Uncle Jonathan Got Hosed

Harold catches up on the last two episodes of 'Top Chef Masters.'

All I have to say for last week, is Uncle Jonathan got f—king hosed. He’s Uncle Jonathan. Because of him, we all are where we are today, because he started it. He’s the first rock star. He’s Uncle Jonathan. He’s one of my dear and closest friends. I wish I worked with him at some point and I never did. And I can’t think of too many other people than I get more nervous cooking for.

I thought it clearly came down to the Quickfire. He got f—king hosed on the Quickfire. I thought he did a nice dish. Art did a risotto. That’s not risotto. That’s not what risotto looks like. Risotto is a cooking method. It looked like rice on a plate to me — it looked gross. In my opinion risotto is like the number one most bastardized dish in the United States. Everybody says they do a risotto, but who does a risotto right? That’s who I want to see. That winning risotto wasn’t even cooked properly.

I thought Michael’s chocolate dish looked great. I thought it was really sharp. I thought it was a tight dish and I’m not disputing that at all. What I am disputing is that Uncle Jonathan got hosed in the Quickfire Challenge, only getting those x amount of stars. The dish was much better composed than that disaster of a risotto.

I think that's why Jonathan lost. I mean, I love fried chicken. And the little pile looked nice. So yeah I felt a little disappointed. I wanted to see Uncle Jonathan win.

Roy had no game. He just couldn’t do it. I would think at some point you kind of know the type of chef you are. Why sign up for this if you don’t think you’re going to be able to do it. Some people can put sh-t together on the fly and other people need a lot of time to conceive things, which is clearly your style. It’s just funny to me. Michael’s clearly the most contemporary chef I relate to the most. So, it’s just like, why shouldn’t everybody do super, ultra classical food that’s kind of cute, like a throwback.

Onto this week's episode: What I think would’ve been pretty cool is at some point, there should be record holders. They do this competition every year and I want to see a stopwatch. I want to see a stopwatch on the bottom right hand corner. And I want to see who the champion are. I want to see if someone can break chickens down faster than Hung. Or some who can break down oysters quicker than Brian Malarkey. That’s what I want to see. And they keep doing this competition every season so there should be the mise en place wall of heroes.

I think I probably would have done pretty well on all of them. I don’t whisk egg whites. I’m very good with my knives. I’m very good at opening oysters. My first job was kind of like a shellfish shucker/ dishwasher and I had a little marine entire island. I saw a lot of interesting things. I have pretty top-notch knife skills.

And I still do stuff like that in my kitchen. I do everything. I have a small kitchen.

It is clear that Anita is not rusty at all. She’s in her kitchen cooking everyday. She is on the top of her game. And I ate at Bottega, Michael Chiarello’s place. He did a TV thing for a while and wasn’t really cooking at a restaurant. He’s got a lot of stuff going on, he’s a busy guy. So, I wouldn’t really see him doing everything. But after tasting his food, I know that he is very legit.

One of the other chefs said they’d never seen someone cut it like Art had. Here’s the deal: When you chop an onion, you’re supposed to make seriously legit slices; the way Hubert Keller was doing it. There’s no difference from what Art was doing than putting it in a Cuisinart or Robot Coupe and just grinding, and the problem with that is you’re bruising and shredding all the onions and all the moisture just comes pouring out. It’s kind of a half-job, but is it effective for a speed competition when you’re not using the product? Sure. But the way Art was cutting isn’t the proper way to cut an onion. Hubert was cutting the onions properly.

The chefs each made signature dishes for each other. Right now my signature dish at the restaurant would be the spicy cut meatballs my signature dish that I make the people that I am trying to impress would be a Langoustine dish I do with a Phuket black pepper sauce. Phuket is an island in Southern Thailand.

I thought Anita killed the challenge. It was tight. I was watching what she was doing. I was like “she’s really got it.” Hubert’s dish didn’t look like anything that much different from what Anita did. I thought Rick Bayless went for it. And I’m surprised Michael didn’t go a little bit outside of his comfort zone. I thought he was going to maybe go for it. I was a little surprised.

Jay Rayner called him out for catering more to Rick than the judges, but these guys are pros. it’s not the same thing.

Art's Scott egg was bad. I’ve got to be honest. If that were on season Top Chef, Tom Colicchio would be sending people home. I was shocked.

I don’t think the right person went home. I don’t at all. There was like two catastrophic disasters. If you’re taking a nice piece of lamb and you’re going to do a roast if it’s medium rare, it’s fine but if you’re doing a sirloin raw lamb burger, it’s totally opposite. If you’re doing something chopped, the lamb supposed to be cook a little bit more and the egg’s supposed to be raw in the middle. It was catastrophic. I was shocked.

Anita won. I like Anita a lot. As of right now Anita looks really tough to beat. The other guy, you’re not really going to get a bad plate from. In my opinion, I think everything is going to be really solid. He put up some really slamming fried chicken the week before this week he kind of missed his mark a little bit.


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