Ad Hoc entertainment Filipino SPAM Thomas Keller Featured on Kababayan LA

I didn’t do a very good job promoting this appearance, but I was the featured blogger on Kababayan LA’s weekly segment known as Viral Thursdays. Hosted by Jannelle So, Kababayan LA is a LA18’s daily Filipino newsmagazine show. It airs weekday afternoons at 4:30pm on Channel 18 in Southern California.

I thought the interview went really well, and we talked about a range of topics, including my blogging origins, Ad Hoc’s Swine and Wine and my Filipino Spaghetti post, which Jannelle said gave her a Jollibee craving.

Here’s the video. My segment starts at the 57-second mark.

When I was talking about the Ad Hoc Swine and Wine, they showed some random pictures of lechon as I was talking, probably because I didn’t have any other pictures of the actual Ad Hoc pig posted here. I thought that was pretty funny.

Despite how serious I look, I had a really good time. I wasn’t able to see Jannelle during the interview, so I was forced to respond to her questions while staring into my laptop camera, which was awkward. Luckily, my face isn’t on screen as much as it could have been.

Thanks to Jannelle and everyone at Kababayan LA for having me on the show. Let’s do it again some time!

Chicago entertainment musings reviews Top Chef TV

White Castle and Top Chef — A Match Made in Hell

Our first meal in Chicago wasn’t on my list, but it wasn’t entirely unwelcome either. I’ve always been intrigued by the White Castle hype, especially since the burgers don’t really look all that appetizing. My friend Maria mentioned that there were several White Castles near her South Loop condo, so we stopped by for a little snack on the way back from the airport.

The impromptu White Castle visit also coincided with the season premiere of Bravo’s Top Chef, and we made it back to Maria’s condo just in time to watch it from the beginning. Can there be a greater juxtaposition to White Castle than Top Chef?

White Castle - Chicago, IL

I really don’t understand the appeal of these burgers. The buns are soggy, the meat is mushy, and for something so small, they kinda just sit in your stomach like a big grease bomb. I think they’re easily outshined by something as mundane as McDonald’s regular hamburgers. Why do people like them so much? Is it the nostalgia? Or do you really have to be high to enjoy them?

As far as Top Chef is concerned, the chefs seem pretty boring compared to previous seasons, although there are a couple Filipinos in the mix this year. Gene is looking like the anti-Dale (temperamentally speaking) and Leah definitely has potential. The two cocky Euros (Stefan and Fabio) should be make the show interesting though.

entertainment OMG Thomas Keller

Student Challenges Master in Achatz/Keller Showdown

From The New York Times:

Columbus Circle will be the center of the culinary universe for a few hours tonight as two of the country’s most acclaimed chefs—those without my Timesian fear of hyperbole might just go ahead and say “the country’s two most acclaimed chefs”—collaborate on a 20-course, $1500 dinner at Per Se.

Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz are the chefs in question, and tonight’s meal is the first of three they will be cooking side by side. The next will take place on Dec. 2 at Mr. Achatz’s home kitchen, Alinea in Chicago; Mr. Keller gets home-kitchen advantage for the final meal on Dec. 9 at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Keller v. Achatz(Photos: Nicholas Roberts/Reuters, Peter Thompson/The New York Times)

Michael Ruhlman gives a great analysis of what this matchup means for both chefs:

“Grant estimated that if you got to the source of 90 percent of what he did, its source would be the French Laundry,” said Michael Ruhlman, who wrote “The French Laundry Cookbook” and the introduction to “Alinea.” Mr. Ruhlman met Grant in his first year working at the French Laundry; following both chefs over the year, he’s watched their relationship from a front row seat. “And I’ve always believed that the rigorous technique embraced while at the FL is the main reason he’s been able succeed at the relentlessly innovative cuisine he’s set out to do every night. He knows it, Thomas knows it, and they’re both grateful.”

Is there more to it than that? Is there, lurking beneath the mutual support and praise, a competitive streak? How often do the two chefs check to see who is winning this Amazon Meter?

“It’s probably more complicated from Grant’s perspective,” said Mr. Ruhlman. “Talk about the anxiety of influence, the need to slay the father. Keller looms so tall in this industry, I’m sure he does all he can to stay out of its shadow without alienating the friend and mentor to whom he owes so much.”

Of course, the anxiety can work both ways. “How did Thomas feel when Gourmet named Alinea best restaurant in the country?” Mr. Ruhlman asks. “How could Keller not feel competitive about this? All chefs are alpha dogs.”

My first reaction when I read this was a Keanu/Neo-like “Whoa,” especially for a dinner costing $1500. I honestly hope some of that money goes to a charity of some kind, but this match up is like the Super Bowl of cooking, and we all know how much Super Bowl tickets cost.

At least at this event, the food won’t suck, and it’s guaranteed to be a good game.

bacon entertainment musings pork

The Bacon Flowchart

I found this on Flickr, but don’t know its origins. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. Just click on the picture so you can read it.

It’s funny.

I swear.

Bacon Flowchart, originally uploaded by ChrisL_AK.
Anthony Bourdain entertainment Filipino Top Chef

The FINAL Dale Post, Courtesy of Bourdain

I swear this is the last time I write about Dale’s departure from Top Chef. I wouldn’t have said another word about it, but I just read Anthony Bourdain’s blog on the subject. Bourdain filled in for Tom Colicchio during Restaurant Wars, and he offers a first-hand behind-the-scenes account of what when down.

Dale’s departure and Lisa’s continued presence (in the Final Four no less!) has been fodder for a lot of rage and anger in the blogosphere, but I think Bourdain’s objectivity and Dale’s own reflections (see here and here) on his departure should serve to calm folks down (for a second or two.)

On Dale’s butterscotch scallop dish:

…Supremely bad. Jaw droppingly bad. So bad that there was a long, awkward moment at the table when all the judges just sat there, silent, stunned with disbelief that anyone—especially Dale—could serve something so…disgusting. It’s the only time on Top Chef that I literally could not take another bite.

Dale was in deep, deep trouble from the judges’ first mouthful of this luminously wretched gunk.

Lisa’s laksa was screwed up. Unpleasantly smoky. But I could eat it. Her “sticky rice” dessert was awful. But not dig-a-hole-in-the-ground-stick-my-head-in-pour-in-Clorox bad. Like those scallops. They were distinguished by their sheer degree of awfulness, sucking everything around them down with it.

Shit Happens When You Don’t Win the Quickfire:

He had the misfortune to almost win the Quickfire. Had he lost, and not come in second, he would not have been team leader—and would not have had the additional burden of leadership.

(A burden he was ill suited to carry)

He was even more unfortunate in that he WON the coin toss, after which he made the regrettable and ultimately foolish decision to anoint himself Exec Chef. Looking around at who he had to work with, and knowing, one would hope, that he was unlikely to be able to either lead or inspire them, he could have put ego aside and stayed out of the line of fire and avoided the clusterf**k.

entertainment Filipino Top Chef TV

Top Chef’s Dale Defends His Vision in BuddyTV Interview

A friend sent me a link to another interview with Top Chef contestant Dale Talde, this time on It covers some of the same ground as the interview I discussed in my previous post, but he spent a good chunk of the interview defending himself amidst criticism that he only cooks Asian food.

Are you going to (ask) an Italian chef, “Why do you only do Italian food?” Are you going to (ask) Alain Ducasse, “Why do you only do French food?” My food is inspired by Asia…ALL of Asia…the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. You want to talk about Asia? Asia is enormous.

In Season 2, Ilan Hall won the title of Top Chef by relying on his background cooking Spanish food. At least Dale was drawing from an entire continent for influence, not just a single country.

If Dale was bothered by anything, it was the criticism of his vision.

Criticize my execution if you want to. If my dish wasn’t good, fine, I’ll take it back. Don’t you in your life ever criticize my vision. It’s MY vision, not your vision.

Dale also said he had no problem throwing down with anyone if they wanted to cook Italian food or French food, but he finds that food boring because the flavors don’t “pop out” to him.

My flavors are big and bold and bright and in your face, and sweet, sour, salty come all at you. I’m not going to sit there and roast a piece of rack of lamb, and cook some noodles, and deglaze with white wine and shallots and then put it on a plate. That’s not who I am. Chilis…vinegar…miso paste. That’s what I do.

entertainment Filipino Top Chef TV

Dale Eliminated on Top Chef, Opens up to

Chef Dale TaldeMy heart sank when Padma Lakshmi told Dale Talde to “pack his knives and go” on this week’s episode of Top Chef, but I knew it was inevitable after the disastrous opening of Mai Buddha with teammates Lisa Fernandes and Spike Mendelsohn during this week’s challenge, Restaurant Wars. Dale was the executive chef for the restaurant and when things go wrong, the guy at running the show gets the blame.

Aside from some brilliant cooking and wins in both the Quickfire and main challenges, Dale’s time on Top Chef was also marked by his ongoing friction with Lisa. When asked about the rivalry, Dale said:

Dale: Come on, rivalry? Rivalry connotates that someone is at the same level you’re at.
CHOW: So you’re saying that Lisa was nowhere near your level?
Dale: Please. Scoreboard. C’mon.

Dale’s reference to the scoreboard is telling since he had more wins than Lisa and Spike combined and was in the bottom three only once before getting the boot (with his Wedding Wars teammates Lisa, Spike and Nikki). Lisa, on the other hand, had only one challenge win and was on the bottom four times, and I honestly thought she should have been eliminated last week instead of Andrew. Spike had one Quickfire win and was on the bottom five times.

So why was Dale given the boot? He knew it was coming when Antonia picked her team. Both Dale and Antonia were praised as the best contestants during this episode’s egg station Quickfire, but Antonia was declared the overall winner and got to pick her team for Restaurant Wars. She picked Richard and Stephanie, the two strongest contenders on the show aside from Dale.

“Did you see the team? It was like a junior varsity basketball team versus a professional basketball team. I got put on the short-bus all stars.”

dessert entertainment Filipino Top Chef TV

Dale “Busts Out” Halo Halo on Top Chef

I’m a big Top Chef fan, but I’ve been watching the Chicago incarnation with great interest because of Dale Talde, the ornery and talented Filipino American sous chef at Buddakan, an upscale Chinese restaurant in New York. During the first six episodes of the season, the Chicago native’s dishes have reflected a pan-Asian influence, but last week, Dale got to express his Filipino side during a dessert Quickfire Challenge and received praise and Top 3 finish from guest judge Johnny Iuzzini, the pastry chef at Jean Georges.

Dale chose to make halo halo, a classic Filipino treat of shaved ice, milk (usually condensed or evaporated) and any number of other tropical ingredients, such as sweet beans, tropical fruits, and ice cream. Because of the variety ingredients and personal preferences, there isn’t one set recipe for halo halo, and Dale’s is no exception—a combination of shaved ice, avocado, mango, kiwi and nuts. Sure it was a non-traditional, upscale interpretation, but this is Top Chef, and it was nice to see him bring Filipino culture to the table.

This season of Top Chef hasn’t been nearly as exciting or dramatic as previous seasons, but I still love the show. Dale got off to a slow start, but as the season has progressed, I think he’s found his groove and is now one of the favorites to win. He even showed his “gangsta” side when he grabbed his crotch and went off on Lisa Fernandes after she pandered to Ming Tsai’s “Asian-ness” and then won a trip to Italy despite being negative, whiny, bitch-ass teammate. (Can you tell I really don’t like Lisa?)

Dale goes GANGSTA!What? You say something?

Are you watching Top Chef? Who do you want to win? Should there be a faux-hawk ban next season?

Anthony Bourdain entertainment Hawaii Hawaiian Oahu SPAM TV

Bourdain Latest in Long Line of SPAM Converts

This week’s episode of No Reservations brought Anthony Bourdain to Hawaii, and it was fun watching him enjoy some of the great food and drink Hawaii has to offer. I’ve been waiting for this show to air because I was curious about his impressions of local culture and cuisine, and I figured he’d be brutally honest about his experience.

Overall, the show did a pretty good job covering Hawaii in a short amount of time, but the most satisfying part of the show was when Bourdain professed his love for everyone’s favorite mystery meat…SPAM!

At the New Uptown Fountain in Kalihi, Bourdain settled into a meal with Honolulu Advertiser food columnist David Choo that can best be described as a local “tasting menu” that featured several local favorites, including different presentations of SPAM. (Choo chronicles his entire Bourdain experience on his blog, appropriately called Choo On This.

[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157604039920060″]

First up was SPAM Musubi (a.k.a. SPAM sushi), but this version had a fried rice filling instead of the traditional steamed rice.

“That’s great,” Bourdain said. “I’m thinking stoned at two o’clock in the morning, watching TV…I want this really badly.”

Best of Inuyaki entertainment recipes Thomas Keller

Confit Byaldi (a.k.a. Ratatouille a la Remy)

In the movie Ratatouille, Pixar succeeded in making animated food almost as delectable as the real thing. By seeking the technical assistance of Thomas Keller, one of the world’s greatest and most meticulous chefs, Pixar gave the movie instant credibility to food lovers, critics and chefs around the world.


Remy the Rat’s ratatouille (above) is technically Keller’s interpretation of Confit Byaldi, a Turkish dish with the same flavor profile as ratatouille. We made the dish this weekend in preparation for Thanksgiving, and it’s definitely going on our menu. The recipe, originally published in the New York Times, follows the pictures.

[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157603116816185″]


½ red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
½ orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12oz. total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
½ a bay leaf
Kosher salt

1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 116-inch rounds
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 116-inch rounds
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 116-inch rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 116-inch rounds
½ teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
18 teaspoon thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. For piperade, heat oven to 450F. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275F. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that ¼ inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

4. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350F oven until warm.)

5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings