Friday, August 14, 2009

Top Chef Masters: Vegan Challenge!


You know from my past posts that I love cooking shows, and Top Chef is one of my faves. I have been watching Top Chef Masters this summer--not as good as the "real thing" but enough to sate my appetite until Season 6 starts next week. The 8th episode started with a burger quick fire challenge (snore), but the elimination challenge was to make a vegan 5 course meal for actress Zooey Deschanel. It is the challenge I have been waiting for! Not only is Deschanel vegan, she has gluten and soy allergies, so it was a true challenge indeed. The food looked amazing, and besides a few stupid comments from the judges, the episode is a great example of the diversity of vegan food. You can see the episode here, and here are the recipes from Rick Bayless, Michael Chiarello, Hubert Keller, Anita Lo, and Art Smith.

22 comments:

meg said...

I watched the show too and was excited about the gazpacho recipe by Hubert Keller. But looking at his recipe i notice it ISN'T VEGAN!!!! Sad times

DJ Karma said...

I really like that show! I almost like it more than Top Chef b/c there isn't as much childish drama... but that vegan challenge kicked ass! Now I want to try quinoa pasta :D

Caroline said...

The very best part was how Zooey said numerous times things like, "You guys, this is so so nice, no one ever cooks for me and I usually just eat raw vegetables." It made my heart swell.

ia bonto said...

Elf, Yes Man... That's about all I know of Zooey Deschanel. I didn't know she's vegan. I think the tamales is interesting though.

Brooke said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who watches Top Chef even though I don't eat the food they make!

What was WITH all those comments? "Who KNOWS what those vegans normally eat!" We eat perfectly well thank you!

Ashley said...

Yeah, I was really excited for this episode. The store-bought ice cream was a let down though. Hopefully the episode inspired some foodies to look into special diets and to have a go-to recipe for such occasions.

Nanette said...

Isn't TCM fun? I made the Rick Bayless tamales (photos on my blog) and am off today to buy the Chiarello quinoa spaghetti ingredients. I also found a Hubert Keller recipe on his web site for vegan stuffed peppers I will make before the finale Wednesday.

Kate said...

Thanks for linking to the recipes. I loved that episode!I am going to attempt to make both the Bayless and Chiarello dishes. I hope that the new season of TC includes another vegan, or at least vegetarian, challenge.

Hats off to your great blog!

The Voracious Vegan said...

Oooh! I love cooking shows too! We don't get enough of them over here in Saudi, but when we are in the states I just can't get enough. How cool that they had a vegan challenge, wish I could have caught it.

Brendon said...

Although the attempt in mainstream media was very cool to see, I can't help but feel like retching when I watch what they're making in the video. Eggplant is so cliche and I've never got into the taste.
In my imaginary world, you, Mr. VeganDad, walk out on that stage and absolutely explode the competition. I'm quite curious what you would have done considering the gluten allergy, but this show definitely needed some HOME cooking!

Anonymous said...

I was so excited about this episode too! I saw she was going to be on from the previous weeks preview so I knew what the "challenge" was going to be. Looking at the recipes did you notice that Art Smith's Almond Brittle calls for butter? I wonder if he included that in the challenge... totally not vegan. Maybe that's why he went home :)

Vegan Dad said...

I'm not sure of they un-veganized the recipes for the website, thinking people would not know what to do, or whether they actually made non-vegan food. They knew dairy was not allowed and I'm pretty sure they know that butter and yogurt come from dairy. In any event, these recipes are easily re-veganized.

Vegan Dad said...

Brendon,
My dream episode would be another vegan challenge with Isa as guest judge.

I, too, balked when I heard about the dairy and gluten restrictions. But then I got to thinking about beans and pulses. Bayless had the right idea with corn and beans, and the other could have easily done other ethnic dishes. Tuscan white bean soup/stew, Chiarelli!

nora said...

thanks for the link! i never watch cooking shows but i LOVE zooey (her music is great). i knew she was vegan, but i didn't know she was gluten/soy-free!

Laurie said...

SO many hilarious moments in that episode. I love how Art seemed to actually feel betrayed by Zooey's veganism. The look on his face was so precious. It's like his brain short-circuited. I laugh how almost everyone immediately thinks to manufactured alternatives to animal products. How easy could it have been for him just to sub in some coconut milk in a typical ice cream recipe? Instead he gives up instantly and buys something pre-made. It's a shame, really.

Michael Chiarelli makes me so happy. I don't know what it is about him, but I find him tremendously likable. Plus I now need to roast some tomatoes. Mmm.

Thanks so much for sharing this link!

Veg-a-Nut said...

We watch this too and that was a very cool show. I can't believe he used rice ice cream. There are so many out there that are better! None the less it was a cool show!! Go VEGANS!

caribbeanvegan said...

The comments from the judges were awful and in general most of the ppl on the show seemed very ignorant to what vegan food is. If you are a chef you should not be on the crutches of a good steak or seafood you should be able to cook everything. Some of the meals were very imaginative but to be honest I am sick of having a vegan meal without a high protein main course and then a carb side. I would not like to get a plate of pasta geez. I like the tamale with the beans.

Mona said...

You know, I was a little freaked out about the dessert dude's answer when the judge said that he was surprised that he could make such a good brittle without butter. His family's been making brittle forever and it's his grandmother's recipe or something. (I don't remember the exact quote.) I was thinking, yeah, and chances are your family's brittle isn't vegan. I mean, I assumed he probably just didn't specify that this meant he was familiar with the process and could adapt it, but now I'm not so sure.

I really like Michael Chiarello. Personality-wise he was my favorite food network chef back when I used to watch in high school.

Even though some of the stuff was not so cool, it must have been really cool for Zooey Deschanel to have people cooking for her so specifically.

Thanks for the link, Vegan Dad. I'd been looking forward to this and missed it.

Kara said...

As always Rick Bayless made me very happy. He was so positive and seemed genuinely excited to accept the challenge while the others complained. It annoys me when chefs think that vegetables are just a garnish and not worthy of much attention. It's sad.

Roadbike said...

Forget vegan challenges! I've been watching Top Chef Masters online since it started and salavating over the idea of having a vegan cooking competition that was on par with it. I agree, it's great to see foodies and chefs who have no exposure to vegan cooking trying it out, but can you imagine the exciting things we could get out of some of the vegan cooks who know their ingredients?

Marianne S said...

It made me laugh when the judge who called vegan food "often beige" thought the cashew sauce was a pistachio sauce. seriously

Charlene said...

I had just gone to a gluten-free vegan diet so I was pretty psyched about this episode as well! (The gluten-free is up in the air right now until I get some test results.)

My sister recommended your blog to me and I will need to thank her. Love it! THANKS!