Jamie Lauren

Jamie Lauren talks about her affinity for pork, and how even she might be outmatched this season.

on Oct 15, 20090

OK, first off let me start by saying that this episode was one of my favorites of the season, and for no other reason other than the fact that it had so much to do with the glorious animal known as the pig. Seriously, if there was one meat available on this earth to eat for me it would be pork. What an amazing thing pork is. The possibilities of cooking pork are endless, and the fact that you can pretty much eat the entire animal is awesome. Combine that with Pinot Noir and for me, you have bliss. I really don't think I could exist in this world without pork. Think about it: bacon, ribs, salami, lard, pork rinds. The list can go on and on and on, and I was super excited to see TC celebrate the pig. Before I move on with the rest of my blog, I want to address one thing I have been reading about in the comments: the episodes that I see have no endings, so as I write my blog, I actually have no idea who stays and who goes. My theories are pretty much based on hunches and I generally don't find out who PPYKAG'd until the next day or two later, so that could be why the blogs may read a wee bit strangely to you.

Last week, it was Mike that made me crazy. This week , I wanted to kill Robin and Eli. I felt like I was watching a mother and son bicker. Now I get what it's like to live in a house with a bunch of strangers who are all competing against one another—it adds a totally different level of stress than you may think. Imagine combining a neat freak, with a slob, with a mom, with a 25-year-old and putting cameras in their faces and basically telling them GO! It's a funny thing to watch and I could tell from this episode that clicks are forming and it ain't looking pretty for odd woman out Robin. Frankly, I get it too. It's clear that the top four I predicted from last week (not surprisingly were the same that ended up on top this week) are getting annoyed with some of the lesser-skilled chefs. My least favorite part of my TC experience was living together. It sucks to go from living alone to living with people. It takes a long time to adjust to that when you are used to being able to go home and be left alone if you desire. It was like living in a college dorm all over again, only with no freedom at all and no keggers.

It was nice to see Charlie Palmer as the guest judge. I thought it was funny that the brothers V both worked for him at one point or another, though not really surprising considering their level of expertise. I think it is becoming really obvious watching these chefs cook who should stay and who should go. At this point it is clear that Ash, Robin, and maybe Laurine (though she doesn't bug me quite as much) are not on par with the other contenders. Just watching what they cooked for the Quickfires, it was apparent that they are out of their league. I actually think I would be a little intimidated to cook against some of the chefs that are left standing. I'm not afraid to say when someone is a better cook then me or more knowledgeable, but that's what I love about this industry. There is always room to grow and learn. I think it would have been cool to be on this season. I would have loved the chance to learn from my current top four at least as much as I could have considering the strenuous circumstances you are under. I also have to say I didn't love the premise of the Quickfire.

Now, moving on to the elimination and the love of the pig. If I was ever jealous of a challenge thus far this is it. I wouldn't have cared which part of the pig I pulled, because pork is versatile and super easy to cook with, but if I had to pick I would have gone with the belly. Jenn was smart to choose it ... mmm ... pork belly ... quite possibly one of my favorite places on the pig to eat. The fat just melts in your mouth and the meat is so tender. Braised pork belly is next to godliness for me. I actually think I eat some sort of pork everyday, and most chefs would probably say the same. For some reason the pig is like an animal gift to us foodies. I mean really, where would we be without bacon? I honestly don't think I would want to exist in a world without bacon. I hope that I never end up on a low sodium/low fat diet. That would be a sad, sad day. I think the top four truly knocked it out of the park with this one. Judging from the appearance of their dishes, they were worlds away from the other chefs. Kevin's pate (SO smart) looked amazing, and how impressive that he got that done in the time frame he had to work with, and the root beer braised pork cheek (my second favorite cut aside from the belly) with vanilla bean from Mike V? Seriously ... what a great idea with a Pinot. I think whomever brings this one home deserves it. As far as I can tell, the top four are strong and standing. It is going to be a battle to the finish and I have to say it has got to be Ash's time to go. He just seems so outmatched. I can't imagine him surviving another week. Now I'm off to snack on some salumi and a glass of rose and call it a night. Can't imagine a better way of doing it then with some cured pork product in my belly, which leaves me with one final question ... what is your favorite part of the pig?

Also: follow me on Twitter. There's a lot of cool stuff happening in my life over the next few months, if you are interested! @chefjamielauren

26 comments
jw
jw

Jamie, huge fan here. Love your blogs. Even if I don't read any of the other TC blogs, I always read yours. The only other person whose blog I always made sure to read in previous season's was Anthony Bourdain's (of whom, I am also a huge fan). Thanks for the behind-the-scenes and in-the-kitchen insight, especially in Bourdain's absence.

@ Nancy E. L.,

Being of Lebanese descent myself, I also found Mike Isabella's interpretation of kibbeh kind of off-putting. I was watching the show with my mom, and we both did a double-take, coupled with exclamations of "That's not kibbeh! There's no pork in kibbeh! We don't even eat pork!" (Well, we don't eat it in Lebanase food, anyhow.) I guess, in his mind, bulgur wheat rights all wrongs.

LJ
LJ

I appreciate your excitement about the challenge and insights about the dishes, but just wanted to mention that I keep kosher and therefore don't eat any part of the pig - and I eat just fine! There IS life without pork. You don't have to live it, but you also don't have to pity me for choosing to.

mmc
mmc

Hi Jamie, Love your blogs. I really love this season of Top Chef and while I think Jen, Michael ,Bryan and Kevin are outstanding you never know who the winner will be. All of these chefs bring something different to the table so I can't miss a show.As much as I 'm a peacemaker I'd like just once to see Robin really let Eli and Mike I. have it once and for all! They sure can't be making their mothers proud.I loved the pork dishes so much. This meat has finally become appreciated. I've been cooking it for years in many ways. I think my favorite is roasted pork loin, simply seasoned and so tender you almost can cut it with a fork...I also like a little fat left on to keep it tender and moist.

James
James

8th- robin 7th- laurine 6th-eli 5th-mike i 4th- jen c. 3rd- micheal cant choose between bryan or kevin its WAY TO HARD.....

PeachPie
PeachPie

To echo everyone else, great blog as always!

Here's my little ode to the pig: For many years, starting in my late teens, I was a vegetarian. I was unwaivering in it, and, I admit, very smug about it.

That lifestyle and conviction ended one day, decidedly and forever, over the smell (and consequent consumption) of a beautiful pork roast. Period.

Now it is the meat I can't live without. In fact, every year for my birthday, my sister (who is a spectacular cook) makes me her very special breaded pork chops. Not the most luscious or adventurous of all pork cuts, but they are absolute HEAVEN!! My last meal? Her chops.

SD_Annette
SD_Annette

I heart your blogs! And btw, my husband has a huge crush on you. Whenever we watch this season I hear, "I miss Jamie" in the background. (btw, even more creepy, my husbands' name is Jamey. ew.) I do love your no-BS writing style, and you have set me on a mission to discover this food called pork belly. I know I love bacon, and I hate pork chops. But now I am determined to explore the pig more! (ew again)

Nancy E. L.
Nancy E. L.

Did anyone else find it odd that Mike I. made kibbe—a traditional Middle Eastern street food made of raw meat, bulgar wheat, and spices—out of pork, which neither Jews nor Muslims will eat (not to mention that you wouldn't eat it raw)? It's true you can also deep-fry them as stuffed meatballs, as my mother did, and as Mike did, but it still struck me as an odd interpretation of kibbe.

Jantina
Jantina

You must have some sort of crystal ball there girl. You're spot on with the predictions of who goes and who wins. You're right about the bacon. I don't care how you smoke it, cure it or cut it, it's fabulous.

To Jane with the cranky gall bladder. Take 2 aloe vera pills in the mornings. By day 2, you should find your gallbladder won't bother you. In 2 weeks, you won't know you even have a gall bladder problem.

julia
julia

I agree with you regarding the top four chefs...I also think compared to the previous winners,except for Hung,none of them would have come close to being in the finals.

Sherri L.
Sherri L.

How come I don't see pork belly on menus? Is it because I live in CT? I want to try it any way any how and soon. I love the pig too. I may have to move to NY or CA or Chicago or somewhere.

Should I just go to a butcher and make it myself?

Keep on bloggin' girl....

Deb S
Deb S

Jamie, just discovered your blog -- love it! As for the pig, I come from a very Southern family, and I'm loving the resurgence of this animal in all its glory! My grandmother cooked with lard, and loved, loved, loved belly, feet, ears, you name it -- all the stuff that in the other-white-meat age became scraps in favor of chops and ribs. (Not that there's anything wrong with these cuts.)

I'm about to read your blog post from last week -- agree that Mike I is very much a D. So is Eli. I understand the annoyance with Robyn, but comments like last night's (the short segment where the guys teased each other about "having sex with Grandma") are just too nasty and mean for adults.

Dan44
Dan44

I agree with AL, ever since the 3rd or 4th episode, I have had the same top four in line for the finish. The others are just not of the same caliber, unfortunately.

Hey Jamie....I'll bet you laughed that Eli and Robin were arguing over scallops, after your storied TC history with the illustrious scallop! ahaha

Great blog and continued success!!

Forrest
Forrest

I love pork, I would have to say that my favorite part of the pig would be the belly as well! SO much flavor can be developed and made into a really great dish!

Thanks for the blogs!

milena
milena

they should have PYKAGed all three of them. Then I want Eli and Mike I to get the hell out. I can't stand their arrogance and they don't even compare to the Bros, Jen, and Beardy (Kevin). Beardy is going to be top chef, at least I hope. Go Beardy!

George
George

Ironically before watching last nights episode my roommate made some of his famous bacon-chocolate chip cookies. There delicious!!!

Terry
Terry

Veggies are what food eats!

Jamie, I think you nailed the top four, or at least they should be the heavy favorites.

Mark T
Mark T

Dude or should I say Dude-ett! Your blog is my first read after each episode. First Robin and Eli both gota GO, and losing Ashley while those two loiters hang on is painful. The talent level between the top four and the rest is like watching a pro football team play a high school team, it feels like you should turn away... Your pick of Ash to PPYKAG was of course spot on in hind sight, just whish they would have made it last week. As for my current favorite to win Kevin he has not made a bad tasting dish from day one.

PS. a world without out bacon would be almost too horrible to contemplate!

GrammarChef
GrammarChef

FYI, the word is 'clique', not 'click.'

Jane Woodcock
Jane Woodcock

I have a very cranky Gaul Bladder(sry sp) and it wont let me eat fatty meats anymore-this drives me crazy. Good thing I can remember how good bacon and other pork dishes are. Great blog, keep up the good work.

Paolo
Paolo

Hi Jamie! It's Paolo and Thaomy, it was awesome meeting you and a fellow food scientist at Saigon Sandwich! It was a really great day for the both of us: watching the Blue Angels, eating banh mis (pork w/ pate of course!), and meeting you! We love SF!

Great blog btw, and this was also my favorite episode, it reminded me of working with chefs in my last job and the pigs&pinot was THE best challenge we've seen. What's the deal with next year's pigs&pinot festival, the website is down :(

Anyway, happy fortunes to the new events in your life!

LeighBee
LeighBee

I went veggie some years ago, but remember loving that "other white meat" of the loin. Pig farming is generally still too inhumane for me to go back to eating pork. There is currently some legislation in progress to ban the overuse of antibiotics in livestock farming, and hopefully once that happens farming will focus on keeping animals healthy instead killing the infections after the fact.

Vik
Vik

Chef,

Have enjoyed reading your blogs over the past few weeks (especially as I was travelling abroad and didn't get to watch some of the episodes until I got back). I wanted to ask whether you know why the TC team don't give you the whole episode instead of cutting the ending. Your blog isn't posted until after the episode, so it's not as if you're giving away the ending. I just find your blog is great until the final paragraph and lacks a definitive conclusion. Don't get me wrong, the blog would work if you were typing it in real time along with viewers watching the episode - posing questions of who will win and who will get PPYKAG'd as it happened. Doing it this way, just seems to be a safe bet on behalf of the TC production team, in case you really disagree with their choice for the chop.

Oh and is Padma really that hot in person?

Quincy
Quincy

Q: What is my favorite part of the pig?

A: Yes.

Al
Al

Great blog post once again Jamie- yours are definitely my favorites to read. I'm astounded at how far the top chefs and the bottom chefs are divided in skill this season- seems like a clear cut final 4 to me. I don't remember any other season being so divided.