Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top Chef 12/7/11--"Higher Steaks" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Everyone moved themselves to Dallas and had a Quickfire outside in the middle of a field. Then they made food for rich socialites, because maybe Bravo wants to try out “Real Housewives: Dallas” or something. Who knows. Anyway, Beverly didn’t seem to share well and Ed complained a lot about his back and the lack of sophistication of these rich people and whatever else he decided wasn’t up to standards. Paul won because he listened to the clients enough to make what they wanted, but not so much that he made bad food. Like Chris C. Several people had issues but in the end Chuy went home for overcooked salmon, in a dish that was designed in such a way that he was forced to overcook the salmon. Also, I didn’t realize that Nyesha looked familiar because she was on “Chef Hunter” earning an executive chef position at a restaurant. So…does that mean she lost? She won and this is what she’s doing until she finds the space to break out on her own? I’m not sure. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Chuy and Keith had to make steaks. Tasked by Tom to make the perfect steak, they both did very well. Sadly Keith seared his steak a tiny bit more on one side and was sent home.

Everyone sits in the hotel suite and talks about Chuy. Ed is the first person to be like “girls vs. boys!!1!” MotoChris says he’s going to concentrate on food.

Padma greets everyone with Dean Fearing. The Quickfire today is to be a saucier. Heh. Dean says this is the most prestigious position on the line in a kitchen. Nyesha says if she could pick a position, this would be it. Uh, then why did you go on that other show to be an executive chef? They draw knives for sauces. Grayson brags that she is classically trained. Each chef has drawn a knife with a mother sauce: hollandaise, veloute, béchamel, espagnole, and tomate. They must make a dish with a NEW sauce that stems from whatever sauce they picked out. Winner gets immunity.

90 minutes to cook. Padma makes a “mother of all Quickfires” joke which is kind of lame. Someone says they feel saucy. Sigh. Everyone cooks, and puts things into their sauce to flavor it. It’s pretty crazy. Dakota thinks she overcooked her scallops.

Chris C: butter poached halibut, andouille, mushrooms, and veloute made with the sausage. Ed: cauliflower milk béchamel with poached red snapper, crab, and fried oyster. Grayson: scallop, charred corn hollandaise, corn ravioli, and blueberry balsamic reduction. Paul: quail with pickled and roasted mushrooms, garlic scapes, and okra. He also was supposed to use espagnole, but when Dean asks him what color his roux was, he says he didn’t use one. Oops. Whitney: poached shrimp, fennel pilau, sautéed okra and pancetta. The tomate sauce has some of the shrimp shells, but again no roux. She says in confessional that she never does that. Heather: gruyere croquette, apple and ginger compote and Asian slaw. There is béchamel somewhere. Beverly: crab maki roll with rib eye, charred shallots, peppercorn, sake, and red wine, and espagnole. Heather bitches that Beverly always makes Asian food, but…so? Everyone has their hook. Dakota: peach infused béchamel, seared scallop, truffle, and lemon crab. Ty-Lor: hollandaise with lemongrass and citrus zest, ahi tuna and baby bok choy. I think he screwed up too. Nyesha: tomate sauce with coconut ras el hanout and braised lentils.

Dean says that Dakota used too much peach, and Nyesha used too many flavors, period. Also Beverly made some different sauce, and used her mother sauce sparingly. On the good side, Grayson managed to make ravioli, Chris C. made a great variation on his sauce, and Paul pickled things perfectly. He says that Grayson is the winner. She says to watch out.

Padma warns them that this Elimination challenge will be the toughest they’ll face. They must work as one team to make a four course steak dinner for 200 people. Wow. Ty-Lor says he’s worked in a steakhouse, but working as a team will be challenging. Two of their courses must have steak. This dinner is at the Cattle Baron’s Ball. Nice. Sarah says that these people eat steak every day. Dean says they must produce perfect medium-rare steaks. 30 minutes to menu plan, 3 hours to cook tonight, and 3 hours to cook tomorrow. At South Fork Ranch, which reference I don’t get until Heather mentions “Dallas”. Then she says someone needs to look that up “on the Google machine” and if I wasn’t already annoyed at her for bitching about Beverly for no reason, that would do it. Winner of this challenge gets a car. I’d say “Woo! Car curse!” but this show already destroyed the car curse.

There’s an extra person, so when they split up the courses, they get three on each course except for dessert, which has four. Why not put the extra person on the steak course? I would have done that to make sure as many people as possible are watching the steaks. Soup course is Sarah, Beverly, and Dakota, second course (sirloin appetizers) is Ed, MotoChris, and Paul. Third course, which is the rib eye, is Nyesha, Ty-Lor, Whitney, and Chris C. I thought Paul just said that four people were on dessert? Maybe they have some sense after all. Dessert is Lindsay, Heather, and Grayson. Ed is the “secretary”. He says that Heather is making the same cake she made for the quicianera, but what we didn’t see then was that it’s Ed’s recipe. He is not pleased that she is using his recipe again.

Product placement car commercial.

45 minutes and $4000 to shop. Wow. They seem to be destroying the store. Ty-Lor talks about his dad and inspiration and they show pictures of him while he was small. Whitney finally gets some screen time and says she’s making potato gratin. Nyesha is making two parts of the entrée.

Cooking. The soup is going to be tomato watermelon gazpacho. Sarah thinks that with two meat dishes this will be a nice break. The appetizer course is seared NY strip steak carpaccio and salad. Main course is rib eye (Ty-Lor), “greens” (Chris C.), sauce and compound butter (Nyesha), and potato gratin (Whitney). Heather starts talking about how Beverly is cleaning shrimp, and it’s taken her three hours, and she’s so selfish because she’s just saving her own ass, and aren’t Heather and Beverly on different courses? Or did I mix up Sarah and Heather again? Because why are you so concerned with what Beverly is doing when she wouldn’t be helping you anyway? Whitney is not going to cook her gratin tonight, which worries Ed. Ty-Lor is using a paring knife to poke the marrow out of bones when he puts the knife right into his hand. Yikes. It looks like he stabbed himself between two fingers, and he’s basically telling the medic how it’s going to bleed a lot, and he’s not going to stop, and she should patch him up. He sounds like a total jerk but I wonder how much of that is him trying not to freak out. They wrap his hand up, and he goes back to work and he’s worried because he’s the one responsible for the steaks tomorrow.

After prep he I guess goes to the hospital, and everyone else sits around and tries to come up with a solution to who is going to cover for him. No one will step up to take over for him. Lindsay thinks it’s because of what happened with the first group challenge, which is that Lindsay and Sarah got bossy and they got in trouble for it. At least somewhat. She doesn’t offer either, though.

In the morning, Ty-Lor finally returns to the hotel with four stitches. The hospital was busy, and he was not a priority. He’s going to be running on espresso.

OK, Bravo, that is the worst fake-ass “Dallas” music I think I’ve ever heard. Heather interviews that she finished baking last night (not “we finished”, but “I finished”) so she and Lindsay are pulling plates and apparently “organizing everybody”, which involves reading off a to-do list and shouting. I get that someone needs to set tables and that’s good. I just think the other people can figure out what their courses need and don’t need. MotoChris is searing steaks, but he’s shocking them in liquid to stop the cooking? He also manages to burn a pot holder. Whitney is redoing some of her gratin, because the potatoes turned brown. She thinks she has time. Heather complains about Beverly, who is prepping shrimp, and tells her to move her station closer to the stove so she can cook easier. No one put you in charge, Heather. Heather is now pretending they are a 13 person team, which is ridiculous. You can’t say “I finished the cake” and then say “we’re all a team”. The judges won’t give all of you a car. You know that if Lindsay and Grayson get cars too she’ll bitch about that. And where is Grayson anyway? If you’re so far ahead because the cake’s done, what’s she doing? Don’t hear you whining about her. Dakota tells us Heather’s a bully and “the first person that I would boot from the island”. Oh totally, she would be that one person that starts giving orders about how to make the shelter and where it should be, and how people are drinking too much water, and they’d get rid of her quick.

Tom time! Heather tells Tom she has the most pastry experience out of everyone, and it’s the smartest thing because now she and Lindsay can “execute and expedite”. So in case you were wondering, she purposely put herself on dessert and made dessert early so she could spend today telling everyone what to do. Dakota is making garnishes, and she made mousse too. Dean asks Whitney something about making potato gratin in a double boiler? What? Ty-Lor says he’s marking the steaks on the grill and finishing in the oven. Tom looks slightly skeptical. Beverly says her shrimp are perfect.

Guests arrive and schmooze. This is a giant fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Heather checks on Ty-Lor, who is manning several grills, outside, where it is 112 degrees. That sucks.
Hugh is here. Woo. Sarah introduces the first course, tomato-watermelon gazpacho, poached shrimp, and avocado mousse. There’s not a lot of watermelon, and Tom thinks it’s too safe. Second course is being plated, and suddenly Lindsay is freaking out about the third course. Second course: New York strip steak carpaccio, heirloom tomato salad, pistachio vinaigrette, and mushroom “bacon”. Tom is irritated at the lack of focus. Hugh says with this much time, they should have peeled the tomatoes.

Lindsay claims that no one would decide when the steaks should go into the oven, so she had to do it. I think it’s because everyone thought Ty-Lor was in charge of steaks, and he’s outside. He does know that he’s depending on everyone else to finish the steaks properly. People start to plate, and then suddenly Heather says they should wait. She interviews that people are still eating the appetizer, so they shouldn’t get the steaks ready, but timing is an issue. Heather is still telling people what they should do and Paul tells her the steaks are already in the oven. Yeah, should have thought about sooner. Heather tells people everything will be fine. Ty-Lor is pissed. A kitchen timer goes off in the kitchen, and is that how they knew when to serve what courses? Does that mean they knew when they would be serving the steaks? What is Lindsay doing then? Ugh, Judges’ Table is going to be stupid. Nyesha hopes her contributions will be strong enough. Grilled rib eye, creamy potato gratin, braised greens and compound butter. The steaks are not all medium rare, and the gratin is not cooked. The judges do distinguish Nyesha’s good contributions. Heather is telling people about how to plate the cake, and she says this: “At this point we have nothing to do except focus on getting my cake out the door.” MY cake. So you’re going to spend an hour complaining about how Beverly is not a team player, but it’s your cake. “Right side up” Texas peach cake, peach salad, and candied pecan streusel. Sadly they love the cake. Tom expected a lot more from them. Ty-Lor thinks he’s going home because the steaks didn’t all come out the same. Whitney knows her gratin wasn’t good.

Commercial interlude: apparently Beverly has considered Ed her idol for a long time. She tells him how she used to stalk him. Creepy.

As everyone waits in the “Stew Room”, Heather wants to talk about what happened with the steaks. Ty-Lor takes responsibility, which is too bad because from what we saw, clearly Lindsay was the one who fired everything early. Heather asks if everyone pulled their weight and then tells Beverly to her face that she didn’t do enough work. Shut up, Heather. Beverly stands up for herself and says peeling and deveining 400 shrimp will take a long time. Heather then threatens to throw her under the bus if she needs to. Heather also thinks she and Lindsay are in trouble because they were responsible for execution of the whole banquet. Beverly brings up an excellent point (sadly, only in confessional) that her taking so much time to prep shrimp had absolutely nothing to do with screwing up the steaks. More whining from Heather. Padma collects Nyesha, Heather, and MotoChris. Damn, I wanted Ed to jump in somewhere and call Heather out on using his recipe. MotoChris cooked the steak carpaccio perfectly. Heather’s cake was well done. Nyesha’s butter saved the dish, according to Tom. The winner is Heather. Are you serious? Car curse! She was such a bitch to Beverly and now she’s all smiles.

Ty-Lor, Whitney, and Ed get called out. Well at least Beverly didn’t get called. Whitney randomly reminds us Hugh is her mentor. Oh, Ty-Lor knows why he’s there. You don’t have to ask him. The steaks were inconsistent and Tom thinks he had the time and manpower in the kitchen to grill the steaks and avoid the oven in the first place. Ty-Lor says the steaks were fired at the wrong time, but the buck stops with him. Whitney wanted something traditional, even though it was so hot outside, but it was raw. And then she served it raw when she should have noticed that. Ed made the salad for the carpaccio, and Tom thought it was too safe. Ed thinks no one wanted to take over anything, and Hugh supports having someone get bossy and order people around. Whatever, Hugh. Although, apparently because I am in an alternate universe, Hugh on his blog agrees with me about Heather.

Ty-Lor is pissed because he thought he should have been able to execute steaks. Lindsay keeps her mouth shut. Whitney took 6 hours to make undercooked potatoes, and any chef should know how to make gratin. True, I probably could do it. Ty-Lor should have grilled the steaks and they would have been good. Ed didn’t do enough and Tom thinks he underestimated his audience.
Tom complains about everyone, and then says he’s thinking maybe he picked the wrong chefs at the beginning of the show. Whitney is sent home. I barely know who she is! They never gave her any screen time. She’s proud of herself.

Next week: double elimination, Heather gets paired with Beverly (OF COURSE), Heather bitches at Grayson. Shut up everyone.

Last Chance Kitchen: All the eliminated chefs are hanging out to watch Chuy and Whitney make burgers. Of course, because this is Top Chef, a random knife draw determines that Chuy’s burger is ostrich and Whitney’s is elk. Both of these proteins are lean and dry. Everyone is making aioli and Keith reminds Whitney to put pans on the burner. And Chuy. No one thinks they’ll be done in time, but everyone finishes. Chuy: ostrich and ground pork burger with Fresno chili aioli and onion straws. Tom doesn’t think he can fit it in his mouth. Also it seems to not be as cooked as Chuy claims to have wanted it. Whitney: elk and pork sausage burger, shallots and garlic, and a fried egg. After Tom has his tasting he invites the boys to come have some too. That was nice. Tom asks around, and Keith says Whitney’s burger had more flavor. Tom agrees, so Whitney gets to stick around.


Anonymous said...

This season is driving me crazy. I even prefer season 2 so far, which was one of the lamest.
Heather, Lindsay and Sarah are bossy as hell. Most of the contenders lack charisma and are reacting like teenagers : you tell them something, they overreact and blame the closest person to them.

What the hell.

Anonymous said...

Yeah,Heather is getting on my nerves pretty quick. I think Ed said it best when he mentioned that sometime soon, she's actually going to have to cook something other than his cake recipe.
She is one of those people who it is never their fault, and will throw anyone under the bus to save her own skin. I think she's gonna get bitten by the Karma bug really soon now, if there is a deity.