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Top Chef: Seattle


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So what was the complaint with Stefan's chicken cordon bleu? It's fried chicken.

Indeed. They (the judges) need to get over themselves. OK, fault Richter's rendition of it as whether it was good or not (haha, I have doubts about that) but to declare the very concept of it as "fried chicken" as beyond the pale is not right. Not when you didn't say what exactly you wanted – "US Southern Fried Chicken".

BTW various commentators on Colicchio's blog have also said that "Fried Chicken" in Germany in the style of "US Fried Chicken" does not exist in cookbooks (in German, yet) even if Wolfgang Puck's mama made it in Austria when he was growing up.

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Wolfgang may be indulging in a little fantasy about Mutti's fried chicken since he's been living in the US since 1973. Anecdotely, my father's family is from Germany, both parents, and they never had fried chicken when he was a child. That whole exchange between Wolfgang and Tom sounded scripted to me.

Since Wolfgang made his name and his bones with Spago, and Austria isn't noted for its pizzerias, I guess anything is possible. Probable is another matter.

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With regards to the challenge instructions, I've always understood that the contestants get more detailed instructions off camera and have an opportunity to ask questions about the challenge rules. Not sure if this is really true, but maybe they were told to focus on traditional american style fried chicken -- of course you'd think that would be on camera as well. Who knows.

For someone who removes the skin before frying, I'm surprised that Tom claims to be such stickler about traditional fried chicken. Serisouly, someone who thinks you can't make crispy fried chicken with the skin on has no business judging fried chicken. This challenge really called for a different judging panel -- Hugh Acheson and John Besh would have been the ideal call.

The episode did inspire me to make a batch of fried chicken last night!

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So many thoughts about this thread...

For starters, I see nothing suspicious about Wolfgang saying his mother made fried chicken. Everywhere on the planet there are cooks that stick with what they know, what is common, traditional to their region and background. And there are cooks that are adventuresome, that actively seek out recipes from other regions of the world. My father, who came from a traditional southern background (his mother even owned a southern "home cooking" restaurant) traveled the world and was one of the most adventuresome, inquisitive, curious cooks I've ever met. When in foreign lands, he intentionally sought out the most interesting and unusual dishes, recipes, ingredients, methods in that cuisine and then came home and experimented on us. I'm not sure it's fair to say that if Wolfgang was raised in Germany, his mother probably never made fried chicken.

Not to mention that one of the places that my father traveled often, and where we (dad, mom, us three kids) lived for four years with the post-war occupational forces was Germany. We lived in a big old house that had been one of Hitler's general's homes and we had several servants, one of whom was our cook, Maria, who often made southern fried chicken for us. Who knows, after we left, maybe she married and had a little boy that she named Wolfgang.

In addition, for the last 60-plus years there have been many American soldiers in Germany. Maybe Wolfgang's mother dated a nice southern boy from Georgia and that's how she learned to make fried chicken.

Or, very likely in my view, since she raised a world-class chef, she was interested in the foods of the world and, like most of us here on eG, she read a lot of "foreign" cookbooks.

This is a very small planet now and our populations are fluid and people and their customs, including their food, in their native land are no longer confined to their borders. I don't understand the view that "although I'm American, born and bred, I take pleasure in going to ethnic markets and finding exotic - to me - ingredients and coming home and making larb or African peanut stew, but I'm pretty sure nobody in Germany would do that."

Second - surprised about the several negative, snarky comments about Padma's age. Really? Nothing about the age of any of the men? She's gotten too "long in the tooth"? Somehow I doubt you'd turn her down. She's hardly the Betty White of the food world. And, if you read her bio, you can see that she's been interested in food all along. Some folks might point out that as she ages, she continues to gain experience in gastronomy, so that should improve her levels of knowledge and expertise and make her more qualified for this gig, instead of less. It's not like they went out and got some 19-year-old bit of fluffy eye candy from the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. I think she's a credible and experienced host and does just fine at the job.

Last - several comments (and I can't remember if they were here or on the show or both) about how a chef would never remove the bone and then fry the chicken.

Perhaps those folks have never heard of that very southern dish: Chicken-Fried Chicken.

My personal favorite.

http://www.food.com/...ilk-gravy-22227

And (I'll admit, it gives me some pleasure to point out), unless I'm very much mistaken, that very traditional US southern dish, Chicken-Fried Chicken, seems to have a great deal in common with Wiener Schnitzel.

I'm pretty sure that if a cook could turn out a terrific version of one, they'd have a pretty easy time of learning to make the other.

:smile:

.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Wolfgang is Austrian not German. His father was a butcher, not a soldier and he abandoned his mother either shortly before or shortly after Wolfgang's birth. Puck is his adopted name of the man his mother married when he was a toddler. Of course it is possible that his mother made fried chicken, I'm just skeptical since my own German grandmother, right off the boat, never did so and she was a fantastic cook and quite adventerous.

I have made a number of remarks about Padma. Age is everything in modeling and she may as well be walking around with a cane at 40, was my point. Most models get their start as teens and retire by 30 or so.

All of the judges get on my nerves. I think they are too snarky and they drink too much. I also, like Dave, dislike all of the cursing. I lost respect for Wolfgang when he had to be bleeped out many times at dinner. Maybe they are showing off for each other or the cameras, but it isn't necessary. They are supposed to be professionals, not a bunch of yentas.

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Wolfgang is Austrian not German. His father was a butcher, not a soldier and he abandoned his mother either shortly before or shortly after Wolfgang's birth. Puck is his adopted name of the man his mother married when he was a toddler. Of course it is possible that his mother made fried chicken, I'm just skeptical since my own German grandmother, right off the boat, never did so and she was a fantastic cook and quite adventerous.

I have made a number of remarks about Padma. Age is everything in modeling and she may as well be walking around with a cane at 40, was my point. Most models get their start as teens and retire by 30 or so.

All of the judges get on my nerves. I think they are too snarky and they drink too much. I also, like Dave, dislike all of the cursing. I lost respect for Wolfgang when he had to be bleeped out many times at dinner. Maybe they are showing off for each other or the cameras, but it isn't necessary. They are supposed to be professionals, not a bunch of yentas.

I certainly agree with you about all the cursing. I remember back when a well-spoken person used a plethora of adjectives, and not just the one.

And nothing you've said about Wolfgang Puck being raised in Austria (which is pretty close to Germany, is it not?) changes my opinion that if he says his mother made fried chicken, it's quite likely that she did. I didn't say that his daddy was a soldier; I said that perhaps his mother dated one, as one possibility on a long list. As for her making fried chicken for him, I still see absolutely no reason on earth why not and think it's unfair to just decide he's likely lying.

And although you're sure right about models, I believe she's there for more reasons than just her previous modeling gigs. As I said, if that was all they wanted, they could have gotten some nymph from the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes, I know that Padma is there for a number of reasons; she knows about food and she is pretty. I happen to have a preference for Gayle, but the producers haven't contacted me about my opinions regarding casting.

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Jaymes, I know that Padma is there for a number of reasons; she knows about food and she is pretty. I happen to have a preference for Gayle, but the producers haven't contacted me about my opinions regarding casting.

I like Gayle, too. But who knows... Maybe they offered her the gig but she's too busy to do this on a permanent basis.

It's impossible to say what all went into the final decision. Maybe Padma was the only one to say yes.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thankfully, as sure as it will rain in Seattle, Wednesday will bring a new episode and we can, (one hopes), relegate any thoughts of drunken heathens eating fried chicken in the historical annals of Top Chef.

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I'm going to miss Stefan even though he grated my nerves at times. He added a certain spice to the show.

The mussels and frog legs that won seemed to be too much alike. I know a frog is amphibious, but they taste more like surf than turf to me. I would have liked to see what that scallop pasta would have looked like had it not been turned into the scrambled "eggs".

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Wow, did anyone see the results of the latest "viewer favorite chef" poll? CJ with 94%; Josie with 6%?

And that 6% is probably her family.

Likeable, she's definitely not.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm going to miss Stefan, too. I knew he was a goner when it was between Sheldon and he. Tom hates Stefan and has hated him since he gave the win to Hosea (Who? Exactly.) in Season ? instead of Stefan. He's been gunning to get rid of him for weeks.

I guess making soggy cold tempura (twice now) and lack luster steak is forgivable when matched against crunchy pork belly, in the European style.

And that cruise ship food? "Enjoy your journey?" Dude, it's fiddly food served in a CD storage unit. I guess I'm just too old school for the Alaska Cruise Lines.

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Wow, did anyone see the results of the latest "viewer favorite chef" poll? CJ with 94%; Josie with 6%?

And that 6% is probably her family.

Likeable, she's definitely not.

Too funny, Jaymes. I had the same thought when I saw that.

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I guess at this point I'm underwhelmed by most of the dishes. I think at this point Sheldon is the Chef who is presenting himself as worthy. I'm not looking for trendy little dishes with a daintily placed micro dandelion petal. I'm looking for something so creative and unique we haven't thought of it or tasted it before--and of course I'm looking for perfect technique. I'm tired of thinking "that looks nice."

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I guess at this point I'm underwhelmed by most of the dishes. I think at this point Sheldon is the Chef who is presenting himself as worthy. I'm not looking for trendy little dishes with a daintily placed micro dandelion petal. I'm looking for something so creative and unique we haven't thought of it or tasted it before--and of course I'm looking for perfect technique. I'm tired of thinking "that looks nice."

scrambled scallops seem to fit the creative and unique bill. even though i wonder if it's a smart move to confess at judge's table that "i meant to do one thing, but that didn't work out so i turned it into this other thing."

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I'm going to miss Stefan, too. I knew he was a goner when it was between Sheldon and he. Tom hates Stefan and has hated him since he gave the win to Hosea (Who? Exactly.) in Season ? instead of Stefan. He's been gunning to get rid of him for weeks.

I guess making soggy cold tempura (twice now) and lack luster steak is forgivable when matched against crunchy pork belly, in the European style.

And that cruise ship food? "Enjoy your journey?" Dude, it's fiddly food served in a CD storage unit. I guess I'm just too old school for the Alaska Cruise Lines.

Much as I like Stefan his dish did seem to suck to judges other than little Tom. Sheldon had a better track record and this probably influenced the choice.

His fried cordon bleu was lame. Just cheese and ham...nothing to elevate it...not even a little Dijon..a sprig of thyme? He seemed to be running on fumes

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If I'm agreeing with Curtis Stone, it's probably time to back away from the keyboard.

Why? It's not that Curtis Stone cannot be correct or that he doesn't have something right to say from time to time.

As for that crispy pork skin &etc, I can't help wondering if Curtis Stone's liking of the crispiness ("hardness"?) and comments do reflect reality. I didn't taste the stuff from Richter but I think pork crackling/"crispy pork" in some places outside of the US can be pretty hard, no?

Edited by huiray (log)
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I've not traveled outside the US other than to Mexico, so I couldn't tell you. I have had crisy pork skin cooked by European relatives though and it was very crunchy. We used to fight over the pieces that were crunchiest when I was a child.

Pork cracklings are very popular in the South where I live, as are crispy pork rinds. Chef Josh and Stefan were picking the cracklings off the pork belly when it was on the speed rack and Josh is from Oklahoma, where I live now.

Perhaps there are too many Yankees on the judges table? :wink:

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I guess at this point I'm underwhelmed by most of the dishes. I think at this point Sheldon is the Chef who is presenting himself as worthy. I'm not looking for trendy little dishes with a daintily placed micro dandelion petal. I'm looking for something so creative and unique we haven't thought of it or tasted it before--and of course I'm looking for perfect technique. I'm tired of thinking "that looks nice."

scrambled scallops seem to fit the creative and unique bill. even though i wonder if it's a smart move to confess at judge's table that "i meant to do one thing, but that didn't work out so i turned it into this other thing."

After watching it two more times, I agree with you about Josh's dish. I probably would have told the Judges that I had a culinary revelation and decided to scramble the scallops, a sort of take on shredded scallops with egg in congee (rice porridge). I'm going to look at his recipe a little more to see how he handled the pork belly. It was creative and unique, but I guess I would have liked to see more from Josh, and all the Chefs, in the stages leading up to this point.

As for Brooke, it was an incredibly creative dish, but I think she should have left the entire frogs leg in one piece rather than cut it off at the joint. It might have been a more stunning presentation. And sorry, anything, anything, made with beets will not sit well with me--especially frogs legs coated in beet juice.

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It was really tragic to see Sheldon go from winning the quickfire challenge with his take on iceberg lettuce to putting forth another limp rendition of tempura. I got the sense he was still feeling terribly guilty for the sad tempura he put out at the roller rink and this time he was going to prove to everyone he could craft an exceptional tempure. He didn't. He's lucky the Judges thought Stefan's dish was worse.

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