A Currence Affair
Exciting guest judges elevate a gross Quickfire Challenge, and James Oseland raises an important generational question.
Hello my little creepy crawlers! I'll be honest -- I wasn't too thrilled to hear the concept of this week's Quickfire, and I actually didn't know if you would be either. Making Masters cook bugs?! Having to watch judges eat said bugs?! Blech! But I have to say I found it insanely entertaining and oddly educational, and I really think most of that credit is due to guest judges Mykel Hawke and Ruth England from Man, Woman, Wild. The challenge went from being, er, icky to being kind of fascinating. I will admit that although i'd obviously heard of their show, I had never actually watched it, Mykel and Ruth have found a new fan in me! They spoke about the bugs, their nutritional information, and the dishes themselves so well I could've listened to them all day. They echoed everything the chefs already knew about their dishes, and even offered insight into what would have made the dishes better. Ultimately, my boy Hugh and his 'brows took the challenge with a tempura dish. Padma always said frying could make a toe taste better, so I wasn't surprised it made his bugs taste the best! Either way, this whole Quickfire Challenge reminded me of that episode of Saved by the Bell called "Cut Day" where Zac gives Mr. Belding chocolate-covered grasshoppers that gross Mr. Belding out so much that he gets sick, and Zac can slip out of detention to see Kelly. I bet Mr. Belding wouldn't have been so turned off if they had been made by these Masters!
The Elimination Challenge was a bit more traditional -- each chef had to create a dish for a 10-course tasting, each dish hopefully good enough that a diner would pay $100 for it to go towards the chef's charity. Of course since the challenge was so straightforward (although for some reason I was confused), three twists were thrown into the mix: no running water in the kitchen, less time to cook, and no servers! Despite some early anxiety, all of the chefs seemed to take them in stride. The real challenge seemed to be working in the kitchen with Naomi and Hugh arguing! Honestly, I kind of enjoyed the back and forth, especially because Hugh cracks me up even more when he's fiesty. Luckily for Naomi the banter didn't mess with her game and she won! Although Suvir expressed concern that Naomi's dish was too simple -- it was apparently very complex and delicious. Even the eliminated chef's dish was delicious, but alas it wasn't ballsy enough for the judges. I almost feel like i'm responsible for his departure. I mentioned in last week's recap how much I was growing to love John Currence and then he goes home! Come to think of it, I made a comment about two other chefs I thought John Rivera Sedlar resembled, and he went home too! Maybe I'm the new Black Hammer! I should probably stop talking about Hugh, lest he get sent home ... again. Sigh.I do want to make one comment about the age conversation around cooked vegetables. I don't think James meant to come off as ageist, and I actually thought his comment was a valid one. Something that has come up time and time again on Top Chef is the proper cooking of vegetables. CJ Jacobson's fateful broccolini comes to mind immediately as a poorly-executed example, but a well-cooked vegetable is truly an art. And James' point about vegetables actually being cooked, "messed with," while maintaining the integrity of the ingredient intrigued me. I barely cook my brussels sprouts at home. I like them crunchy. But when I got out and I get a properly-cooked side of vegetables, and can tell that what was added to them actually made them better, I''m ecstatic. My favorite Brussels sprouts are still ones at Market Table that I had a couple years ago. Chef MIkey Price mixed them with pears and bacon and I was in heaven. So, sure, Alan Sytsma (Sup, Grub Street?) and Danyelle Freeman may have simply just not liked Traci's veggies, or James has a point. What do you guys think?!
Tell me: were you guys as sad to see John Currence go as I was? And where have you been eating?! And did you rewind James saying "puddin' " four times like we did in the office? Seriously, I could listen to him say it all day. Puddin'!
Till next week, Have a Nosh!