Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Chef 11/19/08--"Show Your Craft" summary

Previously on Top Chef: Seventeen chefs showed up for the competition, but Lauren was sent home right away for not knowing her apples. Everyone else got to cook foods based on different ethnic neighborhoods. The two Europeans quickly felt they were superior to everyone, and other than that no one made a large impression. Stefan, one of the aforementioned Europeans, won both the Quickfire and the Elimination challenges. Patrick, the cute culinary student, went home first. Which is good because I think if I’d had to watch him flounder for weeks that would be sad. This ain’t “Hell’s Kitchen”. Also there is “Team Rainbow.” (click for more)

Richard recaps the last episode for us, while I see Stefan smoking in the house. Boo. (Kmanpat: “Oo, smokers are hot!”) Ariane is still kind of freaking out because she was on the bottom with Patrick. Stefan is quite pleased with himself, but of course he thinks Fabio (the other European) is his biggest competition. Not any silly Americans. Fabio is calm about it, because it’s not about the dragons but who goes home with the princess. Hee.


Padma greats everyone with Donatella Arpaia. Thanks for nothing, Bravo, for having your stupid ad for real housewives of some stupid place onscreen at the EXACT moment you put up the chyron for Donatella. Padma lets the contestants know they will be making something New Yorkers spend millions of dollars on, and in a “Top Chef” first they’ll have an expert to cook against. In rolls a hot dog cart. Heh. Angelina, the woman with the cart, will be making hot dogs for all of them to beat. Fabio does not know how to make hot dogs. Sausage only. Hee. They will have 45 minutes.

Hosea can see people freaking out. That’s because people have forgotten how to make hot dogs from scratch. Daniel has had Angelina’s hot dogs before, or something similar, so he knows what he’s up against. Fabio knows you can’t beat the “American” hot dog at its own game, so he’s got sausage and is going a totally different direction. Jill knows she can’t make hot dogs from scratch, so she’s wrapping pre-made hot dogs in rice paper. Radhika is making kabobs, I think. Hosea has no experience stuffing sausages. Oh, like I would ignore that comment. (Kmanpat: “Darn. He can come over, I’ll teach him.”)

Jill: summer rolls with hot dogs and chili, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Ew. But she didn’t make the hot dogs. She says she didn’t have time. Radhika: kabob style with lamb, pork, and ground chuck, and caramelized onions, cucumbers, and tomato jam. That sounds fantastic. Daniel: pork hot dog with horseradish, mustard, garlic powder, and fried onions. Eugene: maki roll with pita bread, red onions, and boursin cheese. Oh, Eugene. That is not maki. You are from Hawaii. Sigh. Hosea: bacon and roasted pepper hot dog, with roasted poblanos and jalapeños. Stefan: “World Dog”, which is Italian sausage on a French roll with Wisconsin cheese and Irish tartar sauce. And German beer. Oo, bribery with booze. Carla: Lamb and pork sausage with “quick” sauerkraut and caramelized onions. Ariane: chicken sausage, bacon, celery seed, garlic, and white pepper. Fabio: andouille sausage with goat cheese, roasted bell pepper, and sun dried tomatoes. Jamie: pork and beef sausage, bacon, onions, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Oh, but there is a ground bone in it. Oops. Angelina then gives the judges a New York dog with mustard and relish. I thought they should feed the contestants too.

Jill was one of the worst, because everyone else made sausage. Stefan also was on the bottom. Ha. Donatella says she wouldn’t go anywhere for that. Stefan of course scoffs at this. Radhika is in the top, for embracing her Indian theme and having moistness. Fabio’s Mediterranean flavors carried through. Hosea’s bacon was also excellent. Radhika wins! She’s glad to have proven herself.

Padma starts out her description of the Elimination challenge by talking about how tough New Yorkers can be as customers, and then says they’ll be opening a Top Chef restaurant. Um…it’s a little early for Restaurant Wars, but OK. Fabio has opened 7 restaurants already, so he’s like, eh. They have to make up a 3 course “New American” lunch menu. That is such a broad and nebulous category. Everyone is responsible for one dish, and they’ll have 2 hours to prep before they serve 50 people. Padma dismisses them and people immediately start yelling. Jeff wanders off and when he comes back he makes people sign up and move around. 5 people are making appetizers, 5 making entrees, and 5 making desserts, which is cool because usually you have to force people to make dessert. Jeff says luckily the numbers worked out.

Off to Whole Foods with 30 minutes and $2,500. Jeff thinks they look like they’re robbing the place, shoving soccer moms out of the way. Eugene tells us the $2,500 is for everyone. Hosea’s making something with crab, but he’s got to buy his crab sight unseen in tubs. Fabio is making beef carpaccio. Jill has decided to make ostrich eggs, but put them in a quiche. So…what would the point be, then? Maybe they taste different. (Kmanpat: “We should ask Colin and Chip.”) Luckily everyone is under budget.

The appetizer group consists of Fabio, Hosea, Melissa, Leah, and Jamie. Jamie loves their cohesiveness and tells us she’s making chilled corn soup. The entree group is Stefan, Jeff, Alex, Eugene, and Jill. Jill prepares to open her ostrich egg, which is of course harder to do than normal eggs. Jamie thinks she’s ridiculous. Desserts are Carla, Ariane, Daniel, Richard, and Radhika. Ariane is making a lemon meringue martini, because she’s not a baker. So why are you doing desserts? Tom appears to tell everyone that they’re going to be cooking at his restaurant craft. Oo! He’ll be with them the entire time, and also there is another twist: all of the diners are New York chefs who tried out for “Top Chef” and did not make it. Ha! Awesome. Carla kind of freaks out, because she knows these diners are going to be hyper-critical.

At home Fabio is telling Stefan about his dragon/princess metaphor. They’re pretty jokey about it. Eugene brags that the flight home to Europe will probably be long. He’s there to win for his family. Hey, Hosea has glasses like mine! Granted, I have narrow black rectangular frames like a million other people, but still.

As Fabio says he’s ready for tomorrow, Leah randomly interviews that she is into having a boyfriend because otherwise she’s too crazy. This is to explain why she’s all over Hosea. Fabio is like, good for them. (Kmanpat: *singing* “Long has he waited for her coming home to him…“) This little scene was in the middle of the commercials. I don’t know.

In the morning, Carla freaks out at the idea that she’ll have to learn another kitchen. I’m sure Tom’s kitchen is well-laid out. Everyone huddles under umbrellas, Richard (I think) under a busted one.

Fabio interviews that he wants to be Tom. Everyone gets their own corner in the craft kitchen. See, I told you. Jamie is unconcerned about her soup. Fabio is talking about olives, and it takes me a minute, but he’s busted out some molecular gastronomy to take olive puree and solidify the outside, so you have little bubbles of olive, with liquid centers. That’s pretty cool. And they look almost like regular olives. Hosea is seasoning his crab, and he seems fairly confident. Jill is trying to plan her time so her quiche can cook. Carla obsesses over her pie crust. Ariane asks everyone to taste her martini. All we can see of it is some kind of purple fruit in the bottom of glasses, so I’m not sure what’s going on. Richard thinks it’s too sweet, but he won’t tell her because it’s a competition. Carla admits it, though. Even though at least Carla said it finished sweet, Ariane interviews in a mousy voice that it’s what she made, so that’s what she’ll serve. But in the kitchen she threatens everyone that they’ll hear it if she goes under.

I very much like how craft looks. The Top Chef rejects hang out and network and talk shop. They kind of bug me, although I’m sure the producers picked out the most obnoxious ones so we’d think they were all bitter douche bags. But I have the feeling it’ll be like “Hell’s Kitchen” where the loudest, most irritating people get all the camera time and act up on purpose to be on TV. Tom is going to expedite back in the kitchen. He’s immediately giving orders and making sure everyone shapes up.

Appetizers are up first, obviously. Jamie: chilled sweet corn soup (Tom calls for “corn puree”) with chili oil and mint. Gail and Padma love it. Hosea: chilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing, mango, and avocado. It is slimy and muddy, or something. People can taste that the crab came out of a can. Leah: Yukon potatoes with seared scallops, chives, and green peppercorns. Someone says the scallops are sandy. Padma thinks the presentation is 80’s. Fabio: beef carpaccio with arugula salad, parmesan, balsamic vinaigrette, and “spherical olives”. Donatella loves it. Melissa: grilled avocado, white peaches, nectarines, and balsamic vinaigrette. It’s not exciting enough. Some guy thinks he could have done better. Some other people opine that it’s 75% effort.

Entrée time. Jill: ostrich quiche with rice pecan crust, asparagus, and aged cheese. This is compared to dog food with the flavor of glue. Not good. Eugene: open-faced meatloaf sandwich with ciabatta bread, gouda fondue, and portabella ragout. Bad presentation, says Donatella. It’s kind of deconstructed, but admittedly I am not a presentation person so unless it‘s really bad I have no idea about it. Stefan: pan seared halibut, micro greens, ravioli, champagne sauce, and dill oil. Everyone loves it of course. Jeff is making everyone behind because he isn‘t plating fast enough. Oops. He serves southern chicken, honey mustard, chorizo spoon bread. Mm. Alex: Pork tenderloin over potatoes with fresh vegetables, and red beet, tomato, and mushroom demi-glace. Someone says they could have gotten that at home.

Desserts! Radhika: citrus avocado mousse with chocolate wontons and chocolate milk with Kahlua. Padma reminds the other judges she has immunity, and Gail says you can tell because the mousse is just sweet guacamole. Didn’t Dale do an avocado dessert that they all swooned over? Daniel: ricotta pound cake with toasted pistachios and strawberry lemon coulis. This is well liked. Ariane: lemon meringue martini. I have to break the pattern for this one. On top is the meringue, which is toasted with a torch. Then is the lemon curd, and then on the bottom is a “cherry surprise” and some cookie crunch. It’s so sweet that Padma makes a very entertaining face and then spits it out. All I know is, if I order something with the word “martini” in it, there better be alcohol. Richard: banana bread slices with peanut putter and “bruleed” bananas in the middle, and grape gelato on the side. Interesting. Gail declares it an “after school snack” but I’m not sure if that’s bad. Carla: rustic apple tart with ginger peach tea, apple cider reduction, and cheddar cheese. Somewhere my sister is cringing about the cheese. Sadly the cheese is sad looking so no one seems to want to eat it. The tart itself is good, though. Tom also gets to taste everything while the chefs stare at him. Diner reactions range from “it was pretty good” to “horrible” to “I am angered that it sucked so bad”.

Tom joins the other judges to report on the kitchen and how many people don’t understand “New American”. Also it’s mentioned that last week the food was so much better than this week.
Tom tells everyone they did a good job setting up, but their food was crappy and they set New American cuisine back 20 years. He asks for Jamie, Hosea, Ariane, Fabio, Carla, and Jill. Carla made an excellent pastry crust, although Tom would have liked to see her work the cheese into the dish better. Maybe she could grate the cheese into the crust like on “Pushing Daisies”. Fabio is called on next, and he’s extremely defensive because he sells that dish all the time, the ingredients are so great, why is he here? See, that’s what happens when you call out the winners and losers together. Padma has to tell him they liked his dish. He recovers nicely. Gail loved the grilled lemon, but the stars were the “olives”. Jamie is also in the top 3 for her corn puree, which had texture and was flavored wonderfully. The winner, whose dish surprised all the judges, is Fabio. He celebrates in Italian. Now he’s tied with Stefan, so he’s pleased.

Time for the loser gong. Hosea wanted to make crab salad, something light and fresh, and he says he thought he was one of the winners. The diners thought it was too sweet and it wasn’t seasoned very well. All his ingredients should have worked together but they didn’t. Ariane says she does her dessert at her restaurant, and she did think it was a little sweet, and Padma lets her know she spit it out. Jill took her cool ostrich egg and made it into something boring and ordinary. Gail didn’t like the flavors, they didn’t go together. She demands to know how she’ll make it better next time. Jill flounders and finally says she got stuck on time and she’ll do better. It wasn’t the greatest answer.

Hosea was so confused that he was in the bottom 3, and the judges can’t get over it. Gail just didn’t like his dish, but she can‘t pinpoint the exact reason. Ariane’s was too sweet, and Padma spit it out, which is so bad. Gail feels that Jill’s defense of her food was the lamest response in the history of the show. Tom thinks she worked herself into a corner because she wanted to use ostrich eggs.

Tom tells the losers that they were supposed to stand out. Hosea was complacent, Ariane was just so-so which isn’t good enough, and Jill didn’t make her unique ingredient stand out enough. Jill is out. Oo. Jill’s annoyed that Ariane is still there when Padma spit out her food. Yeah, I would agree with that. Padma never spits food out. Jill says she never got to show off a dish she really loved. Once Jill leaves Ariane starts sobbing and saying she doesn’t deserve it, and Carla comforts her. Jill is going to “take some time” and figure out what she’s going to do, although she’ll always be cooking. That sounds almost like someone who is quitting being a chef because of the show. I didn’t think that ever happened.

Next time: making Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters. Awesome. Some jerry-rigged kitchen or something. And a team challenge, so expect some drama.

1 comment:

Blogging Top Chef said...

I loved the rejects as judges. Would have been nice to see Mrs. Billy Joel as a judge too.

brooke/chef biatch