• Fri, Oct 30 2009

Herbivores React To Natalie Portman’s Top Chef Episode

NUP_135067_3301I know for the most part, everyone is happy to see Mike Isabella leave Top Chef in a cloud of Axe body spray, but I was more curious to see how vegetarians felt about this episode. Top Chef is not kind to veg-heads, I’d been casually tracking vegetarian meals on the show this season over at Vegansaurus, and trust me, most of the time, they’re lucky if a side dish isn’t doused in the blood of baby cows before serving.

So, I was interested to see how these chefs would react. Of course, they were upset, especially since they had to cook at Craftsteak, and leave all that steak untouched. Being an omnivore who will literally eat almost anything, I thought best to survey some veggie bloggers and see what they had to say:

Meave at Vegansaurus (also a commenter here! holla!!) was not impressed but thought something was better than nothing:

No one said anything egregiously stupid about eating veg, and Colicchio was all about how the challenge rang super-true to him, what with all the non-meat-eaters coming into his craftsteaks all the time to eat and how he always caters to them. If you recall, he also chose a vegan recipe as his favorite sandwich in the ‘wichcraft cookbook a few months ago. That said, it was also kind of disappointing, as none of the dishes seemed to-die-for impressive. At least Eli wasn’t wearing his “bacon” shirt this episode! Small favors, you guys. Small favors.

Ecorazzi did not like the fact that there was no use of common veggie proteins:

As the chefs prepped their entrées, I noticed the kitchen was void of any familiar vegetarian proteins: no tofu, seitan or tempeh anywhere to be seen. WTF? But I hadn’t given up yet — VEG cuisine uses an array of complex ingredients and proteins.

When the meals were finally completed, I shook my head with frustration. Each dish appeared more like an uninspired vegetable medley than a fine dining entrée. Vegan cuisine is dynamic and bold, not soggy and simple.

Mission Vegan was also dissapointed by the lack of creativity in the dishes:

I guess I was hoping that this episode may change peoples’ perspective of what vegetarians actually eat, but was disappointed that the chefs themselves were unclear. They seem to think that all we eat is vegetables, judging from the dishes they produced and what they said during their interviews. For the most part, the only food group represented was vegetables. What happened to beans and legumes or grains? One person made a dish with lentils and one other person used garbanzo beans. Disappointing.

What was most striking was how much better the Top Chef Masters did at a much more restrictive challenge with Zooey Deschanel than these guys did with a solely vegetarian request. Check out a few more photos from the episode after the jump!




[Images: Bravo/Trae Patton]

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  • http://nancyimperiale.wordpress.com Nancy

    I’m glad they at least tried. Maybe this points out the need for a new Top Chef: Vegan franchise, because as one of the bloggers pointed out, vegan chefs don’t just confine themselves to vegetables.

  • http://goodurb.com megan

    There was something really odd about the whole “vegetarian” challenge. Natalie Portman is often billed in the press as vegan, but she says on Top Chef the words , “and I’m vegetarian.” If this is true, it surprised me that the bitching chefs didn’t rely more heavily on dairy. Is Natalie actually vegan, and the producers just didn’t want to say that word? It might explain why the dishes were so imbalanced and vegetable-centric.

    Also, why did only Mike V use polenta?? If they had grains, why didn’t people use them? The whole episode was very confusing.

  • http://bravofan.com Maria Diaz

    Megan, I don’t think Natalie was vegan when the episode filmed. The veganism is an off/on thing, but she’s always been vegetarian.