Top Chef Super Bowl

The Super Bowl of football (at least in the U.S.) is Sunday so Top Chef on Wednesday decided to do a football-themed challenge that was probably taped 6 months ago.

The football metaphors used in the show were as corny as the ones in a recent press release — USDA gives food safety advice to kick off your Super Bowl party – but at least USDA provided accurate cooking advice:

“Color is not a reliable indicator of safety — internal temperature is. Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked. Steaks should be cooked to 145 °F, ground beef should be cooked to 160 °F and all poultry should be cooked to 165 °F.”

On Top Chef, Jeff and his excessively complex meals were sent packing, although the always entertaining Fabio should have lost for overcooking venison.

Judge: The deer was already dead. You didn’t have to kill it again.
Fabio: It was still bleeding when I sliced it; it was beautifully pink.
Judge: That’s medium-rare?
Fabio: Yes

Use a thermometer, Fabio. It will make you a better cook.

Oh, and Carla (below) won, and proclaimed, “Hands up, whoa. Touchdown Carla”


Culture, camp, pregnancy and … synchronized diving?

Why is synchronized diving an Olympic sport?

I don’t know either, but it caught the attention of my dining companions, each with their own food safety story to share.

Philippa Ross-James, Program Manager Communications, with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, gave a great talk Monday morning at Kansas State University, sharing the agency’s experience promoting food safety practices in culturally acceptable ways with New Zealand’s indigenous people — Maori, and New Zealand’s Pacific peoples.

The take home messages: build trust, get out of the office, and be in it for the long term. That’s Philippa (right), with Curtis Kastner, director of Kansas State’s Food Science Institute, me, Philippa, and Lisa Freeman, associate dean for research at K-State’s vet college, and a v.p. at K-State’s new Olathe innovation campus.

My youngest daughter, Courtlynn, is back from camp and spending some time in Manhattan (Kansas). She told me on the last day of camp, the chicken that was served was still cold in the middle. A camp counselor came around and told the kids, don’t eat the chicken, it’s not cooked.

If you’re making food for 300 or so kids, have some standard operating procedures, and use a damn thermomter.

Finally, during the synchro swimming display last night, pregnant Amy inquired about the bruschetta with goat cheese. It was a soft cheese and there is a risk of post-processing contamination – the soft cheese can support listeria growth if contaminated with a knife or someone’s dirty hand – so she didn’t order it, but I had to ask, “Is the goat cheese made from raw or pasteurized milk.”

The waiter didn’t have a clue, but did offer to ask, returned from the kitchen, and said it was made from pasteurized milk, and someone had asked the chef the same question last week.

Consumers can ask questions.

Philippa left for the 30-something hour trek back to Wellington this morning.

Courtlynn, Amy and I are heading to Florida for some much needed beach time.