I used to have a great deal of kudos for Curtis Stone as an advocate of sustainable, healthy food practices but after watching Suvir get eliminated, I lost a great chunk of this respect for him.
The peanut slaw is heavenly and the serpentine lines that are created around the nation when we serve it, speak alone for the popularity of this classic comforting dish. Made without the classic mayo that most will add into a slaw. It is fat free but for the wonderful little fat that comes from the American peanuts I throw into my slaw. Other than that, it has only the magic of spices, herbs and citrus. It is all about flavor, texture, and peanuts. How can life be any better?
The tomato sauce I gave my client with the burger is my very famous tomato chutney. The late-great Sheila Lukins (Author of Silver Palate cookbook and food editor of Parade Magazine) called it the Better-Than-Ketchup-Tomato-Chutney, and anyone who takes a lick is instantly addicted. I had hoped my client would allow the flavors of the chutney to seduce her, to flirt with her tastebuds and to become new friends.
The yogurt sauce was simple, soothing, cooling, flirtatious and also healthful -- all at once, I recall one of the judges calling it delicious and special or some such.
Certainly my choice of whole wheat pita pockets was made for the ease of my client in eating the dish. I would enjoy the burger without any bread. That is how tasty the patty is by itself. But the pita pocket makes it easy to hold and transport as food one can eat on the move. Some can criticize me for not making the pita myself, but to them I give the challenge of making so many parts of a dish in such a short time, whilst helping others. If they can do it within all the constraints I had - I salute to them and will learn to do more each minute I live. But most of all, I wanted my client to learn how to make the burger, but indulge herself by buying the pita. I would never want someone to struggle around health and wellness with unnecessary fuss that keeps them afraid to do what is right.
The burgers are easy to make. Can be made in a Cuisinart. Prepared in advance. Frozen and stored for future use. Each time you crave something tasty and indulgent, pull one out, cook and savor. This is the kind of simple cooking that makes for long lasting change to remain sustainable and not just be a trend or fad. I felt I was not just acting on TV, but that this was reality TV. I had a burden to help make change happen, if I could inspire it as such. And so, I shared a recipe that could be easily duplicated by my client or anyone else watching the show.
These were the factors and principles guiding me in making a tough choice, that I had hoped would be a choice that would please, heal and keep healthy the person indulging in it.
I used to have a great deal of kudos for Curtis Stone as an advocate of sustainable, healthy food practices but after watching Suvir get eliminated, I lost a great chunk of this respect for him.
Suvir made a great point: allowing people who are trying to lose weight to keep red meat in their diet is counterproductive. If these are people who haven't taken the time to understand and control their diet up until now, what makes Curtis Stone think that they'll stick to the few red meat options that contain an acceptable amount of calories? Even ignoring other health problems with red meat and cattle farming's environmental impact, the logic of the former argument is difficult to ignore. Just cut it out, it's much easier. I'm very grateful that Suvir said what had to be said and saddened by his treatment from the judges and Hugh. I wonder if Curtis Stone isn't getting some benefit from the beef industry. I expected better of him.
Increased respect for Suvir as a chef and a person at the end of this episode. Top Chef is anti- vegetarian and Suvir knew that and yet he stood by his ideals and made what he felt was the best dish for the client. Not everything vegetarian must be made to mimic meat...that kinda defeats the purpose of taste. I wish I could have tasted Suvir's food. They brought back Hugh- I am still unclear about why they brought him back - maybe they need Suvir back...
For goodness sake, have you never heard of a portobello mushroom? I've had great veggie burgers made w/ the portobello as the meat. My friend adds roasted red and yellow peppers. It's better than a cheeseburger and just as satisfying. American's have a very defined picture of what a burger is. It has to be on a bun of some kind. When they said bacon though, I kind of thought you were sunk. Nothing in the vegetable world tastes like bacon.
As a former resident of the building above Devi, I have eaten at Suvir's restaurant on numerous occasions. It seems to embody exactly who he is. In addition to being incredible, the vegetarian dishes (of which there are many) are delicious, flavourful - you never feel dissatisfied or as if you are lacking a protein. As a vegetarian I find it extremely difficult, even in NYC, as a foodie. I fully support him in what he does and wish he was still on the show for many reasons, not the least of which is that he provides the most entertainment and is by far the best!
I'm not a vegetarian, yet I adore vegetables and whole foods. I WANTED this meal. I enjoy the meat that I eat, and if I'm going to have it, it's not going to be in a burger. I've never been overweight, but if burgers are what got you to the obesity dance, I say dump them and get conscious, and introduce yourself to the astounding world of real food. Thanks Bravo for bringing us Suvir - he's seduced me with his offerings. Thanks Suvir for thinking big.
Suvir is a man of honor and integrity in his food choices. I have only been vegan for a year and half, but have been a vegetarian on and off again for 30 years. Making the right food choices is a daily challenge for everybody not just the obese. He made the right choice and explained fully his intentions to the biggest loser contestant. I think the peer pressure is what changed her mind on the veggie burger more than anything else.
I do not regret my current food choices and am dedicated to sticking to them for the remainder of my life. So much of our sicknesses are caused by poor food choices and the media blitz of advertisements for foods that we shouldn't be eating in the first place. The preservatives alone are killing us little by little every day.
Suvir may not have made the judges happy or his client, but he can walk away from Top Chef Masters with his head held high because he did not cave in to the peer pressure to make things that are unhealthy for an obese person. I believe that most of the mainstream media are afraid of the health benefits being vegetarian and vegan provide and that is why they do their best to degrade it every chance they get. Money and advertising is also a part of that mix and without the advertisers there would be no shows like this or even a network dedicated to food.
I honestly did not know Suvir before the show, nor did he blow me away during the first episodes, but his "buring dialogs" responses give me an enormous respect for him. I have been vegan over 20 years, but will cook carnivore - I can only respect his position and willingness to be committed to it. BRAVO (in the true sense, not to be confused with the TV station)!!
Thank you, Chef Suvir for your remarks - I don't think Top Chef realizes how many vegetarians there are who love to cook and don't eat meat. I've never expected the show to be vegetarian friendly but to have it be anti-vegetarian is disappointing. Leaving any ethical discussion aside, to ignore the health and environmental consequences of our over-consumption of meat in this country is truly sad. I'm thankful Chef Suvir was on the show and hope to learn more about him.
Boy, you can't win! Twice Oseland says you played it safe, and then he skewers you for thinking outside the box. Good for you! The other chefs who simply doled out reduced portions of the same dish should have been admonished for playing it as safe as safe can possibly be. Sorry to see you go!!!
I think that Suvir forgot he was on a competition show.
You have to follow the challenge. A lot of people go home on reality shows because they didn't follow the challenges which is what Suvir did.
He needed to make something resembling the flavors of a cheeseburger with fries, while making them a low calorie dish, and he failed , period.
Hated to see him go, but he should have been smarter.
Suvir is simply a class act who represents the very best in the world of culinary and operates at a level that most people, including the judges, have a hard time understanding. He sees more than just food and ingredients and calories and spices. He sees a life force and a measure of spirituality on the plate. I think he cooks in a world of which many are just not familiar. I was very proud of the way he stood up for his principles and didn't bow to conventional ways. He's a champion in my book!
Suvir, I just want to say that I truly respect what you've done tonight and am very sad that the judges saw fit to let you go. This interview is brilliant- and you are a talented chef who truly cares about many things people ignore. Thank you for that.
I admire and thank Suvir for bringing up social and health issues in this question and answer discussion (both are intertwined). As Suvir, so intelligently mentioned, social construcs are affecting the foods that people consume in the United States. As a result of the high prices of vegetables/fruits and the low prices of high caloric foods, often the poorest of the U.S. are the most overweight. I also admire Suvir for staying true to his ideals and for admirably bringing up the negative points about this season as well. I too am disappointed in some of the challenges, which as Suvir stated, sometimes make a mockery of the talents these amazing chefs. I am also highly disappointed in the quality of the judges of this season. They seem overly pretentious and uncharismatic. Top Chef Masters, I love you, but as of right now I'm disappointed in your decreasing quality as a show.
Suvir brought a very personal struggle to the table by taking the opportunity to prepare an alternative choice for his client. Nope, it was not a bacon cheeseburger. But, if you made a commitment to change and come this far then lose all that weight and your craving for bacon cheeseburger beckons, one might consider meeting that craving with higher quality, healthier choice albeit a non-meat alternative because your life depends on it.
I have been a meat eater all my life, but have made a very conscious effort to explore healthier ways of eating by choosing organic produce, including grass fed animals & wild caught seafood, eliminating processed foods, and cooking with a new food or ingredient each week. This is all for better health, wellness, & happiness. It is my hope that the clients on this challenge take their lives seriously enough to entertain lasting change in their lives and will try many different ways of eating and find what works for each of them. It is clear that Suvir wants to encourage healthy ways of eating that are innovative.
Americans have the highest number of obese people on this planet. This challenge was time appropriate in bringing the topic of health and wellness to the table. More people each day are learning that diets do not work and that it is the quality of what we eat, how we live, work, exercise, and love that changes health for the better.
The vast majority of our modern diseases are directly related to how we eat and live. The nature of this challenge had more power than was allowed to be portrayed. Maybe TCM and Bravo played it safe rather than the other way around.
Honestly, I saw this coming. Once you say vegetarian on cooking shows and just to professional chefs, it seems to go downhill from there. It is sad that many chefs do not say that a vegetarian meal is a legitimate meal. I want to see, just once on Top Chef, that there is a challenge to make a vegetarian meal. I can already predict what will happen. All the chefs will be shown as being upset and dumbstruck that they have to make a vegetarian meal. After, we will see these tiny dishes that show very little creativity or initiative and something that deserves no respect in the eyes of the customer or the other chefs.
This aspect is what Mr. Saran was talking about. It is that chefs look down upon vegetarian food and do not think of it as a lifestyle. However, there are so many advantages of being a vegetarian, not only in relation to your health but also in relation to the environmental issues of pollution and climate change. Vegetarianism should be looked upon favorably and these shows are the ones that are going to effect how people look at and try food. If there is a focus on healthier and vegetarian meals, then it is very likely that the human diet would move towards a healthier diet as well.
I think that Mr. Saran did an AMAZING job and his statement was probably the most important one made throughout the Top Chef series. I think his step was exactly right. In the Biggest Loser, the main goal is to make a change in the contestants lifestyles in order to be healthier and thinner. Now, trying vegetarianism is one that follows this goal perfectly! What Mr. Saran did was admirable and should not have been eliminated. In order to become healthier, you cannot trick yourself into eating better food, you have to actually make that visible change.
I think that if chefs actually want to make a difference in the people and prevent diseases like obesity, they need to switch their focus in these shows from money and what the audience want most to what information and ideas need to be brought to the audiences. Changes NEED to be made and if we want to make a difference in the way humanity is proceeding for the better, this is one change that needs to be focused on and quickly!
You're awesome, Suvir. I was halfway through my recording of tonight's Top Chef Masters and I already knew you would be eliminated, which I think is a terrible mistake. You were my favorite chef from the beginning! Red meat has been proven to increase instances of cancer and heart disease and has no redeeming nutritional qualities that aren't available in better (and tastier!) foods.
I am so proud and honored to see a vegetarian chef who is open-minded, understanding, and non-judgmental but still able to hold on to his values. On a side note, the images of the freshly killed pig over the female's chef shoulder were disturbing by anyone's standards. It would be nice to have a more understanding and less slaughter-house feel to the show.
If anyone was well suited for this competition, it was Suvir who due to his experiences, lifestyle and beliefs understood the entire concept of the challenge with all of the ramifications. Dealing with overweight is not only about food but involves behavior modification and you must adapt your palate, acquire a variety of tastes and be open to new things as well as a change in lifestyle. Healthy food is delicious too but it would be absurd to believe a diner could equate the taste of saturated fat found in meat and cheese in a healthy meal. We, as a nation need to learn this and not see it as a lecture but to turn it into a way of life. My daughter has high cholesterol and although we were health conscious before, now we are even more so. I am proud to say that my 4 year old daughter has learned and she is capable of understanding that she cannot eat saturated fat or trans fat and that although a big cheese burger is delicious, it is not worth dying for. I praise Suvir for his choice and for being true to his instincts as well as his beliefs and committed to his diner’s health. By the way, one of the judges said the veggie burger was good this is contrary to “bland and boring”. It is a shame the judges could not agree and did not understand the entire scenario that surrounds obesity and the related health issues. As with any type of addiction, people face options and tough choices on a daily basis and must be encouraged to break free from elements that cause harm and disease. I was flabbergasted to see Suvir pack his knives but hopefully now he will have a chance for his own show to showcase his healthy recipes, tours of the farm and visits to his restaurant, I would enjoy watching that. It is a shame that integrity and high morals are qualities so seldom seen that people with convictions are no longer honored but condemned.
I don't have a problem with Suvir using a vegetarian alternative, but he could have done it without so much self rightiousness. I don't blame Hugh for being somewhat annoyed. The grand standing was rude. Good for all the chefs for finding great alternatives. Speaking from a foodie who watches her weight, this food looked great, and I would love to see the pizza recipe.
Suvir, As you know all but one will be asked to leave so you certainly are not a loser in any sense that matters.
Our species has much to learn about eliminating violence from our lives but what easier way to start than with our diets?
Greatly enjoyed your participation in TC Masters & loved the dimension you brought to the competition.
Suvir was, in all honesty, the only reason why I was watching this season of top chef masters, because it is far less intresting and entertaining than previous seasons. (Why they would change the concept to look more like the standard top chef series, I don't know.) Also, I do agree that top chef are anti-vegetarian and always have been, but to actually have a competition where you actually have to kill in order to cook?? Kind of bad taste, I would say. At least Suvir had some integrity, which is more than you can say about the bravo network (and the other chefs who happily threw alive bugs into the pans).
Well, there were top chef- just desserts.. So where is top chef- strictly vegetarian? Maybe, with that show, we could actually escape the face and voice of James Oseland.
I admire Mr. Saran's dedication to helping people improve thier health and his unwillingness to compromise his principles. However, I do think it bears pointing out that not all red meat is the same and detrimental to our health. I wish that such opportunities would be used to promote the benefits of grass-fed beef, and to educate the public on the tremendous difference between its health impact and that of corn-fed beef. Without delving into a diatribe, suffice it to say that corn-fed beef (what has now become the standard, as it is cheaper and more efficient to produce) contains much greater quantities of the fatty acids that result in the health risks Mr. Saran talks at length about, whereas grass-fed beef has higher levels of those fatty acids which are, in fact, beneficial to our health. This is the same point that I wish Elia, on Top Chef All-Stars, had made more strongly on their Reunion show, before being shut down by Mr. Colichio. It amazes me that people whose lives revolve around food appear to have such narrow views and knowledge about health.
The judges absolutely made the right call. I was very pleased with their decision. Suvir completely failed his client. He could have made a veggie burger that incorporated some of the "reference points" (to steal James Oslund's phrase) of a bacon cheeseburger. He could have used his creativity and imagination to win her over to the idea that she doesn't have always have red meat. But he didn't do that. He served a "lecture on a plate" and just used an old recipe of his. He didn't just say ALL red meat is bad, he said you can't EVER make a healthy burger and fries. Because there was NOTHING in his dish that referenced a burger. Instead of a bun, he served a pita. Instead of a patty, he served a mashed veggie ball. Instead of fries, he served slaw. Suvir's self-righteousness failed himself. It failed his client. It failed the judges. And it failed America. Suvir could have made a statement without being so militant, strident, and unyielding. But he failed.
I also think the judges were completely off with this one. Suvir truly understood what needed to be done, especially to modify an Bacon Burger. As someone who is not obese, but struggles with those constant 10-20 pounds,I have followed the WeightWatchers plan over the years. It is a plan that works, but I always thought it a shame that they focused on, what would be translated as, calorie counts - until this year. Even they now recognize the importance of what goes into your body, not just the amounts. It is a struggle but one I think we and his burger-loving client needed to hear. Portion sizes are just 1 part of the problem. I would like to think the judges recognized this, and truly based their decision on the fact they did not like the taste of the veggie burger. It is hard to say, based on the editing. But I was truly disappointed. I would love to eat in Suvir's restaurant someday!
Suvir, As you know, all but one will be asked to leave so you are certainly not a loser in any way that matters.
As a species we have a long way to go in eliminating violence from our lives & hearts. What better way to start than our diets?
Thank you for bringing your special dimension to TC Masters this season.
I am so very sorry to see you go, Suvir. Thank you for not only being true to your ideals, but for understanding that part of what we need to do to combat obesity is to have the guts to change our eating habits, to learn to enjoy healthier foods & to live mindfully. It's a dreadful shame that the judges were so lacking in understanding, but, sadly, exactly what I've come to expect from James Oseland.
This blog post is far and away the best thing to have come out of a crummy season of Top Chef. Suvir is an elegant, brilliant spokesman for his beliefs and for himself, and everything he says here is completely and unequivocally true.
As much as I enjoy parts of Top Chef, I have found the show to be anti-vegetarian in many ways over the years. I remember hearing that when vegetable dishes were great, but the meat not so much, discussions that the meat was always the most important part of the dish, not the vegetables so the chef was sent packing. Although you have had a few vegetarian episodes, I wish you would include more on this topic. Many of us can be foodies and not eat meat (although most chefs, esp, AB, would disagree). Would like to see more on the complexity of vegetarian food rather than grilling a piece of meat. Thanks Suvir.