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Sometimes, it really is the little things that matter. Sure, it’s fun to be wowed by exotic ingredients and highwire techniques, but then there are the moments in an eater’s life where you’re just happy to be alive because of a boiled potato.
That was the first thing Lorena served us, and it was one of my best bites of the day: a perfectly cooked huancaina potato. That word I have trouble pronouncing refers to a sauce made from cheese and fruity aji amarillo chiles, and it’s great. But there was also something really to the potato itself -- it was perfectly cooked. That may sound silly, but there’s something really great that happens when you hit it on a potato. The insides are smooth and creamy while the outside keeps its integrity, holding onto the skin, and not dissolving into that sticky mush that coats most boiled potatoes. Maybe I’m imagining things, but it’s almost like the potato holds onto its flavor better, releasing it just when your teeth break it open. Swathed in that creamy, fruity sauce, it was just awesome.
Let’s go from there (yes, 171 words on the doneness of a potato) to another “simple” dish that really won the day: Chris’ pork and chicken liver terrine. It did what every great terrine should do: confuse you. “Why do I love this?” you ask yourself the whole time you’re eating it. It looks a little—let’s be honest—like cat food, but it tastes like something you would physically fight an animal for. It tastes like “peasant” food because it has scraps and offal in it, but the earthy flavor of the liver hums along in the background, only rushing in with its richness after you’ve finished chewing. It’s a trick of the most refined order. The fat and nuts make it taste like butter, even though there’s no butter anywhere near it. I started to spy the others to see if I could take their leftovers.
I hope you stay with Top Chef Masters Francis. You bring a contemporary and witty opinion to the Judge's panel. It is a welcome addition. A perfectly cooked potato does matter in my food world.
I also am sorry to see Patricia go. There were flaws in her dish, but I believe more negative comments about Lorena's who is not , to me, even a Top Chef, much less a Top Chef Master. She has created the negativity in the season that always turns it sour and you lose the joy of the show...and she has been rewarded. I'm done with this season. Hope next season does not include another Lorena.
Vickis Hunh? It's Patricia who was catty and disagreeable toward Lorena, not the other way around. Barking at her in the kitchen, talking smack about her knife skills and palette and culinary chops. Uncalled-for and COMPLETELY unprofessional. It was peculiar to me, too, that Kerry was all chummy with the other team while essentially ignoring his teammate Lorena -- for no reason based on what we saw. The three of them all palsy-walsy and not letting Lorena join in their reindeer games! If Lorena did anything to warrant this alienation, apart from being generally exuberant and befriending Art, the producers haven't let us in on it yet.
Vickis Hunh? It's Patricia who was catty and disagreeable toward Lorena, not the other way around. Barking at her in the kitchen, talking smack about her knife skills and palette and culinary chops. Uncalled-for and COMPLETELY unprofessional. It was peculiar to me, too, that Kerry was all chummy with the other team while essentially ignoring his teammate Lorena -- for no reason based on what we saw. The three of them all palsy-walsy and not letting Lorena join in their reindeer games! If Lorena did anything to warrant this alienation, apart from being generally exuberant and befriending Art, the producers haven't let us in on it yet. Notice, too that it's Lorena who keeps a smile and positive attitude, who keeps her concentration on what really matters, even though she has been marginalized by her colleagues.
tervito Vickis Lorena geuninely seems like a nice person, but she has gotten on my nerves as well. Patricia and Lorena clearly don't get along, which isn't the world's biggest tragedy- some people will just rub each other the wrong way- however, although Patricia has been short and curt, and at times dismissively rude towards Lorena, she's been far less irritating to watch. Lorena's constant refrain about being passionate and putting love into her food has become old (for me anyway), and it's a little on the condescending side- do the others not put their love and passion into their food?! I think the other chefs feel the same as her, but like to express it differently. It would annoy me to have one of my colleagues talk about love so much there's no room for me to express the same in my own way, because they've cornered the market on passion. That said, she's clearly a very talented and determined chef, I just could have done with less Lorena screen time.
Off topic- Francis you've become my favourite judge on this show. You always have something interesting and measured to say, without sounding too persnickety and pretentious. Sometimes with the judging you end up feeling like you don't really know why some decisions were made, but you've made all the decisions seem reasonable and understandable to an audience that can't actually taste the food they're watching.