Planning Under Pressure — Alton’s After-Show by Maria Russo in Shows, September 8th, 2013
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No matter how prepared a chef may be when he walks into Cutthroat Kitchen, or how well-conceived his ideas are for one round’s challenge dish, he can’t say for certain whether he’ll be able to use those skills or his thought-out plan, as a sabotage may ultimately get the better of him. The key to success in this contest is a competitor’s ability to adapt to culinary interferences as he meets them — finding new ways to add flavor to food when salt isn’t an option and learning how to fashion utensils out of foil when traditional devices are prohibited, among them.
But what happens when, whether because of strategic game play or simple good fortune, a chef has the opportunity — the time, ingredients and equipment — to make just what he had intended?
In the latest installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host and this week’s judge, Antonia Lofaso, dished on the competitors’ seeming need to do more and cook more than they ought to have or needed to simply because they could.
Antonia explained that Chef McNutt’s Round-2 tuna burger would have been far more successful had she served it without the bread, which she decided to purchase for $2,200 mid-challenge because she didn’t have any. “I’ve seen this in so many … chefs under the gun,” Antonia explained. “They have a plan and they start to doubt themselves, and all of a sudden, their plan just goes right out the window. And it’s so important for them to just stick with what is good in their gut … and do that first idea.” Similarly, Chef Brian should have realized the need for straightforwardness in his fried chicken dinner, instead of forcing additional components on it just because he had the time do so. “The technique of restraint is what chefs always need to work on,” Antonia noted. “These days, just keep it simple and do it well.” Alton may have said it best when he admitted, “Very often, less is more.”
Click the play button on the video above to hear more from Antonia and Alton, then chat with fellow fans in the comments below about the competitors’ approaches to the sabotages this week.