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Tom Colicchio, Eddie Huang Go Shark Fishing on New YouTube Show

Tom Colicchio, Eddie Huang Go Shark Fishing on New YouTube Show



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There's some talk about pot, hip-hop, and Marcus Samuelsson

YouTube's Reserve Channel has taken Eric Ripert and had him ask the tough questions to BFF Anthony Bourdain, and it seems like Tom Colicchio's new show Hooked Up is just about the same.

In the first episode, Colicchio takes Taiwanese-American chef Eddie Huang out shark fishing, where they chat about hip-hop, music, cooking, and all the other hot topics that are big in the New York scene. Huang gets pitted against David Chang in the pork bun scene ("[Momofuku pork bun] is not an invention. It's like when Christopher Columbus came and said I discovered America. You encountered it," Huang said), choosing the McRib over the legendary pork bun. "It's the unicorn of all food items it comes once a year," Huang says.

There's also some talk about music, where Colicchio admits he's not that into hip-hop, especially live ("There's only so many times you can grab your crotch and prance around stage," he says), and Huang talks about his musical evolution. Best album to smoke pot to right now? Rick Ross' "God Forgives, I Don't." Watch the whole episode below.


Tom Colicchio on What Makes Great Seafood

Setting the kite to hoist the lines for a day of deep sea fishing. Matt Taylor-Gross

When it comes to great seafood, there’s more to know than just buying the freshest catch. As far as Tom Colicchio is concerned, how a fish was treated on a boat matters just as much as when it was caught.

That’s why I’m with him on the coast of Miami Beach, past the barrier reef of Biscayne National Park, where the the sea floor drops from 12 feet to around 200 feet. The seas are rough and unrelenting ahead of the evening’s forecasted storm. Needless to say, it’s not a good day for this newbie angler I can barely hold on to my dignity.

Colicchio helps the boat captain launch a 15-foot inflatable sea anchor so we can easily drift south into what’s known as prime feeding ground for sailfish. Within ten minutes, a series of elaborate kites fly high above the boat before dropping lures 60 feet to the water’s surface.

Game fish, like the men on this boat, appreciate a challenge, and they’ve learned to sense the vibrations of the smaller fish’s struggle. The suspended bait and all its drama leads to spectacular strike: The predatory fish flies out of the water and takes it down.

Tom Colicchio

One of America’s most prominent chefs, restaurateurs, and advocates for sustainable seafood, Colicchio makes a point to buy directly from fishermen he trusts as much as possible. That seafood, often raw, has a prominent role on menus at his coastal restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, and at Beachcraft in Miami Beach.

Later, back at the restaurant, we plan to make ceviche, where every detail counts. “I’ve been on other commercial decks where the fish is beat up and left in the sun, compromising the shelf life,” Colicchio says. In other words, seemingly simple, almost no-brainer, maneuvers on the boat can drastically affect the quality of what you eat at a restaurant or at home.

One preferred source, known as the black sea bass guru of the Mid-Atlantic, left a lasting impression on him during an offshore fishing trip. The fisherman took each fish off the hook and placed it directly into the ice—without letting a single one touch the boat deck.

This level of care and coddling extends to “bleeding the fish” and cooling it down properly once caught. Bleeding the fish means cutting it at a strategic spot, like the throat to force the blood out, which prevents discoloration and unsavory changes to the flavor and texture of certain kinds of fish. People debate how important bleeding is, but everyone agrees that putting it on ice is vital—even the best fish will spoil if it’s not chilled immediately.

Fishing poles firmly in their holsters. Matt Taylor-Gross

Colicchio also calls out some pointers for those of us who aren’t buying fish on the docks every day. Start by finding the best-looking one the day you plan to serve it, and let yourself be flexible about what that fish might be. Look your fish in the eyes—they should be completely clear—and check out the cleanliness of the scales and gills. This is where you’ll want to make sure the fish is free of parasites. Make sure it smells like the ocean and not like an old fish.

Several hours into the trip, a member of Colicchio’s team pulls a banana out of his bag for a snack. This, according to the experienced anglers, is very bad luck. The superstition has varied origins, including banana boat wrecks and insect-infested ships, and may explain why we don’t see any action in otherwise extremely productive waters. But we press on with the ceviche anyway.

Colicchio enjoys tinkering with the classic Peruvian style and opts for unusual components like gooseberries, sumac, and pink peppercorns with pieces of scallop. Today, he cures the red snapper in lime juice with passion fruit, honey, and aji amarillo chile paste, and presents it along with scallions, heirloom baby tomatoes, charred super-sweet corn, cilantro, and serrano pepper.

Guided by traditional South American techniques and with a super-sharp knife, he cuts the fish into chunks big enough to underscore the flesh’s texture. Slicing, he says, is more appropriate for crudo, the Italian version of sashimi that’s frequently dressed olive oil. Ceviche takes best to chunks.

Tom Colicchio’s Passion Fruit Ceviche

He also enjoys using underappreciated fish to add more depth to ceviche: escolar for its high oil content and black sea bass and fluke on the East Coast. Red snapper is a more common fish, but it’s his favorite from the Gulf. “The traditionalists say you can’t do this or you can’t call it that, but I think it’s okay so long as it’s good.”

Beyond the fish, he stresses finding the right balance between herbal notes, acid, spice. Chop red onions, scallions, chiles, lime juice, and a fruit like mango, papaya, watermelon or whatever makes sense for the season.

Colicchio lets his fish marinate on its own for about 15 minutes in lime juice to keep the other ingredients clean. And when it’s all done, he keeps it glacially cold with two metal bowls, one nested inside a larger one packed with ice. Because what’s true on the boat is just as important once the catch is in your hands.

Galena explores edible culture for curious eaters, drinkers and thinkers. Last year, she awarded herself a fellowship to live in Paris and write while abroad. Life-changing adventures ensued in France, Japan and Germany, bringing her back to Miami Beach with endless inspiration. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


THE RECIPE: SEA BASS WITH LEEKS AND CHERRY TOMATOES

  1. Scale, fillet, and cut the meat into inch-wide strips.
  2. In a pan, heat olive oil and add a small handful of chopped leeks. “What I do is sweat the leeks,” he says. “I don’t want color at all on them.”
  3. Once the leeks soften, turn down the heat and add cherry tomatoes and a bit of water to stew them. “They’ll sort of pop when they’re ready and release their liquid,” he says, “which becomes a sauce.”
  4. Add a pinch of thinly sliced fresh pepper to the pan for heat.
  5. Add a pat of butter to the pan, then add the sea bass. Cook for five minutes or so, turning the meat once or twice, until it pulls apart easily.
  6. Plate the fish and add fresh herbs, like diced garlic scapes. “It’s very easy and quick,” says Colicchio. “And good.”

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!


The Best Recipes for Trout, Walleye, Salmon and Catfish

OL shares the tastiest recipes for trout, salmon, walleye, striped bass and catfish.

This is OL’s guide to cooking the best fish you’ve ever tasted. For recipes, we turned to three top chefs who are also avid anglers. We then called on our friends at Saveur (who assisted with our “Perfect Venison” feature in the December/January issue) to bring the recipes to life. But the only way to fully enjoy these recipes is to make them yourself. So next time you’re on the water, put a fish or two on ice. Then go home and try one of these savory dishes. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate one of the outdoors’ greatest gifts. VIDEO
Tying Trout: A Creative New Trout Recipe
How to Pair Beer With Your Next Fish Dish
How to Select Wine for Your Next Fish Dish Roasted Striped Bass with Corn Relish
(serves 4)
2 Tbs. peanut oil
4 1-inch-thick, center-cut striped bass fillets (about 6 oz. each), skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Coarse sea salt Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it slides easily across the pan. Dry the fillets thoroughly with paper towels, season them with Kosher salt and pepper on both sides, and then add them, skin-side down, to the skillet. 2. Reduce the heat (the oil should sizzle, not sputter) and cook the fillets until the skins are crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets and gently brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. 3. Add the butter and thyme. Continue cooking the fillets, turning them once or twice (so they brown evenly) and basting with the lightly browning butter. Cook until the fish is opaque, about 4 minutes. Serve at once drizzled with the browned butter and sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Chef’s note: Any firm-fleshed fish (halibut, cod, snapper, salmon, grouper) may be substituted. Just make sure the fillets are about 1-inch thick, or adjust the cooking time accordingly. Barbecued Salmon Steaks
(serves 4)
4 small or 2 large sweet potatoes
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 tsp. nutmeg
4 8- to 10-oz. salmon steaks
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 cup barbecue sauce of choice
4 lemon wedges Directions
1. Wash and cut sweet potatoes into 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds. Boil in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain water and let potatoes steam off. Keep refrigerated until needed. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and nutmeg. 2. Heat grill to medium-hot. Brush fish steaks and sweet potato slices with olive oil. Place fish and sweet potatoes on grill and cook for 3 minutes. Turn to make crisscross marks. Let cook 3 minutes more. Turn over. Brush tops of steaks with softened butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Top with barbecue sauce. Shut lid and cook 3 to 4 minutes. When fish is medium-rare, place fish steaks and sweet potatoes on a platter. Serve with lemon wedges. Chef’s Tip: If desired, mashed sweet potatoes can be made after removing potato rounds from grill. Place potatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon cream. Mash and serve under steaks. Grilled Whole Trout with Basil, Tomato and Avocado
(Serves 4)
4 whole trout (deboned)
Salt and pepper
8 large sprigs of fresh basil
2 lemons, sliced and halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
Butcher’s twine Directions
1. Season the cavity of each trout with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop four sprigs of basil (stem and all). Place an equal amount into each cavity and top with lemon slices. Tie the trout so that the cavity is held closed with the butcher’s twine. Hold in refrigerator until 1 hour before you are ready to cook. 2. Start the grill. When the coals are ready, clean the grill grate carefully. Oil the grate. Season the outside of the trout with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Place trout on grill and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn. Walleye Casino with Peppers and Onion
(serves 4)
2 Tbs. butter
4 8- to 10-oz. walleye fillets
1⁄2 cup seasoned cake flour
1 Tbs. olive oil
1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1⁄2 cup green onion, sliced 1⁄4-inch thick
1 Tbs. capers, drained
1⁄2 cup cooked bacon, chopped
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 whole lemon, cut into 4 wedges Directions
1. In a large frying pan, heat butter to a fast bubble. Dredge fish fillets in seasoned cake flour and shake off any excess. Place fish in butter and fry until golden brown. Gently turn fish, reduce heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. 2. While fish are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add peppers and green onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add capers, cooked bacon and Worcestershire sauce. Combine gently. Remove cooked fish fillets and place on a warm serving platter. Top fish fillets with casino mixture and serve with lemon wedges. Chef’s Tip: This recipe is an excellent choice for any kind of fish fillets or steaks. Tempura-Fried Whole Catfish
(serves 4)
4 2-lb. whole catfish (bone in)
2 cups flour
2 cups cornstarch
2 Tbs. baking powder
2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. black pepper
2 cups cold soda water
1⁄2 gallon peanut oil
1 large heavy-bottom pot
Oil thermometer
1 pair of long-handled tongs Directions
1. Rinse catfish, pat dry and
season the cavity and outside of catfish with salt and pepper. Hold in refrigerator until
ready to fry. 2. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Whisk in the soda water and hold in refrigerator until ready to fry. 3. Heat peanut oil to 360 degrees. Coat catfish in tempura batter and slowly slide into the oil using tongs. Fry only two catfish at a time. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a draining rack or on paper towels. CARE FOR YOUR CATCH
After each day of fishing New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay with his grandfather, a teenage Tom Colicchio was tasked with taking care of the day’s catch. His training served him well. To this day, the host of Bravo’s Top Chef remains meticulous about the fish he catches and the care he takes with it, whether it’s prepared for guests at one of his richly acclaimed restaurants or for family and friends at home. Here are his tips. Boating Fish
“Treat a fish that you intend to eat with care. A fish’s flesh is very delicate. Don’t throw it around the boat and don’t hold it by the tail or you risk ripping the flesh and beating up the fillet.” Boxing Fish
“Don’t ever leave fish lying on the deck of the boat. Bleed it right away and ice it immediately. If you catch a tuna, lay it in the fish box on its belly, just like it swims. Tuna is very soft.” Freezing Fish
“Don’t do it. Take what you want for a meal or two and that’s it. Freezing fish is just a bad idea.” Cooking Fish
“Go simple. Grilling is good. No fancy sauces, and never overcook fish. Use butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and don’t cook with acids like lemon. Add lemon after the fish is done.”

OL shares the tastiest recipes for trout, salmon, walleye, striped bass and catfish.


So Tom, what about season 18? I asked him to name a few cities that would make great Top Chef destinations. But alas&hellip

&ldquoI can&rsquot because I&rsquom afraid I&rsquoll give away one of those locations. There is a schedule. We are scheduled to shoot and obviously, that could change, but right now we are okay. It is a place that we haven&rsquot shot in yet, but I can&rsquot give too much away.&rdquo

As much as Top Chef fans love bouncing destination ideas around, the one subject that seems to generate the most debate revolves around the disclaimer that runs in the closing credits suggesting that the judges&rsquo decisions could be influenced or directed.

&ldquoI know it&rsquos a little disclaimer that&rsquos there for legal reasons. Never. No. There is absolutely none of that. I don&rsquot know how many times I have to say this. I would quit the show. We don&rsquot care about that stuff. We don&rsquot. Now there are, to my understanding, some food reality competition shows where they reverse engineer, they choose the winner and then they make that happen. No, I wouldn&rsquot be with that show. It&rsquos never even been discussed on ours. Never in 17 seasons. It has never been an issue.&rdquo

Having done a deep-dive into the making of the Top Chef sausage, I&rsquod be remiss if I didn&rsquot talk about actual food with Tom. To that end, I posed the same question to him that I did to both Padma and Gail, asking which Top Chef alumni he&rsquod bring in to cook for a private dinner party.

&ldquoI&rsquom probably going to go with Melissa. I thought her food was just fantastic, especially towards the end of the season. There was something about it that I just couldn&rsquot get enough of. I loved it. I also thought that Gregory&rsquos food was often spectacular. He also put together some great stuff. And Mei Lin, who actually beat Gregory in their season, she&rsquos also fantastic, but I can go to her restaurant. Those are the three that come to mind, but right now I&rsquom kind of craving more of Melissa&rsquos food.&rdquo

From being a Top Chef Boston Season 12 finalist, to being crowned Top Chef in Season 17 LA All-Stars, @ChefMelissaKing has had quite the journey!

Watch her full Top Chef story unfold: https://t.co/VOSs36LUUW pic.twitter.com/YH7q69CfE6

&mdash Bravo Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) July 6, 2020


Chef Who Refuses to Be Defined by His Wok

The firebrand chef Eddie Huang took over a table at Hot Kitchen, a Sichuan restaurant in the East Village, and commandeered the remote control. It was a Saturday night, and the Orlando Magic was losing to the New York Knicks. As Carmelo Anthony worked his way to 40 points, Mr. Huang’s body jerked in sympathetic rebound.

Mr. Huang’s face was framed by a crisp black New Yorker baseball cap. On his pinkie was a ring emblazoned with a Star of David on his wrist a Nike+ FuelBand and on his torso was an oversized black hoodie with the letters “P-I-F” emblazoned on the front.

“It’s a type of very high-quality weed,” Mr. Huang said matter-of-factly. “The proper usage is, ‘You got dat pif, mang?’ ” Mr. Huang smiled, a walking mixtape of postmodern cultural appropriation.

Image

At 30, Mr. Huang is usually identified as a chef, which is only partly true. He is the chef and co-owner of BaoHaus, an informal Taiwanese bun shop in the East Village. But, he is quick to add, “I have more to say as a writer than from behind a wok.”

Since 2009, Mr. Huang has built a career as an author and a television personality based on his brash cultural mashups and his take-no-prisoners critiques of everyone and everything.

He has berated fellow chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and David Chang as exploiters and sellouts. On his online recaps, he has attacked the HBO show “Girls” as elitist. He has excoriated Guy Fieri as a cruel joke, and he pontificates on divisive topics like interracial dating and shark fin soup.

He disseminates these broadsides on his blog, Fresh Off The Boat through his active Twitter account, @MrEddieHuang on a popular Vice online series called Fresh Off The Boat and in a memoir of the same name, published this month by Random House.

Mr. Huang’s path has been nomadic and unsteady. Raised in Orlando, Fla., he moved to New York in 2005 to study at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. “Yo, I was the president of the Minority Law Students Alliance,” he said. “It was ill.”

After graduating, he practiced corporate law at Chadbourne & Parke but was laid off in March 2009. Rather than continue law, he found work as a stand-up comic at the Laugh Lounge on the Lower East Side. Using the stage name Magic Dong Huang, he was a loud and high-energy figure, telling jokes about soy milk, Osama bin Laden and growing up Chinese in Orlando.

“My only goal as a comedian was to stomp the life out of the model-minority myth,” he writes in the memoir. To make ends meet, he said, he also ran a loose network of marijuana dealers. “I had other comics selling my weed,” he said.

Seeking greater exposure, Mr. Huang appeared on the Food Network show “Ultimate Recipe Showdown,” hosted by Mr. Fieri. Although he did not win, the show gave him the confidence to open BaoHaus with his brother, Evan, just nine months after being laid off.

Crammed into a basement space on Rivington Street, it served savory bite-sized buns for a few dollars and “was meant to be like a futuristic Y.M.C.A., where all the weirdos could hang out,” he said.

Six months later, he opened a full-service restaurant, Xiao Ye, which served dishes like Cheeto-Fried Chicken and ran specials like Four Loko Thursdays, based on the banned energy drink. The critics were brutal. “Xiao Ye is a bummer,” wrote Sam Sifton in a blistering review in The New York Times, rating it “fair.”

“The review was a wake-up call,” Mr. Huang said. “I realized I couldn’t play hard and work hard. So I decided to dedicate myself, but not in the way people expected. I realized it is time to do what I came here for, to speak my mind and to talk about all the things about America I’d like to change.”

Eventually Xiao Ye closed, and Mr. Huang, with extra time on his hands, began to speak out. He criticized Mr. Samuelsson for exploiting the African-American experience at the Red Rooster in an article he wrote for The New York Observer. He criticized Mr. Chang for debasing his food for the Western palate, and took on Western chefs for cooking ethnic food.

Mr. Huang went fishing with Tom Colicchio and banged around Brooklyn with Anthony Bourdain. He ignited Twitter wars with Food Network stars like Anne Burrell, calling her “fish filet.” He is giving a TED Talk this year on the shifting waltz between authenticity and ethnicity.

“I want to prove you don’t need to have academic syntax to be intelligent,” he said.

Mr. Huang’s appeal is not only in what he says, but how he says it — a profane concatenation of Mandarin and African-American vernacular English, spiced with allusions to Jonathan Swift, Charles Barkley and Cam’ron.

Although he grew up in suburban Orlando, Mr. Huang was nevertheless deeply influenced by hip-hop culture, and his lexicon is the stuff of Tipper Gore’s nightmares. In a recent Vice episode, Mr. Huang introduced himself by saying: “What up? It’s your boy Eddie Huang. Writer. Chef. Human panda. BangBros connoisseur, and I’m horny for more.” Then he asks a passer-by for a marijuana cigarette.

Mr. Huang’s memoir reads like a Taiwanese-American hip-hop version of “Journey to the End of the Night” — an anarchic catalog of small triumphs and horrific scenes of physical abuse. According to the memoir, the abuse came at the hands of Mr. Huang’s father, a former Taiwanese gang-leader-cum-Orlando restaurateur, and his mother, a high-strung housewife.

That led, in part, to Mr. Huang’s identification with black culture. “I remember black parents would hit their kids at the grocery store when they bruised the fruit,” he said. “I remember getting hit by my mother when I bruised the fruit, too. I thought, ‘I guess I’m more like them than the white kids.’ ”

Today, Mr. Huang lives in a small apartment in Stuyvesant Town with his brother and 120 pairs of sneakers. There are hundred of N.B.A. video games on a shelf and two unopened bottle of Hennessy V.S.O.P. on the table. “I always have two bottles of Hennessy in case something happens,” Mr. Huang said cryptically.

The kitchen has fallen into disrepair, but Mr. Huang is rarely home anyway. When he is not traveling for Vice, he is behind the counter at BaoHaus, now on East 14th Street.

He was there on a recent afternoon, in an apron and gray sweatshirt, as the hip-hop song “Ambition” by Wale blasted overhead. Mr. Huang’s face was obscured by thick clouds of steam, but his voice could be heard.

“Easy to dream but harder to live it,” he sang along to the music. “They’re going to love me for my ambition.”


Garrett PaquetteProfessional angler on Bassmaster tour, guide on Detroit’s Lake St. ClairCanton, MI

“Metro Detroit is full of opportunities to catch fish, even from the shore. In early spring through the summer, smallmouth can be caught standing on most piers, docks, and seawalls on Lake St. Clair that allow public access. The ones around dugout canals or marina entrances are usually best. Reel a crankbait or drag something slow on the bottom, like a tube jig. Those are great techniques to get bites. Another cool opportunity to fish from the shore is the Detroit River in the late spring and early summer. White bass gang up in large packs and will eat almost any small lure reeled by them. You can catch over 100 fish in a day during their run.”


‘Top Chef’ Season 13 Episode 12: Everyone Wants to Create the Next Shake Shack

Every week when I get ready for Top Chef I wonder to myself, "Is this the week where people finally crack and start to lose it and maybe throw something or swear or mess up something so aggressively that they walk out of the kitchen in a fit of rage?" and then every week I'm slightly disappointed that doesn't happen and instead, everyone cooks relatively well and someone is sent home for a dish that ultimately would have been good enough for the competition just an episode or two earlier.

I was bummed to see Karen Akunowicz sent home last week for her overly Chinese-Japanese dish. I'm even more bummed because that leaves Marjorie Meek-Bradley as the last woman in the competition. Again, I'm not shrilly screaming from the roof of an Ann Taylor Loft, "Give it to a woman because we deserve it!" but I do think Karen had the chops to keep going in this competition and I would have liked to see her and Marjorie keep cooking alongside each other. Also they seemed like friends, and that's always refreshing to watch.

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs head to M.Y. Chinese restaurant and are greeted by Padma Lakshmi in yet another all white ensemble (does the woman just like, never, ever spill?) and guest judge, the legendary chef Martin Yan. His impressive history in cooking is the only thing that could actually steal the attention away from the chef cooking behind everyone with a wok full of giant flames.

In this challenge, the chefs have 30 minutes to create their own version of the American Chinese cuisine staple, chop suey. Making this style of Chinese food would seem easy enough — if it can be flash frozen and sold in bags at Trader Joe's, there must be some simplicity to it. But cooking with an extremely hot wok is not easy. The heat is so high that you can go from raw to on fire in a matter of seconds.

Padma explains there is no immunity in this challenge, but there is a pretty significant advantage for the winner going into the elimination.

Marjorie is playing with the lobsters, putting them in Jeremy Ford's face and saying, "Say hello to my little friend," thus earning her another check mark in the "we need to be friends" book. She seems comfortable with the wok, while others are struggling a bit more. Amar Santana keeps sparking flames so high I'm genuinely worried for the safety of anyone in that building. Considering his struggle, he decides to do a version of chop suey that also involves fried rice.

Thanks to the magic of television editing, the 30 minutes flies by and the chefs quickly serve Padma and Martin their Chinese American creations.

Everyone does pretty well, but there are some missteps. Carl Dooley's Szechuan-style lobster with snow peas, ginger, chilies, and scallops doesn't have the right proportion of protein to vegetables that traditional chop suey has. Kwame Onwuachi's eggplant got oily in his stiry fry with crispy beef, long beans, and cabbage. Isaac Toups made the mistake of using too much corn starch on his spicy general tso's chicken with crackling sambal, orange, and broccoli — a problem he was aware of as he was finishing his dish.

Of course, there were some seriously great dishes, as there always are. The judges enjoyed Jeremy's Dungeness crab stir fry with bok choy and Thai chili, as well as Amar's pork chop suey with vegetables and Szechuan peppercorns over rice. The winner, though, is Marjorie for her well-balanced lobster chop suey with ginger, Thai chili, and orange. It's her first Quickfire win, which, annoyingly, comes without the prize of immunity.

Because they are in San Francisco, the city of Yelp employee open letters and $1,000,000 studio apartments, the elimination challenge is all about venture capitalist firms, kind of. The chefs must each come up with a concept for a fast casual restaurant, prepare one dish to serve to 150 diners at an event, and plan the rest of the menu for that establishment. And to help judge this challenge is Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman.

The key to succeeding with this challenge is developing a concept that represents each chefs' culinary style but also could work in any city across the country. The judges keep saying that fast casual is "blowing up," but I don't think that's true. There's always been fast casual dining. It's just actually getting good for the first time in history.

Since this is a pretty tall order of a challenge, the chefs get some help in the form of recently eliminated contestants as sous chefs. Here is where Marjorie's advantage from winning the Quickfire comes into play. She not only gets first pick of the group for herself, but she gets to pair all of the chefs up.

Marjorie picks Angelina Bastidas, which feels like a bold choice given Angelina's struggles on the show. But, she points out, she's a fast as hell sous chef, so she's kind of perfect for the situation. She then pairs Jeremy with Jason Stratton, Carl with Chad White, Amar with Karen (a team I could not be more in support of), Isaac with fellow Southern gentleman Wesley True, and Kwame with the one and only Phillip Frankland Lee. Obviously, these pairings weren't accidents. She saved Phillip for Kwame based on their history of working together in the kitchen ending in failed dishes.

Now that they have their sous chefs, the contestants start planning their fast casual concepts. I was thinking of what I would do if I were in their shoes. Honestly, I would probably create a restaurant where there is unlimited free wine and you can show up in a bathrobe. The rest is kind of irrelevant to me. The first person to create this restaurant as a real place will get an investment from me of my entire fortune ($137 and a 2000 Toyota Rav 4).

Amar is going with what he knows — and has been cooking for most of the season — and doing a rotisserie chicken restaurant. Marjorie is showcasing her pasta know-how from her year at Per Se with an Italian concept. Carl's idea is my favorite of the bunch and is a Southern Mediterranean version of Chipotle (ideally sans bacteria issues). Kwame is working with chicken and waffles, and Isaac is doing his Lousiana gumbo. They all make sense not just overall, but as restaurants that could conceivably work across the country.

The one part that doesn't make sense is Jeremy, who is more hung up on naming his restaurant Two Dudes than figuring out what it serves. Even though it's totally outside his wheelhouse, he decides to embrace his inner surfer-brah and do tacos. But not just tacos, "tacos that are kind of different," which sounds like the idea you come up with when you're stoned and staring at a fridge full of eggs, Chinese leftovers, and a shoe.

Given the time constraints, Kwame decides to go with frozen waffles rather than making them himself. It's a risky move since waffles are pretty much half of the dish and the concept, so if he isn't making those, what is he really doing?

The first day of prep wraps and everyone is packing up their station when Marjorie realizes she doesn't have a way to actually cook the pasta at the venue the next day. She doesn't have pasta baskets or even know if she'll have a spot to boil water when she gets there, which might really mess up her spaghetti dish. Thankfully, she comes in the next day and improvises by filling her fryer with water and using that to boil the pasta.

Guests arrive and in typical Top Chef fashion there are long lines at every station, overwhelming all of the chefs. Padma notes, "Everyone looks like they're having a good time. They look happy, they're eating." Of course they're happy, they are eating. Have you ever seen someone eating while looking upset. It never happens — unless you're eating a salad alone at your desk, and then cry away.

First up is Savory Med, Carl's southern Mediterranean build-your-dish concept. I'm biased because this is my favorite cuisine, but it is actually a good idea. It's healthy and flavorful and you can customize your meal. His representative dish is a lamb and piquillo pepper stew with couscous, yogurt, feta, and fresh herb salad in a bowl. Diners at the actual restaurant would be able to mix and match with a pita or bowl, different proteins, and different toppings. The judges all love it, and one diner calls it "investaworthy" which I'm happy about for Carl's sake but want to crawl under my bed when I think about someone saying it out loud.

The judges head from northern Africa to southern Louisiana to Gumbo For Y'All, which is obviously Isaac's concept. He did what he does best and created a gumbo restaurant where you could choose what you want in it. It's a good concept, but even more impressive when he explains you could get a bowl of it for yourself for lunch, or you could get a giant serving of it for your family of 10. It's the alternative to the bucket of fried chicken you bring home on a Friday night. He serves up a version of his original gumbo for the judges and guests, which is gumbo ya ya with chicken and sausage. It's hearty and tastier than some of the other stews he's prepared in past challenges.

Next up is Kwame's chicken and waffle restaurant, Waffle Me. In the actual establishment, diners would be able to pick different kinds of waffles, like whole grain, sweet potato, or coriander, and then also choose the sauces and toppings. Unfortunately, for the challenge he used Whole Foods' frozen mini-waffles that he griddled in butter. The judges are underwhelmed by the ancho chile fried chicken with maple jus, mustard seeds, red onion and scallions on a soggy whole wheat waffle. Even worse, the bite-sized portions are awkward to eat, and also just wouldn't translate to an actual restaurant.

Negative feelings are wiped away when they get to Pasta Mama, Marjorie's station. Her menu is straight-forward, classic pasta and sausage dishes that would be freshly made in-house. As a sample, she serves spaghetti with olive oil poached tuna, chili, garlic, and lemon breadcrumbs. It's properly cooked, tasty, and overall a concept that would definitely work in any city.

Taco Dudes is Jeremy's overly complicated take on a taqueria. Diners would essentially build their own tacos but from a long and overly confusing list of elements and ingredients, one of which is "texture." I don't want to choose the texture of a food, I want the food to have the texture I'm expecting of that item. He serves a crispy pork belly taco with caramel glaze, savoy cabbage slaw, and lime aioli in a crispy wonton or a lettuce wrap. It's kind of hard to eat and good, but not great. Worse than the taco, though, is his description of the restaurant. So it's apparently an Asian take (mostly) on tacos, but also it would feel like a gastropub with cool beer, but also a chill rooftop garden, and then also hot chicks serving you. So Hooters.

The last stop is Amar's rotisserie chicken concept, Pio Pio. Great name, great idea, the only problem is he isn't serving whole chickens or pieces of chicken. The dish is a mix of breast and thigh rotisseries chicken with Spanish yellow rice, four bean salad, and then your choice of roasted garlic mojo, creamy chimichurri, or romesco sauce. All mixed together it's great and flavorful, but not quite there.

At Judges' Table, we're down to so few chefs that they only select the top and bottom two competitors. Marjorie and Carl both had the best dishes and concepts of the day, but ultimately the winner is Carl for Savory Med.

The bottom two of this challenge are Jeremy for his poor concept and Kwame for his mini frozen waffles. Both have been hovering around the bottom in the latter part of this competition. Sadly, Kwame is sent to pack his knives and go. I wanted it to be Jeremy, because I've been burned by a bro before (both emotionally and also once thanks to some careless joint handling).

As Kwame leaves and shakes the judges' hands, he stops at Tom Colicchio and says:

"I just wanted to say, I've been cooking for like, four or five years. I started as a waiter in your restaurant, in Craft. When walking into that kitchen, it really showed me what cuisine could be. Before then I was just working with my mom. And I really appreciate everything."

It brings Tom, Padma, me, and I'm sure every person who watching to tears. Bye, Kwame. And while Tom may have inspired you to become a chef, we all know you'll miss Padma most of all.


Share All sharing options for: Top Chef Boston Episode 14: Guacamole, Escamole, Holy Moly

Here we are. This is the last challenge before this season's epic (I assume) finale. Everything's riding on this. It's the whole enchilada. Well, it's not the whole enchilada, but it's a good amount of the enchilada. It's the amount of the enchilada you eat until you feel full before you decide, "Screw it, fitting in your own jeans is for losers" and finish the whole thing, leaving yourself borderline comatose and two hours into a MythBusters marathon.

It's been a short stay in Mexico so far, and Doug Adams has already racked up three wins: his Last Chance Kitchen win to rejoin the competition, the quickfire, and the elimination challenge. He's riding a high, but as we've seen this season, those can come to a very abrupt end.

Doug, Mei Lin, and Gregory Gourdet head out to an organic farm in the city of Jalpa. The whole scene is breathtakingly beautiful: the lush greens, the vibrant produce, the delicate birds and butterflies flitting from branch to branch. Watching it I found myself thinking, "I would totally get married there." Then I started wondering what kind of steps I would need to take to make that happen, aside from the obvious first step of meeting someone I don't want to shove off a cliff by the end of our second happy hour pilsner.

Padma Lakshmi greets the chefs and introduces the executive chef of the farm, Enrique Farjeat. She tells the contestants that this quickfire is going to be bittersweet, which instantly sparks the thought of a sudden death challenge in everyone's mind. But no, it's not that, it's just bittersweet for Padma because it's the last quickfire of the season. Oh, Padma, always making it about yourself.

Her choice of the word "bittersweet" was not only to strike fear in the hearts of the contestants, but also was a lead in for the actual quickfire. For this challenge, the chefs must create both savory and sweet dishes using chocolate. The winner will have his or her first choice of sous chef for the elimination challenge.

With the entire farm at their disposal, the chefs are literally pulling vegetables out of the ground and using them in their dishes. Gregory finds some baby carrots that he wants to use for his sweet dish. I figured I must have heard that wrong but then thought, well, carrot cake exists, and that's delicious, so carrots could totally be a dessert. It's mind-blowing to me how chefs can see an ingredient and instantly envision other flavors and how to put a dish together. Feels like almost a sixth sense. It's probably a lot like my ability to hear someone making plans and instantly know how I will cancel them.

Of the three, Doug seems to be struggling the most with his dessert dish, which is a little enraging. There have been twelve seasons of Top Chef before this, and every season there is one challenge, or at least one chef, who ends up having to prepare a dessert even though it isn't his strong suit. It's just a given. So to prepare for the show and go on and last so long, Doug must have at some point known he should have a go-to, back pocket dessert to whip up if he absolutely has to. Even bubblegum pop princess Katy Perry could skate by with a little karaoke rapping along with Missy Elliot even though she has spent most of her career singing about teenage love and wearing cupcake bras.

Mei serves Padma and Enrique first. Her savory dish is duck with bitter greens and chocolate mezcal. For her sweet dish, she prepared chocolate yogurt with cocoa nibs and nasturtium. The judges love both dishes, though Padma especially loves the dessert's flavor and texture.

Next up is Doug, who felt confident in his savory dish and significantly less so in his sweet one. First he serves seared hen with onions, tomatoes, chocolate, and ancho chili. Next, he serves basically a bowl of whatever chocolates were available for the challenge. He made melted chocolate with chocolate mezcal and white chocolate whipped cream. "It tastes like alcohol that hasn't burned off all the way," notes Padma, which doesn't bode well for Doug in this challenge.

Gregory's savory dish is seared lamb with white chocolate ancho sauce and green chorizo vinaigrette. He's really returned in the last few challenges to making the kind of food I want to eat. Though for the most part all that requires is using chorizo somehow, but from a more broad perspective, he's creating warm, flavorful, vibrant dishes. For his sweet dish he made baby carrots with turmeric, dark chocolate, ginger, and rosemary.

Enrique announces that Gregory is the winner, and that he loved his chocolate and carrot dish so much that he asks permission to use it as a recipe at the farm.

Now we're onto the main event. This elimination challenge is the difference between cooking in the finale and heading home to the United States (though, really, I think you stick around and arguably have to be someone's sous chef, which seems like the ultimate punishment). For this challenge, the chefs will work together to create a six course progressive meal that highlights several Mexican ingredients. Each ingredient will have its own course, and the chefs need to choose carefully who will work with which items.

For some help preparing this meal, a group of the eliminated chefs enters the farm as the pool from which Doug, Mei, and Gregory can select their sous chefs. Bravo has just been keeping them around for moments like this. I imagine they've all been sitting in some courtyard until Padma enters and slowly says, "It's time." Then they file out and onto a windowless van that drops them off at these challenges as a painful reminder that they didn't make it this far in the competition.

Gregory chooses George Pagonis as his sous chef, who is basically the human, Top Chef version of a bodega cat now on his fourth life. Mei obviously chooses her soul sister Melissa King. And Doug only has to say, "Vamos," for his partner in crime Katsuji Tanabe to join him in the challenge.

The six of them head to find out what their Mexican ingredients are. Over the course of the meal they will have to highlight guava, avocado, queso fresco, poblano peppers, huitlacoche (a mold that grows in corn), and escamole (ant eggs). Gregory and Mei quickly pick the ingredients they want to work with and Doug is left with cheese and ant eggs, the two ingredients he was the least interested in cooking with.

Because this is a progressive meal, the three teams must plan the menu together so that it flows nicely and highlights each dish the best it can. Once the order and dishes are set everyone heads to the Hidalgo Market to shop for ingredients. Doug lucked out having Katusji as a sous chef because he speaks Spanish and can help navigate the market and the items. Doug thanks him for this by saying, "only two beers tonight," which makes me think Katsuji was the MOST fun back in the Boston apartment after a challenge.

Before heading to start cooking, Doug, Mei, and Gregory have a totally natural and not at all staged or forced conversation about how their families feel about them being on Top Chef and now in the final episodes. It's vague and uncomfortable and feels like the producers' last ditch effort at an emotional storyline not directly connected to a challenge.

The judges enter La Casona, which looks like the location where Andy Cohen would host the Real Housemadres of San Miguel reunion show where Sophia throws a glass of tequila at Ana Maria calling her a no-good mentirosa. It's actually a very beautiful setting, but it's hard to pay attention to that because Padma has what appears to be the tusk of an adult elephant hanging around her neck.

Gregory's guava course is first because it's the lightest and most logical start to the meal. He prepared chilled guava soup with bay scallops, haba ñ ero, and roasted guava. All of the judges at the table love the flavors, Tom Colicchio especially enjoys the heat in it. Richard Blais points out that cold fruit soup is pretty easy to make boring or bad. Isn't cold fruit soup just a smoothie though? Either way, Gregory did the opposite and made something truly delicious and nuanced.

The second course is avocado prepared by Mei. She made traditional guacamole, though instead of chunky preparation served in a molcajete (because this isn't a business lunch at Rosa Mexicana), her presentation is inspired by a sushi roll. Her classic guacamole — plus the addition of xoconostle — is rolled up in thin slices of avocado and then topped with radish, serrano, and tortilla strips. The whole table admires the technical work and enjoys the dish, but ultimately question her choice to just serve guacamole as a course during the second to last challenge. It's a simple and unimaginative dish beyond the plating.

Next is the third course, which is escamole from Doug. He made a tortilla español with escamoles and escamol aioli. During preparation he layered in the escamoles as many ways as he could: crisping them, adding them to the tortilla, roasting and making an aioli from them. What he thought would be a flavorful dish when it came to the ingredient though, actually fell short. The flavor and texture of the escamoles were lost a bit with the rest of the egg and potato in the tortilla.

Mei served the fourth course with the corn mold. She made a huitlacoche agnolotti with roasted corn broth. The judges all love it, the broth in particular. One of the Mexican judges says, in Spanish, that he would order it again. Thankfully, Padma translated for us. The overall opinion of the table that it's one of the strongest dishes of the night so far.

Gregory is back for the fifth course highlighting poblano peppers. He prepared pork and poblano stew with roasted tomatillos. "This is Mexico," said someone at the table, implying that these charred, layered, rich flavors are what cooking in this country is all about.

The last course of the night is Doug with the cheese. He served smoked queso fresco with spiced honey, squash chips, and charred pickles. A cheese plate, like a cold fruit soup I guess, can be very boring and actually quite difficult to make good. Doug did just that though with his fresh flavors and creative textures. The table loves it and it's an excellent end to an impressive meal.

This decision for the judges is a tough one because the meal had its ups and downs, and they are three incredibly different chefs. The one thing that everyone can agree on off the bat, though, is that Gregory should go to the finale. Both his chilled guava soup and his pork and poblano stew were excellent dishes and arguably highlights of the evening.

So the actual decision is really just between Mei and Doug. Both tremendously talented chefs, both struggled with one of their dishes this evening. Mei is clearly a technical badass and the preparation on her guacamole dish was flawless, but at the end of the day she still just served guacamole despite the myriad of dishes she could have created highlighting the avocado (this is according to Tom and not my opinion because, frankly, the only way I know how to serve avocado is guacamole or on a sandwich). Doug, however, was charged with highlighting escamole in a dish somehow and not only did he not make a particularly tasty tortilla, but more importantly, the flavor of the star ingredient got lost in all of the other elements.

After what seemed to be a very difficult decision, Doug is told to pack his knives and go. I was a fan of Doug, and I'm sad to see him leave the competition again. Though, I'm apparently not as sad as Tom, who tells him that he's going to make a trip to Portland so that they can go fishing together. Honestly, Tom, forget this Best New Restaurant nonsense and go start a show called Fishin' with Tom and Doug. I'd watch that. Who wouldn't?

As much of a bummer as it to see Doug leave the show after earning his way back, I could not be more excited for a Mei-Gregory finale. From the first episode, these are the two that I thought would make it to the end. I never wrote that here because I don't really like to gamble (aside from carrying an iPhone around without a case, which is basically like betting $600 a day that I won't do something stupid).

So here we go. Next week we will see which of these two totally badass, oddly soup/stew/broth heavy contestants will win the twelfth season of Top Chef.


Hunting a 500-year-old Shark

Out on the mighty ocean, men and women of a certain kind seek to test themselves, to find out what they are made of. The rest of us more cautious types watch from afar and marvel uncomprehendingly. Among the vast literature of aquatic endurance—stories of sailing in search of treasure or an unknown island or a rumored passage, or just from one side of an inhospitable sea to the other—a small but strong strand is the quest to catch the monster. Melville’s Ahab and Hemingway’s Old Man spring to mind. Morten Strøksnes’s account of how he and a friend set about trying to haul in one of the world’s most outlandish giant predators from the inky depths of the Norwegian sea is a worthy addition to the subgenre.

The author, an Oslo-based literary journalist, casts “Shark Drunk” as a quest, arbitrary in direction by definition and, in practical terms, completely pointless. The Greenland shark is huge—bigger than a Great White—and hideous. It can live up to 500 years and does not have sex until into its second century. Parasites eat its eyes, blinding it. The shark flesh smells of urine and is imbued with a toxin that induces a state akin to extreme intoxication in anyone dumb enough to eat it—hence the title of the book.

A Greenland shark swims very slowly through the depths, feeding off sleeping seals and the blubber of dead whales. To say that it has limited sporting appeal would be overstating the case. For bait, Mr. Strøksnes and his friend use a chunk of whale meat or a thighbone covered in rotting meat from a Highland bull carcass, having previously dumped to the bottom of the sea sacks of stinking bull guts or the waste from cod livers.

Obviously no one in their right mind would go after this creature for the fun of the fishing. The pursuit of the Greenland shark becomes a kind of literary curtain-rail upon which Mr. Strøksnes suspends his collection of musings and diversions. “Our thoughts have slipped their moorings and are drifting with the current,” he writes as the two adventurers sit patiently in their inflatable, waiting day after day for a shark to bite. And drift they do, far but rarely too far, from the matter at hand. The sea and its infinite wonders remain the main focus. Mr. Strøksnes makes a telling point—one that had not occurred to me before—about the vertical dimension, with life from top to bottom. “The vast majority of living space on earth, so to speak, can be found in the sea.”

During one of several periods of non-fishing enforced either by the weather or the malfunction of the outboard engine essential to shark fishing, Mr. Strøksnes delves deep into works of the 16th-century Swedish bishop Olaus Magnus, and in particular his epic ocean map, Carta marina, with its depictions of red-eyed, fanged sea monsters. The sea swine, for instance, had four dragon’s feet and an eye in its navel. The ziphius had an owl’s face and a dorsal fin it used to cut into ships to eat their crews.


Watch the video: Tom Colicchio u0026 Eddie Huang Search for Sharks. Ep. 1 Part 13 Hooked Up Series. Hooked Up Channel