tv

A scandalous incident on a TV food show. No, not that one.

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By now you have probably at least heard about the brouhaha over the owners of a restaurant/bakery that appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares show (U.S. version). If not, you can read about it here and many, many other places.

There was a big to-do surrounding a TV food show here in France too. The show in question: Top Chef. (Yes there’s one of those in France.) continue reading...

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It looks like the revival of Iron Chef Japan has been cancelled

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Iron Chef Japan has been cancelled already, according to reports in Japan. :( continue reading...

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The Return of Iron Chef Japan, Part 2

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On Friday October 26, 2012 after 13 years, Ryouri no Tetsujin returned to the airwaves on Fuji TV. Does it live up to the legendary original? continue reading...

The Return of Iron Chef Japan, Part 1

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A long time ago, when I used to live in New York, there was a 2 hour long block of Japanese programming every morning from 7 to 9 on UHF channel 31 (I’ve forgotten what station that was). The programming originated from Fuji Sankei TV. The first hour was taken up by the news and such. The second hour was devoted to entertainment programming. One of the shows they aired was called Ryouri no Tetsujin (料理の鉄人). This was the original Iron Chef. continue reading...

MasterChef deja vu

A mini-rant of sorts, about MasterChef, the show I used to love. continue reading...

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MasterChef U.S. version casting call

Longtime readers of Just Hungry may know that I am a big fan of the UK cooking-competition show MasterChef. I’ve written about it here several times, and even did my own ingredient challenge for six weeks one year. I also watched most of the Australian version, and commented on it a bit too. Well now there is going to be a U.S. version of MasterChef. continue reading...

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MasterChef 2009, the best and worst of food TV in 2008, and upcoming

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My favorite food TV show MasterChef is back for another round of competitive cooking fun! The hosts are John Torode and Gregg Wallace again, or Pasty and Toad as they are affectionately (or not) known in MasterChef fan circles. (I can’t remember who is Pasty and who is Toad though.) See my thoughts on the 2008 MasterChef finals and you’ll see why I love this show. I hope that 2009 will reveal equally exciting talents. continue reading...

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What are your basic go-to dishes?

What are your basic everyday go-to recipes? continue reading...

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Some food TV news: Supersizers Go repeats, The Restaurant is back, more

Some food TV news for you if you live in the UK or regions of Europe that get British TV. The Supersizers Go is being repeated, The Restaurant is back for another round, and more. continue reading...

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Some links and random thoughts

Here are a bunch of unrelated-to-each-other links and thoughts that have accumulated recently.

Product linkage, edible

For UK and Europe readers: Japan Centre has a sale on this week for Yamamotoyama Soy Rappu, colorful soy based wrappers that are an interesting substitute for nori seaweed when making sushi rolls. I haven’t really tried them myself yet, so I placed and order and will see how they work. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go ... Regency

The sixth and final episode of The Supersizers Go was dedicated to the Regency period, the time of Jane Austen and the lecherous, gluttonous, foppish, trend-setting Prince Regent, later George IV. Again, Giles and Sue play a well off middle-upper class couple of the day—he is a small landowner with an inheritance of around £50,000—but instead of being married as in other episodes they are brother and sister. This is so that they can portray the difficult state of an unmarried woman (Sue) with not much of her own income. The cold and sometimes horrified expressions on her would-be suitors’ faces reacting to her desperate advances seemed a bit too genuine. Here she is trying to hang onto a gentleman.

reg1.jpg continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go...Elizabethan

The erstwhile food time travellers went back to the earliest era covered in the Supersizers Go series, the Elizabethan period, which would be the equivalent of the Renaissance in the rest of Europe. It was a great time in British history, with adventurers exploring the world and bringing goods back from the New World, and the arts thriving, especially in the form of the Great Bard William Shakespeare.

It was also a quite exuberant and uninhibited society, one of the reasons why it’s one of my favorite periods in history. Here you see Sue Perkins contemplating Giles Coren’s massive codpiece with amusement.

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The Supersizers Go...to the 1970s, grooovy

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Near the end of the fourth episode of The Supersizers Go in which the food time travellers go to the 1970s, Sue Perkins says that she saw the ’70s through the banisters of the staircase, as she and her siblings peered downstairs at the goings on of the adults. This was how I experienced a good chunk of the ’70s too. I used to peer through the treads of the very ’60s open wooden staircase in the house my parents rented in Wokingham, Berkshire, head upside down, spying on my parents and their guests when they entertained.

In any case, the ’70s episode was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be, purely for the nostalgia value. I kept on squealing in recognition at many of the various foods trotted out. It did help that I actually spend a few years in the ’70s living in England with my family, since the Supersizers focused naturally on a very British version of that decade. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go...Victorian

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The third episode of The Supersizers Go was not as interesting to me as the previous two, simply because I knew a lot about how the Victorians ate already. I didn’t realize how much I knew until I’d watched the episode, but it’s all come down to us via Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and other period literature, not to mention Mrs. Beeton or even the American Fanny Farmer. Also, it doesn’t look like a whole lot changed between the Victorian era and the Edwardian period, which was covered in Edwardian Supersize Me. Still, those Victorians were sufficiently different from us in their eating habits to seem quite alien, but this was definitely the transitional period between the past and modern times. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go...Restoration: No water, lots of meat

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I was not intending to do a recap of each episode of The Supersizers Go, but they are so interesting and just right up my alley. So, if you don’t have access to BBC 2, are here for the Japanese recipes, or both, please indulge me. I’ll try to be brief. continue reading...

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The Supersizers Go... on BBC Two: A fun look back at food in history

supersizers-1.jpg Giles, Sue and Allegra examine a week’s worth of rations during WWII.

Last year, a very interesting hour-long program(me) called Edwardian Supersize Me aired on BBC Four. Taking their cue from the hit documentary Supersize Me, Giles Coren, food critic for The Times, and writer/actress/comedienne Sue Perkins spent a week eating as the middle-class Edwardians did - meaning a lot. The pair are back, upgraded to BBC Two, in a new multipart series called The Supersizers Go…. The premise is the same as Edwardian Supersize Me - in each show Sue and Giles spend a week eating as people did in a certain historical era. The first episode aired last night, and the era was World War II. continue reading...

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The original Iron Chef Japan is back on the air in the US

Fans of the original Japanese Iron Chef (ryouri no tetsujin 料理の鉄人) in the U.S. have cause for celebration, because the series is back on the air starting tonight at 11pm Eastern on the Fine Living channel. I think it’s been off the air on the Food Network for a while now. In my opinion, while the American version is fine, there’s nothing to match the sheer craziness and fun of the original. continue reading...

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Going Out For An English, the greatest restaurant sketch ever

Oh no, two YouTube posts in a row! Well on Saturday we went to an Indian restaurant in town, and invariably our favorite restaurant related video was brought up. Goodness Gracious Me (Wikipedia entry) was a half hour comedy sketch show that ran on BBC One and Two from 1998 to 2001. In case you have never heard of it and you’re in the U.S., it was a little bit like the ’90s comedy show In Living Color, except that the cast in GGM was almost all Asian (as in South Asian, or Indian), who also wrote all the sketches. It poked fun at many British and British-Asian things. One of the best routines was one that made fun of a typical outing to an Indian restaurant. This sketch is called Going Out for an English. I don’t think you have to be Asian (as in South Asian) or British to find it funny…it’s how a lot of people still behave, at any ‘ethnic’ restaurant!

“What is the Blandest Thing you have on the menu?”

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Mayo, shiso and tiny little fish sandwich

Browsing around YouTube instead of working, as you do, today I found this little gem. It’s a commercial for Ajinomoto Mayonnaise, by Juzo Itami, the late, great director of the best food movie ever, Tampopo:

The actor (not sure if it’s Itami himself) is talking on the phone to a friend, when he gets hungry. Still remaining on the phone (and inexplicably on his back), he scoots over to the kitchen to get white bread, mayo and chirimenjako, little semi-dried fish. He tops it off with a fresh shiso leaf, and is in heaven. The dialogue is just like the dense, obsessive dialogue in Tampopo. I’ll have to give that sandwich a try one day…it is odd enough that it has to appeal only to a really curious food person.

(The second commercial is cute yet odd, like many of the best Japanese commercials.) continue reading...

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Pondering the new Delia Smith, plus acceptable cooking shortcuts

While I was mostly lounging around for the past week, I did get to catch up on a lot of TV. One of the shows I’ve cleared from my DVR is the new one from Delia Smith on BBC Two. continue reading...

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The winner of MasterChef 2008 is....

The three finalists of the BBC’s MasterChef 2008 wait anxiously for the winner to be proclaimed…

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Japanese pan-roasted and marinated duck breast (Kamo ro-su)

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I had to make this beautifully easy duck breast dish three times over within a span of two weeks. The first two attempts disppeared before I could take a photo. continue reading...

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Kill It, Cook It, Eat It is back too

I just realised that Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, the BBC Three show that brings you into a real working abattoir, is also back for another series (season) starting tonight at 10:30PM BT/11:30PM CET (also repeated at 12:45AM/1:45AM). I mentioned it yesterday as one of my top food TV shows of last year. It will be shown every night for this week, and the lineup looks interesting, to say the least. They are going for the baby animals…

  • Monday (today): Suckling Pig
  • Tuesday: Kid Goat
  • Wednesday: Veal
  • Thursday: Milk Fed Lamb
  • Friday: Omnibus (recap of the week I guess)

For more information, see the BBC Three site.

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The return of MasterChef, plus the best food TV shows of 2007

My favorite food tv show is back! Plus, a look back at the best and worst of food television in 2007. continue reading...

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Heston Blumethal's wacky Christmas

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The nuttiest TV food show I’ve ever seen aired last night. Despite the rather somber mood around here these days, we were laughing out loud several times as we watched it. If you missed it you’ll want to catch a rerun. continue reading...

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Saturday thoughts: Donna Hay, Just Bento, food blogging events

The sister site to Just Hungry got discovered by several sites overnight (while I was not at the computer, as always happens in such cases) and the traffic went up about 100 x, mainly thanks to it being on the del.icio.us popular page for a while. I haven’t even ‘officially’ launched it in my mind, since I am occasionally breaking it by fiddling with the engine (Drupal, for the technically inclined) in the background, but it’s very gratifying to know that people are interested in the subject. I think it must be timely. continue reading...

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I'm rather tired of the cult of the celebrity chef

Celebrity chefs have been around for some time now, but they seem to have exploded all over the place in the last decade, mainly through food related TV shows.

The restaurant food world is becoming similar to the world of fashion. There are the actual restaurants, most of which are too expensive for the majority of the population - people without generous expense accounts or oodles of money - other than for a rare treat. These are the couture studios (as in real couture, not ‘couture’ as it’s used to describe anything that’s not a plain t-shirt these days) of the food world. Then you have all the merchandising, from cookbooks to dodgy cookware to frozen dinners bearing a chef’s name. Those are the perfumes and bags and H & M special-designer label lines of the food world. continue reading...

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A few words about Top Chef 3

As long time readers of Just Hungry may know, I used to recap every single episode of the Bravo TV reality show Top Chef. The first season had me glued to my…er, computer screen. However for various reasons I did not do so for the third season that just concluded. I did watch it though, and have just a few thoughts. continue reading...

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Paddington Bear eats Marmite!

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There’s quite a lot of slightly matted plush fur flying in Britain this week over the new Marmite TV ad, which features the lovable Paddington Bear, devotee of marmelade sandwiches, tucking into a Marmite sandwich. It made so much of a furor that it even made the evening news on the BBC yesterday. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond has been accused of selling out and for supplying the script for the commercial (he has denied both). There have been dozens of news stories and editorials devoted to it (my favorite headline is What Next, Rupert Bear in Burberry?). continue reading...

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Some great UK Food TV shows

At the moment there are so many UK TV food shows that are compelling enough to watch that it’s hard to find time for them all. Thank goodness for DVRs and torrents. Here’s a rundown, in no particular order of preference - all of them are worth watching for different reasons, and most are far better than almost anything that U.S. TV has to offer at the moment. continue reading...

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Tomato water is trendy

After reading my instructions for tomato water yesterday, a reader in the UK told me that Jamie Oliver had also made tomato water on his new show, Jamie At Home. (We can see BBC and ITV here in Switzerland, but not Channel 4.) Through nefarious means I was able to get hold of a copy of the show - it was dedicated to tomato recipes, which all looked delicious. I guess they didn’t film it this year though, because this hasn’t been a good year for tomato growing at all, with lots of rain and cold temperatures. (Unless they cheated and took their ‘home grown tomatoes’ from a greenhouse…) In any case, Jamie made his tomato water by straining the tomato pulp with cheesecloth, which would work as well as my method of using a sieve and paper towels. He iced his water down by adding ice cubes (I don’t think I’d do that since it would dilute the intense flavor) and sprinkled it with basil, celery and extra virgin olive oil, and spiked it with vodka. I hope you do try making tomato water at least once this tomato season - it’s really something worth doing! Serve it to your friends without telling them what it is and watch their faces! continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 3 starts June 6 with an all-star competition

It only seems like yesterday (actually it was in January) that season 2 of Top Chef ended, leaving many of us baffled and rather disillusioned at the Ilan over Marcel decision. Nevertheless, season 3 is already looming on the horizon. It’s set to kick off on June 6, with a season 1 vs. season 2 All-Star Clash. It’ll be the final four of season 2 vs. the final four, minus LeeAnne Wong (who is presumably not included since she’s on the show’s staff, so to speak) but with everyone’s love-to-hate-him target Stephen Asprinio. Marcel vs. Stephen! I have to admit I am looking forward to that at least.

Some more highlights according to the press release after the fold: continue reading...

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The Edwardians and their food on BBC Four

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BBC Four is running a series of program(me)s about the Edwardians, and two of those are about the food of the era. They have already aired but will be repeated several times as most BBC Four shows are. Both are well worth watching for anyone interested in food and history.

Edwardian Supersize Me is the showier of the two. Giles Coren, food critic for The Times, and TV presenter Sue Perkins lived the life of well-off Edwardians for a week, and ate like the Edwardians of the upper-middle class did - in Sue’s case while wearing a corset. Their in-house meals were cooked by famed food writer Sophie Grigson, from an Edwardian housekeeping book, and they also ate out frequently since this was the era when restaurant dining became popular in England. continue reading...

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Enjoy the Swiss spaghetti harvest

This Sunday is April Fool’s Day. Too bad it’s on a weekend, since that reduces the opportunities for good old office fun. I am going to take the weekend off again from the online world, but in the meantime enjoy the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest from the archives. The weather’s been so nice, maybe I’ll go down to the Ticino to check out this year’s crop…

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Tune in to the Big (Cheddar) Cheese

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Don’t forget to tune in to Cheddarvision.tv (previously mentioned on Just Hungry here) today! They are going to turn the Big Cheese over, take a core sample, and see how it’s doing! If they haven’t already…I’m not sure. Was that label on the other end before? (thanks Mimi!) continue reading...

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The Winner of Masterchef 2007 is...

[Update: Steven has a very gracious post about his win on his blog.]

The winner of Masterchef 2007 is Steven Wallis, a trend analyst from London. Here’s how he looked when he was proclaimed the victor.

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As with previous seasons the final three-course original menu test was the one deciding factor for determining the winner. While both Ben and Hannah tripped up a bit on at least one of their courses, Steven really excelled with all three of his dishes.

Unlike last season, where the perceived failings of eventual winner Peter in tasks leading up to that final three-course test lead to some dissatisfaction about his being declared the winner over crowd favorite (and hottie) Dean, this season’s finalists were fairly even in the tasks during the final week. For me at least there was no clear favorite going into the final episode. continue reading...

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Masterchef Goes Large 2007 finale is tonight!

A quick reminder to everyone within viewing range of BBC Two: the one hour finale of Masterchef Goes Large 2007 is on tonight at 21:00 CET / 20:00 BT! Will it be artistic but palate-deficient Ben, passionate but nervous Hannah, or the man with a fine palate who has a problem with time management, Steven? It’s too close to call…and besides last year we all thought Dean was going to win and Peter won instead, so who knows what will happen? Although I haven’t written much about this season, it’s been a great one, with some amazing challenges. I’m really looking forward to tonight!

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A Taste Of My Life is yet another great BBC food show

A Taste Of My Life, currently airing daily at 19:30 CET / 18:30 BT on BBC Two and repeated the next afternoon, is a show that’s almost perfect. The show ran originally on BBC One last year, but I missed most of it since it aired on Saturday afternoons, not a good time slot for any TV program.

Hosted by well known food writer Nigel Slater, A Taste Of My Life is a warm, comforting show with lots of food porn, that traces the life of a featured celebrity through his or her relationship with food. continue reading...

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Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, Part 4: Traditional butchery in Spain, and chickens

In the fourth and final episode of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, they reviewed and summarized the previous 3 episodes, visited a small poultry ‘processing’ plant, and showed how a pig is butchered in the traditional way - no stun guns - in Spain.

(Warning: potentially disturbing details follow) continue reading...

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Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, Part 3: Pigs

Last night I finally watched the third episode of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, as it aired instead of recording it for later viewing, fast-forward button at the ready. (My reviews of Part 1 and Part 2.) In this episode, it was the turn of pigs to be slaughtered. (Warning: some gory details follow…warning put here since a reader complained about a previous entry. When animals get slaughtered, it is gory.) continue reading...

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Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, Part 2: Lamb

I’ve just watched the second episode of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It. If anything it was more intense than the first. I just couldn’t watch it live, just in case I needed to fast-forward some spots, so I recorded it on my DVR and watched it a bit later. As it happens I didn’t fast forward anything, though I was very tempted to at times. I made myself sit still and watch. continue reading...

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Kill It, Cook it, Eat It: a BBC series that shows exactly how meat gets to our plates

Last night the first episode of a TV series called Kill It, Cook It, Eat It aired on BBC Three. The premise of the program(me) is to show exactly how meat gets to our plates.

The first episode jumped right in, by showing, in an actual working abattoir, the slaughter and butchering of real live cows. This was witnessed by several members of the public through glass windows in a special observation area built around the abatoir. Later on, the same people ate meat cut from the cows they had just witnessed being slaughtered and prepared on the spot by a chef. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 13: Finale

I don't have much to say about the finale of Top Chef. Just this:

WTH??? continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 Episode 12 (Finale part 1)

I am mildly surprised that Marcel and Ilan won this round, to go through to the final head to head. Though I must admit that at this point I don't really care much about the outcome since I don't care much about any of the four semi-finalists. The whole Elia accusing Marcel of 'cheating' sequence (with zero shown support from Ilan or Sam) was so awkward I'd rather forget it. continue reading...

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MasterChef Goes Large 2007 (Season 3) starts today

Update: The season is over and the winner is announced.

masterchef_presenters_300x193.jpgMasterChef Goes Large, the best competitive cooking show on television today*, starts its third round today. If you live in the U.K. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 Episode 11...should we care?

The recap of this episode is brief, because I want to discuss something else about the show itself. But the recap and review first.

  • Cliff was probably going to get booted anyway. Lentils and beef sounds good as combo, but he didn't execute it right. He was playing it too safe.
  • I did feel really bad for Marcel, and Cliff and the others were incredibly stupid in what they did - especially Cliff, obviously, and he deserved to get kicked off the show. Still...seeing him with a shaved head would have been funny...
  • Why was it up to Padma to yell "you idiots" to the contestant? She has that much authority? If it came from Tom Colicchio fine...but from..Mrs. Rushdie? (I have admitted already that I dislike her more and more, which is why I probably noticed it.)
  • Elia looks great with a shaved head! So does Ilan. They should both keep the look - there's a precedent for sexy bald top chefs.

topchef_baldmontage.jpgI think Chef was bald...

  • Ilan's chocolate truffle with a chicken liver center is a close second to last week's watermelon and 'gnocchi' with gorgonzola sauce by Sam for the "what were you thinking" wacky food award. I do dimly see his logic though, because of the texture of the liver when cooked...but still. Liver. Chocolate.

  • Geez, how did they get Eric Ripert (of a Super Serious New York Restaurant (Le Bernadin) on this mess show? 15 minutes of fame blabla...
  • I always wonder in these situations - did the Romantic Dinner couples have to pay for their dinners? I wonder if I'd pay for a Top Chef dinner myself...there's always the risk of Chocolate Covered Livers...
  • .
  • Apparently (though it was sort of lost in the confusion) Ilan's dish was the winner...demonstrated here by Lee Anne. Looks nice!

So anyway, after the totally unnecessary and condescending tease about which chefs would be eliminated (which was obviously going to be 'none' since Cliff was disqualified for manhandling Marcel), all four remaining chefs jet off to Hawaii for the final rounds.

But there's a bigger question to be asked... continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2 Episode 10

Oh, Mikey, we feel bad for you. After your triumphs last week, you are judged to be the worst of the remaining six, all of whom did a mediocre to bad job, and you are jettisoned. We hope that you will open your own gastropub some day. Or at least run your own TGIFriday's.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

To be honest, this season of Top Chef is wearing thin on me. I no longer look forward eagerly to next week's episode. There is no single cause for this, there are several. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, episode 9: Love and Hate

After a two week hiatus, the show returns to our screens big and small, with an extra-longish episode. The theme of the show can be summed up in two sentences:

Everyone loves Michael - even, this week, the judges.

Everyone hates Marcel. continue reading...

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 8: Let's party under fake snow

topchef_mia.jpgAll stressed out Mia continue reading...

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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:

continue reading...

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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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