Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Top Chef 9/16/09--"Camping" summary

Previously on Top Chef: Everyone has to make escargot and once that’s done, Jesse ends up going home. Yes, right after the Quickfire. Then the remaining chefs cooked French food for legends of French cuisine including Joel Robuchon. Well, except for Kevin, who won the Quickfire so he got to eat dinner with the chefs instead. Technically it was a team challenge, but there wasn’t a lot of drama about that except for when Mattin threw Ashley under the bus by lying. Flat out lying. It didn’t matter because Hector was the one who went home. Bryan won, so essentially nothing new. One of the brothers won and Mike tagged along and tried to be as awesome as them. (click for more)

Michael tries to trash talk about everyone, mostly about how Robin hasn’t done anything exciting. Of course he thinks he’s awesome. Mattin says he’s never been in the bottom before. Take that as you will. (Kmanpat: “He shouldn’t be used to being on top. I don’t think a lot of people would let him.”) He says he’s going to stick to his style, which is kind of alarming, editing-wise. Ashley’s brother just had a baby so she gets a phone call to talk to him about it. She says she competed with her brothers all the time.

Tim Love greets the contestants as they enter for the Quickfire. Padma then gets a crappy voiceover about how they are “rewarding” the fans by using an ingredient that was chosen in one of their episode polls. You know, the ones they ask every show and you’re supposed to text in your vote. Apparently last year the viewers chose “cactus”, with 57% of the votes. Tim tells them to be careful. Mattin didn’t even think you could cook with cactus. Someone makes Padma say “make something succulent with these succulents.” GOD. They have 45 minutes. And it’s a high stakes Quickfire, with no immunity afterwards. They’ve all been high stakes. The one without the money involved an elimination.

Mike of course knows all about cactus, which is like olives? Something about raw and cooked? I don’t know. Mattin is worried. Robin slips. Laurine (who? exactly) is going to be true to herself. Ash looks in vain for a tortilla press. Ron says in Haiti the cactus is poisonous.

Laurine: cactus salsa with achiote glazed pork chop. Kevin: pork tenderloin with cactus marmalade. Which is kind of slimy. Oops. Michael: avocado roll with cactus coconut ceviche and cactus coulis. Ashley: cactus jelly donuts with orange crème anglaise. Mike: cactus and tuna ceviche with pipian (Mexican sauce with pumpkin seeds). Ron: chipotle swordfish with mango and papaya crab salad. There is cactus sauce. Bryan: halibut and cactus ceviche with cactus tempura. Ash: cactus “grilled cheese” with tortillas and diced cactus inside. Jen: warm chorizo and cactus salad with queso fresco. Mattin: breaded cactus, halibut with tequila pickled cactus, and red cactus puree.

Ash didn’t have any cactus flavor, Michael was a train wreck, and Ron’s fish was dry and the crab tasted rancid. However, Laurine had nice flavors, Mike prepared the cactus well, and Mattin showcased the cactus itself. Interesting. The winner is Mike. Well, at least he doesn’t get immunity. Michael says he’d rather be able to make good food than take the slime out of cactus anyway. Heh.

Elimination challenge: prepare a high-end lunch for two dozen cowboys and Chef Love. Outdoors. They can make whatever they want, but it must be high end. In order for them to understand where they’ll be cooking, they’re all going to the ranch to sleep over. Woo, sleepover! They’ll only have 75 minutes to prep and cook. Wow, that’s really short.

They’ll have $150 to spend on food. Ashley knows they’ll probably have a grill and not much else. Laurine thinks her catering skills will help her. Michael is making something cool and refreshing. After shopping they drive the contestants out to the middle of nowhere and ditch them by some teepees and chuck wagons. Ha! Everyone gets a firepit, some cast iron, and not much else. Michael snots that it’s not good for the food. Robin is all about the camping. As is Mattin. And Ashley. Hee, they have an outhouse. Eli doesn’t like camping but then he goes really too far and says camping is “asinine” and complains that this will cause his girlfriend to make him go camping with her later. Asinine? Ron busts a tree to make a little fence to keep snakes out of his and Ash’s tent. Aww, the brothers are bunking together! Brotherly love! Later around the campfire Mike and Ash argue about whether or not there are animals in the desert. Ash claims to have been an animal psychologist. When they go to bed jokes are made about the Blair Witch project.

Today’s poll is: Who would you want as a tent mate? 1. Ashley; 2. Mattin; or 3. The Voltaggio brothers? Ooo…tough choice. (Kmanpat: “3! Two for the price of one, baby! Plus, no scarf.” Me: “I don’t think he sleeps in the scarf. I will pick Mattin though.”)

It’s pretty hot today. Eli claims it to be equivalent to the surface of Venus, but I am pretty sure Venus is far more humid. Everyone is crammed in this shelter all crowded. Ashley is going to cover her grill with cast iron to try to regulate temperature. Did they already start the fires? Because I don’t think you can even get the coals you want in an hour and 15 minutes, let alone cook anything. Mattin is making ceviche. Hopefully it won’t spoil. Ron’s making ceviche too. And drinks. He curses at the coconuts. Jen is so confused. Michael is making dashi. He says you don’t change your menu for the customers; you make your food. Laurine is already grilling. Robin is making salad. Yeah. Bryan is making dandelions, which I feel are always really bitter. There’s so much running around it looks like no one will be done on time.

I think there is some last minute cooking? Maybe so things are fresh? Ash thinks he could be a rancher because he likes walking around lassoing things. Hee. He jokes that if they find sand they’ll get their money back.

Mike: pork gyro with apple and fennel tzatziki. He pronounces it “JAI-ro” and not “YEAR-o” the way I usually hear it. I thought the second is the proper way? Figures. Eli: tuna sandwich with sun-dried tomato mayo and radish salad. It seems the tuna is seared. Laurine: sautéed arctic char with tomatillo salsa, corn salsa, and a grilled potato. It looks good. No one is excited by Mike’s food but it’s cooked well. They like Laurine’s salsa. Eli’s food wasn’t very flavorful and one rancher says the bread was hard.

Ash: grilled chicken paillard (thin cutlet) with corn succotash. Mattin: ceviche 3-way; salmon with apple, spicy tuna, and cod with corn. Robin: grilled romaine salad with drunken prawns and spicy chicken sausage. Mattin…oh Mattin. That’s whose food is so bad Tom throws it in the dirt. It’s still too raw. Sad face. Robin’s shrimp is terrible too. She voiceovers that she finally tasted her prawns after she gave them to the judges and she knows they were bad. Ash’s dish is full of bacon grease.

Bryan: roasted pork loin, corn polenta, dandelion greens, and glazed rutabaga. Jen: snapper with duck confit, daikon, carrots, and tomato water salad. Ashley: seared halibut with avocado mousse, bacon, tomato, and braised romaine. Bryan’s dish is appropriate and well cooked. It does look tasty. Jen’s slaw is great and the fish is well cooked which is impressive. Ashley’s dish really tastes like a club sandwich.

Ron: coconut, lime, mango, and tuna ceviche with a Haitian coconut mojito. It looks like both parts are served in coconut halves. Kevin: roasted duck breast with mole and tequila marinated watermelon. Michael: dashi with miso and mirin cured black cod, and watermelon. Ron’s ceviche is a little sweet but it’s the best they’ve had today. The cocktail sucks hard, though. Michael’s dashi is wonderful and unexpected. Kevin plated his food beautifully and it’s cooked very well.

Commercial interlude: Kevin kicks everyone’s ass at horseshoes.

Mike claims that he could smell bad seafood as he was cooking, and Ashley backs him up, saying she smelled it as soon as she opened the cooler. Robin looks ill. The top this week are Laurine, Ashley, Michael, and Bryan. Ashley cooked the fish well outdoors. Bryan was focused and it was restaurant quality, and yet perfect for outdoors. Laurine’s dish was simple but it shone. Michael’s dish was unexpected. Tim Love says that Bryan is the winner. Yawn.

The Loser Gong greets Robin, Ron, and Mattin. Robin starts off by saying that she thought of barbecue, and prawns and sausages, and playing off steak? Tim calls her on it and says that she isn’t making sense. Also her shrimp were off. She tells the judges that she’s not proud of her dish. Mattin was very happy with his dish and is surprised to be there. Some of his cod was undercooked, and Tim claims to have gotten sick. Ron’s ceviche was good but the sauce was poor and his drink was super terrible. Tom tells him that if he had stopped at the ceviche he wouldn’t be in the bottom.

Ron’s ceviche was edible, but his drink and presentation were lacking. Robin’s dish was worse, because she didn’t understand how to put her components together, and she didn’t fix it either. On the other hand, Mattin didn’t understand why he was there and he thought his dish was great.

Ah, Bravo. 72% of voters want to have both Voltaggio brothers as tent mates. And yet that doesn’t surprise me. Because I know your audience.

Tom slams everyone again, but says nothing new, and then they tell Mattin to go. L He is going to keep cooking and so forth. He’s upset. Aww. Come here and let me make it better.

Next week: freaking Penn and Teller. Eli’s pressure cooker explodes. Toby is here. Padma says she’s had bull testicles and Penn says “I’ll bet” which gives me hope for a Tony Bourdain-style episode and lots of snark.


Anonymous said...

great recap. :) looking forward to next week. except for toby (yuck)

Anonymous said...

and where is that fantastic Tony Bourdain been?