Forget all of the hype in Washington, D.C. about the filming of ‘Top Chef.’ Atlanta’s got ‘Top Chef’ too! Well, ‘Top Chef:’ The Tour, that is.
Yesterday I went to ‘Top Chef: The Tour,’ featuring Atlantans, Kevin Gillespie and Richard Blais. Under a tent in the Westside Provisions’ parking lot, Blais and Gillespie performed a cooking demo/improv comedy routine. The rain could not keep me away from checking out the tour and getting a glimpse of two of my favorite local celebs. Even though the closest I got to Padma and Tom were cardboard cutouts, I still thoroughly enjoyed my brush with fame and the opportunity to listen to Kevin and Richard’s banter, while watching Blais’ science tricks.
So what happened during the show? For the first half of the show Blais created a ‘quick fire’ dish that was his twist on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Of course he did not disappoint in his use of fancy gadgets. Every seat had a great view of the demo stage, and they had mirrors above the stage so you could get a better view of what was being prepared.
First, Blais created a Thai-inspired peanut butter adding lime, fish sauce and cilantro.
Fancy Thai-peanut butter
Blais then moved on to liquid nitrogen-created ‘grapes’ made from preserves in a sous vide. He shamelessly plugged this new sous vide that can be purchased for a home. (Perfect for a wedding gift, right?) Giving Blais a hard time about his marketing, Kevin then asked if any of us were interested in GE appliances.
Richard Blais' new marketing plug: the sous vide for the personal kitchen
Making 'grapes' with preserves
Blais served the Thai-peanut butter and ‘fruit caviar’ on a sponge cake made with CO2, using just three ingredients, and heated in the microwave. (Apparently, Blais also made this sponge cake on his recent appearance on Iron Chef.)
Showing off the sponge cake, fresh out of the microwave.
Sadly, the sponge cake was not gluten-free, so no sampling for this girl. Blais even managed to incorporate truffle oil into this dish. (He glazed the paper cups that he used for heating the sponge cake with a mixture of truffle oil, brown sugar, and something else.)
After the cooking exhibition, Blais and Gillespie took questions from the audience. A sampling of the questions included:
“What’s your least favorite food?” Gillespie responded with hazelnuts.
“What happens when you get kicked off the show?” Contestants are sequestered in apartments, but they can go out to restaurants, hang out at the pool, and relax. Unfortunately they still have to live with the fact that they got kicked off the show.
“Was the show stressful?” Of course it was! Interestingly, they said that it was hard to be in empty bedrooms as the show got down to its final few contestants, a constant reminder that people were getting kicked off.
Of course the teacher in me couldn’t resist asking a question. I’m fascinated by what happens behind the scenes so I asked how long judges’ table takes. They said as the show gets down to fewer contestants, judges’ table gets longer. Kevin and Richard both said that their final judges’ table took over nine hours!! I knew it was long but that’s crazy!
Richard and Kevin made quite the team. While Richard was the center piece of the demonstration, the two made a clever, and funny, duo. They were goofy, made jokes (some good, some bad) and actually seemed like they wanted to be there. If ‘The Tour’ comes to your town, I highly recommend checking it out. I didn’t get tickets in advance, just arrived 20 minutes before hand. They had lots of extra tickets, which are free, and you get to sample the food, if you’re not gluten free. Let the stalking continue…