by Maria Russo in Shows, December 7th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 30th, 2014
Just in time for the holidays, Alton Brown decked the Cutthroat Kitchen halls on tonight’s all-new episode with a series of seasonal challenges — and even a Christmas tree-adorned sweater worn by judge Simon Majumdar. In true evilicious fashion, Alton didn’t shy away from punny sabotages inspired by the traditional holiday meals or activities, as the challenge dishes included a ham dinner, cocktail party fare and holiday cookies. And in Round 1 the chefs played a not-so-merry game of gift swap.
In the final round’s cookie challenge, Alton doled out the ultimate in seasonal sweets — a gingerbread house — but this one wasn’t exactly a treat. Complete with shortening, sugar, flour and leavening agents, plus various candies and decorations, this “gingerbread diorama,” as Alton called it, contained everything needed to make a cookie, and Chef Keith could use only the given ingredients to prepare his dish. While the contestant used nearly everything in Alton’s “majestic scene” in preparing his ultimately doomed cookies, only one element remained: a triple-decker butter figure shaped like a snowman. “Is he called Pat?” Simon jokingly asked Alton on the host’s After-Show, and Alton simply replied with a smile, “Yes, Pat, the Snowman Made Out of Butter.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 23rd, 2014
From chip-based cooking vessels and tools to mandatory claw hands and honey-soaked ingredients, Cutthroat Kitchen judge Jet Tila is no stranger to the most-diabolical sabotages to befall competition. But even this veteran judge could hardly believe his ears when host Alton Brown asked the crew to “bring in the compost pile” during the latest installment of his After-Show.
“Did you say ‘compost pile’?” Jet asked Alton, laughing. Sure enough, Jet had heard correctly, and indeed Alton had auctioned off a compost pile-inspired challenge that forced one chef to surrender his shopping basket and dig for all of his ingredients amongst 200 pounds of coffee grounds. “I don’t know what that is,” Jet admitted as he sifted through the pile and found — and later sniffed — a mound of mystery meat. According to Alton, it was simply “some kind of canned ham product.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 16th, 2014
For the first time in Cutthroat Kitchen history, the limits of evilicious sabotage were tested tonight as two sets of twins took their places in the no-holds-barred arena for a brother-versus-brother battle. In true diabolical fashion, the contestants proved that while siblings’ will to stick together may be strong, their desire to win is ultimately more compelling, as one by one, brothers fell until just one was standing victorious.
Host Alton Brown relived the auctioning and game play that went on in tonight’s episode as he dished with judge Antonia Lofaso during the latest installment of the After-Show. Together they reflected on the competitors’ offerings, and Alton revealed some of the most-extreme sabotages to befall the rivals, including those that required teamwork in the unlikeliest of settings. “You think that twins are connected? No,” Alton told Antonia, who agreed, after she learned of the plank-walking sabotage with which two brothers were forced to contend. “Hilarious,” she said of this challenge, which made two brothers sync up their strides in order to finish the Caribbean-dinner round on time.
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 5th, 2014
There are some Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages that test a chef’s ability to think on his or her feet, make inferior ingredients shine on the plate and work with a rival under tense circumstances. Then there are sabotages that serve little purpose beyond time-wasting — but oftentimes it’s these seemingly over-the-top challenges that fans appreciate most. On tonight’s all-new Thanksgiving-themed episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown introduced the latest sabotage that’s sure to be counted among the most memorable with fans: The Turkey Suit.
Like the now-infamous souffle suit from Season 3, this heavily stuffed turkeylike contraption transformed one contestant into an oversize version of himself and forced the competitor to learn to perform basic movements with superfluous padding. “I couldn’t have anybody ride on a Thanksgiving turkey float, so we made this Thanksgiving turkey float costume,” Alton explained to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s After-Show. Lucky for Simon, Alton spared him the experience of donning the getup, as Alton noted, “Poor Chef Jake sweat approximately 6 liters of sweat into that.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 2nd, 2014
Not just a competition, Cutthroat Kitchen is a game, and to win, chefs must be able to not only outcook their contestants but also outthink them, both during auction and in the midst of their food prep. During tonight’s finale heat of Superstar Sabotage, Chef Marcel Vigneron proved just how useful it is to be a savvy contestant — one that can anticipate the judging process and use it to his advantage.
In Round 1’s meatball challenge, Marcel was forced to make the star of his dish with either canned soup or canned ham, and he opted for the ham, a seemingly doozy of an ingredient but perhaps ultimately his saving grace. “It freaking tastes good,” host Alton Brown revealed on his After-Show. “It’s salty, so it’s got those spices.” Judge Simon Majumdar agreed, explaining that while the salt of such a canned product has the potential to be overwhelming, Marcel used the “competition smarts” to use that flavor to his benefit. “He knew that I was only going to take a taste, mix it with the other things on the plate and then make my decision based on that,” Simon said. “It’s not like I was going to chow down on the whole big meatball.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 26th, 2014
Since Cutthroat Kitchen judges are secluded from all aspects of competition, they’re not privy to the diabolical sabotages that befall contestants, which means that when they receive a plate before them, they don’t know what inferior ingredients went into the dish or under what conditions it was made. On tonight’s all-new episode, host Alton Brown saw the power of that unawareness when judge Simon Majumdar enthusiastically tasted one chef’s ice cream sandwich offering.
A Round 3 sabotage forced Chef Krystal to try her hands — literally — at homemade ice cream, and unbeknownst to Simon, he tasted her version of a chilled treat that she made using the salt-and-ice shake method. “Her ice cream actually was pretty good,” Simon conceded to Alton on the host’s After-Show after reflecting on Chef Krystal’s dish. “It was just very sweet.” Alton told him simply that when it comes to Simon’s willingness to taste the mystery dishes in front of him, “I learned that you’ll eat anything with sprinkles on it,” to which the judge did not contest.
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 22nd, 2014
While it’s true that no Cutthroat Kitchen sabotage is simple, many are surely less daunting than others, while some seem so insurmountable that chefs are willing to bid nearly their entire sums in order to avoid them. That’s just what happened on tonight’s all-new episode, when Alton auctioned off a “north-south border thing” that would force two chefs to split the prep work and cooking, one contestant doing either for both of them. Once all of the bidding was done, Alton Brown sold this doozy of a sabotage for a whopping $18,100, the largest amount to date on Cutthroat Kitchen.
Such a challenge is a way of “forcing them to communicate and get along,” according to Alton, who detailed the sabotage to judge Antonia Lofaso during the latest After-Show. Ultimately, however, the sabotage means that rivals are responsible for executing key steps in each other’s dishes, and once again the opportunity for sabotage exists. “Chef Michael definitely set him up by leaving it in,” Alton explained of how a too-fibrous stem found its way onto Chef Luca’s eventually doomed plate.
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 19th, 2014
To survive — and thrive — on Cutthroat Kitchen, it’s not enough to be able to work quickly under pressure or to deliver a well-seasoned plate; chefs must be able to strategize their every move, budget their $25,000 bank account and bid productively with three rounds of competition in mind. Fans saw what happened when a contestant didn’t take that approach during tonight’s Heat 3 of the Superstar Sabotage tournament. For Chef Johnny Iuzzini, it didn’t matter how much he spent during Rounds 1 and 2 so long as he advanced to Round 3, while Chef Eric Greenspan frugally saved his money for charity — until the last round, when Chef Johnny was forced to compete with only $100 and Chef Eric was armed with a full $25,000.
“Once you’re down to $100, you can’t fight back. It doesn’t matter how good you are,” Alton Brown revealed to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s latest After-Show. “This is a game, and you have to be able to play the game. And if you walk into a final round with a $100 bill in your hand, you’re going to have a really tough time winning regardless of how good you are.” Thanks to the force of his full funds behind him, Chef Eric was able to saddle Chef Johnny — a famed pastry chef — with a duo of sabotages during the lemon bar test, and that maneuver ultimately set up Chef Eric for the win. “Eric said it was just now even,” Alton told Simon of their Round 3 matchup.
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 12th, 2014
It’s no secret that Cutthroat Kitchen judges are secluded from the sabotages taking place during competitions and forced to evaluate the dishes based solely on what’s in front of them — such a strategy guarantees the focus remains on the food at all times. But on tonight’s all-new Alton’s After-Show, judge Jet Tila revealed that after learning what one chef had endured in the name of sabotage, he felt a tinge of guilt — especially after his decision led to the contestant’s elimination.
“You feel so bad after the fact. Now I realize,” he admitted after Alton spoke of how Chef Alex had to use only kitchen tongs to cut her wrap ingredients. “I was dinging so badly on her just horrible knife cuts. They literally looked like she’s just tearing things apart. But now I get it.” Alton went on to explain that because the judges are blind to the sabotages, they’re forced to evaluate on “flavor, presentation and ‘does it remind me of the thing it’s supposed to remind me of.'” But he admitted, “It doesn’t mean they’re all equally weighted. The truth is is anybody’s who’s a chef is going to more heavily weight flavor above all.”
From funny food puns to inventive plays on a key ingredient, Cutthroat Kitchen host Alton Brown will stop at nothing when it comes to dishing out appropriately themed sabotages to align with each round’s dish. On tonight’s all-new episode, he stayed true to his ways by forcing one chef to put a literal spin on coffee cake — something that’s traditionally made without coffee — by holding a tray of cups of coffee while cooking in Round 3. “Coffee and oysters will kill me,” judge Simon Majumdar said on the After-Show after learning that the drink played a part in the challenge. Sure enough, though, Alton knew this, and he noted that the terms of the sabotage included starting over should the contestant spill coffee into any element of the dish.
While this sabotage may seem daunting, it turns out that the competitor saddled with the test, Chef Alberico, took it in stride and was able to overcome it for ultimate glory. “The fact that he … was able to create a cake of any sort I think is really remarkable,” the judge explained looking back on the contest.