I grew up watching Julia Child on television, and was most entranced by her larger than life personality and confidence in the kitchen. I longed to taste what she had prepared during each episode, and would always imagine what it would be like to sit at her table for a meal and have the opportunity to ask her questions. Her love for food and cooking was infectious, and I am so thankful for my parents’ willingness to indulge my creative side when I got a hold of the pots and pans. (I’m sure that there were some concoctions they bravely swallowed with proud smiles on their faces.)
It is such a joy to see that my son seems to have inherited my love for cooking and for cooking shows. One of our favorites recently that we like to watch together is Top Chef Masters. I record the episodes – they are on rather late for a school night – and then we have little mini marathons to catch up on our show. When I heard that Top Chef was going to be in town with their touring bus, promoting their new season, I knew we had to go.
The only problem? Pre-registration was full. We would have to get there pretty early in the morning and snag a spot on the waiting list if we had any chance of getting in. My son decided to bring along a friend, and so with sleep still in our eyes, and coffee in my mug, the three of us headed out early on a Sunday morning.
Even with the parking lot looking much like a ghost town, we were still a ways down on the wait list. We decided to have a look around.
Then we got some hot chocolate. (And more coffee for me.)
And looked at some books.
Finally! (It’s tough to entertain two sleepy ten year old boys at an upscale mall!)
Here is our host, Fred.
Cheftestants Eli Kirshtein and Ash Fulk from season six showed us all how to make cured salmon with mint aioli. My son was a little disappointed by the food preparation.
He said, “Well, they aren’t really cooking, are they?” speaking of the curing process that they had just explained. Smart kid. The kids did enjoy the dish though, and oh what a beautiful plate!
The question and answer portion of the program was really the most interesting for the boys. And for me. The chefs shared behind the scenes tidbits, like the fact that the Critic’s Table really spanned over 7-9 hours, yet we, the TV viewer, see it in 20 minutes. They talked about the grueling schedule, and told stories illustrating the challenges of trying to travel by plane with their kitchen knifes.
One of the most interesting things that they shared was that cheftestants are allowed to bring ten ingredients to the show that they could not cook without. Eli said that knowing they would be shopping at Whole Foods, he made a list of items that he had to have, and then went to Whole Foods to check the available stock against his list. He then whittled it down to 14 items and started cutting. Ash, on the other hand, who was not so scientific in his methods, talked about feeling foolish showing up with a box of kosher salt, a bottle of soy sauce, and a jar of chili sauce. What would you bring? What’s in your pantry could you not live without?
Though most of the day was spent waiting in anticipation, it was an experience of a lifetime for the boys. I never got to sit at Julia’s table, taste her cooking or ask her questions, but now my son won’t be able say the same of his TV Chef heroes.
The seventh season of Top Chef starts Wednesday June 16th on Bravo and now it’s on at 9pm, so even the kids can stay up and watch!