A Seafood Tasting and MasterChef Casting Call

I have two events to report this week, friends. First is a seafood tasting panel being held at Calcasieu (930 Tchoupitoulas Street, 588-2188) on Monday, September 15. It’s actually three panels; the first starts at 5:30, the second at 6:45 and the last at 8. Here’s a bit of the old cut and paste from the PR I got: 
This event is being conducted by Mississippi State University in collaboration with Calcasieu. The purpose of the event is to learn more about consumer preferences for fish entrées. As a panel participant you will have the opportunity to taste different recipes and provide your input. Beverages will be provided as well.
We are fond of events that are fun, educational, and filled with good food. There are no costs to participate and besides making a contribution to a scientific research project, you will have the opportunity to experience James Beard Award-winning Chef Donald Link's cuisine! 
The easiest parking will be the PMS Fulton Place Parking Garage in 901 Convention Center Blvd. Participants must be at least 18 years old and not allergic to fish. Please, make plans to arrive at least 15 minutes before the event starts.
Wait, there’s more! From professor Daniel Petrolia’s email response to my question: 
There will be 4 rounds, in each round participants will see 3 samples of different fish, all prepared in the same way.  (We are interested in preferences for the fish themselves, not so much in the preparation.)  They will be asked to taste/sample/evaluate the fish, and then, given the posted hypothetical prices shown for each sample, indicate which they would be most likely to buy if these three fish were on the menu somewhere.  Each round will feature a different preparation style.
The fish served with be either wild-caught in the Gulf or locally farmed, but more importantly and in the event you skipped the underlined bit in the first C&P above, IT IS FREE. Moreover, panelists will get a glass or two of complimentary wine and there’ll be a cash bar if that’s insufficient. 
I fail to see how this is a bad deal for a Monday night. Taste multiple seafood courses prepared by the folks at Calcasieu and tell the people behind the study whether you’d be likely to order each at a given price, have a glass or two of wine and go home. I kept expecting a catch in my email back-and-forth with professor Petrolia; something like, “Well, since you ask, I guess I should mention that one of the fish is going to be poison in each round,” or “This study is being conducted on behalf of Pepto-Bismol, and by ‘free wine’ I meant ‘free immediately necessary pink bismuth in suspension,’” but no. This may be the proverbial free lunch, kids. 
I still haven’t figured out if I’ve got the time to make it, but I’m going to try. If you’re interested, follow this link and sign up. Each panel is limited to 50 people, so going soon is probably a good idea. 
The second event I have to report is a casting call for  Master Chef, which is a Fox television show about a cooking competition for amateurs hosted by chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich. If I can judge by the 20 minutes I just spent watching portions of the show on my computer, it is a reality show featuring large sets, a great deal of “drama” and helicopters. 
Some years ago this sort of thing would have set me off, usually to humorous effect (if I do say so myself). Now I’m ambivalent about the whole thing. I haven’t changed my opinion about Gordon Ramsay; I find his schtick tiresome. But I don’t think this particular sort of reality show – where the contestants are not chosen because they are good, as much as because they are telegenic – is designed to appeal to me, and that’s ok. 
I tend to agree about food television with Andrew Zimmern, who is a very intelligent and articulate man I have watched eat horrible things on television. Most of the food or cooking shows I see these days are those I record on my DVR. I watch Anthony Bourdain’s show, Chopped, and American Grilled. Sometimes I watch Top Chef, and every once in a while something else involving cooking catches my attention, but for the most part I just don’t care enough to develop vitriol about bad cooking shows. 
I have a slight sense of ennui about this; part of me feels like I should be indignant about being approached to announce a casting call for MasterChef, but mainly I am embarrassed that I was ever able to work myself into a froth over such things when I have always had more important things about which to froth. Perhaps I’ve mellowed or maybe it’s just that I’m tired of fighting this particular tide?
I don’t know why, but I am not un-pleased to announce that MasterChef is holding an open casting call in New Orleans for its sixth season on September 27 at the Four Points Hotel, 541 Bourbon Street, from 10 to 6. If you are interested in attending, you should go to www.masterchefcasting.com to read the application instructions, audition guidelines and eligibility requirements. 
My guess is that one of the guidelines is that you cannot stab Gordon Ramsay in the neck when he screams at you that you are a donkey and cannot cook and should go back to being a donkey in whatever donkey-town you came from you f***ing donkey, but to be honest I haven’t read the requirements and visited the casting website by accident while looking for video of the show that I could then only watch for about 20 non-consecutive minutes before I ran for the pink bismuth because GOD I’M DOING IT AGAIN AREN’T I? Sorry. 
Anyway, if this sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to do, or if you just want to meet Rubenesque chef Graham Elliot, you are in Fat City. 
Tune in next week when I pop a blood vessel in my neck writing about weak coffee. 
Categories: Haute Plates