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Hello my little ballotines! I'm so sorry for being so tardy to this party, but now you have a blog to read on our week off! I do also hope that you took my advice and read Richard Blais' blog this past week -- it was one of his best. Before I start, just want to say that no, "lina2000," that was not me at the dining table during last week's Elimination. I wish! The only taping I've ever been able to attend was last year's Super Bowl episode, and it was my birthday, and it was maybe the greatest moment of my foodie life.
Onto this week's episode, which was maybe the greatest moment of some of our chefs' young chef lives. For the Quickfire Challenge, Padma introduced Gavin Kaysen who competed in the Bocuse d'Or in 2007. Seriously, you HAVE to read "The Bocuse d'Or incident" on Gavin's entry on Wikipedia. It's crazy! I just got a copy of Andrew Friedman's book on the Bocuse d'Or, Knives at Dawn, so I should be an expert on the subject pretty soon. Anyway, Gavin and Padma asked the chefs to create dishes inspired by his Bocuse d'Or dish: to create a dish composed of a protein within a protein within a protein. Most of the chefs handled this pretty well. I didn't even know what a Scotch egg was before Art Smith attempted one on this past season of Top Chef Masters. Thankfully Eli's came out better than Art's did! Jennifer was back to her old self, even getting a "Welcome back" from Padma, which was kind of hilarious. Michael didn't make a ballotine and argued that those weren't the instructions. I'm sure this would've been a bigger deal had it affected an elimination, but alas it just gave Michael the opportunity to make a comment about how he could have created a better ballotine than Gavin. I think I've finally realized that my affinity for the Voltaggios is boundless because rather than being totally turned off by Michael's comment, I just laughed.
Onto the main event, which I lovingly refer to as the “Faux-cuse d'Or.” The chefs were given the option of using either salmon or lamb to create a main dish with two side dishes, but these aren't just any side dishes. These are crazy side dishes. You know that person who takes the time to make a basket out of a watermelon? That person would probably do really well in this sort of competition. The chefs are put under even more pressure when they are told that Thomas Keller will be at the table, and then he makes a surprise visit to the kitchen! The rest of the guests at the table were pretty scary too.
Let's start with Kevin's dish: He decided to go simple, and it paid off. It seemed like he won because his was the only dish where the protein was actually cooked correctly. I'm a little on the fence about his win, but in Gail's blog, she explained that the dishes had to be judged not only by Bocuse d'Or standards but as a regular winning Top Chef dish too.
Good luck Chefs you are all deserving of being the final four. You all have made some really wonderful dishes and a very few not so good.I think Kevin is my choice because he has consistantly done creative, delicious meals,He has such joy in cooking. His personality is awesome.He's the total package.Love you Kevin.Michael your arrogance and being a spoiled sport has turned me and many others off. You think you're so good ,well you're not. I like Bryan,creative and classy, and Jen talented but wearing out!Go Kevin!!!!
just curious...who's the lady who sat next to Timothy Hollingsworth at the judges' table. was that you monica?
It's "ballotine" actually. Usually made with a chicken, duck, turkey or suckling pig that is boned out in one piece and filled with a forcemeat and then shaped roughly back into the shape of the original animal, or in a sort of balloon shape, tied with twine and then poached in a flavorful stock, or in some cases roasted. Interesting that you are judging the product when you don't even know what the correct name of it is.
Editor's Note: Yikes! This has been fixed.
Hello Monica and Top Chef Viewers Another terriffic episode in a whole season of terriffic episodes. Thanks for the blog( bout time, lol). Thanks for the best show on television! Mike V' s comment that" I would have made a ballotine as good as the one he made" is either very disrespectful to Gavin, or just obnoxious. Gavin worked months to perfect his dish. Mike couldn't even produce a winning dish during the Top Chef mini version. While he is a great chef, his ego will be his downfall. Probably next episode. I'm surprised he didn't offer to take Thomas Keller and Joel R. Back to the kitchen to "teach 'em a thing or two about cooking"!!! Lol It must be killing him to lose to Kevin' s down home southern cooking all the time. Bet he blows a gasket when Kevin wins Top Chef! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
Well, as for me, I learned long ago not to try to predict a TC winner.
I can say who I'd LIKE to win or who I think DESERVES to win but that's about it. If past seasons teach us anything, it's that it's a dish by dish competition. Doesn't matter if you've got three Micheline stars and your competitor is a catering cook. If their dish is slightly better than yours on that one particular challenge, it's bye bye.
As much as I love Kevin, and think he's an inspired, insightful, interesting and talented chef, the Bocuse d'Or is about as far away from his style as you can go. It simply is. I can't really even envision him WANTING to take his efforts in that direction.
However, I'm sure he'll benefit and learn a tremendous amount when he spends his time preparing to compete for the slot. Of the four contestants, I'd have liked to see Kevin or Bryan get that experience. Notice, I didn't say Micheal because, after all, HE apparently believes he can already cook better than the prior American competitor and, therefore, couldn't possibly be taught anything new. (Sorry for that dig,Michael, but you kinda deserved it).
All four of our final contestants are enormously gifted. But I'll be honest here. I hope it's one of the three guys. Jennifer has been too inconsistent and I'm frankly tired of seeing her cook fish. Yes, I know she works for Eric Ripert and it's the area she's strong in. I just don't feel confident in her ability to do other things at the same level as the other three. Even Kevin, who also has an area of comfort in regional southern food has shown he can execute other types of food beautifully and consistently.
In my heat of hearts? Bryan or Kevin. Not my prediction. Just my hope.
Thanks, as always for the blog! Always love what you have to say.
I don't know why people keep putting the Voltaggio brothers in the same bag. They are brothers but they are entirely different individuals. Bryan is classy and Michael is pretty much the opposite. Your affinity for Michael might be unjustified but not so for Bryan.
If you're the one who edits the blogs, I want to thank you for doing a terrific job. You manage to maintain the writers' voices and make it all readable. And your own blog is great fun. YOU have quite a career ahead of you.
I think someone winning this past challenge without knowing how to do it is ridiculous. Everyone seems to be routing for Kevin. I am routing for Michael Voltaggio. He might be a little cocky but as Tom says "you need a certain swagger to become a great chef". I think Bryan giving Kevin the su vuie way was wrong during a competion. Do it after. If M. Voltaggio does not.. win I will be in Jennifer's conner. I think Kevin certainly was nice enough but in a way he was almost over doing it. And Bryan basicly called his brother a p..... not very nice Bryan. Sit back and have your steak, manhattan and cigar
I noticed that you have a professional knife as your User Pic. I'm not going to pretend to know the correct term for it, as I am not a talented Chef. However, my partner is an aspiring Chef and I want to get her the best professional grade cutlery set. I see all the chefs on Top Chef have their own knife set that they keep in their knife bag. I want her to have that as well. I know you're very busy, but if you could recommend a certain brand I would really appreciate it. Thank you so much!
Although i really like Kevin and am very impressed with his genuineness and humility and kindness(overall a good person) I think Michael Voltaggio is going to win this. He has shown us time and again how creative he is..... Add to that a bit of determination and intelligence and you have a winning combination.