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S18.E03: Pan African Portland

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The pressure is laid on the chefs in the Quickfire Challenge as they are tasked to make a layered dessert; Gregory and Kwame take the chefs on a tour of restaurants that feature food from the African diaspora.

Original air date: April 15, 2021

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I breathed a sigh of relief when they said Brittany. Not that I don't like her but I want to see more of Chris and Kiki.

 

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So thrilled that my Avishar won for making an upscale Buckeye!!

 

I thought Dawn would win.  Chef Dawn really knows what to do when she is handed some meat.  I don't care for goat--too goaty--but I would eat hers.

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Delighted for Dawn’s win and so glad Chris and Kiki didn’t go home.  Brittany seemed to be a bit of a weaker chef so I thought it was the right call they had her pack her knives.  Gabriel’s help to Shota with the spices turned out to be valuable to the flavor in Shota’s well-received dish.  Jamie and her Disney voice drive me nuts and her overreaction when she placed nicely in the Challenge — ugh, she is just too precocious kid/ “look at me” for my taste.  Avishar’s reaction, on the other hand, was absolutely heart-warming.  

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Happy for Avishar, but didn't an existing Talenti flavor inspire his buckeye?

And Dawn - you goat, girl! (Sorry, couldn't resist) She's a rockstar with meat cookery.

Oh Richard, why do you have to be so douchey? 

Also, I'm still annoyed that Padma instructs Hands up, Utensils down at the end of quickfires. Shouldn't it be the reverse?

 If I were  a cheftestant, I'd drop a spoon from shoulder level to illustrate the difference 🤭

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I’ve been hammering Blaise, but at the same time his “too white” quote was hilarious. That chef didn’t seem to get dinged by the judges though.

I’m glad to see Chris survive - he’s from my town.

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6 minutes ago, jette said:

Happy for Avishar, but didn't an existing Talenti flavor inspire his buckeye?

And Dawn - you goat, girl! (Sorry, couldn't resist) She's a rockstar with meat cookery.

Oh Richard, why do you have to be so douchey? 

Also, I'm still annoyed that Padma instructs Hands up, Utensils down at the end of quickfires. Shouldn't it be the reverse?

 If I were  a cheftestant, I'd drop a spoon from shoulder level to illustrate the difference 🤭

No, the opposite!!  Anyone who lives in Columbus has absorbed buckeyes through their pores.  Talenti is now going to do a Buckeye flavor based upon Avishar's winning dessert.

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7 minutes ago, Msample said:

I’ve been hammering Blaise, but at the same time his “too white” quote was hilarious. That chef didn’t seem to get dinged by the judges though.

I’m glad to see Chris survive - he’s from my town.

Wait, wasn't the too white chef the one that was eliminated-- Brittany?  I liked her food profile.  Alpine food meaning cheese, sausage, mustard, etc.  But she could not adapt to Pan-African flavors.

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As soon as they announced the challenge, I said bye bye Brittany.

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13 minutes ago, susannot said:

No, the opposite!!  Anyone who lives in Columbus has absorbed buckeyes through their pores.  Talenti is now going to do a Buckeye flavor based upon Avishar's winning dessert.

We even know about buckeyes up here in Cle'eland!

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Just now, The Solution said:

We even know about buckeyes up here in Cle'eland!

So glad to hear it, Cleveland!  And you also have Michael Symon.

Just now, The Solution said:

We even know about buckeyes up here in Cle'eland!

 

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15 minutes ago, susannot said:

So glad to hear it, Cleveland!  And you also have Michael Symon.

 

I think it's beyond time for a Top Chef Ohio. We have innovative and outstanding restaurants in Cleveland with two well-known chefs from here, Michael Symon and Jonathan Sawyer. Columbus is up and coming, too, and Cincy has its own German-inflienced cuisine, right? C'mon, Top Chef. 

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I’m never gonna get the names straight they barely flash them up, unreadable!  The elimination challenge they barely showed the food. 
it’s hard to connect the fish w the chef when there’s so many and they’re flashing the names and not showing the plates on the table. 

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Did Brittany say she doesn’t cook with spices? How did she think she could compete on Top Chef? I thought she would be in the bottom, and I was sure she would lose when she diluted her sauce with coconut milk. 

I think Shota is the chef to beat this season.
 

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I really appreciate what they did with the emphasis on food from the African diaspora. But I don't think you can do that in Portland without an acknowledgment that the state of Oregon was established with laws to designed to make it illegal for Black people to live there.

Padma sold Carrie's baking victory short. Not only did she do it in a metal cup, in a campfire in the forest. . .  she managed to do it at over a mile altitude.

I'm a Pittsburgh Steeler fan and every time they show Nelson, I see their QB Charlie Batch.

Charlie-Batch-49.jpg?savepath=Charlie-Ba

 

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Hell, I was trying to figure out where "downtown" the restaurants that Kwame and Gregory took the cheftestants to were really located because I could tell just from the driving clips that they weren't in downtown Portland.  Quick Google of Akadi and Mathilde's Kitchen confirmed what I suspected - Akadi is on NE MLK and Mathilde's Kitchen is on SE Foster.  "Downtown" my ass.  They aren't even on the downtown side of the Willamette, lol.  And, it's not surprising to me that Gabriel was all "I'm ashamed I've never eaten here" when they were at Akadi.  Yeah, I'm sure you probably haven't ventured to much of anything in that area - the trendy foodie areas outside of downtown and the Pearl are over on SE Division.  

Edited by HighQueenEB
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So glad fellow Columbus native Avishar won!

QF thoughts.  Did anyone feel like majority of the chefs kind of took liberties with their layers?  Maybe I'm too literal, but I was expecting people to make actual layers in their desserts.  But it felt like majority of them just plopped 3 different components together.

So glad that African Cuisine has gotten a spotlight.  (All you Columbus Ohio people, there are really good Ghanaian, Ethiopian, and Somali restaurants.).  Especially, with the incredibly culturally insensitive fufu challenge that trended on tik tok a couple months ago (no people you do not slap fufu!).

 I saw videos of how to make fufu from scratch its an incredibly long process, so it kind of didn't surprised me Kiki had problems.  This is a bit of armchair quarterbacking, but maybe if she had separated fufus in separate pots, maybe she could have sped it up?  Or she should have scrapped the process completely.

I totally thought Gabriel should have hit the bottom 3.  I understand it was an interpretation of African/Caribbean cuisine.  But olive oil mashed potatoes, potato chips, and goat cheese?  Wha?! I don't know if also that other chefs like Jamie, when they infuse it with their culture its more okay because Asian and Latin cuisines have more overlap than European cuisines, so maybe Gabriel's interpretation seems more off in comparison.  But yeah goat cheese with red stew does not sound good.

I'm guessing this is a general problem with judges tasting food.  But I feel like this would be really difficult to judge.  Simply because there is so much spice.  Like when every dish has chilies, and strong sour foods like pikliz.  Do the judges wash their palates a lot? Otherwise I feel like flavors from a prior dish would carry over very strongly over to the next one.  Like I love a good Peanut stew, but that stuff is really spicy.

 

Picture1.png

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Good episode. For a layered dessert I would try to make one of those cakes made out of many layers of crepes stacked on top of each other, with buttercream spread between each layer. Maybe a layer of jam interspersed as well. How well I'd be able to execute that is anyone's guess.

During the field trip they went to a food pod and I don't know how many people who haven't been to Portland know about those. They have permanent lots given over for food trucks that never move from there. It's a pretty cool way to have cheap restaurant space. 

I was also going to mention Oregon's history of exclusion to blacks early in its history, something we forget about today where Portland is the cool, liberal city that just happens to be very white. Very impressed that most chefs seemed able to do well this Elimination Challenge, with some chefs being able to marry their own style with elements of African cooking. Shota with his food with a Japanese form but African spices, Jamie and even Sarah making a rice congee with African elements. 

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4 hours ago, susannot said:

Wait, wasn't the too white chef the one that was eliminated-- Brittany?

No.  I think Richard's "I'll say what everyone is thinking; this dish is too white" comment was about Gabriel's offering, but unless I am completely misremembering, it definitely wasn't about Brittany's losing dish.

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Just when I didn't think that I could love Avishar any more....he uses his own straight razor to shave!

Holy cow, xaxat, I had no idea. Thank you for that.

This episode was very emotional. 😪

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16 hours ago, The Solution said:

I loved that Blais was the one who said "this dish is too white." There's hope for him yet.

 

That was a great moment. When Gabriel started saying that he was going to go Italian with the flavorings, i was like WTH?

 

16 hours ago, susannot said:

Wait, wasn't the too white chef the one that was eliminated-- Brittany?  I liked her food profile.  Alpine food meaning cheese,

no it was Gabriel of the Italian flavorings.

The editing made me very afraid Kiki was going to go home-- she had A LOT of air time. Thus when the bottom three were announced I was certain it wasn't going to be Chris as he got almost none LOL. 

I loved the look when one chef (don't remember who) said he put chanterelles in his dessert. He got the same wide-eyed look from Padma and Carrie as I would have given. It didn't seem to be a hit.

I've never made fufu, but would it have made sense to use some kind of (more modern) tool to smooth it? Potato masher? Food mill? Just wondering.

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27 minutes ago, dleighg said:

That was a great moment. When Gabriel started saying that he was going to go Italian with the flavorings, i was like WTH?

 

no it was Gabriel of the Italian flavorings.

The editing made me very afraid Kiki was going to go home-- she had A LOT of air time. Thus when the bottom three were announced I was certain it wasn't going to be Chris as he got almost none LOL. 

I loved the look when one chef (don't remember who) said he put chanterelles in his dessert. He got the same wide-eyed look from Padma and Carrie as I would have given. It didn't seem to be a hit.

I've never made fufu, but would it have made sense to use some kind of (more modern) tool to smooth it? Potato masher? Food mill? Just wondering.

So you can use a blender to mash cassava/plantains, but it seems the better way is you have to whip it by hand when you are cooking the mash in the pot.  Assuming Kiki did it by scratch, its a pretty time consuming process (especially if she has peel and chop up a bunch of cassava).  Also making fufu on a large scale seems really difficult (noticing that the youtube only did like 2 servings of fufu), which Kiki had mentioned.  So I don't think you can blend a giant amount of cassava, and would be forced to do batches?

 

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39 minutes ago, dleighg said:

I loved the look when one chef (don't remember who) said he put chanterelles in his dessert. He got the same wide-eyed look from Padma and Carrie as I would have given. It didn't seem to be a hit.

It was Chris -- the tall guy in the bottom 3 in the EC. And it sounded disgusting.

Richard's comment made me legit LOL. I loved that the guys at the table next to them were chuckling, too.

 

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I wish they had used more footage of the restaurant chefs' reactions to the EC dishes, and less on the judges.  It did look like some of the cheftestants went over to talk to them afterwards - Jamie, Dawn, and Kiki at least.

What was in Dawn's green sauce that got so many raves?  I know she pickled things, but that wouldn't have been that color if it was pickled.

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12 minutes ago, meep.meep said:

What was in Dawn's green sauce that got so many raves?  I know she pickled things, but that wouldn't have been that color if it was pickled.

When she introduced her dish to the judges she said it was a pepper sauce - so definitely something with some kick to it.

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2 hours ago, dleighg said:

I loved the look when one chef (don't remember who) said he put chanterelles in his dessert. He got the same wide-eyed look from Padma and Carrie as I would have given. It didn't seem to be a hit.

I was actually pretty intrigued by that one. I think it was the Pinot Noir he said was in it.

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Just now, The Solution said:

I was actually pretty intrigued by that one. I think it was the Pinot Noir he said was in it.

I think the Pinot Noir was with the berries. He put the chanterelles in the whipped cream.

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On re-watch I loved, loved, loved this exchange:

Tom: “All right, I’ll let you get back to work.”

Dawn: “See you tomorrow.”

I love Dawn.

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19 hours ago, The Solution said:

I loved that Blais was the one who said "this dish is too white." There's hope for him yet.

 

I follow Bravo on FB, and they posted something about this episode. Oh my the pearl clutching from a bunch of commenters on this comment! And "why is there so much politics on this show now?" (brief mention of BLM). And I'm not encouraging more discussion on BLM, just noting the apparent strong opinions this episode elicited in the broad Top Chef watching world, at least among those who put comments on Bravo posts on FB.

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1 hour ago, The Solution said:

I was actually pretty intrigued by that one. I think it was the Pinot Noir he said was in it.

His local restaurant posted a recent menu that had 5 out of 9 dishes with some kind of mushroom in them; he really likes shrooms I guess. Its a seasonally inspired place, but still that's a lot of shrooms...

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1 hour ago, carrps said:

I think the Pinot Noir was with the berries. He put the chanterelles in the whipped cream.

Smoked chanterelles!

I guess he does like mushrooms, but then so do I.  

I still don't understand how the Talenti things work.  They are in the frozen food section and appear to be ice cream/gelato with layers of other things, but Padma was explaining how they had to be cooked for 45 minutes.   ????

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55 minutes ago, dleighg said:

I follow Bravo on FB, and they posted something about this episode. Oh my the pearl clutching from a bunch of commenters on this comment! And "why is there so much politics on this show now?" (brief mention of BLM). And I'm not encouraging more discussion on BLM, just noting the apparent strong opinions this episode elicited in the broad Top Chef watching world, at least among those who put comments on Bravo posts on FB.

I think it's more FB than the Top Chef viewing world. I avoid FB like the plague.

 

1 minute ago, meep.meep said:

I still don't understand how the Talenti things work.  They are in the frozen food section and appear to be ice cream/gelato with layers of other things, but Padma was explaining how they had to be cooked for 45 minutes.   ????

I was confused about that, too. We decided that their gelato must have a custard-like base that needs to be cooked before being frozen. Otherwise, dunno.

 

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6 minutes ago, meep.meep said:

I still don't understand how the Talenti things work.  They are in the frozen food section and appear to be ice cream/gelato with layers of other things, but Padma was explaining how they had to be cooked for 45 minutes. 

yeah that seemed odd to me as well. But mostly, I was reminded that I've been seeing ads for these layered things on TV lately, and it's about a cup (or more) of gelato, that given that it's layered, is clearly meant for a single serving. I have already been thinking, you're supposed to eat all the layers?? In one serving????  Ok I'm newly diabetic, so I'm sensitive to this, but there's no way I can eat that much sugar, and it seems like for lots of folks that might be A LOT of calories.

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52 minutes ago, dleighg said:

yeah that seemed odd to me as well. But mostly, I was reminded that I've been seeing ads for these layered things on TV lately, and it's about a cup (or more) of gelato, that given that it's layered, is clearly meant for a single serving. I have already been thinking, you're supposed to eat all the layers?? In one serving????  Ok I'm newly diabetic, so I'm sensitive to this, but there's no way I can eat that much sugar, and it seems like for lots of folks that might be A LOT of calories.

I've had one. A cheescake flavor with layers of chocolate and berry bits with graham crust bits at the bottom. It's a pint, so no one should eat it in one sitting. I don't see any reason you'd have to eat it all at once. You are digging down to get different bits more than eating across like you usually do.

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21 hours ago, The Solution said:

I loved that Blais was the one who said "this dish is too white." There's hope for him yet.

I dislike him, but that quip cracked me up and made me appreciate him in the moment (not gonna lie; I had been thinking that).

21 hours ago, Msample said:

That chef didn’t seem to get dinged by the judges though.

 

They didn't like his “designer mashed potatoes” and I agreed. I’m a huge potato fan and really don’t like a bunch of extras: just salt, pepper, and butter are all I need in my mash.

I really want to try the places the chefs visited. When things open up a little more I’m going to make a point of checking them out. I’ve been to a couple of Ethiopian places that were delicious but I had no idea these other restaurants were in Portland! Maybe I can get some friends to join me on a quest to try food from as many countries as we can find (whether it’s the food carts or brick-and-mortar places).

As a Pacific NW girl I actually cringed when Chris pronounced it “Ory gone.” I mean, he’s there in the actual state. Ory gone? Noooooooo

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The "too white" comment was about the dish with the mashed potatoes with the glob of goat cheese in them, right?? I mean... potatoes... goat cheese... also a white colored bad dish :P

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I liked the use of the word "Diaspora."  I hadn't heard it used as the African diaspora but it makes perfect sense (and I had to look it up to make sure I understood the word).  I hope Top Chef doesn't get too political but when I saw the bottom three, I said to myself, Brittany (if that is her name--still learning) PPYKAG.  I'd love to taste all of the food; I'm not familiar with some of the dishes served.

I've never been to Portland and it looks like a beautiful city.  I'm guilty of traveling to cities set in some of these shows (Charleston) and I'll have to add Portland to the list.

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2 minutes ago, albarino said:

I liked the use of the word "Diaspora."  I hadn't heard it used as the African diaspora but it makes perfect sense (and I had to look it up to make sure I understood the word).  I hope Top Chef doesn't get too political but when I saw the bottom three, I said to myself, Brittany (if that is her name--still learning) PPYKAG.  I'd love to taste all of the food; I'm not familiar with some of the dishes served.

I've never been to Portland and it looks like a beautiful city.  I'm guilty of traveling to cities set in some of these shows (Charleston) and I'll have to add Portland to the list.

I'm not surprised Brittany was told to go, her dish was bland and had no seasoning.... her dish last week was also bad.... 

I definitely would have been mad if they sent Kiki packing since her stew actually had really good flavors... the other dish was harder to judge from what they said.. it wasn't a cohesive dish but components... but they didn't really say if some of those components tasted good. I think a dish that has some parts of it that are delicious should stay over a dish that has no flavor...

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5 minutes ago, roctavia said:

I think a dish that has some parts of it that are delicious should stay over a dish that has no flavor...

So true.  

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6 hours ago, seltzer3 said:

So you can use a blender to mash cassava/plantains, but it seems the better way is you have to whip it by hand when you are cooking the mash in the pot.  Assuming Kiki did it by scratch, its a pretty time consuming process (especially if she has peel and chop up a bunch of cassava).  Also making fufu on a large scale seems really difficult (noticing that the youtube only did like 2 servings of fufu), which Kiki had mentioned.  So I don't think you can blend a giant amount of cassava, and would be forced to do batches?

 

 

Edited by susannot · Reason: double post
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Sorry I screwed up the previous post.  I can't figure out how to delete it.

 

I wanted to say that fufu looks a lot like poi, made from taro root, breadfruit and maybe plantains,  a common dish in Hawaii.  It is bland but I liked it as a base for fruit salads and as a side dish for everything.  It occurs to me that if Sara had made fufu as a base for her conconut/pineapple dish it would have been great.

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My favorite line of the episode was from one of the visiting restaurateurs, she said “the fu fu was a no no!” I died.

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Padma said the Talenti gelato is baked for 45 minutes, that's why it was the time limit. My immediate thought was a parfait and one of them did do that specifically. I was expecting Talenti to announce the new flavor based on Avishar's win once the episode aired but I haven't seen anything.

I never had curried goat until my brother married a Jamaican woman. If I go out to a Jamaican restaurant now that's generally what I have. It's spicy without being overwhelming. Also I took the Jamaican curry powder that was leftover from when she made it for the family the last time they came out and put a little bit on mashed potatoes and it was really good. Gave it a nice kick, not a four alarm fire.

Imagine a collaboration between Kwame and Gregory. That would be amazing.

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13 hours ago, Fukui San said:

I don't see any reason you'd have to eat it all at once. You are digging down to get different bits more than eating across like you usually do.

I guess. The ads show someone digging in with a spoon, so clearly that becomes your personal pint. Just seems icky to dig in, eat it with a spoon and then put it back in the freezer.

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I thought it was someone else's dish that was called "too White" by Blais, not Brittany's.

And yes, Blais could have used better words, such as "doesn't seem to be inspired by or including West African flavors".

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