Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Top Chef 2/18/09--"Finale pt. 1" summary

Previously on Top Chef: everyone made eggs for Wylie Dufresne. Apparently people who didn’t use enough eggs got in trouble for that, but then Carla won the Quickfire by making green eggs and ham. I don’t know. Then after that everyone made food for very famous chefs, that for some reason were on a cable reality show. Each chef was asked what his or her “last supper” would be, and that was the task. Fabio dislocated his pinky finger but still managed to win with roast chicken. Stefan overcooked his salmon, but still squeaked by. Hosea tried to get creative with shrimp scampi, but apparently didn’t get creative enough. His chef liked her last meal, though, so she was fine. Carla did almost as well as Fabio, but it was Leah who went home. Partially for her hollandaise, which she made just fine during the Quickfire, so who knows what happened. (click for more)

We start out in New Orleans, so I guess you don’t get to see anyone say goodbye to each other. Hosea shows up first…he’s been studying Cajun cooking and whatnot. Fabio grabs his bag, and he’s sporting both an almost-Mohawk and a bright pink scarf. Does it get cold enough in New Orleans for scarves? Carla dances to a band. Of course, because she is the crazy one. In her interview she has her hair pulled back and I think she should wear her hair back like that all the time. Stefan talks about Team Euro and how he isn’t a loser. As they drive through New Orleans Carla tells about how New Orleans is full of culture and food. Stefan has a suitcase full of gumbo.


The van drops them off at Houmas House plantation. Emeril Lagasse is there. My sister is now boycotting this show forever, so great is her hatred for Emeril. I like him slightly better than Rocco, but not by much. (Kmanpat: “Rocco is cuter.”) Behind Emeril, Padma, and Tom there are only 3 tables. Padma and Emeril talk for a little bit about food and now it is time for the Quickfire. Padma tells them they can relax and enjoy some Southern hospitality. Everyone looks scared out of their wits. “Because you won’t be competing.” Jigga-wha? However, these three chefs will: Jamie, Jeff and Leah. What is going on? Stefan has a similar reaction. Those three don’t know what’s going on either. Tom starts to say how it’s been a close season, and I just figured it out. It’s the Outcast challenge. Winner gets to return to competition. Lame. This isn’t like “Survivor” where a good player can go out because they are too good. Jamie claims to have known what was up. Fabio agrees with me, and Hosea isn’t thrilled about Leah either. Winner of the Quickfire gets to join the elimination challenge. This is BS. The only finalist who isn’t pissed is Carla. At least, she doesn’t act pissed.

One hour to create a dish with crawfish. Leah’s never used crawfish. Dildo Beach Club says something. I don’t really care. I didn’t like it when “Project Runway” did it with Angela and Crazy Vincent, and I don’t like it now. They don’t even account for past dishes during judgment! How can you give people a second chance?

Leah: crawfish soup with andouille sausage. During cooking she claimed to be making a gumbo, but I guess she was clever enough not to call it that. Jeff: crawfish and grits with andouille and beer. Jamie: corn cake, greens, poached egg with tasso, andouille and crawfish cream sauce. Tasso is a type of ham. She also put the crawfish head on the plate, which means non-edible garnish. Points off.

Emeril says that everyone is a winner, but the person returning is Jeff. Well, at least it’s not Leah. Padma says that in order to make it to the finale, he has to win. At least that’s fairly unlikely. Tonight they get to go to the hotel and hang out. Oh, and also Jeff win’s Emeril’s new book. Woo. Dinner will be at Delmonico, one of Emeril’s restaurants. The hotel is swank, of course, and everyone gets dressed up and has a nice dinner. Lots of interviews about how important winning will be for everyone. Even Carla is pretty calm. Hosea and Jeff get into a discussion about the fish, where Hosea tries to validate his job in a seafood restaurant by knowing more than Jeff. Then Stefan jumps in to say more stuff, so Hosea makes a face and complains about how Stefan bugs him. Nothing worse than trying to be the smart one and having someone else butt in to be smarter than you. I should know. Stefan’s T-Shirt in confessional says “Nothing Tips Like a Cow.” Hee. He promises a slaughter.

In the morning everyone comes to a warehouse that has signs about Mardi Gras, and inside are giant kick-ass floats. Tomorrow, the Krewe of Orpheus will host their annual masquerade ball at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Everyone has to make two dishes and one cocktail for about 100 people. One dish must be Creole. They’ll get 5 hours to prep and cook, and then 1 hour to set up before the party. Prep will be at Delmonico, and Emeril says his kitchen is fully stocked, so are they not going shopping? Padma tells Jeff that if he wins, two chefs will be eliminated, so there will be a final 3. Then a car rolls up. Winner gets the car. Really? A car? Car curse anyone?

Commercial interlude. Stefan tells everyone about Fabio in a blond wig and a thong for Halloween. Apparently Fabio is always a woman for Halloween. He says you have to have balls to dress as a woman, and Hosea’s response is “not too big or they won’t fit in the thong.” Hee.

No one goes shopping, they just raid Emeril’s walk-in. Hosea is making duck, andouille, and chicken gumbo, and also pecan-crusted catfish. His drink is a hurricane with Grand Marnier and rum. Tasty. Carla’s dishes are oyster stew, shrimp and andouille beignet, and a non-alcoholic cranberry spritzer. Oh Carla. Non-alcoholic? Although, the beignets sound great. Kmanpat and I went to the “International” Horseradish Festival, and there was one booth selling horseradish products and T-shirts and stuff. One booth selling Bloody Marys. And only one other booth with food that had horseradish: beignets with horseradish cream. So of course, because I watch this show, I am imagining light fried beignets with creamy horseradish sauce. Oh no, I get cold dough that was fried this morning with horseradish cream cheese. It was sad. Anyways, where was I? Oh yes. Carla has to shuck all her oysters. Stefan’s menu: duck and rabbit gumbo with grits (wait, that sounds better than the beignets), an apple beignet, and a black cherry and rum cocktail. Jeff is making sausage from scratch to go with a fried oyster, and also a crawfish pot de crème (like a custard-y quiche-y thing, I think), and a cucumber mojito. Hosea and Jeff tell Fabio that this would have been the first season without a Mohawk but he screwed it up. Really? Because there have been a lot of fauxhawks but the only real Mohawk I’ve seen was on “Hell’s Kitchen”. Fabio’s menu is very extensive: sausage and rabbit maque choux (almost like succotash) with grits, crawfish and crab stew with caserecci pasta, muffuletta bread, and a bell pepper martini. Hosea talks about how to make a roux, and that Stefan also needs to make a roux but he’s taking a smoke break and screwing around.

Tom time! Fabio tells him he studied some flavors and dishes. Jeff is honored to be back in it. Stefan is going to fry his beignets onsite. Hosea is kind of questioning himself but he doesn’t tell Tom. Carla is trying to get the oysters open but she’s chipping shells, I think. Tom makes comments about everyone, including that Carla could steam her oysters and they’d pop right open.

Lots of scrambling and running around. Everyone has to pack up their coolers and find their tools. Carla still hasn’t shucked all her oysters. Fantastic.

Everyone gets ready for catering. There are tall tables, but no chairs, so I’m wondering how some of these dishes are going to be eaten. Gumbo isn’t exactly something you can eat and walk with. Everyone gets a bartender to serve drinks. Stefan needs another smoke break. Padma appears, with the other judges, masked. That way you don’t know Gail’s back until Padma says so. Hi Gail! Yay! And Emeril, so no more Toby.

Jeff borrows cream from Carla, and Hosea begs utensils because apparently he didn’t bring anything to serve with? Carla announces in a loud voice that everyone is borrowing stuff from her but no one has shucked any oysters. Hee.

Carla likens the ball to the whole Mardi Gras thing except you don’t have to flash anyone. Cut to Fabio who says all the masks reminded him of a porno. I don’t know either. Masks are removed to eat, apparently. For some. Jeff interviews that he is too busy to be charming. He’s up first. The fried oyster has arugula. The mojitos are really green, but that is the extent of the judges’ comments. Stefan is up next. The grits/gumbo thing doesn’t look as good as I pictured it. It’s in this little square cup. Eh. The beignets come with pecan brittle. The roux isn’t dark enough for natives, but the flavor is there. Fabio can’t afford to be stressed. He’s labeled his drink a “trinitini”. Bell pepper, lime juice, grapefruit, and black rum. That sounds pretty good. The pasta is homemade. The bread is toasted so that’s probably excellent. The maque choux isn’t spicy at all, which is bad. Carla warns people her cranberry lime spritzer has no booze. Since people have seen the show a little bit, she’s getting hootie-hoo’s from random partygoers. Her beignets have Creole aioli, and the stew looks really good. The judges rave and rave about her food. Awesome. Hosea thinks his gumbo is the most authentic. However, it contains a cornbread muffin that is pretty dark and not very appetizing. The catfish has roasted sweet potatoes, bacon, and Tabasco beurre blanc. The natives like the gumbo, as does Emeril. The chefs get a ton of beads and masks from everyone. Fabio flirts around and is charming. He’s even got masks on his arms. Stefan says Hosea’s gumbo was nasty. Right.

Judges’ table. They start with Jeff, making sure to mention that he has to win. His cocktail was the favorite, and the texture of his pot de crème was perfect. Also they praise him for making his own sausage and he manages to get a dig in at Stefan. Fabio’s dishes had his stamp on them--and then my signal cut out. So I had to wait until the repeat was almost over to try to pick up almost all the judging parts. Gail says something about wanting to taste everything individually. Padma also wanted more spice in the pasta. His drink smelled better than it tasted and it was sweet. It’s not looking good. Stefan’s grits were fantastic but the gumbo wasn’t as dark as it could have been. Also his beignet wasn’t hot enough. Tom nails him for being overconfident. Carla starts to say she thought the stew was heavy on the bay leaves, but Tom stops her. Emeril was hesitant about the mocktail but it was refreshing. Her beignets were piping hot and tasty. Hosea complains that they visited him at the end of the night and he almost ran out of food. They really liked his roux, and the fish and all the sides came together.

Gail is impressed in general with everyone’s dishes. Everyone talks about Jeff’s oyster dish and the idea behind it. In Tom’s blog he says that the real reason Jeff got in trouble was left out of the show. He used sterno to keep his oysters warm, so then they tasted like burning sterno. Tom thinks he’s in the top 3 but maybe not the winner. Carla’s dishes were home runs. The judges can’t praise her enough. Hosea’s fish wasn’t dried out, and he got praise for that and for really authentic gumbo. Stefan’s gumbo wasn’t that bad, but his cocktail was really sweet. Gail points out that his food wasn’t soulful, and he was cocky. Fabio’s moque choux would have been better over a crouton, and his pasta lacked layers of flavor. I think he also got in trouble for not making anything spicy enough. However, baking his own bread was gutsy. Tom wishes he would have rimmed the glasses with spices. Then he mentions that they’ll either lose Stefan or Fabio, both strong chefs, “and maybe both”, even though we all know that won’t happen.

Padma says that there was a clear winner, and that winner is Carla. Jeff looks sad. Padma dismisses him, and then Tom tells Hosea he’s safe. I cut back in the first time right at this point. Stefan gets slammed for being cocky, and Fabio didn’t have perfectly layered flavors. Fabio is out. Man. Who will give me stupid sound clips? He tells Stefan he’ll kick his ass if he doesn’t win. Fabio is glad he at least beat most people. Also he is sure Stefan will win. He won’t be average.

Next week: three course meal and “helpers”. Hosea and Stefan get in a fight. There is some twist. Etc.

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