Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Top Chef 2/1/12--"Bike, Borrow, & Steal" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: there was almost the mise en place relay race, except that everyone was in teams of two and there were only three things. But then everyone had to cook with whatever time they had left after prep, which was interesting. Paul forgot to put the shrimp in his and Ed’s dish, so they were disqualified. Then Grayson and Chris won, which I was not expecting at all. And then one of the product placement sponsors had a food drive to have random people donate food and be on TV, instead of just donating some of THEIR OWN food, but I guess you can do that too. And I totally missed Ryan who was a previous contestant on this show. You know, he was the one who completely did not understand the concept of tailgating. So each team has to compete head-to-head, with dishes they had to pick out before they knew they had to make them healthy. Grayson decided they should make chicken salad, which is kind of boring but also not particularly healthy or what I am going to eat when it is hot out. Hers was better, though, so Chris was ousted. Oh, and Paul won, but you probably could figure that one out. (click for more)

In the Last Chance Kitchen, once Chris figured out they meant the Top Chef kitchen and not the house kitchen, Chris and Beverly had to compete on “Chopped”. Inside the baskets: marshmallows, pine nuts, parsnips, buttermilk, lamb chops, cinnamon, radicchio, and white anchovies. Beverly won, and if she can survive whoever gets ousted today, she will be back in the competition.

Grayson feels bad because she was close to Chris. Ed rolls out of bed and comes downstairs in a blazer and shirt, and boxers. Everyone laughs at him. Lindsay tells us her family wishes she had gotten a job that paid better.

The Quickfire seems to involve a table full of pancakes. She says it’s the guest judge’s favorite food. I’m not sure why Grayson thinks this means it’s Miley Cyrus, but that’s what she says. Then Pee Wee Herman rides in. He looks exactly the same. It’s impressive. They have 20 minutes to make pancakes. Exciting pancakes. Man, I thought they would have to use the pancakes on the table to make things! Wouldn’t that be an awesome challenge?
Sarah wants to win some money for her upcoming wedding. She seems to be going for confetti cake. Everyone talks about pancakes and watching “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”. The liquid nitrogen is produced, so that Paul can make champagne Dippin’ Dots. I do not like Dippin’ Dots because I don’t like chewing ice cream. Grayson is making Mickey Mouse pancakes and hopes it’s “whimsical” enough. The eye roll is implied. Sarah’s sprinkles are leaching color instead of being dots.

Grayson: ricotta buttermilk pancakes, peach compote, blackberry, and basil. Oh, Grayson. When they show the shot of the plate, you can see two blackberries and a big slice of peach. Not arranged as eyes and a mouth. You should have put more blackberries or something, because now I am seeing the face you didn’t make and I‘m disappointed. Also she kind of talks to Padma and Pee Wee like they’re small children. To be fair Pee Wee is making faces. Sarah: confetti pancakes, blackberry sauce, cocoa nibs, and vanilla whipped cream. Paul: rolled pancake with berries, black pepper, and champagne Dippin’ Dots. Lindsay: ricotta pancakes, whipped crème fraiche, marcona almond and anise cookies. Ed: pancake bits, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bacon, and bruleed marshmallow. Pancake bits are the little edges and drips that get burnt in the pan because you are concentrating on the actual pancakes. Pee Wee tells everyone that their pancake is the best he ever had.

No one gets called out for sucking, but the winner is Ed. Good for him, it’s his first Quickfire win.
“Chefs, I’m sure you all remember the Alamo.” Hee! Now we discuss one of Pee Wee’s movies, involving the Alamo, or whatever. Everyone gets a bicycle! Tomorrow they have to make a family style lunch for everyone. They will get a map, a bike, and $100. They have to find their own food and kitchen to cook it in. And only one contestant per kitchen. Padma says “restaurant”, so I guess they can’t cook in someone’s house or anything. That would be interesting though. (Kmanpat: “This would make a great challenge on “The Mole”.) It would. At least it’s not a team challenge. “The Mole” would make it a team challenge, one team to find ingredients and one to cook. Then they’d all have to put the dishes on bikes and ride up a hill.

Everyone gets up at 5:45am. They are going to have 3 hours to do everything, I think. That means biking and cooking and transport to the Alamo. The bikes are old school and have baskets. No streamers, but they appear to have those little license plates with names on them. Ed says they are like a biker gang. Hee. Paul reveals that he used to bike to work, but one day he hit a manhole cover and faceplanted. That sucks. They find a farmer’s market somewhere, and everyone is budgeting and also planning how much they can carry. They will have to transport everything to the Alamo on the bikes, so Sarah is trying not to buy too much. Ed wants shrimp, but there aren’t any at the farmer’s market, so he is hoping that the restaurant he finds will have some. Grayson and Paul are still together, but I’m not sure why Grayson is racing him. I guess they were racing for the same restaurant? Grayson finds the right door, and Paul says it’s not cool, but RACE! Oh, sorry…wrong show. Sarah is lost. Paul does find somewhere to work. Lindsay finds a place, but then she leaves to find more ingredients. Without cooking anything? Seems risky. Ed is trying to barter or trade, but the place he finds doesn’t have shrimp. He makes do with chicken and grits. There is a weird ominous shot of Ed’s bike, not locked up or anything. Lindsay shows up to wherever Grayson is, just to try to find some ingredients.

2 hours until service, and Sarah and Lindsay seem to be riding around. Sarah finds a place, except it’s the place Lindsay already visited once. Sarah sets up, and Lindsay has to leave again because they can only have one chef at a time in any kitchen. 30 minutes later, Lindsay is still riding. Finally she finds a BBQ spot and sets up. Her beef is still frozen, so she tries to thaw it quickly. Sarah is chatting up the guys at her restaurant. Ed is planning to undercook his chicken slightly so it will cook the rest of the way. He’s at a bed and breakfast, and the owner tells him he’s got some people sitting down to breakfast and can he get two eggs over easy? Ed is flabbergasted, but he’s borrowing space so you kind of have to do it. Grayson is putting an egg yolk inside a chicken breast. Paul’s making pickles, and it’s very telling that he specifies he’s making them out of cucumbers. You know…the vegetable most people associate with pickles. Lindsay says she works best under pressure. Everyone starts packing up and getting ready to ride over to the Alamo. I think people paid for whatever food they used from the restaurant they cooked in. Grayson is terrified her yolks in her chicken will break so she’s carrying the big pan in her hand somehow as she rides her bike. Actually she’s doing a really good job balancing, except for the part where she forgot the pan would be hot and her hand is burning. There should be tootling though. Sound guys, come on.

15 minutes to reheat and plate. Gail is here, along with Tom, Padma, and Pee Wee. Lindsay says it didn’t turn out the way she wanted, but it tastes good. Paul puts too much curry sauce, so he starts adding pickles, but he feels it’s going downhill.

Sarah: summer vegetable salad with a soft boiled egg and chicken skin vinaigrette. Grayson: egg, spinach, and gorgonzola stuffed chicken breast and roasted butternut squash. Lindsay: stuffed zucchini with braised beef cheeks, rice, and goat cheese. Ed: chicken and grits, raw corn, kale salad with red eye gravy. Paul: roasted chicken, red curry gastrique, summer salad with basil blossom oil. And pickles. Sarah’s eggs were cooked very well, but it needs salt and pepper. Lindsay’s beef is good, but there is too much goat cheese and vinaigrette. Red eye gravy is delicious, but Ed’s chicken is just barely this side of cooked enough, so the texture is weird. Both Tom and Pee Wee agree, and Pee Wee says “Bet you never saw yourself saying ‘I agree with Pee Wee’ today.” Hee. The egg yolks in Grayson’s chicken did not break, leading Pee Wee to declare he has a prize. But I guess she had the chicken and squash and then like, tomatoes and salad things? Tom doesn’t like it. Paul’s curry is sweet, and the pickles did cut the sweetness the way he had hoped they would. Pee Wee points out that Paul’s plate is the emptiest out of all of them. Padma sinks to Pee Wee’s level, and then tells Pee Wee she’ll see him there after he rides his bike over. “Tom, you’re in the basket.” “That’s where he usually is.”

Commercial interlude: Ed climbs under a chair for some reason as Lindsay tries in confessional to relate cooking to Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

There are few enough people that everyone comes to Judges’ Table. Pee Wee thanks them for lunch and says it was great. Overall a good job. Ed tells everyone how he had to cook for the bed and breakfast and the judges especially find it hysterical. Paul did a delicious job as usual, although you had to eat everything together or it was too sweet. Ed explains how he poached the chicken in beef tallow, and didn’t cool it down like he normally would because of time. It ended up a little rubbery. Grayson tries to explain how she took the chicken skin off, but the “it’s healthier” explanation falls by the wayside because then there was an egg yolk and bacon and cheese. Tom says butternut squash and tomatoes don’t really go together. Sarah had a new take on egg salad but the eggs were under seasoned. Lindsay’s zucchini were like little boats but her salad was kind of lacking. The winner is Lindsay. For some reason this shows that she deserves to be there, as if being the final five is not deserving or something. Paul is also safe. Everyone leaves.

Sarah’s cooking was perfect, but it is too late in the competition to not have seasoning. Poaching chicken in beef fat was a strange way for Ed to cook chicken, and the texture turned out strange. Grayson had huge chicken breasts (I guess that’s a thing with her) and mixing butternut squash and tomatoes is like mixing a summer dish with a fall dish? Yeah, I can see that.

Will it be slightly undercooked chicken (Ed), under seasoned eggs (Sarah), or poor flavor combinations (Grayson)? Today it is Grayson. Really? You know, usually you go with the execution failure. Whatever. I didn’t think she would make it this far, actually now that I think about it. She stayed true to herself, doesn’t regret anything. You know the story. The final four are toasting themselves as Padma comes to get them again. Then they let them in on Last Chance Kitchen. Ha! They watch a little bit of the competitions and freak out.

Next week: someone comes back into the competition, and Paul cries. That’s it, they don’t show anything else.

Last Chance Kitchen: we start out with a stupid recap because Grayson is Beverly’s last friend and now they’re competing. We already know this. I don’t care anymore. Everyone hates Beverly and they bullied her and then she left and I stopped having to hear about it. Grayson thinks she’s on Punk’d, but Tom says he would not get up at 6am just to fuck with her. He actually says that. Beverly says she’s not here to have fun, like Grayson is. I think Grayson is just laughing because she’s confused. Lighten up. 30 minutes to make a dish worthy of the finale. Anything you want. Nyesha says if Beverly beat her, she’d better make it all the way. Grayson talks about what she’s making, but in confessional she is not looking at the camera. People make comments and talk to the chefs. Beverly has scaled her fish so aggressively there are scales in her hair. Dakota snipes that Beverly is making Asian again and she always makes Asian. Well she beat you with it. Beverly asks Grayson how she got eliminated, which Grayson answers with cursing. Seriously, now is not the time to ask that. Beverly takes it right up to the last second. Beverly: red snapper in coconut broth infused with lemongrass, ginger, Thai basil & cilantro with a fennel mango salad. As she’s babbling about how she decided what to make, Tom is eating. Grayson: bacon seared scallop with a gastrique of cherry and champagne grapes with pistachio and tarragon. It’s meant to be “a trail of goodness”. Beverly’s dish was a little sweet, although the fish was perfectly cooked. Grayson’s scallops were also perfectly cooked, but the butter was slightly burned. They won’t tell who made it. I guess we’ll all find out next week.

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