Thursday, February 23, 2012

Top Chef 2/22/12--"Fire and Ice" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: The longest season ever was extended by an additional week so this show could pretend to be other shows that win Emmys. There were several challenges that had nothing to do with cooking and everything to do with looking stupid, and then in the end, Beverly was sent home again. So what you are saying is, “Last Chance Kitchen” only existed to wring out as much drama as possible from this season, but you draw the line at actually affecting the winner. I’m just ready for it to be over, I think. (click for more)

Also my cable is still doing that thing where the sound and picture go out for a couple of seconds at a time, randomly, but since I wasn’t home I didn’t tape the re-airing to see if I could fill in the gaps. I am going to guess it wasn’t important.

See, they are STILL talking about Beverly, and I am sure I missed part of it, but do you really want to hear about how these people deserve to be here and also Sarah kissing Lindsay’s ass about how great she is? I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.

The contestants drive somewhere and play “The Name Game”. I’m not sure how that is supposed to work. Paul talks about how the three of them are friends but everyone understands that in the kitchen, no more friends. They end up back in the Fairmount in Vancouver just to drop off their stuff and get dressed in their jackets.

Then is a field trip to Chinatown, which I am hoping makes them all nervous. Sarah is nervous, because she knows if Beverly had made it through, she’d be kicking their asses right now. Padma and Emeril greet the final three for their Quickfire. Out come three Asian master chefs: Anita Lo (who won her season of Top Chef Masters), Floyd Cardoz (he won his season too?), Takashi Yagihashi. They draw knives to get paired up with one of these chefs. Sarah apparently loves Takashi but is not paired with him (HA). Lindsay and Anita, Sarah and Floyd, and Paul and Takashi. Paul interviews that he has an Asian background but doesn’t like that he’s expected to win. I think expecting Paul to win has more to do with the fact that Paul wins most of the time. They will have 40 minutes to make an “Asian-inspired” dish, and every ten minutes they have to tag out and switch who is cooking. Winner gets $20,000. Do the sous chefs get anything? Stupid.

The Masters go in first, and who knows what they are coming up with. You aren’t allowed to talk to your partner, so when you get there you just have to guess. Takashi wants to make sashimi, and he thinks that Paul will know what to do just based on the ingredients. Padma and Emeril peek into the kitchen through the window. Floyd is making curry and thinks he’s left enough of a direction for Sarah. Everyone trades up and tries to figure out what is going on. Turns out Paul has geoduck. Those are the giant clams with the huge siphon sticking out of one side. Sarah interviews that she has no confidence with a curry, and then she starts talking about cold crab salad, so maybe she just abandoned the curry? Paul starts making dashi, so when Takashi gets in he makes it into a sauce. Lindsay has done more work that will go with what Anita had in mind. Sarah, even though she has said she knows nothing about curry, has done exactly what Floyd wanted her to do. The contestants have to do the final plating. Lindsay is slightly intimidated. Paul adds some chili because Padma likes spice. True. But at the very end Paul worries he’s used too many chilis.

Lindsay: scallop two ways, bok choy and chili, and fried roe with sausage and water chestnuts. Anita had been planning on three ways: raw, fried roe, and sausage. Sarah: pan seared cod with coconut curry, crab salad with Clementine and amaranth. Sarah has to ask what the amaranth is. She did pretty much what Floyd intended, and there is a shot of Anita looking pissed. She’s looked irritated since they walked out, so I guess Lindsay really screwed up. Paul: mirugai (giant clam) sashimi with yuzu dashi, fried white fish, scallions, and chili. The chili wasn’t in the original plan, but Takashi agrees with a little chili. Padma points out that both she and Emeril like chili, but this is a lot of chili. Oops.

Lindsay did a good scallop dish, seared well, but the sausage was a little overpowering. Padma tells Sarah she loves the amaranth and is going to steal it, and Sarah giggles “Me too!” as if she didn’t just say 10 minutes ago that she doesn’t even know what it is. Could have used more acid. Paul was brave with his protein, but it was too spicy. The winner is Sarah. Let this be a lesson to you: the person who did exactly what their Master partner wanted is the one who won.

For the Elimination challenge, these three are throwing a Fire and Ice party. They each have to make one dish and one cocktail, each dish containing both a hot and cold element. Padma doesn’t clarify if she means temperature hot or spicy hot. Or, I suppose, temperature cold or flavor cold, like a mint or cucumber or something. There will be 150 guests. Everyone looks pissed. The winner gets a trip for two to Costa Rica. Emeril says that they need to be creative and “chili with a scoop of sour cream” will not cut it. I only quote that because now there is a high likelihood someone will make chili with sour cream.

Lindsay is trying to decide if she wants to set something on fire. Or freeze something. Paul, interestingly, orders crab legs in grams. Nice. He’s got big plans. Sarah is making baked pasta…with frozen ginger mousse? What? Lindsay is making halibut and says it will probably be tricky to make it for so many people, but “luckily this isn’t Restaurant Wars”. Yeah, then your shitty front-of-house service would get you in trouble. Also, Bravo, now that Beverly is gone I don’t need ANOTHER clip of her, thanks. Lindsay is going to be the one cooking it, so I certainly hope this is foreshadowing for when she destroys it. Lindsay brags that Sarah and Paul are doing frozen things and that it’s “gimmicky” and not how she does things. Wasn’t she just talking about setting something on fire?

Everyone goes to dinner and they toast Sarah’s money. No one ever toasted Paul’s money. Sarah tells us in confessional that her mom let her drop out of high school to go to culinary school. Shouldn’t she have made you at least graduate and THEN go to culinary school?

5 hours to cook. Sarah interviews that the other two second guess themselves a lot. She makes an ominous comment about wanting a calculator and hoping her math is right. Paul is getting started on lobster stock with like 30 lobsters. Sarah says she is making pasta “by hand”, but then we see her with two pasta machines running at the same time. I think she means to say “from scratch”. Lindsay grates tomatoes and brags that if she cut off a finger she’d keep going. Sarah doesn’t think it’s unique to be doing a take on a Bloody Mary. Yeah, but a cold drink that is spicy does fit the challenge.

Tom time! Paul is making his soup, which will be poured over “lemon snow” tableside so it will all melt together. Tom cruelly asks him why he didn’t win the Quickfire, and Paul says it’s just that Lindsay and Sarah just made better dishes. Lindsay has halibut (served hot) over some kind of salad (served cold). And tomato granita. Tom…I think Tom has his bitch hat on today. He reminds Lindsay about Restaurant Wars, and how Beverly overcooked her fish, and then says it seemed like it was overcooked because that’s how Lindsay told her to do it. Ha! She just says she wants to make sure temperatures are right for everything. Sarah is making cannelloni with greens, and spiced mousse that will be in the freezer and melt to make the sauce. More cooking and freaking out. Everyone thinks they’re in the weeds. Paul wishes this was one of those challenges where Padma appears and gives them sous chefs. Yeah. Servers appear and Paul immediately asks for volunteers to serve just cocktails, as opposed to food. They divide up the work right away. That was well done. Paul seems to have a lot of ideas for his cocktail, including a Thai chili foam made of egg whites. Ew. Sarah is going to attempt to use the anti-griddle. I guess her plan was to make her mousse, cut it up, then put it on the anti-griddle to freeze it? But it ruins some of the mousse. Frantic plating of some things.

Everyone is wearing their coats so are they outside? With useless heaters? Gail says she is cold and demands to be warmed up. Hee. Her coat is fabulous though. Paul yells to everyone to push the plates, as one of the servers says everyone is hungry. He’s nervous and not feeling his game. Paul: king crab with lobster broth and lemon snow. It looks like he’s put the broth in shot glasses so everyone can pour and melt the snow when they get the dish. The drink is “The Pan Am“, kaffir lime, palm sugar, Thai chilies, and rum. It’s green with a thick layer of foam on top. The broth is good, but the arugula is kind of just there. Padma says she could use more heat in her drink, and Emeril reminds her yesterday they nailed him for that. They seem to really like it.

Sarah is telling her servers that they should make sure everyone eats the mousse. Or maybe eats the mousse and the pasta together. I’m not sure, but I am pretty sure that those servers are just going ot serve food and not give people instructions. Sarah: five greens filled pasta with garlic, chili, and spiced sformato (that’s the mousse). The drink is “agrumi”, gin with kumquats and mango. The sformato is still frozen. The flavors are great but the frozen mousse is hard to eat. The cocktail is great but maybe doesn’t go with the dish.

Lindsay is doing some last-minute freaking out because she didn’t literally have fire and ice, so she’s adding a spoon of tomato granita. She says some more about pushing herself but still staying true to herself. Lindsay: halibut with fiery celery root salad. The drink is an “Encendido” with vodka, tomato, and horseradish. I’m not sure how that isn’t a Bloody Mary. Gail hits a chili pocket in the salad, while Tom doesn’t taste any spice at all. It seems to be fine, except there is raw kale for some reason. The tomato ice goes over well. By itself, the drink is flat, but with the dish it is much better. Sadly she’s cooked the halibut well, according to all sources. They are kind of worried this was the first challenge they didn’t go out and introduce their dishes to the judges.

Judges’ table. Paul wanted to have lots of shellfish flavor and also snow. Padma lets him know he could have had more spice. Sad. Tom asks him what the arugula was for, and that it was kind of an afterthought. He wants the opportunity to make the best meal he ever put out. Also if he doesn’t win Texas may kick him out. Sarah meant for her hot pasta to be the “fire” in her dish. Gail tells her the mousse was hard to eat. Tom knows this pushed her out of her comfort zone, but it just didn’t quite work. The cocktail was great though. Sarah talks about how “food is a place and a memory” and she wants to tell them that story. Lindsay’s tomato soup (?) overpowered the fish a tiny bit, but was good on its own. Her cocktail separated slightly, but overall her pairing was best. Lindsay has learned about herself and wants the opportunity to pull out all the stops.

Each chef had a great dish with one small flaw. Paul’s cocktail paired well, and he did a good job marrying the challenge to the dish. But by the time they served it, the broth had cooled off so the contrast wasn’t what it should have been. Tom is still hung up on the arugula. Emeril liked Sarah’s cocktail best. She was the most creative, and it all became one dish. Gail is still hung up on the mousse. She meant it to be a sauce and it wasn’t, even though it was a risk for her. Lindsay had her tomato theme, but her “fire” component was lacking. The salad wasn’t terribly spicy, and it wasn’t terribly interesting. The only mistake was the drink, which certainly went with the food.

Commercial interlude: how will they choose the winner? We all try hard! We’re all freaking out! The sky is blue! Water is wet!

Sarah is moving on. It’s interesting to read her face when they say her name, she totally thinks she’s eliminated. Lindsay is out. Saw that one coming. Lindsay has no regrets, and stayed true to herself, and so forth. Paul is also moving on, and did I miss something? Did Padma officially tell Paul he won the challenge? Because she’s telling him about the trip to Costa Rica but no one said “you won the challenge”. weird. Sarah says she’s sad to see Lindsay going home, but she’s always known it would be her vs. Paul. Right.

Next week: this show finally ends. Previous contestant sous chefs. Ugh, Heather. Paul and Sarah’s family. I think they’re running a restaurant? Each of them has problems. Someone wins. I hope it’s Paul.

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