Top Chef Museum

Well, hell…the Museum of Natural Science and History…that was a fun one wasn’t it?? Let’s recap.

It is always a surprise whom we will see in the Top Chef kitchen. It could be a chef that has inspired us for many years, Martha Stewart or as it may seem these days, a celebrity fan of the show. Sadly, 75% of us did not know who the person was that we found standing with Padma in the kitchen on this day. Joe Jonas. Supposedly a teen pop idol, brother, singer, actor, and who knew..a fan of Top Chef. I wish you could have heard the under the breath comments as we awaited the Quickfire reveal…”who is THAT?”, or “is that a NKOTB?”. By the way, the boys were asking the last question. But, as Padma revealed, it was Joe Jonas (still hardly a clue), and he would be our guest judge for the challenges. So, what does Joe want us to do? Cook a midnight snack for his friends at the museum tonight. A midnight snack? Sometimes you just have to laugh. We are after all a Emmy winning show now.

Let’s get to the cooking. No refrigeratables (please see urban dictionary), has to fit in a brown paper sack and has to win the kids over- this includes Joe Jonas. Ready set GO! 45 minutes to prepare a snack. What do kids eat? I have been a kid, but don’t have any kids. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY EAT! All I know is if I were attending a slumber party at a museum without my parents, I want to eat all of the sugar I can possibly eat and sleep as little as possible!

I wanted to create a dish that would win the kids over by naming it after a similar sounding dish- just with a twist. Kids know and love lasagna, right? Surely! So, why not take the idea of lasagna and make chocolate lasagna?! I decided to make the lasagna layers with crepes, good chocolate, shaved malt balls on top and crispy bacon. Okay, the bacon part was mostly for me, because I love bacon and chocolate. I finished the dish off with fresh squeezed apple juice and Hot Tamales because I love them. Perfect, right!!?? Well, Joe didn’t like nor dislike the dish. BOOOOO!!! See if I ever buy your album Joe!! Does he even have an album? I can already see what the winner to this elimination challenge will get- a copy of Joe’s Summer Camp dvd and a Junior G Man badge. The dishes, as the judges are going around the kitchen did not seem to impress them nor us. As Mike kindly put the description of my dish- that he never tasted was, “so disgusting he wanted to throw up”- but, Mike worry about your own dish- sounds like you are on the bottom! For the win, Joe decides on his two favorite dishes and wants us to break into teams to create some 300 portions to take to feed his friends at the museum. Great. We have to work in teams? This usually makes for good tv. It is going to be a schoolyard pick, because Bravo has such a knack for kindness. One for this team and one for that one. Dale and I refer to the Ritz Cracker handjob and make a crap ton of chocolate malt ball thingys, pack them up and serve um to the kiddos!

Once arriving at the museum, the bags are staged on two different tables, one blue and one red. The kids enter screaming, running, and overly excited to get whatever is in these bags- they have no idea who we are or why we are trying to pawn the bags off on them for a vote. Joe and Padma enter from the end of the room and the kids go BANANAS! “Circle around,” Padma tells the children-she is a mommy now, so, she is doing her best quiet game impression for Joe. Do you think the kids care?! Heck no!!! They are TOTALLY freaking out that Joe Jonas is there in the flesh and they have just eaten 3pounds of refined sugar at 10pm at night! Kids are screaming, climbing and reaching out to Joe for attention- I must say it was a little odd for us. We are pulling the children down off of the railing, telling them to stop pushing and for God’s sake, stop screaming! It is a little too much for me to handle. It’s worse than being in an elevator with 18 Top Chef contestants after a day of sweaty cooking challenges! I think that what the kids really want from Joe is a song. But, he disappoints- only to stand next to Padma as she announces the winner to the mystery bags the kids have been handed. You should have seen the aftermath of the kids that received the losing teams bags. I believe I saw one kids stomping his into the museum floor. It was complete mayhem.

After the kids have gone. We are left to clean up the mess. Oh, Bravo…you are killing me. I can just here the producers, “let’s get a shot of the All Star’s cleaning up, it will be great!” In walks Tom. Come on, are we really surprised at this point? Did we really think that we were going to be going to a Joe Jonas concert? And to be honest, we are totally pre-guessing the challenges. We have gotten really good at this. We have already figured out that if these kids are staying over night, we are surely cooking breakfast for them. And that is exactly what we are going to do. But, we can’t seem to guess the twists and turns that we will be facing. “And, what do they have for us today, Tom???” “Well, chefs, we have another two team split up in the lovely Natural Museum of Science and History’s cafeteria…team Brontesaurus and T-Rex!!!” Make us breakfast. Plain and Simple. “Winning team, what would you like to choose meat or veggies!?” Answer: the wrong one. We chose meat. We chose meat  because meat is delicious. Meat is delicious when accompanied with sides. Everyone loves a BBQ. You love a BBQ because of the sauce, potato salad and beans. At our cots, we discuss visions of biscuits and gravies and scotch eggs…goodnight chefs. Sweet dreams. Because in 45 minutes, when you wake up…you will find that NOTHING YOU DREAMT UP WILL BE THERE FOR YOU IN THE KITCHEN! Out of our TC jammies and into our TC chef coats, we enter the kitchen where each team has a side of the walk-in. You can not take items from the other teams shelves. We find, salmon, pork loins, bacon, sausage links, beef tenderloins, eggs and dairy. What we find in our dry storage is minimal. It won’t even make a cream gravy. We are in trouble. The other team has a bounty of fruits and vegetables and grains! We did not even have herbs. :(

Jamie cuts her thumb. For the record, cutting yourself any time in the kitchen plain sucks. I am not a doctor and I certainly can not advise someone on how to treat a cut, especially when it comes to a chef’s hands. It’s our tools to work. None of us held any resentment. You just go into a different mode. Now you have to step it up! It happens in every kitchen around the globe. And to be honest, we all chipped in where we could. We all helped each other. We all did our best.

The food is to be served buffet style (which I hate), this never really works in the long run. The food is compromised. None-the-less…we received many good compliments from the guests. None of which made it on air. Shocker. We did try the other team’s foods, and they were good. Not great in my opinion. And, we all agreed that all of our dishes were “somewhat” breakfasty. If you could tell, the dishes weren’t steered towards the children. They were definitely made for the judges. And Katie Lee? Okie-dokie!

But, back at judges table, team T-Rex takes the fall. None of our dishes are “creative enough”. Sorry, we DIDN’T EVEN HAVE HERBS! Things were under seasoned, over seasoned, raw and they probably just should have said, boring. But, as the game is played, it is time to fight for your place in the next round. “Who made the frittatas?” Answer: Antonia and Tiffany D. “Why did you make 3 kinds?” Answer: We wanted to push ourselves. “Why didn’t you know the oven was spotty?” Answer: REALLY? Next..”who made the beef?” Answer: Dale and Tiffany F. “Good job. but, if you can’t cook tenderloin and soft scrambled eggs, what are you doing here anyway?” Answer: we didn’t have anything else to cook. Next group: “who cooked the bacon and eggs??” Answer: Jenn and anybody she could get to help her! Whoa!! Boy, was she MAD!? Red-faced mad! Did you catch the shot of Tre and I and our “uncomfortability”- if you will?! It was really one of the worst eliminations I have seen except for Hung arguing with Dana Cowin that salmon mousse had been done for centuries on cucumbers! From my point of view, the judges really didn’t have enough to send Jamie home on a cut thumb technicality. The salty sauce, runny frittatas and undercooked-underseasoned braised bacon seemed to be leading factors in the overall disappointment. I believe the judges see exactly how many strikes the dish has- for example: braised bacon, undercooked, and under seasoned-two strikes. Runny frittatas, one. And so on and so forth…In the end, the hissy was thrown and the hammer comes down. Note to self, don’t every call the judges “smart enough” to do anything. I think it might work against your favor. And my final note-to-self…never leave screaming once eliminated into your microphone for all the world to hear. Life goes on. I leave you with the words of Bob Marley…feel free to click on this…Three Little Birds. When the window pops up, click on the smaller of the two “Three Little Birds”- sorry we are fixing this…Enjoy!




Casey in the AM