After the Amazing Race, my next favorite show is Top Chef which just started it's new season last night - WooHoo. Maybe you enjoyed Mr. Geek and I on our Amazing Race Adventure. Well (in my head) I also believe I might do okay on Top Chef (at least in the early rounds). Join me if you will on another journey, this time to the Top Chef Kitchen.
Padma: Welcome to today's Quickfire Challenge. Chefs, today's Quickfire challenge will test your skills of substitution. Food allergies are becoming more and more prevalent in our society. Chef are often requested to prepare dishes or complete meals without certain ingredients. For this challenge you must prepare a traditional side dish without gluten (this includes wheat, rye, barley and for this challenge oats) or dairy (including cheese yogurt and butter) or eggs. You will draw knives to decide the order you will choose the side dish to prepare.
On the table before we have place a number of speciality items that you may use to prepare your dish.
Chef AbFab you have chosen Knife number 1, which side dish will you prepare?
Chef AbFab: Potatoes Au Gratin
AbFab (in interview): When I heard the challenge, I thought, yes this is MY challenge! I looked at all of the side dishes and picked one that I thought would be the most challenging.
Padma: Ima, you have chosen number two, which side dish will you prepare?
Ima DaBest: Mashed Potatoes
Ima DaBest (in interview): I am very familiar with gluten free cooking and the chefs at the Hoity Toity Restaurant where I have worked for several years often are requested to prepare food gluten free. Not being able to use eggs or dairy was new, so I thought, I had better pick something safe. I saw the Rice Milk on the table and thought, this will be easy.
Padma: Uda, you have next choice.
Uda Woman (in interview): I have heard of gluten, I mean it is a good thing when you are making bread, right? So making food without it just seemed weird. I was trying not to panic, when I saw some Elbow Macaroni made with who know what on the table and some soy cheese.
Uda Woman: I will take Macaroni and Cheese.
(The rest of the contestants finish choosing.)
Uda Woman (in interview): I started the water boiling to cook the noodles, while I prepared the items for the sauce. When I came back to test the noodles, the texture was not right at all, they were way too mushy and overcooked.
One hour passes with a flurry of knives.
Count down: Three two one -- Hands Down!
Judges: Ima, what was your side dish?
Chef Ima: I chose Mashed Potatoes.
The judges look at the potatoes, clearly unimpressed.
Judges: These potatoes are not very creamy, in fact they seem really watery.
Chef Ima: I used the rice milk that was provided and I struggled to get the texture as creamy as I would have liked.
Judges: Hmmm. Uda, what to you make?
Chef Uda (laughing self consciously): Well it was supposed to be Macaroni and Cheese.
Judges: I am glad you told us, it does not look very appetizing.
Chef Uda: Uh yeah, well I could not figure out the best way to cook the noodles, they kept coming out under or overcooked.
Judges: AbFab, what did you make today?
Chef AbFab: I chose to make Au Gratin Potatoes. I wanted to challenge myself to make something that was as creamy and satisfying as the original.
Judges: Hmm, it looks good.
Chef AbFab: I started with White sauce made with margarine, Rice Starch and Rice Milk. I then added several (secret) ingredients to punch up the flavor. I pour the sauce over some thinly sliced red potatoes and baked it until the potatoes were done and the sauce was thickened.
Judges: Wow, I am not sure I would have even guessed that this was gluten, dairy and egg free unless I had been told. I wish I could have seconds.
(Shut UP! It is my story.)