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Top Chef: Season 3


KristiB50
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Dale worked at Trio. Somehow I had missed that fact before now. My money suddenly shifted to the dark horse.

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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...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? 

I was stunned when Colicchio said that in order to show something of himself in the dishes, he'd have to use Vietnamese flavors. WHAT?! I was stunned by the implicit racism in that statement. Does Colicchio have to cook Prince Spaghetti, just because he's from New Jersey? Is Padma Lakshmi only allowed to make Indian food?

If what Colicchio is implying is true---that a person can only put themselves in a dish if it's from the cuisine of their own ethnic group---then Rick Bayless is in a heck of a lot of trouble. Somebody better tell Bayless to start melting some Velveeta over those Mexican dishes, or nothing he cooks will have any "soul"!!

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"Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn." ~Garrison Keillor

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...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? 

I was stunned when Colicchio said that in order to show something of himself in the dishes, he'd have to use Vietnamese flavors. WHAT?! I was stunned by the implicit racism in that statement. Does Colicchio have to cook Prince Spaghetti, just because he's from New Jersey? Is Padma Lakshmi only allowed to make Indian food?

If what Colicchio is implying is true---that a person can only put themselves in a dish if it's from the cuisine of their own ethnic group---then Rick Bayless is in a heck of a lot of trouble. Somebody better tell Bayless to start melting some Velveeta over those Mexican dishes, or nothing he cooks will have any "soul"!!

I absolutely agree. I don't that "soul" in quantifiable as it is but to imply that Hung needs to inject Vietnamese flavors in order to make it soulful is incredibly racist. Perhaps Hung finds his passion in french cuisine?!?!

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Ditto~

of course the fact that I am Czech, Swedish, Irish, American Indian, Penna Dutch...........Prussian soldier......who knows what else...would make for very soulful but schizophrenic food.

K

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...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? 

I was stunned when Colicchio said that in order to show something of himself in the dishes, he'd have to use Vietnamese flavors. WHAT?! I was stunned by the implicit racism in that statement. Does Colicchio have to cook Prince Spaghetti, just because he's from New Jersey? Is Padma Lakshmi only allowed to make Indian food?

If what Colicchio is implying is true---that a person can only put themselves in a dish if it's from the cuisine of their own ethnic group---then Rick Bayless is in a heck of a lot of trouble. Somebody better tell Bayless to start melting some Velveeta over those Mexican dishes, or nothing he cooks will have any "soul"!!

I never heard him say that!

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From Bourdain's blog

Let me respond quickly to a valid question that's already come up twice: Why do the judges (and why do I) keep suggesting that Hung might benefit from incorperating Vietnamese flavors or ingredients or culinary traditions into his offerings? Simple answer. Because we (rightly or wrongly) see a Vietnamese heritage (particularly one with deep associations with the restaurant business) as an enormous advantage for a cook. Because most chefs I know are crazy about Vietnamese food and if lucky enough to have visited Vietnam, totally ga-ga over the place; the easy accessibility of excellent, fresh, startlingly sophisticated food--even in humble homes, food stalls and markets. Hung comes from one of the "foodiest" of foodie cultures. Whether second generation, living in Texas or LA or Minneapolis, he has grown up with--and around--that food culture. He has said as much. There is a tendency among chefs and judges to expect and even hope that he'll show us some of that. Not that he has to. He could just as easily win this whole thing with his French chops.

http://www.bravotv.com/blog/anthonybourdai..._way.php?page=8

I do hope that is what Collecio meant too. He also has some great insights about what it means for a food to have "soul."

I do think Hung, no matter what cuisine he was cooking in, did make a throw-away dish he could execute perfectly due to his enormous talents. He didn't respect the ingredient nor the environment (nor should he) and he sleepwalked his way into the finals. I look forward to seeing what soul he does bring to the final meal (and sorry I can't taste it!.

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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Ok then. What if Hung, having heard so much about needing to incorporate Vietnamese flavors into his cooking, makes a less than spectacular meal because he's more used to making a more rustic Vietnamese dish. It seems that much of his talent now is in high end cuisine. If he hasn't blended the two styles before, he could easily screw up the finals trying to do so.

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If what Colicchio is implying is true---that a person can only put themselves in a dish if it's from the cuisine of their own ethnic group---then Rick Bayless is in a heck of a lot of trouble.  Somebody better tell Bayless to start melting some Velveeta over those Mexican dishes, or nothing he cooks will have any "soul"!!

I never heard him say that!

I was stunned when I heard the comment and replayed the episode a couple of times just to be sure of what Colicchio said:

"You are technically the best chef up here. Technically. We don't see you in the food at all. You were born in Vietnam. [Hung: 'yes Chef'] I don't see any of that in your food. Somewhere we need to see Hung. We really do."

Bit colonial there. Apart from that, the implication of this comment and constant insinuation of the lack of soul/heart is particularly bothersome since it seems to be a comment that keeps getting trotted out whenever an Asian kid is better at something than his/her peers. And I don't buy Bourdain's explanation either.

Edited by wattacetti (log)
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The heart and soul comments that some of the judges and contestants have been making seem to be to be nothing more than an attempt to keep the competition looking wide open and thus ensure that it is something interesting for the average viewer. If this were purely a contest of technical skill we all would have known it was over when Hung whipped out the black chicken and geoduck dish. The few who still doubted it at that point would have come around when they saw Hung break down four chickens faster than Casey could dice an onion.

So I don't think that whether Hung has a soul or not, or whether Tom's admonition that Hung should cook Vietnamese food is racist or not matters that much to Bravo at all. The point that is clear to me is that the show must tell its audience that the never explicitly defined criteria for judging make it possible for someone other than Hung to win. Why would anyone continue to watch if the outcome were a foregone conclusion? It just wouldn't be good dramatic television.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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I absolutely agree.  I don't that "soul" in quantifiable as it is but to imply that Hung needs to inject Vietnamese flavors in order to make it soulful is incredibly racist.  Perhaps Hung finds his passion in french cuisine?!?!

FWIW, I don't think the comment is racist (I think that word is used far too frequently, and sometimes inappropriately), but it does show ignorance.

Tom is assuming that because Hung grew up with Vietnamese food, that he should have some kind of visceral attachment to it. This may or may not be true. It is entirely possible for Hung not to feel a strong attachment to his heritage at all, at least in his mind. I would say that many naturalized citizens of any country, especially those who immigrate at a young age (and doubly those who don't have competence in the language of that country when they arrive), reject everything and anything having to do with their country of origin. I do think, however, when you're raised with something, it becomes a part of you whether you recognize it or not.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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I'm guessing Hung will come up with something Vietnamese/French or visa vie :huh: . Something you might get in Saigon but not Ho Chi Minh City. Think French Bistro on the Purple River before the river turned to an open sewer complete with industrial waste.

Looks like the next challenge will involve impressing quite a few of the past judges. Wonder if Bourdain suffered any anxiety while filming.

Something that really impresses me about Hung is his ability to access the challenge and then dive right in. Seldom lost and while he has been judged to miss he believed in some of those misses and was not shy about defending them.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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Ok then.  What if Hung, having heard so much about needing to incorporate Vietnamese flavors into his cooking, makes a less than spectacular meal because he's more used to making a more rustic Vietnamese dish.  It seems that much of his talent now is in high end cuisine.  If he hasn't blended the two styles before, he could easily screw up the finals trying to do so.

I agree with your assessment. Hung from what I heard is an executive souse chef at Guy Savoy's. Guy Savoy being a very french chef, Gordon Ramsey started at Guy Savoy's restaurant when he went to Paris. I'm sure he is as skilled and as classicly trained as they come. I think however it's his attitude and carelessness towards others in the competition that will cost him in the end. Unless of course he is as good as he thinks he is.

Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)
Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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Ok then.  What if Hung, having heard so much about needing to incorporate Vietnamese flavors into his cooking, makes a less than spectacular meal because he's more used to making a more rustic Vietnamese dish.  It seems that much of his talent now is in high end cuisine.  If he hasn't blended the two styles before, he could easily screw up the finals trying to do so.

I agree with your assessment. Hung from what I heard is an executive souse chef at Guy Savoy's. Guy Savoy being a very french chef, Gordon Ramsey started at Guy Savoy's restaurant when he went to Paris. I'm sure he is as skilled and as classicly trained as they come. I think however it's his attitude and carelessness towards others in the competition that will cost him in the end. Unless of course he is as good as he thinks he is.

Would you want to work with/for someone like Hung?

(Oh wait, I have)

Ego centered, careless, and cooperation isn't a part of his vocabulary.

Didn't he ever watch Sesame Street?

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The heart and soul comments that some of the judges and contestants have been making seem to be to be nothing more than an attempt to keep the competition looking wide open and thus ensure that it is something interesting for the average viewer. If this were purely a contest of technical skill we all would have known it was over when Hung whipped out the black chicken and geoduck dish.

Of course it's not a contest of purely technical skills, but I don't think that means it's some sort of conspiracy to keep the field open and the show interesting. The food has to taste GOOD, and Hung has finished in the bottom enough times (and always refused to admit his dish may not have been perfect) that for all his technical skill, his food apparently doesn't always taste good.

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I'm a bit tardy in adding my review today for last week's show-but here goes--

Being a native Northwesterner and having cast a few flies in some of our better trout streams, I was pretty excited to see what the chefs would come up with when faced with having to cook trout in 30 minutes alongside a roiling Colorado stream.

But I was quite disappointed in Brian's effort and his comments. His dish lacked focus and had way too many elements-a hallmark of his cooking that proved to be his undoing with his elk dish in the Elimination challenge. But what really offended me was his statement that "most chefs don't use trout because we don't consider it seafood." In my opinion that remark was obnoxious and offensive to those of us who pursue the art of trout fishing and secondly to all the cooks and chefs who find the flavor of trout quite tasty and an appropriate 'seafood' to put on the menu.

Advice for Brian-if you want to savor the true flavor of fresh-caught trout, camp alongside that beautiful stream in Colorado. Get up at sunrise and cast your fly into a swirling pool just as the flies start to come off the water. Catch a feisty, 15-inch rainbow. Now put a cast iron skillet over an open campfire. Throw in some strips of smoked bacon and fry the bacon until it is crisp. LEAVE the bacon fat in the skillet. Dredge your fresh trout in flour and then fry it up in that bacon fat. Add some sliced potatoes to the skillet. Fry those too. Then plate up your fried trout, thick slices of crispy, smoked bacon and your home fries. Pour a fat mug of campfire coffee then sit down, looking at the rushing waters and have the breakfast of your life-fresh trout. Brian-that just might have impressed Chef Ripert-the chef of seafood.

We all know that Brian's obsession with adding a plethora of trendy, or not so trendy, ingredients basically killed his elk dish. I don't think he needed to add two bleu cheese choices let alone one.

But I thought Brian's troubles began at the start when he chose the elk shank for a challenge where he had just a few hours to pull off his dish. To really pull that off he would have needed to braise the shank for more than a couple of hours. If he had stuck with the loin like the other three chefs and kept things simple he still might be in the competition.

Dale gained ground in my eyes with his Elk dish-marrying Elk with Huckleberries is quite likely the temple of wild game cuisine to a Northwesterner-and his passionate speech about why he should be the next Top Chef. He spoke from the heart, with 'soul,' about why food and cooking are important to him. Like Dale, I even got a bit of a tear in my eye listening to him speak.

I thought Casey gave her usual consistent, stellar if albeit not overly creative performance. She's still in the lead in my book.

And lastly to Hung. I think I'll venture into the forest a bit on this one and disagree with some of the comments that Hung doesn't cook with 'soul.' I think he does.

In my view, this is a young man who came to this country as an immigrant and has taken great pride in the fact that he's trying to find his way, his craft, his art, his skill, in a new culinary path that is unfamiliar to Hung and his family-haute French cuisine.

I see it as Hung believing that for him to find that path he had to get the 'technical' skills needed to excel as a chef. So to me that means that his knife skills, his ability to create a dish of black chicken and geoduck, his creativity to garnish a classic chicken dish with 'crispy chicken skin' and his ability to recreate a Le Cirque classic dish of Sea Bass shows his 'soul' in discovering, in finding, his culinary sense. I see it as Hung's journey to being a great chef. That's how he's showing his soul. Is his soul found in a traditional Vietnamese soup or is it in presenting a technically sound dish of Sweetbreads? I don't know. I suppose that can only be answered by Hung or the customers who eat his food. Let the food decide if it has soul.

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have needed to braise the shank for more than a couple of hours.  If he had And lastly to Hung.  I think I'll venture into the forest a bit on this one and disagree with some of the comments that Hung doesn't cook with 'soul.'  I think he does. 

In my view, this is a young man who came to this country as an immigrant and has taken great pride in the fact that he's trying to find his way, his craft, his art, his skill, in a new culinary path that is unfamiliar to Hung and his family-haute French cuisine. 

I see it as Hung believing that for him to find that path he had to get the 'technical' skills needed to excel as a chef.  So to me that means that his knife skills, his ability to create a dish of black chicken and geoduck, his creativity to garnish a classic chicken dish with 'crispy chicken skin' and his ability to recreate a Le Cirque classic dish of Sea Bass shows his 'soul' in discovering, in finding, his culinary sense.  I see it as Hung's journey to being a great chef.  That's how he's showing his soul.  Is his soul found in a traditional Vietnamese soup or is it in presenting a technically sound dish of Sweetbreads?  I don't know.  I suppose that can only be answered by Hung or the customers who eat his food.  Let the food decide if it has soul.

Perfect. I think you hit the Hung enigma right on the nail. Of course, we can't taste his food - maybe it is a little soulless - but I think Hung has demonstrated both his technical ability, passion and some true creativity in past challenges. So break out the pho, folks - it's down the wire tonight and as much as I like Casey and want to see her win, I think - barring some truly out-from-left-field disaster - it will be Hung's night. And I think he deserves to win.
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During this whole ordeal, the San Diego Union/Tribune never once mentioned that Brian Malarkey was a contestant on Top Chef, even though Oceanaire is one of the top restos in the city. So today, a week after the fact, the U/T ran it's Brian piece.

Here it is the the Brian we hardly knew ye feature. :laugh:

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In my view, this is a young man who came to this country as an immigrant and has taken great pride in the fact that he's trying to find his way, his craft, his art, his skill, in a new culinary path that is unfamiliar to Hung and his family-haute French cuisine. 

I see it as Hung believing that for him to find that path he had to get the 'technical' skills needed to excel as a chef.  So to me that means that his knife skills, his ability to create a dish of black chicken and geoduck, his creativity to garnish a classic chicken dish with 'crispy chicken skin' and his ability to recreate a Le Cirque classic dish of Sea Bass shows his 'soul' in discovering, in finding, his culinary sense.  I see it as Hung's journey to being a great chef.  That's how he's showing his soul.  Is his soul found in a traditional Vietnamese soup or is it in presenting a technically sound dish of Sweetbreads?  I don't know.  I suppose that can only be answered by Hung or the customers who eat his food.  Let the food decide if it has soul.

You've keyed on something completely overlooked! Hung is Vietnamese. The french ruled vietnam for a very long time, their culture and cuisine would be imprinted on Vietnamese dishes, they would be an eastern variety of Haute' Cuisine. Hung's soul may very well dwell within his native dishes.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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In my view, this is a young man who came to this country as an immigrant and has taken great pride in the fact that he's trying to find his way, his craft, his art, his skill, in a new culinary path that is unfamiliar to Hung and his family-haute French cuisine. 

I see it as Hung believing that for him to find that path he had to get the 'technical' skills needed to excel as a chef.  So to me that means that his knife skills, his ability to create a dish of black chicken and geoduck, his creativity to garnish a classic chicken dish with 'crispy chicken skin' and his ability to recreate a Le Cirque classic dish of Sea Bass shows his 'soul' in discovering, in finding, his culinary sense.  I see it as Hung's journey to being a great chef.  That's how he's showing his soul.  Is his soul found in a traditional Vietnamese soup or is it in presenting a technically sound dish of Sweetbreads?  I don't know.  I suppose that can only be answered by Hung or the customers who eat his food.  Let the food decide if it has soul.

You've keyed on something completely overlooked! Hung is Vietnamese. The french ruled vietnam for a very long time, their culture and cuisine would be imprinted on Vietnamese dishes, they would be an eastern variety of Haute' Cuisine. Hung's soul may very well dwell within his native dishes.

I know I said you can't define soul but I think they want more than just Viet/French food; they want food that is more than just technically great!

Otherwise you might as well be cranking out fomulaic food like at Applebee's or wherever.

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In my view, this is a young man who came to this country as an immigrant and has taken great pride in the fact that he's trying to find his way, his craft, his art, his skill, in a new culinary path that is unfamiliar to Hung and his family-haute French cuisine. 

I see it as Hung believing that for him to find that path he had to get the 'technical' skills needed to excel as a chef.  So to me that means that his knife skills, his ability to create a dish of black chicken and geoduck, his creativity to garnish a classic chicken dish with 'crispy chicken skin' and his ability to recreate a Le Cirque classic dish of Sea Bass shows his 'soul' in discovering, in finding, his culinary sense.  I see it as Hung's journey to being a great chef.  That's how he's showing his soul.  Is his soul found in a traditional Vietnamese soup or is it in presenting a technically sound dish of Sweetbreads?  I don't know.  I suppose that can only be answered by Hung or the customers who eat his food.  Let the food decide if it has soul.

You've keyed on something completely overlooked! Hung is Vietnamese. The french ruled vietnam for a very long time, their culture and cuisine would be imprinted on Vietnamese dishes, they would be an eastern variety of Haute' Cuisine. Hung's soul may very well dwell within his native dishes.

Exactly part of my earlier point-which I only gave in terms of a subtle hint-I was waiting for someone to pickup on the marriage of French and Vietnamese cuisines and how that quite likely could be the 'soul' behind Hung's cooking.

But as we've discussed earlier, the 'soul' of a chef is subjective based on whom you ask, whether it be those of us who merely watch the show, Collichio or Bourdain who've tasted Hung's dishes-or Hung himself. And therein lies another one of the mysteries of why I suppose I find Top Chef so intriguing.

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