Hugh Acheson

Hugh thinks the eliminated chef will be just fine.

on Oct 23, 20130

During the course of this episode, not much time is spent in the French Quarter, so you can put away your beads. We will soon see the beautiful truth about NOLA and Louisiana: the late night revelry on Bourbon Street is .0005% of the character of the city and state. There is so much out there to learn about in the Crescent City and also of Louisiana, and this episode shows a culture that really has laid down roots in the area, bringing a whole culinary culture with them.

The Vietnamese have made inroads into the area, as they brought fishing and shrimping skills into the area almost a half-century ago. With the cultural migrations we see the wonderful effects of food on a society, as Vietnamese food is lauded in NOLA now, and has become part of their newer overall culinary heritage. I remember being at a Hibachi grill type place in Athens, GA and the very native Japanese-looking chef welcoming us in the most Southern Georgia accent ever. “Hey ya’ll! I am Elliot and I am from Macon, GA.” This is our modern South, and I for one kinda love it. 

There are lots of shrimp in this episode. Wild shrimp fisheries are the backbone of Gulf and lower East coast seafood in the US. The industry employs our citizens and provides a wonderfully sustainable offering. The process by which shrimp are caught has made huge strides, with less bycatch through the use of BRDs (Bycatch Reduction Devices) and better seasonal systems of when and how the shrimp can be harvested. Shrimp reproduce like mad, and so it is a renewable resource that we can be happy with eating, unlike most of the fish in the sea, that are really and truly on their last legs. Sadly, it is an industry peril. Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the infrastructure in the Gulf, much of it built by Vietnamese immigrants, and pressure from imported farmed shrimp products has made the black tiger shrimp a lower cost, but much less tasty, option. So we have to invest in our dinner by supporting our own: be conscious of where your shrimp come from… it’s somebody’s job at stake. 

The episode commences with our introduction to Emeril’s companion for the day, Eddie Huang. Eddie is a fool for swag, or a fool who swags, depending on your opinion of him. He is nothing, if not divisive.

Eddie is the TV "sensation" and "chef" of such restaurants as Baohaus and Xiao Ye. He is known to be a proponent of rap, smoking weed, Four Loko, brightly-colored clothing, and well, he hates me. This should be fun. 

Eddie and Emeril drop by the Bourbon Street pad. Emeril loops the chefs into teams. The teams are excited and are wondering if Emeril has a secret bedroom in their fancy pad. At this stage in his career, he is well beyond sleeping in the secret room under the stairs, so no, Emeril doesn’t live there. 

14 comments
mail4gwenl
mail4gwenl

Hi Hugh, I really enjoy your blog. I know you were not present at the Vietnamese menu challenge. However, I have a few things to say regarding the judging of that episode.

 

As a long time fan of the show, who is also American-Vietnamese background, grown up in Baton Rouge, near New Orleans, La. I am disappointed that Top Chef had chosen a guest judge (Eddie Huang)  for that challenge who was not a Vietnamese and his specialty was not even Vietnamese food! I don't think being Taiwanese/Chinese and operating/owning a Chinese restaurant qualifies him to judge our Vietnamese food. He does not have the ability  to judge any type of Vietnamese dishes. Moreover, I felt that he was not being fair and he picked Shirley to win that challenge just because she was Chinese. Travis has done everything right, but yet Travis was criticized for his dish by not using lemon grass, not all dish required lemon grass.

 

If there is a next time, please pick a judge who also won Top Chef in the past and his name is Hung Nguyen. I am sure Hung is over qualified to judge Vietnamese dishes. Thanks for reading!

ChrissieH
ChrissieH

Wow.  Eddie H has a law degree.  And two felony convictions.  And the thing he seems to be proudest of is the two felony convictions?  What a comment on our society.

 

But, the two felony convictions do make me happy.  Let's hope he gets a third and gets locked away somewhere.  Then perhaps we won't ever have to hear from him again, until they do a Top Chef "Sandwiches in a Prison Kitchen" episode.

better
better

From N O L A southerners anything to share with interests to air and add statues for places besides it's heritages please !

Liesovertheocean
Liesovertheocean

Hugh-- I never really liked you until I read this blog entry.  Thank you for calling out Eddie as a wannabe thug poseur.  Keep up the good work, Hugh!

hchnguyen
hchnguyen

Hi Hugh, I really enjoy your blog. I know you were not present at the Vietnamese menu challenge, but none of the other judges wrote a blog entry on that particular episode, other than Gail, but she was not present at the judging of that episode. Plus, your blog is my favorite. :)

 

You made a very good point that Shirley should not feel responsible for representing an entire continent (the world's largest no less) that is so vast and diverse in its culinary offerings and influences . As a fan of the show who is also of Vietnamese background, I am disappointed that Top Chef had a guest judge on for that challenge who not only was not Vietnamese but whose specialty was not even Vietnamese food!  Generally speaking, don't the guest judges have some special qualification for being guest judge on the particular challenges for which they are present? I don't think being Taiwanese or running Taiwanese/Chinese food-themed restaurants qualifies. Moreover, having grown up eating Vietnamese food for most of my young life, I have to agree with Travis that while lemongrass can be found in a number of Vietnamese dishes, I would hardly call it ubiquitous in the way that, say, fish sauce is.  You can make plenty of authentic Vietnamese food without it despite Eddie Huang's implications.  I also grew up eating a number of tomato sauce based dishes as well although my family is not from Central Vietnam. Whether the dish was good or not is a different story altogether, but the fact that it was tomato sauce based doesn't itself make the dish "wrong."  Obviously, it's all in what you add and how you execute on it.  Case in point, all the local Vietnamese with whom Shirley consulted told her to add butter, which seemed to surprise most of the judges but was no surprise to me.  Also, if Sara is reading, Vietnamese very certainly do eat romaine lettuce as well.  My family did and I know plenty of others that did as well and you can go into almost any Vietnamese restaurant in the area where I grew up and you will find it as an accompaniment to a number of dishes.

 

Thanks for reading, Hugh! And thanks for such enjoyable blogs entries. I look forward to reading them all the time.

blondecajun
blondecajun

Thank-you Hugh, from the bottom of this proud Louisiana girl's heart.    Your first three paragraphs said it all.  

pipkin4242
pipkin4242

Maybe Shirley thinks she has to represent all of Asia because every time there is a cheftestant of Asian descent who cooks "Asian" food all of the white cheftestants talk about them like all Asian food is the same. Remember Bev being bullied by Sara a couple seasons ago? Bev cooked Korean food, but Sara and her equally awful crony just dismissively said Bev cooked "Asian." It's long been a problem on Top Chef.

shysharon
shysharon

He hates you?  What's there to hate?! That's ridiculous! Well he must not have a good sense of humor! Did you see his vest??!!

nmfried@yahoo.com
nmfried@yahoo.com

I think you missed a big opportunity when naming Eddie's MTV show.  It should be: Pho’ Realz: Hiding the Lemongrass. 

 

You're welcome.

mussled
mussled

Wow. You sound quite bitter. Of course she'll do fine. You did even though you got kicked off your first episode. Right? Oh but you got to come back, only to have to pack your knives again. But can you cook, or just make snide remarks that you try to pass off as witty? Here's some advice: lose the unibrow. It makes you look mean, which you are, but at least you can look like you're not.

elizabeth6308
elizabeth6308

I have had literally dozens of tomato-based sauces in Vietnam. Including some very similar to a sweet-and-sour sauced used with shrimp, chicken or pork. However it was nowhere near that cloyingly sweet red gunk that we receive in most Western countries. I will agree though that they are much lighter in consistency and flavor than a long simmered down sauce. This sauce is more usually rife with the flavors of pineapple, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, tomato, some heat and cilantro; finished in 15-20 minutes.  All of these tastes used sparingly though to make a mildly sweet and tangy concoction that seemed as if it were a remembered flavor and yet not so at all.  There were plenty of sauces and dishes that bowled me over with heat, this is not one of them.  I'm sorry that the challenge fell through with this sauce as I can taste it in my mind's eye now… Deliciousness!!

lkbrose
lkbrose

 @pipkin4242 Also - Paul (who won that season) was criticized as well for cooking Asian...

 

borbor
borbor

 @mussled OOOh No she DIH-Dent! She read you Hugh! Like you was the only book she had all summer! HA! Reading is FUN da MENTAL!

 

I'm just playin' wit ya'll!!! HA HA!  You just do you boo! Cuz we luvs you. Hugh is the shizzle nizzle ya'll. 

 

Seriously, over cooked shrimp on shrimp day. what was the poor girl thinking. glad to hear she's doin ahight

ittabitchya
ittabitchya

 @elizabeth6308 There are half a dozen Vietnamese restaurants near me and almost all of them have a dish with some form of the tomato sauce just like you described.  Why did they pick a guest judge who isn't really an expert on the subject cuisine?  I guess they like flash. Anyway, seeing those twice fried shrimp being sauced like some wings, you just knew it was going to be mess.  If Travis had bothered to explain what the dish was to his team and why it was a potential winner, then maybe they would have had a chance to sell the dish even if the judges had never experience Vietnamese tomato sauce.  I think Travis showed his limitations in what should have been an area where he could have been the leader of a winning team.  He should have gone home, except that simply frying shrimp could be a challenge.