Behind-the-Scenes Dish with Top Chef's Ted Allen

iVillage: What was the most fun challenge for you to watch?

Ted Allen: For me, the most fun challenges are always the ones that don't involve too many gimmicks, in which the chefs have a decent budget and a nice amount of time, where they can really shine and do their thing, in a reasonable, realistic setting. And those are the challenges that make them excited, too, because they know they have to deal with some of the bulls---, because it's a tv show and it has to be funny, and hard, but you're always going to have the best meal when they have good ingredients, plenty of time, and they're excited. And that tended to happen the most in the restaurant wars challenge [episode 8 and episode 9], the first half of the finale [episode 13] ... it will happen again in the real finale.

And then another challenge I really liked was a very simple Quickfire Challenge, which they called the Culinary Bee [episode 6]. I thought it was a really simple idea and a really good one, and kind of a hard one, where the chefs were presented with an ingredient and they had to identify it. It sounds really simple, but they didn't get them all... It wasn't as easy as you might think. Because if you show me a yucca, I'm not going to know if it's a yucca or a cassava... you'd be like, "Oh yeah, that's that root that I never buy, but I see it all the time." And it's also kind of funny when they present something that you know the chef really should know, but maybe because they specialize in a different ethnic cuisine, they don't know it. I thought that was a great challenge.


MAIN: Ted Allen dishes on Top Chef and entertaining

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