Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chef Jody Adams Thoughts On Top Chef Masters

I think it’s fair to say that many Top Chef Masters fans were disappointed that Chef Jody Adams of Rialto was eliminated last week. Jody took a little time to answer some of my questions about her Top Chef experience.

Sue: I HATED this Elimination Challenge. I don’t think who cooked the best phallic-looking clam or rotten-looking chicken is really the test I’m looking for when I want someone to cook my dinner. How did you feel?

Jody: I actually loved the challenge, but I did hate being voted off the island. Top Chef Masters isn't just about a pretty plate; it's about competition in the face of uncertainty, crisis and adverse circumstances. Weird ingredients? That particular challenge might not say much about the food in my restaurant, but I'm okay with that.

Have you ever cooked geoduck before and, honestly, did you know it was pronounced GOOEYduck? And what’s the deal with the foreskin? Just how difficult was this challenge? It looked horrifying.

The editors on Top Chef Masters were kind to me. The first time I pronounced it I said GEE-OH-duck and then blushed when I realized I was wrong. They chose not to broadcast my gaffe. I'd never even touched a geoduck before. It was scary. I thought I'd have to wrestle it to the ground. Fortunately, I got some hints from some of the other chefs and was told to blanch it to remove the foreskin and then not cook it much at all. It made a fantastic chowder base, and then I grilled some of the body very briefly, cut it up and put it back in the chowder at the last minute. This the judges really liked. I wanted to put it on my menu, but my staff objected. It's not from New England.

What was the most rewarding part about being on Top Chef Masters, not including, of course, winning all that money for Partners In Health?

It was incredibly satisfying to have gotten as far as I did. Going into it I had no idea how well I'd do. I kicked ass! I won the first Quickfire Challenge and the second Elimination Challenge, and then that goat came along. But even so, I walked off the show knowing that my food was stellar--and all kinds of people agreed. In addition, I managed to handle myself with grace and a sense of humor on a TV show that reaches a gazillion eyeballs.

Would you have done anything differently?

I would have cooked the goat longer and had my plates ready 10 minutes earlier.

Is what WE saw on Top Chef Masters representative of what you experienced? Or was there a lot of creative editing going on?

It was true to what I experienced, just much shorter. We were racing, we were tired, we had some fun.

Do you feel famous now? Are you being recognized on the street? How does that feel?

Famous is maybe a little strong. I've had a few people recognize me--just enough to keep it a kick. Everyone says how happy they were for me and how sad they are that I'm no longer on the show. They loved watching me and feeling part of my world. I've made lots of new fans who've come into Rialto. Everyone seems very protective of me. They say things like "Those judges don't know what they're talking about!" or "Your food looked the best," or "You should still be on." I feel very supported.

One last question. Your hair is fabulous. Who cuts it?

Thanks so much. Isn't it great? I've been getting my hair cut by Yvonne Bonaccorso for the last 10 years. She never asks what I want, she just does it. I love having one area in my life where I don't have to make a decision.

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