Team Top Chef's Senior Editors remembers the horrors and highlights of her school lunches.

Jun 23, 2010

Hello my little juiceboxes! Thanks for all the comments on my first entry for this season. I was particularly interested in those that expressed concern that this season might get too political. I might not be in a position to say this, but Top Chef is all about the food, and only the food. So, I think partisan conflict will only arise when discussing who's more liberal or conservative with his/her seasoning!

Thanks also to those that have shared their latest eating experiences and friended me on Foursquare. Since my last entry, I had the good fortune to attend Saveur magazine's 1st Annual Summer BBQ at The Frying Pan here in Manhattan. Editor in Chief and Top Chef Masters judge James Oseland was kind enough to invite me, and it was pretty spectacular, even despite the torrential downpour towards the end. Some of the country's best chefs including Tom Colicchio, Jonathan Waxman, Wylie Dufresne, and Tony Montuano cooked up BBQ fare. Everything was obviously sensational, but the highlight for me were Jonathan Waxman's grilled scallions. I have no idea what he cooked them with, but they were awesome. Also, there was a Ben & Jerry's rep there, and you must go buy some Peanut Brittle ice cream now; it's ridiculous! The BBQ was the first time I'd actually met James Oseland — can you believe that? We e-mail back and forth almost daily during Masters, but we've never met! This actually happens with a lot of our talent, which makes my job kind of bizarre. I have to say, though, that James is an absolute doll. I also had the pleasure to meet legend Gael Greene, and of course, her outfit/hat combo was as sassy as ever! Hopefully you will all have the good fortune to eat as well this summer as I did at the event. On to this week's Quickfire!

In perhaps one of the oddest challenges we've ever had, we tasked the chefs with teaming up in pairs to create sandwiches. At first many of them balked at the seemingly easy challenge of creating a tasty "sammy" in 30 minutes. Not so fast! They then learned they had to share some odd one-armed apron contraption with another chef. Things. Just. Got. Interesting. This challenge kind of reminded me of the one-handed egg challenge during our holiday all-star special a few years ago (the one Stephen Asprinio won with his perfect omelette.) Ed and Kenny lucked out that Ed was left-handed. It was particularly amusing how nervous Alex was that Timothy would cut him. Tracey seemed pretty happy to be attached to Angelo and kind of didn't wnt to let go. In the end, the latter team won with a fish sandwich. Angelo does own a sandwich shop, so seems fitting that he would win. He was probably pretty relieved for his business too!

This week's Elimination Challenge provoked a lot of sensory memory for me. School lunches and the cafeterias in which they were eaten had so many different smells for me ... many of them unpleasant. School lunch for me was a mixed bag. Sometimes, it could be amazing, like when I started bringing a thermos filled with Campbell's Double Noodle soup in middle school. Other times, it was fairly gross, like when I bought it. The men and women that worked in my middle school's cafeteria could be a surly bunch, but they were familiar. They worked hard and we knew it. It wasn't their fault the food left much to be desired. And because the main dishes were not the best, I snacked a lot because it was packaged. Note: Cool Ranch Doritos (changed to "Cooler Ranch" for a brief stint during my middle school days.) Whomever invented the Cool Ranch Dorito is a genius. And I mean that with all sincerity. As is the person who invented Hi-C Ecto Cooler (an elementary school staple.)