Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top Chef 9/1/10--"Gastro-nauts"

Previously on “Top Chef”: whatever writer has been working on the titles of the episodes this season inflicted upon us a Quickfire based on idioms. Ed made gnocchi, which is impressive for a Quickfire, and he won. I wanted someone to make “hide the salami”. Then everyone had to make “upscale” food to be served at a pre-game thing at the Nationals’ ballpark. It didn’t seem to be “upscale versions of ballpark food”, just something fancy that happened to be cooked and served out of a concession stand. For no reason they had to work as a team. Angelo offered to take orders, then thought better of it, which pissed off Kevin. Ed’s fritters were hot and delicious, so he wins again. Angelo failed, and seems to be sliding downhill faster and faster. In the end Amanda finally went home though, for gray tuna. Bleh. Oh, but Angelo admitted he could have helped her out but did not. So I guess he is screwing people over. Kind of. If they don’t figure things out on their own. But Eric Ripert said on his blog that he refused to eat Amanda’s tartare. Like…they filmed him putting it in his mouth and then he spit it out. So you know it was bad. (click for more)

Kevin knows he dodged a bullet. Kelly misses her husband. Oohhhh….wedding picture. That’s not the best sign. Angelo divorced his baby mama last year, but he’s going to win and he wants to be a chef, and etc.

Padma has with her Dana Cowin, who is the editor in chief of “Food and Wine” magazine. Ed’s her Facebook friend. Hee. She says that 10% of pairings are awful, and 10% are genius. Food and wine pairings. At first I thought she said “parents” and I was like “Oh, yeah, awful…genius? Huh?” So the task today is to choose a wine from the selection provided and make a dish to pair with it. Tiffany has someone to do this for her so she knows it’s not her strong suit. Kelly says she and her husband do this all the time. Winner gets a trip to London. Kevin wants it bad.

1 hour to cook. Kevin is making braised pork belly. He’s taking a risk because of the time factor. Kelly is making wild boar with blue cheese emulsion. I’ll be honest, I usually don’t taste all these flavors when I taste wine. So pairing wine with food is something I leave to other people. Mostly people picked red wine and are making red meat, except Angelo has a white and is making foie gras. Kevin opens his pressure cooker to the Loser gong. The pork belly is not happening. With 7 minutes left he is cutting down quail, because he has no options left.

Tiffany: cocoa and black pepper crusted Wagyu tenderloin with spring risotto. It looks pretty good. Kevin: grilled quail with shaved apple and fennel salad, and apple vinaigrette. Dana looks pissed. Angelo: sautéed foie gras with black salt and fennel salad. Kelly: wild boar tenderloin, blackberry conserve, mache, and blue cheese emulsion. Foam, boo. Ed: grilled Wagyu rib eye with spring potato risotto and mushroom ragout. Sounds good.

Kevin was least successful, as the quail wasn’t a good match. Kelly’s dish suffered from the foam. Good. The less foam the better. Angelo’s pairing had contrast between the heavy foie gras and the crisp wine. Tiffany had wonderful seasoning. I guess Ed was just not memorable.

Yes, congrats to “Top Chef” for winning the Emmy! I love “Amazing Race” so I’m sad to see it lose, but at least it didn’t lose to something like “Dancing with the Stars”. Although I might start watching DWTS based on the new season. Picture it: Michael Bolton vs. the Hoff. Awesome, no? P.S. I want to watch “Just Desserts” but the commercial seems designed to make the contestants seem as annoying as possible. I mean, I’ll watch it, but mostly because I’m the right demographic to watch any food competition show. Hell, I watch “MasterChef”.

Anyway, back from commercial and the winner is Angelo. Damn, he got his momentum back.
Padma reminds them that only 4 of them will go on to the finale. And that’s really 4, not the “3 will show but since we can’t plan there will be 8 other decoys” of Project Runway. The final challenges will take place in Singapore. Seriously? Wow. Jaws drop. For this Elimination challenge, the chefs will have to go to NASA. Kelly went to Space Camp when she was 14, just as I did. I hope she got to scuba in the big tank.

Fake, non-copyright infringing “2001” music plays. Are they really in Mission Control? That can’t be a working Mission Control. Isn’t Mission Control in Texas? I can’t imagine NASA would just let them traipse in there with cameras. Tom introduces them to Vickie Kloeris. She is the head food scientist. Someone pulled some strings and got the astronauts on the International Space Station to record a message about the food and how all that works in space. This challenge will be to create a dish that follows the set guidelines for astronaut food. Winner will have their dish recreated and flown up to the ISS some time in the future. They aren’t specific about when. That’s still pretty cool though. The tasters on Earth will be NASA scientists and astronauts, and the judges. Plus Buzz Aldrin. Kelly fangirls some more. The food has to be able to be freeze-dried, which means not a lot of sugar, and no big chunks. Also the astronauts like spicy food. Kevin doesn’t even understand how they eat, let alone what to make.

$200 for shopping. Ed’s going Moroccan. No astronaut ice cream. That shit is nasty. Angelo totally runs over some poor woman. Man, I want some Whole Foods hot bar food now. It tastes so good and it’s mostly healthy for you, except for the part where you fill up the container and realize you’ve bought over a pound of food at like, $8 a pound. Man, so good though.

Cooking commences. Tiffany chills her mussels and does the moonwalk. Freeze-dried food can be good. Angelo diagrams his plate. Kevin says most people are doing “ethnic” food, while he is doing more homey food, to remind the astronauts of home. Tiffany is with him because she’s “cooking from the soul”.

Tom time! Angelo is making ginger-lacquered short ribs and horseradish crème fraiche. While that sounds delicious, I don’t know that it can stand up to freeze-drying. Maybe it can. I’ll totally eat the non-freeze-dried ones though. When Angelo tells Tom, Tom makes Tim Gunn’s “I’m concerned” face. But refuses to say why. Tom, love it. Kelly has pan roasted halibut with artichoke and fennel barigoule. “Barigoule” is slow-roasted artichokes. That sounds good too. Ed: yogurt marinated rack of lamb and grilled satay of lamb. Interesting. It will be highly spiced. Tiffany: pan seared Alaskan halibut with coconut curry, steamed mussels and jasmine rice. Interesting. Tiffany loves this kind of food. Kevin, in contrast, is making NY strip steak with bacon-jalapeno marmalade and corn puree. Bacon-jalapeno marmalade is not “homey”. Bacon is homey, and jalapenos can be homey depending on where home is, but I’m not sold on the marmalade. Tom wishes them all luck and bails.

Everyone gets ready to leave. Tiffany put her mussels too far back or something and they all froze solid. Now they’re dead and she can’t use them. Suck!

Back at home Tiffany is very quiet and sad. Ed doesn’t think it’s unsalvageable. Kevin talks about how he’s a good cook and he’s a fighter.

In the morning a note greets them. Their ride is waiting for them…winner gets to take it home. I guess transporting the car overseas was too much hassle? Car curse, don’t let me down this time! Not like last season! The chefs run outside like little kids that have heard the ice cream man. There is a brand new Toyota Avalon. They let Angelo drive, which seems like it might not be the best of ideas, but he makes it there in one piece. Or they filmed him driving away, then made them all ride over in the production vans, and let them drive the last few feet in the car again.

One hour to cook. The executive chef of The Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center greets them and wishes them luck. It’s very cramped. Everyone looks serious. Kelly says someone will have to outcook her to send her home. Yes…generally that’s how it works. Tiffany is adjusting her broth without her mussels. She used to work at IHOP where they told her “women don’t work in the kitchen”. Another reason not to go to IHOP. Angelo realizes his lacquer is too sweet. Ed has left a lot of fat on his lamb but is feeling strong. The diners get to the table and sit down. Kelly curses a lot.

Tony Bourdain is here! I love him. My dad hates him because he says that Tony smokes too much and therefore can’t taste anything, and therefore shouldn’t pass judgment on food. Whatever. Anyone who says to Tom “What kind of crack house are you running, Colicchio?” wins points in my book. Kelly serves her halibut, which comes with a salsa verde salad. It looks pretty good. The barigoule sounds good. It’s well done. They couldn’t have this much sauce in the packet, but Tom feels if they can put a man on the moon they could figure it out. One of the other astronauts says that they miss “crunchy” in space and the artichokes are crunchy. Ed is up next, with his lamb, eggplant puree and couscous croquette with hummus. The bone in the lamb would be a problem. Eric thinks it’s too complicated, but Tony disagrees, calls Eric Ripert “The Ripper”, and says he’s been to Morocco and Ed nailed it. That’s why I like Tony. Kevin’s steak has crispy onion rings. It’s good but it would be a challenge to keep the onion rings crispy. Tiffany’s fish and curry looks delicious. I want some. Eric doesn’t see the connection between the pieces. The fish sauce sings to Tony. Angelo gives anal instructions to the waiters on how to serve his dish. OK, I wanted those short ribs…until I saw that Angelo seems to have taken the meat off the bone and put it in a tall ring mold. It doesn’t look like a short rib anymore. Tom doesn’t like the candied ginger. The pickled mushrooms have some good flavor. Tony teases Eric about being cynical and Eric gets this fantastic look on his face that I see on Kmanpat’s face when we make fun of him for stuff.

Commercial interlude: everyone eats the leftovers from everyone else. There are varying degrees of confidence.

Tom says that the difference between the winner and loser is very small. Ed’s plate was very busy, but everything worked together. Eric still thought it was too complicated, but agrees it was all done well. Tiffany’s fish was done well, but she could have done without tomatoes and the skin on the peppers. Eric wanted a little acidity. She admits to the mussels. Kelly’s artichokes were wonderful. Angelo’s glaze was too sweet. He says he was “submissive” in making the dish and talks about “making love” to the short ribs. Ew, now I really don’t want any. Tony is like, I don’t know what you are talking about, but I loved your dish. Kevin’s dish was really great but Tom would prefer his steak cut thicker. Tony thinks he played it safe.

Ed’s dish was busy but I think Eric is the only one who feels that way. He cooked his heart out. Eric’s favorite was Kelly’s dish. It’s not that original, but it was done very well. Angelo’s ribs were perfect but Tom still hates the ginger. Kevin listened to the astronauts and gave them something of home. But Tony is super bored. Tony talks about Tiffany’s fish and says he is “a slut for fish sauce”. Eric hates that she cooked the pea shoots. Tom doesn’t think she overcompensated for the mussels with fish sauce.

Tom says the winner not only gets their meal served on the space station, but they can go watch one of the two remaining shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral. Sweet. Angelo wins. Plus he gets Tony’s new book. And the car. Tom praises everyone else, and then Padma sends Tiffany home. WHA?!?! Damn. Kevin immediately starts praising Jesus, which I know is because he is safe, but you could wait until the person who lost is gone. I’m sad. She’s sad too.

Next week: Singapore, cooking on the street, Ed wants to kick Angelo’s ass, Tom berates them.

1 comment:

MoHub said...

Terrific! I thought I was the only one who thought Dana Cowin said parents rather than pairings and was ready to make an appointment to have my hearing checked. Glad to know it was her marble mouth and not my ears.