Top Chef: Texas Episode 2: Chef Ed Hardy on the Bubble Bunch, French Chefs + Veal

"How come Emeril gets to a share a plate with Padma and I have to share with Hugh? I better call my agent," thinks an envious Tom.

The second episode of Top Chef: Texas was a bit lackluster, but we’re hanging in. Hanging along with us, as usual, is our fellow commentator is chef Ed Hardy.

Welcome back, Ed. Do you know any of these folks, or have you dined at any of their restos? I’ve been to Fishtail by David Burke, and it is excellent!

I’ve only been to Fatty Crab, unfortunately. I’ve heard great things about Uchiko in Austin, though. Paul Qui might be a strong contender.

The last round of 8 each have a scant three minutes to choose their ingredient. Pretending you don’t yet know of the time twist, which do you pick — risotto / short ribs / octopus / mushrooms/ oxtails / lamb /duck / veal – and why?

Well, veal is tasteless, short ribs and oxtail are dangerous because they take so long (see the pressure cooker incident), octopus can be an unforgiving ingredient, and risotto and mushrooms seem to be too easy, so I’d pick the duck or the lamb. Versatile proteins that bring their own flavor to the party and pair well with lots of other combinations.

So, considering the time factor, who has the hardest dish now?

The oxtail by far. It’s even harder than the short rib to get braised in that amount of time. That was sort of a cruel inclusion by the producers.

Beverly Kim takes a whisk with her dish. See what I did there?

The risotto flub is killing me! I can bust out risotto in 40 minutes quite easily.

All that risotto mystique is complete hooey. You don’t need to stir it constantly. You don’t need a wooden spoon. You don’t need to hover over it and add broth all the time. You CAN use high heat. It’s cooking rice, people. Just add broth to cover the rice, boil, stir a couple times, add a little more stock and seasonings at the end. Even The New York Times is spreading around these lies. I can do risotto in about 20 minutes, leaving me with an extra 20 minutes in this challenge to run around and make chicken noises at the other competitors. I expected a lot more out of Chaz Brown. Egg on my face, I guess. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Why is the pressure cooker always a problem? Shouldn’t you practice with this BEFORE going on TC? IT has tripped up so many chefs already.

The pressure is getting to them. Literally. I’ve worked with those new pressure cookers and it takes a while for the pressure to equalize. So, when these chefs are in a time sensitive cooking situation the wait can be agonizing and so they start wrestling with it. I can’t blame them.

Did anyone’s exit make you sad? I am rooting for Laurent. Must be the French Culinary Institute in me. You? Damn. He’s out, but on Le Bubble.

You know, it took me a while to realize that just because you have a French accent doesn’t mean you can cook. It’s 2011. We’ve been catching up to the French for 20 years. And, they’ve been backsliding a bit. Just look at the proliferation of Le Big Mac. Le sigh.

The bubble bunch gets 45 minutes and any ingredients to make whatever. Any thoughts on what everyone chose – and what no one chose?

Do you realize that Top Chef has single-handedly turned me off to the scallop? I used to enjoy them, but ever since former cheftestant Jaime “Scallop” Lauren and the cheftestants that followed her, I can’t eat them without getting the bitter taste of losing in my mouth. Shrimp? Don’t get me started. It should be a vehicle for getting cajun spice or cocktail sauce to your mouth and not much else. Remember what I was saying earlier about duck? It appears that Ed listened.

Is the extra something in Ed's dish umami -- or type AB?

Ed cuts himself pretty seriously. I admire his perseverance (tho’ I hated his sneering at Molly’s cruise ship experience – I respect everyone who works in a kitchen because it is a butt-busting job at any and every level), but I don’t want blood in my food. Also, he is SOOO defensive about not being in New York, which, with Hugh Acheson as a judge, is a seriously moot point. I think we all know there’s great food being made in all 50 states at this point. Jeez!

I have to stand up for Ed here a little. He ran immediately away from the cutting board and held his hand very far away from the prep area while the medic was working on it. At least we know his knives are sharp, right? Good point about food across these United States. It’s never been better. Even though I’ll never get on a cruise ship, I’m vaguely aware that the rising food tide is even lifting the big boats.

Laurent is out again, and I am bummed. Andrew’s departure was a bit sad, too. I was rooting for Janine, as her story made me sad and her dish looked nice and simple. I think Grayson got the nod because she’s obviously a crier and will add some drama. Plus, she’s very cute.  Any thoughts on the final selections?

Le shrug. I agree with you about Grayson. They took the drama queen over the sad sack. Otherwise, I don’t really have any problems with the final 16.

Whoa! They’re doing a final cook-off online? Please watch it for me!

Did you watch it? Andrew is back! Sort of. I really have to congratulate Bravo for this idea. Throughout the rest of the season there will be cheftestants playing “King of the Losers” in their own little kitchen battles and one gets redeemed. Drama! I’m hooked! And, now a question for you: Did you see Paul Reubens in the Pee Wee Herman getup? It looks like we’re getting a Big Adventure after all!



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