On The Chopping Block

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There were more than a few gems from last night's episode. To wit...

Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten to the Black team in reference to the buffalo mozzarella: "Did you run it over with a truck or something?"

Steingarten to the Red team: "No one should want farmed salmon... it's the kind of surprise that you get when the doctor says you have herpes."

Zan & Than about their hope that the Red team was plagued worse than they were: "Bees. Like, a lot of bees in the restaurant."

But what stood out from the episode was the Chilean sea bass debacle. In a valid complaint, guest of honor Nicole Miller exclaimed, "I don't want to serve anybody Chilean sea bass. Like, ever!"

It was uncomfortable to watch poor Michael's bewildered expression and Lisa's tight-lipped defiance when Miller put her (surely elegantly shod) foot down because, of course, the fashion designer was right. Does anyone in New York still serve Chilean sea bass?

In a city where it's perfectly acceptable to ask where one's veggie side was harvested or what one's entrée was fed before it became food itself, I more than sympathized with Miller's horror at serving the endangered fish. Lisa, who is from Malibu, and Michael, from New Jersey, should really have known better. But isn't part of the aim of these televised cooking competitions for cheftestants to "learn from the experience?" And, should viewers gain a little enlightenment in the process, isn't that just gravy?

At the beginning of the episode, Marco Pierre White gives each team a cooking demo in an effort to teach them about using simple, fresh ingredients. Maybe next week's lesson should be on the ethical and environmental implications of using certain foods. Or maybe Nicole Miller already took care of that lesson for him.


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