Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top Chef All Star: Finale!!!

It's been a long time since I've done a Top Chef live let's do one. And what would be better than the Top Chef All-Star finale!?

Blais vs Isabella! Woe-is-me vs. Look-at-me! The Hair vs The Gut! Talent vs. Whatever Mike is.
Clearly, I have a favorite...

10:05 - So...the finals challenge is for both chefs to create the restaurant of their dreams, with a 4 course tasting menu that represents their talent as culinary all-stars that they are.

Blais is trying to lower the expectations around him. Isabella is trying to get in his head. This title is going to come down to which crumbles first: Mike's ego or Blais' confidence.

Hey! The other all-stars are back, making amuses for Mike and Richard to taste. By selecting the amuse, the cheftestants select their sous chefs.

10:11 - So Blais got Antonia, Spike and Angelo, and Mike grabs Carla, Jennifer and Jamie. First reaction is that Richard picks some sous chefs that play to his strengths (avante garde, heavy on flavor, grounded in fundamentals but can diverge into cutting edge), where as Mike has selected some women (which will be tough for him) that have very strong personalities. For Mike to succeed, he'll need to be the opposite of what Marcel was during Restaurant Wars. If he can't, just give Richard the crown now.

Mike picks SeaFire at the Atlantis. Blais is at Cafe Marnique. Mike seems like he has a pretty good game plan in terms of who is doing what.

10:16 - Blais has the nitrogen going, and Capt Crunch at the desert station. I'm already excited about where he's headed. And of course as soon as I write that, Richard switches to foie gras ice cream from whatever he was doing with Capt Crunch. That detail is telling, and I don't feel great about it.

Tom is doing his "meet-with-the-chef," which should really be called "Tom does eyebrow raises and pointed questioning"
10:21 - Blais - stop with the lowering of expectations. Just be confident in the fact that everyone recognizes your ability, and smarts, and do what you do best.

10:27 - Blais does a live oyster with salsa verde for a amuse, and then follows it up with some amazing looking hamachi (one of my personal favorites).

10:28 - Isabella's amuse is a beet salad that doesn't seem to resonate. Mike's 2nd course is some beautiful halibut that Tom raves about. Ruh roh...this could bananas.

10:31 - Mike is bringing it, seriously. Destroyed the 3rd courses with some awesomely impressive meat dish. His desert was a little lackluster though.

Spike is being snoopy...I love that kid. He reports back to Blais on what the judges are saying. Another good example of having sous' playing to Richard's strengths.

Judges seem to be impressed with Richard's build-up, although the foie gras icecream wasn't well-received. Richie is working hard on making the ice cream to be better texturally.

10:39 - Awww...All-Star love-in. Padma reporting live, with the new TC Masters host. Padma - oh, the things we'd do. In my dreams. Brrrrr.
Focus, Nick.

10:41 - It's anyone's game at this point. Both courses are sound, across the board. Foie gras ice cream came out better the second time around...which is good, because I feel Tom and Gayle own the judges table most nights.

10:46 - Judges table. Tom says best finale food ever. High praise. Judges say Mike had strong finesse. Pepperoni sauce was crazy business! Ballsy was word of the day for Mikey.
Richard nails intensity of flavors. Hamachi course was the strongest. Black cod was flawless. Lots of praise for Richie.

Oooff. Tough one. I love Richie, but Mike brought it. It's going to be ridiculously close.
10:51 - Tom on the fence? Holy balls. This is going to be a tough one. Richard takes 1st course. And looks like 2nd course could go to Richard as well. Tom says Mike's halibut was the best fish he'd ever had on Top Chef...before Richard's black cod. WOW. 3rd course appears to go to Mike, and there's a split for desert. Gut says Richie by a nose, but we'll have to wait through some more commercials to find out.

10:57 - Here we go......queue the tense elimination music. Padma, get serious on me, girl. Tom hands out requisitie praise. And............

FUCK YES!!!!!!!

Wow! I feel so good for him right now. That guy is brilliant and works hard at his craft. Congrats! Very rewarding end to this season, and I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Force of Music

Music can alter your mood with just a few notes. It can instantly connect to you emotionally like nothing else can. Don't you want to get up to dance and move when you hear the Beatles' Twist and Shout, feel instantly wistful and in love when you hear Louis Armstrong crooning La Vie En Rose or bleed a little inside when REM's Everybody Hurts comes on the radio?

I haven't blogged enough about music but I heard an NPR story on the radio the other day that absolutely resonated with me. Check it out here:

The NHK Symphony from Japan had made the painful decision to leave Japan and tour a day after the earthquake and tsunami hit their countries. Some people may think that they are crazy or heartless for leaving their families, homes and the devastation their country has suffered. But musicians and people who truly breathe, feel and live - not just appreciate - music understand that as the chairman of the NHK Symphony Orchestra put it, "Music can uplift the heart and strengthen the spirit."

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I'm here.

Will be posting some food pics. Some concert pics. Hopefully no drunken pics.

Last night, I had a fried shrimp po-boy and did not take a photo...mostly because it went in my mouth too quickly. I'm headed back there, if I can remember where it was.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chef Sightings

Some of my friends and co-workers think I am nuts for recognizing prominent area chefs. I can't love food and not recognize who created the dish. I recognize Seattle musicians walking around all of the time (and probably see Kim Thayil of Soundgarden fame the most) so why wouldn't I recognize a chef?

I am currently in Chicago for work and we stopped by XOCO for a delicious churro on our way after raising our cholesterol with deep dish pizzas at Gino's East. Who should walk out of the restaurant to some pats on the back?  The Next Iron Chef, Chef Marc Forgione. Mohawk and all.
A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker and I were lunching at the Dahlia Workshop in SLU and I spotted Tom Douglas. He was checking up on his latest addition to the empire and had some lunch as well. I knew that he often still cooked family dinner at his restaurants but we asked the host how often he still jumps on the line. We were happy to find out he jumps on it all of the time.

Nick and I saw Ethan Stowell on the line back at the now defunct Union and chatted with chefs at Moto when we were there last month. We've complimented Chef Seif Chirchi and had given him some feedback after noshing at Revel. Chefs are fun and most are incredibly happy to chat about their craft. You eat their food all of the time - why not get to know them too?