Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Chefs Will Not Roux the World

Hugh Acheson doesn't understand why the chefs made individual steaks.

This is being written, fueled by hotel room coffee, in the beautiful Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Mississippi, the home of Viking Range. Book tours are endless.

The chefs are realizing that some of them are boys and some are girls. Except Moto Chris who shrugs off this segregation, favoring a caste system based on whether on not your hair looks like Pebbles from The Flintstones. Again, he is alone in his caste still sad about his Richie. Dude, we all miss Richie.

In saunters Padma and Dean Fearing, a fantastic chef who owns Fearing’s in Dallas. Dean is known for sauce work and is a very classic chef. His food is “best in Texas” material. He also plays a mean guitar and wears cowboy boots that cost more than my mortgage. On top of all that, he’s an awesome person. 

The Quickfire is being held at the Cordon Bleu in Dallas where Paul Q. went to cooking school, so he knows these stoves. Classic sauces are the topic. Tomate, Espagnole, Veloute, Hollandaise, and Bechamel. Get your roux working. It’s the golden oldies of saucework. 

Chef Fearing is a roux man. Roux dat. This is a generational thing, though, and many of the younger chefs make classic sauces not thickened with roux. We agree to disagree on this, Dean and I. I am very impressed with the dishes overall. Grayson’s quips that, “Sauces ain’t no thang” and “feeling fucking saucy” are pretty accurate, as she wins the challenge with a beautiful plate with ravioli, scallops, and a gazillion little elements. Looks badass. Nyesha was talking big, but ended up in the bottom three with Beverly and Dakota. 

On to the Elimination Challenge. Cattlemen’s Ball in Southfork. Heather can’t remember who shot J.R., but she’s pretty sure it's Beverly. The steak is meant to take center stage in a four-course meal. No one says anything about steaks having to be individual steaks, but that’s how Ty-Lor interprets. Big mistake. Would have been so much easier to cook whole eye of ribeye and then slice down to portions. The steak main course is setting itself up to be the disaster course. 

Ty-Lor has some pretty impressive eyebrows in his childhood pictures. And I know what I am talking about. Trust me.

Beverly, Dakota, and Sarah are doing tomato-watermelon gazpacho. 

Chris Jones, Paul, and Edward are making seared beef carpaccio.

Ty-Lor is the steakmaster with a “Whose Your Daddy?" apron, Malibu Chris has greens, Nyesha has a compound butter and a sauce, and Whitney has a potato gratin. This dish has been planned by Ponderosa in 1976. 

Heather, Lindsay, and Grayson are making a peach cake with stuff and generally being the executives in charge of the whole dinner. 

Heather hates Beverly. Hates. Heather wonders why Beverly always cooks Asian food. I want to ask Heather why she is always bossy while cooking white people American food. Beverly’s problem is that she’s a bit too soft-spoken and wispy. It’d be awesome if she just suddenly put Heather in a sleeper hold to stop the conversation.There is lots of fear going on about Whitney’s gratin. I can’t help but wonder why she chose something so basic, but if she can pull off something ethereal then my thoughts mean nothing. Good food can be simple. 

Has Lindsay channeled the voice of Slingblade? Her drawl has gotten much deeper when stress and a new Venza are involved.

Ty-Lor has stabbed himself in the hand which looks terribly painful. There may be no marrow tomorrow. Ty-Lor gets a medic. Then he goes to the hospital. The club of those who have shed blood is growing. 

Heather is getting angrier and angrier. Her chances of winning people’s choice are dwindling. She needs to go to a happy place. Tom visits and Heather turns on the charm while her team is back in the kitchen actually working. Dakota has no love for Heather. 

Whitney’s potato gratin is a beacon of early controversy. 

Ty-Lor is back. 

Busy time in the kitchen. 

And here come the judges. My hair is weird. Oh well. Kind of Mad Men meets Don Johnson circa 1985. That Billy Reid suit was sweet though. We love us some Billy Reid. 

Let me be clear on the diners. This was a great group of people genuinely into the charitable aspect of the event. That’s my type of people. Compared to the progressive dinner crowd from last week, it was like night and day. I still have Gummi Bear cake nightmares. 

First course comes out pretty well. The gazpacho, garnished with pickled shrimp, is very smart. It is pretty bracingly acidic though, but it was a pretty solid beginning. Second course looks fine. Maybe too simple. There is a wonderment to what Ed was doing the whole time. The meat was spot-on, but the rest of it seemed a little disjointed. The whole meal is a little discombobulated. 

The main course is a mess. Four elements piled on like it was your last meal on earth. Looked like a glutton’s delight. Looked like a dish where no one talked to each other along the way. Trainwreck. 

“Right Side Up” Texas Peach Cake, Whipped Mascarpone, Pecan Streusel is deemed pretty great by all of us. No matter how much Heather drove everyone nuts, this is about the food, and her dish was good. 

It turns out Beverly has been stalking Edward for years. Bev is a strange creature. Heather is trying to throw Beverly under the tenth bus of the day. 

Chris Jones, Nyesha, and Heather in the tops. This is all weird because it was a kind of best of the worst kind of day. I was not the biggest proponent of Heather ruling the day, but someone’s gotta win. 

It was really hard to send anyone packing, but there was a massive problem with the main course. It was a mess. Why they cooked individual steaks is beyond me. The whole group needs to talk more about the point of a menu. This was a bad example of menu planning.Whitney lost out. You need to put something great forward every week to stick in this. Undercooked gratin is not going to do it. She will prosper and succeed nonetheless, trust me.

 

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Richard: "Winning Is Overrated"

Richard Blais congratulates Doug Adams on his admirable run and knows (from experience) this is just the beginning for this talented chef.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef.

Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about. A jumping off point for unrecognized or yet truly discovered talent.

Mr. Adams, yes I'm saying Mister because it pays respect to the man, and also because that's how The New York Times goes about things, came on to this season touting his resume of being a working class sous chef from Portland.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef. Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about.

Richard Blais

Sous chefs are on the line everyday (sous chefs from Portland I imagine are also butchering whole animals and foraging for botanicals, buts that's for a different blog). They are hands-on, blue collar grinders and early on Doug uses this statement to separate himself from the contestants who maybe are clipboard surfing, or worse, not even really in a restaurant at this stage of their careers. And although this is a part of his strategy or drive, and a very honest personal understanding and awareness of self, I have news for you...

Doug Adams is no longer a sous chef.

Sure, he may actually, technically still carry the title tonight, I'm not certain to be honest, but by his performance this season on Top Chef, he is now ready for the next stage in his career, and this is what can happen and should happen after Top Chef.

I can't imagine someone not taking a chance with giving Doug the opportunity to run a small restaurant. I can't imagine that someone out there tonight, hearing about Doug's goal of operating a Montana restaurant, connected in some way to hunting and fishing won't contact him. I can't imagine it; because it happened to me... My restaurant Juniper & Ivy in San Diego is a direct connection from my performance on Top Chef, and my gut tells me it had very little to do with "winning."

The fact is, winning is overrated.

Winning is fun. It may get you some cash or secure your ego, yes, but really, six months after this thing runs out on television, we are all just "that guy or girl from Top Chef.

Throughout this season, Doug has demonstrated everything one looks for in a great business partner. He cooks delicious, relatable, soulful food. He does it with a smile on his face. He cooks with a sense of authorship and knowledge of place and time. And perhaps most importantly (no, not his epic beard), most importantly, he communicates with his colleagues professionally and with integrity. I'd guess every cheftestant likes him. I know every judge likes him. He takes risks, like roasting a whole lobe of Foie gras, or say, blending up an aioli of ant eggs. Which, by the way, are you kidding me? Maybe he takes these chances because it's part of the game, but I think more so because Doug is a curious cook, which is a sure tell sign of a chef ready to do their own thing.

Doug, it may seem like I never had anything positive to say about your food, and maybe indeed that's how it played out on television, but it's not the case, Chef.

Congrats on an amazing run, one for all future contestants to take note of. And when rooms become available at your resort in Montana, I'm booking...

Blais
@RichardBlais (Instagram & Twitter)

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