Bravotv.com: Did you have any reservations about the deconstructed Bearnaise? The way you cooked the fish?
Deconstruction of a dish or sauce is only successful if you pull it off in such a way that the classic favor combination is not compromised. Making a classic Béarnaise is not what Michael I. wanted to do and I agreed. I have experience making this same sauce and knew of ways to incorporate into the dish in a way Michael and I were both looking for. So I was confident in pulling this off. The way we cooked the trout was by curing in a light brine first, to firm the flesh of the delicate trout slightly and to incorporate some of the flavors found in Béarnaise. Citrus, pepper, and tarragon are some of the flavors we incorporated. I then cooked the fish under vacuum or “sous-vide” using an immersion circulator. I find with very delicate fish a delicate cooking technique is a great choice. The temperature of the fish and cooking bath can be precisely achieved using this method. I was very excited about the way the trout turned out. I don’t think I could have done a better job cooking the fish. I was proud to present the fish to the group. We had trouble with the last piece of the dish. I really wanted to rope the whole classic/ modern feel to the dish by adding a pomme soufflé. This is a fun classic potato preparation that I use occasionally at my restaurant. The light crisp potato added texture to the dish without compromising the pairing of trout béarnaise. It was down to the last minute that we executed the soufflés and Michael I. wanted to leave them off. We pulled them off in the end and I was ecstatic that it made the dish. I believe it helped send the message that we stayed true to classic flavors yet presented them in a fun more modern approach. This is very true to my style of cooking.
Bravotv.com: What was it like cooking for Joel Robuchon and the other legendary French chefs?
If I could only win one challenge to date this is the one I wanted the most. I could essentially go home after wining this one. Just kidding! But that is how much it meant to me — the caliber of chef sitting there critiquing your food is not only such a valuable experience as a chef, but also once in a lifetime.
Bravotv.com: How did it feel to have Tom call your food “amazing” and to hear all the positive comments from those legendary chefs?
To have those comments come from the table seemed unreal. I was thinking to myself, “Really?" I was confident of my dish, but did not expect comments like that. I am a pretty modest person; praise is hard for me to take. But this was very cool.
Bravotv.com: Have you completed your prize yet? If not, how are you feeling about it?
I have not completed my prize yet. However, I look forward to the opportunity to cook in Joel’s kitchen. As an up and coming chef I believe that any and all experience you can gain is valuable, just seeing the way he operates his kitchen will be a huge opportunity. I am sure there will be things that will influence the way I cook and organize in my own kitchen at VOLT.
Bravotv.com: How did it feel to beat your brother on this one? (You say you want to on this one.)
I felt very good about winning this challenge not only against Michael but the other chefs; this was a huge challenge for all of us. Ending up on top shows I am here to compete and that I am here to stay. I won that challenge judged by the Chef of the Century — how cool was that?
We eat at Brian's restaurant VOLT here in MD a lot - he is amazing and we are thrilled to see him win last night - we are having dinner at his chef's table tonight so it will be great fun to see him after his big win! Way to go Brian!
Did it bother you during the challenges to see Mike I riding on you and your brother's coattails instead of doing things on his own? You told him (and showed him) how to make his sauce. Then he didn't give you credit at judge's table. Last week he didn't help Michael at all.
I think Bryan did a great job. But how do we know that Mike Isabellla couldn't have done just as well if he was the one cooking the fish. Also, Bryan said it was Mike's idea to make it a deconstructed sauce.
So, when you say he was riding on coat tails, you obviously were watching a different tv show than the rest of us were.
You also have never been on any team, athletic or otherwise... A team acts an an individual, just because the TC judges had to choose one person to win (only because of the format of this competition) does not take away anything from the team. The TEAM of Bryan and Mike won.
Had the opportunity to dine at the Chef's table at Volt yesterday evening and everything was amazing! We have followed Top Chef since its inception and as a native of Frederick, MD it is exciting to follow Bryan and see him do so well thus far! Excellant work, Bryan!
Hey man! You are a very talented chef. I am rooting for you to win. there is some solid talent this season. I am a food geek and wanna try and eat at as many fine dining places as possible, so hopefully one day i will have the opportunity to dine at volt!
Thanks for the interview Bravo it helped explain some things about the technique, except for the fact I didn't notice Bryan using a machine to create a vacuum but rather rolling the trout a la ballotine method, so that was my guess how he did it. Maybe I am just blind and missed it. Also I notice when you were creating the souffles you had thermometers in 2 pots, I can understand one for cooking oil but making an assumption here from Harold's blog comments the other was used for blanching. What with boiling water averaging 212 F temp and blanching usually being a bit lower than that why you needed a thermometer for that, usually a visual check is basically all that is needed for checking blanching water. So I am curious if it was indeed blanching water or something else, and if so I guess you were aiming for a precise temp.
You and your brother are tearing this competition up, but I got to keep pulling for my southern boys I think Kevin is going to be right up there with you guys at the end. And how lucky was he to have dinner with those chefs??? Man what an experience.
Good luck to all contestants.
It was our pleasure to dine at your restaurant VOLT on Sunday the 20th of September. We were at your kitchen table and were in awe of your manner and composurein leading the kitchen. The food, the service and the whole package was more than worth the hour drive from DC. Your tasting menu is superb. We look forward to a return visit. To us you are the "TOP CHEF".