Which was why Jonathan Waxman’s riff on Shepherd’s pie was such a total winner. Sure, it wasn’t in the classic style, the ingredients piled into a pan and baked for a moment to give a crisp shell to the mash. But the lamb stew was ripe and rich and the pommes puree was the sort of thing cardiologists send their kids to college on. Yum, yum and, as they say in these parts, yum.
As for dear sweet Ludo Lefebvre I’d say he made a pig’s ear of it but that, I think, was last season.
Jay Rayner is the author of The Man Who Ate The World: In search of the perfect dinner, published by Henry Holt. Follow him on twitter @jayrayner1
Mr. Rayner, I always enjoy your witty critique and banter on the show, but I was quite surprised when you referred to fish and chips as "the national dish of Britain." Although the UK has no official national dish, chicken tikka masala is far and away the most widely consumed dish in British restaurants. So, as a self-proclaimed non-xenophobe, let's admit that the most national dish of Britain isn't very British at all. (At least it's not French, though.)
I know that you know your food, so you are entitled to your opinion. However, just know that Chef Ludo has a legion of fans. The reason is that his food is wonderfully creative, beautiful to view, and very, very flavorful. Even though he whined a bit in this episode, he is still entertaining and quite charming. He is an incredibly talented chef, as they are all, and it must be frustrating not to win. In the end, this is TV, and he makes good TV. No offense to Suzanne Tracht (she is a good chef), but she did not make compelling TV! This is a great way to showcase talented chefs and worthy charities. Is any publicity good publicity? In this case, I would say yes. We all know that this one event, does not really prove if a chef is good or not. (It is luck of the draw in some respects as Jonathan Waxman must make good homey foods). I know that I am still a fan of Chef Ludo Lefebvre and am looking forward to my visit to LudoBites in the near future....
Not taking anything away from Mr. Rayner but where is Ms. Simmons blog? She's been a judge in the last two eps. Where is her input?
When it was announced that the elimination challenge was to reivent pub food, I was hoping that a Scotch egg would be one of the choices because you were so vocal about your opinions on the dish last season.
I love Ludo. He's so . . . French! Having lived in Europe for almost 10 years and being quite the Anglophile, I still just love Ludo. He's young and passionate -- he was obnoxious, but he still respected the chefs. They baited him, even Wylie. Ludo's the hot headed younger brother. I'll take him over Moonen any day. Ludo was right - the fish guy got fish to reinvent. Where was the stretch?
And Jay - I'm quite crushing on you - you're insightful, amusing and professional.
I enjoy your droll sense of humor. I also agree with you about xenophobic Ludo being a schmuck. His hissy fits and running around the kitchen like a Tasmanian Devil was most annoying to watch. I can't imagine what it was like to have to work with him. However, the other chefs seemed half bemused by his histrionics.
The challenge was a challenge to appreciate since I hate pub grub. All the plates looked just awful. There wasn't one thing there that I would want to try. Jonathan's looked grotesque and I can't understand how he won with pulverized potato glop smeared over lamb, period. That wasn't very masterful to me.
Thanks ever so much for your witty insights.
Enjoy the show and absolutely everyone on the panel. Your interactions are a great combination of witty & informative.
By the way, agree with you on "fish guy" & Ludo.
That was a fun QF challenge, although I think it was a little unfair to let the chefs choose their cocktails before they found out who they would be cooking for. Jonathan seemed to be the only one who actually applied that thought to his dish so it was no surprise that he won (elthough editing made that look a little iffy.)
I think Ludo could have been a little more aggressive in choosing the fish and chips. He had a point - Moonen IS the fish guy and not only would not be challenging himself, he would have an almost unfair advantage over the others. If he presented it that way to the other chefs they might have backed him up and at least convinced Moonen to flip for it. As it is, it looked like he backed down just to have something to whine about.
I also think the challenge was presented unfairly. The chefs were told to update the pub grub to something "they would feel comfortable serving in their restaurant." So they did, but then had to cook and serve it in a traditional Irish pub. Sure, good food can be served to anyone, but it really looked like a bait and switch by the producers to purposely mislead the chefs.
So, while Moonen may be the fish guy, he certainly isn't a potato guy. Ludo either oversimplified his dish or tried to make it way too elegant, and either will kill something that is so simple already. And there is no reason a master chef can not produce an excellent Irish stew in any format. Our hearts broke when Mark's dish didn't cook, but a good chef needs to check his tools. He should have made sure the stove was up to par when he put them in, not when he pulled them out. It was a simple mistake, and an easy one to make in that environment, but far too costly.
Thoroughly enjoyed this blog!!! Your wit is to be commended. I think I'll toss my hat in there with "sephigirl" who is totally crushing on you haha (don't worry Tom, you're still the hotty on TC)
I'm late in catching the blogs so first off please allow me to say WELCOME BACK! I'm thrilled to see all the judges have returned for Season 2, and I'm equally thrilled that we get your unique take on each episode via the blogs!
Regarding Ludo, all I'm going to say is he is the one blemish on this otherwise-perfect show. Just like in Season 1, he was a total embarrassment here in this episode tonight. His joint is called Ludo Bites, eh? Well, he named his restaurant rather aptly.
Mr. Waxman truly IS the Jedi. He breezed through this episode so easily that it almost seemed scripted!
Rick Moonen isn't going to get any hate from me either. Ludo didn't HAVE to give in to Rick wanting the fish and chips. They could've flipped a coin or something. If everyone knew it was comfort zone, but they let him have it anyway, then so be it. He was in his zone, he nailed the dish, he won. I'm not surprised and I'm certainly not going to call him on it. Good for him.
Ludo could have stood up for himself and taken the fish & chips (which by the way was the same dish that Rick lost out in TCM#1) but it makes me wonder. What is the french equivalent of fish & chips? I wouldn't exactly call him a schmuck just intense and considering how much alcohol that must have been consumed as they waited for the judges... To much alcohol = reduced inhibitions = foot in mouth.
Mr. Waxman's secret - He is the reincaration of Obi-Wan in chef form. :-D
Rick Moonan wants to win. Just think if they had the same scoring in the first season of TCM he'd have advanced to the Championship round instead of Michael Chiarello. And from the vid too much alcohol in him and you'd best watch out! :-o
Poor Mark Peel. I felt sad for him and his doughy yorkshire pudding. He really worked hard on that sausage.
Wyle and Graham - I hope they get the chance to compete again. They are just too funny together.
Not that I really care, but before we knew who won last nite a commercial came on advertising next weeks episode and Susur was in one of the shots so we knew he made it to the winners circle before you announced.