Friday, July 17, 2009

A Top Chef Master Used Tea ....

and lost this weeks 4 way master chef competition pretty much because of it. I'm talking about Bravo's Top Chef Masters; Top Chef is one of my favorite shows ever and I like this season's Master Chef competition. The food they are preparing is creative and beautiful and the contestants and critics are always respectful and well behaved Not typical reality TV. Anyway, Nils Noren, the head chef at the French Culinary Institute seemed to have this weeks win in the bag. For his main course he prepared a salmon that looked like it would simply melt in your mouth, and for his dessert course he prepared a chocolate and goat cheese ganache with cara cara orange gel, and Lapsang Souchong whipped cream.

Oh, how excited I was to see someone using tea as a culinary ingredient in a cooking competition! But for those of you who are unfamiliar with Lapsang Souchong, it is a smoked tea. I think I will dedicate a blog post to this tea shortly because I am a huge fan of Lapsang and use it frequently in cooking. Not everyone likes it, but it's definitely a tea to try or at least to sniff. In fact, a few years ago a list of 100 foods to try before you die was circulating on the web, and Lapsang Souchong was on the list. In terms of the taste of Lapsang, people describe campfire, bacon, the woods, Christmas, and occasionally burning rubber!

So, Nils infused his whipped cream with the not at all subtle smokiness of the Lapsang Souchong - with disastrous results. One taster was unable to take a second bite, and the program (edited of course) didn't show a single person who enjoyed the combination of chocolate, cheese, orange, and smoke as a dessert. He was commended, however, for his culinary chutzpah.

I was kind of bummed to see that tea was the ingredient that destroyed an otherwise close to perfect meal, but I was happy to see Michael Chiarello win the competition; he's awfully cute and charming and seemed to "need" the win more than the other contestants.

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