Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Top Chef 1/14/09--"Down on the Farm" summary

Previously on Top Chef: everyone made desserts without sugar which was kind of fun, and Radhika won that one. Then there was supposed to be a pastry challenge, which probably would have been entertaining, but because the week before had sucked so bad, apparently, the judges let them cook whatever they wanted for a blind tasting. New judge Toby Young tried to be Tony Bourdain and he kind of succeeded. He at least freaked everyone out. Jamie finally won, which, woo. Eugene and Melissa both went home, for not quite being good enough. And many people, mostly Fabio, were all “JAMIE MADE SCALLOPS AGAIN OMGWTFBBQ!!1!!!ONE!” She’s made scallops 3 times, in 14 challenges. I counted. It just happened to be twice in a row this time. (click for more)

Leah is upset to see people go home, but at least there’s Hosea. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says “I *heart* Padma”. Hee. Stefan acts like an ass and gets in his face. Whatever.

In the kitchen Hung is waiting for everyone with Padma. He’s going to be the guest judge for this Quickfire. Fabio predicts a fish tank under the cloth cover behind Padma. She talks about fresh ingredients, and then reveals…lots of cans. Stuff you or I might have lying around, but which Jeff declares as “garbage”. Incidentally, several people have written that when Jeff’s chyron comes on screen listing his restaurant, they read “The Dildo Beach Club”. Hee. (Kmanpat: “Oh yes, I certainly do. I want to hang out there. With Jeff.“) He says the display of cans was a mess. Don’t insult your audience. They cannot use any fresh ingredients. In honor of Hung, “the fastest chef in Top Chef history”, they only get 15 minutes. He says it’s plenty of time, and someone yells “for you!”

There is a melee for ingredients, with elbows flying and ingredient stealing. Radhika is all, I would never use cans like a housewife. Jamie doesn’t do canned food. Stefan can’t figure out how to open cans so he’s hacking one with a knife. Sigh. He wants Spam from Hosea, who says that he doesn’t want to give him any because “his boyfriend Fabio” wouldn’t give him artichokes, but eventually he is a nice guy. Why would you talk about how you are so much better than everyone and then ask them for favors?

Leah: waffles with strawberries and sausage. And Cool Whip. She fried...something. Stefan: baked bean and Spam soup, with grilled cheese and Spam sandwiches. He rinsed his ingredients a little. Fabio: mac and cheese with roasted artichokes and chili pepper. That sounds like it might be good. Radhika: spicy red bean dip and grilled bread. Hosea: sweet pea soup with Spam, onion rings, pork rinds, and hearts of palm. Jeff: deep fried baby conch with coconut sauce, and a pina colada. Jamie: bruschetta with garbanzo beans, marinated artichokes, and smoked mussel. Hung looks ill. Ariane: open faced turkey Spam sandwich. With gravy and pineapple-cranberry chutney. It looks horrid. Hung just says “interesting” which freaks her out. Carla: Asian salmon cake with fried green beans and lemongrass-ginger mayo. That also sounds pretty good but I’ve had canned salmon and it’s pretty inferior to even frozen salmon.

Leah’s waffles were too crunchy, Radhika’s bean dip was just a snack, and Jamie’s dish was too simple (he thought she just tossed things together). Hosea’s soup was great with the salty Spam, Stefan made something he’d eat at 3am, and Jeff used his time wisely. The winner is Stefan. Hosea curses and regrets giving Stefan ingredients. I guess I can see eating grilled cheese and Spam at 3am.

The Elimination challenge brings the knife block where people draw various proteins. Sort of. Fabio is first and it‘s labeled “pig“ and not “pork“, which should be worrisome. The other choices are “chicken” and “lamb”. Each team has to make a seasonal meal with their protein. Lunch for 16, including dessert, served family style. Ariane worries that she’s on a team with Hosea and Leah, who already are hooking up. Jamie is stuck with Stefan so she’s irritated. No one mentions that there’s no twist yet and that can’t be good.

Bravo is already advertising Restaurant Wars, showing next week.

Hosea, Ariane, and Leah are “Team Lamb” and are working well together, except that Hosea says that he and Leah are on the same page with their styles. He does realize that Ariane won a challenge for cooking lamb, though, so he’s good with letting her do her thing. For a minute it sounded like they would exclude her. “Team Chicken”, which is Stefan, Jamie, and Carla, are the designated drama team. Stefan wants to roast a chicken, and Jamie doesn’t think they can just do that, but I think they can. A perfectly roasted chicken can and will win challenges. Stefan continues about what he wants to cook and Jamie has to remind him that it’s not all about him. He giggles in confessional about how pissed she is. Carla declares she can’t create in that kind of environment, so she seems to have no ideas. “Team Pig”, Fabio, Jeff, and Radhika, are trying to go for simple and not having anyone overshadow the other two with their style. Radhika says she’s making bread pudding, but it’s cut in an ominous way.

11pm. Jamie comes to bitch to Fabio about Stefan. And she refers to Stefan as "your boyfriend". Are Fabio and Stefan hanging out a lot? Are they flirting or something? (Kmanpat: "And why don't we get to see that?!") Apparently they’d left a menu somewhere and she and Carla had some ideas. She goes to Stefan and points out (rightly) that he has immunity so he should be quiet. Somehow she calls him a douche bag, he says she can’t cook…something like that. Jamie storms off in a huff and says he should just do whatever then. Stefan is unfazed. That scene was pointless except for some good promo clips.

5am. Heh. Hosea is worried about the seasonality of their dishes, while Fabio worries that the sun isn’t up yet. Ariane says no one is listening to her, but it’s early so she doesn’t care that much. Everyone gets in the car, and eventually they realize that they’re out in the country. Damn, that took them FOREVER. They end up at a restaurant called Stone Barns, owned by Dan Barber. Jamie claims that this is totally the food she does. Dan introduces them to the head farmers, and lets them know that they’ll be shopping at the farm. Awesome. Jeff is realizing that he may have to rejigger the menu. Lunch is for the farmers and chefs. Hosea is thrilled to have the freshest food possible. Fabio mentions that too.

Jeff is picking green tomatoes to fry. He thinks no one else will do anything with green tomatoes, which I’m sure will kick him in the ass. Everyone exclaims about how the tomatoes smell so good. No one really freaks out about meeting farm animals, that might possibly become lunch. They don’t have to butcher anything, which is probably good.

Commercials interlude: Stefan talking about being the only cock around. I can’t improve on that statement.

Whole animals are waiting in the kitchen, along with a very large amount of produce. Radhika can’t do her bread pudding. I knew that was ominous editing. Team Pork (they’ve renamed themselves) reveals their menu. It looks pretty good, lots of pork, and crème brulee for dessert. I’ll go over it all later. Jamie says they’ve finally compromised to let everyone have sort of what they want. Ariane mentions working with “baby lamb” which is kind of redundant. Leah worries that she’s only doing a salad and dessert and that’s not enough. Fabio interviews that Radhika took almost an hour to shuck and grill 10 cobs of corn. Wow…that’s a long time.

Tom time! They’re making roulades from the leg meat. Carla diplomatically says she is working with “strong personalities” and they just let Stefan be the leader. Tom asks if he knows that. Um, duh. Jeff describes his team’s dishes without mentioning Radhika at all. Tom tells us that he would have liked to see the lamb remain on the bone, that it’s pretty hot outside for soup (I’m pretty sure that’s Jamie’s idea?), and hopefully this crème brulee will be better than the last one. Ariane is finally getting the lamb set up, but she can’t tie a roast, so Leah does it. She admits she doesn’t do the best job, because they’re behind. The pork loin is behind too. Ariane declares the lamb perfect, and with 4 minutes to spare so is the pork.

Team Lamb: lamb two ways. Ugh, a duo. The loin is roasted, and the other way is the roulade with an herb rub, also roasted. The other dishes are rosemary and garlic roasted new potatoes, and heirloom tomato salad with fennel, basil, and onion. No mention of dessert. Team Pork: sausage, zucchini, and eggplant stuffed ravioli with pesto, fried green tomatoes with tomato jam, seared pork loin, and grilled corn salad with bacon. Team Chicken: chicken cutlet with mizuna (think Japanese mustard greens), corn, onion, and tomato salad, lemon herb roasted chicken with tomato salad (for some reason, in cube form), and chicken ravioli soup with Swiss chard.

Padma doesn’t see the point of chicken soup. However it’s excellent. Everyone likes both Stefan and Jamie’s chicken. The lamb is a mess, mostly due to Ariane’s butchering job and heavy herb rub. The potatoes were nice but there’s Swiss chard somewhere and Tom wanted stems. Someone says it’s slightly out of season. Tom again brings up honoring your ingredients like last week. The sausage ravioli has too much pesto, and you can’t taste anything. The loin should have had the fat left on, or something? I’m afraid I don’t know enough about butchering to understand. Padma thinks the star is the fried green tomato.

Desserts come out. Team Chicken serves a nectarine and strawberry tartlet with thyme, cream and lemon zest. Team Pork: vanilla and lavender scented crème brulee with fresh berries. Team Lamb: summer berry trifle with Grand Marnier lemon pound cake and vanilla cream. Out of those 3 the trifle sounds the best. Carla’s tart has a great crust and a great use of lemon. The crème brulee is too sweet and the crust is thick. It’s rich for a hot day but they did serve small portions. The trifle is somehow unappealing to look at. I’m not sure, but I think the judges got individual servings of the dishes, so instead of a giant dish of trifle, they got rounds of cake with cream and berries.

Padma calls out Team Chicken. I guess they won. They loved Carla’s dessert. Tom knew that Stefan wanted something heavy, while Jamie didn’t agree, but when he asks how they solved that problem Carla jumps in and declares herself mediator and implies that she made them agree. Well, that was fun. Jamie and Stefan don‘t really say much. All 3 of them are winners. Interesting. They don’t win anything though. And let me say a side note about that. Remember the first episode when someone said they would learn about a cuisine from a cookbook and Tom looked disgusted? Then why does everyone keep winning cookbooks? I just realized that like, last week.

Everyone else has to face the Loser Gong. Jeff says he made the choice to take the fat off the pork loin, but that’s the best part of the animal and it’s tasty. Fabio was planning to make cherry tomato sauce for the ravioli, but there weren’t any when they got to the farm, and he claims it’s a light pesto but they all call him on that. Radhika claims the corn salad and the crème brulee (with help from Jeff on both). Tom asks her what she’d do with one of her cooks who did as little as she did, and she insists she never stopped moving. Ariane tells the judges they didn’t think that the lamb would be tender enough unless they took it off the bone and tenderized it. How do you make lamb tough? I mean…isn’t lamb always tender? Dan brings up my very point. Padma asks why Ariane was the only one to touch the lamb, and there’s an uncomfortable pause while Hosea and Leah try to figure out what to say. Leah finally says that they helped her, and there weren’t that many components to their dishes so they didn’t double up. I think what she’s trying to say is that they served so few dishes that everyone took one and did their own thing, instead of having multiple dishes that everyone does part of. Tom lets them know that the butchering was amateurish and the tying of the roulades was crappy too, and Ariane does admit that she can’t do that, and Leah helped her tie and Hosea helped her tenderize. Leah insists she knows what she is doing. Hosea also claims he can break down lamb, so Tom feels he should have jumped in, instead of letting Ariane screw it up. It’s interesting that when Tom wanted to know why no one helped Ariane with the lamb, Hosea and Leah didn’t say anything about helping her tie or anything. It seems a little disingenuous.

Dan says something about the work farmers put it, but it is immediately pushed out of my head by Toby’s analogy about wanting to have unprotected sex with the pork. I wonder how long it took him to come up with that one? Anyways, he thought it sucked. Dan is willing to ignore that because the lamb was worse. Tom wonders if Radhika should go home for pretty much doing nothing. On the other hand, if Ariane can’t butcher a leg of lamb, why is she on this show? In the Stew Room, Leah whispers behind her hand to Hosea while Ariane appears to stare at them and sulk. Padma felt sorry for her though, because she at least jumped in. Toby feels sorry for her because she can’t cook, and Padma defends her by saying she can, just not today. Toby reminds them all that they are only supposed to judge on tonight. Tom’s explained that before, that if you go to a restaurant and the food sucks, you’re not likely to go back at all, so the chefs should only be judged on that week’s challenge. Ariane insists she’s a team player and she did the best she could. Leah didn’t do a lot and she seemed OK with Ariane’s failure. And Leah was also very slow to own up to the crappy tying job.

Radhika didn’t contribute enough, Fabio’s pesto overwhelmed everything, Jeff removed too much fat. However, the fried green tomatoes were so good they saved the team. Leah wanted more to do, but she didn’t fight for the dishes she wanted to serve, Ariane put herself in a position that needed skills she knew she didn’t have, Hosea let Ariane flounder and should have helped out. Ariane is out. Padma makes sure to tell her it’s been a pleasure. Ariane says that Leah isn’t a team player and Hosea is a wimp, and she doesn’t think she should have gone home. She still feels good, and that she can handle herself.

Next week: Restaurant Wars. Everyone freaks out. Leah and Hosea snuggle a lot, although they both are dating people. At least Hosea seems like he might try to behave. Leah is feeling him up.

1 comment:

David Dust said...

I think Leah needs to control her raging hormones...

CLICK HERE for David Dust's Top Chef recap.