The infamous mini kitchen made an appearance in Round 1, and much of the group agreed with Simon when he deemed it the “Best. Challenge. Ever.” After being gifted that challenge, Jet admitted, “I was deathly afraid of it. I didn’t even know how to, like, navigate that thing.” Geoffrey ultimately found himself tasked with adapting to this tiny workspace, but, according to him, “It’s not as bad as it appears.” And it’s a good thing that Geoffrey didn’t seem to mind the sabotage, as Simon — jokingly — noted later: “The reason it only went for $1,500 is I think some of us agreed that we should give it to Geoffrey for no other reason than we wanted to see Geoffrey Zakarian — the Iron Chef — kneeling down, cooking in the kitchen.”
Tag: Cutthroat Kitchen
For the first time on Sunday night (at 10|9c), the contestants taking their turns on Cutthroat Kitchen won’t be everyday chef-competitors; instead the judges, Antonia Lofaso, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jet Tila and Simon Majumdar, will enter the throes of sabotage and battle against each other for Cutthroat glory. Although the group is most familiar with simply tasting the aftermath of a challenge, they’re keenly aware of the kinds of evilicious obstacles Alton‘s been known to auction off. Just ahead of this weekend’s special episode, FN Dish checked in with Alton to find out what he has planned. Read on below to hear from Alton in an exclusive interview and learn his thoughts on the competition plus his advice for the judges.
Regardless of who’s competing — contestants or judges — what is one key piece of advice you think everyone should know before beginning a Cutthroat battle?
Alton Brown: Shop for the unexpected. It’s easy to grab ingredients for a specific dish, but remember … in Cutthroat Kitchen you never know what sabotages might be coming your way. Don’t just load for bear; load for monsters.
No matter what recipe you’re cooking, when it comes to being prepared in the kitchen, few things are more important than a quality heat source. From live flames from a gas stove to the warmth of an oven or the power from a microwave, heat is needed to make critical things happen, and without it, or with an inferior heat supply, cooking anything well can be nearly impossible. On tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown auctioned off a sabotage that would seem to spell doom for one competitor: Instead of being able to prepare a clambake on a conventional stove, one chef would have to use tiny flame cubes set within a miniature prop. Was this too much to ask of a contestant in a 30-minute round? No, the sabotage was indeed fair, as the culinary team had tested the obstacle beforehand.
Click the play button on the video above to watch how this test unfolded, and learn which elements of the sabotage were approved and why some parts weren’t successful.
“This is awesome. I say that all the time, but I really mean it,” judge Jet Tila told Cutthroat Kitchen host Alton Brown on tonight’s brand-new After-Show. “I know I keep saying that. This really is awesome,” he added. Jet has judged multiple episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen and is no stranger to the kind of evilicious Alton is capable of bestowing upon the competitors. So when Jet showed such a wowed reaction to one particular sabotage featured on tonight’s episode, fans knew this challenge must have been especially diabolical.
The sabotage in question was none other than the paper cutter auctioned off during Round 3′s steak Diane test, which allowed Chef Frances to slice or dice Chef Jaron’s piece of meat for a whopping 30 seconds. Because a singular round of meat — usually a fillet — is a signature element of steak Diane, shredded meat could mean disaster, and it ultimately did for Chef Jaron, who failed to take advantage of his newly cut-up beef. Alton told Jet of how he would have approached the obstacle, explaining: “I’m going to chop it down to even smaller pieces, and I’m going to either do it like it started to be a tartare, or I’m going to make a fricken burger kind of thing out of it.” He added of Chef Jaron’s obvious demise, “The second that he didn’t do that, I thought, ‘This is over.’” And sure enough, Chef Jaron walked away empty-handed.
Cutthroat Kitchen competitors know that when they begin their time in the contest, they’re agreeing to as many as three rounds of unforeseeable problems; chances are high that no matter what dish host Alton Brown asks for, the chefs won’t be able to execute their dream versions of it, be that on account of sabotage, poor planning or simply bad luck. Adapting to challenges is the name of the game on Cutthroat Kitchen, and a contestant’s inability to do that may ultimately do him or her in.
That’s precisely what happened on tonight’s all-new episode when Chef Kristina was gifted a can of spiced ham to use in place of fresh meat in her sloppy joes dish. “I think she wasn’t willing to embrace an ingredient,” Alton told judge Jet Tila on the After-Show. “She saw something that she knew came out of a can, and it was, like, checkout,” he added. Instead of sticking with a traditional approach of ground protein in sloppy joes, Chef Kristina simply sliced the canned product, and Jet wasn’t willing to pardon her for that. “It was slop on a plate,” Jet admitted, and Alton reminded fans, “You’ve got to embrace the ingredient, regardless of its origin.”
From ingredient swaps and time-sucks to inferior utensils and makeshift workstations, Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages are notoriously evilicious and designed to keep the competitors guessing at all times. On tonight’s all-new episode, the chefs were wowed when host Alton Brown introduced a never-before-seen challenge, what he deemed the Wheel of Heat.
Labeled with multiple heat sources like oven, microwave, stove and broiler, this sabotage would forced the rival who was gifted this challenge to spin the wheel while cooking and switch his or her cooking method to whichever heat source was landed upon. It turns out that the wheel offered no beginner’s luck, as Chef Renae found out when she was forced to work with it during the Round 2 blackened-fish test. “Every time she spun it, it came up ‘microwave,’” Alton explained to judge Simon Majumdar during the After-Show. “This, I think, was the end for Chef Renae because she had to do her entire blackened dish with a microwave,” he added. Simon admitted, “The fish was dry. It lacked that crust, which you expect from blackened fish.” But he noted that had other elements of her dish been executed better, he may have been more likely to excuse her microwave seafood. “There were too many things wrong,” Simon said, “whereas I could have forgiven her if she’d served that fish that wasn’t perfect with a really good accompaniment.”
Since Cutthroat Kitchen judges are sequestered from the kitchen while the chefs are cooking, they’re not privy to the evilicious sabotages that unfold during each round. This means that when they first lay eyes on the dish before them, they have no information other than how it’s presented; then once they’ve tasted it, of course, they can take its flavor and texture into consideration.
Tonight’s judge, Simon Majumdar, explained what that feeling is like as he approaches the kitchen and sees contestants’ plates for the first time. “Sometimes as you come down the stairs,” he told Alton Brown on the host’s After-Show, “and you look at the dishes as they’re laid, and you go, ‘Uh, I think I know the way this is going to go.’ And often I’m wrong because they taste great.” It turns out, however, that Simon’s worst suspicions were confirmed when it came to tonight’s Round-2 Reuben sandwich challenge.
Chicken has a storied past on Cutthroat Kitchen: Just last season when Giada De Laurentiis stopped by for a special episode, one rival was gifted a whole chicken in a can, which she was forced to turn into chicken and waffles for the guest judge. And on tonight’s all-new episode, subpar chicken — or something like it — once again appeared on the auction table, this time during a General Tso’s Chicken challenge. After being gifted a sabotage of MREs, which Alton deemed “meals ready to eat,” one chef was forced to pick through the innards of such prepared and packaged dishes as “a chicken stew [and] a chicken fajita,” according to Alton.
For Antonia, these products were “mushy,” and on the host’s After-Show, Alton told her with a smile, “It’s the best kind of sick that you could possibly imagine.” It turns out, however, that for the competitor who worked with this sabotage, the inferior meat wasn’t a hindrance at all. “She really didn’t have any choice but to make a fritter,” Alton explained to Antonia. “And it looked just like General Tso’s chicken.”
With one swift auction and a bit of bad luck, Cutthroat Kitchen competitors could have all of their seemingly necessary tools and food products taken away from them and replaced with inferior items. From salt and knives to the stove and pans, nothing is safe in Cutthroat Kitchen, including the chefs’ workstations. On tonight’s all-new episode, contestants bid on a game-changing sabotage in Round 2′s enchilada challenge that forces one person to abandon his or her standard setup and fashion another one using a stocked toolbox. The catch? The workspace, heat source and cooktop must be built in and confined to a shopping cart. Was this challenge taking the competition too far and asking too much of one person during a 30-minute challenge? It turns out that the answer is no, as Food Network’s culinary team vetted and approved this sabotage prior to air.
Click the play button on the video above to watch the test unfold and see how one grocery store staple became a fully equipped cook space.
Just last week FN Dish introduced fans to the first in a series of Testing the Sabotage videos that highlight exactly how Cutthroat Kitchen sabotages come to be. So many have questioned whether or not the challenges are indeed possible for competitors to conquer within their time constraints, and with these all-new videos, it’s now clear that the answer is yes; every sabotage Alton auctions off has been vetted by Food Network’s culinary team, and now you have the chance to watch those tests unfold.
Click the play button on the video above to check out how the giant-whisk sabotage featured on tonight’s brand-new episode was approved for air, and learn what kind of experimenting had to be done in order to arrive at that conclusion.