Ilan Hall

Ilan Hall addresses all the haters out there.

on Jul 13, 2007

I just want to start, not by attacking, but by saying that for those who criticize my performance and my behavior in Season 2, I'd just like to tell everyone that you were not there. Relationships and behavior between the contestants were not fully shown last season. So if somebody wants to criticize my food that knows how to criticize food properly, I'm completely open to constructive criticism.

I was chosen to win a competition because I made the correct decisions at the right time and I was judged by a panel of professionals who I and most people in the culinary world respect. It has been said ad nauseum that the producers have the last call, but I don't think that these professional judges would put their credibility on the line in picking someone who didn't deserve to win. Plenty of people have their opinions and they can say what they want, and that's why we have this open forum, but from now on this blog is me sharing my opinions of the current cast and that's what I'll continue to do.

Now, onto the Quickfire Challenge. It's interesting going with liquor because so many chefs have a hard time with it. Wine is something that can be so delicate, but also very powerful -- it's very classical to pair wines with food, and that's a mindset that most chefs are in. So it's a newer-aged type of idea to pair with liquor. Even though a lot of people have a problem with it, I love gin. It has all these different flavor elements to it. There are all these flavor compounds, and I think if you're going to use a liquor to pair with food, I think gin is the most interesting. With that said, I think I think its complexity also makes it more difficult to pair with.

Many cocktails, not cocktails that I like, but many cocktails, are sweet. And it's not only very difficult to pair sweets, but it's been shown time and time again, especially with myself, that people have a hard time making pastries. The chefs don't come with enough pastry knowledge to apply it to the competition. However Casey made a smart decision because everyone knows how to make French toast. This is something you can make beautiful and high-level, and it pairs well with a sweet cocktail.

On the other hand, although I couldn't taste it, it seemed as if Dale has the smartest choice because of the flavors he had with the carmelized parsnips and foie gras. Foie gras is one of those incredible proteins that can lend itself to so many different strengths of flavor. It goes wonderfully with sweet things and it goes well with acidic things. It's versatile because it's so sweet, rich, buttery, and fatty. So, it has a wide range of what it can be paired with as long as it's another strong flavor or something that doesn't let the foie gras overwhelm it.

I like Hung. I think his food looks incredible and very different, but I can't get over the fact that I fee like he's putting on an act. He's very talented and I feel like he's going to get very far, but from what is being shown on television -- and knowing that we don't get the full picture -- I feel like it's a bit of an act. Do what feels comfortable and do you. But his food is very interesting and is very impressive. I can give a reality television opinion of how I think he is, but I met him briefly and he seems like a really cool guy. His food looks outstanding time and time again.