Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top Chef 7/21/10--"Cold War"

Previously on “Top Chef”: The producers, desperate for another ratings goldmine like Leah and Hosea, focus on various couples flirting with each other, or at least where one person is flirting and the other one isn’t outright laughing at them. At least I assume Leah and Hosea was a ratings goldmine. Drama usually is. Too bad none of it involves Amanda, who totally looks like Leah. The Quickfire challenged involved cooking crabs, and was won by Ed. Ed then had immunity. Then they tried to make everyone work together to provide dinner at a farm. Everyone just kept their teams from the last challenge and tried to make things that were somewhat related. No one said anything about if their whole meal was supposed to go together or what, though, and I thought it was. Not that they usually care if you don’t follow the theme. Oh, Kenny and Angelo had a fight about how that was all going to go down, but you pretty much knew that was going to happen, right? Obviously. Kenny won with his curried eggplant. Amanda made minestrone without pasta and got nailed for it the way the judges always nail someone who makes a “classic” dish but leaves out whatever the judges feel is essential. Stephen also failed with a poor salad, but Tim’s dish lacked flavor and no one could taste the turnips so he went home. (click for more)

Angelo says Tim’s exit made people kind of somber. He says he will keep up changing his strategy. Andrea brags about how she’s been in the top and is in a good place. Bad foreshadowing.

Michelle Bernstein is the guest judge. Cool. Weird proteins abound on the display table. Andrea is not happy to see her, because she already knows Michelle. Andrea claims there is a rivalry and that she’s equal to Michelle, and that she’s not comfortable with Michelle judging her. Interesting. Exotic protein time! They draw knives for picking order. The proteins are: foie gras, frog legs, wild boar, yak, duck white kidneys, crocodile, ostrich, llama, rattlesnake, duck tongue, emu eggs. I’m just going to list them all because you’ll see them in everyone’s dishes. So you’ll know who has what. I would argue that things like foie gras and ostrich are no longer “exotic”. However, “duck white kidneys” are actually testicles, a fact which Angelo did not know before he picked them, as you can see when they ask if he knows what they are and he backs away in horror. The look on his face is very entertaining. Ed tells an awesome story that when he worked for Todd English they made consommé with cock’s comb and duck testicles and they called it “cock and balls soup”. Kick ass.

45 minutes. I think the best part was when everyone laughed at Angelo and made fun of him. Kelly says some people had an easier time than others because for example Amanda is using a hacksaw to get into her eggs. Angelo is making testicle marshmallows. Alex is pretty confident as is Kevin. After 10 minutes Padma makes them all move one station to the left. Nice. Although, unnecessary. Everyone curses a lot. Kelly is making an omelet but it has to be perfect. Stephen went from crocodile to frog but he kind of shrugs about it. Kevin gets stuck with the duck testicles. He has no idea what he’s doing. Andrea complains some more about the judging.

Tamesha: duck tongue in broth with mirepoix, lime, and sriracha. Andrea: wild boar and risotto with dried cherries, almond, mushrooms, and red wine. Michelle says it’s a little chewy. Tiffany: foie gras with caramelized apples, and toasted pecans, brandy-caramel sauce. Alex: ostrich in caul fat and basil with mushroom duxelle and balsamic glaze. Kevin: duck testicles meuniere with beet and licorice puree. “Meuniere style” is dredged in flour. Angelo: seared crocodile with ginger, garlic, and chilies. He brags that he knows he had to combat crocodile’s chewy texture but Michelle says he screwed that up. Stephen: seared frog leg, frog leg confit, tomato grits, and blackened bourbon sauce. It looks really good. Kenny: rattlesnake francese and rattlesnake cake with leeks, bacon, and curry sauce. “Francese” means it’s dipped in flour and egg and then fried, and served with lemon. Kelly: emu egg omelet with goat cheese and harissa Vinaigrette. Amanda: roast llama, sauce soubise with leek, date, and bacon compote. Soubise is béchamel sauce with onions. So…white sauce with butter-cooked onions.

Stephen’s frog legs were “insipid”, Alex dried out his ostrich and screwed up his sauce, and Andrea undercooked the boar. Andrea claims that she knows she just psyched herself out. Kelly’s omelet was creamy and delicious, Tamesha’s tongue was perfect, Amanda did a beautiful job. The winner is Kelly. She gets immunity. She’s quite pleased with herself.

For the Elimination challenge, everyone has to make a cold dish. They will be divided into two groups so that Group A can serve food to both the judges and group B, and vice versa. At the end of service, then group B will nominate someone from group A for the win and another person for the loss. Group A will do the same. Kelly, since she won immunity, gets to eat with both groups. So she doesn’t have to cook? Awesome. They pull knives to divide themselves. Extra surprise: they’re going on a boat! Woo. They will plan their menus as they sail around the Potomac on the U.S.S. Sequoia, which is the boat version of Air Force One. Padma references the “Cold War” title of the episode a bunch of times.

The boat is really nice. Kenny worries because he thinks everyone is out to get him. Amanda thinks no one realizes how hurtful it will be to have the other group judge them. Stephen wants to do tempura green beans, but tempura gets nasty if you let it sit and get cold. Angelo tells the people on his team things they should do. Well…talking Stephen out of doing cold tempura probably is a good thing. Kevin spies on them and interviews they should make their own food, and not Angelo’s. Tiffany talks to Ed about what everyone is doing, and that she only trusts Ed because there is strategery afoot. Kenny doesn’t know why Angelo would give out advice unless it was to manipulate people’s insecurities. Kelly’s very happy to have the opportunity to eat everyone else’s food.

$200 for shopping. Alex says he’s going to be fair in judging tomorrow. Stephen wants to make filet mignon with Asian flavors. Instead of the tempura. Tiffany thinks Alex would never vote Stephen off. She says whatever, it’s one vote.

2 hours to prep. Tiffany has “spring and summer flavors”. Andrea has 3 tartares and is STILL worried about Michelle. She says she went and had kids while Michelle continued to be a chef, which is why I’ve heard of Michelle Bernstein and not Andrea, I guess. Kevin has tuna and veal surf and turf. Kenny has lamb, which I don’t know if I’ve ever had cold. He thinks the other team will vote him into the bottom to get rid of him. Amanda is making a chicken terrene. Her machinery is failing and she’s freaking out. Tamesha says she’d probably strangle her since they don’t get along, so she avoids Amanda. Angelo gets on Tamesha’s business. Why isn’t he making his own food? Seriously, he’s seasoning Stephen’s food. I don’t get it either. Unless he’s making everyone’s food worse with his suggestions. Stephen thinks that since Angelo and Kenny are on different teams maybe if one of them was gone it would be better for everyone else.

The next day everyone arrives at some nice ballroom at an unnamed location. Ed says he has no disagreements with anyone on the other team so he’s pretty sure no one will do anything personal. Kenny is done quickly and he brags that everyone must be thinking about how awesome he is. Amanda gives Alex some of her terrene and he says it needs seasoning. He then says in confessional that he thinks there’s some cartilage, but he’s not going to say anything. Kevin hopes everyone is professional. Psshh.

Tamesha says she’s going to try to be professional. See, I believe her. First group up is Amanda, Kevin, Alex, Kenny, and Ed. Amanda: chicken galantine with mache and plum chutney. Mache is a type of lettuce. Kevin: tuna and veal with romaine leaves, pine nuts, and Mediterranean condiments. Kenny: grilled lamb salad and lamb carpaccio with black eyed pea hummus. Alex: sous vide lamb with red beet puree and tzatziki. Also pumpkin seed dust, which I include because how pretentious and ultimately pointless is “pumpkin seed dust”? Ed: vodka cured sockeye salmon on pumpernickel bread, cucumber vichyssoise, and cream cheese. The contestants complain about Kenny’s lamb but the judges say nothing. Alex needed salt or something for the beets. No one likes Amanda’s chicken. Wow, these people are harsh. Angelo says he can taste the proteins coagulating. Shut up, Angelo. Andrea got cartilage. Oops. Kevin’s dish needs acidity, says everyone, and finally Tom is like, um, didn’t any one see that he had Meyer lemon slices? Everyone hems and haws and he interrupts them to say that he also had tomatoes that are acidic. Ha. Tom knows exactly what you are doing. Tiffany says she liked it. Angelo says that Ed’s bread is dry. Everyone tried so hard to sound smart. They all tried to sound like the judges. Padma says they have to pick a winner and loser. Everyone says Kevin is the winner, possibly because Tom defended him. Everyone also says Kenny’s dish sucks, except that Andrea says that she can’t get over having cartilage from Amanda. Kenny’s still the majority though. Ed doesn’t think there was any scheming going on but admits he might just be naïve.

Commercial interlude: Andrea tells Ed about how Angelo is trying to possess people’s minds. Ed says that he’s known Angelo for years because they used to date the same girl. At the same time. Ed tells Andrea it’s OK “because I used to bang his girlfriend”. Hee. Wait…that’s Ed, right? Everyone looks like each other.

The other group starts their cooking. Tiffany starts to doubt herself but it’s too late anyway. Angelo says he’s getting nervous and putting too much condiment on his salmon. He knows it’s too much but keeps on doing it. Tamesha likes her dish. The other group comes in and Tom is like, man, you should have heard them. Heh. Amanda says she can be professional in judging but others cannot. Tiffany: fennel and peppercorn crusted ahi tuna in gazpacho sauce with cucumber and arugula salad. Angelo: poached sockeye salmon with cilantro and chile condiment in pineapple tea. Andrea: steak tartare, tuna tartare with chile oil, and mushroom fennel tartare with roasted beets. Stephen: chilled beef with crispy rice and jalapeno oil. Tamesha: scalloped with pickled rhubarb, cilantro, basil, and long pepper in rhubarb jus. They like Tiffany’s dish. Andrea’s tartares need more seasoning. Stephen’s beef has vanished; Ed can’t taste it. Tamesha’s scallops are really spicy and the scallops have a weird texture. Angelo’s dish has a lot of condiments. Kevin says he thinks Angelo should win though. Everyone else says Tiffany so she’s up. They all put Tamesha up for elimination. Interesting. I expected Kenny and Alex and Amanda to be the mean group.

In the Stew Room Andrea lets Amanda know she got a huge piece of cartilage. Angelo tells Kenny they all decided he was in the bottom. Angelo’s just so smug, seriously. Padma calls in Tiffany and Kevin. Tom tells Tiffany they agreed with the nominations. Kevin’s sauce came together, and Tiffany’s dish was seared perfectly and they all wanted to keep eating it. Michelle tells Kevin he’s the winner. He also wins a week in Hawaii.

Kenny and Tamesha greet the Loser gong. Padma makes sure to say that their peers put them there. Tamesha says she used long pepper before in that jus. The texture was bad because it sat in the jus for too long and was also only seared on one side. There were a lot of flavors and the scallop got lost. Tamesha stands behind her dish. Tom tells Kenny that his dish had two parts but they didn’t come together. Kenny says the seasoning on each part was the same: capers, red bell pepper, scallions. There was a lot of other stuff, though, and no one could taste that they were the same. Padma asks him why they think their peers put them there, and Kenny immediately says it’s because he’s a threat. Michelle tells him that she, as a person who just got there, could talk about the problems with his dish until the end of the show. Woah.

Tom says Kenny’s lamb was kind of gummy and one of his purees was bad. Tamesha’s flavors fought with each other and she cooked the scallop poorly. I think maybe there was more? But my cable cut out and I’m sure it was not anything new.

Kenny’s dish didn’t come together, and Tamesha’s dish might be better with work but it wasn’t good tonight. Tamesha is sent home. Oh you knew that was going to happen the minute you knew she was up against Kenny. She’s pretty upset and feels it’s bullshit. Tiffany says that Angelo tasted Tamesha’s dish and knew the flavors, and yet didn’t say anything. Tamesha herself wishes she’d controlled her dish more.

Next week: Tiffany’s got a fiancée and should probably not flirt with Ed, Kenny drops a pan of food, Ed loses a pea puree which ends up on Alex’s dish.

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