Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Top Chef 11/14/12--"A Shock at the Space Needle" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Is this a thing now? Where we can’t just start a season of a reality show without having a casting special? Why is that? Anyway, at least it was smaller than last year, and also only one hipster mustache made it through. (click for more)

This season is in Seattle, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what the Seattle food scene is about other than coffee and seafood. And hipsters. Anyway, the kitchen looks nice, if similar to every other season’s kitchen. I do see pizza peels hanging on the back wall, so maybe there’s a wood oven? People size each other up. Padma comes out with CJ!!! Oh, and Stefan and Josie, but really, it is about CJ, who I realize looks like Prince Charming from “Once Upon a Time”. No wonder I like that show. They have to divide themselves into groups of three. John makes some rationalization about how maybe Kuniko has crazy knife skills because she’s Japanese. John is the one with the ego, if you recall. They must make a dish with some of the local shellfish, in 20 minutes. Crabs, mussels, crawfish, razor clams and geoducks. They have to divvy up the labor wisely. The veterans basically say that. John is busy telling Kuniko (and Sheldon, I guess) who is doing what, only Padma isn’t done talking so he gets yelled at. Winners get immunity.
Kristen says the geoduck can be prepared quickly, as opposed to the crabs which will take 15 minutes. Then she gets it out of the way and says the geoduck looks like a big penis. It does, someone has to point it out. They only have a few of them, so some people have to take razor clams instead. Carla is on an all-girl’s team. She interviews about wanting to look good, as all of them yell at the same time. Chrissy says she just hears noise. Bart (the Belgian knight) says Belgian food is amazing because they’ve been conquered so many times, they just keep the best ingredients from everyone. Heh. Brooke (I’m pretty sure) says she cooks rustic food while Bart is classic but she’s going to be a team player. Carla demands her team tell her what to do. All the other teams can hear her. Really she’s just demanding Liz tell her the recipe, or whatever. Kuniko says her lack of English is a hurdle, so she’s lucky her team seems to understand her. Carla keeps talking and they are subtitling everything she says. All plates must be on the table with a written description, and I think everyone makes it.

Eliza thinks the veterans will be extra hard on them. Gray team (Bart, Jeffrey, and Brooke): crawfish with pickled red chili, fennel, and crawfish cream. I think CJ says it’s old school but it seems to be cooked well. Orange team (Lizzie, Carla, and Chrissy): oven roasted crawfish with fennel and herb salad. Nothing really bad. Green team (Micah, Kristen, and Tyler): fried and sashimi geoduck, radish and bok choy salad, and yuzu chili vinaigrette. Josie likes the duo (bleh, duos). Blue team (Sheldon, Kuniko, and John): geoduck sashimi, ponzu, apple, cucumber. They like it, although it could have a hair more salt. Yellow team (Eliza, Danyele, and Josh): razor clam and grilled corn chowder with Fresno chili and grilled lime. This also needs salt.

CJ says the worst dish was the Yellow team, because it wasn’t seasoned enough. The winners are the Blue team. John claims this is one of the top five greatest things in his life. And THEN Padma says they don’t all get immunity, only one of them. Stefan brings the knife block. Why don’t they all get it? Why didn’t she say that at the beginning? Stupid. John pulls the lucky knife, which irritates me for some reason.

Padma then says that while CJ, Stefan, and Josie were judges for the Quickfire, now they’re going to be competitors. WHAT. Why is this show constantly copying Survivor? LEAVE IT ALONE. I mean, I love CJ, and Stefan is really entertaining, and I didn’t hate Josie, but seriously. Tyler says bullshit. I hear you, dude. Josh says this will suck and now he’s going to get into fights. They are much angrier about it than when they have this twist on Survivor. Maybe because it’s assumed they were eliminated for sucking and not because they were a threat. Of course Stefan says he should have one. The teams will stick together, so the veterans will be a team. Oh, man, I’d forgotten how tall CJ was. He says he’s been cooking in Copenhagen, and he’s more confident. His interview seems really rehearsed, but his presence is making me not furious at this stupid twist, so I’ll allow it. They’ll serve tomorrow at the top of the Space Needle. Each team will make one dish for the judges and Tom Douglas, who is a local chef. They will have 47 minutes to prep and cook, which seems dumb except that is the length of time it takes the Space Needle to rotate twice. 30 minutes to shop in the Top Chef Pantry. No Whole Foods today?

John loves Kuniko and her risks. Stefan and CJ agree to take eight quails just in case and probably also to screw everyone else. Danyele and her team can’t figure out what fish they have. As in, they don’t know what it is. Lizzie is not really pleased to be cooking with her team again.

They all go to the penthouse apartment they are going to live in which is sweet as it always is. Stefan finds the booze. Brooke (I think, based on what she says later) says she’s afraid of heights and is not looking forward to tomorrow. They ask Jeffrey why he has a ring, and he says he’s engaged. So someone jokes “She said ‘you’re going on TV, you’re wearing the fucking ring’” and Jeffrey clarifies “He”. (Kmanpat: “Yes! Damn!” Me: “Whatever, you’re going to stare at CJ.”) Josie wanted to come back and win. She claims her nickname is “The Global Soul Chef”.

CJ says he went to the Space Needle this one time when he was seven. Hee. Blue team and Orange team set up and start cooking. John seems to be calm, while Carla is back to her mode from the last episode of ranting and being kind of crazy. The veterans talk about what they’re doing, because they’ve decided to change their dish last minute. Judges arrive, with Tom Douglas. Emeril and Gail are here, but not Hugh. Gail wants to go fishing while she’s here. They talk about scallops and chit chat. Kuniko’s chili oil gets too hot and burns, which is a problem. She seems confused, like she can’t remember that’s her pot or something. She starts over. Someone calls four minutes, and Carla hollers that they should plate, and one of her team isn’t ready. The other chefs giggle at Carla.

Blue team: chili oil poached cod with dashi, and spot prawn shabu shabu. Orange team: poached salmon with seasonal vegetables in beurre blanc. I have to point out here that John’s glasses I guess are reading glasses, because he’s not wearing them all the time. The problem is that he pushes them up just above his eyes on his forehead, instead of taking them off or putting them higher up on the top of his head like a headband. He looks crazy. As Carla is cleaning up she manages to reach in her knife bag and slice her hand. Sigh. The judges say the cod is not super spicy, as they feared, and the spot prawns are great. Gail says “First thing I put in my mouth in Seattle? Not bad. That came out wrong.” The salmon is seasonal and local, and is really well done. Well done like good, not like overcooked.

Gray team and veterans. Jeffrey talks about growing up military, in a weird overabundance of his personal life for the first episode which worries me as far as editing goes. Stefan says something about quail breasts. Their cherry emulsion sucks, so Josie makes something new. Brooke thinks their fish is overcooked because they seared it on both sides and she wouldn’t do that. They do sear it and put it under a heat lamp, so who knows what that did to it.

Red team (the veterans): quail breast with confit spot prawn, cherries, and porcini. Gray team: pan roasted halibut, mushrooms, English peas, wheat beer with herb sabayon. The quail is not perfect, as Gail wants more cherries, and the spot prawns are overcooked. Douglas says the judges are tough, because he thought it was fine. The sabayon just tastes like nutmeg, and all the fish is overcooked.

Commercial interlude: Tom says when he was 22, he’d just broken up with his girlfriend and he very seriously considered moving to Seattle. He claims he didn’t because he didn’t think the car would make it. Douglas says he’s glad because now he’s big man on campus. Heh.

Yellow team and Green team. Danyele claims that once they started breaking down their fish, they figured out it was cod. None of you recognized cod? That seems pretty sad. Micah says they’re all focused. There is some yelling about mushrooms that I can’t figure out. Josh says he is not just from Oklahoma, he has experience.

Green team: crispy seared salmon, local vegetables, and spot prawn butter sauce. Yellow team: pan roasted cod, mushrooms, fava beans, pickled green apple, and garlic scape pistou. The cod is perfect, but they want more apple and the sauce has raw garlic. This salmon dish is basically the same as the orange team, but this sauce is bitter. Gail points out that all the dishes today were similar, which makes it both easier and harder to judge.

Stew Room. Everyone discusses who might have won. Stefan advances the theory that veterans are at a disadvantage because they’ve already been beat up and overthink things, while everyone else will just cook. All three veterans tell everyone how horrible it will be. Padma calls the Blue team, and tells them they are the winners. They give Kuniko full credit for the cod, and she says she’d never poached fish in chili oil before. Delicious and not too spicy. The spot prawns were also great and worked with everything (that was John). The winner today is Kuniko. She interviews that now everyone will realize she exists. Aww.
Red team and Gray team get called back. Josh and John have a really stupid argument about whether or not the veterans have an advantage. Josh thinks they do, but John’s all “they’re on the chopping block right now”. Josh kind of admits that OK, they are. John makes a face like he’s mocking Josh. Unnecessary, dude. Padma asks Josie why her team is here, and she says “Um…I think possibly something was…imperfect?” Hee. Tom snickers. She says something about texture, and Tom says it’s not that small. CJ made the mushrooms, and Stefan cooked the quail. Tom fucks with him some more before finally coming out and saying the quail was overcooked. I guess he was hoping they would have known. Bart looks pissed, I guess because he doesn’t think they should be there. Brooke lets everyone know they all have different styles, and Bart didn’t want to poach the fish like she did, and whatever. Bart kind of took over, but no one seems to care about that at all. Jeffrey cooked the fish. Uh oh. He started cooking the fish with 14 minutes left, and it was dry. So early? The sabayon didn’t have any flavor either.

The sabayon had a weird taste and didn’t taste like beer. The fish only needed two or three minutes to cook, not fourteen. Stefan overcooked the quail, and they don’t accept his excuse that quail are small. That’s all the deliberation we’re going to hear.

Tom doesn’t even remind everyone how they screwed up, and then Padma sends Jeffrey home. Aww. (Kmanpat: “Aww.”) He says he knows how to cook fish. He says he has to go home and face everyone and explain why he’s back so soon. Don’t they get sequestered?

Next time: Thanksgiving, Tom and Emeril cooking and Tom being super goofy, some yelling. An episode when I won’t be home so it may be late. Sigh.

No comments: