Sunday, January 28, 2007

Top Chef Scraping Bottom?

Over the past year, I've been quite a fan of the Bravo reality TV series Top Chef. Though I was a latecomer to the first season, I have tried to catch the latest season's episodes whenever possible. As I watched this season, my feelings for the contestents changed quite a bit. For example, at the beginning of the show, I was really not a very big fan of Mikey, but as the season went on, I started rooting for him. While it was pretty apparent he wasn't going to win against the likes of Sam and Cliff, I really wanted the guy to do well. (Maybe I'll even make a trip out to Lodi to check out his work in person.) Of course, some of my feelings stayed the same, such as those for that asshat Marcel.

However, as much as I would love to see Ilan whomp that sniveling little Marcel's ass, I'm not sure that I will be tuning for the final episode. In my opinion, the best chefs in the contest were Sam, Ilan, Cliff, and Elia (more or less in that order, I'd reckon). While I felt that Cliff was fairly kicked off for that sophomoric prank that he pulled, I have no idea why the judges chose to give Sam the boot. From my viewpoint, he was certainly the most consistent of all of the contestants, as well as one of the most talented. And to pick Marcel over him, well, that was just a travesty. Tom Colicchio has been completely inconsistent in his reasoning. His remark that "behavior doesn't count... it's about the food" is both disingenuous and hypocritical. Tom, remember you kicked off Cliff (rightfully so) for his behavior? Remember Marcel's raw chicken wing? I'm not saying that Marcel isn't talented; it's apparent that he is very well trained, but the guy's a freaking jerk. While Colicchio is aware of how Marcel rubs the other contestents, he apparently doesn't think that it's such a big deal. Anthony Bourdain, on the other hand, has a differing viewpoint. Regarding Marcel's current chef potential, he says,

Presently zero. You have to get along with the people you work with--and I can't imagine this guy "working with others" over time. He's petty, vindictive, immature, a loudmouth, not a team player by any stretch of the imagination. And it's all about Him. I can't imagine him ever running a kitchen that actually makes its food cost percents--or appeals to the public--as Marcel would likely be too busy celebrating his own perceived brilliance on the plate.

If he can ever pull back his food to what TASTES good FIRST--and pull his head out of his ass, there's hope.

He goes on, as only one such as Bourdain can:

Being a great chef is about first knowing what gives people pleasure. And caring about that. Marcel strikes me as the sort of knucklehead/creative "genius" who insists on "educating the public" instead of finding new ways to please and delight and surprise them. There's nothing pleasing or surprising about foam anymore.

His tormentors were right about one thing: he needs to get laid. And the Astro-Boy haircut is a liability in the kitchen--where co-workers and subordinates will identify him as a fucktard from Day One.

Marcel has a LOT of growing up to do. A chef needs respect. A chef must be able to delegate. A chef needs to run a kitchen that actually turns a profit. I can't see Marcel doing any of those things.

Tom, given those remarks, do you really think that Marcel should be in the running to be Top Chef? Judging from the comments on Colicchio's blog, I am probably not the only fan who thinks that Marcel is not nor am I the only one who is considering skipping the finale.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

McMuffins - 24/7

I just read this article about McDonald's and their strategy to increase sales by staying open longer hours (as opposed to adding more locations). The article mentions that McDonald's is considering making breakfast available all day, something that they are unable to do currently at most locations due to that fact that there is usually only one built-in grill, which must be used to cook burgers for the rest of the day. If McDonald's did move to an all-day breakfast model like Jack in the Box, that's probably all I'd ever eat there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Food for Design

I don't often find an opportunity to talk about food in the context of my professional work, but I came across an interesting intersection of the two worlds the other evening. Last Sunday night, I caught the episode of Iron Chef America featuing the contest between Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and molecular gastronomist Homaro Cantu in "Battle Beet". It turns out that Cantu, the executive chef of Chicago's Moto Restaurant, is deeply interested in the topic of design and, in fact, runs his own design firm. Cantu Designs focuses on taking the dining experience to a new level through the use of technology. He is motivated by the question, "What if you could enhance not only the taste but also the scent of your dining experience?" In partnership with the industrial design firm deepLabs, Cantu has helped develop many innovations that allow for new ways to deliver food to the end-user, i.e. the diner, accumulating numerous patents in the process.

I can't help but wonder whether any of the tools and processes that he has developed to innovate can be applied to the enterprise software domain. Given the food that I saw being created on ICA, I wouldn't mind my team working on a project with him.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Back on the Radar

Yes, I know that it's been more than a month since I last posted. As I mentioned earlier, work has been consuming a big chunk of my waking hours. Here's a peek at the project that I've been working on, as described by my friend Thomas. Not only does he talk about my team's mission, he also gives a nod to Fred's Steak.