Half Pirate, Half Hippie

Half Pirate, Half Hippie

Harold Dieterle thinks the Thanksgiving challenge was pretty cool. He feels the same way about Anthony Bourdain.


First of all, I thought the can challenge was pretty cool. I think a lot of us, as chefs, don't have the availibility of certain exotic ingredients, so we find ourselves using cans. Though I don't think that was really the case with these ingredients. I'm not opposed to using canned products. I like to use fresh, but sometimes obviously it's not practical to take coconuts and pop them open to get the milk out, so we use canned coconut milk every now and then. It's common.

About the Quickfire challenge, all I can say is that 15 minutes is not a lot of time. It's one where you're really put to the test. And on top of that -- to build up more pressure -- you've got Tom as the judge. And anytime you have Tom as a judge, you've got to be extra, extra on your game, because at the end of the day, he makes the final call. So you know, you really want to take it to the next level when you're cooking for him. It's one of those situations where it was really huge to win the Quickfire for this one, because the winners also get the opportunity to have a day off from cooking. Which is so relaxing. Especially in this kind of atmosphere, where you're banging out new dishes every day. And this is the point where people are starting to get broken down mentally and physically. On many levels. I'm not going to lie, there were times where I was just like, "you can send me home, I've had enough of this." It's exhausting -- it's not just the cooking, it's just dealing with all these crazy personalities. And people that you're living in a house with that you've never met before. You're away from your family, you're being pulled out of your normal life. It's grueling.

Which leads us to the Elimination challenge. A cutting-edge Thanksgiving dinner. Great. And then there's Anthony Bourdain. I think he's great. As a food writer, he's amazing. He's downright spectacular. Kitchen Confidential is probably my favorite food book. Bourdain is like a cross between a pirate and a hippie. You look at this guy and you think -- he did too many drugs in the 70s and 80s, he drank too much in the 90s, and here we are in the 21st century. He's pickled. He looks pickled. I love him, he's hysterical and witty and funny and smart. He's one of these guys who's good at what he does, and isn't an an elitist about it. He says, you know, "I'm not the greatest chef in the world. I'm probably a better food writer than I am a chef." And I think that's great. He knows what he does. And he does it well.

But I'm getting off topic here. Back to the elimination: Marcel was the only person who really paid attention, was listening to, or was capable of giving the judges what they want. I think he felt short a little bit on execution, but from a presentation standpoint, and getting what the challenges was about, he hit the nail on the head. I can't taste the food, so I have to go with what the judges say. But it's clear that Marcel does not have a lot of support from the other contestants. And it's clear for various reasons why that it is, but you gotta learn how to play nice. Sure, it's about the food. But when you're working in your restaurant, you can't do it all by yourself. And the guy can't get along. Mikey. Again, that guy cracks me up. I love him. He goes in there, he knows what he knows, he does what he does. He doesn't try to get out of his skin. He doesn't try to do things that he doesn't know how to do. He stands behind his food and I appreciate that. I would go and eat wherever Mike was working. I would know what to expect and I'd be happy with it.

It was clear to me, watching Carlos, that he's had enough. I just get the sense that he was ready to pitch it in and go back to South Beach. He just seemed done. Like, "I have a great life and this is not for me." You can almost watch him talking to the judges -- he's frustrated, he's short with them, he's ready to go home. That being said, I was thoroughly surprised to see Betty's horns shoot out of her head like that. I guess everyone else saw it, but I really didn't. She's fiery, man. Fiery. It just makes you wonder how real that smile is all the time. I had suspicions when I saw her and Marcel go at it the first time, but this time she got the bus driver's uniform, she put it on, she got behind the wheel of the bus and started driving over people. There were some serious people getting tossed under the bus. I have to say I loved watching Frank getting into Marcel's grill. About toiletries! I wish I could offer some bodyguard services. It was pretty scary watching Frank with a half a glass of wine, looking half intoxicated, looking totally out of control. I feel lucky. Season 1, we got rid of our crazies early. We didn't have very many bruisers left toward this point in the game.

Well, a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I have no big plans this year, and I'm loving that. Since my parents have split, it's a two-stop deal. First stop is the Sicilian side of the family, where we have antipasti and lasagna. And then from there, it's the Northern Europeans, with all the turkey and stuffing. I split it up. And I don't cook at all. This is the first Thanksgiving in about five years that I'm not doing anything for it. I'm looking forward to eating turkey instead of cooking.

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