12 Oct 2009, 8:05pm
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The Next Iron Chef

Yikes, my last post was in September, and here we are almost mid-way through October! Sorry for the lack of updates! Looks like I hit a bit of a dry spell. Hopefully things will pick up a little bit as the days get cooler. Not that that has anything in particular to do with food, but it does give one the feeling of the holidays, and as we all well know, holidays and food go hand-in-hand.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending this chilly weekend indoors, and I actually caught a few episodes of the new Food Network show, The Next Iron Chef. It’s another Top Chef knockoff, but unlike Chopped, I’m actually interested this time. The set-up is quite similar to Top Chef, with two rounds in each show and one person being eliminated at the end of the second. What’s interesting about this competition is that they don’t show you footage of the cheftestants outside of the kitchen. No shots of them living together or interacting in any way outside of the cooking arena. In some ways, that makes it more intriguing because you don’t get any unnecessary drama. (That’s not to say that there isn’t any scheming and strategizing in the kitchen! There’s plenty of shenanigans going on in that front).

I like that they show a lot more of the cooking, which I have to say is not Top Chef’s forte.

The judging is pretty intense, and they take the time to critique each dish and talk to every contestant about them, so it gives the viewer a good idea of how the food is really like.

In the end though, I’m not quite sure if anyone is really up to Iron Chef level cooking. All of them seem to struggle quite a bit to finish just one plate within an hour (or 45 minutes). How are they going to conceptualize and execute FIVE dishes that would be required of them in the hour allotted for each Iron Chef episode? Though I do wonder how much of that process really is done within an hour. The chefs always start right away on the dishes without even consulting with their sous chefs. (Do they really only find out the secret ingredient moments before the cooking begins? How much are they allowed to prep beforehand?) I definitely think the final challenge should be a test run of a “real” Iron Chef battle.

…I’m also hoping Iron Chef Morimoto will make a guest appearance somewhere along the way. ♥

Alton’s doing a pretty decent job as the commentator, though I think he’s a little out of his element. His commentating on Iron Chef America is much more robust and engaged, I think. The Chairman is over the top and hilarious, as expected. XD

17 Sep 2009, 11:58pm
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Top Chef 6.05: "Camping"

I’ll admit it: One of the things I was looking forward to the most from last night’s Top Chef episode was seeing whose food Tom Colicchio was going to spit out, and whether the guilty party who’d prepared the dish would survive elimination (they didn’t).

The first several episodes are usually these “throw-away” eps, just biding time as we impatiently watch the group pare down to a workable size. There are always a good number of chefs that are in over their heads, and make you wonder how they qualified to begin with. The Las Vegas season has had quite a few chefs who fall into this category, despite the fact that the judges rave about how fabulous this cast is compared to past seasons (but then, they always say that). Then again, the underdog has climbed up to the top before, so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised before the end. (^__^)

As for this episode (spoilers under the cut):

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15 Sep 2009, 10:16pm
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Food in Children's Books

elevenses

The most vivid memories I have of the books I read as a child usually center around the food. Maybe I was a foodie-in-training from a young age? But actually, even if I weren’t a foodie, I would still remember the food well, because good eats seem to feature quite prominently in a lot of children’s literature.

For instance: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Here was a story where a greedy little boy almost actually betrayed his family to the dark side in exchange for a heaping dish of sweets called Turkish delight. Of course, little girl me was dying to try this stuff, which was supposedly so heavenly that it was worth sacrificing everyone you loved. I had no idea what this Turkish delight was, but I wanted it! Had to have it! Then I grew up and discovered Turkish delight and was very disappointed to learn that it tasted like gooey, sticky soap. So much for the magic.

The Paddington Bear series was another great favorite of mine, and practically every other chapter featured food in some way or another. Even if it didn’t, Paddington always carried around a marmalade sandwich under his hat “for emergencies.” XD I was never a fan of marmalade, but his love for it was quite amusing to me, and I enjoyed all his escapades involving the stuff. My favorite episode was when he had the audacity to order a marmalade sandwich at the fanciest restaurant in town! I suppose it’s sort of akin to ordering a PB&J sandwich at Citronelle or French Laundry, lol.

Paddington had a standing date with his good friend Mr. Gruber for “elevenses” every day, when they’d share a hot cup of cocoa accompanied by what he’d call “buns.” I’m actually not sure what “buns” are in the British sense. (Breakfast rolls? English muffins?) Nevertheless, I always found it to be a charming tradition, and I remember wanting to have “elevenses” right there with them in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop. (^__^)

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