Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Chef 8/26/09--"Bachelor/Ette Party" summary

Previously on Top Chef: We began, and there were a ton of people, so we had the mise en place relay early to amuse ourselves. Mike was a jerk and Preeti couldn’t shuck clams. Robin not only got out of participating in the Quickfire, but she won immunity. However, there was another prize of $15,000 which was earned by Jen. Then everyone had to cook a dish based on one of their vices, and apparently most chefs drink bourbon and smoke. Kevin won, even though his vice is procrastination, and the other Jen (the one with the tattoos) went out for making a pepper stuffed with seitan. Which was supposed to show her fiery temper but was not spicy. (click for more)

Jesse is ready to redeem herself after her dry chicken yesterday. But I did like that it was chicken in alcoholic sauce and she called it “Tipsy Chicken”. Eve wonders if she should cook for the judges or just make her food. Make your food. Bryan discusses the sibling rivalry that we haven’t seen yet.

When they get to the kitchen there is a craps table and Todd English. The Quickfire involves rolling dice to determine the number of ingredients in their dish, and oh my God I just watched a challenge, on a cooking show, involving a craps table. Yesterday. But I think this one is better. Salt, pepper, and oil are not included. Also this is labeled a “High Stakes Quickfire” worth $15,000. So I guess maybe they aren’t doing that every time? Who knows. Everyone rolls but seriously? There are 16 people and I’m not putting everyone’s number. Mattin is still wearing his neckerchief. Sweetie, take that off. We can help you do that if you like. Most people seem to get between 8 and 10 except Laurine gets a 3. 30 minutes to cook.

Michael is doing a gazpacho. I am pretty sure it’s Michael and not Bryan. He is really sunburnt. Of course he wants to do something weird and I think that involves liquid nitrogen. Bryan smarms that he is staying true to classic flavors. Kevin doesn’t seem to want to use all 10 of his ingredients. Bravo isn’t putting names to people all the time and too many of these people look the same. Jesse screws up by not browning her scallops enough.

Laurine only had 3 ingredients, and she made asparagus and leek soup with lemon. Nice. Jen made salmon with lemon, garlic, parsley, shallots, and jalapeno emulsion. They’re going to show everyone’s dishes, aren’t they. God I hate this show sometimes. Mattin made carrot soup with ginger and two other ingredients. Eve: grilled asparagus salad with raisins, pine nuts, and blue cheese. Michael, nitro gazpacho, compressed cucumbers, and toast. Kevin made asparagus and celery salad, with fennel cream and a boiled egg. Todd and Padma are non-committal for most people. Ashley: grilled lamb with apricot mostarda. Her lamb is really rare. Bryan: poached black cod with carrot, ginger puree, and daikon radish sprouts. It seems to be rare too. Jesse: scallops with chimichurri, smashed garbanzo beans and toasted garlic. I take it back, only 9 people.

Todd says Jesse’s scallops weren’t seared enough, and Eve’s blue cheese was too overpowering and her presentation was boring. Bryan used too much yuzu. On the other hand, Michael’s dish was delicious but was interesting too. Jen’s dish had strong flavors but was delicate. Kevin married his flavors and cooked his egg perfectly. Michael wins. Eh…I would have been happier if he hadn’t been all gimmicky. He also gets immunity.

Commercial interlude: I guess it’s more about how Michael won the Quickfire, but he says stupid things like “The secret ingredient is innovation.”

Elimination challenge: bachelor and bachelorette parties. Sigh. Ashley is gay so she has “personal” feelings about the challenge and triumphs gay marriage. In a nice twist, the contestants will be divided into men vs. women, with the men catering the bachelorette party and the women catering the bachelor party. Interesting. Jen is offended by the battle of the sexes. Like, seriously pissed. Karen and Greg, the couple, show up with trays of their favorite shots, so you can see the level of person you’re working with. I mean…favorite shots. The pink one is Moscow Mule? I think? Tequila, and “Golden Delicious”. They want food paired with the shots. Jesus. Ash explains the flavors: Moscow Mule is vodka and ginger and grapefruit, tequila is tequila, and a Golden Delicious is “sweet, gooey, and disgusting”. Each team needs two dishes for each shot. Karen is a pescatarian, which means she eats fish but no meat. However, she does have carnivore friends and one vegan friend who she kind of blows off. “Yeah, make my vegan friend one thing”. She also puts sriracha on everything. Yay! Greg has a sweet tooth, and likes tuna and lamb. And Japanese food.

They have 800 dollars per team. Laurine thinks people want things that are familiar on some level. Then Jen says she wants to do octopus. Well…I kind of see that drunk men would dare each other to eat octopus. It’s frozen but she buys it anyway. The boys buy orchids and Michael tells Ash that it’s his job to keep the flowers alive because he’s the gay guy. Ash kind of shrugs and says it’s true, gay men are better at keeping flowers alive. (Me: “Is that true?” Kmanpat: “Straight guys don’t check them frequently enough.”)

2 hours for cooking tonight. Mike is confident but manages not to say anything stupid about women. Jesse thinks she’s going home if they don’t win. Michael is making it his goal to beat his brother who already has a bunch of stuff. He’s making a frozen thing. Eve has shrimp with tequila shots. Probably good. Ashley is making watermelon carpaccio for the tequila. There is some mild trash talking. Hector has tofu ceviche? Can you make ceviche with tofu? I guess so. Bryan is making a “sweet and sour macaroon.” Huh? Ashley gets cocky and says she can make another dish. A bay leaf panna cotta. Oh, Ashley. You’re so dead. At the last minute Hector is still making tortillas, I think, and the girls kind of watch the boys run around.

Back at the house Ashley is still really pissed off at being forced to support the establishment. It’s weird…I mean, does she have straight friends? Would she boycott their weddings because she can’t get married? I’m all for her being able to get married, I just don’t think the producers are insensitive bastards for having a challenge involving weddings, which, let’s all remember that it’s not the first one they’ve had, AND I would like to point out, that list includes A GAY WEDDING. Preeti feels kind of ashamed that she isn’t as fired up as Ashley. See? Calm. Plus, are you going to turn down all wedding catering jobs and not let any receptions happen in your restaurant? Preeti says that’s the way the world is.

The cabanas by the pool look really swank. They have one hour to set up. I think they’re at the same pool. Happily the orchids are still alive. Frantic set up and cooking in toaster ovens. Mike is a jerk. A cocky jerk. Laurine thinks the men’s food is contrived, and the women’s menu is more familiar, but you know what? She’s serving men, who probably want things like lamb chops and stuff they recognize, and the men are serving women who would probably respond better to frou frou dishes and interesting things. I know that’s a huge generalization, but it makes sense in my head.

I’m pretty sure the two parties are on opposite sides of the same pool. Ashley says she’ll try to suck it up and cater the bachelor party, even though she’s gay and it’s hard. Mattin wishes he had time to flirt. (Kmanpat: “Oo, he can flirt with me!”) Now the girls are stripping down to bikinis (the guests, not the chefs) and Padma shows up in a dress she must have borrowed from Heidi because damn, is it short. Guest judge today is Todd English. They visit the women first. For the dishes with the Golden Delicious shots, Robin made duck mole with cocoa nibs and apricot. Laurine made Moroccan lamb chops with pomegranate pine nut relish. Yum. Next up is tequila: Eve serves shrimp and avocado ceviche with smoky tomato salsa and popcorn, and Jen made octopus ceviche with citrus vinaigrette. One thing I noticed last week, which she does again, is that Jen says “seh-VEECH” and not “seh-VEE-chay” like most people. It grates on me. The judges hate the shrimp and want more salt for the octopus. But the octopus is better than the shrimp. The mole is nice and the lamb chops seem to be a hit with the men. The judges seem good with it. Random hot guys at the party! The judges return for dessert, or at least the last dishes. Ashley has watermelon carpaccio with ricotta salata (salty cheese) and aged balsamic, with tequila. Either it‘s mush, or she cut a piece that is exactly the size of the bottom of the dish. She also has a dish with the Moscow Mule: the bay leaf panna cotta with cranberry powder and honey. Preeti and Jesse made the other Moscow Mule dishes: coriander and sesame crusted tuna with spicy eggplant crush and a wonton crisp for Preeti, and a lettuce cup with Thai chicken shitake mushrooms, shisho, and ginger beer for Jesse. Jesse feels good because she says the men are coming back for more. The lettuce cups make no sense and have too much going on. Preeti’s dish isn’t professional, and the shiso leaf is wilted. Ashley’s carpaccio is great, but the panna cotta, bane of all who appear on “Top Chef”, kills her because it’s bitter and not set. Tom wishes she had only made one dish. I have to say, Laurine’s dish is the only “familiar” one, that she was bragging about. The rest are familiar to me, but I eat a lot and I watch this show.

Men’s turn. They go in the same order, drink wise. Michael made apple sorbet and a goat cheese cookie, to go with the Golden Delicious shot. Kevin has a chilled almond soup with king crab, cucumber, and white grape. Interesting. The bride likes it and so do the judges. But they like Michael’s even more. With the tequila is arctic char with smoky caper sauce and cara cara orange from Mike, sweet and sour macaroon filled with guacamole, corn nuts and corn puree from Bryan, lobster cocktail with habanero tomato sauce from Ron, tofu lemon lime tequila ceviche and a guajillo-achiote tortilla form Hector. Hector says “ceviche” the way I do and I would believe him. The tofu is flavorful, but Ron has left off the salt off his dish and it’s not spicy at all. How sad. Mike’s dish doesn’t work with the tequila. The judges rave over Bryan and his play on chips and guac. I must say, I am intrigued. Last is the Moscow Mule. Eli serves Thai tuna tartare with puffed wild rice. Mattin has bouillabaisse with aioli crouton and petit basque cheese croquette. Ash serves an Asian chicken wing with pickled pearl onions. Gail likes the tartare but Todd thinks it’s strong. Mattin didn’t match the shot well, but the chicken wings you could eat all day. The girls look over and the guys have opened their coats, and then they jump in the pool. (Me and Kmanpat: “Woo!”) Someone makes a comment about would you rather look at girls or fat boys. I think it’s Robin. You know if a guy said that about girls he’d get nailed to the wall, so I think it’s only fair that I slam her for being sizist. Aside from the fact that along with Ron and Eli and Kevin comes Michael and Bryan and Mattin. So shush. Not all of them jumped in, though. It’s kind of unprofessional, but whatever. Everyone is feeling confident.

Commercial interlude: Mike has labeled everyone with nicknames. Let’s see how offensive they are! Kevin and Eli are “the Pickle Brothers” because they are like two pickles. Yeah. Eve is “The Ninja” because she claims to be a ninja but walks into walls. Jesse is “Pancake” for whatever reason, and Preeti is “Purdy” because he can’t say her name. Seriously. “Pre-tea”. It’s not hard. He admits everyone will get tired of him. I already am.

Ashley admits to having fun. Mike asks if they’re bringing home the gold and someone says “Like Michael Phelps, baby!” Padma collects Bryan, Hector, Eli, and Michael. Guess the guys won, then. Gail has eaten a lot of tuna tartare but Eli’s excited her. Todd loved Michael’s sorbet and it had a great concept and execution. Hector sold everyone on tofu and Tom is glad he had the balls to make it. Bryan’s macaroon had a melty texture and was a great play on chips and guacamole and a margarita. Todd tells them that the winner is Bryan. He’s glad for the redemption. Michael claims to be happy for him.

The Loser Gong welcomes Eve, Jesse, Preeti, and Ashley. Back in the Stew Room someone asks if the boys won, even though they just got back and said Bryan won. Jesse’s dish was watery, and she added ginger beer from the cocktail but not actual ginger. Tom tries to confuse her by saying she didn’t want ginger flavor, so she didn’t use ginger, but then used ginger beer. She’s starting to cry. Gail thought the flavors were muddled. Jesse admits she didn’t think it would win. Eve didn’t love the shrimp but she wanted to do something for the groom that would have flavors he liked. The salsa was strong, and she wanted the shrimp to have more flavor, so Tom is like, why didn’t you do something about it? I think that’s what the salsa was supposed to be for. Todd tells her she has to adjust when something isn’t right. Preeti thinks the dish was a “crowd pleaser” and it was fine, but Tom tells her it was overcured. I guess she marinated it overnight in olive oil and spices and somehow it cured. Padma didn’t like the shiso leaf underneath, that was wilted, and she claimed she put fresh ones out as she saw them coming. Todd was confused by the eggplant, and the whole thing didn’t come together. Ashley had the time and the money to make two dishes. They liked the watermelon, and thought she should have stopped there. She goes on about how she knows why she’s there, and it was all messed up and the top was messed up. Tom rolls his eyes. Just a little bit, but you can see it. She toasted the bay leaves, which is what made it bitter. Apparently that happens when you toast bay leaves. Then she says she used dried leaves, when there were fresh ones. You toasted dry bay leaves? Nasty.

Jesse gets back and goes for the booze. She says she’s too crazy. It looks like Ashley had one of the best dishes with the watermelon, so she seems safe. Jesse’s dish was watery, and she knew about it, but Gail rightfully asks how long they’ll let her slide just because she understands why she’s there. Eve’s dish was unbalanced and didn’t match her cocktail. It’s a classic combination and you have to know what you’re doing. Tom thinks she’s experimenting. Preeti’s dish was flat and just won’t cut it in this group. The fish got mealy, and Tom thinks she should know that “at this level”, but she didn’t have any idea her dish was bad at all until they started questioning her. In the Stew Room Preeti is telling everyone how people came back for seconds and thirds of her food.

Tom tells everyone what they did wrong, again, and I thought Ashley might have said something about how offensive this challenge was for her. I know I’m not alone on that. Eve gets sent home. She says she didn’t feel like herself in this setting, because “my combinations are more unusual”. I’m not sure what that means.

Next week: the chefs cook for 300 Air Force members, using canned foods and no pots, it looks like.


Anonymous said...

I dunno. Each new season I have a hard time getting interested with a new group, but this season it's worse then ever....blah.
Eve and her "unusual food combos"...really? That's why you went home? Watch the replay.
Michael and his "I'm So better than this"...not.
Ashley and her giant chip she carved out of her own shoulder...
Is this a cooking show or a whine-off?
What sibling rivalry?

One more week...if it doesn't improve, I have better things to do with my time.
Wish it were better...

Limecrete said...

Ashley admits to having fun. Mike asks if they’re bringing home the gold and someone says “Like Michael Phelps, baby!”

Only with more pot.

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