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Top Chef: Season 3


KristiB50
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Interesting editing.  Why didn't we hear about Hung's past and family earlier?  Because Bravo wanted to make Hung the villain.  Now that we're down to the finals, they are trying to humanize all of them.

He's mentioned it a couple times: during that grocey aisle quick challenge a couple weeks ago he went on a tear about being from a family of immigrants and that everyone in his family is in the restaurant biz.

I did forget to mention that Hung was pretty much blowing smoke on the judge's panel, though. They asked him what he thought of the challenge and he'd made it pretty clear he didn't care about it or the clientele earlier. And the impassioned speech about soul seems to be him trying to spin around the refrain on him about his cooking lacking depth.

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Putting my money on my fellow-yellow Hung. Casey has gotten far for someone with a few years on the line at the Mansion and being made Exec at a japanese restaurant on the laurels of a few weeks stage at Nobu. With knife skills like that? She'll have to rely on her soul. Dale is still the dark horse for me - he's always commenting on how he's lousy with fish, knife skills suck etc, although he's them most credentialed out of all of them.

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Putting my money on my fellow-yellow Hung. Casey has gotten far for someone with a few years on the line at the Mansion and being made Exec at a japanese restaurant on the laurels of a few weeks stage at Nobu. With knife skills like that? She'll have to rely on her soul. Dale is still the dark horse for me - he's always commenting on how he's lousy with fish, knife skills suck etc, although he's them most credentialed out of all of them.

But remember, if what he says is true - about losing his dream job and doubting his abilities - those comments might be a result of getting your ego deflated.

He looked different last night right from the get go...he looked more upbeat, lighter, happier?

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They didn't really have any bitter rivalries and nobody was booted off for assault. Most of the cheftestants could actually cook food, got along with each other, and there have been some REAL chefs acting as guest judges. So (in spite of the same type of ridiculous challenges) I have enjoyed this season far more than the second, but I'm wondering if BRAVO will consider this "good tv" and keep going in that direction.

This season was my favorite for the same reason--when I first saw the penthouse and jacuzzi I thought this season would turn into some kind of Real World type show, with lots of sex, fights, etc, and so I'm glad it turned out the way it did.

Casey has gotten far for someone with a few years on the line at the Mansion and being made Exec at a japanese restaurant on the laurels of a few weeks stage at Nobu. With knife skills like that? She'll have to rely on her soul. 

Since a variety of respected judges have loved her food, I think she's clearly more talented than you're giving her credit for.

Last night's editing was interesting--in the show, it sounded like the judges had big problems with Casey's dish, and that she could possibly be going, but Tom (in his blog) said they all really enjoyed her dish. They're just keeping us on our toes, I guess.

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Good ep, great to see "The Ripper" as a guest judge. I am pretty happy with the final three, glad they got rid of Brian.

The speeches at the end I thought were touching, dale in particular as people have mentioned.

Here is the main problem I have with what's going on...with regards to Hung, everyone keeps harping on how his food has no soul, etc. How exactly do you define what has soul and what doesn't? Because he is Vietnamese, does that mean he would have to cook Vietnamese style in order to present "soulful" food for him? This is simply not possible given the challenges nor would it represent his talent. I am not saying I disagree with this assertion I just have a problem with how he is supposed to "prove" it or "show" this soul?

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Good ep, great to see "The Ripper" as a guest judge.  I am pretty happy with the final three, glad they got rid of Brian.

The speeches at the end I thought were touching, dale in particular as people have mentioned.

Here is the main problem I have with what's going on...with regards to Hung, everyone keeps harping on how his food has no soul, etc.  How exactly do you define what has soul and what doesn't?  Because he is Vietnamese, does that mean he would have to cook Vietnamese style in order to present "soulful" food for him?  This is simply not possible given the challenges nor would it represent his talent.  I am not saying I disagree with this assertion I just have a problem with how he is supposed to "prove" it or "show" this soul?

Soul speaks for itself.

It's not Soul Food, it's food with soul.

Hung seems to be trying to impress the judges with his skills. He doesn't try to evoke emotion from them.

As a organizer of a oyster wine competition calls it "the bliss factor".

Edited by rconnelly (log)
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They didn't really have any bitter rivalries and nobody was booted off for assault. Most of the cheftestants could actually cook food, got along with each other, and there have been some REAL chefs acting as guest judges. So (in spite of the same type of ridiculous challenges) I have enjoyed this season far more than the second, but I'm wondering if BRAVO will consider this "good tv" and keep going in that direction.

This season was my favorite for the same reason--when I first saw the penthouse and jacuzzi I thought this season would turn into some kind of Real World type show, with lots of sex, fights, etc, and so I'm glad it turned out the way it did.

Casey has gotten far for someone with a few years on the line at the Mansion and being made Exec at a japanese restaurant on the laurels of a few weeks stage at Nobu. With knife skills like that? She'll have to rely on her soul. 

Since a variety of respected judges have loved her food, I think she's clearly more talented than you're giving her credit for.

Last night's editing was interesting--in the show, it sounded like the judges had big problems with Casey's dish, and that she could possibly be going, but Tom (in his blog) said they all really enjoyed her dish. They're just keeping us on our toes, I guess.

I'm not saying she's not talented. For her experience? She's come a long way but The Top Chef? No, but not saying never.

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Elsewhere on the web, Bourdain's blog on this episode is finally up. One of his gems is ripping the show for wasting Ripert on "a Scout jamboree" and having the finest seafood chef in America judge an elk cookoff at a ranch in the mountains. He also delves into the whole "soul" thing.

EW's blog this week brings up an interesting point that I kind of agree with:

It looked for a moment as if Hung could be sent packing, which I'm glad the judges didn't do, although it would have been in keeping with many of their impulsive evictions in this season. I'm still annoyed that Tre and C.J. were bumped after isolated losses that were clear anomalies, considering their previous standout dishes. Ousting the contestants for one bad showing and not taking into account all their accomplishments is arbitrary and Apprentice-esque, good only for drama and surprise, but bad for the integrity of the title of top chef. This is why I hope Dale doesn't win: He seems like a nice guy and a great chef, but he's never really shone in this competition. He's only narrowly avoided eviction and then pleasantly surprised everyone by fighting his way back to the middle of the pack. To leapfrog him over Hung and Casey based on one finale dish (however good that may be) would be random and unfair. Save that crap for Donald Trump.

And so next week it all ends. My money's on Casey in this little kitchen morality tale, just because of Hung's established lack of ''soul.'' I hope she does win, and I know where I'll be: celebrating in front of the TV with a plate full of my specialty: toast and toast sauce.

Although I disagree on the CJ and Tre part. Much as I'd like Tre to be around still (and win) you just couldn't argue with the fact that he screwed up a dish, was given a second chance, and then went back and made the same thing again with similar results. But, as for letting contestants go based on their total experience, I did say similar things when Lia was dismissed.

But I think that's a fair point about Dale: I've grown to like and respect him, but clearly Hung and Casey have consistently distinguished themselves. Going in Casey's favor is that Hung has finished bottom as much if not more than he won competitions. She's shown definite growth, she's consistently impressed as the stakes have gotten higher, and she's probably better suited for the PR aspects of the "Top Chef" role than Hung is.

Edited by Kevin72 (log)
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I think that's a fair point about Dale: I've grown to like and respect him, but clearly Hung and Casey have consistently distinguished themselves. Going in Casey's favor is that Hung has finished bottom as much if not more than he won competitions.  She's shown definite growth, she's consistently impressed as the stakes have gotten higher, and she's probably better suited for the PR aspects of the "Top Chef" role than Hung is.

It would be so easy to want to evict Hung just for being arrogant (does he REALLY have to be so obvious when he finishes well ahead of the other chefs?), but it wouldn't be fair - Tony's right. But it IS perfectly OK to want to see Casey win. Go, Casey, go!
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Might be slightly off-topic to talk TC ingredients?

Got to nod with AB on this one. Eric Ripert + trout + elk = major SNAFU by the "producers".

All things aside though: What does one do with elk? If you've got recipes to try lemme know. I've got access to some product and will experiment.

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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I, for one, would love to hear any comments from a former cheftestant. "I spy" this person in our midst: MARCELVIGNERON

Marcel, would really enjoy your perspective!

Cheers,

Carolyn

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

J.R.R. Tolkien

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Everyone seems shocked that they would use Eric Ripert in an "outdoor" setting. I got the impression from both of his cookbooks that camping and outdoor cooking are near and dear to his heart. There is even an essay in "The Le Bernardin Cookbook" about camping trips he took with his family and all the food they would drag along. As well, in "A Return To Cooking", his excitement at having a huge fireplace in which to cook was palpable. As soon as I saw the preview, I though it was a great fit.

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I gotta say that I don't really subscribe to the "Hung has no soul" way of thought.

Hung thinks about food/life differently than the other contestants, that's pretty obvious. But is his technical acumen, and passion for that branch of cookery any less soulful than the lesser technically gifted chefs?

I'd argue that it isn't, and that all of the people left obviously have poured nearly all, if not 100% of their beings into this show. The entire situation with people getting eliminated every few days, little sleep, and absurd challenges is stressful for everyone. Anyone who is left standing at this point, even if they weren't as "talented" as some of their competitors, (whatever talented means here), are pouring their every effort, every bit of love of cooking into this.

The two situations where I could see someone not doing so would be: Someone wants to go home, and.... someone who is so beyond ridiculously talented/intelligent that they always knew what they had to do to get to this point and it never really mattered in the challenges.

I'm a Hung fan, I admit that. For full disclosure on my faults: I was also a Marcel fan. Ilan just annoyed me.... He seemed like the guy who didn't like different people, or was just "too cool for school".... Put some saffron on that :P

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I can't remember how much time they had, but I would've done a roast chicken with roasted potatoes and onions alongside. Wine, butter, seasonings, lots of basting....simple yet if done correctly is one of the best meals in the world!

No way, that would have been insta-death for any chef that attempted it. I don't get the (seemingly recent) foodie fetish for roast chicken, is it Keller inspired? When did the meme come from that a roast chicken is an uber chef test like the omlette? A "perfect" omlette is not hard to make for chefs of that skill level (In the all star special, stephen managed to make the "perfect" omlette with one hand tied behind his back) and a "perfect" roast chicken should be trivial too.

A simple roast chicken might be delicious but it would tell us nothing in particular about that particular chef's skills as a chef because any of the other chefs could have made an equally delicious simple roast chicken.

PS: I am a guy.

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All things aside though: What does one do with elk? If you've got recipes to try lemme know. I've got access to some product and will experiment.

As I soon as I saw the elk, I thought of venison, and the Iron Chef-like competition that I saw between Tyler Florence and Tom Colicchio at the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Both of them wrapped the venison loin in bacon (due to the elk's low fat content). I was quite surprised that we didn't see something like that this time, with the elk.

Edited by Reignking (log)
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Hung thinks about food/life differently than the other contestants, that's pretty obvious. But is his technical acumen, and passion for that branch of cookery any less soulful than the lesser technically gifted chef?

I think Tony Bourdain explains the somewhat vague concept of "soul" in food, at least from the judges perspective, in his last blog. Quite simply, though Hung may have certain culinary skills that Casey doesn't, the judges are saying Casey's food TASTES better than Hung's.

And for those commentators here who wonder what "heart" or "soul" means -- in relation to food (The judges frequently reward Casey with the remark that her food is somehow more "soulful" than others. That she has "heart") -- let me make it simple for you. They mean her food has a pleasing FLAVOR. Chefs usually mean -- when talking about "soul" ( or "heart") -- that the food has a depth of flavor that is both exciting and somehow, strangely, comfortingly familiar.
Edited by kiliki (log)
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I think Tony Bourdain explains the somewhat vague concept of "soul" in food, at least from the judges perspective, in his last blog. Quite simply, though Hung may have certain culinary skills that Casey doesn't, the judges are saying Casey's food TASTES better than Hung's.
And for those commentators here who wonder what "heart" or "soul" means -- in relation to food (The judges frequently reward Casey with the remark that her food is somehow more "soulful" than others. That she has "heart") -- let me make it simple for you. They mean her food has a pleasing FLAVOR. Chefs usually mean -- when talking about "soul" ( or "heart") -- that the food has a depth of flavor that is both exciting and somehow, strangely, comfortingly familiar.

In a bit of a cop out answer, I don't think any chef, much less any person can define "soul" in food. Certainly there's probably a generally accepted idea among chefs/whoever as to what soul constitutes in food. But is that the same for everyone? I think it'd be crazy to say that it is. If Hung's soul is tied up in his technique, so be it. It may not be as delicious as other people's food, which certainly wouldn't win him any competitions, but it's soul nonetheless. I guess I'm just bristling at the semantics of the situation... To imply that Hung loves food less than the others seems crazy to me. I kind of think he's MORE passionate than the others at most ventures, despite his somewhat arrogant demeanor.

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For anyone following Bourdain's TC blog---this HAS to be the defining moment in his descriptatory powers, which are considerable.

Re: an unfortunate anise-flavored sauce under Sara's salmon:

If you've ever been on an ouzo bender and woken up the next day with your head in a bidet, burping up licorice?

That was pretty much my in-flight meal on Air Sara. :cool:

Sorry I didn't find it sooner, when it was relevant, but it's too good not to share, late or not.

Edited by racheld (log)
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Oh I don't know, Hung is just a little immature. I think he enjoys every minute of being in the kitchen, but if you take into consideration his cultural situation, Hung has to prove himself. He has to make cooking work for him. He's very talented, he has yet to grow into his soul. He will though, and I found his comment about his grandmother a good strategy on his part. I think he was hanging in the balance with Brian and that statement could have saved him. They saw a glimpse of the real Hung. The kid who want to be a contender, who's done his homework and honed his skillz. Not he just has to grow a heart for food.

Casey's got this thing in the bag. They need a female winner. TC won't survive the shouting if it isn't. I know that sounds jaded but it is a contest and the ":girls" have to win once in a while. Casey's got the palate and refinement, she's just lacking in a few skills.

Casey and Hung together would be a formidable team in any competition.

Oh and the burning sage - not so much a pot aroma, that's oregano - but still a wafty pungency in the air for certain.

Edited by tmgrobyn (log)
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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