Top Chef Texas Episode 9: Chef Ed ‘Swiss Miss’ Hardy on McGee, Magic + Meat

"Has anyone seen My Pretty Pony?"

Straight from the slopes of Switzerland, we’re rehashing the latest episode of Top Chef: Texas and some other Very Big Issues with Ed Hardy of Red Rooster Harlem.

Happy New Year! I think you spent it abroad, and, luckily, we had a repeat last week. Where were you, and why doesn’t that country have U.S. cable?

I was in Switzerland hanging with Richard Branson and Prince Harry in Verbier. Those wealthy Brit types sure like to get drunk and violent in quaint and idyllic Switzerland ski towns! By the way, I brought you back some of the best macarons ever: Luxemburgli. As for the cable, au contraire, my dear. It does have U.S. shows re-packaged for French-types. All the bad ones. I think I’ve stumbled onto the reason why Europeans have such a low view of us. No Emmy-award winning shows here. Mad Men? 30 Rock? Puh-leeze Try MTV Cribs and The Jersey Shore re-dubbed in French. Quelle horreur!

You’re a Harold McGee fan. I can still hear dear Chef Martin scoffing, “McGee!” You must be able to tell me about Mr. Mhyrvold, then. His books seem too long and spendy to me. Also, is he a late-life savant, a scientist, or a bonafide chef?

Scientist. Not a chef. Also a Dr. not a Mr. (despite some cheftestants calling him “chef”). He’s a former Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft, and, generally, an all-around rocket scientist. He turned a small personal fortune into an extremely well-equipped food research lab that has employed around 20 people for the past 10 years. The Modernist Cuisine cookbooks are gorgeous and have ground-breaking food photography. My food-journalist wife has actually had the experience of eating a tasting menu cooked by Doc Myrvold both in New York and in his secret technology lair in Seattle. The books are long and, certainly, expensive, but, oh my! Look at those photos. Look at those techniques. Chef Ed wanty very badly.

Paul practices his 1,000-yard stare in a failed attempt to intimidate Tom.

Chief Technology Officer! That sounds important, though not nearly as cool as Chief Dining Officer. Okay, Chris Jones is killing me here. Is he saying he has invented techniques that are in this book? Can this be true?

He’s not lying. The Moto guys are, by any measure, leaders in the molecular gastronomy movement. Chris’s boss is even in the Modernist Cuisine index under “Cantu, Homaro.”  See “on carbonated grapes, 2-469″ and “edible films of, 4-60.”

Is Modernist Cuisine magic, like Doug Henning?

No. It’s science. Mind you, it’s fun Mr. Wizard-meets-Mythbusters-meets-Monty-Python science. Magic happens when cheese ages and wine ferments. True Doug Henning magic happens when Jamón Ibérico ages in some ancient Spanish farmhouse. One slice and you will have faith again, my meat-skeptic, vegan-leaning blogging companion!Continue Reading