Category Archives: television

Kitchen Nightmares

One of my besties who was a hot shot caster in NYC agreed to pass along all information to me related to casting for culinary shows so we can see more great Louisvillians on tv! Though this is probably for a restaurant that needs a little more inspiration:

Get yelled at by Chef Ramsey on national tv!

Kitchen Nightmares is now casting!  The cities they are casting in aren’t important – all restaurants should apply if interested. MUST have a good story to tell! (family owned, loan against a house, etc…) Restaurants must:

  • Have been open at least one year
  • Offer dinner service
  • Not be a franchise or chain
  • Have at least 35 seats
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Cook for Top Chef

I have such a profound interest in chefs for someone who does very little cooking herself.  Chefs are often creative, gutsy, and have complete control of every aspect of their kitchen.  They’ve got the dicey personality that takes no prisoners, which why I think it was surprising to a lot of viewers that Top Chef’s Beverly is such a meek person.   But watching 610 Magnolia‘s Chef Edward Lee compete on Top Chef this season makes me very proud that he is from Louisville.  He is now in the top 4 in the competition, which is no easy feat considering they started the season with 29 excellent chefs.  Not to mention this guy is hilarious.

Follow Chef Lee on Twitter or Facebook.

I hope that as Louisville continues to gain attention as one of the coolest foodie towns in the world (thanks ZAGAT).  Are you a Louisville chef looking to step into the massive shoes of Edward Lee? Well Top Chef Season 10 is now casting:

I’m currently casting for Top Chef 10 and I’ve been doing a lot of research into the chefs that would be great for the show. You might already be familiar with the show, but in recent years we’ve had some pretty amazing chefs who’ve pushed the boundaries in the culinary world, so we’re really trying to raise the bar this season. We’re looking for strong, talented, and entertaining chefs who have really charismatic personalities (or any traits that might get people to sit up and pay attention) and hopefully have pretty impressive resumes to match.

Robyn Kiyomi
Casting Associate | Top Chef 10
casting@magicalelves.com

Here’s to more Louisville on Top Chef Season 10! And if you get a moment, share a little love on Chef Lee and vote him your fan favorite.

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Top Chef: The Ghost Pepper

My usual Top Chef episode recap is coming a bit late due to gorging myself for Thanksgiving… but this one was a hot one! **Warning: Spoilers Ahead!!***

The hottest in the world is the Ghost pepper, or the Bhut Jolokia. It's just under the delicious U.S. Pepper Spray.

Episode 4 kicks off with a super obvious product placement quick fire, featuring a popular tabasco sauce brand offering up cash to see what kind of schweaty balls the cheftestants have.  The challenge was to make a dish highlighting the pepper.  The hotter the pepper the more cash a chef could win with the hottest being the Ghost Pepper.  Whomever cooked and won with the 1,000,000 scoville heat unit rated Ghost Pepper would win $20,000. What exactly is the Scoville scale?

The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, which was devised in 1912.  The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes.

There was only one cheftestant was brave enough to use this pepper, the others picking less hot peppers with a smaller cash reward to stay safe.  That chef was Paul, whipping up a chilled coconut soup with faffir lime and Ghost Pepper relish.  His go big attitude paid off when he won $20,000 plus immunity, though Heather and Grayson ended up in a close second with their less hot dishes. Beverly, Richie. and Chuy ended up in the bottom.  Beverly and Richie had seen the bottom before.  Again- no love for Chef Edward Lee, they didn’t even show his dish! The only real things you saw from him this episode was him opening a bottle of wine on the heel of a sneaker (impressive), playing rodeo with Chuy tossing him off of a tiny play horse, and calling himself a genius for properly reheating chili without scortching the bottom.  However each of these things were done impressively!

Keeping with the theme of the quickfire, the cheftestants participated in a chili cook-off.  Both sleep deprived and intoxicated they comically worked through the night whipping up their own unique chili, though I could have done without the sounds of dumping large amounts of chili into vats over and over, that was super gross.

Apparently, there’s a saying in Texas “if you know beans about chili you know that chili has no beans!” That came as news to one team who made a 3 bean chili.  WOOPS! Other fails included the cinnamon chocolate mole chili made by Richie, Beverly and Nyesha who seemed doomed from the start with Beverly and Richie on the same team.  And they were.  After many cowboys and cowgirls chowed down and voted they came in the bottom, with Chris C., Chuy and “did you know I’m from Texas” Sarah who made their version of chili con carne taking the first place blue ribbon.

By the end of the night most chefs looked completely sleep deprived having been cooking for nearly 24 hours.  But the judges weren’t going to put the losing team out of their misery so easily, instead they decided to have them change their losing chili into a winning dish.  Beverly, who had already been weeping most of the rodeo due to missing her boyfriend looked visibly rattled.  Nysesha looked downright pissed and Richie was off and running.

Beverly served up seared tuna with habañero creamed corn, which the judges loved. Nyesha retooled her chili into Frito-encrusted shrimp with roasted corn salsa. Richie went with Frito-encrusted pork tenderloin and potato hash with ricotta cheese chili puree, which the judges agreed was one note.

Richie, please pack up your knives and go.

But in the end, Padma asked Richie to pack his knives, in an emotional elimination that tugged at my heartstrings when Richie said to the other chefs “it’s me” and started crying.  But it was obvious it was his time.  People I liked this episode: Chef Lee (duh) and Chef Chuy.  Chef Chuy makes a hilarious drunk adding just as much beer in himself as he did his chili.  People I didn’t: Chef Sarah.  She’s pretty abrasive and said about a gazillion times she’s from Texas.  We get it girl, yeehaw.

Until next week!

Top Chef: Quinceanera

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you did not watch the third episode of Top Chef: Quinceanera do not read below!

"When time is up I better see some mother effin' snakes on some mother effin' plates!" yells Padma Lakshmi. Awesome.

Top Chef episode 3 kicks off with a super gross quickfire challenge entailing cooking up a rattlesnake.  How appetizing!  Guest judge Johnny Hernandez from Texas was on site explaining the delicate texture and flavor of the rattlesnake and how it deserves respect when it is cooked.  He further noted that people who dine at his restaurant love his snake dishes so much they order 700-800 pounds of snake annually! Eww remind me to never move to Texas.  And although there were live snakes in the room thank god the snakes the cheftestants received were already skinned and dead.

In the end Asian with daddy issues Beverly, gothy wild-eyed Dakota and pleasantly plump and fabulous Sarah landed on top for some seriously yummy snake dishes.  Beverly with her chewy snake nigiri, Dakota had beer battered snake, and Sarah did a simple lemon zest flash fry of the critter.

Top dish: Beer Battered Tempura Rattlesnake.

But ultimately Dakota from with her dark hair and crazy eyes won with the dish above.  Her inspiration? “When I think of snakes I thinks beer!” Hmmm, well okay whatever works!  Dakota won immunity and $5000. (Note: Louisville Chef Lee wasn’t in the snake segment. Sssssuspicious.)

After the quickfire Padma introduces us to a Tex-Mex teenager named Blanca who invited the cheftestants to cook at her sweet 15th birthday party (quinceanera).  And no quinceanera is complete without a fabulous cake.  Bwahahaha! The producers were really setting up the chefs to fail making a cake that feeds 150 people. Dessert is a notorious Achilles heel on Top Chef.

The chefs were split between two teams: pink and green.  (Lee was green, for anyone keeping track).

Team Pink was led by Lindsay and pleasantly plump and fabulous Sarah who I both really like.  Lindsay was a the petite blond who really showed her her coolness it episode 1 by helping another contestant, saying that food will prove a Top Chef not your ability to take off a pressure cooker lid.  Nice move.  Together the Pink Team cooked pork tenderloin huarache, ceviche, choclo con chile, carne asada, green chile pizole, enchilada en salsa verde, conchinita pibil, finished with a hibiscus-yogurt pound cake. But the real drama came when reformed prisoner nice-guy Keith made the mistake of purchasing team leader Lindsay precooked and frozen shrimp.  And that’s where it all started falling apart.

Conversely, happy go lucky team Green did a shrimp yuzu ceviche, pork chicharron, chicken mole, tomatillo gaspucho (Chef Lee), green chile empanadas, beef short rib with kimchi, braised goat birria with cabbage, finished with a vanilla tres leches cake. From the very beginning you could tell Green team had better food without even ever tasting it.  Team Pink’s dishes just weren’t as appetizing.

There were a few highlights of the menus, particularly when it came to the tricky cakes.  How hilarious was crazy eyed Dakota’s rainbow cake:

Pineapple Strawberry Cake. On crack.

Dakota made a cake on acid.  The judges all agreed if she didn’t make such slamming rattlesnake dish she would have been on the bottom.  To put it in perspective, this cake was actually worse then Heather’s terrifying leaning Easter basket cake.  But the Tres Leches prevailed!

And although both Pink team leaders, Sarah and Lindsay, were on the bottom, it was clear that Keith was the one to go home.  He needed advisement on the exact definition of an enchilada (they are made with corn tortillas) and not to buy precooked shrimp.  Silly errors, but even still I really like Keith and thought his message about reforming yourself by getting a passion was very inspiring.  But sadly the all around nice guy went home.

Keith, please pack your knives and go.

Top Chef: The Heat is On

**SPOILER ALERT*** Do not read any further if you didn’t watch Top Chef: The Heat is On last night.

Best quote ever, "If they leave me here in the stew room long enough I'm going to kill the other 5 people to get that jacket." That's how bad I want it."-Chef Ed

Is there any question Louisvillian 610 Magnolia’s Chef Edward Lee is the breakout star of this show?  He’s got the talent, the personality, and murderous intentions to match. (See above).  All of those I respect.  As Top Chef opens we see Chef Ed stewing in the “bubble room” which consists of the remaining chefs that have to cook for the second time to make top 16.   He is contemplating how friendly he should be to the other cheftestants.  “Oh, you work on a cruise ship?” asks Chef Ed to Chef Molly Brandt, who later proves her cruise ship stereotype by cooking the life out of shrimp and getting sent home.  And yet Chef Ed is totally likeable!

He is a standout especially since this episode is littered with more chefs then you can possibly remember.   But all the chefs eventually learned you can be sent home for doing the following things: not plating risotto, not being able to get a pressure cooker lid off, and not respecting Hugh Acheson’s super sweet unibrow. Handsome with a unibrow is hard to pull off.

Meow.

Towards the end of Top Chef the “bubble room” competes.  There are 6 chefs left, including Chef Ed, competing for only 2 spots.  Their mission was to use any ingredient in the kitchen to prove they should be on Top Chef.  The cheftestants used tiger shrimp, mussels, polenta with bacon wrapped shrimp, scallop with a clam base, scallops two ways and a ton of other similarly sounding seafood.  Chef Ed notices a way to separate himself and does duck.  He says, “Outside of Kentucky I’m a nobody, but you don’t have to be from New York to make great food!” To prove how bad ass he was he then nearly severed off his arm, according to the amount of blood hemorrhaging from his body.

Says Chef Ed, “take my torso. I’ll cook with my feet if I have to.”  Classic! Working with one hand Chef Ed made a blend of Asian and southern fruit, sweet Asian custard, BBQ sauce, pickled corn and bacon over his duck.   And sure enough, it was enough to get him into the top 16. (And hilariously enough Chef Ed tweeted during that segment: “Secret ingredient: blood.”)  Awesome.