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Cut The Classics

Season 2 winner Ilan Hall shares his thoughts on Season 3.

It seems like from the get-go Hung was running around like a maniac. He's very focused and he's very skilled, but he needs to be a little bit more respectful of his surroundings, his fellow competitors, and the food products. You don't just throw live animals on the ground and leave them there. No matter what, you're in a kitchen. As for the conch in the Quickfire, I've never worked with it either, but I've eaten it once or twice. It was actually pretty interesting watching them use that contraption to open it. Overall I was glad to see them using live ingredients -- it's the best way to go. There were some great Quickfire dishes. Brian had a really good approach.using different techniques. I was surprised to see that no one did anything grilled. Hung said how people stuck to white wine and steaming everything. Grilling and keep it raw are the best preparations of seafood -- simplest, cleanest. Both methods really just make the food speak for itself.

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I did have a bit of a problem with the Elimination Challenge. It didn't seem like there were any true guidelines to it. When we did our health-food challenge in Season 2, each meal had to be under 500 calories, and it had to be calculated exactly. I'm assuming because there were issues with us and people were accused of cheating, they wanted to kind of blur the event, so that it can be judged on the food, which I can understand. I think next time, in a challenge like that, there should be some sort of stricter rules. I don't know if there's something off camera about the rules that we didn't see, but I don't think so. I just know ours were very strict.

I think one of the greater techniques to me as a cook is to hide fat. This basically means to incorporate fat to make things more delicious and have better textures. For example you can add lots of olive oil to yogurt and it won't seem like you've done that. You can literally take non-fat yogurt and whip olive oil into it.

I don't mean they should cheat, but if we had had that freedom last season I could have deemed what I thought was healthy and low calorie and incorporate those things without the stricter rules. Basically, even though it was a difficult challenge, they could've done it.

Let's just say this wasn't my favorite challenge. I wouldn't repeat it if there's a Season 4 because they're trying to reinterpret something and change its whole dynamic. I mean the satisfying thing about a piece of fried chicken is that it's heavy, greasy, and crunchy. You kind of want that.

The thing about Micah is that she said that she's not familiar with meatloaf, but she still gave a pretty literal execution of the dish. She stuck it in a ring mold, but it was more or less a meatloaf with ketchup. To her credit I don't think she's ever seen the show so I won't really judge her on this, but she could've learned a thing from the reaction to Elia's comments condemning American cheese in our first episode. I thought Dale's chicken and dumplings was really cool. I think it was really smart that he used instant mashed potatoes for the dough. People will probably take issue with his use of instant mashed potatoes, but he wasn't making mashed potatoes; he was using them for a dough to make the shell for the dumplings. So I think in that instance, it was a really smart approach to it. Having an hour to cook is nothing. For some reason when you're in that kitchen, time flies like none other.

Looking beyond this episode to the rest of the season, I do have a few favorites already. I like Tre -- he is very credited and I hope he does well. I also like CJ a lot -- he's not confrontational, but he says what needs to be said. Hung, on the other hand, needs to chill a little with the Marcel imitation because it might get him into some trouble. But he's extremely talented and I wish him luck.

I think Joey may be a dark horse. They don't highlight him enough, but he is very skillful, and I also like his New York demeanor. I've worked with so many people like him, and I think he'd be a great person to work with in a kitchen. He's very talented, and I feel comfortable talking to him.

Anyway, that's it for now, but I'm excited to be blogging. This is an open forum, so feel free to say anything about the episode or even about me, and I'll do my best to respond to everything.

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