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Everything posted by Sethro

  1. Amazing hour of television, probably a new high-water mark for the cooking genre. All the plates looked sick, as did the production. Nice focus on the food. Obviously (to me) if you spend more money per ep, you can get these results consistently.
  2. I don't throw large pieces of apple in the vitaprep because it just sits there on top of the blade and then u gotta push at it forever. I mean if u r peeling them anyhow and need the seeds out, is there a significantly faster way than slicing them? Was she like brunoise'n them to perfection or just chopping? I dont remember...
  3. GS 74th is weird. The szechuan classics are well prepared (on 4/5 of my visits) and everything else is seriously terrible. They have some kind of frying deficiency I've never seen in any chinese restaurant, where their batter is thin and slides off of everything (on 5/5 of my visits). Do not dine in, the FOH is unbelievably green.
  4. I don't know how most people's recipe testing goes, but I have tons more failures then success, and I've had WAY worse ideas than a cheese snake. The one thing that struck me as odd was the reaction of changing tracks entirely every time something didn't work, instead of adjusting, re-testing, etc. I'm sure it was a result of production or editing constraints/incompetence though. The suggestion that he doesn't understand food science or how to cook is ludicrous. He's a young guy finding his way, but his resume is a record of hard time and opportunities earned. Also, the more complicated and sensitive your approach to cooking is, the less likely it is you are going to have good results out of a TV kitchen. I can't begin to explain how un-functional TV kitchens are... Anyway I way prefer the feel of this show than Future Foods, which just seemed silly (the show, not the cooks). I don't think that catering is a proper medium for experimental cooking AT ALL and if anything hamstrings this show it will be bad planning on part of production, not Marcel's level of cooking. Seems like they could have set him up to succeed better, but I guess its another stressing show as supposed to a cooking show (cooking impossible). Good luck to him and I hope he comes out ahead.
  5. Putting ANYTHING hot in the freezer is retarded, period. The point of freezing cakes (as supposed to refrigerating) is that there is little to no moisture transfer to affect the texture of the cake. Of course when you put something hot in the freezer, even a walk-in, it raises the temperature dramatically, and encourages massive moisture transfer through steam, condensation and frosting. Its an indefensible practice, you should probably find a better bakery to work in where you aren't more concerned about the product quality than the chef.
  6. Cooks who are compelled to push their own limits need to be precise for the purposes of recipe testing. New ideas require testing and testing requires precision. Imprecise cooking only works when you are cooking by wrote. There is absolutely no other distinction between "culinary" and "pastry"; if you are changing food for the purposes of better eating, you are COOKING. To put it in familiar context: Grant Achatz is indeed a pastry chef if any such distinction exists.
  7. Gari UWS is basically the menu from Gary UES 10 years ago, executed with way less care. Also, its incredulously expensive for how un-special it is. I guess decor and service-wise it might be the most impressive in the neighborhood, but the food is average. Matsu on Columbus and 83rd is the best hole-in-the-wall sushi joint on the UWS. Very reasonable prices (even for a hole-in-the-wall), neatly assembled sushi and properly seasoned rice at the appropriate temperature. Definitely not a foodie experience, but solid and satisfying on every visit. It is my go-to. Another option is Momoya, which is chain-y but good. Some serviceable Nobu-stolen dishes on the menu as well, so I guess it is kind of trendy. Its between Matsu and Gari price-wise, with a modern, clean atmosphere. Everywhere else on the UWS that I've tried is either completely inedible or insanely expensive.
  8. There's really no way to describe how good Angelo's palate is. Flavors like JGV's through a loudspeaker; totally unique and memorable. Can't blame any of his competitors (or fans) for hoping he falls ill.
  9. Painful read. Just lazy, amateurish writing. No mention of a pastry chef? This is a serious restaurant, I assume they have a pastry program. Literally not even one dessert for the "recommended dishes"; I don't think I've ever seen that. Anyways, there must be a few restauranteurs on the brink of opening their upscale Italian mega-eatery, shitting their pants tonight. The Italian bubble bursts like all other bubbles, who would have predicted?
  10. Don't puree it will turn foggy pepto-bismal color. Pulse it in robotcoupe at let it sit in a china cap or cheesecloth like tomato water. Because it has no solids just juice its going to have weak texture even with a good sorbet syrup. I would thicken a portion of it with pectin NH then combine with the juice and your sorbet syrup and season.
  11. I like uni ice cream a lot. Did a really traditional chocolate fondant with that and a white chocolate ponzu sauce. Always looking for alternative fats to use, since I have a bad dairy allergy myself. I'll usually take something neutral with body, like rice milk and emulsify in the alternative fat (bacon, foie, uni, whatever) to have a liquid substitution w the exact same fat %. Presence of solids in the milk protein is harder to understand and replicate but I don't think many people would detect anything texturally "off". Dehydrated coconut milk is helpful in adjusting these alt fat recipes too.
  12. NP. You can inhibit the brittle quality of agar gels by the inclusion of sorbitol or locust bean. That brittleness is really a result of syneresis, not gelling properties. Its the same reason agar gels ten to sweat like a mofo; they are basically a broken emulsion. That's actually a desirable texture for some products, like the classic red bean yokan. Red beans are naturally grainy, so the brittleness of the yokan actually enhances the nature red bean. Same applies to other naturally grainy things, like pear or semolina. If you want to 86 the brittleness altogether, try reducing the % of agar in your gel and subbing some LBG. Also sorbitol at 5% or so seems to inhibit the sweating really well. I would encourage anyone comfortable with fluid gels to think outside the box. Besides turning liquid into puree, what else is traditionally difficult to achieve in pastry, due to low viscosity bases? Think about the convoluted way we go about pate a bomb. Like raspberry puree is too thin, so we have to make a bomb paste to thicken it just so we can fold in whipped cream without making a runny mess. Imagine just making a fluid gel out of your base and then folding it directly into the cream? Toss in the fact that you can thicken warm bases as desired and the possibilities start to really unfold.
  13. You can make really excellent warm ganache w agar agar. It will even hold its shape up to 180f. Used to do a chocolate "tart" that was just agar ganache on sable and we nuked it to order. Think it was agar at like 3%. There's a bunch of different ways to get a hot mousse. I actually think agar is the best for that too. Like a hot chocolate fluid gel, add yolks directly to the blender and let it "whip" as it shears. Obviously not as airy as a real egg foam mousse but pretty airy for something thats served hot.
  14. "Cook the best food" was a snarky answer for me to give, sorry about that. My wheelhouse is modern and eclectic technique, I guess. All things being equal, I should have the knowledge to do almost everything faster than everyone else. Like with a microwave, a gastrovac and LN I can have cake, sauce and ice cream in 12 minutes. I mean I time tested myself on every technique, and I honestly believe that the only thing slowing me down (in some challenges in particular) was constant equipment failure/disappearance and ingredient withholding (without warning). Obviously, its still possible I would have found something else to bemoan or still might have gone home early, but in several specific cases I was directly hobbled by the producers mid-cooking time. You think its coincidence that on one challenge the first three to shop were the top three, and the last three to shop were the bottom three? The show had major problems, the challenges were mostly broken by their own rules and standards, and I truly believe it was not a fair competition. I couldn't have cooked any better under the circumstances, but of course I could have behaved like a sane adult and not soured the soup. It was a mess all around. Obviously I have some personal problems but cooking ability isn't one of them. I believe I have a superior ability to adapt to unexpected challenges and the necessary knowledge of food science to make almost anything work. I believe if it were a fair competition I would have cruised through in the top three in every challenge right up until the first wedding cake or showpiece elimination, at which time I'd have probably go home. Which would have been fine with me. Its the fact that the challenges that should have been the easiest and most fun for me ended up disastrous for reasons outside my control that is so frustrating. I feel like I was robbed of the chance to put up amazing food on national tv, and that was the ultimate heartbreak. If a million people watched this show and saw me cook like that, then I'll now have to cook for a million and one more before I can exhale. My hope is that as many of the people who HATE who I was and how I cooked on the show, come out to see me in person. I think they would be surprised by how happy I look in the kitchen, and how that joy is visible in my cooking. My cooking is intended to be a celebration of nature and humanity, I really mean that. Just thinking about what it means to me makes heart pump harder. I won't insult anyone with false humility, because I don't regret being myself, warts and all. I just wish you could all understand how badly I want to cook for you. Cooking for people is my drug of choice, especially people like you guys who care enough about food to think about it and talk about it and keep it dear to you. Its why I went on the show, and its why the failure was so crushing. Anyways, I'll be starting a cooking blog soon with tons of pics, in-depth recipes and maybe even technique vids. I hope you guys will check it out and maybe start to see me in a different light. Also I may have a few guest-chef dates popping up in a city near you in the future, and I'd love to see many eGulleters in the house. Of course it matters to me how I am perceived, and I plan on winning you all back with cooking (and love). Don't forget that this is the same guy who convinced Management at not one but TWO restaurants I worked at that eGulleters would receive a 10% discount on the entire check, just for being awesome. I've done personalized tasting menus for eGulleters by request, and enjoyed it immensely. I care deeply about the people who support my cooking, and I believe eGullet still has potential to improve the cooking community and bring cooks and eaters together. Thank you so much to those giving me the benefit of the doubt, kindness and support. To those with valid criticisms, I hear you loud and clear, and I won't stop trying to achieve my potential, not only as a cook but as a chef. To those with blind rage towards me, I feel sad for us both. Being hated is draining, but hating drains you entirely. Anyways, that was tv and now comes reality. Now its time to cook.
  15. I'm not a pastry chef, I'm a dessert cook. I'm the pastry chef where I work by virtue of the fact that I do the desserts and am in charge of my department, so the literal definition of the term technically applies. I do not consider myself a pastry chef by the commonly accepted meaning of the term and don't present myself as such. In fact, I don't refer to myself as chef, pastry or otherwise, it's just what it says on my job description at work. What he said; I just cook. Chef means you lead a team, which I do, so I am one. Pastry is the tricky word, which doesn't refer to anything specific anymore. If it means making inedible things, then I don't want to be that. But people still want to hire me, and call me that, and it doesn't really concern me much one way or another. Its obvious that my job is to cook and not to decorate, so call it what you want. Like I said before, I train as hard as anyone else, but in different areas. If there were any challenges suited to my wheelhouse, I think only 2 or 3 other cheftestants would have even been able to put a plate up beside mine. Why shouldn't you have to be versed in all the modern Spanish and ancient Japanese techniques that I studied? Its not fair if its a one-way st. I'm all for redefining the term of Pastry Chef to refer to MOF hotel types only. You can call me cook or whatever else; I don't care so long as it doesn't interfere with my ability to do what *I* find essential.
  16. Morgan is really, really, REALLY good with chocolate. That kitchen is hotter than a sauna and his dress was reflecting like a perfect mirror. Plus, he made perfect macaron in a foreign oven and assembled all of those very delicate and complicated ring truffles and still finished early?!? I would have done something like Heather...just drape one huge sheet of modeling chocolate over the dummy, cut out an eye hole and call it a chocolate burka.
  17. Is it even cooking? I would say that moulding chocolate is just about as edible as raw leek. I am offended by the notion that to work as a cook, I should have to be competent in sculpture and fashion design. This is why the common definition of "pastry chef" doesn't work well for me at all. I only want to cook; I make things for eating. I call myself "cook" because I cook for a living; pastry, savory, whatever. Food. If its edible and potentially delicious, I am into it. If its inedible, then its not cooking and its not for me. How many "savory" chefs would take kindly to the idea that that they must also be required to carve pumpkins and make mashed potato sculptures? Suggesting that one should "study up" on wedding cakes, showpieces, edible fashion etc for a competition like this is ridiculous. Its like asking why past cheftestants didn't "learn" a few desserts before going on the show. These are compounding skill sets that take years to develop, are impossible to brush-up on in two weeks, and twice as hard in a TV kitchen. You can practice the simplest chocolate cake recipe for a month, but if it isn't something you've been training in for years, its got about a 1% chance of success. Factor in the tv kitchen being a nearly impossible to operate efficiently in, and you might have well accepted the fact you can't make a dessert and try to work around it (Hosea did it and won). Bottom line is that this is a hotelier pastry chef competition, like the one's you'd see on Food Network, or Kings of Pastry. I fully expected it to be a cooking competition; literally just desserts. I planned for a multi-course tasting menu finale, but clearly it is going to be a combination of showpiece and cooking. I was very upfront about having ZERO showpiece or wedding cake experience, but I guess maybe the producers underestimated how alien these things would be for people like me, and thought I could pull something off miraculously. It sucks, because I train just as hard as anyone else if not harder, but in different areas. Its not like while everyone else was practicing wedding cakes I was taking a nap. I was studying and developing the techniques necessary for doing what I DO.
  18. I'd say I was more against lowering myself to the challenge, if you really want to know what was going through my head. This is not a biconditional. I'm stubborn, AND the challenge was lame. EDIT: Probably a mistake to continue posting. I have been on Eg for 6 years or so and have enjoyed the pastry forum in particular, but I suppose nothing good can come of this now. I'm not able to explain myself to anybody's satisfaction.
  19. We had 30 minutes to cook and it takes me 15 to make perfectly frozen ice cream, start to finish. I pulled Rocky Road, and wanted to use a pear sorbet as another component to the sundae, but we could ONLY use Breyers. Also, for the record, Breyers is technically terrible ice cream, unless you prefer 100% overrun, chalkiness and giant ice crystals. If you give a fart about cooking, its frustrating working with zero produce, puree, juice, or herbs for challenge after challenge and then being forced additionally to use really crappy pre-made products (breyers ice cream, fluid-flex cakes, off-brand chocolate, etc). I watched every show of every season of Top Chef, but somehow it never occurred to me that it could be such a sad souless environment. I understand how making a dish out of vending machine junk is fun and cray, but whats fun about making toppings for a shitty ice cream sundae, or icing a shitty box-cake? The best work I did on the show is worse than the worst thing I've ever served to a customer, and that was very upsetting considering it was my first major exposure. Every restaurant I've opened (five of them) except for Perilla went out of business before NYT review, so I've pretty much been operating in a media blackout for my whole career. I couldn't handle the disapointment of cooking shitty food on national tv, and I felt like the producers wouldn't know an opera cake from their elbow, and weren't bothered to care about the quality of food or cooking at all. Whether or not I acted like a fool and caused a lot of tension, this show was destined to suck from conception.
  20. Bravo. I think what we have been shown is that Seth had a lot of stress coming into the competition. If you've always acted appropriately to every stressful situation in your life, please feel free to throw the first stone. I know I can't. But I can't agree with this. This was a quickfire. The sort of challenge that has previously been about convenience store food - or even vending machine food. Contestants, please do bitch about it (and I will along with you). But address the challenge. The show is not called Top Ice Cream. Your challenge is to take an ice cream and make it as good as it can be. I don't have a problem with that. And I'm back to agreeing with you. In fact I made an earlier post that perhaps presaged this, but I hope that the remaining chefs at some point will be challenged to cook for a Seth's Mom benefit. Seth will have known whether or not this happened, and if he does, I hope he won't respond due to the confidentiality thing. But I think it would be (/have been) a classy move for Bravo. LMAO they are definitely NOT going to surprise you with anything classy!
  21. Your skills were not showcased because you gave the show a whole lot of other footage which they found more compelling. The snorting, boasting, arm waving and snotty remarks were pulling the focus to you in all the group scenes as well. They couldn't make the show all about your triumphs and your breakdowns, as facinating as some might have found them because there were other equally deserving contestants. I hope you can get some help dealing with the anxiety and that things with your Mom improve. I have been in your shoes and gratefully, no one filmed it. Perhaps the next time you are given an amazing opportunity you have the presence of mind to feel some gratitude instead of playing the victim and also to realize it's not all about you all the time. I provided lots of material, both positive and negative. So did everyone else. I can't control what they chose to focus on, and if you assume what you see on tv is a faithful abbreviation of real events as they transpired, you are way off base. The editors decide what the show is about, not me, and I think the feeling that they focussed far too much on negativity and not enough on cooking is universal. I watched an episode of Chopped the other day an realized that they focus a LOT on what cooking techniques are being used and why. Maybe that's a better show, despite being packaged horribly.
  22. It was way harder than it looks. I know hard. I know restaurant week at Nobu for lunch *and* dinner every day for two weeks. I know opening Atria during restaurant week and including our entire menu on the deal. I've plated for Frank Bruni on a 6 top at 10pm on a Sunday. I did service for the first two weeks at Perilla using a Coleman cooler filled with ice for Paco canisters. That's right, no ice cream freezer, two full turns and every critic in the city lining up to get in. This shit was a thousand times harder. Props to every contestant who got anything on a plate, ever. That shit I pulled off in the chocolate challenge was insane, but they showed none of the work. I did what should take 2 people 6 hours by myself in 3. I cut, torched and velvet sprayed 150 pieces of palette in 30 minutes, it was ridiculous. I completed 7 component perfectly in a kitchen I'd never worked in, using mostly shitty GE equiptment. It was probably one of the coolest dishes I've ever done but who gives a fuck. I may be a lousy person but I'm competent as hell. Questioning my competency at cooking is bullshit.
  23. My nefarious strategy was to cook great food and be everybody's hero. There were a lot of non-cooking-related and off-camera challenges involved in the process that really threw me for a loop.
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