by Maria Russo in Shows, May 24th, 2015
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 provide 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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 29th, 2015
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 15th, 2015
From inflated blueberry suits to curry-inspired balance beams and a swinging hammock in place of a prep station, Cutthroat Kitchen is known for its over-the-top sabotages and seemingly impossible challenges. But sometimes, eviliciousness is nearly taken one step too far, as the show’s culinary team demonstrated in the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages. Food style Abel Gonzalez tried his hand at a would-be challenge for a tortilla-soup round, in which one chef was to be forced to mix and prepare soup using only tostada shells. Luckily for that chef, Abel found that the task was ultimately impossible, so the chef was spared from struggling with — and ultimately crumbling under —the impossibility of that task.
Click the play button on the video above to get a behind-the-scenes look at Abel’s attempt. After adding the critical ingredient — a generous pour of broth, aka the hallmark of a soup — he pleaded with the shells, “Please hold, please hold,” as he set them in the microwave for a quick cook. Despite his earnest pleas, though, he opened the microwave door to a puddle of broth and disintegrated shells. “I don’t have a soup there; I have mush,” he admitted, before deeming this a “sabotage fail.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 22nd, 2015
Though it just so happens that many sabotages lead Cutthroat Kitchen chefs to turn out inferior dishes, thanks to the oddball ingredients and haphazard tools, each challenge is — believe it or not — designed to ensure that the competitors have what they need to succeed. That’s where Testing the Sabotages comes in; before a sabotage is sold at auction, the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew must attempt it behind the scenes to ensure that it is indeed fair for contestants.
In the latest test, on a spicy-tuna sushi swap-out during a tuna melt challenge, it turned out that this challenge not only allowed for a successful tuna melt, but ultimately set the scene for creating a sandwich far superior to the original. Food stylist Hugo Sanchez hollowed out sushi rolls to excavate the seafood inside, and after he combined the fish with a bit of mayo, plus fresh green and purple onions, and then mounded the mixture with cheese between slices of bread, the resulting dish turned out “better than a regular tuna melt,” he proclaimed. “It’s got a little spice, which I normally wouldn’t have added.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 8th, 2015
A competition like Cutthroat Kitchen can surely be a transformative undertaking for the chef contestants, as they’re almost always pushed beyond their culinary comfort zones. But their ingredients, too, are often forced to become something they’re usually not in order to satisfy a challenge — that’s where Testing the Sabotages comes in. Before Alton Brown could auction off a test to, say, turn potato chip crumbs into gnocchi, as he did on tonight’s all-new episode, the Cutthroat culinary crew had to attempt the conversion firsthand to make sure it was both possible and fair within the time limits.
Just minutes into starting his test, food stylist Hugo Sanchez struggled to work with the gnocchi dough, and he admitted, “The chips in it are preventing it from binding as a normal dough would. It’s actually turning out to be a bigger deal than I expected.” Nevertheless, he soon managed to roll the dough into a log and lob off bite-size dumplings, and in the spirit of evilicious cooking, he said, “It may not taste like gnocchi, but it’s going to look like gnocchi.” Sure enough, after a quick boil and pan-fry, he served up a simple yet presentable gnocchi offering, though he wondered if chefs could use their imagination to create an even better rendition. “It’s definitely something you can play with,” Hugo noted. “Maybe some bacon, some sour cream — call it a baked potato gnocchi.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 1st, 2015
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen focused on perhaps the ultimate sweet treat — chocolate — and surely no chocolate showcase is complete without molten lava cake. Boasting a tender, moist cake on the outside and a warm, gooey center, this dressed-up dessert is tricky to master, even for the most-experienced chefs under optimal conditions. And inside the Cutthroat arena, the circumstances for preparing this cake turned even trickier when a sabotage forced one chef to mix all of the cake ingredients within the tiny compartments inside a now-empty box of chocolates.
As with all sabotages, the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary team tried its hands at this doozy of a test before Alton Brown sold it at auction, and within just minutes of starting, Food Stylist Codii realized, “The key to this is patience, which I think Cutthroat Kitchen lacks on a daily basis.” Despite her initial struggles, however, Codii managed to incorporate her ingredients as best as possible, and ultimately turned out cakes that, while “not pretty,” featured the signature lava river flowing from within.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 25th, 2015
From canned whole chickens to dairy milked from a plastic cow, Cutthroat Kitchen is no stranger to strangeness. In fact, it welcomes such oddness. It’s a good thing that’s the case, because on tonight’s all-new episode, one chef was tasked with making a turkey burger out of not moist ground turkey meat, as would be expected, but processed deli turkey meat. But before the contestant could be saddled with such a sabotage, the Cutthroat culinary team had to try its hands at the challenge to make sure that whatever burger resulted — if any did — was edible, given the amount of time on the clock.
Food stylist Jamie took to the kitchen to attempt this next-level ingredient swap-out, and after making what he deemed “turkey dust,” mixing it with chopped bacon and cooking the patty, he realized he’d made something “real weird.” He explained, “It’s a funky-looking patty; there’s no two ways about it.” Nevertheless, despite its nontraditional appearance, Jamie added that the more important question would be whether or not the patty tasted fine. Much to his surprise, it did. “It’s that good. I’m voluntarily eating my own sabotage cooking,” he said.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 21st, 2014
Cutthroat Kitchen is nothing if not punny, as Alton Brown is notorious for putting literal spins on the challenge dishes, all in an effort to create hilariously diabolical sabotages. When it came time for the competitors to make brownies for dessert on tonight’s all-new big-game episode, he reached for what else but brown bags to auction off as one contestant’s sole mixing and cooking vessel. These everyday bags are surely thin and weak, so would such a mandate be fair to ask of a chef, and is brown-bag baking even possible?
The Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew set out to answer that very question as they attempted this sabotage before the contest in the latest installment of Testing the Sabotages. After a quick triple-ply maneuver to prevent batter seepage, food stylist Chelsey proclaimed, “Brown-bag brownie. Nailed it,” proving once and for all that brownies can indeed be made in brown bags.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 14th, 2014
From giant whisks and ice cube trays to banana leaves and coffee filters, Cutthroat Kitchen contestants have faced their share of oddball trinkets that host Alton Brown eviliciously repurposed into mixing tools and vessels. But on tonight’s all-new episode, one chef was forced to use not a new tool to mix but something a bit more rustic — her hands — to make cupcakes.
Since the taste and texture of cupcakes depend upon a well-mixed batter, it’s important for the wet and dry ingredients to be thoroughly combined, and the limitations of people’s hands may indeed prevent that from happenings. After all, some people’s hands are smaller than others, and one of the chef’s two hands would likely be needed to add ingredients, so would this sabotage be fair to ask of the competitors? The Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew got to work in testing the validity of the sabotage, and sure enough, after one somewhat slimy attempt, food stylist Jamie Peterson admitted that he was “starting to get into a cupcake place” with the batter forming within his hands.
The lights, cameras, fellow contestants and host Alton Brown pacing through the kitchen — the scene in the Cutthroat Kitchen arena is plenty fierce and demands much attention from the competitors, and that’s even before they’ve been sabotaged. Once evilicious challenges are added to the contest and they’re forced to adapt to the unexpected while the clock is ticking, the competition is taken nearly over the edge. It’s up to the Cutthroat Kitchen culinary crew to make sure that every sabotage Alton auctions off is indeed possible for a contestant to complete within the allotted time frame. To make sure the challenges remain feasible, the team attempts each one.
On tonight’s all-new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, Alton’s simple blueberry muffin request turned downright diabolical when he mandated that one chef use blueberry cartons as the sole mixing and cooking vessels in his prep work. Given the potentially liquid muffin batter and the multiple holes in the carton, mixing in those tiny squares was indeed evilicious — but it wasn’t impossible, as the team found during its test.