Team Top Chef's Editor explains whys he agrees with Ludo -- Jonathan Waxman is a true Master.

Apr 24, 2010

As I've been an unforgivable bum about blogging so far this season, I shall share the first paragraph of the Episode 1 blog I started writing:

Holy crap, you guys, Season 2 is finally here! I have to say that although I love all of our shows equally — they're like my children after all — well, I don't. I've always been partial to our food shows, so to have one back is well, exciting. And, I'm happy to be able to share my adventures in amateur foodie-ing with you all too! I've had some pretty fabulous meals since we last "spoke," and I'm sure you all have too. So feel free to describe them in the comments below!

OK -- back to the present. Now, aren't you happy I'm back sharing such gems of wisdom with you? I sure hope so! OK -- now let's get back to the episode, shall we? This week was truly unique in that six Season 1 cheftestants returned to try to redeem themselves, and I think whether they won or lost they all did for the most part. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to create dishes to complement Stolichnaya cocktails. Although Stoli is actually one of my favorite vodkas, like Gael Greene, I'm not a big fan of drinking cocktails while I eat unless it's a margarita or a mojito and I'm eating Mexican or Cuban food. (P.S. I recently ate Cuban at Calle Ocho, and I highly recommend it, especially the plantain-crusted tilapia.) So, I might have been just as turned off by some of the combos as the Real Housewives of Orange County were.

Although many of you no doubt that the choice of the Housewives as judges was an unwise one, they're restaurant patrons. And at the end of the day, chefs need them to like their food. I was also very surprised at how open-minded they were, especially Alexis. If you're not a Housewives fan, you won't remember this, but on one of the final episodes of Season 5 of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Alexis actually spit out food at Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys. Sooo I was a little nervous about the 'wives' appearance as well. But, I think they rallied, and honestly it was worth it just to watch the chefs mock them. Say it with me: ed-a-mam-e

Ultimately, they gave the win to Jonathan Waxman, a chef who finished his dish 20 minutes before his competitors. I don't think I've ever seen anyone as relaxed in the kitchen as Jonathan Waxman. His quiet confidence is positively magnetic. And, I'll let you know he's that laid back in real life. The first time I went to his West Village eatery, Barbuto, I wanted to finally introduce myself. I was sitting eating with a small group of friends, and looked over at the bar and spotted him. He wasn't wearing a chef's coat or even a dress shirt, but just a t-shirt and shorts. If you didn't know what he looked like you would have no idea that he was one of the most accomplished chefs in New York City. I called him over and he was an absolute delight. I've had the pleasure of interacting with him a few times after that and recommend Barbuto to anyone looking for a delicious and hearty meal. There's a reason there's a picture of him above the bar at Joey Campanaro's Little Owl. For this challenge, Jonathan knew exactly who his audience was and went for it. Although it may have sounded just a little sarcastic when Ludo said that Chef Waxman was truly a Master, he meant it.