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Gifted Gourmet

COOKING UNDER FIRE from PBS: April 27 premiere

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The premise of the show sounds good, although after watching the first two episodes, it doesn't seem like what I'd expect of a PBS show. Almost like it was filmed without knowing where it would run. A little more drama and it could have been a network show (a la The Restaurant), or more cheese and it's FoodTV show (a la most things on Food TV). I guess I expected something the quality of Frontier House.

That said, I will watch again, since Wednesday evening has little to offer on TV.

I liked the guy that did the custard with his egg. Very original. I bet they could have had double or triple the prospective chefs, and he'd still be the only sweet dish. And I'm also glad they'll have to use their mis in the next episode.

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My girfriend, who knows absolutely nothing about the world of food, immediately took on a profound hatred of Todd English....


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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I liked the old guy in Seattle who claimed that he knew what pressure in a kitchen was because he cooked for friends at home. Whadda Maroon.

Also enjoyed the snotty woman who went to the CIA but never worked as a chef and wanted to be a food critic - talk about clueless with an attitude.

I also saw several that should not be allowed to play with sharp knives.

I think that Trump would be a good addition to the Judges panel - "Make me the most fabulous, most expensive, most luxurious food in the whole world - we can call it Whatever a la Trump and it'll sell a million units. As for you - George says you can't get along with the dishwashers - I need team players in my kitchen - you're 86'd"


"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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I liked the old guy in Seattle who claimed that he knew what pressure in a kitchen was because he cooked for friends at home.  Whadda Maroon.

See, I think that gets right at the heart of the reason I can't enjoy this show very much. In order to really get into this sort of reality show, you've gotta empathize with someone... and I find it really hard to empathize with a bunch of restaurant industry people who are competing for what is basically a transfer from one job to another. Many of the contestants are experienced professionals, and several have many years of chef experience behind them. Why are they on this show in the first place? If they want to work in some damn Todd English restaurant, they should go ask him for a job.

Before I knew what the grand prize was, I was looking forward to seeing a show where home cooks would compete against restaurant people to see who posessed a greater artistry in the kitchen. That was exciting to me. However, once I learned the point of the show, I wasn't sure why I should care. Sure, there are a couple of amateurs in the competition... but it's not like anyone is going to legitimately hire them to be a chef. It just wouldn't make any sense. I think everyone's going to be rooting for the few competitors who actually deserve the chef position, and who didn't really need to be on some cheesy reality show to get it.

Now maybe if the show were a competition to see who gets his or her own WGBH cooking show...

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Awakened by a trainwreck nightmare at 3am, I wandered into the TV landscape and stopped on Ming hacking away at a big fish.

"Whaaaa?" :huh:

Then I see less than charming ladies hacking some rap verse in a kitchen stylie and the occasional onion. Ruhlman/Ming/English trying to keep from laughing made me put the remote down. Onward to the center stage and the finalists fight for space in too small a kitchen to cook one freakin' egg. Fantastic.

There was very little scripting (except when the wooden hosts or the great white lummox had to convey actual information) and nothing was staged.

...except for the knife presentation at the start of episode2 (a nice touch), and yes, the Apprentice-like 86 award (music made check if I was on FOX), it was refreshing to see a lack of staging and script. Never mind that judges (and contestants) were sometimes "wooden" - public life is wooden sometimes people, and this is public TV!

Other points:

- Having to pack everyone in that kitchen for a ten-minute contest was very realistic. Brilliant. Someone had to choke here and they did.

- Blaming someone else for your failure is shitty and the judges correctly reinforced this as did the gracious Seattle chef.

- Ming directing the contestants to "clean the house" for the real chefs to begin on a real day's work conveyed good kitchen habits that non-chef viewers may not know. A good detail that could have ended up on the cutting room floor.

I couldn't wait for egg dishes to hit the table. Some had a future, some sucked. The short interviews (I hope they get a bit longer) with the contestants aided the viewer to form favorites and villains, just like that damned survivor dribble.

I'm hooked. :raz:


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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The first episode was too American Idol, but the 2nd was much better. I thought Ming Tsai was a bit over the top during both shows, especially explaning about "86." That surprised me because I like him on his cooking shows. Ruhlman has an infectious smile and I looked forward to each of his segments. No clear favorites yet in terms of the contestants.

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As with most reality based TV shows, editing can display a persons personality in a way the producers want it to be shown. While no doubt the NYC girl has 'tude, I am sure some creative editing has reinforced it to the viewers. I am curious to see how things play out, in the other episodes.

I have to say that I was cringing through many shots of the knife skills portion -- I would be surprised is someone didn't cut themselves during filming. I would think if someone couldn't dice onion, they shouldn't be presented a beautiful salmon to butcher. Seems like a waste of food.

Just my .02.


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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The NYC girl's actually a Kentucky girl.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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Have you checked out (on the right side of the page)the finalists' journals? Quite revealing! :rolleyes:

and then there is the poll: Who will win? where you can vote and see the numbers for each contestant ...


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Watched both episodes and haven't read any of the media reviews.

OMG, but what is up with Ming Tsai's new style sense? It looks like he fell into a tub of LA Gel, then that awful necklace and shirt not tucked in - ewhhh - not to mention mangling that poor salmon. MR will be the salvation of the show. He is a paragon, nay a pillar, next to style/filet challenged MT and "could I be more full of myself" TE.

The contestants are not as photogenic as other reality shows (PBS's way of demonstrating superiority perhaps or maybe they didn't wish to distract from the judges :raz:). I'm looking for a dark horse to emerge from the pack and steal the prize.

I wlll keep watching despite DH's disbelieving looks and sighs throughout the show - he did not the leave room though which he could have if he was truly annoyed!


"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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I enjoyed the show. I especially liked the idea of giving the "chef's" the task of cooking an egg for their first grade. Ming makes the show for me. I'm sure that PBS will realize though that if they would have kept the kid from LA the ratings would be better, more drama. I'll watch until the end.


"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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All your comments are fantastic--even busboy's. Love reading them and they're helpful and taken as a whole portray the show as a whole. Come on, it's TEEvee--on a PBS budget no less. On the other hand, I'm truly hoping the next episodes pick up more cooking info and drama as guest chef enter the picture and we get to know some of the personalities of the finalists. I haven't seen the next episode but I'm very hopeful that the shows only pick up momentum. Thank you all for commenting.

I'm compelled to say something about Todd. I too had no idea what to expect from him or what he'd be like, and felt cautious. He turned out to be a genuine pleasure to work with, was unexpectedly hilarious off camera, and very generous besides. It's harder than it looks to "act natural" on camera, so give him some slack. After all, strip away all the restaurants the blackberry and the hair gel, and he's a cook's cook at his core.

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Michael,

What plans are there for future seasons of this? You went to Chicago, Seattle, and NO in search of these 12 contestants. Will you go to another 3 cities next time around? We all saw from the American Idol-like first episode that there were clearly some very unqualified people trying out (and wasting your time?). Just like the other reality shows, the competition gets tougher with each new season. Perhaps now that one season is out of the gate, more people who really have that drive, passion and hopefully more knowledge, will try out. I certainly know of one feisty and talented young gal I worked with a while back that would easily be in the top 3 or 4 of your current group.

I am looking forward to the coming weeks, and predicting who will get 86'd and who will make it! Thanks!

btw, is it only broadcast on Wed nite, or is there another time slot it gets repeated in?


I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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My hope is that there will be a second season ("they" seem to be talking about it), and I know there will be a rise in the number who try out, and thus an increase in talent. My hope is that we get increasingly more skill and experience creating greater more dramatic more meaningful competition (though that will happen as this series progresses) for a greater reward and responsibility at the end.

but who can say? I still don't have a clue how TEEvee works.

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Won't they need a chef as pretty, talented and marketable as Todd to get a second season? My wife suggests that you might fill the first two demands but, alas, you're writing about saucisson rather than developing a flagship restaurant in a major city. :wink: Keller's kind of buff, though, and he's almost ready to go head-to-head with Ducasse....


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Won't they need a chef as pretty, talented and marketable as Todd to get a second season?  My wife suggests that you might fill the first two demands but, alas, you're writing about saucisson rather than developing a flagship restaurant in a major city.  :wink:  Keller's kind of buff, though, and he's almost ready to go head-to-head with Ducasse....

Ooooh, oooh ME ME ME! :laugh:

I look good while I fillet salmon as well. I worked up the line one step at a time. No shortcuts here. Plus I have the added value of multi-cultural appeal coupled with 'serious chef.'

I'll go up against Keller or Ducasse. Mano a Mano, toe to toe.

My only prima donna request is that I get to pick my own wardrobe and no green M&M's.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Tonight's show (or the one airing here in Atlanta anyway) had the contestants preparing a dish using their mis en place from last show and adding duck, sausage, and shrimp ... I enjoyed it tremendously! The potential chefs were interesting in their presentations in general, talked about "selling the dish", and the judges are less stiff .. everything seems to be "falling into place" as the show gets its sea legs and grows over time ... more real and considerably smoother ... pretty much as Michael Ruhlman had initially stated.


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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It's getting worse from my point of view.

EDIT: The finalists are becoming increasingly unappealing.


Edited by touaregsand (log)

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I missed the first show but did read up on it online (nice website by the way).

My critique is that I thought the program flowed well but it is hard to really invest much in the characters in only 1/2 hour. There seems that there is so much more going on that would be interesting in the menu planning, prep work, execution and plating of the dishes. Its too bad we don't see a bit more of that. Also, the 86 pan is quite cheesy but most of the elimination rituals are.

I may be a bit unpopular here but I don't think English came off as an ass, is that because they edited everything :shock: ? He wasn't on much at all.

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I wasn't that impressed by the quality of the dishes. The half-Japanese guy's duck was really rare and, as Ming stated, did not have any of the fat rendered out of it. I'm surprised that Todd English praised him. I also found many of the presentations to be much to be busy. The plates looked crowded and muddled. Although I've never worked in such setting, I was shocked and appalled to see how that one girl wasn't even able to turn out one complete dish.

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I was shocked and appalled to see how that one girl wasn't even able to turn out one complete dish.

so were the judges ... :hmmm:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Michael: 86.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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