by Maria Russo in Shows, February 2nd, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 26th, 2014
Surviving a round of Cutthroat Kitchen is no small feat, and for most chefs, each of the 30 minutes on the clock is precious. On this week’s all-new episode, however, one competitor learned what it’s like to attempt a round in half that time — in only 15 quick minutes.
In what judge Jet Tila deemed “the worst sabotage I think I’ve heard of,” Alton announced halfway through Round 2′s huevos rancheros challenge that the mid-round sabotage was to begin the entire challenge over again, from scratch. Chef David was gifted this task, and he was ultimately forced to not just start over in cooking, but to also grocery shop and prep his ingredients for a second time. “It totally makes sense why his dish didn’t come together,” Jet noted to Alton during the host’s After-Show. “You can’t hit the reset button,” Alton added.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 19th, 2014
Alton Brown recently told FN Dish his top pieces of advice for Cutthroat Kitchen competitors, and among them was to “always leave the pantry with something that has salt in it.” This strategy for success would have proved especially useful during tonight’s brand-new episode, as three out of the four chefs were prohibited from using any salt in Round 1 after Chef Emily won the exclusive right to it. But while those rivals may have suffered bland food on account of sabotage, Emily, too, offered an improperly seasoned dish to judge Antonia Lofaso, and it ultimately cost her the competition.
It turns out that what ultimately did in Chef Emily wasn’t a high prevalence of salt but, ironically enough, the drastic underuse of her high-priced ingredient. “There’s something about when you got it, you’re afraid to use it, I guess,” Alton told Antonia as the two dished on the challenges during the host’s After-Show. According to Antonia, Chef Emily’s sweet potato fries were far too sweet, served with maple syrup and bacon. “There was just no balance of anything ’cause it was like a sweet fry, then a sweet sauce,” Antonia explained. “I think maybe, like, rendering the bacon fat and using that — the fat — and the maple and the crushed bacon would have just given it more balance.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 12th, 2014
While competitors may not know the dishes they’ll be tasked with cooking on Cutthroat Kitchen, or the specifics of the challenges that will befall them in battle, a few things are certain about the contest: Chefs will sabotage each other and be sabotaged in return. It’s how contestants cope that will ultimately determine the success of their food, and while much of their adaptation involves recipe tweaks and ingredient swap-outs, it also requires strategy in bidding and the assigning of a particular sabotage once it’s been earned.
On this week’s episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, Chef Leah wasted no time in gifting a doozy of a challenge to all three of her rivals during Round 1′s quesadilla test. She paid a whopping $6,900 to force the other competitors to use a high-powered work lamp, a kitchen torch and a hair-straightening flat iron as their sole heat sources. “So, at this point, Chef Leah is hated by almost everyone universally. When the mid-challenge item came up, it was almost a fait accompli that somebody would make sure she got it,” Alton revealed to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s After-Show. Sure enough, as a form of evilicious retribution, she was tasked with making two pitchers of margaritas using a human-powered blender attached to a bicycle, so she ultimately learned the sting of sabotage as she peddled to make the motor run. “But in the end, I don’t know how bad it hurt her,” Alton explained to Simon. Not only did Chef Leah survive the round, but she went on to win the entire competition after outcooking her rivals in rounds of chicken noodle soup and fish fries.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 5th, 2014
From competition and available prize money to chefs’ hopes and judges’ expectations, Cutthroat Kitchen isn’t short on anything, least of all sabotage. But tonight the contest took a turn for the pintsize in Round 3, when Chef Midgley found himself cooking strawberry shortcake in a tiny kids’ kitchen, equipped with a miniscule sink, toaster oven and induction range, as well as petite utensils.
“If you can only imagine in your mind’s eye big ol’ mitts on that guy using these little-bitty tools,” Alton said to Simon after he revealed the play-size setup to the judge on his After-Show. “I probably would have cried and run off into the corner,” Simon joked of how he may have approached this challenge, as he and Alton crouched down next to it. It turns out, however, that Chef Midgley found success with this sabotage, as he completed the round on time and presented Simon with a dish superior to his rival’s balsamic-soaked plate.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 29th, 2013
From prohibited cooking utensils to forced ingredient swaps and mandatory products, Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages are the ultimate in culinary challenges. While these sabotages may send contestants into fits of panic during the competition, most rivals manage to turn out acceptable dishes for the judge of the day. No matter if chefs unapologetically show off or brilliantly hide the obstacles that befell them, it’s up to the judges to taste the plates before them and unknowingly eat sometimes hilariously inferior ingredients.
That’s what happened on today’s brand-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen when special guest Giada De Laurentiis stopped by to judge. In Round 2, Chef La Salle presented her with a dish of chicken and waffles, but instead of using fresh chicken, Chef La Salle featured canned chicken. This chicken, which was packed in liquid, was first ground through a food processor and ultimately turned into chicken pate. When Giada finally saw — and smelled — the canned chicken firsthand during Alton’s After-Show, she couldn’t help but look away and hold her nose to avoid the stench. “The whole thing really reeks,” she admitted of the meat before Alton told her, “You put that in your mouth.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 22nd, 2013
While Cutthroat Kitchen judges are quick to taste the food before them in each round of evilicious competition on the show, they don’t know exactly how that dish came to be, what ingredients were used to prepare it and which methods were undertaken to produce it. For help in clarifying the unknown, host Alton Brown sits down with the judges in his Web-exclusive After-Show to break down the ins and outs of the challenges; this week, he and Antonia Lofaso chatted about the latest contest to unfold.
Traditional wonton wrappers may seem like a must-have ingredient for chefs tasked with preparing pot stickers, but in Round 1, three of the four competitors were forced to work with wontons in other forms, like honey-soaked wontons, frozen wontons and wonton soup. Thinking about the offerings she had just tasted, Antonia correctly guessed that Chef Velez was the one fortunate enough to work with the fresh product. Although she was initially hesitant about Chef Miranda’s dish, which was crafted out of frozen wontons and featured cabbage-wrapped bites, Antonia ultimately told the finalist, “I’m not mad at it.” Later she explained to Alton: “When someone says ‘pot sticker,’ you have this idea in your head of exactly what you want. So when I walk over and there’s cabbage, and I’m like, am I going to get that texture on the outside? Am I going to get that little bit of, like, char? And then I really enjoyed it.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 15th, 2013
For the first time this season, Antonia Lofaso took her turn judging four competitors in the latest round of evilicious contest on Cutthroat Kitchen, and because no judge is privy to the bidding for sabotages and cooking, she joined Alton Brown on his After-Show to learn what had gone down.
The chefs had to create gnocchi during Round 1 of the competition; though a hand masher may have been an appropriate tool for the job, it became an obstacle for Chef Gentile when he was forced to have it duct taped to his arm for the duration of the round. “He was looking for garnish that was going to build a dish,” Antonia told Alton, realizing that this impediment is what prevented Chef Gentile from breaking down ingredients and cooking with more precision.
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 3rd, 2013
Having been a judge on the premiere season of Cutthroat Kitchen, Simon Majumdar is no stranger to the tricks and challenges that befall competitors in each round of cooking, but after eating set cheese and soupy ice cream on tonight’s all-new Season 2 premiere, he needed a few clarifications on how the dishes came to be. Host Alton Brown — who’s not only privy to the sabotages, but in charge of auctioning them off as well — filled in Simon during the latest installment of his After-Show.
It turns out that the patty melt-inspired dish that Chef Stratton gave Simon was mushroom-heavy on account of the Freeze Dried Meat product he was forced to work with after Chef Wiginton assigned it to him. “There was no patty in the dish, really,” Simon told Alton. “It was mushroom-heavy, and I guess that’s what he did to try and compensate, but it kind of overcompensated a bit.” This ingredient was so unlike fresh meat that it prevented Chef Stratton from turning it into a traditional patty.
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 27th, 2013
Cutthroat Kitchen fans knows that when competitors are gifted a sabotage, no matter how treacherous or simple it may seem, it could ultimately mean disaster for them if they don’t know how or do not have the time to remedy it. But what happens when a challenge must incorporate not just one sabotage, but multiple? Will they use the double dose of damage to further fuel their creative energy, or will they succumb to the pressure of the contest and crumble?
On this week’s installment of Alton’s After-Show, the host revealed to judge Jet Tila two competitors’ attempts to adapt to multiple challenges after finding themselves victim to an onslaught of sabotages. The first set occurred in the initial round’s sandwich-and-side battle, when a chef was forced to harvest bread from prepared convenience-store sandwiches before learning that he or she would also have to make the dish on a TV-dinner-size tray instead of an oversized workspace. “And I think from there [the contestant] went insane,” Alton joked of the competitor. This chef was ultimately overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, as he or she didn’t make it past the first round of competition.
Given the unexpected sabotages, limited time on the clock and looming judgment with which they’re forced to adapt, it’s likely that when chefs compete on Cutthroat Kitchen, they’re cooking under a crushing amount of stress and pressure. For some, that anxiety may serve only to better their game, forcing them to work smartly and efficiently, but for others, such a burden may get the better of them.
In this week’s competition, a chef’s inability to cope with the competition’s demands ultimately led to his or her exit. Judge Antonia Lofaso told Alton on his After-Show that the contestant’s Round 1 lasagna offering featured such grievous errors that she had no choice but to eliminate him or her on account of these seemingly elementary errors. Although inexperienced with making fresh pasta, this chef was forced to make pasta dough from scratch, but the end result proved “dense,” according to Antonia, and was only one part of an overall unsuccessful plate. “It was just poorly executed, everything on the dish,” she said, “from the cuts of the bell peppers to them not being cooked to pasta that was just completely inadequate.”