Friday, January 20, 2012

French Fry Diary 327: Chopped: "Frozen Fries With That?"

For Food Network Friday, I have something special today. The Bride and I love the Food Network show "Chopped." After being turned on to it by my friend Ray, we became quick fans, tuning in every Tuesday night at ten in the PM to see four chefs compete to make the best dishes from mystery ingredients in a limited amount of time. It's a hoot hosted by chef Ted Allen.

This past week, one of the mystery ingredients was a favorite of French Fry Diary - frozen grocery fries in an episode called "Frozen Fries With That?". Yeah, baby.

The four competitors were actually of extra interest this time out as two were from restaurants that I have gotten as French fry recommendations, and also one of the chefs had worked for one of the others in the past, so it was a bit of a grudge match going on. There is always fierce but friendly competition on "Chopped," but this episode was more charged than usual.

Competing this time were Chef Ian Friedman of the Rainwater Grill in New York City, Chef Adrienne Grenier of 1500 Degrees in Miami Beach, Chef Clark Barlowe of the Tower Oaks Lodge in Rockville Maryland, and Clark's former employer, Chef Dan Giusti of the 1789 Restaurant in Washington DC. A juicy grudge match of employer and employee, young and old, that promises to rock the house. The judges this episode include Maneet Chauhan, Amanda Freitag, and Chris Santos.

The favorite fried food, in the form of Frozen French Fries, was introduced in the appetizer round, along with three other mystery ingredients - Cube Steak, Salsa, and Queso Fresco. Truly it was a challenge masked in simplicity. That said, I am quite stunned by how little was done by the competitors with the fries - after all originality is one of the marks of the contest.

Chef Dan decides to make Steak Frites, deep frying the French fries and seasoning them with southwester spices and scallions, chives, and lime zest. Seriously, just deep frying the fries? Wow.

Chef Clark attempts a Chimichurri Steak & Fries. He is frying his fries in a pan, but he is also julienning some purple potatoes to join them for a little color and taste difference, nice.

Chef Ian is kinda arrogant, stating that he is above the ingredients. Great, another fry snob. He makes Marinated Steak with Two Salsas, 'truffling' his fries. He also added some wacky mustard to his salsa... ewww...

Chef Adrienne is the only one who is even slightly original, insisting that just making fries is too obvious. She chops them up into a hash with peppers and onions, to go with her Steak & Eggs. Rock on, Adrienne.

I'll leave it up to you to decide who got chopped in this round, and in the entrée and dessert rounds, as well as who wins the whole fry bag... just as I'll leave it up to you to watch this episode when it comes around in reruns. It's a great show, made even better by the presence of the favorite fried food. Mmmm... fries...

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Faye Henry said...

Wish I had a recipe for Chef Dan's fries... Just missed him making them..

Unknown said...

The full episode is available here: