Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top Chef 11/16/11--"Quincianera" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Finally everyone is in, two people from the bubble group got in, and we have our 16. Now we can get down to business. (click for more)

So I guess they’re not going to talk about the “Last Chance Kitchen” thing. Janine and Andrew competed to make pizza in 30 minutes. The winner of each week will survive, and compete against whoever gets eliminated the next week, up until the finale. Then they’ll get back into the competition. It also sounds like they won’t be telling any of the contestants that this is a thing. Tom is the lone judge and decision maker. Andrew made pizza without cheese, but with calamari and arugula, so he is the first winner.

Beverly has printed out a sheet declaring her victory, so she can look at it every day. All the chefs in the house seem to be in very good moods and very friendly. Chris Jones reminds us that he works with Richie at Moto.

For the Quickfire there is a big terrarium with snakes in it. Or maybe one snake? Anyway, there are smaller boxes around too. Padma claims to be testing their nerves of steel: cook a dish with rattlesnake. Guest judge is Johnny Hernandez, who owns some restaurants nearby and cooks wild game. He says that snake meat is delicate. Padma gives them one hour, and tells them their ingredients are in the boxes in front of them. You can see everyone decide that there are live snakes in the boxes. Winner gets immunity and $5,000. And then Padma says “When time is up, I’d better see some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates”, which is awesome. She didn’t hesitate at all. Best reuse of that line I’ve seen.

Some brave people just open the boxes to discover the snakes are dead and skinned. Richie says they’re not a lot of meat on these snakes. Sarah wants to keep it simple. Dakota says she cooks weird stuff, but never snake before. Paul claims his pride is on the line because he’s from Texas, as if all these other people from Chicago or wherever don’t have pride.

Sarah: flash fried rattlesnake in a brown butter sauce. Beverly: rattlesnake nigiri with Thai basil aioli. Does that mean it’s raw? Chris C: rattlesnake nicoise with olive oil pudding and olive panko. Chris J: cumin breaded rattlesnake with bacon. Paul: BBQ rattlesnake with peaches, fried peanuts, and Southeast Asian spices. Dakota: beer-battered tempura rattlesnake. And zucchini almond gazpacho. Keith: sweet corn rattlesnake griddle cake with ancho mascarpone, and beer-battered rattlesnake crudite with tequila poblano queso fondue. Nyesha: rattlesnake braised with tequila, citrus, and jalapeno. Chuy: adobo seasoned rattlesnake with pasilla balsamic BBQ sauce. Richie: grilled jerk-seasoned rattlesnake with roasted corn.

Johnny says that Paul’s dish lost the rattlesnake, and so did Richie’s dish. Too overpowering. Nyesha overcooked her snake. Beverly did cook her snake, apparently, and did an excellent job. Dakota’s fried snake was “a good nod to Texas”. Sarah’s seasoning showcased the snake. The winner is Dakota. She’s very thrilled.

Everyone has to draw knives. There is a Team Pink and a Team Green. Tomorrow there is a “very important event” they must cook for, and someone from the losing team will be going home. Their client is Blanca Flores, who is having her quincianera tomorrow. Oo. That is a big party for 15 year old girls in Hispanic culture. Like a Sweet 16. So they’ll have to feed the party and make a cake too. I’m not sure why there are two teams. But we’ll go with it.

30 minutes to plan menus. Blanca doesn’t eat spicy food, but she likes the flavors. As they are asking her what she likes, someone throws in “Do you like boys?” Heh. Heather reveals she has pastry chef experience. She tried to do it for a while but she was bored. Chuy brags that he can cook goat, which is good because Blanca seems to like it. Lindsay used to live in Mexico, so she’s thrilled.

Ah…of course there is a Whole Foods. However they also send people to a Mexican market. Beverly tells the Whole Foods contingent to get her jars of kim chee, “the brand with the Korean lady on the front”. As she is telling them this over the phone, she is gesturing to her face as if they can see her. I’d make fun of her but I have totally waved my hands around while on the phone before. Neither team seems to have a big plan. Keith says he is buying pre-cooked shrimp, so you know that’s going to turn out poorly. Dakota is following a recipe on a box to make the cake. Beverly is at the Mexican store yelling to the whole store that it is very important she get a butcher, right now, and sorry if you had something to do, but she is important. Sigh. I think Ty-Lor is buying pre-made tortillas. Like, shelf stable.

3 hours to prep today. The Pink team menu: pork tenderloin huarache (Keith and Lindsay), ceviche (Nyesha), choclo con chile (Chris C.), carne asada (Ty-Lor), green chile pozole (Whitney), enchilada en salsa verde (Keith), cochinita pibil (Lindsay and Sarah), hibiscus-yogurt pound cake (Dakota). Really computer? You don’t recognize chile but you recognize huarache? Whatever. A huarache is like an open-faced tamale. Choclo is a type of corn, and pozole is stew with hominy. Cochinita pibil is slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus and then roasted in a banana leaf. It sounds fantastic. Lindsay goes to make court bouillon from the shrimp, only you can’t do that if the shrimp are already cooked. Chris C. throws Keith under the bus and Lindsay freaks out. Sarah freaks out too. The two girls (or maybe just Lindsay) decide not to make shrimp at all, and Keith recalls that he told everyone at the counter that he was getting cooked shrimp, and we have a flashback to the footage of Chris C. saying “yeah, whatever” in response. Ass. Don’t approve of things and then later pretend like you don’t have any blame. Lindsay bitches that now she doesn’t have a dish, which makes no sense to me because her two dishes are pork?

Green team menu: shrimp yuzu ceviche (Paul), pork chicarron (Richie), chicken mole (Grayson), tomatillo gazpacho (Edward), green chile empanadas (Chris J.), beef short rib asada (?) with kim chee (?) (Beverly), braised goat birria (Chuy), vanilla tres leches cake (Heather). Chicarron is pork skin, or pork rinds, mole is delicious enough that I will put up with horrible service at this one restaurant because they have the best mole, birria is meat stew. Chuy, as a Mexican, has declared himself the expert, and says everyone is coming to him to double check all the dishes because he knows how it should all taste. Heather is kind of freaking out about her cake, because she thinks she’ll go home if she screws up.

At the house, the teams discuss plans and plating. Keith is trying to talk about his plating? And all of a sudden decides that they should be a team and not have one person make all the decisions, and he says he’s just trying to get feedback. I’m not sure where all of that came from. I mean, he was asking for opinions, so maybe he thought Sarah was telling him what to do.

2.5 hours to finish everything today before the party. Chuy declares his victory. Nyesha fills us in on her group’s dynamics. Lindsay will ask Keith something, he’ll respond, and she’ll then go running to Sarah to tell her, as if Sarah is the boss. Nyesha says there is tension between all three of them, and that the girls are trying to run everything in their group. Heather’s cake is leaning because it’s too hot in the kitchen. Why isn’t she out in the dining room? It really is leaning. Chris J. jumps in to help Richie plate. Dakota leaves the kitchen with her cake, which is three square layers in neon colors. Chuy tells us that HE has everything on his team’s line all set up. Not “we are set”. Instead, “I have everything set”. Sigh.

When Blanca gets there, Padma is very sweet and introduces her to all the other judges and greets her parents. I know it’s not anything bizarre, it’s just very cute, and she’s at ease, like there aren’t cameras everywhere and like she actually knows this girl.

Pass around appetizers. Ty-Lor: fire roasted “summer fritter” with avocado mousse. Fritters should not be served in Chinese soup spoons. It’s dry and the avocado is just kind of there. Richie’s chicarron has tapioca and pork carnitas. The pork has made the chicarron soggy. But some guest likes it. The huarache from Keith and Lindsay is too big of a bite for one mouthful, but it doesn’t bite cleanly. Paul’s ceviche was clean.

I notice Blanca is walking around holding up her skirt and I feel for her. Nyesha’s ceviche is made of tilapia and has spiced popcorn? OK. Chris C. flirts a little bit, which I would do if I was as cute as he was. Keith’s enchiladas have chicken, mushrooms, and spinach. This team is also the team that did not make their own tortillas. The girls seem to remove Keith from the line and make him go do sous chef stuff in the back. The ceviche is mealy, the enchiladas should have corn tortillas but taste OK, the cochinita falls apart and everyone complains about the store-bought tortillas. Ty-Lor did well, as did Chris C. So the corn salsa and carne asada were about the only things that turned out well.

Green team is up. The birria includes steamed cabbage, because Blanca said she enjoyed steamed cabbage. Beverly’s short ribs do include some Mexican flavors. She says it’s Korean-Mexican fusion, and Tom says it sounds like a food truck. HA! St. Louis HAS a Korean-Mexican fusion food truck. Called Seoul Taco. Their food looks good. This team didn’t make their own tortillas either so I guess everyone gets out of trouble for that. They like most of the dishes, except the cabbage, and Hugh whines about the chicarron that came with the gazpacho. However this team grilled their tortillas so it’s nice. Grayson screwed up her mole with too much cinnamon and mushy chicken.

Cake time. Dakota’s cake is pretty garish, but she says Blanca asked for these colors, and for the flavors inside. The bright pink and blue and green are accented by purple calla lilies and tall colored candles. Heather’s cake…oh, Heather. They covered it completely with white flowers, so all you can see is flowers. But it’s melted, so it’s just a lopsided blob. A lopsided blob of flowers with two sad, straggly strands of ivy. It is a Cake Wreck. Dakota’s cake has too much frosting but the inside is good. Surprisingly the tres leches is really good, less sweet and there are some strawberries from somewhere. Blanca has her dance with her dad, and Beverly gets choked up because she makes it sound like her dad thinks less of her because she’s a girl. Tom calls everyone over and tells them that the Green team wins. Obviously.

Commercial interlude: the Stew Room is very full. Sarah is trying to ask her team if they thought anyone didn’t pull their weight. Keith shuts her down and says they all agreed on who was going to do what and everyone did their tasks. Sarah is worried because since she “took a leadership role” and knows she should go down with the ship.

Padma only calls out Ty-Lor, Sarah, Lindsay, and Keith. Weird, they said Ty-Lor did well. Tom says overall they did a good job, but the other team just did better, including the cake, but Dakota had immunity so she’s not there. Sarah blames their problems on not using their menu planning time wisely, and Lindsay cuts in to say they should have picked a leader then. Hugh rolls his eyes, basically, and says they can all lead. Sarah says there wasn’t a menu, but then starts listing off dishes and who was going to make what, which sounds suspiciously like a menu. She forgets to leave the shrimp out of her list, so of course the judges are like “we didn’t have shrimp” and Keith owns up to his purchase. He says he was thinking about price and labor and he was thinking under pressure. Tom asks if he was alone, and he says no, the team was there. Hugh tells Keith that if he was on that team, he’d bitch at Keith too. The “summer fritter” was in place of the shrimp, but it wasn’t very good. Ty-Lor says they gave him half an hour to come up with an appetizer. Half an hour? Why so short? Didn’t they discover the shrimp early on in the first day? Tom says that wouldn’t cause the fritter to be dry, and Ty-Lor agrees that was a cooking failure. You guys, I know why Ty-Lor’s here. He’s going home. Think about it; all the drama has been with the other three, and then suddenly Ty-Lor’s screwed up so badly he’s in the bottom? The cochinita, a Lindsay-Sarah joint venture, had crappy tortillas. Keith says he always has flour tortillas in his enchiladas where he’s from, and Johnny explains how the flour tortilla soaks up the sauce and gets doughy. All of a sudden Sarah is saying she’s from Texas and she would never make enchiladas with flour tortillas. Padma asks if she told Keith that, and she admits she didn’t, because she’s not here to boss everyone around. Please. Keith basically tells her she LOVES to boss people around and if she had an opinion, she should have said it. “You love driving the bus, hitting people”. Nice. Keith then reveals that they had a whole giant pile of corn tortillas he could have used, but no one said a word to him about it. He then reminds the girls they were supposed to be a team. Sarah tries to blame him and say he didn’t talk to anyone during prep, which makes no sense at all. I watched Sarah and Lindsay tell Keith what to do numerous times, or at least listen to him and agree. Keith tells Tom he would have used corn tortillas if they had told him, and they kick everyone out to make their decision.

Lindsay tells Dakota she would have been there if she wasn’t immune. Padma thinks everyone should go home for one reason or another. Tom lists the contestants’ credentials, although I‘m not sure why since they‘re supposed to only judge this one challenge. Hugh wanted a leader, and they all wasted time the team could have used to make things better. The enchiladas weren’t refined, and while Padma tries to defend Keith’s tortillas, Hugh says that if he needs to be told not to buy frozen pre-cooked shrimp there’s a problem. Sarah and Lindsay’s pork didn’t work out at all. The spices were lacking, and Lindsay lived in Mexico and should know better. They bitch about the fritter, and I still would like an explanation of why he only had half an hour to come up with something when even if they discovered the shrimp at the very end of the first day, Ty-Lor would still have 2.5 hours on the second day to come up with something.

Tom says that there was no leadership, Sarah should have said something about the tortillas and the cochinita was poor, Lindsay should know better, Ty-Lor had a dry fritter, Keith’s enchilada was still not good. Keith is sent home. Or to “Last Chance Kitchen”, I guess. He says to remember there is light at the end of the tunnel. Chris J. is sad to see him go, while Lindsay pretends to be sorry he’s gone. Keith says dreams do come true.

Next week: chili cook-off of some kind. I’ll be out of town, so I’ll get it posted when I can. Sorry.

Last Chance Kitchen: Keith goes to pack up his stuff, and finds a letter in his luggage explaining what is going on. It’s the mise en place relay race! 10 minutes to prep as many of the 6 ingredients as you can, and then make a dish. I think that 10 minutes was to both prep and cook. There are onions, lemons, clams, peppers. I’m not sure what else. They both steamed clams, Andrew with pepperonata, and Keith with lemon and sofrito and with ceviche too. Keith made the best clams so he will continue on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello !
Thanks for the last stand kitchen recaps.
Keith getting booted was sad to me, as he was one of my favorite person in the house so far...
I'm looking forward to seeing him kick some asses and begin a King of the Hill streak of some kind.