Monday, November 13, 2006

Bobby Flay's Texas Red throwdown

Did anybody see Bobby Flay’s Throwdown last night with two-time chili cook-off world champion Cindy Reed Wilkins? Wow!

Her story is actually pretty inspirational—she's the Lance Armstrong of the chili cook-off world. Back in 1992 she won her first Terlingua International Chili Championship Cook-off. Then two months after her win she had a stroke. But after rehabilitation she returned the next year to Terlingua and won again—a miliestone on a couple of fronts as she was not only the first person to win it twice but she was the first to win it back to back. Over her 20-year career she’s won over 300 cook-offs in all, pretty impressive. So who does New Yorker Bobby Flay think he is challenging this woman to a cook-off?

They show him in his Food Network test kitchen coming up with his own recipe and I was actually impressed. While Cindy uses powdered spices (which is common in the chili cook-off world—go to Penzeys and you’ll see them selling a slew of champions’ secret spice blends), Bobby went the fresh route. Watching him make his chili reminded me of how I make mine. The big chunks of beef, the chili slurry, the chocolate. And his results also looked like mine, thick and dark, unlike Cindy’s which was gravier and brighter. Both used tomatoes, which I was always taught is a no-no, but who’s to argue with a champion? I also noticed neither used masa (or at least didn’t admit it), which I found interesting. Wick Fowler, the patron saint of Terlingua is big on masa so I’m curious if Cindy secretly mixes some into her pot.

I was laughing watching Bobby sweat in the Houston heat (and the show was filmed in May which is one of the milder months on the calendar) while Cindy stayed cool as iced tea stirring her chili, confident she was the best. Her friends’ reactions to his chili were mixed, some loved it, some didn’t. But the judges decided that while the two pots were noticeably different, they were both outstanding and deemed the cook-off a tie. Drats! I really wanted Cindy to whip Bobby’s New York ego, but I have to admit, his chili looked good. And a lot like mine. He also knows how to cook and he’s married to a Texan, so perhaps his Texas Red isn’t all that bad.

On the Food Network site they have recipes from both Cindy and Bobby and I love that Cindy offers one for queso made with Rotel. Yep, she’s a Texan.

Did anybody see this? What did you think?

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Yvo said...

Ughh, I hate Bobby in general and that show is such a, ugh, bad idea. (Is he a New Yorker??? Really?! Someone told me he was born/raised in the Southwest and that explains his constant use of corn/his Southwestern cuisine?) My boyfriend describes the show as some big a-hole stomping on people- a few episodes (that we saw promo spots for, but didn't watch) seem to be him challenging regular people, like some guy who on weekends grills up "the best ribs" for his friends and that's his hobby, what he enjoys, meanwhile Bobby pulls up in trucks with 50k worth of professional equipment and whups them. That's not fun. However, the few that I've watched (while screaming at the TV) seem to be him challenging pros/people with a fair amount of culinary experience. Ugh, he just irritates the heck out of me.

Anonymous said...

I like Bobby. Can't help it I just do.

AdamH said...

Sorry; I avoid Bobby Flay at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see it but I wish I had! Last night we watched the Iron Chef challenge between Giada and Rachel. I was surprised by the results! (Which I won't reference in case you haven't seen it. :)) The Food Network is one of my favorite TV channels.

Ari (Baking and Books)

scumbag said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vlb5757 said...

I met Bobby Flay at the Fancy Food Show a few years back. He was polite enough to stand and have his picture taken with me. so we went to Mesa Grill in NYC and I was a bit disappointed. Not in the food, but the hype behind it. It made the resturant seem like this huge place; it wasn't. The food was good. I went this past year to the Mesa's counterpart in Las Vegas and was totally NOT wowed. I felt like they "dumbed" it down for the Las Vegas customer. I don't watch his shows because he comes off as an arrogant ass. I know he is married to Stephanie March who is a Texan. What a shame!

I have seen some of the series and am not impressed. What does it prove to have Bobby Flay compete with home chefs? Is it to show he's better? Who cares? Sorry but I would rather read a book.

Homesick Texan said...

Yvo--I don't normally watch the Food Network, but I saw your commment about the Rotel ad and turned it on to see it. And there was Bobby! The premise of the show is rather rude, though.

Anonymous--I reckon lots of people do!

Ari--I did watch that! Very fun! I, however, wasn't surprised by the outcome.

Vickie--I think Mesa Grill feels huge because it's so loud--in both sound and presentation. As for the show, I agree--what's the point? If he wins he looks like a jerk, and if he loses, he's visibly upset and also looks like a jerk. That said, he lives a block away from me and I've seen him and Stephanie in the neighborhood. They appear friendly enough, so who knows?

Vanessa said...

Hey Lisa - haven't seen the show, but I've heard enough to secretly NOT route for Flay. The whole concept of the show sort of freaks me out. Anyway, wondered if you'd heard about this Bruce Chili Cookoff in Brooklyn. I just found out about it, wish I had gone! And no, I'm not trying to promote my vegetarian agenda ;-)
, I think it's pretty interesting that the winning chili was quite soupy and vegetarian. Wondering what your thoughts are... are we Brooklynites just hopeless?

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Anonymous said...

The unintentionally hilarious thing about Bobby Flay's Throw-Up show is that he almost always loses, even with the Food Network helping him out, and usually using ingredients that give him an unfair advantage (e.g. competition uses cheap fish while he uses French lobsters flown in by jet that morning.) In some of his most recent performances on Iron Chef America it is clear that he has FINALLY gotten some better training, and the concept that he's a second rate amateur seems to have finally started to sink into his skull, but he is still a disgrace to the Food Network.

Anonymous said...

I do watch bobby flay. I do agree with peoples comments on his arrogance. He is WAY to cocky. I have tried some of his recipes and some have turned out great. I do like his new southwestern style though. The worst episode i have seen, and it wasn't because of bobby, was the one where he competed against this jack as$ in a donut competition. This guy was just a complete and utter as$. He needed a good woopin. If any of you have seen it you would know exactly what i mean.

Anonymous said...

Bobby was born in New York City.

Anonymous said...

I generally agree that Bobby Flay comes off as a little arrogant. Still, I respect his chops and I like watching him.

However, I totally disagree with most of the thoughts here on Throwdown.

In my view, the point of the show is really to demonstrate two distinct approaches to the same dish. Why does Bobby Flay always lose? Because he deliberately goes for the non-traditional version of a "classic" dish -- in other words, he sabotages himself for the sake of a spirited competition.

Also, consider the crowd. The "underdog" home cook is always playing on their home field, with a crowd packed with friends -- and with judges who are invariably local. Routinely, the results are, "Both are good, but Dish A -- (the home cook's presentation) -- is just more traditional."

Duh. Buffalo wings in Buffalo. Chili in Texas. Kentucky Hot Browns in Kentucky.

Seriously. You don't think that Bobby couldn't go in there and beat them at their own game if he WANTED to? Of course he could.

His willingness to continue losing to these home cooks -- on TV, no less -- is testament to his dedication to good food, and his admiration of the home cook.

In other words, precisely the opposite of an arrogant jerk.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster. Bobby is always competing on the other's home turf. I also want people to understand that Bobby didn't originally have formal training. He worked for a french-trained chef, and impressed him so much that the chef paid for Bobby's culinary education. I have to say that he is one of the more entertaining chefs on the food network. He definately pushes the envelope with his flavor combinations. For someone like me, who loves to cook, it's more informative than watching someone go through unimaginitive basics that I can whip out in 30 minutes.

yomamma said...

I used Bobby's approach, but i used a combo of powders, dried whole chiles and fresh. it was the best I ever made . I'm going to, keep working with this one.

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