As much as I am a devotee of the Food Network, I do recognize that there is one serious flaw to food television. Though you can watch the dishes being created, hear the sizzle, identify every spice and technique going into it, you’re not able to taste the dish. Judges’ commentary and your imagination only go so far (the same can be said for reading someone else’s food writing, of course). And so, becoming a fan of a TV chef seems almost silly, as your affection can only be based on their personality and speaking ability, not who you know from experience cooks the most delicious meal.
In an attempt to justify my almost irrational fandom of Iron Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson, I used part of my recent trip to New York City to visit their respective restaurants: Butter, Red Rooster and The Lamb’s Club. Do these chefs, all of whom are judges on Chopped, practice what they preach? Is their food every bit as creative, their execution every bit as perfect on a daily basis as they expect from the contestants they judge? There’s only one way to find out.