Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top Chef 11/28/12--"50s Food Flashback" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: dumplings were made, and immunity was won by Josie. Tom and Emeril lead two teams in making Thanksgiving (probably in the middle of July). Josie undercooked the turkey, and the judges made sure to tell her she’d be going home if she hadn’t won immunity because she made her team lose. Carla made carrot soup and meatballs and won, but not before CJ and Stefan tasted her soup and pissed her off, and then Stefan called her “honey” or something and pissed her off about that. Kuniko was too helpful, doing work for others and not having enough time to cook her potatoes, and she was sent home. I think we may need to add potato gratin to the list of foods that screw people, along with panna cotta and…I’m sure there is something else on the list. (click for more)

Oh and guess what else you guys? Last Chance Kitchen is back! And this time America has a say! Let me just express my opinion: BBBBOOOOOOOOOOOO. Having Redemption Island is one thing. Letting “America” vote for people who lose Last Chance Kitchen in order to save them is stupid. I can’t taste their food. I have no idea if they’re a good chef or not. You are introducing a factor purely based on popularity, which the producers can directly influence through editing. STOP TRYING TO BE OTHER SHOWS.

We go back to the Stew Room and the stupid argument that John started with everyone, because he had to be an ass and slam Kuniko. I mean, she’s already gone. It doesn’t kill you to keep your mouth shut. He says CJ is full of shit, which makes him my enemy. Josh jumps in and says John has no tact. John responds with “Aaand, Oklahoma has a lot of tact.” Yes, generally the Midwest contains tact. Then he busts out the “I’m not a prick, I’m just honest” line, which is the line assholes always use to excuse their assholery. Josh switches gears and asks John how many restaurants he’s opened and then had fail, or walked away from, or events he’s ditched. Burn. The argument devolves into “No, YOU don’t know what you’re saying” and everyone rolls their eyes and shuts up.

Back home John walks around while everyone stares at him. He says he’s “reliving” being the most hated chef and he’s pissed because Josh is “being a little bit of a redneck” and CJ is “playing” him. Wow. If everyone always hates you, maybe the problem is you. Stefan gloats about the fight that just happened. You guys, Stefan is talking about how other people are having stupid fights. Seriously. There is a weird conversation between him and Kristen about eyebrows? Anyway, Stefan gives her a foot rub as she interviews about how you have to make your own fun.

Padma greets everyone with Naomi Pomeroy. The Quickfire today is…behind this curtain! Padma tears it down and it’s two whole sides of beef. Hee. Butchering. One hour to do butchering and make something. Winner gets immunity. Naomi wants them to use the beef as a blank canvas. Also there is a rule of no more than two chefs butchering any one piece at the same time. Spoiler: nothing happens with that.

Sheldon goes to town with a giant hacksaw. Josie and Carla struggle with hanging up the side so they can get at it. John talks about oxtail. CJ wants to do tartare so he’s just eating pieces. He says he is not worried about anyone because he is the best chef here. Don’t jinx yourself, CJ. Tyler was on the bottom last time so he’s trying to be creative. Lots of frantic cooking. Stefan claims Carla is loud but she actually seems more quiet than last week. Lizzie is trying to use the pressure cooker but she seems unsure. Micah cuts up his oxtail because it’s not how he wants. John also has oxtail, but he’s just braising more. CJ plates with tweezers and claims he knows his dish is good so screw the judges if they don’t agree. Micah is very cocky.

Eliza: grilled flank steak with cherry cognac reduction, asparagus, and potato cake. Cherry + asparagus = interesting. John: braised oxtail, potato gnocchi with roasted vegetables and celery. It seems to be tender. Boo. John talks about how he did a quick braise and CJ makes faces. That’s what I’d be doing, probably. Josh: beef meatballs with creamy polenta and pickled shallots. Sheldon: kalbi round steak with tomato cardamom broth and fennel salad. Kalbi is Korean BBQ. Brooke: grilled hanger steak with smoked onion, figs, and cauliflower puree. Tyler: Hispanic crudo with charred tomato sauce and cilantro radish slaw. I thought crudo was raw, but he says he “flash grilled” it. Also, his presentation is a ring mold cylinder and a smear. Eh. Kristen: top sirloin tartare with mustard sabayon and carpaccio salad. Micah: oxtail polenta with truffled romanesco cauliflower. Carla: sirloin medallion wrapped in bacon, asiago risotto with marsala sauce. Stefan: braised top round ravioli with marjoram and aged parmesan. CJ: top round tartare, raw juniper and kohlrabi. Chrissy: grilled hanger steak with brown butter, parsley and radish salad. Lizzie: braised foreshank with turnips and dill.

Not successful: Lizzie (meat was tough), Eliza (asparagus and cherries didn’t work), and Tyler (underseasoned). Successful: CJ (exact knife cuts), John (delicious sauce), and Josh (flavors came together). The winner is John, because the universe loves to thwart me in this manner.

Elimination Challenge. Padma says something about traveling back in time. She introduces Mark and Brain Canlis, who are cute boys. Their grandfather opened the restaurant Canlis in 1950. They say it’s the birthplace of “Northwestern” cuisine. The cheftestants will revive the original 1950 menu. Nice. Stefan is glad because there’s no frou frou bullshit in the 50s. Good point. Then he says something about being dirty. The Canlis boys have the original menu, and then they mention the “Canlis’ Special Salad”, and then Padma is all “Winner gets $10,000”. So why mention the salad with no details? That was a weird choppy cut. Also double elimination tomorrow.

Everyone grabs copies of the menu and starts hollering about what dishes they want. Stefan seems to have ended up as secretary. Kristen somehow ends up with side dishes, mushrooms and something else I can’t make out. Danyele says she makes sundaes all the time. Carla has squab which she doesn’t make a lot, and she’s bent out of shape because she doesn’t want it but Stefan told her to do it. Josh and Chrissy discuss how the special salad is possibly the hardest dish because everyone knows it. John is going to expedite, because he has immunity. I think that’s a good idea, because if his dish gets ignored or someone else screws it up, it won’t matter, but I wouldn’t want to have to deal with him ordering everyone around.

In the apartment, I guess the next morning? Josie and Sheldon and some people have a totally spontaneous conversation about Last Chance Kitchen that totally was not prompted by producers. Sigh. Josie I guess didn’t watch last season so they explain it to her. God. It’s bad enough they’re doing this nonsense again. Now I have to sit through poorly scripted exposition about it.

Day of the challenge. John interviews that he knows all about 50’s food from his dad. Kristen says simplicity makes your dishes more difficult because everything has to be perfect. She’s roasting her mushrooms so they don’t get soggy later. The grill is in a little alcove that appears to be entirely lined in copper. Like, all the walls are covered in copper sheets, but only in this one section where the grill is. Maybe it’s an enclosed room? Man, that place must get hot during service. Chrissy ended up with the salad. Josh says there wasn’t a lot of French onion soup in Oklahoma in the 50’s. However his grandparents were probably eating calf fries. That’s testicles. Why are you telling us this?

Carla says the squab has to be grilled, and only Sheldon and Bart are allowed in the little copper grill room because it’s small, I guess, so she can’t cook her own dish. They cut from that right to a shot of Sheldon, Bart, Carla, and CJ, all in the room, and CJ is holding the tongs. I don’t know. She tells them how to cook it. CJ is worried he’s not getting enough char. John hollers about tape so he can get something set up but no one answers him. Hugh and Emeril are both here.

Service starts and John is yelling things. Josh is super irritated. I don’t know enough about restaurant kitchens to know if John is doing things weirdly or not properly or what. Tyler: fresh crab leg cocktail. Lizzie: marinated herring. Josh: French onion soup. John: steamed clams Bordelaise. Chrissy: Canlis’ Special Salad. Brooke: seafood salad a la Louie. Everything looks good, so far. The crab is great. French onion soup is salty and cold, and the crouton is too thick so you can’t cut it with your spoon. Brooke’s salad looks like it came from a magazine back in the day. Naomi says her grandmother cooked the green beans more than that. Chrissy overdressed her salad and everything is soggy including the croutons. Herring is delicious, as is the clams. John is telling everyone to make sure they have plates. Sigh.

John starts yelling entrees, and Carla just starts talking. I can’t tell if she’s trying to ask John questions or if she’s just talking to herself or what, but John is not answering her. Stefan says too many people are talking and they argue. A squab comes back to the kitchen. And then another one. And another one. John seems to blame Carla, even though she’s not actually doing the cooking. She’s not telling the guys on the grill to fix it either, though. Carla looks at the squab and says they’re medium rare, which is how she thinks it should be. Sheldon: fresh Hawaiian mahi mahi with beurre blanc. Carla: whole milk-fed squab with red wine reduction. Micah: mixed vegetables. It’s just…mixed vegetables. Well, it’s 50’s, I guess. Stefan and Kristen: calf’s liver and French fried onions. Bart: double cut New York steak. Josie: gargantuan baked Idaho potato. Hey, I just copy the chyron. CJ: shish kebab with pilaf. Kristen: French mushrooms. Sheldon’s fish is great, although Tom finds part of the blood line. Micah’s vegetables are some underdone and some overdone. Squab is hard to eat, I guess because it’s a whole squab and she didn’t flatten it? It seems to be flavorful but the judges think it’s overcooked. Stefan was authentic and tasty. Kristen’s onions were perfectly cooked. CJ’s lamb was underseasoned and the pilaf is kind of soggy. The steak is sliced wrong. Baked potato is fine, mostly. Kristen’s mushrooms were delicious.

Commercial interlude: Josie calls her potatoes the “Cadillac” of baked potatoes. Everyone says they’re huge. The end. Sigh.

The sherbet is melty. Uh oh. Danyele: vanilla ice cream. Also “Royal Hawaiian Supreme”, which I guess is a sundae of some kind. Eliza made mint sherbet and fresh frozen Hawaiian pineapple parfait. They love the sherbet and the parfait is “fine” but that doesn’t seem to be bad. Danyele did a good job also. They discuss who should go home. Chrissy, Carla, CJ, and Josh are mentioned.

Various people tell Josh his soup looked great but maybe was a little salty. He laughs, so I think maybe he thinks they’re just giving him shit about how it’s not quite good enough to win. Padma calls Lizzie, Kristen, Tyler, and Stefan as the top. Tyler was very traditional and clean. Lizzie’s dish was balanced and the crackers were audacious. Kristen’s side dishes were perfect. Stefan’s liver was perfect and respected the product. The winner is Kristen. Nice. She’s surprised. Even Stefan is happy for her.

Carla, Chrissy, CJ, and Josh go out to face the music. Loser gong! I may have done a fist pump for the Loser gong. Josh’s soup was almost inedible from salt, and Tom’s was cold. Josh freaks out at that, and Hugh asks about expediting and Josh says John was a monkey. Heh. Chrissy’s dressing didn’t taste like lemon and mint, even though she says she put a ton of lemon in there. It was overdressed, and then Hugh says something about naked tomatoes. It’s in the delivery. The squab wasn’t cooked properly. Carla says she checked the last squab, and Tom is shocked that she wouldn’t check throughout service. But she did, everyone was sending them back for being undercooked. I’m not sure about that. I think it’s entirely possible they were fine, but people balked at being served a bird that is not cooked through, so Carla started to overcook them, and then the judges got theirs then. Tom tells her she’s responsible anyway. CJ’s dish was underseasoned and mealy, because he cooked it sous vide before grilling it. What? That’s not 50’s. CJ tried to cover it up by grilling. The marinade didn’t come through either. Tom says these were all technical mistakes. CJ says yeah, he should not have involved sous vide. Josh just says if the soup was cold, it wasn’t his fault. Chrissy didn’t know how the salad should taste, so she just did it how she wanted. Carla, the person who has some kind of argument, actually, just says she’s not going to say anything.

Without much fanfare, Chrissy and Carla are sent home. Aww. Chrissy says sometimes you fail at risks. Carla interviews that it was a game she wasn’t playing. She’s pretty upset. Chrissy shouldn’t have gone home, but she understands. Carla has had a wake-up call.

Not only are we having Last Chance Kitchen, but apparently that shit was Emmy nominated. Because that makes it better.

Next time: Eliza and Josie fight, Tom yells at everyone and is pretty pissed, a whole team is going home.

Alright, Last Chance Kitchen. Jeffrey, Kuniko, Carla, and Chrissy are all getting their second chance. It looks like everyone is sequestered in a nice house, and then Tom shows up to explain everything to them. They all seem to know what Last Chance Kitchen is, so I guess they were watching last season. Tom says they will get the opportunity to redeem themselves. Everyone gets a covered dish, which ends up having the ingredients they screwed up. So Kuniko has potatoes, Carla has squab, etc. Tom says they have to prove to him they know what they’re doing and they’ve overcome their mistakes, but they don’t have to make exactly the same dish. 30 minutes to cook. Chrissy is making the same salad. Kuniko is doing something different, because pave takes forever and she just needs to convince Tom she can cook potatoes. Carla takes forever to bone her squab so she’s complaining about time. She keeps up a running commentary to herself. Chrissy made the same salad, basically, and Tom says it’s much better than last time. Carla: whole squab with baked tomato and morels. It’s rare and Tom has no comments. Kuniko: lemongrass cream potato chowder. It looks good. Jeffrey: pan-roasted halibut with peas and morels. Better than last time. Tom says Carla screwed up her squab again, and she’s mad, but what are you going to do? Everyone else did a good job, but the winner is Kuniko. Nice. She’s ready to go.

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