On tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

For the Quickfire the chefs must cook a dish only using the microwave. Most of them go on and on about how they never use a microwave — blah, blah, blah, who cares. We know very well that they don’t use them, at least not in their restaurants, but the point of Top Chef Masters is to pull them out of their comfort zone, and this challenge does exactly that. And no one had better make anythig sashimi or tartare related because that’s cheating!

The chefs must cook for an edible science fair for the Elimination Challenge, not only serving what looks to be middle school students (you can never tell these days), but also educating them on science-y stuff through their dishes. I’m just hoping someone makes an exploding volcano out of mashed potatoes and red Kool-Aid.

And I am very happy to announce — drum roll, please — Ruth Reichl is back in her rightful place at the judges’ table! Huzzah! Oh, and Padma shows up because she can’t have another TC host showing her up.

Preview video highlights:

  • In the first preview video, Naomi claims that she didn’t have a microwave when she was growing up. It then cuts to a shot of her playing in the dirt with sticks looking like a feral child. Does Bravo want us to assume that a child brought up without a microwave is some sort of hippie-savage?
  • A photo of Hugh’s kids is shown during the Quickfire. Sadly, no unibrows (or at least they weren’t visible).
  • Mary Sue demos viscosity for her science fair project. I won’t even type what some of that stuff looks like on her petri dish. What is she serving those children?!

Check out the preview videos below.

Update: Okay, even though all of the new previews are up on Bravo’s site, there won’t be a new episode tonight. This episode will be airing next week. Way to go letting us know ahead of time, Bravo…


Tune in to Bravo tonight at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, join our Twitter party during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here tomorrow! (You can even download us on iTunes!) Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics, Please Pack Your Knives And Go and All Top Chef, for the latest news (and some laughs).

Preview Videos:
Microwave Cooking
Getting All Science-y


On tonight’s episode of Top Chef Masters:

For the Quickfire the chefs must channel their former college selves and create a meal with budget of $1. If their ingredients came from Wal-Mart, I’d say it’d be an easier task, but knowing Bravo’s hookup with Whole Foods I think they might have a harder time trying to stretch that dollar.

As for the Elimination challenge, the heat is on as the chefs must man the lunch rush at a Farmer Boys fast food joint (it’s like McD’s but with better quality food). They have to cook main and side dishes for 100 people that don’t require utensils to eat, and each order must be completed in less than two minutes. I’m sure at least a few of the chefs will reveal that they’ve formerly worked as a fast food burger flipper when they started out in their cooking careers — and you know there will also be those who are completely lost in this type of kitchen environment.

Top Chef Podcast listeners: We’re currently having technical difficulties (due to new site and server) with getting our podcasts on iTunes. Until further notice, please listen to them directly from the posts that we put up every Thursday afternoon on the CL Food & Drink site! We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for bearing with us. 🙂

Preview video highlights:

  • Hugh: “…you’ve gotta be able to put something out.” And that’s what he said.
  • In the second preview video, it looks like some of the chefs need to ‘ketchup’! (Get it? Because they’re working in a fast food restaurant?) *crickets chirping*
  • Traci talks some shade about Mary Sue in the preview, calling her “annoying” and a “whirling dervish.” Hold onto your weave, girl, cuz them’s fightin’ words! (Seriously, I’ve cut a betch for less.)

Check out the preview videos below.


Tune in to Bravo tonight at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, join our Twitter party during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here tomorrow! (You can even download us on iTunes!) Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics, Please Pack Your Knives And Go and All Top Chef, for the latest news (and some laughs).

The Buck Stops Here

Order Here


Last night on Top Chef Masters:

I have to say that I love the fact that the chefs had to cook with live insects for the Quickfire Challenge. I mean, when do chefs get the chance to work with these odd proteins? Yeah, they’ve eaten brains and entrails and brains, but when have they ever scarfed down a scorpion? I also enjoyed their grossed out reactions when watching the guest judges sampling their dishes. Hugh ended up taking the win with his tempura fried crickets and sunchoke puree.

For the Elimination, the chefs were charged with creating a ten-course tasting menu for a charity dinner. Sounds easy enough, right? In the middle of cooking their dishes, the water gets turned off in the kitchen. Then Curtis walks in with a double whammy: the chefs have to plate up 30 minutes early and they must be the ones to serve the guests. Panic sets in, tempers flare and mild chaos ensues (definitely nowhere near the level of regular Top Chef, though).

Want to know what happened? Listen to the podcast to find out! (Note: This episode was a bit disjointed — to say the least. Just listen along, laugh and bear with us.)

The Fabio plea video for Katie (as discussed in podcast): A personal plea… from Jeff Houck on Vimeo.

Tune in to Bravo every Wednesday at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, check out our own live Tweets during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here every week! (You can even download us on iTunes!)

Check out our fellow Top Chef fanatics’ blogs: All Top Chef gives us their uninhibited reactions and Please Pack Your Knives and Go is just plain hilarious. And check out TalkingTV’s rules for the Top Chef drinking game here.

Listen to this week’s podcast:
Download the podcast here.

top_chef_logo_lgIt was a very zany episode of Top Chef All-Stars last night, between the loud, crazy antics of the Sesame Street characters during the Quickfire and then the madness that ensued at the Target lock-in challenge. I was mentally exhausted after watching, to say the least.

The Cookie Quickfire with the Sesame Street characters as judges was fun and lighthearted (except for Dale whose name is never uttered with that phrase). For some reason, Blais just didn’t get that an ice cream blob doesn’t equal “cookie” — in fact, it doesn’t even qualify for “ice cream cookie sandwich status”. I really liked Dale’s use of sweet and salty in his cookie and thought it was a fun take on the challenge (despite his dislike for making cookies). And did anyone else catch Elmo calling Antonia’s brown splooge cookies “cow chips”. Get it? Because “chips” kinda sounds like “sh*t” when you say it really fast.

The Elimination Challenge was like one long Target ad. I liked the concept of cooking using only ingredients and utensils found at Target — but that was about it. They could at least have had a spending limit or challenge to feature Target’s healthy/organic products. And why in the heck was it at 3 a.m.?! Yeah, I get it that they wanted the chefs to have free reign of the store, but c’mon! No wonder Dale’s “stoner food” tomato soup and grilled cheese won — because that’s the only thing you’d want to eat at 3 a.m.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Remember that beef stew I talked about making two weeks ago in my new cast iron dutch oven? Yeah, we ate it all before I could photograph. It was darn good. Needless to say, I’ll be making it again soon, tweaking the recipe a bit and, of course, sharing it with all of you lovely people.

As for this amorous evening, I’m (well, “we are”) staying in. Why spend the money on dining out when you can whip up a heartfelt, gourmet meal at home? On the menu: Mexican-style braised beef short ribs over cheddar polenta and some sort of tasty green bean dish for a side (fresh ones, of course). As for dessert, I cheated and bought it from a secret supplier with the initials C.F. 😉

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.

Liquid love: Valentine’s Day cocktails to enhance your amorous efforts – Since tequila happens to be my aqua vitae of choice, here are some fabulous cocktail recipes with tequila as the star ingredient to enhance your amorous efforts — or drown your singleton sorrows in.

My Blue Valentine: The god of love’s role in the discovery of blue cheese – Did you know that the mischievous Ancient Roman deity, Cupid, is legend to be the reason we have blue cheese? Blame it on him and a couple of horny shepherds.

Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle – This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing.

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 9: Funny business – Whether you watch the show or not, our review of it is top notch snark and an all-around good time. Listen to us (attempt to) recap this episode and the hilarity that ensues.

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes I’ve found in the foodie blogosphere that caught my eye recently. Plus, they’re on some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs that are worth visiting.

Stuff I’d like to make:

Apple-Infused Vodka (Boulder Locavore) – I’ve made fruit infused vodka — which is easy-peasy — and this apple vodka recipe looks fab. I’m going to use Galas because they’re the most perfect pommes.

Brie & Brisket Quesadillas with Mango Barbecue Sauce (Confections of a Foodie Bride) – I love every single element of this dish. Plus, I can put my slow cooker to work for this one (my new fave kitchen appliance).

Caramelized Onion Cornbread (Sweet Potato Soul) – Ooh, I never thought about putting caramelized onions in my cornbread! This would also go great with the above recipe.

Chocolate French Toast (La Mia Vita Dolce) – If you don’t like French toast and chocolate, there’s something wrong with you. (Unless you’re allergic to chocolate or wheat, then you have my pity.)

Maple-Bacon Kettle Corn (Brown Eyed Baker) – Um, hello? Bacon. And maple syrup. Together for one night only. ‘Nuff said.

The Nikki Heat Cocktail (The Pegu Blog) – I love a bit of heat in my cocktails (well, in pretty much everything) and this one looks pretty good.

Pork and Tomatillo Stew (Smells Like Home) – Because I love me some Mexican and Tex-Mex fare, this is right up my alley. I think this might be the first recipe I make in my new cast iron dutch oven!

The Retox Cocktail (Saveur) – Bourbon, maple syrup, bitters, lemon juice and cayenne. “An alcoholic version of the Master Cleanse diet.” Awesome.

Roasted Winter Squash with Cranberries, Pepitas and Honey-Lime Vinaigrette (The Perfect Pantry) – Colorful, simple and just plain delicious-looking.

Veggie and Parmesan Cake (WordFlux) – I have another confession to make: I love vegetables. And this colorful, savory cake has lots of them. It’d also be a good way to get some veggies in your kids (or your veggie-hating pals).

This week, we’re back in the Champagne Room (aka: the podcast bunker) to rag on episode 6 of the new season on Top Chef.

I have to admit that the “Angels and Devils” theme for the Quickfire Challenge was a bit cheesy (and so were some of the dishes, and I’m not talking dairy here). The cheftestants had to create a duo dish using one main component two ways. Some of the chefs were a bit peeved at Robin’s win with her apple salad and apple crisp. Was Eli right to mock her for playing the cancer story card? No. But I do have to say that Penn and Teller were awesome. Anyway, we welcomed back the lovely Michelle Bernstein from Miami (a past judge on Top Chef) as guest judge this week.

eli_robinFor their Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to deconstruct a classic dish but keep the same flavors of the original dish. The judges table was very- how shall I put this – bitchy this week. The claws were out with Padma and Michelle and it was no-holds-barred with the critiques to the chefs on the bottom of the barrel this week. It was also great to see Michelle put Toby Young in his place concerning the pronunciation of “paella” (and the city of “Barthelona”).

We also got to see Ben Folds (Ashley) on top again this week (surprisingly), as well as Redbeard (Kevin) and Angry Brother (Mike V.). From all of the flack and hate comments we received over last week’s post/episode, I won’t reveal the winner or loser. (But, seriously, why listen if you haven’t seen the episode yet?)

Highlights: Eli hates on Robin for pulling the ‘cancer card’, Ron “The Chowder King”‘s not-s0-deconstructed paella, how to pronounce “paella”, Jeff’s new bell, Katie’s thing for married chefs, and our response about the spoilers from last week’s episode.

Hear the hilarious podcast after the jump: