Harold Dieterle

Harold Dieterle on Jennifer Coolidge, cooking leftovers, and why chicken's feet are tops.

on Nov 15, 2006

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I thought that this was one of the better challenges that I've seen for far. Leftovers is very smart. Except... The one ingredient that I wish hadn't been there for the Quickfire Challenge was the sweetbreads. This is why there were so many quickfire dishes with Sweetbreads. Most of those contestants have worked with them before. If it was among the choices in front of me, I would have chosen it, too. It's a no-brainier.

There were a lot of ingredients up there that require a long cooking time. You can brine, poach, and crisp a sweetbread in under an hour. That table had so many ingredients. I was watching Josie grab these giant oxtails, and I thought "No! Grab the small ones! Those things aren't going to cook in two hours!" I saw Cliff trimming up his oxtails, and I wanted to show Josie, "Look at Cliff! Look! You have to make them smaller!" Two hours to do a huge piece of meat like that is quite a push.

A lot of viewers were probably freaked out by the chicken feet, so let me explain really quickly: Chicken feet are really fantastic for sauces. They're used a lot in Chinese cooking, and especially in wonton soup broth. There is a ton of gelatin in the chicken feet. It's what gives the broth its body. And best of all, it's a serious amount of protein. I thought the selection of ingredients was fun and cool and it was fun watching Marcel mix up the pig's blood and make the emulsion. I don't know how well it tasted, but it was interesting. I thought Elia's kidney and crusted potato salad was kind of a cop-out. You've got two hours, come on, show me something.

As for the Elimination Challenge, here's my take: Going into someone's restaurant and using their leftovers sounds really daunting. But that restaurant -- once you see them standing in there, walking around all these fabulous ingredients, it's not really leftovers at all. When I open my restaurant I hope to have leftovers around like that.