March 2011


top_chef_logo_lg The two remaining chef’testants are hitting the ground running during the Top Chef: All-Stars finale tonight! I’d say there are two distinct groups of fans who will be watching tonight’s final showdown: Those who desperately want Blais to win and those who desperately want Jersey Mike to not win. Of course, there will be some centrists as well.

Right after Blais and Mike learn that they’ve made it to the real finale, Tom gives the gents their final quest: “We want you to create for us the restaurant of your dreams.” I’m taking it as this will be a Restaurant Wars-style showdown. After learning that 15 of the chopped chefs will be returning to act as sous chefs for the challenge, Blais and Mike are deliberating over who they want on their team. Little do they know, it won’t be as cut and dry as picking out their team like they did during kickball games in middle school gym class.

Back in the kitchen, Padma charges the 15 returning chefs to create an amuse bouche for Blais and Mike, who will then have to choose their sous chefs based solely on a blind taste test of those offerings. I’m sure by now finalists have a decent idea of the other chefs’ cooking styles so that they might be able to match the dish to the chef.

Preview video highlights:
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PS022811 Fresh Fruits #221Here’s a piece I did recently for the Photography Issue for the Tampa newspaper, Creative Loafing, that I work for.

Local freelance food stylist and photographer Andrea Acailawen has learned to blend her love of photography and passion for food into a successful career, bringing food to life through her camera lens.

Working for a Northern California ad agency, she styled products and food for a variety of clients: home goods and kitchenware companies, department store and grocery chains, restaurants, wineries, a cherry grower — even a nut manufacturing plant. Now she’s opened her own photography and styling business in Tampa and is “starting from scratch in a new market.”

It’s not surprising that she ended up in this vocation. Her chef/photographer father taught her how to cook and bought her a camera at the age of 6 for a class field trip: a medium-format Hasselblad (one of those old-school, boxy-looking ones with a single lens and film-winding crank).
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top_chef_logo_lgThree chefs remained at the beginning last night’s episode of Top Chef All-Stars and

The Quickfire was an interesting twist on Top Chef challenge twists: each chef choose the other’s challenge (i.e.: one-pot meal, canned food, etc.), then chose the second round of twists which were revealed halfway through the challenge (cook with one arm, use no utensils, etc.). Was anyone else as confused as I was? Anyway, they all ended up finishing on time, Carla made a guest appearance, they were judged by Wolfgang Puck and then Jersey Mike won the challenge.

As for the Elimination, the chefs had to each cook the requested last meal of a famous chef/guest judge, and the lineup included: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein. Since Mike won the Quickfire, he got to choose who Blais and Antonia would be cooking for. Mike chose Bernstein for himself, who wanted fried chicken and biscuits; Blais got Puck, who wanted goulash, spaetzle, and apple shtrooodulll; and Antonia had to cook Morimoto’s requested meal of miso soup, pickled mushrooms and sashimi.
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top_chef_logo_lg It’s the second to last episode of Top Chef: All-Stars tonight!

For the Quickfire, the remaining chefs have a pretty easy challenge: prepare a one-pot meal. But, as we’ve seen in the past, there’s the potential to over-think a dish and it turn out to be a mucky mess.

In the Elimination Challenge, it looks like the chefs will be paired with some big names in the culinary world: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein (if I remember correctly), and they have to prepare a meal indicative of those chefs’ styles. Mike says he’s going to go out on a limb and trying something new for him for this challenge. Um, Mike, have you not seen many other chefs do this so close to the finale in past seasons and fail miserably?

Preview video highlights:
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My apologies for skipping my ‘Random’ roundup last week (and pretty much neglecting my blog lately). I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of last week in Key West, taking in the sights, culture and of course, the food. Anyway, since I came home late Thursday and was exhausted, I was in no shape to celebrate St. Patty’s Day which is why all of these Irish-themed recipes are on my list this week. Maybe I should just celebrate a week late, eh? ;-)

Keep an eye out for my Key West food adventures post in the near future!

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week; both from the site I run and from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.
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top_chef_logo_lgOnly four chefs remain on Top Chef All-Stars and they’re definitely starting to get “in the juice” (whatever that means).

I’m a day late on this post and recording the podcast, as I’ve been in the Caribbean myself (well, close enough) this week and was without access to the Bravo channel. But, not wanting to let down our readers/listeners, I’ve come into work just to throw this together and to make sure you all can rest a little easier this weekend knowing that we didn’t skip out on you this week.

Those preview videos sure have been fooling me, because I swore that the 100-dish “consistency” challenge was supposed to be the Elimination Challenge. Anyway, the chefs had to pair up and make 100 dishes that all looked and tasted the same. After hating on and smack talkin’ the girls, Team Blais-Isabella were the ones with egg on their faces when they lost the challenge. It’s called karma, boys, and she’s a bitch.
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top_chef_logo_lg The Final Four are duking it out in teams on Top Chef: All-Stars tonight!

For the Quickfire, the chefs must go diving for conch (no pun intended) so that they can incorporate it into their dishes. I don’t know about you all, but I love me some conch! Conch fritters, conch chowder…you get the idea.

As for the Elimination Challenge, the remaining chef’testants have to pair up and cook for a whole mess of people. It will be a battle of the sexes, as Antonia and Tiffany pair up against Blais and Jersey Mike.

Preview video highlights:
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