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Let's start with the season premiere. First of all, enjoying the season so far. In the first episode, they started right off the bat with the mise-en-place relay race. I didn't see anyone really stand out and blow me away, but it was a nice little challenge. Very early on I saw there were very few people who had really good knife skills. Not that’s the only sign of being a good chef, but it is the building block of skills. It’s one of the first things you learn how to do.
The four people who were on the winning team had to compete in an actual Quickfire using those ingredients and Jennifer won. I’m not familiar with her, but she looks pretty sharp. I haven’t picked out a guy who is the strongest yet. But what’s up with the ignorant comments this year? Have these guys never worked with top-notch women in the kitchen before? They need to get out a little. I guess it’s because none of them have NYC experience. You come to a NYC kitchen you’re going to see some women who can throw down. I don’t know if it’s the smaller markets or what. The ignorant comments were very surprising.
The elimination challenge had to do with vices. I thought the winning arctic char was cool. I’m not a big arctic char fan, but I thought it looked cool and really well composed. I liked Michael V’s dish with the coconut. I thought it was very cute, smart, and witty. I thought it was very interesting seeing a couple of people make the same thing. It was curious to see Bryan do beef in both. It was surprising. Those were the stand-outs for me. The pepper looked way out of whack. I thought that was really weird. Jennifer did well too with the poached halibut; I thought that looked really nice. She might keep doing fish but at some point you have to come out of your comfort zone. Maybe she’ll try to rock fish out as long as you can.
What would my vice have been? It could have been gin and tonic. I could have done some gin cured fish. I do like a nice round booty too, so we could go either way.
Let’s talk about Episode 2. The Quickfire was all about how many ingredients you had to use. There was no real direction. It’s one of those things, but I think they’re getting some pretty darn good ingredients. It could be worse. For me, it’s tougher if you can only use two or three, which is really challenging. If you have a lot, put some mild sweet herbs in it or something. If you have a specific dish in mind you can eat up a lot of ingredients pretty easily. Ideally, I’m a simple guy who likes simple ingredients. I think between five and eight ingredients is pretty ideal. That’s where most of the people fell into place. I was surprised how many people had a difficult time with the degree of doneness with their dishes. I love black cod, but I hate sous-vide. I think it comes out really rubbery. I’m just not into it. If you have 30 minutes, you don’t have time to make a nice liquid. Sous-vide does nothing for me. I love black cod, but if you cook a fish like that you have to be able to eat the skin. I don’t want rubbery black cod skin and it seemed undercooked on top of that. I think Bryan’s a really talented chef, but you don’t always make the right decision in 30 minutes.
His brother Bryan won and he seems to be into a very avant-garde style of cooking. It seems his thing and he likes to take chances and go for it, which I think is cool.
For the elimination they had to do bachelor and bachelorette parties. They should have easily been able to rock this. There shouldn’t be very many excuses why stuff’s not working here. The only problem is you’re cooking outside. Cooking outside sucks. It’s crazy so it’s not so fun. I thought everyone did a good job and Tom doesn’t seem very cranky this year, which is nice.
Ashley was upset about catering the party because she doesn’t have marriage rights. I can’t relate to where she’s coming from but it’s one of those things where if that’s the way you want to look at it and take it personally, she’s totally entitled. What happens if you get a phone call and someone says they’re having a bachelor or bachelorette party and they want you to cater it? Why look at it differently? Are you going to turn down business because of your personal views? Maybe, I don’t know. I can’t relate because I’m not there. I would look at it as a business opportunity. These people want to hire me and I need to get paid.
If I was cooking to pair with shots, a ginger cocktail would definitely be something I would be shooting for because I cook a lot of South East Asian food. I had a very bad experience with Tequila. I don’t touch it. Something like that that’s really aggressive makes me nauseous. The apple cocktail was probably vodka based and vodka’s pretty much a clean palate so you can pretty much do whatever you want with it. The apple thing might be harder.
The brothers did well again. I really wanted to try that macaroon. I thought it looked good and very interesting. It was a ballsy call and he went for it. Michael did a deconstructed shot and he had immunity so he could take a risk. I thought it was smart. I thought Hector was ballsy too. Wow.
Eve was sent home. In the first episode she was taking about putting heavy cream in something because she didn’t have white wine. I don’t understand where heavy cream comes in there. If you don’t have white wine then you look for something with citrus or acid. I’ve never heard of someone using heavy cream for that.
Who do I like? I like the brothers and I’m liking Kevin and Jennifer. Robin seems like a pretty good cook and so does Eli. It’s tough. There’s so many good people right now and I find it very exciting.