Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Chef Spoiler Alert

For those of you following our local heroes Bryan and Michael Voltaggio on Bravo's Top chef, we've had a thrilling run to date. Last week (while I was gallivanting around the desert in Nevada), we saw a very touching episode with the Air Force Thunderbirds, where Michael made a bacon lettuce wrap that was braised in heaven's wonderfulness. The judges are still talking about it on their blogs. Preeti obliviously earned her exit with a boring pasta salad that many of us could make in our sleep.

This week, Jesse was knocked out in the quickfire. I will miss her; I think other than some obvious personal issues she was a talented chef who could go far with a better cooking vocabulary through a more formal education. Bryan won his challenge with an amazing "Warm Cured Trout with Deconstructed Bearnaise" that he made with the insecure thunder-stealing Mike I. Let's talk about this dish a little bit, because it was hard to understand what was so amazing about it from the show. Judge Tom Colicchio explains best in his blog why this dish won:

As Mark Kurlansky wrote in Choice Cuts (2002), “You have to be dominated by Escoffier [French chef, 1846-1935, who popularized French cooking] before rejecting him becomes meaningful.” 30 years ago, when I started cooking, we were taught French food, true classics like a Chasseur, a Béarnaise, an Américaine. Unfortunately, these are not generally taught properly here in the States nowadays...Michael Isabella was right to say that he would admonish future chefs to “learn a Béarnaise.” As we witnessed in the program, where Michael had the concept of deconstructing the Béarnaise, but Bryan had to walk him through how to execute that concept, all of our chefs should know the classics first.It’s funny – at this stage of the competition, we knew the chefs well enough to know that the winning dish was in the style of cooking that Bryan does, that it just didn’t seem like a Michael Isabella dish...

A note about the winning dish: remember how I said that the fish seemed simple, but I knew it involved a far more complex preparation than it seemed to? You can find out about a similar preparation of that fish in Thomas Keller’s book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide (2008), on page 88. Bryan took the two top fillets, placed a thin layer of prosciutto between them, used a powder called Ajinomoto RM Transglutaminase (affectionately called “meat glue”) to glue them together, and sous-vide them, cryovac-ing them. The flavors remain pure and the texture delicate. Bryan did this perfectly. While both leading dishes were excellent, we all just kept coming back to that fish in our discussions. It was simply the most memorable item we sampled in the whole challenge, and this is why it garnered Bryan the win.

For this challenge, Chef Hector went home for his butchery of Chateaubriand.

It's obvious now that the chefs to watch are our local faves plus Jen and Kevin. Of course you know who I am pulling for!

1 comment:

lss said...

Thanks for the spoiler alert Shannon! :) I have watched the show and I am so excited for him! I love your graphic too.