Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top Chef 1/4/12--"BBQ Pit Wars" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: actually, TWO episodes have happened since I last recapped. First there was that team challenge where Heather was a bully and then Nyesha and Dakota were sent home. Then, just before Christmas, the chefs went to Austin and had to make a Quickfire dish based on Twitter suggestions. These consisted of 1. Use bacon, 2. Make a hash, and 3. Screw a fellow contestant with a random ingredient. So that was fun. Paul wins some money but not immunity, but the highlight is Grayson saying she’s serving a “shrimp puff”, which is called a puff because she wanted the judges to think it was light and airy. That was a fail. The Elimination challenge involved pretending the contestants were going to relax and listen to Patti LaBelle, and then telling them they would be making a dish inspired by the person who taught them to cook. Everyone tells lovely stories about their parents or grandparents. Heather buys rib eye to make beef stroganoff, which is weird because you do not simmer rib eye in sauce, and it does not turn out well at all. Emeril says it’s like those hotel banquets Tom drags him too. Hee. Grayson also buys rib eye that ends up gross, which makes me wonder if the rib eye at Whole Foods was just bad. But Grayson also made EXACTLY the same dish she used to make, instead of the “inspired by” dish she was asked to make. Beverly uses the pressure cooker, for the second time in the episode, to make short ribs that are delicious and look so good. Ed makes bibimbap, which is basically rice and veggies and an egg, but that would totally be good. Sadly for the two of them, it is Sarah and her stuffed cabbage that carries the win. And even though there is fierce competition from Grayson and Chris C. (who I am going to start calling Malibu and also when you cook salmon too fast that white stuff oozes out and it is called albumen), Heather is sent home. But not until she complains at Judges’ Table that she didn’t use the pressure cooker because the last challenge she did and the duck turned out stringy and they yelled at her, and Tom is all “Well, Beverly used the pressure cooker and she’s not here.” BURN! It was so satisfying though. (click for more)

And on Last Chance Kitchen, Nyesha is the victor, having beaten all comers, and especially Heather. Yay Nyesha!

The remaining chefs sit around and discuss if it’s maybe time to stop helping each other. Ed reveals that the tres leches cake that has won twice now (both times when Heather made it) is his recipe. For some reason this pisses Sarah off and she says he should have had the balls to say something to Heather, or make the cake himself. Huh? I mean…I get what she’s saying, I’m just not sure why she’s so angry about it. Suddenly there is a knock on the door and some guy enters with a copy of Modernist Cuisine. That’s the crazy like, 6 volume “cookbook” with the detailed recipes and it’s like an encyclopedia. I kind of want to get my hands on a copy just to look at it. Padma leaves them a note to “study up”. Wow. There are some molecular techniques but a lot of classic stuff too. Beverly stays up studying.

Padma greets them for the Quickfire with Nathan Myhrvold, who is the author of Modernist Cuisine. MotoChris says if he was 1/10th as smart as Nathan is, he’d rule small continents. Heh. Padma and Nathan tell them they must “illustrate Modernist cuisine”, whatever the hell that means. Winner gets immunity and a copy of the book(s). Nice.

45 minutes to cook. It occurs to me this is a very vague directive. MotoChris is using “miracle berries” which are things that make everything taste sweet. Ty-Lor is making watermelon and olive oil powder or something. Paul says he uses molecular gastronomy, even though he can barely pronounce it. Grayson is making tarragon dill caviar. You know, I’m pretty sure they said molecular gastronomy wasn’t everything, but that seems to be what everyone is falling back to. Although, with a vague instruction like “illustrate Modernist cuisine” I’d probably do the same thing. Random clip of Chris C. (henceforth, Malibu) and his audition video and all the nude paintings in his apartment.

Beverly: flash steamed clams and mussels, curry whipped cream and mango chili. She goes to dispense the whipped cream but sprays it on Nathan and Padma. Sigh. And then she drops some stuff? Ed says he respects her but she is an oddball. I’ll give him that, she admits to being social awkward. Turns out she forgot to take something off the dispenser. Sarah: breakfast raviolo with pancetta, and egg yolk, and sauce made from orange juice. Tasty. Ed: salmon belly sashimi, compressed watermelon, brunoise radishes held together with coconut coulis instead of rice. Grayson: trout sashimi, dill caviar, pickled watermelon, cucumber, and radish. Ty-Lor: watermelon, vanilla bean honey, black pepper, and salted olive oil powder. Lindsay: marinated baby octopus, tempura sea beans, and togarashi. Togarashi is chili pepper. Malibu: risotto foam, scallops, raisins, and fried capers. Paul: endive salad, egg yolk, parmesan and truffle powder. MotoChris: so first he makes them eat the “miracle berries”, which is less impressive than he hopes because Nathan grows them in his basement. Which leads MotoChris to say he wants to visit Nathan’s basement, which doesn’t sound right. Anyway, the dish is deconstructed cheesecake, with blackberries, and sparkling water with lime and lemon.

Nathan says that Paul had a good dish but not good flavor, Beverly’s dish wasn’t different enough, and Grayson had a simple preparation but the ingredients weren’t great enough to make up for it. Ty-Lor had a good set of spices and the olive oil powder was interesting. Sarah had a great dish in the right context. MotoChris composed his dish well. Ty-Lor wins! Poor MotoChris.

Elimination challenge: BBQ. They must make three teams of 3. Lindsay takes up Heather’s refrain and says that whenever there’s a team challenge, Beverly causes her team to lose, so Lindsay wants no part of that. Sarah ends up with Ed, but also Ty-Lor. She doesn’t really want to work with Ed, but she thinks Ty-Lor will do well. But if your team loses, Ty-Lor has immunity. Sigh. Malibu doesn’t move fast enough, so his team is the two Chris’s and Beverly. They will serve 300 people at The Salt Lick. They will have all night to cook again. Chicken, beef brisket, and pork spareribs, plus two sides.

$1000 at Whole Foods and $1000 at Restaurant Depot. Ty-Lor is glad to work with Ed again since they won the game meat challenge. MotoChris likes his team, and says they’re making coleslaw and baked beans for sides. Paul says Ty-Lor’s team is also doing those sides, so his team is going with miso, curry, and Asian flavors. Ed for some reason complains about how Sarah’s Texas accent is getting thicker, but I can’t hear it at all. She says “yonder”. Whatever.
Bravo. Andy Cohen every night. Are you fucking serious?

Here I am thinking I’m doing well, not too far behind, and then I remember: super-sized episode. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggh. Everyone gets to The Salt Lick and they talk to the owner, who explains about the wood and the grill and everything. I cannot get over the fact that Beverly has a huge color tattoo covering half her left arm. It just doesn’t seem to go with her personality. Paul is getting nervous about making barbeque this good.

Everyone gets to the pits, along with a pickup truck full of wood. It is 10:18pm. Ty-Lor tapes a “courtesy” sign to his team’s RV that says “If this RV’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’”. As one does. Paul’s goal is to get his meat in the smoker first. Ty-Lor is loving immunity, but he wants to redeem himself from the steak debacle. Sarah is inside the RV telling Ed how to cook onions for some reason, which he curses about. The directions, not the onions. Malibu strips down to his wife beater. Nice. Beverly says she’s reducing the bourbon inside their RV, and Malibu is like, “be careful”, all calm. Cut to inside, where the pot is on fire and licking at the bottom of the cabinets. Beverly, possibly because she has nerves of steel, actually stirs other pots until the smoke alarm goes off, at which point she takes it outside and puts it on the ground. And leaves it there. Malibu thinks she’s book smart but not street smart. Lindsay asks Paul a bunch of questions, as he’s been designated the leader. Ty-Lor kind of rolls his eyes about Paul’s Asian flavors.

At 3am, MotoChris says whoever has the foil-covered brisket, your meat is on the ground. Damn. It’s Paul’s team. The meat is still good, because it was wrapped in foil, but it hasn’t been circulating in the smoker like they thought. Grayson thinks they might be in trouble because of losing cook time. MotoChris makes beer can chicken. The sun comes up, and the beds have not been slept in. 3 hours until service. MotoChris has made up a song. It’s very hot.

Tom time! I am distracted by Malibu in his mostly-naked state. Everyone is well on the way to being done, of course. Sarah asks for water in an ominous way. Tom laughs at everyone when they admit to not sleeping. Grayson babbles to Tom that he will love their BBQ, because it will be “like sex in the mouth”. Tom just leaves. That was pretty funny though. Tom then announces that the winning team will take home $5,000 EACH. Damn.

Grayson is now doing pelvic thrusts. Malibu thinks the spareribs are salty. Lindsay is making Brussels sprouts, but their fire is low and they don’t have time to build it up, so they might be raw. Sarah comes inside, I guess to where they’re serving, and asks Ty-Lor if they’ve got it, and he says they do. She goes and sits down, and then suddenly the medics are there. She’s been outside, where it’s probably 100 degrees, breathing in smoke for hours, on no sleep. They give her oxygen so she doesn’t pass out. And then the medics call an ambulance for her. Scary! Ty-Lor says this is no joke, and goes over to tell her he and Ed have it under control and she is crying, and probably hyperventilating which doesn’t help. And I would like to point out that the other person who’s been seriously injured this season is Ty-Lor, and he is currently telling Sarah to go to the hospital right now and miss service.

With 30 minutes to go until service, Tom tells Ed and Ty-Lor that Sarah is headed to the hospital. Ed says the first thing they were thinking is “Is she dead?” but he says it in kind of an asshat way. Plus you know Ty-Lor has been talking to her so he knows more of what is going on. Then Ed says he would have pushed through it, which, whatever. Ed says they can‘t cut meat to order because they‘re down a person. He’s inside the room throwing things around, because he says the pre-cut meat will dry out or be gross or something. They had been planning to carve as people showed up, but only having two people means they can’t.

Everyone shows up at the same time, of course. MotoChris’s T-shirt says “I eat vegans”. Hee. Oo, live music. Top Chef, come to St. Louis so I can figure out how to get on the show. Kmanpat can talk about flavor profiles and he says “back palate” a lot when tasting wine so that’s good sound bites. Also if you want I can get some boring Midwesterners to show up and talk about how weird everything is. Yay, Gail’s here!

Blue team (Paul, Grayson, Lindsay): Asian spare rib, chicken and brisket, Brussels sprouts with okra and kim chee flavor, and watermelon salad maybe. Their food goes over really well, although Tom says the brisket is under seasoned and the Brussels sprouts aren’t cooked.
White team (MotoChris, Malibu, Beverly): beer can chicken, brisket, Dr. Pepper glazed pork ribs. What about the coleslaw and beans? I guess they’re boring. The chicken is good but not smoky so not really barbeque. The beans are not cooked. Oo. And the ribs are salty. Brisket is chewy, but the mayonnaise is OK. I think they are the ones with the agua fresca, which Gail wishes had alcohol. Nathan says “Bite your tongue, CANADIAN!” Hee.

Sarah sneaks back in! She’s OK! She immediately asks to help, and Ed completely ignores her while Ty-Lor asks if she’s OK. Then Ed bitches in confessional that she was only worried about her chicken. Well, with the way you reacted to her leaving, I could totally see you ignoring her chicken just out of spite. She tries to offer to help, but Ed has changed his tune from “Sarah screwed us because now we’re down a person”, to “Sarah is fucking up our system and she should go away”. I mean…I won’t pretend I’ve never been mad at someone for ditching out on work, and then still been mad when they actually showed up and tried to help. But I at least get some points for knowing how stupid that sounds. Right? Right. Ed is bossy and an ass, and Ty-Lor is very nice about it. Red team: Texas chicken, KC style pork ribs, smoked brisket, poppy seed coleslaw, pinto beans. Once the judges get served, Sarah cuts some things and then goes to sit down. She even acknowledges this and says she feels no guilt at all. Ed thinks it’s mighty coincidental she magically reappeared to serve the judges. I think she tried to help, was rebuffed, stuck around for the important part and then bailed. Ed might have a point but he’s coming off as an asshat. The meat is good, except for Ty-Lor’s ribs are a weird texture. Sauce is good though. They also seem to know they sliced all the meat early.

When the service is over, Ty-Lor and Ed stand around outside and smoke while Ty-Lor says he’s ill because he didn’t serve great barbeque. Quit smoking if you feel ill! Gah. Ed complains that since Ty-Lor is immune and Sarah showed up “just in time” to pick out good chicken, he might go home. Whatever.

Commercial interlude: Grayson loves camping and she sings a campfire song which, too many years of Girl Scout camp have made me HATE campfire songs. Including this one which I am sure I have sung far too many times. This is why I hate some of the songs we sing at church.

OK, this is a weird thing and I don’t know what to make of it. Everyone is sitting at a table, and Sarah is saying that she doesn’t think they were communicating, and something about her chicken, and Ty-Lor asks if she didn’t think they supported her? Is she really complaining about her chicken? I mean, yeah, hospital, but they covered for you, and now is probably not the best time to tell them you don’t think they did a good enough job. Ed tells her not to get emotional, even though she is completely unemotional. That was so weird. Why were they even talking about that? Padma calls Paul, Lindsay, and Grayson, to declare them the winners. Tom wants the chicken recipe. They weren’t traditional, which put them above everyone else. Paul admits he has won a total of $35,000 so far.

Tom says that Sarah’s chicken was good, but more like grilled chicken and not enough smoke flavor. Sarah wishes she’d put them in the smoker, and Nathan says some of the skin wasn’t cooked, which is a problem when you put the sauce on it because then it’ll never cook. Ty-Lor over seasoned his ribs and then they weren’t cooked enough. Ty-Lor and Ed put orange mint (?) in the coleslaw which Gail didn’t like. Orange mint? They get nailed for pre-slicing the brisket, but Ed explains they were down one person. Tom thinks they should have still sliced to order, but I’m sure if they were slow, someone would have complained about that. On to the other team. Beverly’s coleslaw was too traditional and Gail is bored. MotoChris had the same problem as Sarah because it wasn’t smoky. Malibu gets harassed about the ribs and the Dr. Pepper sauce. “Because it’s from Texas” is not a good enough reason for Tom. Ribs were too salty. Beverly had undercooked beans.

MotoChris cooked all the proteins for his team, but then Malibu made all the rubs, and they don’t really know which one was responsible for the meat being bad. Beverly’s beans were undercooked. Ty-Lor can’t be sent home. Ed helped with the bad coleslaw, and was responsible for the bad brisket. Sarah’s chicken was sort of better than the other team’s chicken, which doesn’t say much.

They make Ty-Lor come back out, which doesn’t make a ton of sense, but whatever. Malibu gets sent home. Aww. Bye eye candy. He wishes he had taken charge and lead the group. He’s more comfortable in his style now.

Next week: Restaurant Wars! Girls vs. Boys! Who in the fuck put Ed in front-of-house? Lots of bitching.

Last Chance Kitchen: Malibu is really confused about why Nyesha is around. They must use ingredients found at a gas station, for $20. Kick ass. I love unconventional materials challenges, no matter what show it’s on. The audience harasses everyone. Nyesha has purchased pork rinds to make chicharron. Malibu stacks pans on each other to make a Panini press. Nice. Also Nyesha warns Malibu his soup is boiling over, which is a friendly gesture. Nyesha: beer glazed smoked sausage with a pork rind tuile and chili cheese sauce. Malibu: togarashi spiced tomato soup with spicy pork rinds, and grilled cheese with fried ham and pickle. Everyone in the peanut gallery seems divided, but Tom selects Nyesha as the winner.

No comments: