With all of their combined cooking experience, the Chopped Canada judges are fountains of culinary knowledge. Here is some advice the judges have given the competing chefs that any cook can use in the kitchen.
1. You Can Actually Be Too Rich
Rich flavour is delicious, but it can also overwhelm your palate after a few bites. A bright burst of flavour helps cut back on the richness and provides something else to chew on.
Chef Brianne's Spiced Beer Nut Crusted Stuffed Lamb with Kimchi Fritter
In episode seven, Chuck Hughes thought chef Brianne’s lamb entrée was really tasty but overwhelmingly rich. He told her that the kimchi - a spicy, pickled and fermented Korean cabbage that was in her mystery basket - actually would have worked well in the dish to cut the richness and give the palate some excitement.
2. Make It Pop
Flavour isn’t the only factor in a winning dish; looks count, too. Adding pops of colour to a tasty dish will take it from being a 'maybe' to a definite winner.
Chef William's Lamb Two Ways with Beer Nut Fritter
Chef William’s kimchi lamb ragu entrée in episode seven was cooked well and generally liked by the three judges. However, Chuck Hughes wasn’t keen on the look of the dish, describing it as "monochromatic…brown on brown on brown." It needed a pop of colour to really bring it to life.
3. Keep It in Proportion
With appetizers, the best ones come in smaller packages. These small bites should tease the appetite not satisfy it.
Chef Jesse's Milkweed Clam Seafood Salad on Toast
In episode seven, Roger Mooking commended Chef Jesse on his restraint and simplicity in making his clam and seafood salad on toast appetizer. But Susur Lee found the dish way too heavy for an appetizer with the clam salad mounded on top of one large piece of toast. If this dish is just a starter course, his suggestion was to make the portion much smaller, cutting the toast into smaller pieces. The appetizer would then be the appropriate nibble size.
4. Timing Is Everything
Whatever your protein, cooking it for too long is one blunder that will kill your dish (and your chances of ever winning on Chopped Canada). Watch the cooking time closely and time your dish so that the main attraction – that pricey piece of fish or meat – comes off the heat at the perfect moment.
Chef Muriel's Grilled Tuna With a Jicama and Greens Salad
Chef Muriel’s tuna entrée in episode six had a tasty and crunchy salad that John Higgins thought worked really well. But Michael Smith called her out on her completely overdone tuna steak. He shared the two rules of cooking tuna, both of which she broke: get a nice sear on the outside and don’t ever overcook the inside.
Chef Luke's Butter Roasted Lamb with Kimchi Two Ways
In episode seven, chef Luke committed the cardinal sin of overcooking his leg of lamb. All of the judges agreed that he presented truly winning flavours with his dish but he killed any chances of winning when he left the lamb in the oven for too long.
5. Clams Are a Bit Shy And Need Some Time To Open Up
Clams are not mussels. They need more than a few minutes of steaming to open up and release their briny, flavourful juices. Chuck Hughes was a bit alarmed in episode seven when Brianne started cooking her clams with only about four minutes to go. “You always think that they’re going to open faster than they actually do,” he explained. Clams need at least five to ten minutes to open up, so don’t short-change the cooking time.
Chef Brianne's Steamed Clams with Rosewater Slaw
Brianne actually saved her appetizer dish by chucking the clams into rolling, boiling water to get them to cook faster. But she sacrificed the flavour she would have gotten steaming them in a pan with her white wine and sausage. She was extremely lucky to get her clams on the plate in time and move onto the next round.
Watch Chopped Canada Episode 7: Clams, Lamb, Thank You Ma'am!
Michael Smith's Grilled Lamb with Tomato Mint Tapenade Recipe
by Ania Krysa