Top Chef Food Blog:
Our class has been eagerly preparing for the Top Chef Competition over the last few weeks. The class was divided into small groups who would be competing against one another. My group was composed of Sarah, Lynn and myself and we found ourselves as exhilarated about the prospect of a friendly competition as the challenging teams. We viewed this as a unique way to determine our cooking knowledge and evaluate our improvement from the beginning of the semester.
Top Chef turned what could have been boring homework into a fun, interactive activity. Even the preparation portion was fun as we were able to use our personal creativity and had many choices available to choose from. I was elated to have been scheduled on the day where dish themes included cartoons, fusion, or the seven deadly sins. Seven deadly sins was ultimately our selected theme and in my opinion, the best one. It was also interesting having the opportunity to work with Sarah and Lynn, who are not normally found within my circle of friends, but who I realized by the day’s end were excellent group members and new friends. They were girls who had a strong work ethic and offered up fresh and exciting ideas. We were success as a group as we communicated our thoughts and found common ideas and agreed upon thoughts that we all loved.
The first step was to create dishes which we fit each of the themes as mentioned above. We were able to develop quite a list so we found it hard to imagine narrowing that down to only one. Once we created our dishes, we moved on to the second step, drawing sketches of our favourite dishes. We found this to be one of the most challenging aspects as we felt that artistic ability wasn’t a strength among our group. Some of our sketches were difficult to recognize, but we really did give it our best effort. The third step was the preparation and the memorization for the quick fire round. Mrs. K sent us a list of what to study through Google drive in an effort to make our job easier and trust me, it did! The quick fire round was a great experience and it wasn’t as hard as we had expected. We found memorization easy since we had learned all of this before and had blessedly paid attention during instruction as I knew that I’d use these skills in the future, possibly even later within the course. I was right! My favourite part of the quick fire round was the challenge against my competitors. I found it interesting to see what each group would bring to the table. There was a nervous energy which circulated the room and kept our apt attention. This challenge had numerous ups and downs. It was a great learning experience, finding out just what was expected of us and testing recipes upon our first attempt at making them. Sadly, my group had a fair number of downs when it came to flavor. Making the béchamel sauce was quite challenging, attempting to make the reduced vinegar taste appealing to ones taste buds. We didn’t achieve this most of the time, but did get bonus points for the not so tasty use of the juiced orange in the béchamel sauce. Obviously when you do not know a recipe well and you prepare it initially, it will not be your best work, but eventually I know I will be the master of béchamel sauce and reduced vinegar with some practice and hard work. The fourth step was the Top Chef Challenge. The day before my group got together and prepared, as I’m sure all the other competing groups did. We just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing before we got to the actual competition, so the night before we prepared sushi. We found that it was surprisingly easy and even fast. That made us feel better regarding the time aspect of the competition as we felt that we would have no problems finishing on time, including plating our food and most importantly, making sure it was yummy.
On the day of the Challenge, we prepared our sushi just as we had practiced and once we finished, we provided a serving to each of the judges. This was done by each competing group and then we waited, in anticipation for the results. They really kept all of us on our toes! The judges then reported to each group what they liked and what they didn’t like about their dish. I found this to be very helpful since I really appreciate constructive criticism; sometimes it is good to hear what you did wrong in order to get it right the next time. They really gave us direction in areas of improvement to be made. Once the judges finished sharing their thoughts and ideas with us, it was time for them to announce winners. Sadly, my group did come in last place but I do not feel that this meant our dish was bad, just that the judges preferred other dishes. I feel that two very strong groups were chosen to compete against one another on the final day and that all is fair in the taste of food and more.
This was one of my favourite classes that I have taken at Thornhill Secondary School, and that is counting all three years of my attendance. This class taught me many useful kitchen skills that I will utilize throughout my life. It will make me a better cook since I actually know what I’m doing in the kitchen, from prep work to the final product. I would hope that my teacher and my classmates would remember me as a hard working girl who made mistakes but got back up and tried again. I want to be remembered as a girl whose food didn’t always taste the best but it did have a quality texture especially when it came to vinegar reductions, a girl who now knows the names of many herbs and makes use of them often when baking anything from a salad to bread, a girl who doesn’t cut her finger when slicing a cucumber because she mastered the knife skill techniques and can even be called a ninja in the kitchen! I want to be remembered as someone who makes baked good for every occasion or holiday and tweets photos of them for the class to see… I wouldn’t mind being Twitter and tumblr famous. When I was younger I had a dream of becoming a chef, but as I grew older that dream faded among many other ones. My dad often says, “Remember when you used to help me cook when you were younger and you even wanted to open a bakery?”… Well yes I do remember that and it is one of my best memories as a child. I really think my dad just wants me to become a chef so that he has an excuse to quit cooking for me! Although I may not go down the road of yummy goodness, choosing one less tasty, it does not mean I won’t cook as a pastime and make my home a chef’s kitchen. This class got me closer to achieving this goal and I am grateful to Mrs. K and my classmates for showing me cooking techniques I lacked upon my arrival in this course. I had a very enjoyable experience in this class. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cook and eat? It’s the best of both worlds. Next year I hope to be put in this class again so that I may gradually reach additional cooking goals and have foodie fun once again!