Brain Freeze: An Early Attempt at a Logo for “The Mind Kitchen,” the New Radio Gameshow from Takedown host Matt Timms. Edible Won Round One, Thank You Very Much. Illustration courtesy Matt Timms. Below, My Notes From the Show.
Last week Edible was invited to be a contestant on the inaugural episode of “The Mind Kitchen,” the new Heritage Radio Network food gameshow from cooking competition host Matt Timms.
The gist is that in between a few heavy metal cuts, Timms gives three contestants five ingredients–we scored the incredibly terrifying combo of a coconut, lima beans, hot dogs, sweet potatoes and peanut butter–and 10 minutes to create an imaginary three-course meal in an imaginary kitchen stocked with a roster of cool tools but only salt, pepper, oil, butter, sugar and milk.
The contestants in this case were yours truly, “Hamburger America” director-author and NYC Food Film Festival honcho George Motz, and Adam Aleksander, who makes giant mushrooms for sets, gathers performers of all types and runs underground dinners in abandoned tenement apartments through Unprecedented Events. An excellent starter set of suckers for the show, in other words.
I have to admit I was nervous, and no less so when Timms read out those ingredients. Sweet potatoes and lima beans and peanut butter I can work with, for sure (heck, those are like my favorite foods) but hot dogs, well, those throw a hardcore wrench into making things sound fancy. Especially if you know Timms, who you know bought a plastic packet of those disturbingly red red hots and didn’t splurge for any top notch D’Artagnan dogs.
Plus, if you’re paying attention to the rules, you want to make sure you can actually make your mind dish with the paltry mind pantry you’ve been given. (Adam Aleksander, I should note, did not, finding bacon, bourbon, dill, sexy nurses, a 1930s hospital room and brawny men in his mind cupboards. Which makes a mockery of “The Mind Kitchen” but really great radio!)
Speaking of those who don’t know the high-energy Timms, you should: He’s the mastermind behind the Takedowns–chili, lamb, cookies, tofu, bacon etc.–and at least partially responsible for the whole cooking competition craziness that has taken the city, or at least Brooklyn, by the stovetop. (In fact, Edible Brooklyn ran a piece about the trend, and Timms, earlier this year.)
The concept for the show came from way before the Takedowns, however, back when he and sister were bored as kids: They’d give each other ingredients and vote on whose imaginary meal sounded better. In our case, his sister wasn’t around to judge, but the kitchen staff of Roberta’s, where Heritage holds court, did the honors along with Timms and the Heritage producers.
George Motz, true to his beefy burger and Americana M.O., made up a meal that the judges gave points to for its accessibility and ease of creation: He made, I recall, some fried lima beans and sweet potato skins, a hot dog lima bean casserole and sweet potato fries, and peanut butter coconut mousse. I would totally eat that, especially if you packaged it in a TV tray and let me watch reruns of CHiPs like I did when I was 10. And I am not kidding.
(Motz, by the way, was actually doing an eight-day detox diet while taping the show, which is ironic, considering that Edible’s own last radio show was on the silliness of New York diets.)
But using my handy food editor skills–meaning my ability to replace fancy words like bisque for ordinary ones like soup–I managed to squeak by with the win, turning out coco-lima bean bisque with peanut butter drizzle, crisped medallions of haute dog over lime bean puree and sweet potato gratin with peanut butter glaze.
I really can’t remember what Adam Aleksander actually made, but even though he was totally disqualified, the best part of the show is without question listening to his description of the meal. And that, meaning kitchen creativity, (and heavy metal, of course), is the whole point of “The Mind Kitchen.”