All Hail the Pig!
Jamie Lauren talks about her affinity for pork, and how even she might be outmatched this season.
OK, first off let me start by saying that this episode was one of my favorites of the season, and for no other reason other than the fact that it had so much to do with the glorious animal known as the pig. Seriously, if there was one meat available on this earth to eat for me it would be pork. What an amazing thing pork is. The possibilities of cooking pork are endless, and the fact that you can pretty much eat the entire animal is awesome. Combine that with Pinot Noir and for me, you have bliss. I really don't think I could exist in this world without pork. Think about it: bacon, ribs, salami, lard, pork rinds. The list can go on and on and on, and I was super excited to see TC celebrate the pig. Before I move on with the rest of my blog, I want to address one thing I have been reading about in the comments: the episodes that I see have no endings, so as I write my blog, I actually have no idea who stays and who goes. My theories are pretty much based on hunches and I generally don't find out who PPYKAG'd until the next day or two later, so that could be why the blogs may read a wee bit strangely to you.
Last week, it was Mike that made me crazy. This week , I wanted to kill Robin and Eli. I felt like I was watching a mother and son bicker. Now I get what it's like to live in a house with a bunch of strangers who are all competing against one another—it adds a totally different level of stress than you may think. Imagine combining a neat freak, with a slob, with a mom, with a 25-year-old and putting cameras in their faces and basically telling them GO! It's a funny thing to watch and I could tell from this episode that clicks are forming and it ain't looking pretty for odd woman out Robin. Frankly, I get it too. It's clear that the top four I predicted from last week (not surprisingly were the same that ended up on top this week) are getting annoyed with some of the lesser-skilled chefs. My least favorite part of my TC experience was living together. It sucks to go from living alone to living with people. It takes a long time to adjust to that when you are used to being able to go home and be left alone if you desire. It was like living in a college dorm all over again, only with no freedom at all and no keggers.
It was nice to see Charlie Palmer as the guest judge. I thought it was funny that the brothers V both worked for him at one point or another, though not really surprising considering their level of expertise. I think it is becoming really obvious watching these chefs cook who should stay and who should go. At this point it is clear that Ash, Robin, and maybe Laurine (though she doesn't bug me quite as much) are not on par with the other contenders. Just watching what they cooked for the Quickfires, it was apparent that they are out of their league. I actually think I would be a little intimidated to cook against some of the chefs that are left standing. I'm not afraid to say when someone is a better cook then me or more knowledgeable, but that's what I love about this industry. There is always room to grow and learn. I think it would have been cool to be on this season. I would have loved the chance to learn from my current top four at least as much as I could have considering the strenuous circumstances you are under. I also have to say I didn't love the premise of the Quickfire.
Now, moving on to the elimination and the love of the pig. If I was ever jealous of a challenge thus far this is it. I wouldn't have cared which part of the pig I pulled, because pork is versatile and super easy to cook with, but if I had to pick I would have gone with the belly. Jenn was smart to choose it ... mmm ... pork belly ... quite possibly one of my favorite places on the pig to eat. The fat just melts in your mouth and the meat is so tender. Braised pork belly is next to godliness for me. I actually think I eat some sort of pork everyday, and most chefs would probably say the same. For some reason the pig is like an animal gift to us foodies. I mean really, where would we be without bacon? I honestly don't think I would want to exist in a world without bacon. I hope that I never end up on a low sodium/low fat diet. That would be a sad, sad day. I think the top four truly knocked it out of the park with this one. Judging from the appearance of their dishes, they were worlds away from the other chefs. Kevin's pate (SO smart) looked amazing, and how impressive that he got that done in the time frame he had to work with, and the root beer braised pork cheek (my second favorite cut aside from the belly) with vanilla bean from Mike V? Seriously ... what a great idea with a Pinot. I think whomever brings this one home deserves it. As far as I can tell, the top four are strong and standing. It is going to be a battle to the finish and I have to say it has got to be Ash's time to go. He just seems so outmatched. I can't imagine him surviving another week. Now I'm off to snack on some salumi and a glass of rose and call it a night. Can't imagine a better way of doing it then with some cured pork product in my belly, which leaves me with one final question ... what is your favorite part of the pig?
Also: follow me on Twitter. There's a lot of cool stuff happening in my life over the next few months, if you are interested! @chefjamielauren