Kelly Choi

While Kelly was happy to eat all the Masters' dishes, it was Rick's that had her over the Moon-en.

on Jul 15, 2009

I was over the Moon(en) over Rick’s food!

... at least on the day of the Elimination Challenge. I’m not one of the lucky ones who gets to taste the Quickfire dishes.

Oh, but wait, Rick didn’t present a plate on Quickfire day.

Cuz he didn’t finish his dish on time.

And boy, did Jeff Lewis Flip Out about that!

Jeff was, by the way, one of the toughest judges during the entire competition, much to my entertainment. He reacted immediately and instinctually to what he ate, and it was a joy to watch. I still can’t get over the fact that you love to fill your tummy with junk, Jeff. Love you, pumpkin, always have.

I thought it was an ingenious Quickfire to dare our Masters to make a gourmet version of trashy grub. I wish I could’ve judged it, too, because I grew up eating soooo much junk food! I’m not ashamed to admit that I have had very intimate relationships with Chef Boyardee,
Spam, Doritos, and countless Little Debbie peanut butter bars when I was little.

After the Quickfire, Michael Chiarello pulled way ahead of this especially strong bunch of whiz cooks, and I feel confident that he absolutely deserved it. This guy can seriously cook. Any sort of musings about whether or not he had lost his skills because he stepped away from a restaurant kitchen for years to pursue his TV chef life can be definitively put to bed. I’m not kidding when I say that besides his tiny misstep of serving too-oily pissed-off prawns, his
food was gorgeous. A consummate thinker and storyteller, Michael totally brings it.

He especially brought it to his dessert on Eliminiation day. His goat’s milk basil gelato was to d-d-d-DIE for. As a girl, I once lapped up an entire half-gallon carton of vanilla ice cream in one
sitting while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Now, I don’t go there because dairy products hate me, but Michael’s basil gelato would have me do that again. Just bring on the milk enzyme pills, baby!

All in all, I have to say that Rick’s menu was five-star stellar on Elimination day. Each course – his ceviche with yuzu vinaigrette, the exquisite panko-crusted brandade, and his silky lemon panna cotta with ginger and coconut was ree-di-cu-lous. KO delicious.

And what about that personality? Bigger than any kitchen, nothing can contain Rick’s fervor for cooking.

Could you tell, too, that the critics and I were having a ball at the cocktail party? I even got Gael to dance towards the end of our judging. That woman can swivel her hips. But I swear, if Gael says one more time that she doesn’t like lawn cuttings in her food (she uttered those same words in an earlier episode), I’m going to knock off her
hat!  Lol.

You know, too, how Gael was saying during the cocktail that she didn’t like the knife and fork situation while eating Michael’s shrimp? That discussion actually went on for awhile. Too long. Gael said there was too much silverware, James said it’s totally OK. And Jay and I looked
at each other quizzically. Is cutlery wrong during a cocktail reception?

I dunno. In the end, utensils or not, if the food tastes good, then that outweighs everything. But then again, I like to eat like a beast — the more fingers the better — so I’m not a good one to weigh in.

In short, the day’s best dishes were:

Lachlan: His braised short ribs with assertive horseradish and savory baby romaine salad.

Nils: His stunning slow-cooked salmon with vibrant broccoli puree.

Michael: His basil gelato, of course, followed closely by his shaved brussel sprout salad (the vinaigrette was otherworldly!)

Rick: Friggin’ Everything

Ahhhh!! What an intense pleasure it was to eat these Master Chefs' cuisine!

Keep watching, rockstars, there’s so much more to come with TCM. Champions Round is around the corner!

(Tweet me @KELLYCHOI)