Ted Allen

Ted Allen looks back on judging seafood.

on Jul 11, 2007

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In Maine, where the finest lobster in the world is found, messing with somebody else's lobster traps at sea entitles the owner of those traps to, um, shoot you. Legally. It's kind of like rustling cattle out west -- it is distinctly frowned upon. We've been going to Maine every summer for years, and we love the place. This past fourth of July, we went Down East again, hooking up with a gang of friends (Yo, Sean, Amy, Owen, and Fergus!) in a shingled beach cottage straight out of the LL Bean catalog. We enjoyed succulent orange bugs and seawater so cold it freezes your ankles solid. Brrrrr! Delightful. But this year -- while, of course, we paid for our lobster fair and square -- I steered clear of lobstermen.

That's because, as so many of you noted on the boards in recent days, in the last episode of TC, we at the Judges Table mistakenly repeated the myth that lobster is high in cholesterol. It is not. In fact, lobster meat has slightly LESS cholesterol than a skinless chicken breast. All apologies to America's hardworking lobstermen (and lobsterwomen), and for any confusion we may have caused those seeking to reduce cholesterol in their diet. (Note: Lobster dipped in butter IS high in cholesterol, natch). The subject came up, you'll recall, in the elimination challenge where the contestants were asked to reinterpret American comfort-food dishes in a healthier way -- specifically with lower cholesterol -- and serve those dishes to members of the fabulous Miami Elks Club.

Brian, who, at the time, also believed the myth that lobster was high in cholesterol, nonetheless chose to use it in his dish. We judges thought this was a bizarre decision, and we called him on it. Fortunately, this did not in any way affect the outcome -- Brian's dish was tasty, but not exceptional enough to have won the challenge. And I got out of Maine without being shot.
This incident raises a great point: Chefs really need to know their ingredients. What if a chef was challenged to serve dairy-free food to someone with serious food allergies, and mistakenly used a milk ingredient? Props also to our friends in the blogosphere for calling me on the Scotch Bonnet-slash-habanero issue in my last post (I can't slip anything past you guys)! You're right: technically they are not the same pepper, although they are from the same family and look similar. I do stand by my assertion that even a beginning cook should know that both peppers are really, really hot.

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