He may be a famed food-science guru, the longtime host of Iron Chef America and a revered judge-mentor on Food Network Star, but for the first time, Alton Brown is stepping out of the kitchen and designing something other than food. In partnership with hook + Albert, a brand specializing in men’s accessories, Alton’s launched an all-new line of bow ties called The Alton Brown Collection.
“Basically, these are ties I wanted for myself but couldn’t find,” Alton told Food Network of his idea to begin this venture. He’s been a frequent wearer of bow ties for years, but until now, they’ve been designed and styled by others. This look, however, is wholly his own.
Pieces of The Alton Brown Collection include neutral-colored blacks and whites, plus bright hues like blues, oranges and reds, but what makes the bow ties unique is their patterns and textures. They feature a mix of stripes, specks and plaids, and all come together in harmonious looks. “They’re eccentric but wearable and very clothes-friendly,” Alton explains. “What we’ve done with this collection is hopefully made bow ties that will even appeal to guys who have never given bow ties a thought.”
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It’s no surprise that to be successful on Cutthroat Kitchen
competitors ought to come equipped with a strategy for how they’ll approach the contest, as Alton’s culinary mind game requires more of contestants than basic kitchen chops and the ability to work under pressure. For a chef to be victorious, he or she will need a strategy, and this week’s champion ultimately claimed the win thanks in part to a method of restrained bidding. After three rounds and only two wins at the auction, the top chef left with $11,800, a grand sum compared to the small wages some rivals have taken home.
Alton and judge Jet Tila dished on such an approach to the contest during the latest installment of the host’s After-Show. “You want to walk out of here with your dough,” Alton explained. Jet added, “You’re not here just to spend, spend, spend to sabotage people.” On several past episodes, chefs have gotten caught up in back-and-forth bidding wars only to “spend their way to victory,” as Alton noted. This week’s victor, however, claimed just two wins at the auction, guaranteeing a take-home sum of $11,800, a large figure compared to the small wages some rivals earn after three rounds of seemingly careless spending.
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Coming into Cutthroat Kitchen, the chefs know to expect sabotage, backstabbing and true competition. So the only things they can rely on are their skills and experience, but sometimes in the heat of battle those skills and experience go right out the window. After all, the chefs are racing to finish their plates while also maneuvering sabotages they’ve been dealt that often lead their dishes down a disastrous road.
In the latest installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host and this week’s judge, Jet Tila, dished on the competitors’ seeming disregard for key basics in cooking, such as taste and texture, and their inability to have a dish live up to some sort of standard of expectation.
Taste is No. 1, explained Jet, when talking about Round 1′s spaghetti and meatballs, where one of the sabotages took away the ability to taste from three of the chefs. “You have to have cooked for a phenomenal amount of years to just cook by feel,” says Jet. Alton added that it’s especially true when it comes to making sauce, which often needs many tastings before it’s ready to be served. These chefs were too brash in thinking they didn’t need to taste — and even Chef Davidi who won the auction didn’t manage to put out a flavorful dish. When it came to the wings in Round 2, stuffing them with ingredients that made no sense — like Chef Glick’s celery and carrot batons — just went to show there was no forethought. And the chef’s use of bottled sauce did nothing to show creativity. In Round 3, it all came down to a lack of experience when making the doughnuts. Each chef’s doughnuts turned out to be leaden balls of dough, far from the fluffy, airy confections that anyone would expect.
Click the play button on the video above to hear more from Jet and Alton, and then chat with fellow fans in the comments section below.
Once the competitors on Cutthroat Kitchen
complete their brief 60 seconds of pantry shopping, they can’t say for certain what will come next, blissfully unaware of the ingredient swaps, time freezes and utensil prohibitions with which they will be forced to comply when cooking. Host Alton Brown
‘s deliciously mischievous competition is just four weeks into its premiere season, yet chefs have already experienced interferences like prepared pie crust in place of pizza dough, the inability to use salt in their taco dishes and the challenge of fashioning their only utensils out of aluminum foil.
Two of the seemingly most insurmountable sabotages, however, occurred in the first two weeks of the series, when Alton revealed French wine and blue cheese, which had to be featured in one chef’s French toast preparation, and bright-green sour apple gummy candies, which were to be used in place of fresh apples when making a dish of pork chops and apple sauce. What happened next in both instances was a no-nonsense bidding war, with several contestants willing to go to great lengths — and exorbitant sums — to avoid cooking with these products themselves.
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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.
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When chefs enter Cutthroat Kitchen
, they’re likely expecting a bit — or a lot — of sabotage to be dealt upon them by their rivals. After all, it’s this play-or-be-played mentality that makes the competition as fiercely cutthroat at is it. But what they may not expect is that some of their most prominent challenges will likely come not from their dwindling cash supply, another contestant or unexpected ingredient swaps, but rather from themselves and their ideas about how to succeed in Cutthroat Kitchen.
On this week’s After-Show, judge Simon Majumdar and host Alton Brown noticed that in almost every round of cooking, chefs faced significant obstacles — some so damaging that they led to eliminations — on account of their own shortcomings. “He wasn’t sabotaged there,” Alton told Simon of Chef Scipione’s absence of bread in his Round 1 cheese steak sandwich. “He just didn’t make it out of the pantry with any bread.” This oversight ultimately cost Chef Scipione his place in the competition, as Simon noted that the chef’s finished dish “wasn’t a Philly cheese steak in any form that I would recognize.”
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On last week’s After-Show
, judge Simon Majumdar said: “Being a great chef is one thing. Being a strategic chef is another. If you can combine those, you can actually end up winning Cutthroat Kitchen without being technically the best chef.” And tonight Alton
may have proved that theory to be true when he told Simon the lengths to which one competitor went to claim the win.
The name of the game in Cutthroat Kitchen is indeed sabotage, but with that comes personal advantages for the competitor dealing those devastating blows to his or her rivals. With every big-ticket disruption one chef purchases and assigns to another contestant, he’s essentially buying himself safety from that challenge. Alton told Simon that, in this week’s final auction, one chef — who would ultimately go on to win the battle — spent almost all of his or her money ensuring his or her own smooth finish by assigning someone else the challenge of making crab cakes without a binder, like mayonnaise. This person “bought victory,” Simon said of the outcome, chalking up this reality to the fact that “anything is possible in Cutthroat Kitchen.”
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To succeed in the Cutthroat Kitchen
, it’s not enough for a chef to come equipped with his lucky knife kit and years of experience at the stove. After all, a fellow competitor may prevent his use of that cutlery and make him question the extent of his skills, all with the help of $25,000 in spending money and the will to disrupt. Chefs must take assigned curve balls in stride and turn out quality dishes for a judge, who, without knowledge of the earlier mind games, will decide based on taste alone whose plate is the weakest. On Alton’s After-Show, host Alton Brown
will reveal to the judge what’s gone down, and together they’ll dish on how the events unfolded and the food ultimately came to light.
In the series premiere, judge Simon Majumdar joined Alton in the Cutthroat Kitchen, and even after learning of some chefs’ use of inferior pork products in Round 1, revealed, “They all produced dishes that were kind of passable with one or two errors, rather than bad dishes with one or two good things about them.” Even though Chef Gianchetti had the most sought-after meat — thick-cut bone-in chops — in that round, his pork was severely overcooked, so much so that Simon admitted that “is actually worse than getting a poor ingredient and making it tasty.”
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When judge Antonia Lofaso entered the Cutthroat Kitchen
and tasted the chefs’ turkey dinner, French toast and lobster roll dishes, she wasn’t privy to the events that had unfolded and ultimately led to those particular plates of food. Simply critiquing and praising the offerings based solely on taste, she knew not of the thousands of dollars that had been spent to force a competitor to cook with a precooked, processed turkey instead of a fresh bird, to prepare a meal sans utensils, to feature red wine and blue cheese in French toast, and to make bread from scratch in only 30 minutes. On his first-ever Alton’s After-Show, Alton
revealed these secrets and others to judge Antonia, who finally realized the making of the meals she had just tasted.
“It’s all coming together now,” she told Alton. In perhaps the most telling reveal, she learned that all of these sabotages, seemingly insurmountable given the time constraints and demands of the challenge, had been inflicted on one competitor: Chef Frankie. It was up to him to adapt to these struggles — sometimes multiple ones in a single round — and attempt to turn out passable plates.
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They are the cooking show competitor’s top-two wishes: to be able to mess with rivals enough to sabotage their game and to gain an advantage to improve their own chances of winning. On Alton Brown’s brand-new upcoming series, contestants will have the opportunity to enjoy both experiences.
Premiering Sunday, August 11 at 10pm/9c, Cutthroat Kitchen pits four culinary superstars against each other, and to be victorious in this three-round contest, they’ll need to put savvy mind games to work as much as they do cooking chops. Each will have access to $25,000 in cash, and it’s up to them to decide how to spend their money in an auction: Do they pay out to earn the exclusive use of a crucial ingredient, like salt, or do they sentence their opponents to a brutal round of cooking, one in which they’re prohibited from tasting their dishes? In the ultimate balance of risk and reward, the competitors must determine on which benefits it’s worth spending their funds and which curveballs may eventually prove damaging enough to others to ultimately pay off, as the winner’s prize is whatever money he or she has left over afterward.
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