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This episode lived up to the hype as the hardest competition ever on Top Chef! Cooking for Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller at the same time would be enough to make you “freak out”, but when you are cooking outdated old school French food then it would be time to panic. I loved this episode and I hated it at the same time. We have seen it all this season, from Michael’s disc of bleu cheese molecular gastronomy to Kevin’s upscale comfort food, and now we get to see my friend and San Diego native Gavin Kaysen usher in the original “turducken.” Galantines, Balantines, Terrines are what we are taught by the old guards in culinary school, and that is where they are usually left. I have not been to a fine dining restaurant and seen any of those things on the menu in years. Don’t get me wrong – Gavin, and all of the other competitors from around the world who make it through regional competitions all the way to the national stage, are “superstars." The knife skills and technical level is out of this world. The Bocuse d'Or is a grand event. It is a ballet of timeless dances performed over and over again to pay homage to history, while we are living in a modern world with a different beat and a different sound. This is neither good or bad, it is just a different time and place, where paper hats have been replaced by tats! If we were to put a sound to our chefs this season what would it be? Michael would have to be modern, with a cocky undertone and a backbone of righteousness – Kanye West! Ouch! Jen would be ultra-talented with a self-depreciating anthem – Alanis Morissette. Eli would be comically twisted with a jolly rhythm – Jack Johnson? And Bryan would be overly serious with a dark realization peering through the clouds into sunny tomorrow – Morphine. Let's just give Kevin – Blues Traveler for fun! That was kind of fun. Now give me your musical matches for the chefs.
Back on track... This is why this was the hardest challenge EVER: I remember when Gavin was representing the U.S. at the Bocuse d'Or, he had his kitchen turned into an exact replica of the kitchen he would be competing in, every piece of equipment was exactly the same, from spoon to sauce pot. Every day for months, he would have fish flown in from France so that he could practice his dish. This is crazy to think we could ask our chefs do try and live up to the expectations that the d'Or holds. I'm a little surprised that they would even attach their prestigious name to a TV show competition. It just goes to show how far Top Chef has come over the seasons.
Our friend Eli has gone, and Kevin wins. The finals are set, and I am still rooting for the guy who makes the food Michael cooks on his days off.
Now what does this have to do with healthy remix? Simple! Less is more! The more contrived, tortured, manipulated your food is, the more you should stay away from it. Eat what you know and recognize. If you have to stuff it, emulsify it with gelatin, or freeze it with liquid nitrogen, you have to believe it loses its nutritional value and personality. Do you ever say “I crave – lips and assholes stuffed in a gelatin mold, or meat submerged in a plastic beg for hours?" No! I usually say, "I crave fish, chicken, pasta". It's fun to play, but at the end of the day follow Kevin's lead and cook with soul!