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Recap: Kru's Billy Ngo on Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen

The concept for Cutthroat Kitchen, a Food Network cooking competition show hosted by Alton Brown, is a little convoluted. In addition to being a standard issue cooking show, each of the four contestants are given an amount of money, and items are auctioned off each round. The item could be an advantage for the contestant, or a disadvantage to be doled out to other contestants.

Chef Billy Ngo, the owner of Kru Restaurant and one of Sacramento's most talented chefs, competed on Sunday night's show, titled "Foul Play." Per the official Food Network episode guide:

Two chefs learn the true meaning of improvising when they're forced to switch dishes and sabotages in the middle of a challenge. Then, someone has to get innovative when they are given a loaf of sliced bread to use as a bread bowl for clam chowder. Finally, a chef is taken back to their childhood when they must harvest breading from chicken nuggets for their chicken fried steak. (Episode: KT0210H)

I'll admit that I didn't watch the full episode. My TiVo was too busy recording the Olympics. But it turns out that Food Network posts videos recapping the show (above).

But if you don't have 5 minutes, here are some of the highlights:

The first challenge required the four contestants to make lettuce wraps. Chef Robert, one of the other contestants, decided to replace Chef Ngo's tools with garden tools.


In that same round, Chef Ngo won the right to require that the other contestants use only one mode of cooking - a deep fryer, a microwave and a broiler. Chef Ngo survived the round.


In the second round, the contestants were required to make New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl. Chef Ngo had some "starch manipulation issues," according to this week's judge Simon Majumdar (probably best known from his stints as a judge on Iron Chef America). Chef Ngo survived again despite the fact that Majumdar could hold his clam chowder upside down over his bald head and not spill any.  Chef Ngo advanced to the final round.


Chef Robert and Chef Ngo were assigned the task of making chicken fried steak. During this round, Chef Robert bid on and won the right to replace all of Chef Ngo's tools (knives, etc.) with a meat tenderizing hammer. Luckily for Chef Ngo, he had already done a lot of his prep before his knife was taken away.


In the end, Chef Robert prevailed. Judge Majumdar said that Chef Ngo's fried chicken dish reminded him of "Karaage" a Japanese fried chicken, but due to the odd plate it was served on, he found it hard to actually get to the meat to eat.

If the five minute video above isn't enough for you, the show will re-air on Thursday, Feb. 27, Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1. The Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson also interviewed Chef Ngo about his experience on the show.


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