January 13, 2011
Skin Those Bluefish and Man Up, Top Chefs!
By Joe Cermele
Anyone catch the latest episode of "Top Chef All-Stars" on Bravo? I don't watch it religiously, but my wife does, and I was drawn to the couch last night when I learned that the cast's challenge would be to catch their own fish in Montauk, New York, and then cook it for 200 people. You often see seasoned TV anglers throw a short cooking bit into their shows, but watching the reverse--food experts trying to master the art of parachute jigging--was quite entertaining.
I have never seen people grunt and sweat so hard reeling in ten-pound stripers and bluefish. At one point, three chefs combined forces to beat a small bass. One chef sat in a chair (lame) and cranked, while the other two crouched in front of him pushing up on the rod. But I do realize that they're not pros, and despite the on-board foibles, I commend "Top Chef" for setting up this challenge.
Head judge and master chef Tom Colicchio is a hardcore angler, and during the episode he says that killing a fish and cooking it gives you a whole new respect for the catch. I hope that rings true for all fishermen and hunters, and a few of the chefs genuinely seemed to cherish the experience for that very reason. Their dishes looked great, though it was obvious not many had ever cooked bluefish. One of the ladies that got booted off made the mistake of leaving the blue's skin on. Eww. That's like eating a rag covered in Pennzoil.