Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top Chef 7/14/10--"Farm Policy"

Previously on “Top Chef”: Everyone had to make baby food, and I know that they couldn’t have actual babies on set because of allergies or whatnot, but I still think that would have been really cool. As it was, no one mentioned that Angelo included honey in his dish which you can’t feed to babies, but it didn’t matter because Tamesha and Kenny won. Then everyone had to pair up to make dishes for the Hilton, that I think were supposed to be designed for room service or possibly a to-go type thing. There was a weird elimination concept, which resulted in Andrea and Kelly cooking mediocre food twice and then winning the challenge. Kenny and Kevin made short ribs, which didn’t have enough sauce, and Arnold and Lynne made mussels with squid ink pasta, which was raw. The pasta, not the mussels. In the end both Arnold and Lynne went home, both for raw pasta and because they were supposed to make food that would appeal to hotel guests. The judges felt that short ribs would be easier to sell than squid ink pasta. (click for more)

Kenny says it’s somber in the house now because now everyone has relationships with people. So it’s hard when they leave. Angelo is telling Tamesha to take action and let others chase her. She says he is easy to talk to and she looks up to him. Angelo says she’s the only one he likes to hang out with, but that he also is attracted to her because he sees himself in her. Isn’t he married with a baby? He wants to “extract” her “inner passion”. He whispers to her, but it’s only about keeping focus and not worrying about what others are doing. Like, say, Kenny. Kelly thinks she should watch out because somehow helping Tamesha is part of Angelo’s grand strategy. Meanwhile Ed is hanging out with Tiffany. They’re having a good time anyway.
Many many crabs greet the contestants today. Live blue crabs. Hee. Padma introduces Patrick O’Connell, who has many awards and Kevin cooked for him at Bocuse d’Or. Woah. Kevin cooked in the Bocuse d’Or? My opinion of him just jumped way up. That is hardcore. Padma says “We’ve got crabs”. Angelo then says “Well, I had crabs. So…just brought back bad memories.” Thanks for sharing. Padma just says “your time starts now” and they’re off.

1 hour to cook. Tim knows to grab tongs. Ed’s baking his live crabs in the oven. Angelo is making soup and commenting on Ed. Andrea is trying to get the meat out of these crabs, which are pretty small. Tamesha was allergic at one point so she doesn’t know how to pick crab meat. Angelo helps her. Kenny says he’s got three dishes so he is a beast. Kevin wants to do chowder and he’s talking about his family so that’s not the best sign. Amanda seems amused that everyone is so busy. Tim feels good with simple flavors.

Tiffany: hot and sour crab soup, arbor chilies, spaghetti leeks. I guess, leeks cut lengthwise like pasta. Ed: jumbo lump crab with Thai basil, mango, and cucumber salad. Angelo: blue crab broth infused with lemongrass and ginger. Tim: beer steamed crabs with avocado, passion fruit, and heirloom vinaigrette. He picked the crabs and put the meat in a ring mold. I heard those were going out of style? Maybe? *shrugs* Stephen: crab salad in sweet bell peppers, brandy basil dressing. Tamesha: crab chowder with lemongrass, ginger, cardamom, and coconut milk. Sounds like Angelo’s. Amanda: crab salad with sauterne, ginger, and juniper gelee. Sauterne is a sweet white dessert wine. And my spell-check likes it. Weird. Kevin: blue crab chowder with potato, celery and espelette oil, and frozen bacon crumble. Andrea: warm crab salad, citrus gastrique, Mexican red chilies. Kenny: crab 3 ways (sigh); Korean crab bisque, crab bruschetta, and warm crab with sesame.

Andrea’s dish had heavy potatoes and overwhelmed the crab. Amanda’s gelee was too pungent. Kevin’s dish was so confusing the crab got lost. Kevin especially is pissed because this is the fourth challenge he’s been in the bottom. Good dishes: Ed’s dish brought out the “natural components” to the crab, Kenny’s trio was good, and Angelo’s dish was delicate. The dish that best showcased the taste of the crab was Ed so he wins. Nice. And he wins immunity too. Tim seems kind of bitter.

For the Elimination challenge: field trip time! Go to an organic and humane farm for the best ingredients. And! You’re all on one team! Ha! They have to make a minimum of 6 family-style dishes, and each one has to be responsible for something on the table. Not an entire dish? Just one thing? Tamesha knows there are a lot of egos in the house (cue shots of Angelo and Kenny) so she wishes it was individual. They can’t see the ingredients or equipment until they get there, but there will be some pantry stuff.

Everyone goes home to try to come up with a game plan even though they have no idea what is waiting for them. Kenny thinks they should pull names for the courses, Angelo disagrees, so they argue about it. Angelo thinks he has to step up and be a leader, which to him means getting his way. Tiffany tries to get them back on track but they totally ignore her. Stephen tries to get everyone to agree to serve a fruit plate as dessert but that fails too. The scene ends in the middle of the argument. Well that was fun. Oh, they want to continue after the commercial. Kenny wants to let people just come up with whatever, except that means if one pair does lamb, they’ll have a veg and a starch and then there are 6 different starches on the table, as Amanda points out. Yeah, she has a point. If you’re serving family style you can’t do that. Kenny thinks that wouldn’t happen and Amanda is crazy. Finally Tim tells everyone to check their fucking egos at the door and come together. SERIOUSLY. At some point Kenny asks if everyone just wants to work in the same teams they had yesterday, and everyone does except Ed. Ed doesn’t want to work with Alex. No offense though. But in the end he has immunity so he doesn’t care that much. They all break up into their previous pairs to decide what they want to do, without talking to each other. Tiffany isn’t very happy to work with Tim, so she’s pretending she doesn’t have a partner. Ed’s pissed too because he would have rather paired up with Tiffany. So he goes over to talk to her anyway.

In the morning, I think it’s super early morning, Tamesha talks a little bit about her family and how she feels everyone should have been more mature. True that. They arrive at Ayrshire Farms which is very pretty. They pull up to some very nice tables of meat and produce laid out for them. They’ve got 3 hours. Commence arguing about what everyone wants. Cooking outside! Hee! That’s always entertaining. Hotplates and grills. Immediately there is hoarding of space. Kenny is taking over because he feels Kevin doesn’t have enough confidence. They’re making hot and sour eggplant. Kelly’s making “accompaniments” and Andrea is making the pork loin. She’s worried because it’s cold out. Amanda is making “pedestrian” minestrone. Stephen is making salad with as many components as he can shove in there. Tim took a ton of vegetables and Kelly tries to cut him a deal, which…I think ends with her taking some beets? It’s hard to tell what happened, aside from that Tim isn’t pleased. Tiffany says she’s letting Tim do whatever instead of telling him what to do this time. Tamesha has cherry compote to go with Angelo’s duck which he “made love to”. That’s a quote people. Alex loves to work outdoors. Tamesha is doing something and all of a sudden a bowl falls over, dumping a ton of cooked cauliflower on the ground. No one seems to know what exactly happened. I don’t think Tamesha was near enough to it. Angelo thinks they can reuse it but Kevin refuses, so he gets some zucchini and broccoli. Tamesha gives some advice to Andrea, but all of a sudden Kelly is like “don’t let her make your decision” like Tamesha has no idea what she’s talking about. Kenny tells Andrea the same thing. Andrea is cutting the loin down so it will cook in time. Tim’s turnips are starting to get bitter and he’s worried about it so rather than do anything else to it he’s going to keep it rustic. Amanda is confident with her soup. Andrea is worried about her pork. Kelly decides to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp so they have dessert. She knows this may screw her. Stephen likes his salad. There are 40 farmers coming up the road, along with the judges (Tom, Padma, and Eric) in scarves and “rustic” clothes. You know…the kinds of country clothes that you know have never seen dirt ever.

Commercial interlude: Kenny owns a velour bathrobe. Tim loves it. Andrea and Amanda go through various nicknames. Amanda’s are more offensive in that they all have “black” in them. Actually all the girls think he’s smooth.

Kenny wants to win because he didn’t cook the main entrée. But he wants his dish to be so awesome it takes over from the main dishes. I think. They serve and bail. As a result everyone has to ask each other how they liked various dishes. Amanda: country vegetable minestrone with smoked tomato broth. Yum. Guest judge Patrick was shocked by the rusticity. All the vegetables are cut small except the carrots which didn’t cook through. Stephen: farm salad with balsamic, onion, egg, apple, cabernet vinaigrette and garlic dressing. It’s in a bowl, for some reason. Patrick hates the bowl. Tom is horrified the lettuce is bruised. Kenny: hot and sour curried eggplant with peppers and carrot tops. Kevin: broccoli cous cous scented with lemon zest. That sounds fabulous. The curry is spicy but Tom is OK with it. Tim: roasted turnips and asparagus with honey. Made no impression with anyone. Tiffany: collard greens with Swiss chard, turnip and chanterelles in duck broth. The greens are very undercooked. Andrea: garlic and five-spice grilled pork loin with shallot-apple balsamic jus. Kelly: five-spice roasted apples and roasted beets. They went well together and all is cooked well. Angelo: ginger grilled duck breast with oregano honey. Tamesha: cherry compote, red wine balsamic vinaigrette, grilled asparagus salad. The duck breast is OK, and the cherries, but the asparagus is boring. At least to Tom. Alex: Provencal beef tenderloin with ratatouille. Ed: ratatouille with eggplant, summer squash and tomato. The tenderloin is stuffed with the ratatouille. Eric is not a fan of the stuffing, but Patrick teases him that the French taught everyone stuffing by stuffing things with truffles. Eric points out that ratatouille does not equal truffles. Kelly also made the dessert: strawberry rhubarb crisp with basil scented whipped cream. Why do people put basil in desserts now? Is that a thing? Is it good? I don’t know. Tom points out she didn’t have to do it, but it seems to have turned out well. Eric cleaned his plate.

Back at Judges’ Table, Padma calls out Kevin, Kenny, Andrea, and Kelly. They’re the winners. Kevin explains that his cauliflower fell on the ground, and that he was glad to have vegetables and not a protein because it was more of a challenge. Kenny wanted big flavors and something spicy to keep warm. Padma liked it, and Tom points out that Padma is tough on curries so that is high praise. Andrea says she cut down her pork loin, and Tom praises the sauce and the sides too. Kelly says she and Andrea both thought they should make dessert if they had time. Patrick says Kenny is the winner. He’s pleased, as well he should be.

Loser gong! Tim, Amanda, and Stephen are the losers. Padma says the mistakes were very obvious because the rest of the dinner was so nice. Tim says he was going to do a mousseline, but decided against it. Eric points out that he had already cut his vegetables so small that the turnips vanished into the dish and the seasoning was off. He added asparagus for color, he tells Tom. Tom nails him for not liking his dish, and not being able to fix it. Stephen gets nailed for serving salad in a bowl, with gloppy dressing, even though the average American eats salad out of a bowl. He wanted to add crunch with apple, but he served a big piece of apple to each person so that didn‘t work too well. Amanda says minestrone to her is all the things that were in her dish, but Eric is like “Don’t you think it should have pasta too?” and Amanda has to cover her ass and say she’s never made it with pasta. Tom schools her on why you cut things uniformly: so they all cook evenly. She can’t even answer, and they keep on her that it was amateurish.

Stephen’s presentation was pretty poor, and his salad had a ton of things in it for no reason. Tim’s turnips were cut too small to serve whole, and a puree would actually have worked very well with the dish. He did a ton of work for nothing because no one could taste the turnips. Eric is still pissed that Amanda called it “minestrone” when there was no pasta in it. Plus they still hate on the carrots.

Tom says everyone made a mistake that doomed their dish. Tim is sent home. He wishes he could have gone out for overcooking lamb. No, that’s what he says. He has a hard time saying goodbye to everyone, but he knows he’s going to keep in touch with everyone. He tells everyone to season their food.

Next week: they get to judge each other, Angelo helps Tamesha and Stephen but not anyone else? Alex doesn’t tell Amanda her chicken might be bad. Everyone is mean.

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