Mastering the Garnish — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, September 29th, 2013

No matter the competition, judges aren’t shy about their desire to receive thoughtfully plated dishes. After all, the saying goes that we eat with our eyes before our mouths, and it’s important for food to look as appetizing as it tastes. But oftentimes contestants take the notion of inspired plates too far, opting to include edible — or not — garnishes atop their offerings. In a supposed effort to showcase their commitment to elegance and simple visual appeal, they end up self-sabotaging what would have been a fine meal with unnecessary toppings.

A frequent judge on Cutthroat Kitchen and Iron Chef America, Simon Majumdar knows what he likes to see on a plate, and superfluous finishes is not on his list of must-haves. In this week’s battle, several chefs learned the hard way that too much of a garnish — or the inclusion of something inedible — could be disastrous, as he explained on Alton’s After-Show. “Putting … what was for all intents and purposes a Christmas tree atop your steak is not a good idea,” Simon said of the oversize sprig of rosemary on one contestant’s steak. “Chefs really need to learn how to garnish when they’re doing a competition like this.”

Another competitor failed to remove a piece of plastic from a product and it ultimately landed on Simon’s plate, an unforgiveable offense in the judge’s eye. Such a mistake was enough to eliminate that chef, as Simon explained: “It’s the unforgiveable sin. Never give your customers something that might kill them.” Alton added, “It was a last-minute, careless error made because [the chef] was trying to cover up … [the] food that shouldn’t have been there.”

Click the play button on the video above to watch the entire episode of Alton’s After-Show, hear more from Alton and Simon, and learn more about their reactions to this week’s sabotages. Then start the conversation with fellow fans in the comments section: Do you think proper plating and garnishing is as important as the taste of the food? What do you think of Simon’s decision to send home the chef on account of plastic in his or her dish?

Tune in to a new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 10pm/9c.

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Comments (3)

  1. Frank E. says:

    Someone please tell me why it seems that the chef you would least like to win always does. Chef Corey was arrogant and pretentious, but I suppose that is what it takes to win on this show. Cooking skills be damned. I also do not understand why the other chefs just let her win those auction items? Also, someone needs to tell Chef Brock that it is possible to make ice cream without eggs!

  2. Crouton40 says:

    How interesting.
    Personally, if a garnish only appeared on every 10th dish served to me, I'd be fine with that. It's the dish itself that matters to me. It's either good or it isn't. If it is, then a garnish is merely a nice touch, and if it isn't good, a garnish won't really save it.

    But even that is not my main point. What I'm happy to see here, is (in a sense) "confirmation" of something I've said many times in the Food Network Star Blog. Namely: Do–make things that people really would want to eat, re-create and serve to others–and: Don't–make food (even garnishes) that are just too weird, or that hardly anyone else would want to eat.
    More proof, that the desire to be *too* "outside-the-box" and "original" can
    (and often does) backfire. Creativity *is* a positive thing, but it shouldn't clash with the dish or ruin flavors. Taste is King. "Good frosting, a cherry, and some chocolate sprinkles may be very nice touches to a fancy cake. Just make sure the cake itself is good, first. And then don't put a thick slice of white Onion on top of it and call it "original"–Crouton40 But that's just me….

  3. Linda says:

    Am I the only one who can't hear the audio on the aftershow? I have my computer speakers turned up all the way, and the clips' volume turned up all the way, but I still can't hear them.

    That said, I agree with Frank. Chef Kori was quite unlikeable.

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