Episode 1: The Competition

First episode down of the new All Star Season. It was fun and everyone looked great! It is also fun to see how it is put together when you were actually there in the flesh. It was interesting getting back into it, but I am glad I did it.

First episode down of the new All Star Season. It was fun and everyone looked great! It is also fun to see how it is put together when you were actually there in the flesh. It was interesting getting back into it, but I am glad I did it.

Walking into the TC house was exciting. I was like seeing old college roommates that you haven’t seen in forever. Everyone looks relaxed, rested and fresh- that will change… Nice apt though- way to go Bravo!

Entering the Top Chef kitchen again was something else! We are all a bundle of nerves going in and then you just get right down to it. Seeing Padma standing there so tall and pretty is nerve-racking in itself! And, it is fitting to have Tom in on the quick fire judging. Splitting us up into teams was genius as we all do feel like our season was the best (season 3 really was). It was fun to represent Miami and cook some latin food again. As we cook- we are really wanting immunity because you never know what those judges are going to pull for an elimination! To start, there are 18 of us in this kitchen! That means 18 people trying to get dressed in the morning, 18 people in the vans, 18 people gunning for a prize and each one of us want it badly! Our dish was pretty good, I have to admit! The flavors were pretty good and it represented Miami well. Dale and Tre are solid chefs with unbelievable pallets. We were cutting it pretty close getting the pork cooked. It was funny when Tre said he needed to get the pork in the oven and I said “out of the oven?”, and he replied, “IN the oven”- we had like 2 minutes!!! Whoa. But, we managed to get it done and it was a cluster, the 3 of us trying to plate. It is hard enough trying to plate your own dishes! 6 hands on the plate is crazy!!! But, team Chicago took the prize. DANG! Oh well, there will be more!

So, on to the elimination. No chef wants to be the first chef off. That would rattle you for a while! So, we are all guessing at what the challenge might be… and here it comes…trays with cloches. WTH?? WHAT is going on? And then the unveiling… the dish that sent us packing. Each one of us with the dish of our demise to remake and make it great. We meet again pork belly! Well- it is actually okay because we are making pork belly at Brownstone right now. Its familiar and should have been right the first time! Remember that little break we took on season 3 when Tom came waltzing in with instructions to come with him for a little surprise? Yeah. Casey didn’t remove her pork belly NO!- she decided to leave it in and it over cooked and dried out. Gross. Oh well. Here’s my chance… the cooking went smooth- but I only have a total of four hours I think to braise pork belly- that’s not a long time. So, into the pressure cooker it goes! It cut down the cooking time by 2 hours and then it finished in a braise. It turned out beautifully and good thing because Tony does not play with the commenting! I would hate to be the one that disgusts him!

It was very awkward sitting at the table and talking about the foods from my fellow chefs, but I will say that it gave me a different perspective on the judging. The judges are not playing. If you are serving pasta, you better make that pasta. If you name your dish something and it is not exactly like that something- eliminated. If you serve your dish and there are technical mistakes- you will be called out for it. It’s like you are the awkward guest at someone else’s family dinner. You want more potatoes but you can’t bring yourself to have Uncle Bourdain pass them to you. “No, i’m full, you have the last bite…” But, we have to do it, AND they make us dress up for it! How uncomfortable can this be?? It’s that awkward conversation, contrived and pointless. I don’t want to be at this table! I am not the judge! I can say that going second was the advantage. You got to see the styles presented and the judges comments.

Sadly, I was at the table when Elia presented her food. It was raw. Not medium. Raw. I love Elia and I know being elliminated really upset her. She is a good chef. Unfortunately, someone had to go. It sucks. Totally.

Oh well- exciting stuff.

More to come…

Have a great week! See you next Wednesday…

-C