Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain on elk, Aspen, and Eric Ripert.

on Sep 27, 2007

On the other hand we DID get all that nice B-roll of a gleaming RAV4 driving the contestants home from the boonies. I just hope that before leaving the campsite, everyone remembered to police their areas and deposit all waste in one of the Glad Family of trash bags.

In the Quickfire, Brian, who had earlier been portraying himself as a cross between Jack Palance and Dinty Moore, seemed less comfortable at chuck wagon duty than expected. Hung, worryingly, raced through his challenge as if extra points would be awarded for speed. He then stood around allowing his fish to fester, unprotected, in the wilderness for seven minutes before remembering that he had forgotten, in his race for the finish line, to add the lemon juice. Spice-happy Dale's ethos of "More Is More" came back to bite him (again) -- or more accurately, guest judge Ripert: Eric grabbed at his throat as if gargling with caustic drain cleaner. An unpromising beginning.

Casey won the Quickfire. And for those commentators here who wonder what "heart" or "soul" means -- in relation to food (The judges frequently reward Casey with the remark that her food is somehow more "soulful" than others. That she has "heart") -- let me make it simple for you. They mean her food has a pleasing FLAVOR. Chefs usually mean -- when talking about "soul" ( or "heart") -- that the food has a depth of flavor that is both exciting and somehow, strangely, comfortingly familiar. As if the ingredients belong together the way macaroni and cheese -- or peanut butter and jelly -- or other, similarly beloved childhood combinations feel "just right." You can go pretty far out onto the edge and STILL manage to create "soulful" food. Thomas Keller, at his best, manages to do this with regularity, combining flawless - -even frighteningly advanced -- technique and flavors which evoke the shared memories of childhood. That he recognizes that human dimension displays "heart" and appeals to that indefinable part of us we call (for lack of a better word) the "soul".