Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Chef 11/30/11--"Don't Be Tardy for the Dinner Party" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: a Quickfire with chilies rewarded people with guts, as Paul used ghost chilies in a soup, to earn $20,000 and immunity. Then the chefs went through a chili cook-off. They had all night to cook, which was nice, but they had to be in groups, which was minorly irritating. Richie, Nyesha, and Beverly had the idea to make mole chili, which did not turn out well. As a result, they had to reuse their chili to make another dish. Beverly did this well, while Nyesha and Richie did not. In the end, Richie was sent home, and was very upset about it. (click for more)

And then after he was sent home, he went to Last Chance Kitchen and was soundly defeated by Keith. He unfortunately suffers from a common problem with molecular gastronomists, which is making things that are all flash with nothing to back it up. And Tom is not impressed by that.

Everyone sits around after the rodeo, and Padma comes to see them. They all kind of freak out, but Padma is just telling them that tomorrow they’ll be moving to Dallas. I don’t know why they didn’t just stay in one spot, but whatever.

Everyone packs and seems to get along with each other. MotoChris is called “Ugly Chris” for some reason, but he just kind of laughs.

Are they driving themselves? Guess so. The car ride involves getting to know each other. Ed talks about his wife, and Ty-Lor talks about his boyfriend. He has a 70’s mustache and matching sunglasses. Beverly has a ton of ink all up her arm. Weird. I would not have thought she would have tattoos. Chris has lost 70 pounds. I don’t think he looked that bad before, but apparently everyone gave him shit when he was in a magazine, so he was shamed into losing the weight.

So now everyone is magically on some side road, in the middle of nowhere, with no other traffic. Because they just “happened” to get off the highway and this is totally the way to Dallas, I guess we’re supposed to believe. Bravo got a cop to block off the road and stand there waiting for them in a vaguely menacing fashion. Dakota reveals that she has an unpaid speeding ticket in Texas. Why did you decide to come to Texas if you thought you had a warrant? They all pull over, supposedly because they don’t have insurance or driver’s licenses. This is stupid. Just give them directions to drive to the middle of nowhere. Of course when the cop says to pull over Heather decides to pull off the road into a field. Padma and John Besh wait for them by some picnic tables. Chris C. talks about how John Besh is hot. I know, right? Anyway, the Quickfire is to cook in the middle of this field with military survival kits. Winner gets $5000 and immunity.

30 minutes to cook. MotoChris runs straight across the empty field to the corn field to take some corn. Ed feels this is ridiculous. That is how Quickfires work. Also it’s windy so the camp stoves are not working as well as they could be. People trade up cans for things they want. Whitney whines that she would never cook with this food ever. There’s always one. Lindsay is using canned sausages in honor of her dad. Ed, in addition to being irritated, is offended by everyone making “camp food”. Then he says he threw out his back. MotoChris has dry corn.

MotoChris: fried chicken on lemongrass noodle. Chuy: he says it’s “Chuy’s Dirty Mouth, Dirty Rice”. Padma asks if she wants to eat that, and he says in all seriousness “You do. You do.” Basmati rice, black eyed peas, with smoked trout. Grayson: pickled herring with hearts of palm, dates, and herring juice. Mmm, herring juice. Lindsay: triple club with tuna and sardines in French onion soup with Vienna sausage. The “triple club” is made with saltines instead of bread. Ty-Lor: black pepper chicken stew with garbanzo beans and rice. Sarah: dried beef and pineapple rice, applesauce, and hearts of palm. Chris C.: spicy garbanzo beans with tofu and crab. I want to know what was originally in these kits. Whitney: beer and peach glazed chicken with green bean casserole. Ed: Thai peanut soup with salmon, tofu, and fried shrimp. Paul: pork and beans with coffee and basmati rice. Dakota: sweet and spicy noodles with crab meat and pineapple juice.

Whitney’s chicken and green beans were straight out of the can. Dakota’s dish was too sweet. Chris C. somehow managed to have raw tofu and crab. Ed’s detail was perfect, Lindsay’s dish looked scary but was delicious, Chuy used canned smoked trout which was also delicious. The winner is Lindsay. Ed looks pissed and says that her sandwich looked dry. Ed, I’ll give you that you’re in pain, but seriously. You aren’t making yourself look good.

For the Elimination challenge, they’re going to Highland Park. They will have to make all the food for a progressive dinner party that three neighbors are having. A progressive dinner is where you start in one location, and have maybe appetizers and salad, then you go to the next place and have the main course, and then to another place for dessert. Generally the work gets split between the hosts. Ty-Lor name drops some people and tells us he knows how rich people think. Padma divides them into teams based on where they’re standing; five people for appetizers, five for entrée, and four for dessert. Dakota bitches that she’s stuck with dessert again. Then for some reason Padma emphasizes that this is an individual elimination challenge. So I guess they’re not really “teams”.

They’re staying in a hotel in Dallas, and I’m not sure if this is permanent or just for today. It’s a sweet hotel, though.

Kim and Justin Whitman own the “appetizer house”. This team seems to be MotoChris, Whitney, Paul, Lindsay, and Sarah. Whitney talks about how poor she used to be. Of course, the wife writes party planning books. Sarah asks if there’s a theme, and Kim says they thought about having them make all pink food. The boys look horrified for about 5 seconds before she says they don’t have to make pink food. Then she lists the things she doesn’t like: bell peppers, cilantro, stinky food, food that gets stuck in your teeth, things that are hard to eat. Also she is not adventurous.

The “entrée house” belongs to Kari and Troy Kloewer. Ty-Lor, Chuy, Nyesha, Heather, and Beverly. Troy likes spicy, Kari does not. She also does not like cilantro or raspberries. Troy loves beef, but Kari is a vegetarian. It’s wacky! But at least she told them now that she doesn’t eat meat. Spoiler: this is never mentioned again. Chuy says this kind of thing is why he doesn’t cater. He’d rather the people come to his restaurant where he can kick them out.

Dessert, Kameron and Court Westcott. Jesus. This group is Ed, Grayson, Chris C., and Dakota. They ask for fudge and bananas, and something that is worth every calorie. Court (or maybe Kameron, because holy crap these names), the boy anyway, says that he has a gummi bear addiction. Ed can’t believe that rich people would like something so low-brow. Anyway, at least these two don’t have any restrictions.

30 minutes to shop, $250. Ty-Lor is glad to be on his own. Paul claims that from his experience with high-end clients, you can’t give them what you want. Sounds like he’s going to give them what they want and get in trouble. Chris C. has an untested cupcake recipe.

Two hours to cook, possibly for everyone? For sure for appetizers. Chris C. reminds us that baking is precise and scientific. MotoChris wants to make a dish that looks like a cigar. Paul says you have to impress the lady, because the husband just kind of goes along with things. Beverly is hogging the sink, according to Heather, who asks her if she can take a colander out of the sink. In the same sentence she moves from “Beverly is using the whole sink” to “Beverly has taken over the entire kitchen and isn’t that rude”. Nyesha gets in on it too, as Beverly has moved a pot and a strainer. On the one hand, it’s a big pot that is just full of water and nothing’s happening. On the other hand, I’m sure a pot that size will take some time to get to temperature. On the third hand, don’t move other people’s things without asking, Beverly. Ed is very cranky and superior today, because he says he refuses to base his dessert for 12 on the likes of two people. Who like fudge! So pedestrian! Whatever, dude, fudge is delicious. He admits to the other people in his kitchen that when the couple was talking about bananas and fudge he flat out stopped listening. Lindsay is putting roasted and raw items together in a salad for balance. Paul and MotoChris are worried.

Appetizers are served. MotoChris: roasted chicken cigar with sweet corn, collard greens, and cumin “ash”. It does actually look like a green cigar, I suppose. Or dolmades, if you squint. Sarah: grilled Roman-style artichokes with date puree, pecans, and mint. Lindsay: roasted and raw beet salad with chickpeas and Greek vinaigrette. Whitney: seared scallop over sweet corn puree, succotash, and zucchini. Paul: fried Brussels sprouts with prosciutto and Madras-spiced crème fraiche. Everyone comes up to the table to serve themselves. There is a weird spate of small talk where someone just got married and had 900 people there, and Gail had joked about 700. Or something. MotoChris’s dish had good flavors but dry. And you don’t eat cigars. The artichokes are delicious, as are Lindsay’s beets (but not Lindsay’s other components). The Brussels sprouts turned out very well too. Whitney’s scallop is boring. Justin says some of the dishes were great, but some needed work, and then Tom busts out “So, close but no cigar?” and you know he’s been working on that line ever since MotoChris said he was serving a cigar. Can’t blame him though.

Chuy thinks he’s overcooked the salmon. Ty-Lor says he and Heather are friends and it’s so nice to have her around. So one of them should be leaving soon. He tries to get his presentation to look better. Everyone serves family-style which is nice. Heather: garlic and rosemary grilled lamb chops with garbanzo beans and mint chimichurri. Chuy: sockeye salmon fillet stuffed with goat cheese cream and avocado. Each fillet is in a corn husk boat. Beverly: pan seared scallop with creamy polenta and crispy garlic. Ty-Lor: grilled pork tenderloin with summer slaw. Nyesha: roasted fillet of beef with vegetable mélange and red wine sauce. Chuy’s salmon was mild, but one of the guests likes it. Beverly’s dish goes over very well. Ty-Lor’s dish is sloppy and a little dry. Heather overcooked her lamb chops. Nyesha’s red wine sauce looks too much like blood. I don’t think anyone is excited.

Dakota is making a milkshake, but for some reason doesn’t have anything to serve it in? So she’s making cups out of dates? OK. Chris C. has too many things. Dakota: banana bread pudding with peanut butter cups, banana mousse, and a date banana milkshake in a date cup. Chris C.: strawberry cupcake with banana custard and chocolate icing. And mint chocolate chip ice cream. Ed: cardamom-scented panna cotta, cantaloupe consommé, and raspberries stuffed with basil pudding. Grayson: chocolate sponge cake, caramelized bananas, and crushed chocolate-covered pretzels, and semifreddo of some kind. Ed’s presentation is compared to Elmo and is also called “jiggly”. Grayson’s dish is declared rich, although Tom gets a dig in about being too rich in Dallas and how that’s impossible. They love Chris C.’s cupcake, but Tom busts out the line of “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything”. Dakota’s dessert is worth the calories.

Commercial interlude: Chuy tells many stories about his dad and they seem to tend to outlandish. Everyone else makes fun of him.

Padma collects Sarah, Grayson, Paul, and Dakota. These are the top four. Everyone freaks out so much that I wonder how much self doubt had to be floating around. Grayson’s pretzels worked really well with her dessert. Sarah’s flavors all worked together. Dakota’s bread pudding was nostalgic and comforting. Paul’s dish had lots of texture. The winner is Paul, who listened to what the clients wanted. Huh. Usually the person who listens is in trouble. Think of all those Project Runway challenges. Good for him, though.

The bottom four are MotoChris, Ty-Lor, Chris C., and Chuy. Chris C.’s cupcake had way too much going on, and he says he was trying to listen to what the clients wanted, and here is the “I listened to everything the client said and gave them all of it” person. John Besh says to listen, but then edit. Ty-Lor admits he was not satisfied with his dish, because it was not clean. They nail him on proportions and knife skills. Chuy says he’s made his dish before, and Gail tells him that the salmon was overcooked and the goat cheese turned mealy. He says that he had to cook the salmon to well-done so that the cheese would get hot in the center, and Tom immediately says if he has to overcook the salmon to get the cheese to where he wants it, why is that a good dish? No response. MotoChris talks about taking a risk and going for it. Tom feels that this was not the best thing for the ingredients. MotoChris was too caught up in the gimmick and so didn’t think about things like, in order to wrap the cigars he had to leave the stringy parts of the collard greens.

Tom thinks Chuy should have been able to adjust his dish so that everything was cooked properly. There wasn’t much redeeming value in that dish. The cigar was apparently too big and greasy and not elegant, according to Gail. He couldn’t make it work. Chris C.’s dish didn’t make any sense and nothing went together. Ty-Lor also seemed to throw a ton of things together with no thought.

Tom explains how all these dishes sucked, and then Padma sends Chuy home. Wait, what? Really? Well that was out of left field. John Besh, in a random clip, says it was overcooked salmon in a non-thought-out dish. Chuy says he was the youngest, but went pretty far and he seems in fair spirits.

Next week: a ranch, steaks, Ty-Lor cuts himself and goes to the hospital which I’m sure will result in weeks of people bitching about what a wuss he is, Sarah bitches about Beverly being slow.

Last Chance Kitchen: Chuy and Keith travel to a butcher to pick up some beef. They each get some ribs, and Tom tells them they must cut 5 bone-in ribeyes, and then cook one perfect medium-rare steak. They have 45 minutes to do this. There is an example for butchering. Keith has made a small mistake in butchering, with slightly uneven cooking. Chuy took the fat cap off the rack, but his bones are cleaner and the seasoning is good. Tom says that they are pretty much equal, but one tiny thing, because Keith seared the steak a little too much on one side, he is out. Chuy gets to stay. Boo. I like Keith.

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