First things first, dear readers. It turns out that, in addition to being a fan of magic, the actor Neil Patrick Harris is a devoted Top Chef fan and an avid cook, as is his partner, David Burtka, who is enrolled at the famed cooking school the Cordon Bleu.
Now, on to business and a few behind-the-scenes insights. It’s been great fun to watch each episode and surprising to see how the hours and hours of cooking, tasting, discussing, and, in many cases, arguing the finer points of every dish have been edited down to a neatly packaged, hour-long show. While the producers have done an amazing job of distilling the essence of our experiences for viewers, let’s face it: food is sensual, and there’s a ton of aromas and textures and sensations that just can’t come through the television set.
This particular challenge was particularly stimulating. In designing dishes around emotions or themes tied to the world of magic — surprise, mystery, illusion, spectacle — the chefs pulled out all the stops and created a complete sensory overload — a smorgasbrod for the senses, you might say.
I think it was Mark Peel who embraced the most clearly the connotations of his assigned word — mystery. He delivered snapper en papillote, or, roughly, wrapped up. It looked great, like a little present we all couldn’t wait to tear open. But it sat around, and it suffered for that: it lost the gorgeous immediacy and whoosh of steam it would have had had it been served and sliced open right away. (The leeks and the fish, especially, seemed overcooked; hence the lukewarm score from yours truly.)
I REALLY ENJOY ALL YOUR SHOWS. I JUST WATCHED THE MAGIC SHOW WHICH ANITA WON AND AGREE HER DISHES WERE THE BEST; BUT THE 1ST EGG DISH CHALLENGE WAS TO COOK WITH ONE HAND. TWICE SHE HAD ASSISTANCE FROM ANOTHER CHEF IN EFFECT USING 2 HANDS; ONE WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT BREAKING THE EGG TOP THEREFORE DID NOT COMPLETE THE TASK CORRECTLY. SO, I WAS ALITTLE DISAPPOINTED AND CURIOUS WHY THIS WAS NOT CONSIDERED AS SHE RECEIVED 5 POINTS. THANK YOU