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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 7: Role Reversals

I almost forgot that there was a new Top Chef episode last week, and since I was away from home I didn't get to watch it until tonight. Therefore this is a very brief recap.

The theme of this episode seems to be role reversals: much maligned Marcel wins the Quickfire challenge and gets immunity. Then the women end up as top three and the boys who are usually on top - Sam, Cliff and Frank - end up as the bottom three in the Elimination challenge. continue reading...

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The original Bunmeido Kasutera commercial

Via a comment from Ned (Thanks, Ned!) , here is the video of the original Bunmeido Kasutera commercial from the 1960s that I mentioned in my kasutera article:

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a great Thanksgiving! Jumping into another Top Chef episode recap. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 5: Offal and bits

(This is an abbreviated recap/review of episode 5, since I'm up to my eyebrows in work at the moment with not much time to spare for blog-related stuff, reading as well as writing.)

One thing about Top Chef: if they suddenly feature someone they've been practically ignoring up to that point, like Josie in this episode, you can be sure that that person is going to get kicked off. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 4: Cheating! Or is it?

So...let's get right to the end first. Were they right in eliminating no one? Was it a cop-out by the judges? Don't they have the cameras on all the time in the kitchen to check what people are doing? Was Sam right to bring up the 'cheating' issue before the judges - and then wimp out when asked to name names? Should Mia have pushed the issue on? continue reading...

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TV: Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

heston1.jpgHeston Blumenthal makes aerated chocolate with a vacuum cleaner, among other things continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, episode 3: Cravable!

topchef2_tomrestrained.jpgFor some reason Tom Colicchio has to be held down by both Gail and Padma when Betty wins.

Compared to episode 2 this was a lot more entertaining. Team challenges are usually exercises in boring drama, while individual challenges focus a lot more on the food.

And I love that word they used, Cravable. Food should be cravable. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 2: Don't take the lichees if you're on a reality TV show

This recap of episode 2 is brief since it's a week late due to my absence, and there really isn't that much to say about it. continue reading...

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TV: Fear of Fanny - resurrecting Fanny Cradock

Mark Gatiss as Johnnie and Julia Davis as Fanny Cradock on Fear of Fanny

Fear of Fanny is the second in a series of biopics being aired by BBC Four this month. This time, the subject is Fanny Cradock, who ruled as a TV chef in the U.K. in the '60s to the '70s. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 1: Flames, snails and frogs

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Well well, so season 2 is upon us.

15 contestants is way too many to start with, so I can barely remember half of them. The new host? I will reserve my judgement (more on the hosting position a bit later). Let us jump straight into the challenges. continue reading...

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TV: The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton

mrsbeeton.jpg Mrs. Beeton attempts to hack off the head of a turtle, one of the skills required of a homemaker in Victorian times, as her maid looks on anxiously. (don't worry, she couldn't go through with it) continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 starts next week

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Set your TiVos or iTunes Music Store reminders. The second season of our favorite American cooking competition show is just a week away! New host, more contestants, change of venue to Los Angeles -- could be exciting! (Or, a disaster. We'll find out.) continue reading...

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Isabella Beeton, Fanny Cradock, and Elizabeth David on the BBC

fannycradock_bbc.jpg Julia Davis as Fanny Cradock in Fear of Fanny continue reading...

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Food and being green on the BBC

I am eternally grateful that the BBC broadcasts free-to-air on satellite, and that I live within reception range. I feel a bit guilty that I don't have to pay anything to view the Beeb as UK residents do, and believe me if they started to bill me something I'd pay it without question. The BBC has the best programming, bar none, of any network I've ever seen in any country. (I'm even a closet East Enders watcher, but don't tell anyone.) continue reading...

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Why Hell's Kitchen is not a real food show

It's a lazy Sunday afternoon (mainly because I'm avoiding the task of Defrosting the Freezer...more about that later) and I'm sitting here contemplating TV Reality Cooking Shows.

Someone who had read my rather detailed reviews of Top Chef, as well as my adventures following the BBC Masterchef challenges, asked me recently why I didn't do similar reviews of Hell's Kitchen. continue reading...

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Pondering infomercials and other TV ads

I try to do various things to minimize jetlag, but my body clock is still slightly screwed up whenever I fly over the Atlantic. After all it is a 6 hour time difference. So I've found myself waking up faithfully at 4:30am every day since I got to New York. This isn't all bad...it means I can deal with all the emails waiting and so on while it's still quiet, though it does mean that by 10pm I'm already nodding off. continue reading...

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Chicken karaage, the urawaza challenge!

There's a popular program on Nippon Television in Japan called Ito-ke no shokutaku (The Ito Family's Dining Table). It's a how-to / household hints type of show, which tests out viewer-submitted tips and tricks, which they call urawaza. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 12: The Finale

Watching the final episode of Top Chef was like reading a reverse-murder mystery, where you know who the murderer and/or the victim is already (think Sunset Boulevard), but you want to know exactly how it happened. All the conventions of reality television pointed to Good Guy Harold winning, with Bad Girl Tiffani getting her just desserts, pardon the pun. It did in fact happen that way, but nevertheless it was an entertaining ending to the season. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 11: Cooking in Vegas

The challenges for the penultimate episode were to make dishes for particular types of customers that are typically Las Vegas: high rollers, poker players and circus performers. Unlike previous challenges, the contestants had a kitchen stuffed full of all kinds of luscious looking ingredients. It was rather funny when Harold complained that it was "a little too abundant". continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 10: The Reunion

Since this episode didn't have any actual cooking, there is no need for me to review it totally. So here are some short observations about the reunion show, plus my overall opinion of the show now that we are nearing the finale.

First, about the reunion episode itself: continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 9: Truffles and Wine

topchef_daveandtruffle.jpg Dave sniffs out the challenge

Despite the fact that my girl Lee Anne was eliminated in this round, the show redeemed itself in some respects from the debacle of the last episode. One big reason for this is that the judges for the main elimination round, a group of chefs from Napa Valley restaurants, had some good and fair comments. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 8: Disillusioned

Let me state this right off the bat: I absolutely hated this episode.

There is a tendency to lump together all unscripted television shows as 'reality'. This isn't quite right. A true reality show has these characteristics: continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 7: Don't educate me, feed me!

As the weaker contestants are eliminated and the field becomes less crowded, it's getting clearer that there are two stong contestants on Top Chef: the girls, Tiffani and Lee Anne. Sure, Harold is a very talented chef, but he seems to lack that leadership quality and spark. A showdown between the two equally tough, outspoken and talented - yet very different - women would be really fun to watch. continue reading...

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Do you care what "celebrities" cook?

I am still buried in work and I haven’t surfaced yet. But anyway! It seems that there is yet another cooking show starting tonight in the U.S. on NBC, called Celebrity Cooking Showdown. It features your usual array of D-list “celebrities”, working with some of your usual gang of Chefs That Like To Appear On TV.

I ask the question though…do you care at to see “celebrities” cooking? Do you care if they can even cook or not? I don’t, in the slightest. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 6: Ted Allen likes chi-chi food, boo

This is a slightly shorter review than usual because I am buried in work. However, that doesn't mean this wasn't a very good episode. As a matter of fact, for me it was the best episode of the series so far. We finally got to see the contestants create food that really looked exciting and delicious and top-quality-restaurant-ish, as a collective. And, my girl Lee Anne won the elimination challenge, finally! continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 5: Weird Food and Street Food

This week's episode had an overall theme of fusion cuisine...I think. The main elimination challenge was about making street food, but more on that later. Let's review the blind taste testing challenge first. continue reading...

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The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

spaghetti_harvest1.jpg Today is April Fool's Day of course. Every year this day rolls around I remember the best food-related April Fool's hoax ever: the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest documentary broadcast by the BBC. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 4: Convenience

This week's Top Chef was about convenience foods. As much as I'd like to make food from scratch using the freshest of fresh ingredients all the time, the reality is that during the week at least I just whip up stuff that I can make quickly. I'm sure this is the case for a lot of people, especially if you work full time and/or have kids. And sometimes, we don't even have the time to go shopping, and have to fall back on whatever we have stashed in the pantry or freezer. continue reading...

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Top Chef Episode 3: Kids, Monkfish and Hoity Toity Chefs

The theme for this week's Top Chef episode titled Nasty Delights, was making food that looks disgusting into something delicious. But the other theme, which seems to be developing as a major emphasis in this series, was the importance of the chef as a marketer and promoter of his goods. continue reading...

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MasterChef wrapup

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MasterChef is the BBC cooking contest program to find the "best amateur chef in the UK", ended last Friday. The winner was Peter Bayless, a 60 year old former advertising executive. His selection was quite a surprise to a lot of people, and the discussion about this on the BBC Food message boards has been quite heated, to put it mildly.

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Top Chef Episode 2

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First off, an apology to regular readers...I've had a pretty bad cold this week, which meant mainly staying in bed with a box of tissues, drinking gallons of herb tea and feeling sorry for myself. But even though I don't have much of an appetite I still enjoy watching food shows. So here is my episode 2 review of Top Chef. (This is the cooking contest show that airs on Bravo TV in the U.S., and is also available for purchase/download from the iTunes Music Store.

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Closing thoughts on my MasterChef challenge

Seven weeks ago, when the second season of the UK food contest show MasterChef Goes Large started, I set myself a personal challenge: to play along and make a dish (or for the last week, 2 dishes) with the list of ingredients provided in the Invention Test that was the first part of the preliminary rounds. I've made 26 different dishes, based on 23 different ingredient lists (I skipped one day). continue reading...

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Masterchef challenge day 22: Stumped

I've been plugging along at the Masterchef Ingredient Challenge mostly without hitch, but this list of ingredients just stumped me: continue reading...

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Masterchef - can you help?

Ack! Because of the schedule changes brought on by the Olympics, I totally missed tonight’s episode of MasterChef (for Thursday, Feb. 22nd - the 4th day of the preliminaries).

If anyone watched and/or taped it, and has the ingredient list, can you let me know, either here in the comments, or by email to maki at makikoitoh dot com. I would really appreciate it - thanks!!

[Update:] I have the list now- thanks!

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Masterchef challenge, day 16: Liver with Balsamic Vinegar

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[Edit:] The picture is really sub-par. It's hard to take a good picture of liver. Sorry. :(

It's day 16 of Masterchef. The ingredients: continue reading...

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Excess and fixations

My favorite television program at the moment is The Amazing Race. In case you have never watched this U.S. program, it's a reality/adventure show where 11 teams of 2 (the combinations vary from married or dating couples to parent and child, roommates, best friends, and so on) race around the world and try to end up being the first at each leg's destination. The final winner wins $1 million. It's really a fun show that even many reality genre haters like. continue reading...

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