If you’re confused by what you saw tonight, you’re not alone. Me, too. This was one of the single most confusing challenges I’ve judged in my 10 seasons on this show. We asked the chefs to do one of the simplest things imaginable: make fried chicken. What did we get? Everything except fried chicken. We couldn’t believe it. We were so disappointed -- we’d all really gotten our hopes and appetites up for some good fried chicken. Sometimes you have to leave well enough alone, as was the case here, where the chefs were asked to “go simple,” but this group of chefs just can’t seem to do that -- they tend to overthink what’s asked of them.
Some challenges ask for chefs to flex their creative muscles; others, such as the one in Episode 4, in which the chefs were asked to recreate dishes from Canlis’s original 1950s menu, ask less that they show culinary genius and more that they show culinary acumen – good, solid food knowledge and technique. This challenge fell squarely into that second camp. Just fry up some delicious fried chicken, please. A good side would be appreciated, too.
So why they didn’t just do that was mystifying to us. As was the recurrent refrain that they didn’t have enough time. Fried chicken is FAST FOOD. It doesn’t take long to make, and to make well. The idea that the chefs didn’t have time to fry up chicken… I don’t quite know what to say.
OK, just one more thing on the chicken...regardless of what Wolfgang Puck said about fried chicken in Austria, I have traveled widely in Europe and nowhere did I ever find fried chicken as we eat it here...Now granted one of my aunts in Germany does occasionally make fried chicken, she drags out the deep fryer, grabs a few chicken legs and tosses them in...no flour, no seasoning, nothing, just plain chicken...
Take off the skin! You're joking? That is the best part! When you take off the skin, you don't get crispy you get hard....
That said, I don't understand why you are surprised these chefs had such a hard time with a simple dish. That is not what they cook. The food they come up with in general is not what the average person would want. They are geared to come up with things that only a "gourmet" would eat, and I can't help but think those "gourmets" don't really care for it themselves but are praising it because they want to appear sophisticated. And as for the plating, does anyone really want the sauce on the bottom topped by the salad topped by the potatoes topped by the meat or fish? If I want a sandwich I will order one. And I am not a picky eater, I enjoy foods from around the world and will at least taste most things, although in some cases I would prefer to not know what I'm tasting till afterwards.
One more thing, Josie's chicken must have been really bad. Padma looked very unhappy that she couldn't save her this time. Makes one wonder if there isn't something going on there the way she has fought to keep her. Josie has not given the impression that she had to bother making a real effort from the beginning. I think if that chicken hadn't been inedible it would have been Stefan leaving for the cordon bleu even though technically it was chicken and it was fried...
Clearly its about time Josie left. She's been dodging bullets week after week while better chefs were cut. I am amazed that a returning chef cooked so much bad food and still slid by. No more excuses!
Clearly you didn't try Heaven Sent Chicken while you were in Seattle, Tom. It's skin-on and super crispy. It's owned by Ezell, (who started the famous Ezell's Fried Chicken here but lost it in a divorce) and is the juiciest, crispiest, and tastiest fried chicken I've ever had. The crispy skin on the spicy breasts is sooooo yummy.
I think Padma had something going on with Stefan. That's why she was glad to bounce Kristen and then taking an attitude with Stefan and the bounced him later
I agree..however Sheldon & Josh both seemed to make good fried chicken from the heart..I am a southern, married woman & mom & my family loves good fried chicken..but love the show!!
I agree that it was time for Josie to go, way past really. I have something else that I would like for you to consider for a future show. Would you please consider having a show honoring one of tv's first chef's, and New Orleans, Chef Paul Prudhomme, it would be great to see him as a guest judge. I realize that this may not be the best place to make the suggestion, but I don't know any other way to get it to your attention.
Thanks for the recipe Tom, can't wait to try it! Also, thanks for finally eliminating Josie, it is mystifying how she managed to last this long in the competition - I really hope you look at a way to revamp the rules so this type of thing doesn't happen in the future. And finally, I know Padma is getting a lot of flack, I used to adore her but this season she really seems to have developed a real mean streak. Hopefully she can turn it around because she is really turning off the viewers.
I was glad to read your blog and, after reading your comment about the hard time you were given about Kristen's elimination, was even more glad to find that you actually read these blog comments. The episode mystified me, as well.... I as baffled by the gymnastics some of the chefs went through in making such a simple dish. And cutting chicken off the bone? Chicken Cordon Bleu? What were they thinking?? I've never though Chicken Cordon Bleu was very good even when well made. There's a reason why it has become a culinary dinosaur.
There's nothing better than simply made, no fuss no muss, fried chicken. I was happy to see you soak your chicken in buttermilk. For some readers they may not know why this is done.... the acid in the buttermilk breaks down the fibers in the muscle, making it more tender; a different kind of brining. Plus, the flavor bite that the buttermilk gives the chicken really enhances the flavor of the meat. My jury is still out on taking off the skin. I've had alot of really good crispy fried chicken with the skin on, and the skin gives the chicken so much flavor. I have to try the skin removal method the next time I make it to see if there is any difference.
I saw a cooking competition show where the chef mixed ALOT of Old Bay seasoning into the dredging flour. I tried it and it gives great flavor.
It was great that you all finally gave Josie the axe..... I don't know what was worse about her, the lousy food she consistently served up or her laugh. As one cheftestant said, she had her lovable moments, but.... man, she was annoying as hell!! I don't watch LCK but it was good to read that she, again, screwed up her food, Kristen kicked her as (redemption!) and that she's gone for good. I hope we don't see her again in an upcoming season!
Add me to the list of people glad to see Josie gone!!
Tom you got me craving fried chicken. I always found in intimidating. But i used your recipe and a good dutch oven, not a skillet and it came out delisious!!Thanks!
This season is a good one!
PS. i took the skin off. that is the best tip! then the coating doesn''t pull off on the first bite. All you doubters, don't knock it until you have tried it. YUM
Josie is eliminated because of an oily, inedible and simple fried chicken. This really shows what kind of a chef she is.
I'd just like to point out that Tom's recipe includes the word OVERNIGHT when the chefs didn't have OVERNIGHT
ned He wasn't giving the recipe to show what they should have done. He gave it to point out fried chicken is simple in it's cooking and seasoning....basic and simple.
jwinge ned He was clearly telling us how to make 'correctly done' fried chicken with reference to how easy it was to make fried chicken as opposed to how the cheftestants did it. There is no mistaking his intent.
they did have prep time the day before the dinner party and Josh brined his chicken.
Yes it did Ned, because thats his recipe. If you watched the episode, Josh won it. Josh stated during his prep that he wasnt going to have enough time to brine his chicken properly so he was injecting his chicken with the brine. The boy used the time he was given properly. I'm sure that his original recipe calls for an overnite brine but he adapted to the situation.
I had a sudden insight about why some of the chefs may have cited time as their downfall: I think they felt as if they did not have enough time, because their over-thinking minds had not yet slowed down, and were still working overtime. So, it was as if they never came out of their own heads in time to start making their chicken. In a sense, they did not have enough time, because they spent too much on conceptualizing what should have been one of the easiest time-related challenges. The time factor was entirely internal and had almost nothing to do with the actual prepping and frying of the chicken. (Note: Josie is the exception to this theory, as she had a history of poor time-management. And speaking of time and Josie: It is about time she was booted!)
I just have one comment about this episode: If you are going to do a fried chicken episode in Seattle, you better call Ezell! Best fried chicken in Seattle
Tom eliminated CJ for the same reason Josh won. CJ and Josh did exacty what Tom asked for with no creative innovation. In the Pike Place episode, Tom berated the chefs for their lack of innovation. CJ even mentioned that he specifically made a burger and garnished it with the pickle to keep it simple and execute his technique as best he could. Sheldon was robbed. He did a duo of chicken and his only fault was not having enough chicken.
Hey, Josie... bub-bye. She definitely stayed past her expiration date. Too bad better competitors got the boot because of her. Kristen and Bart deserved better.
PorkBBQ yes, but it wasn't a good burger. it was ordinary and sandwiched between two crumpets that had become unappetizingly soggy. also, the challenge was to highlight the market ingredient: the pickle. josh executed his chicken properly, was one of three who actually made fried chicken. and it was flavorful and tasty, not greasy bordering on inedible like that of josie. one of the judges, i think emeril, stated that he'd never had smoked fried chicken before; that's bringing something new to the table. cj put a pickle on a burger. an unimpressive burger that was the worst dish of the day. i think not having enough chicken is an issue, while not the most important, enough to get you edged out from a win.
I think my favorite part of this episode was how obviously buzzed the judges were at dinner. My husband had just said, "If I were Tom, I'd do judges table the next day," when the contestants found out that judges table would indeed be the next day.. HA! Wolfgang was hilarious
Tom, you redeemed yourself a little in my eyes by calling bullshit on Josie's excuses, although, her problem isn't time management. She just isn't on par with the other really good chefs she's competing against. And what the hell is up with Padma's Josie love? It was outright nauseating this week after knowing how last week's episode went down.
I'm really surprised to see all the Padma bashing. Did any of you watch the first season? The host was terrible! I love Padma, she always says pack your knives and go like she's actually sad to see them go.
knoxfoodie Why are you surprised? Padma has been downright mean this year, not her usual gracious self.
Just thank goodness that Josie is GONE! Talk about a prima dona - she always thought she was better than everyone else-NOT! Now we can just enjoy the rest of the competition and HOPE that Kristen keeps her stuff going and winning LCK!!!
Tom, I love you but my beloved Top Chef is jumping the shark as CarpeC. mentioned. Restaurant wars has always had an issue with poor "Host" service. Stephan was not limp. The food was on time and good. Padma had a fit and said Stephan should be sent home for not explaining one dish.
muffaletta said it well. CJ was eliminated for doing the simple obvious with pickles yet you expected "simple" from fried chicken. If you insist on Last Chance, then it should be based on the number of wins, not the last winner. Fan favorite should not factor in Last Chance winner. In other words, they may not be the best chef.
Please bring back the basics to my favorite show! Make it about good food. Not outlandish personalities or assembling kitchens in alleys.
Thank you to everyone who posted exactly what I was thinking last night - "what is with Padma defending Josie?" I was also disappointed with her snide comments about Stefan being a liar. I thought that was a little uncalled for. I honestly would have stopped watching if Josie made it another week. Excuse after excuse does not a Top Chef make. I was surprised she was brought back at all actually. CJ and Stefan I get - they were popular and got pretty far in their season. Josie? Not so much. As Gail said in last week's episode, "at what point does Josie become responsible for what she's cooked?" Like everyone else, I was disheartened when Kristen was sent packing. I get it - she was head chef and therefore responsibility falls to her. And she showed tremendous class for not throwing Josie under the bus, as she so easily could have done. But I would beg you Tom, when team challenges occur, please get feedback from ALL team members. They're the ones who can fill in everything that's gone down. Both Lizzie and Brooke could have shed light on all that happened (or, more correctly, what DIDN'T happen).
stephan was being a b-ser at judges table. He never should have started the guests drinking as early as he did and then they may have wanted to leave earlier. He is European and that means he is alot more blunt than your average American...but he was horrible as front of the house and Padma was right....HE WAS VERY LUCKY cuz if Sheldon had not won with his food then it would have been stephan that went home instead of kristen.
All I can say is thank goodness the Josie show got cancelled!! Couldn't believe it took that long for the judges to see what kind of chef she is. I can see why all the other contestants are fed up with her 1)laugh, 2)her bs excuses 3)her laugh again(especially if they have to live with her). That being said, I'm all about fairness and top chef/cook should win, thats what a cooking show of this caliber should be. Josie smacks talk, tough girl attitude, and doesn't BRING IT. If you're gonna act arrogant and tough then you better bring it, put the other chefs in their place. Otherwise your making yourself less credible. I was so frustrated week after week, that the wrong chef went home. I told my husband that this isn't Top Chef anymore, its Mediocre Chef contest because the potential chefs with talent are being sent home for stepping up to the plate and taking responsibilty, while some screws up and bus driving the good ones home. I'm glad Stefan didn't get sent home this week, because he has way more potential and talent. His dish wasn't the best and the outcome might have been different if Kristen wasn't sent home last week, thats the interesting part. When top chefs actually complete with the cream of the crop. And Padma is a host, I love her to death. But these past few weeks her defense of Josie put her not very credible anymore. Having said all this, I feel better now everyone :)
I find it ironic and hypocritical. Stefan and Fabio got to the bottom because of gumbo. Who cooks gumbo in Finland and Italy. Fabio also got sacked because of a burger. Is Italy known for their burger. I'll ask Wolfgang if Austria makes burger too. And by the way Austria is not Finland. Different language, culture and cuisine. Austria got more livestock because of the weather but less seafood. The Fins could have fish all year round. Lizzie is from South Africa. With all the livestock and seafood the country has, fried chicken must be a luxury. Josh is an Okie. Since when their known for sushi? Eating burger and KFC does not translate as knowing how to cook it. I wonder if Master sushi chef would be able to cook a delicious simple dish like a "fried chicken"? Cooking rice is so simple. Just water and rice? Really? No usage of a rice cooker? Cooking rice used for sushi is a must see in Top Chef? I wonder who'll be the judge to say this is the best cooked rice I've ever eaten?
Tom~ whats with Padma this season?? She is really coming across as very unlikable. She is definitely gunning for Stephan. The last few shows she has had nasty comments. Could she compete or just make criticisms? When you get angry or upset viewers respect it because of your credentials and you could wipe the floor with any one of them.
Twingle I agree. She was down right nasty & mean to Kristen when she was telling her to leave.
Twingle I agree. She is acting like a spoiled little debutante. She clearly has it out for Stefan, who is a really nice guy, supportive of the others, and looks fun in the kitchen. He never steals ideas or undermines others. Shame on Padma.
Twingle I agree about Padma. It almost looks like the producers are telling her to amp up the drama factor in her comments for the camera. She and they think it looks smart and on point while the rest of us just think she looks nasty and biased.
What I noticed this season is that they kept Josie for the drama. I thought this was a "Top Chef Culinary Battle" not t.v show like the housewives of whatever. We want the top chef to battle and I do not cared about the drama! Josie is a joke & drama. I would suggest Padma to take a culinary class before she can critique anyone's dish!
Like who didn't know Josie was gonna go - this episode shoulda been called ' TOP CHEF: JUDGES REDEMPTION'
I really did not enjoy the judges this episode: I found them snide and dismissive and enjoying their fame and power in an ugly way. Disappointing.
I 100% disagree with you. My boyfriend and I watch and find ourselves totally liking the judges a lot more after seeing them interact with eachother. It is so nice to see this side of them! Wolfgang is hilarious and Emerl seems like a really nice guy!
funnwjenn jefrank4 yes, but they are not the real judges of the show. Padma is queen bee, and she's a meanie.
I disagree as well. All of the judges having been telling the truth and judging honestly except for Padma. I think that girl is coming off as being an arogant person who favors people. Perhaps its the way the Bravo crew is cutting the show but she looks bad this season.
oh, and your comment "I loved Lizzie's peach slaw" ... well ... it wasn't a slaw challenge .. it was a FRIED CHICKEN challenge ... mind you, I think Lizzie had the best reason for not doing a good FC and I'm not a fan of Josie, AT ALL (arrogant, is a term that springs to mind) and I generally agree w/your having sent J home (she more than earned her "Josie, pack your knives and go" but to save someone b/c of their slaw instead of their chicken just doesn't ring well here.
I'm really totally unhappy that you brought back CJ, Stefan, or Josie to compete in this show .. you should have had a show where you select 2 of the losers from each previous season and let them duke it out rather than what you did this season .. just wasn't cool at all.
shamari.raine I agree with most of your post but love CJ and Stefan. They were needed this season as most of the chefs seem to be lacking a sense of fun that brings levity to the show. I don't like the add on of LCK. Not fair to those who made it to the final four. Bringing back Bev last season was a bust...because people felt sorry for her(?) Also not fair to LCK'ers with the most number of wins. As Hugh mentioned in his blog, it's almost a given that Kristen will win LCK and will be back. Big surprise.
are you serious??? you advocate creativity and "out of the box" thinking and then penalize those who deliver just that? c'mon .. anyone can cook mom's fried chicken (although I don't make fried chicken like the gourmet chef's do apparently .. mine is fried in a black iron skillet and not deep fried but that's how my mom did it, so that's how I do it) and you penalized chef's for delivering what they *thought* the "judges" wanted .... that wasn't playing fair IMO .. and quite frankly, the only "fried chicken" that even came "close" to what *I* think of as "fried chicken" had lots of grease and was just missing the mashed potatoes and cream gravy! And I love ya Tom but y'all did not do right in this one .. IMNSHO, of course :)
Come on, Chef,
Chicken FRIES fast, but to make it well it brines and marinates SLOWLY and you know that! THomas Keller's famous chicken is brined OVERNIGHT!
About them not doing it straight forward enough for you, there is the fact that the judging table REGULARLY criticizes them for NOT being unique or creative ENOUGH... can't have it both ways. Trying to guess whether it is better to be traditional or nouvelle is a balancing act, especially with such RANDOM judges... PADMA!
A few glaring issues with critiques from this episode include:
Also, Brooke was criticized for using only the breast but Lizzie, who did the same, was in the top 3? Lizzie was asked about that choice and she said that she wasn't that familiar with fried chicken. Which brings me to the next glaring conflict in critiques...
When Lizzie said she wasn't familiar with fired chicken, Padma said (and I quote), "That's fair".
But when Stefan said the same thing she called him "a bullish...er"
It's either "fair" for chefs from other lands to be unfamiliar with fried chicken or it is bull, can't be both.
After the debacle during Restaurant Wars I all-but-gave-up on this show that I have followed since it began... but I decided to watch one more time On Demand (so I could fast forward or rewind as needed over insanity). Top Chef is a hard habit to break. However, it is clear to me that the choices are random and the EXACT thing that puts one chef on the bottom wins another praise based on whims and personalities. The most egregious example of this random-ness and poor judgement and "personality" issues comes from Padma. I don't know who Padma is sleeping with but it is the ONLY reason I can see for her "rise to power" despite her being equal parts CLUELESS and ARROGANT!
As a chef myself, I used to like this show.. had parties with friends to watch it since Wednesday is my ONE night off... But between the GLARING product placement and that vicious trollop, Padma... I guess my last attempt remains thus... Unless by some miracle Padma packs her knives and goes the freak home, I can't see that I will ever watch again and I am saddened,
I thought you had more power, Chef. I thought you were the defining member of the team... you should be! I call, "UNCLE!" Can't take it any more! Guess I will hope against hope that when Bravo announces NEXT season, they will also announce that Padma has been replaced by someone with more food knowledge and personality... a farm animal, perhaps?!
Tom, Tom, Tom just because Wolfgang Puck ate fried chicken growing up does not mean it is a staple of Germany. My grandfather came from East Germany. There was no such thing as fried chicken. Having my grandfather's book of german recipes(yes, they are in german)-there is not one recipe for fried chicken in it.
Maybe going the cordon bleu route-was not what the judges wanted in fried chicken. But from what viewers saw/heard there were no specifics as to the kind of fried chicken they were to create. Usually they get raked over the coals for doing "simple". Make up your minds.
I also thought it was completly wrong of Padma to bring up to Brooke about the 2 guys she had interviewed and not hired. Rude of the one to say he was glad he wasn't hired. I am sure he has never blown a meal...