Burning Questions

The eliminated chef has no regrets about his final dish.

Apr 27, 2011

Bravotv.com: What did you think of this week’s Quickfire Challenge?
Suvir Saran: I was so distressed by the cheese expert's total lack of understanding of Floyd's dish that I wanted to leave the competition even before the Elimination Challenge. European cuisine has given the world many culinary pleasures, but one cannot discount the fact that there are many more millions of people in other parts of the world eating foods with the complex and pleasing flavors of different herbs and spices. Floyd's dish was the epitome of Mexican street food, where adding cayenne to cheese is expected, not unusual. To suggest that it is an abomination to add cilantro to a cheese dish discounts the addition of basil to Italy's gorgonzola and mascarpone, not an unusual combination! So, this judge had such a limited view that I felt his judging did not do justice to the chefs. If the judge was going to reject out of hand any variation from the European view of cheese, perhaps he should have indicated that from the outset.

Bravotv.com: Moving on to Elimination, what were you thinking when Curtis announced the challenge?
SS: I was thinking, what a wonderful challenge. What a great challenge. What an important challenge at such a critical juncture in the life of our great nation. As we worry about national security, I wonder how many people realize that obesity and health and wellness pose as much or bigger a threat to national security than perhaps any invasion we might face from another country, nation or people.

And so -- I was thinking that the show did well by our nation to come up with this challenge. I was very proud to be part of it. It gave me a new reason to be proud of my participation on Top Chef Masters.

Bravotv.com: You said that you work a lot with people losing weight — can you describe some of those experiences?
SS: I work with myself, and that makes me very aware of the myriad challenges that anyone obese faces on a daily basis, maybe even hourly. There are always temptations around. You are never too far from something so bad for you, but also so very addictive and harmful. These often come cloaked in innocent packaging, pushed into our lives sometimes by innocent loved ones. At other times through the cooking of family, friends and chefs.

My work with the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard Medical School for a conference called Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives, and with Harvard School of Public Health on a conference called Worlds of Healthy Flavors has made me critically aware of the role of food and diet on a persons health and the ultimate shape our lives take on medically. You are what you eat. And this adage becomes increasingly more significant as you peel of the layers of hyperbole and discover how what we eat ends up shaping how we feel.