Top Chef Masters S3 Ep4

Curtis has a table of gorgeous artisan cheeses from all over the world. The chefs are therefore excited – cheese is so much better than vermin.

Quickfire – they must make a masterful cheese dish. $5K plus immunity. They have 12 minutes to impress a true cheese connoisseur.

Naomi takes stinky soft french cheese, to make with skirt steak.

Traci wants to make the cheese the star, so she takes a French goat cheese to make a cheese carpaccio. Which is – very thinly sliced cheese? Wants the cheese from the core to the rind.

Celina has manchego cheese, which she always has in her fridge anyway.

George’s parents brought stinky cheeses back from vacation, and the memory of that smell is what made him decide to be a chef.

Floyd is doing corn on the cob with Mexican cheese, same as he makes his kids at barbecues.

Suvir says he’s doing a Calvin Klein presentation w/his chickpea fritter, as opposed to a Paul Stanley. I’m really not sure what that means.

Mary Sue made her own tortillas within the 12 minutes. Naomi is amazed.

Traci thinks her dish is pedestrian.

Norbert Wabnig from Beverly Hills Cheese shop is the cheese connoisseur, and Mary Sue knows him.

Suvir has cheese pakora two ways – mozzarella di buffala and Gouda with tamarind chutney. Norbert wasn’t crazy about the presentation. He also says mozzarella goes with anything.

Celina has manchego, crispy carrot, figh, golden raisin and sherry – too much like an hors d’oerve, she thinks. Norbert likes it, though.

Hugh has camellia goat cheese, fried quail egg, pepper salad and hazelnut vinaigrette. “Stunning” but wasn’t crazy about the egg.

Naomi has chaumes cheese toast, skirt steak, apples, onions and balsamic vinaigrette. Tastes quite good and they love it.

Mary Sue has cotija and Gouda cheese empanada with tomatillo salsa. Curtis and Norbert notice that the tortillas are homemade and are impressed. So are the other chefs, because they’re time consuming for most people. Mary Sue doesn’t get it – she only had to make four, after all. Norbert thinks she made a great choice of cheese. Loved it.

George made onion and grana padano gratin with a quail egg, grilled bread and asparagus. Ah, breakfast. 🙂 YUM. Norbert thinks the ingredients were all there, but there was too much onion.

Alex has a rocchetta and prosciuto quesadilla with pickled asparagus and a fried quail eggs. Lots of quail eggs today. Norbert thought it had an ntense flavor but not enough cheese.

Floyd made cotija elote/corn on the cob, crème fraiche, cojita cheese and cayenne pepper. Where’s his quail egg? Norbert notices he had a mild cheese but it packs a punch – too much of one. Too much cayenne.

Traci made a colombier and prosciuto carpaccio with argula and croutons. This is not a common cheese -it’s a raw milk goat cheese. Cheese really comes through, though. Traci thought she was playing it safe.

Norbert didn’t like the corn because the pepper was heavy handed, and the grana padano dish because of the onions. He loved Naomi’s dish and Traci’s. Traci wins because she let the cheese do the talking. $5K to her charity, La Cocina. Suvir says that she basically put cheese on a plate.

Elimination challenge – a master needs to be aware of health as well as taste, etc. Amazing chefs can create delicious food for calorie conscious. People from the “Biggest Loser” come in.

The chefs have to give the contestants of the biggest loser what they’re craving in a form they can eat.

I’m going to rant right now, because this is something important to me.

First and foremost, I certainly agree that people need to eat healthily. We need moderation in portion size and in proportions of fat, salt and carbs to proteins and vegetables. This is completely true. HOWEVER, I really, really hate that they’re selling this very dangerous meme – that people are fat because they eat poorly and don’t exercise. This is true for some, of course, but there are a great many thin people who also eat poorly – often worse than most fat people – and never exercise. In some ways, they exercise less because it takes less energy to move a thin body.

Diet and exercise certainly play roles in body weight and fat proportion, BUT they’re far from the only factors. And while losing weight will help control a number of conditions, it takes a surprisingly small amount – 10-20% of the original body weight – to do the job.

I’m about 190lbs. I figured out that I eat about 1500-2000 calories a day just by my normal diet. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I prefer whole grains and my biggest weakness is nuts and salty snacks. I have an active job that keeps me on my feet for several hours and I walk to work. I also take karate. When my husband went on Weight Watchers, I did not have to change my cooking at all – which means all the weight he lost was due to his own efforts in reducing snacking and moving more.

So, I AM fat. But I eat well (yes, including red meat once or twice a week, but mostly chicken and fish, plus beans and tofu. I even eat vegetables.) and I exercise. And I’m sure I’m not an exception. And I hate that people place such a value judgment on weight issues – that by being fat, I’m somehow immoral, not worthy of respect or pretty, flattering clothes. (I’ve seen that – there’s a store called “Torrid” with trendy clothes for larger girls, and I’ve seen people bothered it exists because if the fat girls get cute outfits, why should they bother losing weight? Because maybe a well-dressed girl might feel better about herself, and go out in the world more, and not eat so destructively, if that’s what she’s doing. And if she’s doing everything “right” and still not losing, why should she be punished?)

My point is, one should eat well – but do it because you’ll feel better, not because it might affect your weight. In either direction.

So there are three breakfasts, lunches and three dinners. Chefs will form three teams and create low-cal versions of a full day’s meals – cannot exceed 1500 for the WHOLE day. Since they’re already random, Curtis assigns them dishes as they stand.

Naomi has french toast, eggs and sausage patties. Celina gets bacon and egg on bagel sandwich. Mary Sue gets corned beef hash with egg over easy. Traci gets a Chinese buffet. Floyd gets a meatball parmesan sub with cheese. Hugh gets roast beef with potatoes. Alex gets a fried chicken combo. Suvir gets a bacon cheeseburger and fries. (I crave that, too. Haven’t had a real one in DECADES.) George gets deep dish pizza supreme. They also have to adapt maple blondies.

Contestants from The Biggest Loser meet the chefs according to their dish. Rulon (french toast)is nostalgic. Floyd has Jay who likes spice. Alex has Hannah, with the fried chicken. Alex lost 90 lbs. Irene loves pub food, and loves beef. Suvir will make a veggie burger because he thinks she needs to just stop with the red meat.

Floyd is happy with george and Naomi on his (blue) team.

Red is Celina, Traci and Hugh

Green is Alex, Mary Sue and Suvir. They’ll tackle the brownies when they see what calories are left. Mary Sue is glad they have the trainers available to tell them calorie counts, since that’s a foreign concept to her. George is using low calorie cheese. Celina learns that bagels are high in calories. Suvir is looking for chickpeas.

Hugh is reducing the caloric content via portion control. Suvir is working for the ASA in his area.

Breakfast – Naomi made egg white spelt french toast, berries, scambled eggs and turkey bacon. Syrup is “extended” by stevia. Reduced from 940 to 275.

Mary Sue made turkey-vegetable hash and a poached egg (actually, a medium boiled egg she took out the shell after cooking. Very neat looking.) 1110-390

Celina made turkey bacon and egg white on ezekiel bread with vegtables. 1230 – 291

They like the french toast. Alan Systma especially liked the berries. Mary Sue’s hash proves problematic – the veg are cut too big, and it doesn’t look or taste like corned beef. The eggs are also problematic because they’re overcooked – except the customer liked them. Celina’s dish is dry and they were set up for salt and fat and didn’t get any. She was going to make bagels but there wasn’t time.

Alex’s cornbread will be dry because he forgot the applesauce. The breakfast chefs say the others can add a bit more fat because they were under the calorie count all around after breakfast.

Lunch – Floyd – buffalo meatball with onion, spinach, farro and cheese plus tomato sauce and asparagus. Sub w/no bread. 1130-467

Floyd – oven fried chicken, sweet potatoe puree, cream corn and corn bread. 1276 – 375.

Traci – “chinese buffet” of beef and broccoli, cabbage salad, rice and wonton soup. Looks ugly. 1240-365.

They like the all the flavor the meatballs have, and how perfectly cooked they were. The fried chicken is a hit with the customer, but the corn muffin was too dense. Satisfies some of the cravings you want with chinese buffet, and the customer cleaned his plate.

Dinner – Whole wheat pizza, tomato coulis, smoked mozzarella and vegetables. 2280 – 309. (George)

Suvir – veggie burger with asian slaw on pita bread. 1200-403 Was making a statement that red meat is bad for you. In fact, makes a speech about it. I noticed that he had fewer calories than the others to start with and ended up with more than they did.

Hugh is serving flank steak, salsa verde, fingerling potatoes and asparagus salad. And was not happy to be serving that after Suvir makes that speech. 1679-315

They love the pizza with all the flavor and the veggies. The smoked cheese added a lot of flavor. Burger tastes good, but not as a burger. It tastes like potatoes. The customer was disappointed – she was craving MEAT. The portion control and changing the sour cream for yogurt worked for the roast beef, which the bacon cheeseburger girl loved.

If Suvir wanted to make a point that RED meat was evil, he could have made a turkey burger with turkey bacon ( the chefs all made great use of turkey bacon) and a bit of cheese. And, as a lifelong vegetarian, he may not have been aware that part of the pleasure of meat is the FEEL of it in your mouth – he may even regard that as disgusting. His burger had none of that. Or he could have used a meaty item like mushrooms as part of his burger, increasing the taste and the feel and reducing the calories without effecting the protein content. Add a smoky cheese and she’d have been happier.

All of the teams had calories to spare, even with the blondies.

Blue team goes first. Wins. With 1241 calories, too. The pizza was satisfying, the meatballs were sexy and exotic, and Naomi made up a lot with the fresh berries. Floyd wins.

Suvir, Mary Sue and Alex were the weakest of the dishes. Suvir made the difficult decision of making something he felt was important even if his person wouldn’t like it, no matter what happened. He wanted to make a new dialogue. It felt like he was cooking for himself, not the customer. Mary Sue’s egg didn’t make the sauce Alan wanted. Not runny enough. Would have liked a finer dice to make a hash dish. They didn’t like Alex’s corn bread. Alex agrees that he shouldn’t have sent it out. James didn’t like the texture of the chicken – not moist and it was boring. But the customer loved it, to James’s perplexity.

Suvir had a lecture on a plate. His pita was cold and tough. Mary Sue is willing to be good, not great. She’s playing it safe.

Suvir is gone. Shown great food and a master of his craft, and should be proud of his food.

Rant again – food is really important to me. It’s my craft. It’s what I do for a living and for pleasure. And, yes, chef food and diner food and pub food (and most of these items were chef, diner and pub food) can be fatty and high in calories. Chefs love their butter and their salt, diners love their bacon and pubs want you to drink more, so they make it extra salty, and fat is always good.

And chef food may well be the standard by which we judge good food – there’s a lot of skill and training and awareness that goes into such dishes, but it’s not what any one would eat on a daily basis. I make simple food, low in fat, low in salt, using whole grains – and I do it out of preference as well as need. I also use a lot of herbs and spices, fresh ingredients when possible, and frozen or canned when they’re better quality than fresh (tomatoes are better canned other than one brief period in summer, for example, and frozen peas are always sweeter) and I have a positive love affair with acids, especially vinegars. I love strong flavors. None of this is difficult and it all makes a difference. Fat and salt are what create flavor – fat holds it, salt enhances it. Spices and acids make up for them.

And people seem to like my food, so I think I’m doing something right, both at home and at work.

BTW, I love veggie burgers. I love them with cheese and even fake bacon. But they’re things unto themselves, and do not take the place of real burgers.

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About mamadeb

I'm a devoted fan of Adam Lambert, but also of cooking, knitting, science fiction and pretty anything pop culture. I'm @_mamadeb on Twitter.
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2 Responses to Top Chef Masters S3 Ep4

  1. rationalflake says:

    yeah, Indian vegetarians get really ..uh stubborn about this shit. I could tell you stories…

  2. mamadeb says:

    I’m not surprised. Western vegetarians can get just as stubborn.

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