Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Top Chef 8/25/10--"Making Concessions"

Previously on “Top Chef”: first was an episode of “Chopped” where everyone had mystery ingredients to incorporate into one dish. Most people flailed badly, including Angelo, and in the end Tiffany wins again. The Elimination challenge is something I saw on an episode of “Dinner: Impossible” which was to disguise food. “Dinner: Impossible” did things like make cake out of meat with mashed potato frosting, and hot dogs that were really ice cream with pound cake buns and candy relish. Sadly no one did anything like that. It somehow turned into a sort of deconstruction challenge. While Kelly managed to make kung pao shrimp into a soup without ever having eaten kung pao shrimp before, Tiffany’s deconstructed gyro won. Now she’s won $20,000 so far and a trip to Paris. Amanda tried to disguise soup by making soup, and Angelo continues to flail and fail with purchased puff pastry, but Alex finally went home for just making terrible food. (click for more)

For some reason Ed is wearing a bright yellow dress. Tiffany claims it for her own, as Ed wanders the house and pretends nothing is going on. Kevin says “Damn girl! You lookin’ rough in the morning!” Hee. Someone points out that he may be naked under the dress. Or possibly wearing some of Tiffany’s panties. Ew. Kelly was not surprised Alex left, or that Amanda was also in the bottom. Angelo talks about how when he was young he cut out pictures of famous chefs and made a creepy altar to them. With candles. So he could pray to them. Amanda says he reads Tony Robbins books and says mantras to himself. Positive self-talk! I don’t think you’re in such a great position you can make fun of him, Amanda.

Padma has brought Rick Moonen to greet everyone. I saw him when I was watching Miss Universe, as the girls went to his restaurant in Vegas and he gave them cooking lessons or something. Everyone hopes for seafood, as Rick is known for it. Padma starts listing metaphors for the winner: “top banana”, “the big cheese”, etc. This show needs a new writer. This Quickfire is about idioms. See, that’s cool, I don’t need Padma to list off 4 or 5 for me. They must choose an idiom for their dish. Kelly points out that “hide the salami” is one of the idioms. The winning dish will be sold by Schwan’s. Tiffany wants her name on it. Kevin picks “bring home the bacon”. Amanda takes “the big cheese”, based on the fact that she likes cheese. Kelly gets “sour grapes”, Ed takes “hot potato” (too easy), Tiffany wants “spill the beans”, and Angelo takes “bigger fish to fry”. I guess there were extras. I wanted someone to have to do “hide the salami”. Or “apple of my eye” which is illustrated by apples with googly eyes, and big eyeglasses.

1 hour to cook. As people run around there is a big product-placement shot of Morton’s kosher salt. Really? Amanda says that cheese should be great as a frozen meal. She flails while Ed rolls his eyes and interviews that she has no technique. Angelo proves that his mental collapse is proceeding nicely by claiming Amanda is a “dark horse”. Tiffany is using canned beans because of the time limit so she knows she needs to mess with the flavors. Kelly feels everyone else is disorganized. Angelo tears around and talks to himself. Kevin has a bacon trio. Ed is trying to make gnocchi.

Ed: herb and roasted garlic gnocchi, spring vegetables, and mushroom fricassee. Yum. Tiffany: pan-seared cod over stewed beans, Swiss chard, carrots, and bacon. Kevin: bacon puree, chopped bacon, and bacon froth with a poached egg. Froth. Sigh. Angelo snots that you can’t freeze that. True. Kelly: pan-roasted chicken breast, caramelized Brussels sprout leaves, and red grape sauce. Angelo: chile crusted tilapia satay with Asian tartar sauce, sambal, and sriracha. Amanda: macaroni and cheese with bacon and jalapenos, and a pork chop on the side. Hee, “side of a pork chop”.

Rick did not like Kelly’s dish. The Brussels sprouts and grapes didn’t “sing”, and Amanda’s dish was too heavy-handed. Now she’s pouting. Shut up, Amanda. Kevin made bacon light and balanced, and Ed’s gnocchi was well thought out. Ed wins! Angelo makes fun of his head unnecessarily.

For the Elimination challenge the chefs will be working a concession stand at a National’s game. Well…”high-end” concession stand food. And only during the pre-game. I’ve worked a concession stand at a Rams game. It was not fun. They’ll all work as one team, making at least 6 dishes.

Tiffany complains that Kelly talks a lot, but she’s saying how they should all agree so they don’t end up with 6 beef dishes. That’s an excellent point. Then she starts talking about sandwiches and she’s lost me. And then she starts assigning people proteins. Amanda admits they’re not a team. No one really tells Kelly to back off, and no one tries to be leader instead of her either.
30 minutes to shop with $2000. Wow. It’s not clear if they have to just make high-end food, or if it has to be “inspired” by traditional ballpark food. For example, Amanda is making tuna tartare. Not really inspired by anything I usually eat at the ballpark. Although you can get sushi at a California ballpark.

3 hours to cook. Angelo’s making pork that will take at least 2 ½ hours to braise. Tiffany is making her own sausage for meatballs. Amanda is going to put her tuna in a grinder, because she doesn’t want to deal with it tomorrow in an unfamiliar kitchen. She’s asking Angelo for advice, which Kevin thinks is stupid. No one thinks she should listen to Angelo. Ed lets us know that the huge budget is because they have to serve 150 people. He decides that at 3 corn and shrimp poppers per person, he has to make 550 poppers. Sigh. Did they cut the part where he said “3 per person plus extras?” Please? Because…it just pains me. Ed runs around and snaps at Tiffany when she doesn’t understand him. Amanda labels this as “out of control”. We hear pans falling over. I think he gets it all wrapped up.

Back at home Amanda realizes that someone will have to run the counter and take orders. Kelly says it can’t be her because she’s set up to cook everything when they get there. Angelo interviews that Kelly is sneakily methodical and it’s ballsy. Angelo then steps up and says he’ll take orders.

Kevin says he doesn’t trust Angelo. I doubt Angelo will sabotage everyone while taking orders, when it would be so obvious that’s what he’s doing. The kitchen part of the stand is really small. Everyone gets an hour. Angelo realizes he can’t plate and take orders at the same time, but doesn’t want to ask someone else to do it, because they naturally will not be as careful with his food. So he starts passing guest check pads to everyone, I guess so they can all take orders. Kevin tells him it’s not ever going to work that way. They get in a stupid argument about whether or not Kevin should calm down. I do hate when I’m pissed and people tell me to calm down, though. I feel you, Kevin. He rightly points out that Angelo is not in charge and he should have thought about this last night when he volunteered to work the counter. Various people offer to help plate Angelo’s dish. Ed says he’ll cook it, and then jokes that he changed his mind. Just to mess with Angelo. Heh. I think Tiffany and Amanda are going to help out with putting orders up? Calling out orders? Something.

Tom time! He brings some Nationals players with him. Also he’s wearing a long-sleeved flannel shirt for some reason. Kelly thinks the players are cute. They are kind of cute. They’re also ridiculously tall. Kelly is freaking out but knows she should stop freaking out. Amanda’s tuna has turned gray. Angelo tells us in voiceover that he could have helped out Amanda by telling her to put oil on it, or something to keep it from oxidizing, but he’s not that nice. Kevin asks Tiffany to taste his dish, and she tells him it’s not salty enough. She refuses to keep her mouth shut about how his dish could be better. Kevin is still bitching about Angelo.

Service starts, and there are a TON of people in line. Tiffany is yelling back at Angelo and entertaining people. All she hears is meatball subs (her dish) and crab cakes (Kelly’s dish). I hope they save some for the judges. The ball players roll in and cut the line. They goof around which is entertaining. Mostly they like everything except I think someone doesn’t like Ed’s. Angelo reminds everyone to save food for the judges which was nice of him.

Oh and here are the judges. Well that was convenient. Kelly: open faced crab cake BLT and sweet potato fries. I love sweet potato fries. Tiffany: Italian meatball sub with fennel, basil, pesto, and fresh mozzarella. Amanda: yellowfin tuna tartare with fennel, Meyer lemon, and fava bean puree. None of these things can hide the gray tuna. She claims to like the flavor. They sort of like it. But it’s not appetizing looking. The crab cake is excellent but salty. Tom claims the point of ballpark food is to get you to drink more beer so, plus one for that. Tiffany’s dish is wonderful but sort of hard to eat. Eric says to take charge. Hee.

Ed and Angelo mess with each other and Angelo tells us that Kevin needs to be more positive. OH I am on Kevin’s side now. Do not tell someone in a bad mood that they just need to be more positive. You are looking for a kick in the teeth. Angelo: sweet glazed pork on lobster roll with sweet sesame pickles. Kevin: chicken kabob with romesco sauce, shoestring fries and smoked paprika aioli. Ed: shrimp and corn risotto fritters with jalapeno aioli. Oo, that sounds good. The fritters are well cooked and tasty. The chicken is good but the fries got soggy sitting on top of the skewer. Which is too bad because Kevin says he used the fries to add crunch. Some random person explains why no one is ordering chicken: everything else is far more interesting. Angelo’s pork has too much bread and it killed the finish of the dish. Tom thinks they all worked together well. They did, mostly.

Commercial interlude: Angelo gets his phone call home. He talks to his fiancée every night for 5 or 6 hours. He says when he wins the money he’s bringing her over from Russia.

We’re at the point where everyone comes out for judges’ table. Padma asks how Angelo ended up in front, and he said that he offered to “take the lead” because he has a sandwich shop. Tiffany interrupts to let them know the whole debacle with Angelo trying to hand out guest check pads to everyone. They have a stupid “oh no, you go ahead” argument, and then Angelo admits that he started to worry about his own dish so he started to do just that, and Kevin interrupts him to say that they had decided Angelo would work the counter last night, so it wasn’t exactly right to wait until today to say anything. Padma moves on, because no one cares. Ed’s fritters were delicious and easy to eat. Tiffany’s was not easy to eat but also delicious. The meatballs were flavorful. Ed wins. Remember how we were like “Angelo is so great and will win everything!” Yeah. Ed wins a copy of Rick’s cookbook and a trip to Australia. Wha!? Damn. Padma kicks Tiffany and Ed out of the room.

Amanda tried to do something different but the color was terrible. She tries to explain how she didn’t know what the kitchen would be like, but in a real restaurant she never would have cut up her tuna the day before. Her fellow competitors back her up as Tom keeps on her about how that was a horrible mistake. Kevin’s marinade didn’t come across in the flavor. The skewer was unwieldy and the fries got soggy. He had tried to get everything in one bite. Kelly’s crab had a good flavor but maybe needed a little bit of crunch. And thinner bacon. Angelo made some good pork, but the bread sucked everything out of the sandwich. Tom points out that as a sandwich shop owner, Angelo knows bread choice is very important. Padma adds that there was also too much sugar.

Kevin’s dish had too much going on, with a romesco sauce AND an aioli. Tom is still irritated at the fries on top of the skewer. Padma calls it a fatal mistake. Amanda shouldn’t have put her fish through a grinder either. Tom keeps defending her vegetables. Angelo knew his dish was sweet but didn’t fix it properly. Plus the bread thing. All of a sudden Kelly’s lettuce was bad and the tomato jam was bad, not really a BLT, I guess we need drama since we know they didn’t have that much to say about it before.

No, Bravo, I’m not going to watch “Watch What Happens Live” to find out who the fan favorite was from this season. You know why? Because fucking Andy Cohen, is why.

Kelly’s dish didn’t come together, Amanda cut her tuna too early, Kevin had soggy fries, and Angelo had soggy bread. Amanda is sent home. Hmm, I thought they might send Angelo home. Not sad, though. She says she came a long way, and then says she’ll remember this experience for the rest of her life, as if somehow her life is so awesome she might forget that time she was on reality television for weeks and weeks.

Next week: NASA. And Buzz Aldrin. Everyone freaks out. Last episode before they all go home and come back for the finale.

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