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Literary Food At Its Finest, Courtesy Of Top Chef

I hate the word “foodie,” but I could probably be classified as one.

I’ll eat anything, and I love going out to a good restaurant. Most of my family’s vacations are built around cities that have a diverse restaurant scene.

Our guilty pleasure is cooking competition shows. Top Chef, MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped—we watch ‘em all. So a few weeks ago, while sitting down with my wife to watch a DVR’d episode of Top Chef, I was delighted to see that the featured elimination challenge had a literary theme.

Cooking and literature—together it’s awesome!

With the show being hosted in Boston this season, the chefs were asked to create a dish inspired by a famous New England author. The choices included Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Dr. Seuss.

The dish below didn’t fair so well. It’s fabada (a Spanish stew) with white beans, chorizo, jamon serrano, short rib, veal osso bucco, red beat puree, and hot sauce. The chef, Katsuji Tanabe, chose Stephen King and was going for a look of splattered blood from King’s novel Carrie. He got eliminated.


katsujis-dish.0 (1)

The best dish of the night belonged to Mei Lin, who chose Thoreau as her inspiration and prepared a vegetarian dish based on Walden. Of course it’s vegetarian! The dish was roasted vegetables with charred onions, tom kha snow, radishes, and a carrot top vinaigrette. Very pretty.

meis-dish.0 (1)

In all, it was a really cool episode—especially if you’re into literature and food, like me.

You can watch the full episode below. If you only want to watch the literary challenge, skip ahead to 12:30.

Images: Bravo TV

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. This sounds like such a unique episode! I don’t watch Top Chef, but I’d love to see all the dishes they create for various authors. What a great idea!


    January 28, 2015
  2. Am curious as to what you don’t like about the term ‘foodie’? I don’t like it either.


    January 28, 2015
  3. Everytime someone says they a foodie, I think they’re saying foolie. I say okay, then think, “Geez, they looked smart.”


    January 28, 2015
  4. yas #

    I’ve been following a blog by someone who creates dishes inspired by literary works and authors. The dishes range from pasta to pie and even some cocktail recipes! It’s a wonderful blog that combines 2 of my favourite things – food and literature. Have you read her entries? –


    January 29, 2015
  5. Sarah Szweda #

    I know this is Season 12, but which episode?


    February 17, 2017

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