Top Chef much?
(Originally posted 9/6/2012. An all-too-true story if I remember correctly.)
So I had this weird dream last night. I was on the TV show Top Chef and somehow I’d made it down to the stage where I was facing off against this very well-known and popular restaurateur. For those of you who don’t watch the show the basic idea is that each person must create a dish using secret ingredients that they find in a basket. They don’t know what will be in the baskets until they open them and then they have 30 minutes to whip something up for the panel of culinary experts.
Usually the items in the baskets are identical but in the case of my dream they were completely different. I opened my basket and found a jar of peanut butter, a jar of strawberry jam, a loaf of bread and a large bag of potato chips.
I immediately went to work.
My opponent opened his basket and found a litter of three adorable kittens and a ball of yarn.
I carefully laid out the slices of bread and began to apply a thin layer of peanut butter to one piece and then an equally thin layer of strawberry jam to another and then, after carefully lining them up and deciding to leave the crusts on for a more rugged meal, put the two slices together to form a sandwich. Having plenty of time left on the clock I then carefully placed a handful of potato chips on each plate next to the sandwiches.
On the other side of the kitchen things weren’t going as smoothly. My adversary was never going to win back the judges after they watched him stretch out the mewing kittens one by one and then, with a hard, sharp pull, snap their necks. His next mistake was cutting off the heads and letting the blood drain out of them in full view of the shocked panel. One of the women actually had to excuse herself as he cut off the feet of each of the kittens and began to pull the skin down and forward over the body. The show had to abruptly cut to a commercial as he then made a cut from the kittens anus to its ribcage and began to fish out the intestines and lungs.
With 15 minutes still left on the clock I nervously adjusted the chips on my plates.
Completely lost on the audience was the effort my rival was putting into assembling his ingredients; apple cider (hard), bacon, butter, flour, vegetable oil, heavy cream, Calvados, pepper, parsley, and a half dozen other items. The one item in play at the judges table was getting all the attention… smelling salts.
15 minutes later I was giving the panel a pithy and delightful history lesson about John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. There’s just something about those 18th century British aristocrats that make them my go-to topic when faced with a panel of food critics. They ate up my presentation both literally and figuratively.
My challenger began to explain his decision to braise the kittens but the judges wanted to hear none of his ‘old French recipe’ nonsense and kept cutting him off with comments like “you cut off their (beep) heads right in front of us” and “you’re a monster”.
So that’s my dream. I beat a world-renowned chef with a PB&J. Obviously it means I’m watching too much Food Network but why kittens?