Tag Archives: Michael Smith

2012 Chef’s Challenge-the ultimate foodie fundraiser (I’m going! I’m tweeting!!)

2012 Chef’s Challenge

I am totally pumped to have been invited to be a Chef’s Challenge social media reporter for this Saturday’s event. 

If you haven’t heard about it, the Chef’s Challenge is an amazing fundraiser for Mt. Sinai Hospital focusing on women’s health and raising money for breast and ovarian cancer research.

He’ll totally be meaner than this on Saturday.

Picture a kitchen stadium where celebrity chefs Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan, David Rocco and Michael Smith work with foodie fundraisers to battle it out during a three-course meal service under the eagle eye of  Guy Fieri who will be commenting through the event (hopefully there will be some yelling and mockery even).  Each course must be delivered to a set of celebrity judges that will score the plates on taste, presentation and the crew’s work style and skill.   There will be cameras, there will be commotion.

To attend the event you have to qualify by raising a minimum $2500 each.  The Top 50 fundraisers get to test their kitchen skills on stage with one of the above Chef’s as team leaders.

Personally this sounds beyond stressful and I’ve worked in a kitchen, so I am eager to see how everyone fares under pressure.  It was a love/hate deal for me.  Maybe more hate.

Chef McEwan with Chef’s Challenge co-chair Simmie Antflick (photo courtesy of  Nick Lee)

There were several pre-events leading up to this Saturday, one was hosted by reigning champion Chef McEwan.  Click here for more deets.

The hour of judgement for Chuck Hughes (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

Then there was the cookie battle judged by Chuck Hughes (cookies! Chuck Hughes! can this be a monthly thing? Or even daily?)

It’s a kitchen party… (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

And the very first event was at Chef John Cirillo’s Culinary Academy where some aspiring chefs got a few lessons in the kitchen.

Hopefully I have peaked your interest and you can follow my tweets  Saturday night (@sueriedl) and also sign up to follow @chefschallenge for daily updates.  The radiant Ivy Knight (  I was torn between radiant and luminescent)  is part of the team organizing this event and you can follow her @ivyknight or at @Swallow_Food

For more information on the event please go to:

chefschallengeforacure.com

facebook.com/ChefsChallengeCanada

twitter.com/ChefsChallenge

Huge thanks to Nick Lee for letting me use his photos of the events.

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Top Chef: Episode 7

Andrea is ready for battle in Eps 7, “I’m better than the shit I’m putting out.”  You’re no chopped horse tartar Andrea–and don’t let any Facebook Page tell you different.

Quickfire Challenge

Welcome Chef Michael Smith–at first glance I think “wow-he’s insanely tall” and as usual I’m irritated by his hairstyle.  I’m sorry fans but Chef Smith grates on my nerves. No, we’ve never met–I’ve constructed this conflict through my personal Food Network viewing. I just find him a bit “know it all goody two-shoes guy-always cookin’ up a stew”.  Also, no one’s friggin’ pantry has that many clean glass jars you Chef at Home (the show should be called Chef On Set).  But I digress.

There is a not-so-funny trick pulled during the Quickfire where each chef picks a closed pot with a secret ingredient inside.  Except all the pots contain All Bran.  We watch all the chefs unveil this same ingredient  over and over and still the joke never really becomes funny. (Flogging a dead Product Placement it’s known as in the biz.)

Each Chef is to be unique and innovative with their All Bran.  They have 30 minutes.

Todd wants to stay true to Newfoundland (I love Todd but honestly–branch out to PEI or somethin’) and pulls out some salt cod from the sleeve where he has hidden a season’s worth of  East Coast fish and seafood.

Darryl as always is keeping it simple (which would actually be just adding milk, but he goes for panko/bran encrusted shrimp) and Francois has a crazy idea to make All Bran gnocchi which turn out, in his own words, “tough and chewy” but an excellent source of fibre.

Rob burns his Southern Fried Chicken and Patrick says he has so many ideas he can’ stop them.  Does he know we’re cooking with All Bran?

For the first time that I can recall, the guest Chef stops and comments on every dish instead of the usual neutral swallow and “Thank you Chef”.   Chef M.S wags his finger and tsk tsks his ways through everyone’s plate.  (I warned you I had issues…)  For the first time I see Dustin drop his smile when Chef-It -All says, “and these drips on the plate–are they also All Bran?”

He lectures Rob about his burnt wings, “this is Top Chef Canada Rob!”.  Unfortunately Chef-It-All forgot his metre stick and dunce caps in the pantry back home.

Finally, in a show of East Coast solidarity, Todd’s salt cod brandade wins the day, “it’s beautiful–crunchy, sweet and soft”.   Todd says he is humbled.  (I love Todd- I want to be invited to dinner at his house.  I want Todd and Connie to open a restaurant.  I want All Bran!  Wait– where did that come from?)

Elimination

Sadly, Chef-It-All is not eliminated.  He is still with us.  And so is Milestones.  The Chefs will each be asked to create a course in a three-course romantic anniversary meal for a full house of couples at Milestones. The winning dishes will be featured on the Milestone’s “Top Chef” menu. All must comply with the Milestone’s agenda of “familiar food with a twist”.   Like pizza-in the shape of a heart?   Anything with pesto in the shape of a heart?  Wait–molten chocolate cake…in the shape of a heart??  (I could totally win this.)

The chefs  have $225 and twenty minutes to shop.  Most of the chefs are running around like crazy, Connie’s crazy is showcased when talking to the camera almost deadpan admitting ,”it’s really not much time” while she laconically orders her meat at the butcher counter.

We don’t see Connie a lot on camera.  I think its because she doesn’t say a lot of dumb-ass things. Like when Dale informs us that A. he will not lower himself to cooking for a chain restaurant and B. his Pavlova will “not only be a sensual dessert–but maybe even sexual.”  (Ummm, OK.  He does include a cherry on the plate…I’ll leave that to your Pavlovic interpretation.)

Connie is worried she is going too rustic–she’s making pork croquettes and a spicy aïoli–her grandmother’s recipe.  For Milestones, she seems pretty savvy with the deep-fried idea.

So competing against each other are:

Appetizers: Connie, Andrea and Todd.

Main:Francois, Patrick and Rob

Dessert: Dale, Dustin and Daryll

The Milestone’s couples and judges are digging (and digging into) Connie’s croquettes. Andrea’s ravioli somehow gets served cold and the goat cheese is discoloured by the black garlic which no one can taste.

For mains, Francois comes out a winner with his roasted sablefish with seaweed gnocchi in a mushroom and tamarind jus.   As pumped as Jeff the Milestone’s guy is about its “taste profile” I really cannot believe that the Milestones crowd is going to be keen on “seaweed gnocchi”.  (If they are –well, I’ll eat my All Bran Gnocchi paper weights!)

Patrick makes a disastrous explosion of his pork tenderloin dish where the pork is way undercooked and he’s thrown in every spice he can think of.  For him it’s an explosion of love but for judge Shereen Arazm his whole style “is like fusion confusion.”

Desserts all succeed with the crowd but Dustin’s Strawberry shortcake with a lemon curd twist and flower petals has an leg up.  Adorably, it’s his girlfriend’s recipe (who is also his pastry chef).

In an interesting preview of next week’s “Restaurant Wars” theme we see the chefs (even Connie) freaking out during service when chits are moved, ingredients go missing and customers walk in late after all the mise-en-place has been packed up.  Andrea yells the most though.  She explains that yelling shows that she has balls, not that she’s a bitch.  I’m going to try that excuse at the park on my next play date.

Judges’s Table

The top three:

Connie for apps, Francois for Mains and Dustin for Dessert.

In the end Dustin’s Strawberry shortcake fits Milestone’s menu like a glove.  And I might actually head to Milestone’s for my anniversary–it looks pretty damn good.

The bottom three:

Andrea (cold ravioli with grey filling), “good idea but bad execution.  Not a sharing dish.”

Dale (deconstructed sexual Pavlova) basically gets his wrist slapped for ignoring the challenge.  He’s told he has to learn to work within the confines of the exercise.  If the world wants Jello-on-a-Cloud Dale…

Patrick gets reamed out for the mess he made of his presentation. He defends himself by saying, “my hands are too big so my dish was messy.”   Poor bear.

Not surprisingly, Patrick is sent packing.  The rest of the group is saddened and they toast “the bear”.  Andrea looks like she might cry, though let’s face it, it’s probably tears of relief. His raw pork saved her grainy ravioli ass.

All the obvious eliminations have happened.  Even Francois has stepped up his game.  So maybe the real competition will start next week…..see you for Restaurant Wars.

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Filed under Top Chef Canada Season 1