Knife Skills And Petri Dishes

Knife Skills And Petri Dishes

What made Harold jealous in this episode? Hint: It wasn't Otto and the lychee situation.

First off, thanks everyone so much for the support. I want everyone to know, we're trying really hard to get Perilla open. We're very close to securing a West Village space, and are getting pretty close to raising just a little bit more money. You know, keep a look out for us -- we're shooting for an end of the year opening. You're welcome to submit cash!

It's been pretty great to be on the street since Season 2 started airing. People still recognize me and ask me if I'm going to be on the entire season. I have to say, I'm not cut out for doing that job. Mainly because I really want to get my restaurant open, but being on the other side, it's not really fair for me to sit back and seriously critique these guys. They're constantly asked to make these really quick decisions, and watching it makes me think that all I can do is just try to be as fair as possible here. So, let's talk episode two.

First off, I was pretty cracked up by seeing Tom get up at 4:30 in the morning. You got to let that guy sleep in. He's getting old, man. He's not a young warhorse anymore.

Second off, I was pretty jealous. A fish market?! Come on. I was pretty much right there with Elia's analysis of fish. Love to eat 'em. Love to cook 'em. I'm a huge fish fan, and then they showed up there, I just ... all I could think was, "Wow, man, this is going to be awesome. A sushi plate?!" And you know, one of the things about this competition, it's really about putting flavor profiles together, but also about display of knife skills.

For anyone who is a novice cook, knife skills are equivalent of riding a bike with the training wheels on. You really get a feel for who has experience -- who's been doing this for a long time. You can look at anyone's knife skills and know which person has worked in what kind of environments. The skills will always show. Knife skills are really one of the first things that you learn, and they only get better with experience. That being said, the two that I thought were really standouts, who were really smart about the challenge, were Cliff and Elia. What I thought was smart about Cliff was that he didn't take it too far. It's a Quickfire challenge, he has great knife skills, he cut up his mango, he sliced his fish really thin, but at the same time, he didn't not get involved in the rice. If you're not a skilled in Japanese cuisine, leave the rice alone -- it's just going to make problems for you. And I saw several people trying to make rolls and stuff. I thought Cliff played it really smart. He did a really nice job.

I can make a roll, but unless I'm doing something really creative with a lot of flavor profiles, I'm not going to impress a sushi chef. Elia did make a roll, and I thought that was really intelligent. I really thought it could have gone either way. Then, I have to say, I was worried about poor Mia getting sick. It's not good if one of the contestants is getting sick this early on. Because they're all living in this house, which is like a petri dish, and it's just going to go from there. I'm on the lookout for Marisa. I would hope that for her sake, there's a pastry challenge coming up. I'm going to be honest, I think Marisa is at an enormous disadvantage.

I never really understood why they would have a pastry chef inside the Top Chef competition, because your recipes are taken away from you. And pastry is such an exact science. It really does make me nervous. Team Challenges are always a cook's Achilles heel. It's not so much that you can't work together as a team, it's that you don't know these people. You don't know their style or experience, and it's difficult. One team on this episode had Betty, Josie and Mia, all who clearly complimented each other. I just knew that of all the other teams, these girls were going to pull this off.
And then there was the whole Otto situation with the lychee cans. He's a good - spirited fellow and he's got a good heart. But the spirit of the competition, time after time after time, you will make bad decisions. And just by watching him, and reading stuff about him, you kind of get that he doesn't have a bad bone in his body. I think he made a bad decision. I don't think he was trying to be a thief, but that was pretty harsh to watch how pressure can get you to make bad decisions.

People have also been yapping about Padma in her blog. And I have to say that I think Padma brings a lot to the table. Beside the fact that she's really attractive. Working alongside her, she does a great job. She was asked to come in, with two judges, Tom and Gail, who have established themselves as really knowledgeable. The premise of the show is really successful. It's a lot of pressure on Padma to jump in there, and I think she's doing a great job. One last thing: I remember on Season 1, there were so many times where just before we got to the judges table, people were packing their bags, getting ready to go. There's not a single day of ease and calm unless you win a Quickfire challenge and get a free pass. Aside form that, it's crazy! You can already see people starting to freak out. I think that by the end of this, half of them will be in anger management, and the other half will be in AA.

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