(photo by Food Network)
As I've been watching the inspiring Next Iron Chef, I've had to suppress an increasingly panicked thought: please dear God don't let me be Knowltoned.
Andrew Knowlton is the hipster judge, flanking the glamorous Donatella Arpaia, with the earnest Michael Ruhlman. Andrew is also an Associate Editor at Bon Appétit. Michael vouches for him and has even called for an end to the Andy-bashing. Sure it started out fun, but the crowd's turned really ugly.
In my few minutes on television, I've been a minor side-kick or protected in the genteel world of PBS. With all due - and well-deserved - respect to the esteemed Mr. Knowlton, I wonder if my own long, dark hair will trigger a similar primal mob response.
In the meantime, I'd like to offer some of my own answers to questions about the TNIC:
Yes, you really do have to turn off kitchen hoods for audio - otherwise you'd bitch about the bad sound and we'd have to subtitle everything. And yes, it's much hotter than just not having a/c. Michael Symon said it got up to 137F and Aarón Sanchez needed an IV after taping.
Yes, chefs do sometimes sweat into the food. In fact, there's an infamous legend amongst French boulangers. Because of the heat from the ovens, bread makers used to always work shirtless. They'd bend over ancient wooden mixing troughs set on the floor - forget about Hobarts. As they worked, their sweat would wash over their bodies, down their arms, into the dough, and that's what made authentic French baguettes taste so good.
Yes, sexism and racism is alive and well in and out of the kitchen. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a kitchen and was assumed a Japanese pastry princess - and yes, that in and of itself is a racist, sexist, culinarily biased comment.
Michael Symon used the Anti-Griddle too soon. He should have waited for the top to frost completely over - the sign that it was down to its constant -30F. I'm guessing he didn't spritz it with non-stick spray either - a trick Phillip Preston uses. Phillip is the PolyScience president and culinary product designer. You'll see Phillip using a prototype non-stick top Anti-Griddle and other new technology in the upcoming season of Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, which premieres early next year.
The stirring thing that Jill Davie touched - or tried to touch before Alton Brown scolded her - was a laboratory stirrer. Normally you stick the small metal rod in a beaker, add your liquid, place the beaker on an electric magnetized pad, turn it on, and the rod spins, thereby stirring the contents.
Aarón tried to pour a white powder into a little clear plastic cup on a gram scale. Just place a small piece of silicone parchment paper on the scale, use the tip of a paring knife to transfer your powder, and then lift and funnel your paper to pour the powder.
While it seemed unfair that Gavin Kaysen's food was accidentally dunked in ice water by the culinary crew, according to Michael Ruhlman's exclusive report, if that had been a catered event, sadly the clients would not have cared how it happened. I commend Gavin for taking ultimate responsibility. That's what honorable chefs do.
As far as the airline food challenge - it's not about who does it first, but who does it best.
Next week, The Next Iron Chef goes to Munich and Paris.
Can. Not. Wait.