Emerson College

Top Chef Boston: To Julia!

Finally, Top Chef Boston is back!  It’s been forever for the viewers, but the chefs are fresh off of Katsuji’s elimination.  The episode starts with a PBR toast to him!

Andy Cohen (Boston University alum) and his college roommate, Dave Ansel, act as guest judges for the Quickfire.  Padma announces that it’s a ramen challenge!  While Top Chef provides the ramen, the rest of the ingredients are provided by my alumni network: Emerson College students!  Five Emerson students bring in bags of whatever food they had in their dorm rooms.  This is the pantry the chefs have to work with.  They pick blindly and hope for the best, because the winner of this Quickfire gets $5k!

It’s truly hilarious watching the cheftestants’ reactions to their ingredients!  I must admit, I probably was worse than some of these kids in college.  You can’t fit a lot in that mini-fridge!  Here’s what they come up with:

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Andy & Dave don’t care for Mei’s for the lack of broth, and found Doug’s combination of ingredients strange.  Even though most people might find George’s meat-filled concoction off-putting, it worked for Andy and Dave.  They also liked Gregory’s bacon-pizza-broth and Melissa’s Frito crunch!  The winner of the Quickfire: Melissa!

Padma sends the cheftestants back to the stew room where they find a remote and a note to “press play.”  The TV lights up with Julia Child cooking with Jacques Pépin!  Watching the camera pan their faces as they watch Julia, you can see the pure magic her presence brings.  You cannot watch her cook without smiling.

In walks the real Jacques Pépin accompanied by Padma.  “I come with wine,” he says, “and a beautiful woman.

The chefs ask Jacques about Julia, as their elimination challenge will be cooking to honor her!

To make this monumental task a little more nerve-wracking, the chefs serve to the judges– Padma, Tom, Hugh– Jacques, and a table of special guests including Food & Wine’s Dana Cowin, and Boston chef/restauranteur/celebrity Barbara Lynch.

In Julia’s honor, the chefs serve:

Gregory truly cooked in the spirit of Julia, and watching him do so was amazing!  His coq au vin pleased the judges all around.

Gregory truly cooked in the spirit of Julia, and watching him do so was amazing! His coq au vin pleased the judges all around.

Mei's take on duck a l'orange was cooked in Julia fashion, but with five spice to add her own twist.  It was very well received!

Mei’s take on duck a l’orange was cooked in Julia fashion, but with five spice to add her own twist. It was very well received!

George used the pressure cooker, which always makes me nervous.  Even with that, his veal was not braised long enough.

George used the pressure cooker, which always makes me nervous. Even with that, his veal was not braised long enough.

Melissa braised in Julia-fashion, but feared her meat wouldn't be tender enough... so she left it in the over all day resulting in over-cooking it.

Melissa braised in Julia-fashion, but feared her meat wouldn’t be tender enough… so she left it in the over all day resulting in over-cooking it.

Doug's foie gras was undercooked.

Doug’s foie gras was undercooked.

 

Hugh, Tom, Padma, and Jacques sit at the judges’ table and announce that Mei and Gregory have the top dishes!  While they both took different approaches, ultimately Mei’s personal twist on the dish won it for her!  The remaining three in the bottom, and Dougie is asked to pack his knives.

This is another tough elimination.  I really feel like Dougie is one of the strongest chefs left, along with Mei and Gregory.  With the pack so small and everyone so talented, every elimination is rough.

We’re close to the end, sadly!

Leave me some thoughts in the comments, and tweet with me every Wednesday 10 pm East coast time!

Photo Finish: December

I’m closing out December the same way I close out every month– by posting my favorite instagram shots!

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[1] A December favorite: Fresh Sugar lip balm in cherry.  How cute is the packaging?! [2] The Boston Opera House for the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker. [3] I don’t like parties, but I do like costumes.  Clad in an ugly sweater with my Christmas tree. [4] Julia & I at our company holiday party, dressed to freakin’ impress. [5] My Christmas Julep manicure: Roc Solid + Mary Lee. [6] Emerson College’s Paramount Theatre & neighborhood on a rainy night. [7] Opening presents at Mom & Dad’s!  [8] My 7-year-old cousin told me I take too many selfies.  I’m okay with that. [9] Hangin’ out with Edgar Allan Poe & being a tourist in my own city.

 

Have a safe, fun, and Happy New Year!

I’ll see you in 2015!

Top Chef Boston: A Lit Major’s Dream

Every episode of Top Chef Boston reminds me how much I love living here.  I think Bravo may have made this season just for me…  I’m going to gush all the way through this recap, so let’s get to the Quickfire!

The cheftestants walk in to see Rob Gronkowski, who has partied with my high school friends and yours, standing with Padma Lakshmi.  The challenge is to make sausage for Gronk.  “I need a big sausage,” says Gronk in an awkwardly overt innuendo.  “Me too,” says Padma adorably and hilariously.

Here’s what the chefs make:

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On the bottom, we have Melissa whose sausage came out quite small, and Gregory for too many spices and toppings.  The top two are Doug and George.  George wins!  Even though he told Gronk to his face that he’s not a fan of his, the food won him over.  George gets immunity for the win.

Guest Judge Tony Maws (of Craigie on Main, for you Bostonians) comes out with a book case.  The elimination challenge is to make a dish inspired by one of the New England authors on the shelf.  “Make your high school English teachers proud,” Chef Tony says.

  • Gregory chooses Edgar Allan Poe (who was born roughly between the Steinway Building and the Boloco on Boylston street, next door to my former dorm) and uses The Raven as inspiration
  • Katsuji chooses Stephen King (who my high school English teacher actually knows! from sitting next to him in their college classes at U Maine) and selects Carrie as inspiration
  • George goes for Dr. Seuss (I’m out of local girl fun-facts now) and opts to use One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish as inspiration
  • Mei goes for Henry David Thoreau (and Nicole says, oof transcendentalism) and finds inspiration in Walden
  • Melissa chooses Nathaniel Hawthorne and is inspired by The Blithedale Romance
  • Dougie kind of gets stuck with Emily Dickinson, but after a quick flip through the supplied book he finds inspiration in the line “bring me sunset in a cup”

Tom & Tony check on the chefs who have all been successful in their creative inspiration.  Mei even impressively sketches her plate out, inspired in part by her boss Michael Voltaggio’s attention to plating.

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Frances Lam joins Tom, Gail, Padma, and Tony at the judges’ table.  Here’s what the cheftestants make this time around:

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Everyone gets such good comments!  The only negative thing we hear is that Greg didn’t take Seuss far enough, and he has immunity.  With the bar so high, the elimination makes me nervous.

On top this week: Mei, Melissa, and Doug.  The big winner is Mei!

And who’s eliminated?  Sadly, Katsuji.  This was hands-down the saddest I’ve been this season.  I think Doug summed it up best at the beginning of the episode when he says, “He’s probably my favorite person in the house… I don’t know why.”  Katsuji has been a constant source of laughter and you know his heart goes onto his plates!  I’m hoping he makes a comeback in Last Chance Kitchen!

 

So, sad news.  Next week, though, my alma mater Emerson College gets a little shout out!  Of all the colleges and universities in this city… I told you this season was made for me!

Enough of my gushing… what did you think?!

Favorites Week: Friends

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Shout out to my Emerson alumni network for this one– I gotchu, Kevin Bright!  The final show featured on Favorites Week is one near and dear to my heart.  I watched Friends from start to finish to heal from my first ever break-up, and I return to this show when I feel particularly hopeless.  It’s not only good for a laugh and a smile, it’s an emotional rollercoaster, thus perfect for readjusting your mental state.  As the theme song suggests, I truly feel like Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, and Joey will be there for me.  And they are.  Here are my favorite episodes:

 

The One with the Prom Video

I especially love any Friends episode that has a flashback.  I love Fat Monica; I love Rachel’s old nose.  This episode prominently features a flashback of sorts, in that the gang gathers to watch a video of Monica and Rachel getting ready to go to prom.  This episode follows the discovery of Ross’s list.  (She’s not Rachem.)  When Rachel sees in the video that Ross, who was in college at this point, was willing to drop everything and take her to prom when it looked like her date was standing her up, she immediately kisses him and Ross and Rachel are officially on!  (He’s her lobster!)  It’s a sweet ending to a very funny episode.

 

The One with the Embryos

Sadly, Phoebe is absent for the majority of the fun in this episode.  She’s busy getting embryos implanted, as the episode title alludes to.  What I think it really fun about this episode is the trivia contest hosted by Ross.  Joey and Chandler challenge Monica and Rachel to see which set of roommates knows more about the other.  Ross makes the questions, as he knows both groups well, and he goes all out on the game even incorporating a lightning round.  I can quote the entire lightening round by heart, and I’m really proud of that.  The guys win at the end because no one know what Chandler’s job is, and as winners they make the girls switch apartments with them.

 

The One with All the Thanksgivings 

Okay, no show does a Thanksgiving episode as well as Friends.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and Monica’s too.  Chandler, however, hates Thanksgiving and refuses to celebrate.  This episode is full of flashbacks, and flashbacks in the truest sense.  Everyone recounts their worst Thanksgivings ever.  Phoebe’s is in another life, Joey’s is when his head got stuck in a turkey, Chandler’s is when he found out his dad is gay, and Monica and Rachel have two: when Chandler called Monica fat and when Monica accidentally cut of Chandler’s toe when trying to be sexy for revenge.  (Ooh, I love macaroni and cheese.)  This hilarious episode ends with a sweet and funny moment, where Monica puts the turkey on her head to cheer up Chandler, who tells her he loves her for the first time.

 

The One Where Everybody Finds Out 

When Monica and Chandler begin their relationship, they want to keep it a secret from the crew.  Joey finds out first, and Monica and Chandler beg him to keep it to himself.  When Rachel finds out, (hilariously overhearing an obscene phone conversation,) she can’t keep it in and comes to Joey who tells her they have to keep the secret.  Phoebe is apartment shopping with Ross across the street now that Ugly Naked Guy is moving out.  She sees first hand what’s going on between Monica and Chandler.  Phoebe and Rachel try to mess with Monica and Chandler in order to get them to admit the affair, but soon find out that they are in love.  Ross gets Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment as Naked Ross, and soon his new view allows him to discover the relationship too.

 

The One with the Proposal

Okay, this is absolutely two episodes and I’m completely cheating.  What I love about part one is the silent auction which Phoebe, Joey, and Rachel attend.  Phoebe drinks to excess and Joey misunderstands the concept of a silent auction and buys a boat.  Rachel tries to convince the next highest bidder to purchase the gentlemen’s day sailor, but Joey wants the Mr. Beaumont!  The first attempt at a proposal is botched in part I– Chandler and Monica run into Richard at the restaurant.  “Maybe he won’t see us,” Monica comments before screaming, “RICHARD” to get his attention.  What I love about part II is the proposal itself.  Chandler, believing he’s entirely lost Monica to Richard, returns to their apartment to see Monica waiting to propose to him,

 

Guys, even writing all of that was such an emotional delight.  Friends really is a fantastic show and even if sitcoms aren’t your cup of tea, this piece of pop culture gold should be on everyone’s to-see list!

I think that was a great note to end on.  I hope you all enjoyed favorites week!  Leave me some Friends-quote comments and let’s laugh some more.  Happy Friday, kids; enjoy the weekend!