Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top Chef 11/9/11--"The Heat Is On" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: While it seemed the show had become some weird amalgam of “Masterchef” and “Top Chef: Masters”, in reality this was not the case. Having small groups compete means that Tom can do things like kick people out before they’ve even had the chance to make any food. Just because they can’t butcher! Fail to clean your plates? Out! Forget the main ingredient? Out! It was pretty awesome. Sadly, we picked out 11 of the 16 finalists, leaving just 5 spots both for the final group of 10 and the 4 people in the “bubble” group. (click for more)

The bubble group discusses what they might have to do to get onto the show. Grayson (poor tenderloin girl from last week) and Edward (Asian) get to talk to us.

Group Three is greeted by Hugh Acheson. Sigh. I just don’t see how he’s qualified to do anything, aside from having been on the show before and being able to be a jerk. At least Tony Bourdain was funny while being a jerk. Chaz tells us he’s had a crush on Padma since middle school. Introduction time. Everyone brags on themselves, except for Chaz says he was nominated by his mom as one of her two favorite sons. Hee. Beverly says she is the breadwinner at home so she’s not wasting this opportunity. We’ll see.

This team gets a weird combination of the previous challenges, with a twist. There are ten different ingredients on the table, and each chef will pick one to cook with. The ingredients are things like octopus, Brussels sprouts, risotto, mushrooms…I‘m not sure of the theme. There is also a dome on each tray, and Padma says that when they get their tray, don’t touch anything. Paul says he knows that probably means they’ll be trading. Eventually they divvy everything up. Under each dome is a timer. Some people get a whole hour, while some get twenty minutes. They don’t show who gets what, though, so I’m not sure if they screwed people over on purpose. But I’m pretty sure you can cook risotto in 40 minutes, CHAZ.

Paul is making grilled trout with his 20 minutes. He owns trailers that serve as food trucks, which I approve of. Andrew tries to clean mushrooms and roast them but he’s really short on time. Ashley has an hour to make oxtail. So it looks like they did plan the times, in that the longer times were given to things like oxtail that take longer. But at the same time, one hour is not really enough time to slow cook things. Laurent, the lone Frenchman, is making duck with yuzu lemon curd. Beverly serves octopus regularly but it comes into her restaurant already cooked. One girl is avoiding Tom because she doesn’t have time to talk to him. Flailing ensues.

20 minute group up first. Kim: pan seared lamb chop with kalamata olives and arugula. Andrew: roasted mushrooms with brown butter vinaigrette, crispy spinach, and poached egg. Paul: grilled trout with Southeast Asian tomato salad. Paul is through because his dish was the best of the three, well seasoned and precise. Kim’s lamb was greasy and overcooked so she is out. Andrew knows that he could do better, and they seem to agree. His dish was messy but the mushrooms were well roasted so they put him on the bubble. He’s glad for a second chance, but he’s not terribly pleased to find four people already in the Stew Room.

Chaz is still freaking out about the risotto and is begging it to cook. Jonathan (who I hope sticks around purely for shallow reasons) is not used to the time limit. Laurent says the oven wasn’t hot enough for his duck. Chaz tries to wait as long as possible before plating, but this backfires as he barely gets over to his station with the pan of risotto when the timer goes off.

To his credit, Chaz knows he is the only one to blame, so he quietly accepts his dismissal. But he drags it out with a weird discussion about Padma breaking up with him. Bernice: Asian style short rib with cabbage slaw. Laurent: duck with lemon yuzu curd and arugula. Jonathan: Brussels sprouts with tomato sofrito and hazelnut gremolata. Sadly Jonathan did not cook his sprouts properly and we won‘t be seeing him anymore. Aww. He was good eye candy. Laurent’s plate didn’t make sense and had too many things. Hugh wants to put him on the bubble, but Tom wants to kick him out. Padma thinks he has potential, so Laurent makes the bubble group. Bernice’s short ribs are not good enough for a spot (even though Tom says he knows her work and who she cooks for, but he can only judge her on this dish).

So did they seed the teams? Put all the good people on the first couple of teams? Because they’re being much harsher with this group. Ashley can’t get the lid off her pressure cooker to check her oxtails. That would be because it’s hissing steam because it’s still under pressure. It’s probably a failsafe. Lindsay helps her with the pressure cooker, because she trusts the quality of her food. After all that, the oxtail is not tender enough.

Ashley: braised oxtail “kare-kare”, which is a Filipino dish. Lindsay: braised veal, creamy polenta and warm salad. Beverly: Korean style octopus ”nakji bokum”. Lindsay’s veal is delicious and has a lot going on, so she’s in. Ashley didn’t cook her oxtail properly, so even though Padma wants to put her on the bubble, the boys want her to go. Beverly isn’t really familiar with cooking octopus, but her crazy risk paid off and she is in.

Everyone who is in goes to the house and meets everyone. Lindsay recognizes people and is intimidated. The Stew Room is bored and Edward is kind of a jerk to Molly because she cooks on a cruise ship. He also tells them there’s probably only one spot for the six of them. He tells us in confessional that if they leave him there long enough, he’ll kill the other five people. It’s a voiceover over a shot of him sitting with his arms crossed looking intimidating and slightly crazy.

Padma finally comes to get everyone out of the Stew Room. I’m not sure where Gail is, but everyone else is here. Padma reminds those of us who have lost count (like me) that two spots are left. This challenge is simple: use anything in the kitchen to make a dish that proves to us you should be here. You have 45 minutes.

It looks like everyone listened to what the judges said and they are prepared to address it. Grayson has been working in restaurants since she was 15. Janine tells us she’s newly single, as her girlfriend waited for a month after their commitment ceremony to tell Janine she didn’t like her vows. Then she broke up over the phone after 9 years of being together. That is horrible.

You guys, I watched a special with the Voltaggio brothers making Thanksgiving. It was like, non-stop hot boys and delicious food for a whole hour. Of course, Michael had to sous vide his turkey for some reason, but then he made sticky toffee pudding with braised pineapple so who cares about the turkey anyway.

Commercial interlude: everyone picks out their beds. For some reason Keith (the large gentleman from last week) is stuck in the room that only has bunk beds. I’m not sure why that happened.

All of a sudden Edward is slicing something and he cuts open his finger pretty badly. It‘s hard to see what he did exactly, but he is like, pumping blood. He was just going to put a glove on, but he’s bleeding so badly the medic has to bandage him up. Edward goes through a litany of the things he would cut off in order to be on this show. Everyone frantically works and talks about how badly they want one of those two spots. Molly kind of forgets about her shrimp, and while she does get them on the plate, she’s afraid they’re overcooked.

Edward: duck with BBQ sauce and sweet Asian custard. Molly: jumbo stuffed prawn, mousseline of shrimp with soy glazed watermelon and rice. Janine: seared scallop with baby clams, bacon, corn and watermelon garnish. Grayson: creamy polenta with bacon wrapped shrimp and port wine fig sauce. Laurent: scallop two ways, tartare and seared on a bed of fennel with saffron. Andrew: mussels with sherry, fregula, charred corn panna cotta and shrimp. Fregula is a type of pasta. Janine says she simplified, but Hugh wanted more watermelon. Emeril likes how it turned out. Molly’s shrimp was overcooked, and she seems to have fallen short. Edward’s dish gains praise for presentation and flavor. Grayson can’t explain why she wrapped her shrimp in bacon, so Tom gives her some crap before saying it turned out well. Andrew’s charred corn panna cotta is weird and maybe he should have stopped before making that part. For real, dude, panna cotta is the kiss of death on this show. Laurent’s tartare is gray. Ew. Good concept though.

Molly’s dish was bland in addition to having overcooked shrimp. Laurent’s tartare was not great, plus when you put a cold dish and a hot dish on the same plate, the plate temperature is wrong for one of them. Edward had a great dish but overcooked the duck a little bit. Andrew should have stopped with the mussels. Grayson’s dish was pretty good, as was Janine. But they both had slight problems.

Molly is out. Laurent is out. Edward is in. He’s pretty psyched. The last three get commentary as a group, with their pluses and minuses. Andrew is out. Grayson is in. I wondered if they’d give her another chance after stupid Tyler.

Grayson and Edward finally get to go to the house and greet everyone. They both talk about feeling like the underdogs.

This season: Pee Wee Herman, Padma says “I better see some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates” (awesome!), people cooking in a field, drama. And then Tom comes in to the Stew Room and says it’s not over because apparently Top Chef has decided to copy SURVIVOR and have a fucking REDEMPTION ISLAND. Eliminated chefs can compete and maybe get back into the competition. The only good thing is that these clips are only online, so I don’t have to watch them. But seriously people. When you’re out, you’re out. Done.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hello from France!

First of all, I must say I like reading your reviews.
I'm kinda disapoint about this season so far : only a few people I'm rooting for and the online cook battles are not avaible for non-US residents (beside using a proxy...).
Are you going to follow them ? If you do so, can you put a small recap every week if Bravo don't do it at the begining of each episode ?

Cheers !