Top Chef at Home

The Judges:

Vu and I started watching “Top Chef” a few years ago when he was in grad school and working full time.  It was his down time escape from all of the business of his life.  Since then we will occasionally go back and watch another season.  Every time we watch it I always love how they present their food.  It is always so beautifully plated.  It made me want to try and do it myself, but I have to admit that I kind of had no idea how to go about doing that.  In January we watched another season and as we watched I started to try and pay attention to the techniques they used to plate and what they would add to each dish.  So then Wednesday night I tried out making my own Top Chef meal at home for the first time.  I know that they do much much better on the show, I mean they are highly talented professional chef’s after all, who have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft, so I know my imitation pales in comparison.  However it was really fun to give it a try myself and plus it actually all tasted really good.  I could already see things I wanted to do differently immediately after plating and eating it, so maybe I will try and do some more of these…

For the judges: We have a peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin with a red wine vinegar reduction shallot sauce, crème fraîche pomme purée garnished with charred green onion and thyme grilled radish and brussel sprouts.  Enjoy!

Judges response: You whole heartily embraced this challenge.  The tenderloin was perfectly cooked, I thought all of the components worked really well together, it was cohesive, the tanginess of the sauce really balanced out the pepper of the tenderloin, it completely exploded when you tasted it.  The charred onion paired well with the creaminess of the purée and the vegetables were light and added a nice contrast with the heaviness of the rest of the dish.  It really pushed your limits as a chef, and was a really beautiful dish.

I used this recipe for the tenderloin.  The pomme purée is basically mashed potatoes but I used the crème fraîche instead of cream and whipped them in my kitchen-aid for the first time ever, I broiled the green onion in the toaster oven to get the charring and the veggies were just roasted in the oven with some oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  The biggest things I would have changed about the whole thing: pureed the shallots so the sauce wasn’t chunky; cut the green onion into smaller pieces and also sliced them lengthwise to get better charring and I think it would have made a better presentation and easier to eat with the purée; added some cream to the purée in addition to the crème fraîche, to make it spread easier the way I always seem them look on the show.

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