Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Bisexual Bitch Is Back: Amuse-Biatch and Gong Li Rejoice as Hung Huynh Unleashes His Inner Hatsuhomo

Possums, we have no idea what magical powers Nina Lalli of The Village Voice possesses, but damn, girl is fierce and always gets the goods.

Not content with obtaining flatulent confessions from Captain Sound Bite, she has now gone and gotten the deliciously bitchy and on-the-mark observations of Hung Huynh.

Herewith, our favorite bits:

* Hung said he would definitely be surprised if he didn't win, but "it's up to the judges, and Bravo. Mainly Bravo," he said, laughing.

[Clever chap, that one.]

* "I didn't know this was chef camp, where we all hold hands and walk into the rainbow together. I didn't know that's what competition was. If I had known, I would have done much better."

[A bisexual who doesn't want to walk into the rainbow? What else is new?]

* "When was the last time you walked out of a restaurant and said, 'that steak was so soulful, I'm definitely going back?' No. You say it was cooked perfectly, it was seasoned perfectly. The colors, the flavors, etc. Why am I getting dissed for having some technical skills? The word technique is related to the word craft, and guess who owns the restaurants called Craft?"

[We're thinking of a new restaurant called 'Bitchcraft, where the menu would include individually priced sides of "Meow" and "Aw, snap," because that's what Colicchio has rightfully been served.]

* I told Hung that Rocco DiSpirito had said he reminded him of himself, and Hung said the same about Rocco. "He's confident, he's cocky, he's good looking... his technique is on, his flavor profile is my kind of food. I respect him a lot."

[Uh, blind item or not, we're definitely not touching this one.]

* About the judge's complaints that his cooking isn't expressive enough, he said "What does that mean, when [Colicchio] says 'We don't see Hung.'? What should I do, make sweet and sour chicken and wontons? I'm trained in French food. I love French food. That is me."

[And this would be dessert at 'Bitchcraft, a tart skewering of patronizing, Orientalist, quasi-racist assumptions on the part of the judges that, because Hung is Asian, his "soul" must of necessity give off the scent of lemongrass. And even if you buy into the claptrap that ethnic origin is automatically "soul," let us not forget that Vietnam was once a French colony, and so, as Hung points out, for him, French food is as much a part of his "soul" as pho.]


Anonymous said...

That interview was hilarious. Between holding hands and walking into rainbows, his dig at Craft, and his sweet and sour wonton remark, there was no room for air, i was nearly suffocating with laughter.

Anonymous said...

Right on the money as far as the ethnic=soul nonsense . . . which is precisely what Hung's judges and critics are implying when they use the S-word relative to Hung's cooking.

But there isn't anything "quasi" about the racism here.

I can only imagine the outcry is a judge (or Anthony Bourdain, for that matter) had suggested that Tre present with a platter of chittlins and collard greens to reveal his "soul".

The remarks from Chef Colicchio and Ripert were lamentable.

wondereric said...

You should read Ted's blog... it has a perfect explaination of what "soul" or "heart" means.

As far as Hung... he is just not likeable.. and that's his biggest problem.

Anonymous said...

In fact, I find Hung to be perfectly likeable not least of which because of his extraordinary skill and competence and his general emotional reserve.

As for Ted Allen's blog comments, he in fact does NOT define what he means by "soul" and "heart" -- he offers, instead, standard touchy-feely bromides about self-expression and which he fails to connect to the actual process of cooking (or, at least, cooking in Hung's case).

Anonymous said...

It was Anthony Bourdain who explained what soul means in his blog.

God, Hung sounds like such a jerk. Whatever happened to grace?

Anonymous said...

I posted this in another thread but think it applicable here as well:

Chef Bourdain's definition of "heart and soul" with respect to food -- certainly that aspect of it dealing with the "comfortingly familiar"-- is a thoroughly non-objective standard on the basis of which my mother, who will certainly not be remembered as a particularly good cook, could just as easily claim the title "Top Chef": those dishes she did know how to cook and cooked often were always filled with flavor and comfortingly familiar.

I think the best assessment of Hung's way with flavors was provided by Dorothy Cann Hamilton at the French Culinary Institute who, upon eating all of Hung's chicken dish, practically licked her plate clean. I might also point out that it was Mr. Bourdain, himself, who awarded Hung the Elimination Challenge prize for his fantastic geoduck and black chicken dish earlier in this competition.

That fact of the matter is that French Haute Cuisine -- the type of cooking Hung loves and at which he excels -- is all about the subtle and delicate balance of flavors and textures and the technical finesse required to achieve it. It is not, necessarily, about Big, Bold, In-Your-Face flavor profiles, those which both Dale and Casey put forth with such applomb and that every good home cook depends upon.

The result is a decided built-in imbalance among these three finalists, an imbalance reflecting perfectly the imbalance between the the Judge's own apparent personal preferences with respect to the kinds of flavors they want (big and bold) and the quite obvious and undeniable fact of Hung's technical polish and sophistication.

Lastely, I found Chef Ripert's remark to the effect that Hung's flavors were "almost too controlled" to be positively risible: it is precisely this extraordinary control (and finesse!) that has contributed to the well-deserved success of his own stellar restaurant, Le Bernardin, an establishment I have frequented many times over the years.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying this, and thank you also to the anonymous who posted immediately above. I cringed terribly when Tom Colicchio said he didn't see any Vietnam in his food. I love Hung's responses.

SGLC said...

"Right on the money as far as the ethnic=soul nonsense" That's odd - I didn't know Ilan was Spanish...

Anonymous said...

almost anyone can be trained to turn out beautiful food night after night.

But take that same dish, add a slightly different cooking method or completly unexpected 'flavor profile' and then you have a Top Chef.

Hung, as far as I am concerned is a highly trained, consistant, unoriginal turn out chef.

Sara said...

Can I just say that I would love for Hung to make me pho? I bet it would be some of the most delicious pho to ever pass my lips.

And, while he is trained in and loves French food, why *hasn't* he incorporated more Vietnamese techniques? There seem to have been times in this season where it would have been completely appropriate to use Vietnamese technique or some of the Vietnamese flavors without damaging the "Frenchness" of any of his dishes, and it may have done him some good. Vietnam produces some of the most delicious food in the world... use it, Hung!

I will be surprised if we don't see some Vietnam in the finale. I bet we will.

Anonymous said...

Im sure Hung can cook some absolutely delicious vietnamese dishes given that his whole family has been doing so for many years. But I think that he wants to distinguish himself for his knowledge of french cuisine. He works at Guy Savoy for no little reason, his passion is for that style of food. Which is why i find it so absurd that the judges think that he needs to cook vietnamese food to show his passion, when hes been cooking the food hes been passionate about all season.

Anonymous said...

sorry for my overuse of the word passion as well. im a bit tired to search for other adjectives.

Bao said...

Bravo! Thanks again for being one of the few people on the internet/medialand that points out the paternal racism directed at Hung.