Thursday, November 17, 2011

Top Chef: Gone too soon

So we don't post a spoiler on the Food page, let's make a change: Humming.

Hum. Humhum. Humhumhum. Wonder if there was news from "Top Chef" last night that might be of interest to people in North Carolina?

I wonder. Hmmm. Have I pushed the spoiler down far enough?

OK, let's return to today's blog post, already in progress:

Keith, we hardly knew you. But when you bought those already-cooked shrimp, I knew you were cooked.

If you haven't been watching the new season of "Top Chef" on Bravo, you may have missed North Carolina's Keith Rhodes, chef of Catch in Wilmington. It's hard to miss him anywhere, actually: Rhodes is a big guy. (The blogosphere nicknamed him Rick Ross, after the rapper).

When Rhodes made it through that interminable sorting-hat of hundreds of contestants (OK, it was just under 50, but I stand by "interminable") to make the final 16, I was delighted. I'm a fan of Catch, which is on my current list of favorite NC restaurants. I've eaten there twice, once when it was still a tiny counter-service place in downtown Wilmington and once in the newer, larger place on Market Street. Both times, the food was fun and impressive.

Rhodes has a way with clever seafood dishes, and he definitely handles fish with respect. The last time we ate there, the waitress not only told us how and where the softshell crabs were raised, she volunteered the name of the fish farmer and told us exactly when that night's catch had shed their shells. It was obvious Rhodes makes sure his staff knows what
s what.

So I was mystified when Rhodes made the rookie error Wednesday night of buying pre-cooked shrimp for a challenge. It was like watching a train wreck: I was waving my arms, yelling, "No, chef! No! Step away from the seafood case, baby!"

Yes, Rhodes also got bounced for using flour tortillas instead of corn in enchiladas in Texas. But that one is easier to understand. Texans might think it's obvious, but the rest of the country doesn't cut its teeth on the "which tortilla when" code.

But pre-cooked shrimp when your restaurant is called "Catch"? So sad. And Keith Rhodes is so much better than that.

Speculation this morning is that Rhodes isn't really gone. He's doing an online bit, and "Top Chef" is wily about bringing promising chefs back. Even if he doesn't return, we can drive to Wilmington for more of Keith Rhodes. And we should.



lauralaylin said...

For a 10pm show, it'd be nice to have a bit more of a break before posting a spoiler. Not everyone, especially those with kids, can stay up so late to watch the show right when it airs.

Kathleen Purvis said...

You're absolutely right, Laura. My apologies. I had hoped the headline "Gone Too Soon" would tip off people who didn't want a spoiler. But I'll try to be more aware.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the spoiler is posted on the front page! That is terrible!

Anonymous said...

The headline you have here says Gone Too Soon, however on the front page of the CO online, it says "NC Chef Gone" or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for spoiling this for the people that DVRed the show last night. I really wish you guys wouldnt do things like this.

The headline was a dead give away, I wasn't even looking for the article on the main page and ran across it.

Can you please not do this in the future?

Anonymous said...

The headline on the front page gave away the show's outcome without even clicking on this link...very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Awww man! I hope Ricky Ross (Keith Rhodes) gets his own show or something. I was hoping he would stay longer. Anyways, this publicity is always good for North Carolina businesses. People are still going to the restaurant whose chef was on Iron Chef America. Good luck to him!

Anonymous said...

... is that still on?

Anonymous said...

I'm selling a violin over on craigslist if anyone is interested...

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late with the 'top chef' series. I just started the season Keith was a part of. I also felt the same, when he was thinking of buying pre-cooked shrimp...I was just like,"No, Keith...please don't.". Was really sad to see him go because I thought he seemed like a really nice person. Wish he could have stayed longer.