Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Puzzled by Parsley

Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle deep dishes on the season premiere.

I don't go to Chicago that often, but I find it really beautiful. Everybody's incredibly nice and I had some pretty outstanding meals at Alinea and Avec, which is a restaurant I'm still craving. I'm dying to go back there. I just spent some time in Napa with the chef of Spiaggia, Tony Mantuano, which was pretty cool, so I'm looking forward to eating at his restaurant.

I don't really know the secret to making the perfect deep-dish pizza. I make a style of pizza, but it's not deep-dish. I think it boils down to following the same philosophy as making a regular pizza, just the ratio of crust to sauce and toppings would be different. I've always been craving to do a duck and foie gras pizza with a grated cheese on top of it. My philosophy is, you put the foie gras on top of the pizza and just cook it, it's going to melt. I think that would be fun, and I look for an opportunity to use duck all the time.

I think allowing the chefs to bring their own products is a great idea. It puts them in a position to be able to succeed. Sometimes the odds of the show are stacked against them, and if you have some go to ingredients you can make something work. I wish we could have done that, I would have put some fun stuff together. First off, I would've brought a sexy olive oil and a good amount of specialty Thai ingredients.

I would have liked to try Richard's pizza with the peaches. That sounds like it really wouldn't suck. Here's the thing: If you work at a lot of contemporary restaurants, the classics aren't on the menu. If I had to make all the things on the list, like, I haven't had to make a souffle in a really long time, so that would be challenging. Most people don't have that type of stuff on their menus. So, I mean if there's someone there who can't make crab cakes, steak frittes or shrimp scampi, they shouldn't even be in the competition. Most of that stuff is so straightforward, it was just the souffle that I thought might be challenging.

What it comes to is that neither of the souffles were really souffles. But, at the same time I've been through the motions of it, and you can't do a souffle and then present your food last. It can't just sit there. So, from a timing perspective it's not really fair that the contestants had to put a traditional souffle up and then wait for all the food to be presented.

I don't have any immediate favorite contestants so far -- I still couldn't even tell you their names, there are too many of them. Quite a few of them have some personalities, and it's a very diverse group as always.

It wasn't a surprise that Nimma went home. The food was over-salted, and it just didn't look appetizing. If you're going to make a scampi, why would you marinate the shrimp in parsley? What would parsley add to a marinade? Parsley is more of a poignant herb when you get it raw and it's more of a palate cleanser. If you're just going to sit there and marinate parsley and then cook it, it's probably not going to do very much. It was just very unmemorable. Also, making shrimp scampi with cauliflower is just wildly inappropriate. There just doesn't seem to be any continuity of flavors.

In terms of the couple, Zoi and Jennifer, I think it would be nice to have someone there you can cope with, but at the same time you're emotionally attached and there's only going to be one winner. At some point, somebody's going to be upset. Harold