Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Chef 2/11/09--"The Last Supper" summary

Previously on Top Chef: There was a lot of fish. And Eric Ripert. Stefan showed his superiority by filleting a still-moving eel, and then copying Eric Ripert really well. He’s being cast as the “villain” but he is at least competent, unlike some people, *cough*Lisa*cough*. A lot of people flailed with filleting various fish, including Lisa who gave up. And when they had to copy an Eric Ripert original dish, Carla did surprisingly well, as did Fabio, and Stefan of course. Hosea flailed, and they ragged on him for working in a seafood restaurant. Leah completely failed, putting butter with miso when there wasn’t any kind of fat at all, and she supposedly used to be head fish cook. But Jamie went home. After complaining that she wasn’t “inspired” or whatever, and then making very salty celery. Maybe Leah will go home soon.

Stefan claims that Jamie’s leaving is “rough”. You can’t slip at this point. Leah is figuring out she needs to prove herself. We get some back story: it seems like she flunked out of college and then got a job in a restaurant and liked it. Carla also tried something else first, which was to model. Strangely I can see Carla modeling. Easily.

For the Quickfire there are a million eggs and Wylie Dufresne. Heh. It’s crazy time!! After this round, they’ll take a break and then finals will be in New Orleans this year. Wylie starts talking about “proper egg cookery” and I wonder when Gail got back. Seriously, girl is picky about her eggs. So their challenge is…make something with eggs. That is all the guidance they will get. Padma calls him an egghead which is painful. One hour to cook.

I watched this video with Gordon Ramsey talking about how to make perfect scrambled eggs, but in the end he ended up with this thick custardy stuff. It was weird looking and not that appetizing. Fabio is showing his chops by making things that look like eggs. Interesting. Hosea wants to make sushi with egg instead of nori and also deep fry eggs in tempura batter. Leah calls molecular gastronomy “cutting edge” except that I think that was a while ago. Stefan is also doing like Fabio to make things that look like eggs. Carla does not do molecular gastronomy so she’s making the first thing that comes to mind which is green eggs and ham. Heh. Near the end everyone runs around like crazy people except for Carla, whose dish is too simple according to Hosea. Carla calls herself the tortoise.

Stefan: poached egg on brioche (made in a mold so it’s square) with béarnaise and ham, and also a panna cotta (in the same shape) with sweet béarnaise and mango puree. The panna cotta has the mango in the middle so when you cut it, it oozes like a poached egg. Leah: quail egg in potato wrapping with caviar, and brioche with ricotta and bacon hollandaise. I think the brioche thing is supposed to be an “egg”. Carla: green eggs and ham with green tomato salsa and jalapeno oil. Hosea: egg white roll with salmon and asparagus, egg white sticky rice with poached shrimp and avocado, and avocado and tempura fried egg. Like, a hard-boiled egg that’s been battered and fried. Fabio: quail egg and buckwheat pancake, coconut milk panna cotta with mango puree, and lychee soup and a melon yolk in an eggshell.

Wylie didn’t like Fabio’s, because it wasn’t breakfast, and he wanted actual eggs. Fabio is pissed. Hosea’s dishes didn’t flow together enough. Leah’s “fake egg” was good but the potato ravioli was heavy and greasy. See, this is why so many people can’t understand why Leah is still around. Fabio and Hosea didn’t get slammed for cooking errors, just concept errors. Anyways, Carla’s dish was playful and Stefan has strong techniques and expert preparation. Carla wins though. Ha on Stefan. Impressive that she won without using molecular gastronomy. She stuck to one thing and did it very well.

Everyone has to draw knives for their Elimination challenge. Fabio goes first and picks a knife with “Lidia Bastianich”. I think that’s spelled right but Bravo put one of their stupid chyrons for their crappy website right over the name. Seriously, I hate their website. Anyways, Fabio knows exactly who that is and says she’s the queen of Italian cuisine in this country. Hosea gets Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. Stefan picks Marcus Samuelsson, but we don’t get to find out who he is at all (I looked it up, he owns Aquavit in New York and makes Scandinavian food), Leah picks Wylie himself, and that leaves Carla with Jacques Pepin. She doesn’t freak out like I would. Padma says these are all “culinary superstars” and so they asked each one what their last meal would be. Now the contestants will recreate the “last meal” for the person they picked. Awesome! Hosea thinks these are the most important judges ever. Carla will be cooking roast squab with fresh peas, Hosea is making shrimp scampi with tomatoes Provencal, Stefan has roasted salmon and spinach, Fabio is cooking roast chicken with roasted potatoes and a leafy salad, Leah has to make eggs Benedict. I find it really interesting that each of these dishes is a simple, kind of homey dish that is not fancy at all. I’m sure everyone will fancy it up, though. And the simplest dishes are the easiest to screw up. Since Carla won the Quickfire she can switch if she wants, but she refuses because she’s honored to cook for Pepin. They have $300 and then 2 hours to cook and plate.

Commercial interlude: Oo! Perilla! They all got to go out to dinner at Perilla. Harold serves everyone and chats them up. Still cute! Bye Harold!

Carla is making peas in a pod jokes. Fabio is very very confident. Shush before you jinx it! Hosea asks for rock shrimp and Stefan comes over to joke that he wants really small shrimp. Stefan and Hosea talk about beating each other (eeww, not like that) in such a way that I wonder if one of them is going home. Leah chats with Hosea like they’re a married couple shopping or something. She doesn’t want to go traditional, which, judging by the dishes…that might backfire. Seems like everyone wants as traditional as possible.

Carla lets us know that they’re staggered by 30 minutes because of serving. Leah talks about proving herself again. Stefan says there’s nothing he could possibly screw up with salmon. Hosea is also putting a twist on stuff. Everyone seems to be wondering the same thing: do you keep things traditional, or put a spin on it?

About halfway through cooking there is a big crash and cursing. Fabio says his finger went all the way back, and cracked, “and I broke my finger”. The medic splints it all up and asks if he wants to go to the hospital. “No way, hospital? I’ll chop it off and sear it on the flattop so it doesn’t bleed anymore, and tomorrow I’ll deal with my finger.” That is hardcore. Apparently what happened is he slipped on the wet floor and fell, and dislocated it.

This week’s poll asks who you want to cook your last meal: Fabio, Carla, or Hosea? I find it interesting that they think no one will want to pick Leah or Stefan. I mean, I would rather have Hosea or Fabio, but I also know that Stefan would make a delicious meal.

Fabio is now realizing that bragging that he can do stuff with one hand tied behind his back is not such a good idea. There is a lot of cursing. “I got so many kick in my ass, that sometime, when I’m in the bathroom, I still pull shoes out of my ass.” Love it. He is not going down. Carla seems to be in the “traditional” boat because she’s confused about his creative touches. Fabio doesn’t think he’d want his last meal prepared by someone on “Top Chef”. Hee. Tom comes in and tells them not to embarrass him. The judges come in, and the lighting in the dining room is so wonky. It’s all fuzzy like there’s Vaseline on the lens. Tom tells us that yes, everyone was supposed to be creative. Oops.

Leah is up first, but she thins her hollandaise sauce before serving. Carla wants two women in the final. Her dish is slow-poached egg and bacon on challah. Also a salad of mixed greens with a vinaigrette. The white is a little undercooked, and Wylie says he wouldn’t waste time with a salad on his last day. Marcus doesn’t think she has the textures down. Of course, since they made a deal about her thinning her sauce, Jacques says it’s too thin. Toby likes runny whites so he’s OK. Wylie shakes his head in disgust, hee.

Stefan is up next, and he’s of course confident. Fabio knows that if you screw up once, you’re out. Salmon with spinach two ways (creamed and plain sautéed), roasted potatoes and dill sauce. The salmon is overcooked. Ooo. All the parts are there, and the dill sauce is good, but the two kinds of spinach are indistinguishable and taste the same. There is talk of sending it back. Ouch.

Hosea goes third. Shrimp scampi with tomatoes Provencal and beurre blanc. The tomatoes are roasted with tarragon, parsley and thyme breadcrumbs. They look fantastic. Jacques wants something more traditional, with seared tomatoes, and Toby seems to agree. It looks shaky but better than Stefan’s. I think Susan liked it OK.

Fabio tries to cut up the chicken one-handed. This results in a hack job. Whole roasted chicken (with lemon inside) with herb-roasted potatoes and caramelized cipolin onions. And a leafy salad with carrots, with heirloom tomatoes, and just some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fabio keeps his hand behind his back as he talks. Wylie loves the chicken. Everyone loves the chicken, it can go straight into a restaurant, etc.

Carla is in the weeds as usual, and she’s freaking out about the temperature. She says she stayed true to Jacques. In the dining room Jacques is saying he picked squab because it’s comfort food, so she did well. Squab with lemon thyme butter sauce, demi glace and butter tarragon peas. The breast is slightly overcooked according to Marcus, but Susan likes it. There’s some disagreement, but the plate is very simple and she took a risk. Jacques could die like this. Excellent.

Everyone comes out and Tom says they didn’t embarrass him so good job. Everyone claps and I think the contestants are pretty moved.

Fabio jokes about his hand. Padma drags everyone to Judges’ Table, therefore the Loser Gong greets all of them. Leah didn’t cook her eggs enough, and her hollandaise was so thin the egg showed through. She was worried it would be too thick. The flavor faded out too as a result. Stefan overcooked his fish, as in, cooked it all the way through. Also no one could tell the difference between creamed spinach and the regular spinach. Toby wishes the potatoes had been crispier for some texture contrast. Susan liked Hosea’s dish, but also said it wasn’t really a scampi. It sounds like it was too different to be a scampi, but not different enough for the judges. Hosea didn’t sear his tomatoes like Jacques wanted because he thought that would be ugly and he wanted things to look refined. Jacques responds that he doesn’t want to sacrifice taste either. Burn. Fabio gets high praise for his chicken, but then they tell him Wylie called his salad an airline salad. Fabio jokes that he’s going to go shoot himself, and then Tom is like, it’s OK, airlines are always looking for good chefs, and then everyone laughs but they cut to Tom smirking all, I wasn’t kidding. I don’t know if that shot of Tom smirking goes there. Carla says the breasts were overcooked before anyone can tell her that. Jacques comes to her rescue (and Tom too) by saying that some people liked it and if you just ate it without looking, it was tender and delicious. They also loved her peas, I guess because it’s not the season but she managed to find some fresh peas.

Back in the Stew Room Hosea thinks everyone got some criticism. The winner is either Fabio or Carla. If Fabio opened a restaurant, he would be known for the chicken dish, but not the salad. They debate whether or not to account for Fabio’s hack job with the chicken. I guess they’re deciding if they should let it slide because of his finger. Hosea and Stefan tease Fabio about the salad and Stefan calls him “airplane bitch”. Fabio looks ready to cut him. Carla’s peas were delicious. Tom stretches to take issue with Carla and finally decides that she could have incorporated them more into the dish. Everyone rags on Stefan’s salmon, even though the rest of the dish was OK. Leah’s eggs weren’t cooked, but Toby doesn’t mind the hollandaise as much because he’s had too many dishes with overpowering sauce. It kind of sounds like Tom is trying to get rid of Leah because he sort of only grudgingly agrees with Toby. Toby didn’t like Hosea’s dish at all. He wasn’t traditional, but they give him some credit for being creative. He didn’t win because it wasn’t super exciting, but Tom doesn’t know if he should lose for that.

50% of you would want Carla to cook your last supper. It would be nice and comforting.

The winner tonight, by unanimous vote, is Fabio. He wins a magnum of Tarlato Angel’s Peak, and a weekend trip to the winery in Napa Valley. Carla is also told she’s in. I wouldn’t have picked her in the first episode, but I can see it now. Tom gives the same criticism we’ve heard already and pretends that all 3 deserve to go to the finals. Leah gets sent home. Finally. Oh, I like this final. Leah didn’t think it would be this hard, she’s made lifelong friends, Hosea has “one more person to do this for”. Blah. She’s learned to go with her gut, and she says she’s better than the food she’s shown us. The final four celebrate in the Stew Room. Everyone says how they’re going to win. Specifically, Hosea and Fabio promise to kick Stefan’s ass.

Next week: Emeril. What appears to be a masked ball. Hootie-hoo.

1 comment:

Puds38 said...

I would love Carla the longshot to win.