cooking for you. This isn’t the end! There will be more! Hopefully, I will be seeing all of you around the globe and please come up and say hello! I am already blown away by your kindness. Let’s cook together soon!

I’m out! Going to eat something… my stomach is growling!!!!! Maybe I will have dim sum in China Town! (cut and paste)