Team Top Chef's Editor shares her love for Rochester and wonders why the chefs didn't make garbage plates.

Nov 26, 2008

The Guest Judge is Grant Achatz, who was named 2008's Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation. I was not only happy he was on because I now know the correct way to pronounce his name, but his restaurant, Alinea, was on almost every one of our Top Chefs' lists as their favorite Chicago restaurant for our Restaurant Finder. Chef Achatz's accomplishments have not been the only thing talked about in foodie news. Last year, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer and there was talk about it affecting his sense of taste. Well, no need to worry! We're happy to report he's been in remission for a year now, and I asked him about it in our Q&A with him this week.

After the soup curveball, the chefs then got another one -- this time a welcome one. They received a video message from the Foo Fighters tasking them with creating Thanksgiving dinner for the band and the crew. The band was performing at Blue Cross Arena, which is in Downtown Rochester. I've seen a couple concerts there, and I like it as a venue. (I wish we would've gotten to see more concert footage!)

The chefs broke into two teams, and I was pretty disappointed with the team names. Sexypants? Cougar? Really? Come on, guys. Let's be original. The chefs are then thrown another curveball -- they didn't get ranges! And another -- what I consider the biggest curveball -- they didn't shop at Wegman's! This, my friends, is Rochester blasphemy! Hedgehorn's? I haven't lived in Rochester in a few years, but I have never heard of Hedgehorn's, and it made me sad. I heart Wegman's, it's wonderful service, and its loose candy section.

Anyway, the chefs made it through, and it seemed that the highlights for the band were Radhika's Vegan stuffing, Alex's bacon mac 'n' cheese, and Ariane's turkey. My vote is always for stuffing. Growing up, my mother always made two -- one "wet" and one dry, and I would devour them both. It seems like Gene really hit a chord with the bacon, a favorite of Dave Grohl and historically Top Chef judges. Grohl's facial expressions were PRICELESS. Sigh. I just love him. (How cute is guitarist Chris Shiflett though.) In the end, Sexypants wins.