by Maria Russo in Shows, January 10th, 2016
by Maria Russo in Shows, October 25th, 2015
The garlic crusher, lemon squeezer, apple corer — each seems to serve only one purpose in the kitchen. But on tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, one chef proved that another such item, the popcorn popper, isn’t just for popping kernels. The name of the game was jalapeno poppers, and a sabotage forced a competitor to make that dish using only a traditional tabletop popcorn machine for a sole source of heat. Before host Alton Brown auctioned off this downright diabolical challenge, the Cutthroat culinary crew got to work in the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages to make sure it was in fact feasible.
“Let’s get this party popping,” food stylist Abel Gonzalez joked as he prepared to drop his stuffed and breaded jalapeno into the pot of hot oil within the machine. Though it may seem easy enough to let the popper cook in the oil, he noted that there’s “a spinning, agitating device” inside the small container, and it would “mess with my poppers,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to, like, knock most of the breading off,” he added. While the breading stayed mostly attached to the pepper, removing the popper from the oil proved to be trickiest moment of the test. “This isn’t as easy as it looks,” Abel said as he tried to maneuver his tongs into the machine and grab the popper. He managed to grab it once and for all, and what emerged from the oil was indeed a jalapeno popper that he deemed “pretty decent.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, September 27th, 2015
It’s no secret that Cutthroat Kitchen loves a solid swap-out; from inferior ingredients taking the place of quality pantry picks to professional-grade utensils being traded for oddball replacements, chefs have been forced to work and cook with all manner of second-rate products. And on tonight’s brand-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, host Alton Brown proved his eviliciousness once again when he auctioned off a sabotage that forced one chef to do all of the mixing and cooking needed for stuffed shells in what else but seashells.
Before competitors could start bidding, though, the Cutthroat culinary crew had to make sure that such a feat was even possible; after all, it’s not every day that you boil noodles in a shell, right? In the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages, food stylist Abel Gonzalez attempted the sabotage, with surprising results. “I’m going to go [with] low heat,” Abel said as he gingerly placed a water-filled conch shell atop the stove. “I’m worried about them cracking.” As he began making his tomato-garlic sauce in a smaller shell, he noted the sound of cracking shells, but that didn’t stop him from proceeding. “They’re holding up,” he said. After a bit of careful mixing and a light-handed assembly, Abel baked the filled pasta shells inside the sauce shell, and what resulted was just what he was looking for. “It smells great. The cheese is oozing. Mmm. Pretty tasty,” he said after just one bite.
by Maria Russo in Shows, August 30th, 2015
While some judges demand inventive, next-level variations on a classic dish, Cutthroat Kitchen judges are indeed pleased to see chefs’ traditional takes, as one-third of the panel’s judging criteria is whether an offering is indicative of the original recipe. So then what’s so difficult about cooking in this evilicious arena? The sabotages, of course. On tonight’s brand-new episode, host Alton Brown auctioned off a trio of oddball pans that would make prepping a seemingly simple dish — a toad-in-the-hole — anything but straightforward. But before the contest, the Cutthroat culinary crew attempted to turn out this egg-in-bread breakfast treat using all three pans to make sure it was indeed doable within the allotted time.
As food stylist Jamie Peterson introduced the three pans up for testing today — the bumpy pan, the mushroom-shaped pan and the holey pan — he noted that they were collectively “horrendous pans.” And just after plopping an egg into the bread hole on the bumpy pan, he admitted, “Oh, that’s a problem.” The whites managed to ooze out from under the slice of bread and run along the valleys of the pan. The mushroom-shaped pan had no trouble heating up quickly, and once Jamie steadied the bread along its domed top, the egg was nearly fully contained to the hole. Given the multiple holes in the third pan, Jamie was sure to heat it, then turn off the flames before cooking the bread and egg to avoid torching them directly — and aside from some slippage, his technique was successful.
by Maria Russo in Shows, August 23rd, 2015
A risotto’s success greatly depends on frequent stirring. So when Alton Brown auctioned off a fixed spoon — one suspended several inches in the air — on tonight’s brand-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, the eviliciousness was in full effect for the chef forced to stir his risotto using only that spoon.
The Cutthroat culinary crew attempted this challenge in the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages, and while the team indeed found the sabotage to be doable, attaining that result was nothing short of surprising — or risky. Filling in for a prop to hold the stationary spoon, food stylist Abel Gonzalez was on hand to assist Jamie Peterson, another food stylist, who tried his hand at making shrimp-studded risotto with the spoon that Abel held. “It’s going to be really difficult, because as soon as I lift [the pan] up, I’m getting it off the heat,” Jamie said, explaining the drop in temperature every time he moved the pan to meet the spoon. As the rice continued to cook, Jamie managed to remedy that problem by increasing the heat, but in doing so, he nearly singed a few arm hairs off of Abel when a cloud of hot steam shot up from the pan. “I’m actually human, and you actually burned me,” Abel told Jamie, reminding his fellow food stylist that he’s indeed not a table prop without feelings.
by Maria Russo in Shows, August 2nd, 2015
For mobile eateries like food trucks as well as brick-and-mortar hot spots, social media is the name of the game in terms of guaranteeing success. When Alton Brown auctioned off a savvy @-shaped pan in Round 1’s breakfast sandwich battle, however, success seemed impossible for the chef competitors. But believe it or not, cooking up the classic morning meal on this metal contraption was indeed possible. Codii Lopez, a member of the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew, showed off her approach to this doozy of a challenge on tonight’s latest installment of Testing the Sabotages.
For Codii, perhaps the trickiest aspect of the pan proved to be its signature shape, as she explained, “My main concerns here is that it’s all just going to fall off, because I only have these little pieces of metal and the rest is fire.” That fire indeed caused a few flare-ups when Codii took to frying the bacon: “The flame is licking the fattiest part of this bacon,” she said. “It’s hissing at me. It’s an angry pan,” she noted, attempting to move the bacon just a smidge away from the open heat. No matter a few bright-red flames, though, she managed to turn out well-done bacon before facing her next hurdle: cooking a sunny-side-up egg using just the narrow edges of the pan. No sooner did she crack an egg onto the pan did the yolk flop into the burner, forcing her to resort to squeezing out a scrambled mixture instead.
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 5th, 2015
When it comes to new ways to make chefs suffer at the hands of the everyday chicken, Alton Brown is somewhat of a master saboteur (Chicken in a can: Need we say more?). He proved that theory once again on tonight’s brand-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, putting a chicken in a bottle and forcing one chef to extract it before executing a dish of jerk chicken.
As is the case with every evilicious sabotage, this one was attempted by the Cutthroat culinary crew before it reached Alton’s auction table, and just like Chef Guy did on the show, food stylist Hugo Sanchez struggled before finally pulling out the bird piece by piece. “Time to go fishing for chicken,” he said, attempting to use a makeshift skewer hook to pry out the meat. Unfortunately for Hugo, though, the bird proved too slippery to stay on the hook, and it sunk back into the bottle, leading Hugo to try the manual approach with “brute force.” After losing his grip repeatedly, though, it was time to try a sharper tool: a knife. “I’m just going to start hacking this bad boy away,” Hugo confessed. “Maybe shredded jerk chicken it is.” He admitted, “There is nothing pretty about this sabotage.” But it was nevertheless possible to complete the sabotage within the allotted time — and with favorable results. Read more
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 21st, 2015
While all rounds of Cutthroat Kitchen are full of hilarious eviliciousness, tonight’s all-new episode took the funny to another level when Alton Brown, ever the sabotage ringleader, revealed that the entire show was dedicated to clowning around. From a ring-of-fire sabotage to themed eats like corn dogs and funnel cake to judge Simon Majumdar‘s over-the-top clown getup —complete with a round red nose, of course — the name of the game was fun at the circus, though perhaps some of the magic of the spectacle was lost on the four chefs who were dealt challenge upon challenge.
In Round 1’s corn dog assignment, Alton auctioned off a tray of concession-stand goodies that one chef had to use in order to make the dish. Corn dogs may seem simple, as they’re made of just two components — the corn-flavored batter and the hot dog — but with ingredients like candy, popcorn and cotton candy, this corn dog test would prove to be anything but ordinary. That’s where the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew comes in.
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 24th, 2015
“You want your flour, you want your leavener and a little bit of salt.” Those three things are what Cutthroat Kitchen food stylist Jamie Peterson says are needed in order to concoct the usual dry-ingredient mixture for waffle batter. On tonight’s all-new episode, one chef was forced to make waffles not with these traditional ingredients but with a platter of junk food, including butter crackers, gummy candies and potato chips; sure enough, those three items weren’t guaranteed. Before Alton Brown could auction off this diabolical challenge to the competitors, the culinary team had to test it, and what Jamie found was shocking.
Tackling the flour component was easy enough for Jamie — just grinding the butter cookies with butter powder. But making a leavener is far trickier. “I’m going to take the egg white powder and reconstitute it into egg whites, and then try to whip it into a meringue to make it become the leavening agent we need,” he explained. “This is a make-or-break moment.” Sure enough, it worked, and he achieved stiff peaks after just a bit of whisking. “You’re a waffle! I made you from nothing,” Jamie jokingly and excitedly told the waffle after lifting the top of the waffle machine to reveal an ideally formed waffle. He took a bite and was quick to boast, “First of all, that’s delicious.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 19th, 2015
As far as sabotages go, one that’s made out of metal, provides stable support for food and stands up well to heat is practically a gift in the eyes of Cutthroat Kitchen rivals. Or at least it likely seemed that way ahead of tonight’s brand-new episode when Alton Brown auctioned off a perforated French loaf bread pan on which one rival would have to cook a croque madame. Since a French loaf pan is a sturdy metal pan that’s indeed meant to be heated, the bread, meat and cheese elements of this classic French sandwich would be doable, but creating the bechamel — a creamy sauce — would prove downright difficult.
Before Alton could feature this sabotage on the show, it had to vetted by the Cutthroat culinary crew, and during the test, food stylist Hugo Sanchez noted his concern about making a liquid sauce in a holey vessel. “That’s going to be an issue here,” he said simply before getting set to tackle the challenge head-on. His solution involved filling the holes by mixing up a pastelike combination of flour and milk, as he explained: “It is sticky. It’s gooey, which is exactly what we want.” After covering the holes with this mixture, he quickly turned the heat on in an effort to bake the paste into the holes, thus closing them once and for all, and ultimately allowing him to use that now-solid surface to create his sauce — and approve the sabotage.
As is the nature of the Cutthroat Kitchen beast, the situation inside the battle arena is constantly changing: Ingredients get swapped, chefs move from one station to another, and tools come and go. Aside from Alton Brown‘s evilicious smile, there’s little competitors can count on, thanks to the diabolical sabotages the host doles out. But on tonight’s all-new episode — the first of five heats in the Evilicious tournament — there was one challenge in particular that made at least one element of the battle predictable.
In Round 3’s pound cake challenge, Alton revealed a chemistry set that, while ominous, offered a few opportunities, which food stylist Chelsey found out as she tried her hand at cake baking with the kit during the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages. The challenge would force a competitor to use only the tools within the set — beakers, stirrers, test tubes, a hot plate and a Bunsen burner, among other items — to make a pound cake, and although Chelsey found herself working hard to properly mix the cake batter, she took comfort in the hot plate. “The bottom is cooked,” she said as she flipped her petri-dish cake, “hopefully it will do the same thing on the other side … ’cause it’s science and it does that.” Sure enough, after only a few minutes, the opposite side of the cake was indeed browned; Chelsey said the treat she flipped out of the dish “cuts beautifully,” is “cooked all the way through” and “is delicious.