Please, Bravo, please… stop putting any more than 16 chefs on the show per season. We’re just wasting time here before we get to the meat. There’s too much fat to trim. Granted, whenever I’m eating a lardy prime rib, I sneak big globs of fat in my mouth while no one’s looking, but I know it’s not good for me. Don’t let chefs we know will never win (I’m looking at you, Patty, Louis, and Bret) clog our arteries.
Luckily, we cut the roster down to 16 earlier than expected with a special Elimination Quickfire Challenge! Thank God. Food & Wine magazine editrix Dana Cowin flew down to the Big Easy to guest-judge, and I must say, she was much feistier here than she was when I sat next to her at Anya von Bremzen’s book lunch, where she was an absolute delight. She didn’t even judge me for not being able to hold my horseradish vodka shots at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday. I nominate Dana for permanent judge — she really took the safety off her shade-thrower!
I loved the theme of this Quickfire. Dana chose “trends” happening in food that she wishes would go away — the chefs had to turn the tired trends into something fresh. At first, I expected Dana to name some of the trendier trends, like ramen burgers or fake banh mi or things-in-tacos-that-shouldn’t-be-in-tacos or cake pops or cronuts (okay, cronuts don’t play. Please stick around forever and forever). But instead she went with some of the more persistent, insidious trends, like eggs on top of everything, or bacon around everything, kale, and smoked foods. Dana specifically said no kale salad or kale chips. At that moment, I knew one of the contestants would make kale salad exactly, just like when a Project Runway designer has the extremely creative idea to use a linen curtain for an Unconventional Challenge after Tim Gunn specifically says not to use anything resembling fabric. “But I took it off a window… I’m crazy!”
As everyone got to cooking, I took issue with a lot of the bacon people. Aren’t scallops wrapped in bacon the least original thing in the world? There were at least three different chefs who did just that.
NEXT: But kale is a superfood!