Last Supper

Last night, on my favorite food show, Top Chef, they asked the five remaining chefs in this year's competition to complete a unique and intriguing challenge: to cook the proverbial “last supper” for one of five super chefs. Each contestant drew a chef at random and was then told what that chef had requested. Later, they had several hours to shop and prepare the meal before service to all 5 plus the standard judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Toby Young. For the meals, our DC girl and favorite, Carla selected Jacques Pèpin who asked for squab and peas; my other favorite, Stefan selected Marcus Samuelsson who asked for salmon with potatoes and dill; fan favorite and ultimate challenge winner Fabio selected Lidia Bastianich who asked for roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and a leafy salad; Hosea selected Susan Ungaro who asked for shrimp scampi and tomatoes Provencal; and the loser of the challenge, who was sent packing by the panel, was annoying Leah, who selected Wylie Dufresne and the simple task of eggs Benedict. Too bad for her.

Needless to say, it was definitely one of Top Chef's most interesting concepts for a challenge and even got me thinking about the concept. Despite its morbidity (Pèpin even exclaimed that he could definitely die after eating Carla's peas), I think all the chefs had a lot of fun harkening whatever culinary longing they would ask for foremost – or maybe last-most. All the choices seemed so simple and rustic – classic dishes that might be the oldest dish they can remember, their comfort food.

How would you think about your last supper decision?

Comforting, like macaroni and cheese with fried chicken and mashed potatoes?

Upscale, like butter poached lobster tail with black truffle bruschetta?

Sinful, like a dozen glazed donuts, a bucket of KFC original, a few McDonalds cheeseburgers and some turtle cheesecake?

Contrived, like two poached eggs with a falafel sandwich, twelve French fries, six strawberries, a porterhouse steak cooked medium rare, half a cupcake, bananas foster, pastrami and cheese on rye, fifteen fried shrimp and toast?

Simple, like Mom's baked chicken with noodles? Yum.

Of course there are many other ways too. And that's why you won't be hearing mine quite yet. I still have a lot more exploring and thinking to do before I decide. Maybe years worth. But I wanted to get YOU started on thinking about it, since I now have. One day we'll have that conversation, and perhaps we'll be important enough that a great chef will cook them for us. Until then I'll be living vivaciously and intriguingly through the Top Chefs and their elite audience.

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