Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top Chef 12/14/11--"Game On" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Mother sauces and steak awaited. Grayson wins the Quickfire, which is nice for her, and the last we’ll see or hear from her for the rest of the evening. Everyone has to make one giant team to cook a four course steak dinner for 200. Somehow this fails. Heather puts herself on dessert so she can make cake again, which she keeps calling “my cake” in the same breath she’s yelling about how it’s a team challenge. She also puts herself on dessert so she can have the day of the dinner free to boss everyone around. Oh, sorry, “expedite”. Heather decides Beverly is too slow and spends most of the episode bitching about it, even though if Beverly had been done sooner it wouldn’t have prevented Lindsay from firing all the steaks way too early and having them be overdone. Heather tries to throw Beverly under the bus even before she finds out whether or not that needs doing. Because Heather won. Boo. Whitney gets the most screen time she’s ever gotten, but sadly that’s because her potato gratin is terrible. She’s sent home. (click for more)

In Last Chance Kitchen, Whitney and Chuy make burgers with different proteins, (ostrich and elk) while everyone who’s come through before them gets to watch and taste. Whitney’s burger ends up tasting better than Chuy’s so she gets to stay.

Nyesha can’t believe how harsh Heather was to Beverly. I hope she apologized. I mean, we didn’t see it, but if I was a producer writing the “story” of “Heather is bossy” then I wouldn’t show it either. But I hope it happened. I do also notice that Nyesha is being listed as the executive chef at the Wilshire, which is the thing I saw her win on that Food Network show. So…interesting timeline, if so. Ty-Lor thinks he’s been in the bottom too much this competition.

Padma is in the kitchen with Tim Love. Aww, he’s such a clean-cut cowboy type person. Behind him is a table full of tequila. The Quickfire for today is to make something to pair with one of the tequilas. Oo, I do not like tequila. It gives me terrible heartburn. Winner does NOT receive immunity, but you do get $5000.

30 minutes to cook. And also to taste tequila and try not to get drunk. Sarah says she always has a shot of tequila at the airport before she flies. Ty-Lor says his style of cooking is “warm Southeast Asian flavors” which seems fairly vague. Chris C. is making a raw oyster, so then what are you doing with your 30 minutes? There is a hilarious shot of Beverly running full tilt across the kitchen, yelling “Coming through!”. She’s moving so fast I’m surprised I understood what she said. Or saw her go by. Dakota has a lamb chop and she thinks it’s pairing well. Lindsay is using the tequila instead of sherry. Ty-Lor thinks MotoChris is overcooking his chicken. MotoChris seems to agree.

Ty-Lor: steamed clams in Thai style fish caramel sauce. Heather: mango avocado salad with rock shrimp. Beverly: cold-smoked green tea oyster. Heather didn’t seem to get good feedback, and Beverly did, so there’s a shot of Heather looking pissed. Sarah: fennel risotto with glazed scallops. Lindsay: salmon with fennel puree and brown butter sauce. Ed: bok choy lettuce wrap with lamb. MotoChris: pan seared chicken with lime vinaigrette. Grayson: sesame cod with tequila brown sugar glaze. She says she is a beer girl from Wisconsin and never drinks tequila. Chris C.: raw oyster with tequila tapioca pearl and sea salt air. Air. Shut up, Chris. Tim likes it, sadly. Dakota: lamb with Medjool date pistou. Pistou is a garlic basil sauce.

Heather’s dish is compared to a special at a chain restaurant. Hee. MotoChris did over cook his chicken. Sarah somehow curdled her risotto and Tim thought it was undercooked. Chris C. made a great pairing, Lindsay cooked her salmon well and carried the tequila through, and Ty-Lor had bright, spicy flavors. The winner is Ty-Lor. He feels like he’s redeemed himself.

Padma says this Elimination challenge involves teams. Of course it does. Then she says the person next to you is your partner. Heather is paired with Beverly. Of course she is. Thanks for nothing, Bravo producers. Now I have to listen to her bitch about it for an hour. You know they told them how to stand so that would happen. Tim is hosting a “game dinner” for his friends but now they have to cook it instead of Tim. Tim’s friends are obviously famous chefs. Each team gets assigned a chef who will give them a protein they must cook. So that’s “game” as in “wild game” and not as in “sports game”. Which is what I thought at first. That would also be a cool challenge though. Nyesha and Dakota, venison; Paul and Sarah, squab; Grayson and MotoChris, elk; Chris C. and Lindsay, boar; Heather and Beverly, duck; and Ed and Ty-Lor, quail. Ed says he does game dinners twice a year. Also everyone is going to judge everyone else’s dishes. Nice. Sarah hopes that people are professional about that, but she also knows they probably won’t be. They (the contestants as a group, I guess) will pick three teams that are in the bottom. The judges will pick the TEAM that goes home. Ah, double elimination. The team that wins will split $10,000.

30 minutes and $200 to shop. Beverly says Heather is bossy but she’s going to be a team player so they can work together today. MotoChris has some grandiose idea about carving potatoes or something. Grayson is kind of freaked out, but she extracts a promise from him that it won‘t suck.

3 hours to cook today. Ed makes a road kill joke. MotoChris has never cooked elk, so he’s got a small piece cooking to test it out. Sarah is making sausage. Paul seems to trust her. Beverly says something about a spice rub, and Heather says she doesn’t want the dish to be too Asian because that’s not her style. So? If it’s good, it’s good. Then Heather says she’s going to focus on making her food great. I wonder if she hears herself complaining about how Beverly isn’t a team player, and then saying “me” and “I” and “my food” all the time. Sadly, Heather keeps talking about how she doesn’t want the dish to be too Asian, and they have to think about the name, and no one else seems to be talking at all right now so I’m pretty sure everyone is listening to her. They all seem to be making faces. Ed says Heather is “a complete bitch”. All of a sudden there are 5 minutes left to go. Heather says they probably don’t need to pack something. I don’t know what, but when they show things like that, chances are it was something important. Sarah is nervous about her sausage.

Back at “home” (I’m not sure if it’s still a hotel or what) everyone seems to still be talking about the dishes. Or at least Heather is telling Beverly what to do. Beverly tells us that she used to be in an abusive relationship, until she ran away one day while he was at work. That makes me feel bad for her having to deal with Heather. Seriously, this must be terribly hard on her. I want to give Beverly a hug.

Day of Elimination. Everyone freaks out about the pressure and the double elimination. The kitchen is very hot and very cramped. MotoChris seems to have screwed up whatever grandiose plans he had. I think he was carving things? But the sweet potatoes won’t carve right? Something. Grayson is pissed but she can’t really say so. Heather is bossy, some more, and complains that Beverly asks too many questions. I wonder if she’s asking questions because otherwise Heather will be even worse than she currently is if she doesn’t like it. Oohhh…knowing Beverly was in an abusive relationship makes it make more sense. Now I really feel bad for her. I like Beverly, but I almost would be willing to lose her to get rid of Heather too. Beverly doesn’t like the onions, but Heather basically tells her that’s her own “style” so they’ll have to “compromise”, which I’m sure means the onions stay in. The boar is rare, but Lindsay says they made enough that they have enough servings that are good.

Lindsay and Chris C.: roasted wild boar with kohlrabi slaw and farro fried rice. Tom says it’s nice but not terribly exciting. The contestants like it, probably, although the slaw is watery. Beverly and Heather: five spice duck breast with creamy polenta and pickled cherries. And a salad. It’s safe, although Hugh thought the breast was rubbery. However one of the contestants thinks the duck is perfect. Nyesha and Dakota are kind of freaking out. Grayson is irritated about the sweet potato. Grayson and MotoChris: juniper roasted elk with sweet potato and bouquet of citrus greens. MotoChris admits he failed at the sweet potato carving, but Grayson interrupts him and says “It is how we wanted it to be.” Weird. The meat is good, but the presentation sucks. Grayson hisses at MotoChris that they’re probably going home so don’t say anything to the other contestants. Sarah is still worried about her sausage. Dakota completely freaks out about the venison being undercooked.

Ed and Ty-Lor: sorghum quail with pickled cherries and eggplant. The quail is excellent. Sarah can’t get the sausage to poach, so she’s on Plan B which involves forcemeat, and Paul is nervous. Dakota is plating raw venison, and Nyesha is not happy about it. Nyesha and Dakota: roasted rack of venison with kabocha squash and beet gratin. They like the dish, although the venison is rare. Sarah and Paul: squab breast and sausage with nectarine pickles. The presentation is a little sloppy but they seem to like the taste. Sarah gets back to the kitchen and breaks down because she’s so horrified she might send Paul home and she’s ashamed of her work.

Padma asks to see Ed and Ty-Lor. Everyone applauds because everyone assumes they’ve won, which of course they have. Well that was fun. Then Padma gives them all 15 minutes to decide as a group who is in the bottom. Oh, that will be fun. It’ll be like the one game in “The Mole” where you all have to agree on who gets an exemption. It always ends in yelling and no consensus. And the Mole doesn’t ever have to do anything!

Commercial interlude: everyone sits around. Grayson says they should just all vote, and Heather is all “You won’t vote for yourself” and Grayson says “Neither will you”. I mean…duh. Ty-Lor says Heather is his friend so he wants her to stay. Isn’t the commercial interlude supposed to be fun and random?

Paul says he’ll start and he says Heather and Beverly was not his favorite, and Nyesha and Dakota (obvs), and MotoChris and Grayson. Nyesha and Dakota know full well the meat was too rare so they are not shocked. Heather says pretty much the same thing, but refuses to pick a third group, and Grayson says they all are doing that and it’s tough, or something. And Heather is like “Oh, I understand the process, you don’t have to tell me about it, Grayson”. Then follow the fucking process. They vote with a show of hands, and Beverly and Heather, Grayson and MotoChris, and Dakota and Nyesha are headed out. Ed says something weird about how people are plotting, but tomorrow you might be on the same team as someone else? So the claws aren’t out yet? I’m not sure if he was saying he voted based on who he wanted to get rid of or what.

Heather says she and Beverly don’t deserve to be here (hey, she did say “we” so I have to give her credit) because she would serve that dish again in her restaurant. She thinks that everyone is trying to get rid of her because she won the last challenge. Then for some inexplicable reason Tom stops talking to her and nails Dakota for the undercooked elk. Tom! Tell Heather she’s not all that! Anyway, Dakota says they ran out of time, and Nyesha tells them she didn’t check on the elk in time so she wasn’t able to help. Dakota is upset at screwing up something so easy. The flavors were great, but the meat was raw. MotoChris and his weird potatoes get him in trouble. No one got it, and they think he did it just to show off the carving. Tom asks Beverly why she’s there, and as she’s explaining about “too much protein” or something, Heather INTERRUPTS her and says they were trying to balance two chefs on one plate. Guess what, Heather? If you throw Beverly under the bus, you get dragged down under the bus too. They wanted the duck to render longer and get more crispy. Beverly agrees. Tom didn’t think the ingredients went together. Heather says they haven’t seen eye-to-eye, but she has the most obnoxious, condescending smirk on her face and I want to smack it off her. Beverly tries to say something but Heather talks over her again and says their work ethics are totally different and she brings up the shrimp again, and IF SHE GOES HOME SO DO YOU SO MAYBE YOU SHOULD SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Has she not figured this out yet? Grayson looks totally embarrassed. Beverly sadly argues back and Heather has some comeback which makes no sense. Dakota says she is uncomfortable because she thinks Beverly is a very hard worker and sometimes people don’t agree. Tom asks if Heather didn’t trust Beverly, but Heather says Beverly doesn’t trust herself and she should have more self confidence. That last is delivered directly to Beverly. Now I really want her to go home. And I want Beverly to destroy her in Last Chance Kitchen. Beverly says she asked questions because that’s part of teamwork, and she stands behind her dish.

When they get back to the kitchen, someone asks how it went, and Heather says things “came up” and she fake apologizes to Beverly but “that’s the truth” and she also says she had no say in their dish. Bitch please. I saw you telling her how the dish was going to be. Several times. Thankfully everyone else seems to be defending Beverly. Grayson points out that Heather just signed her own elimination, which she did, only Grayson says she sold her out, and Heather of course didn’t sell anyone out, and everyone who’s ever worked with Beverly has felt the same way and hates her or whatever but no one will say anything. Grayson is so confused, for the same reason I am, which is that complaining about Beverly will also send Heather home. Heather wants to go home for her own food, which, fine, that makes sense, but you’ve gone above and beyond that.

Tom says that he doesn’t care about people’s emotions. They don’t like that MotoChris started with “I’m going to carve sweet potato” and not with the flavor. Dakota couldn’t cook the venison, and Tom can’t believe Nyesha didn’t check on it. The duck was messy, and underwhelming, and Hugh can’t believe Heather would hold the last challenge against Beverly, because every day is new. I kind of wish Tom had said that while Heather was complaining: that each challenge is new and she should have complained last week. So thankfully they aren’t going to care about the last challenge. But they make it seem like the dish itself isn’t as bad as the other two. Also I have to say I’m not as annoyed at Hugh as I was when I heard he was a judge. Maybe it’s because he agrees with me about Heather. Maybe it’s because his blog seems to combine the best overtones of Tony Bourdain’s blog with someone who‘s been in the competition. I’m not sure.

Tom reminds everyone of how they are subpar, and then they send Dakota and Nyesha home. Aww. Nyesha is upset she didn’t take control, and Dakota knows it’s her fault. She feels terrible for taking Nyesha down too. Aww, they’re both so upset.

Next time: going to Austin, Patti LaBelle, Emeril shows up. They pretend Heather is in trouble but I’m sure that’s a lie.

Last Chance Kitchen: the challenge today is to make a dish with cactus, using a wok. Hee, cactus. Sorry, inside joke. Someone I don’t like compared me to a cactus, trying to insult me, only I thought it was pretty accurate and I ran with it. Anyway, they can only use a wok. Nyesha is looking for redemption. It seems kind of frantic, but I think that’s because everyone is desperate. Whitney: cactus and chicken fried rice with sriracha and soy sauce. Nyesha: Asian-style scallops with cactus garnish, cilantro, and Thai basil. Dakota: shrimp tostada with watermelon and prickly pear shooter. In the end, the person who used the wok best, and also used the cactus best, was Nyesha. Good for her. Dakota is pleased Nyesha gets another chance.

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