Friday Fuck Up: How Bobby Flay Ruined Thanksgiving

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For Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims mixed European and Native traditions.  Captain Smith, Squanto – how about a little love for the Asians? This year, my parents’ multinational crew of grad students promised to represent.  On the menu for our T-giving feast was Szechuan beef, Korean pancakes and short rib stew.

“You should cook something, too,” my mom said.

Determined to transcend my lowly status as gastronomic afterthought, I plotted to steal the show.  I would take Thanksgiving tradition to new heights by weaving in the culinary tricks I picked up during my recent hero’s voyage to Spain.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH turkey paella???”  My Spanish friend Isabel, emailing me from Girona, needed 11 “HA”s and three question marks to communicate just how freakish it was to throw gobbler into my paella.

When I was in Barcelona and Madrid, though, I had paellas with all kinds of stuff – snails, rabbit, you name it.  I was further reassured after learning that Bobby Flay had the same idea; his recipe for turkey paella is all over the Web.  Turkey wasn’t the only unusual detail – the recipe also called for a “lemon-smoked paprika aioli” with mayo, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

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Top Chef Exit Interview: Penultimate Episode


Top Chef shook things up for this week’s episode, traveling to Singapore for the season’s penultimate episode. The contestants managed to overcome food labels written in Cantonese, cans that don’t work with can-openers and a confused waitstaff. In the end, they cooked what Tom Colicchio called the best food the judges have had all season. All the chefs got good compliments, but, in the end, someone had to go home…

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Has Top Chef Jumped the Knife?

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Editors’ Note: DC-based blogger Fuchs Foodie just can’t take it anymore. Today, he joins the ES team to point out just what’s been bugging a lot of us about Top Chef this season.

Recent press about Top Chef reads like the notes of a marriage counselor trying to figure out why a once-meaningful relationship has taken a nosedive. In a July poll, the L.A. Times found that 60 percent of people surveyed thought that Top Chef is “losing its heat.” Food writers have offered plenty of opinions to explain the sudden disaffection towards this once exceedingly popular show. The chefs this season aren’t talented enough, says John Horn in the L.A. Times. There aren’t any villains you love to hate, says Josh Ozersky in Time magazine. Yumsugar is tired of the same challenges recycled from previous seasons.

As a long-time watcher of the show, I see some truth to each of these theories, but I can think of a more fundamental problem: Top Chef is a show about food that no longer teaches us much of anything about food. Instead of actually entertaining its foodie audience with inventive dishes, the producers obsess over portraying every personality quirk they can mine from the contestants. In between quirks, the producers share mundane details about the contestants’ lives.

To see if I was imagining things, during last week’s episode, I kept track of the information I learned about cooking in one column, and, in a second column, information about the contestants’ personal issues/dog-walking habits.

Here’s what I learned about food:

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