TV

Iron Chef America

I set out to post about a different show, then I realized I had not commented about Iron Chef America. After watching the second set of Chopped episodes available on Netflix, that was the next food show to catch my eye. I blazed through all 25 episodes even faster than I had with Chopped.

Obviously nothing about it cries frugality, and it’s a game show that has far more to its production than what you see on the screen. However, it’s cool to see what the competing chefs make, and the tools they use in the process. Wouldn’t you just love that kitchen? I live in an apartment on the second floor. There is no such thing as “grilling” for me, let alone any kind of indoor grill. When I shared a house with a gas grill on the deck by the kitchen door, I used it all the time, even in the dead of winter, even if it was mostly just for burgers.

To me the worst ingredient might have been liver. I was made to eat liver a few times as a kid, but I didn’t like it, as much for texture as taste. My grandfather loved it, especially with onions. I have never eaten pate and don’t care for the idea. Of course, I don’t care for the idea of raw or rare meats, either. I’ve never tried sushi. Raw beef actually seems more appealing to me. Which is apparently the extreme end of my having come to like beef rarer than I once did, along with sometimes craving it intensely. I’d never make it as a judge on the show.

Frugal or not, it made me feel like I could and should be more creative and varied about what I make with the ingredients I can afford.

The Great British Baking Show

I saw The Great British Baking Show on Netflix (later I noticed it was also on Amazon Prime, which might have saved me having the audio and video getting unsynchronized so badly) and couldn’t resist checking it out. Unusually for me, I watched all ten episodes within a few days. By comparison, I have yet to finish the second set of Chopped episodes. It was called The Great British Bake Off originally. Apparently, they thought American audience couldn’t handle Philosopher’s Stone Bake Off and needed it to be Sorceror’s Stone Baking Show instead. And it’s oh so British.

The contestants were great. I especially loved Martha, Chetna and Richard. Under its British name, that was season 5, while it was the first season shown under the American name.

Early on, I noticed the worshipful way contestants mentioned Mary Berry. “Who?” I looked her up, since I had never heard of her. Or Paul Hollywood, for that matter.

Highly recommended, if you haven’t watched it. It made me want to bake, and I learned some things.

Finally!

I have updated the blog theme, and the version of WordPress, as part of a project to formalize and actually post regularly on a collection of blogs on different topics. Regularly may be relative, since I am in a cooking rut and have less to say than I could, but there should always be something out there to link to and talk about. For instance, I see I used to watch and post about Hell’s Kitchen. I haven’t watched that at all for at least two seasons, and failed to watch the whole thing before that. On the other hand, I have been devouring Chopped episodes on Netflix. Heck, I could even talk about History Channel’s Alone, since food was crucial to the survival scenario, and was quite intriguing at times. Of course, the first season is over, but retrospective? There will be at least one more season, too. There is also allergy news. And food cost news. See? I just have to remember! Since part of the problem was my dismay with how the place looked, the update should help.

Hell’s Kitchen 2008… Then There Were Two

Not much time, as I am about to make supper here myself. As predicted, it’s Petrozza versus Christina, with Corey gone at three. Respectable, and apparently she was better than my impression of her had been. I do think it was an easier decision that he made it appear, because as always, it came down to the pass, and Corey was easily the worst.

Christina was smart to realize what the challenge was going to be and think about and discuss the ingredients of the dish while dining with her parents.

It was amusing Ramsay called Christina a cheerleader, because Deb has been doing that all season, as a type, at least, perhaps worse if she never actually was one.

It’s a tough call, and there are a variety of skills being tested. Christina would be Heather the second, only less obviously competent up front, more of a talented newbie who lucked out. Petrozza would be the “hey, they let an old guy win for once” winner. Christina would keep the alternating male/female pattern. Petrozza would set them free from it.

Petrozza would seem to be perfect and would definitely be my choice, except the lackadaisical, forgetful tendency. That can be sharpened off and balanced by supporting staff.

Christina is more capable of leadership than I might have expected, but would need some polishing of her own. For her, though, it’s the start of a career, with a bang, and she’d have incentive that Petrozza, being established in his own right, might not.

I’m perhaps rooting slightly for Petrozza, but it’s not going to bother me either way. Presumably we’ll see a lot more of how each of them really are during the finale.

In the course of this, I was looking at the Hell’s Kitchen Wikipedia article and associated season articles. It’s interesting to note that Heather is done with her spiffy contract and is working as “a chef” at nowhere significant. It’s interesting to note that Michael, who famously accepted and then withdrew from an offer to work with Ramsay, and eventually got a plum restaurant gig as executive chef on the strength of his win, is no longer in that position. You just never know.

Ding Dong, Jen is Gone

I have been remiss about posting on this season of Hell’s Kitchen regularly, so now we’re about to see the top three be pared to two finalists.

I just have a few things to say about the last couple episodes.

Bobby I had pegged for a finalist, despite their making fun of him in the very first episode, and his apparently poor leadership skills the first time those were tested (perhaps enhanced through editing). The catch was whether Hell’s Kitchen would break the alternating sexes and/or races mold. Did you really think a woman would win American Idol this year? Least of all a black woman? If they follow the pattern, the script, the storyline, this year’s winner will be female, or at least white. Bobby winning would have broken the pattern and shown they ry not to follow one (or are doing the opposite). Jen winning, well, that would almost overplay the pattern thing.

Petrozza I had pegged for cannon fodder at the outset, shades of Dominic, but he has been steady, if not always clearly outstanding, more similar to Rock Harper than I’d noticed until just lately. And why does he go by his surname, Petrozza, rather than his first name, Louis?

I fear I’ve always liked Christina because she’s cute, but she also seems competent and not as obnoxious as Corey. The two of them have both had their moments of pure bitch, but I perceive Corey more so. I like to like the winner. It still bothers me that Michael won the first season, because I found him too annoying, however competent.

Hell’s Kitchen really played it close to the vest this year, disguising the fact that anyone had sufficient ability to be worthy of winning. I’m still skeptical, but the past couple episodes, particularly the final four, really showed there’s more there than we’d seen. I figure they didn’t want a repeat of Heather and Rock being obvious finalists from near the beginning of the season. Entirely aside from the issue of the winner being leaked, as happened last year.

At this point, I see it being Petrozza versus Christina, with a slight edge to Petrozza. However, if it’s Corey versus Christina, I think Christina takes it, and if it’s Corey versus Petrozza, I think Petrozza takes it. If Jen had somehow made it that far, I don’t think she had a chance. I am so glad she’s gone. They famously edit people to be more annoying than they really are, but I got the impression Jen didn’t need much help.

Hell of a way to conduct a job interview.

The top three is a very telling episode, when each one calls and runs things for a while. Christina could fall apart on that, but Corey strikes me as weaker.

As for the challenge, lunch for 80 pregnant women, what about the issue of soft cheeses and shellfish and whatever? It struck me as odd for the contestants to go into that not aware there might be restrictions. Not that the risk is high, but hey.

Hell’s Kitchen 2008 So Far

I haven’t been posting about it regularly, as I might normally. That’s in part because it was on adjacent to American Idol, in part because of the kids going crazy when we dared try to watch 2 hours of TV, in part because I just haven’t been posting as zealously, and in part because this season… Yawn.

We are now down to six contestants.

There is no clear indication who will be the finalists or who we should start rooting for. I don’t know if that’s poor contestants, or great editing, perhaps influenced by the leak last year that Rock had won, and the fact that most of us reacted to that with “duh, it’s obvious nobody could beat him.”

It seems clear they cast the show with a small number of likely winners rounded out with people who have no chance, or who even fit specific roles, even if editing is required to mold that.

It seems clear that Bobby is a prospective winner, but they did shoot him down right at the beginning, if only to mislead us, he appeared incapable of being a team leader early on, and he would violate the unofficial rule of alternating specs of winners. He’s male. He’s black. So was Rock, just last season. Not right, and maybe they’re going off script because we expect it, but we expect him not to win based on Rock winning last year. In fact, we expect a woman to win.

I had a positive impression of the woman who left after being burned too severely to continue, and wondered if they were losing one of their prime prospects with her.

I was about to type “the last two women,” which tells you what I think of Jen, because I was thinkin g of the two other than her. I thought Jen might be one of the qualified contestants, but she seems just to be designated bitch and not as capable as she imagines herself. The other two women are coming to impress me enough to think it could be one of them in the final. Even both of them. And who knew, you can dislike each other but work well as a team! It should be interesting to see what happens after the switch back of Jen and Matt to their original teams.

I thought there might be something unexpected to Matt, and he’s shown sense a couple times, but I believe he’s there mainly for character. The previews made it appear his week to go will be the next one, but they’re so misleading with previews, it could be Jen, or someone less expected.

Petrozza is really off the radar. He seemed to be in a class with Matt, yet now appears quietly competent and thoughtful. Could it really end up Petrozza versus one of the girls? Probably not, but he seems almost a wildcard.

At any rate, the show doesn’t seem so great this year, but apart from giving us contestants who are more seriously qualified and less cast to expected parts, I’m not quite sure what I’d do to help it.

Beware of Global Cooking!

You know, I love Hell’s Kitchen, notwithstanding how boring it’s been this year, and the lack of evidence that any of the cast – face it, they’re cast – are qualified to win (which may be good acting and editing, after Heather and Rock were too obvious, even before Rock’s win was leaked). I also loved the first season of the American version of Kitchen Nightmares. Both are more about business than cooking, especially the latter. Gordon Ramsay is a big part of the reason they are good.

Thus it’s sad to see him completely losing it, assuming he’s not being quoted wrongly or out of context. There are plenty of reasons to use local and iin-season, even emphasize it. One of those would be marketing. Good business. However, in addition to the questionable hype about “carbon footprint” and debunked global warming hysteria that’s all about grabbing power, the more efficient production, greater variety, and global flow of food has been a boon to human health and longevity.

I meant to add that I lose a lot of respect for anyone who goes all “there ought to be a law” over something, because no, there ought to be very few laws. To suggest that it’s in any way acceptable to fine restaurants over the seasonality of what they serve is heinous at best.