Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top Chef 1/30/13--"Chefs at Sea" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: there was a sushi-making Quickfire, which Stefan won, impressive. Then Tom asked for fried chicken for himself and his chef friends. Apparently they wanted fried chicken, and not anything else. The secret requirement is bones. You have to leave it on the bone. Being creative is not allowed, lest the drunk judges mock you. Josh made fried chicken, so he won. Josie also actually did make fried chicken, but it was greasy and Tom I guess heard about what really happened at Restaurant Wars because he was DONE with her excuses and they sent her home. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen…do I really need to tell you? OK, Kristen and Josie had to butcher a salmon and make ten identical plates. Josie overcooked her fish and went home. Like Tom would have let her win.

Oh, and last week when Wolfgang was making fun of them, he said “Top Chef? I wouldn’t even call it The Apprentice”. Which is probably accurate, because I doubt the Apprentices can cook anything.

Josh is glad to win, and also thinks it was about time Josie went home anyway. Brooke swears to not screw up anymore. Padma appears to tell them tomorrow they’ll be packing their bags to go on a cruise to Alaska. Nice. They’ll have to work, of course. But they don’t seem to care that much.

Back at the hotel they talk about memorable moments and how each person thinks they’ll win. Stefan says some weird thing about pants and then booze cruise? And how his mom drove him to an Army base and ditched him there. Ha! Brooke says she is afraid of boats. Boats? Anyway, her son also became afraid of boats, I guess, so she doesn’t want to mess him up.

They oo and ah over the boat (ship I guess) and it is pretty nice. Josh says nice things about everyone but Lizzie. Maybe he says something nice, but they cut that part out. Everyone drinks and hangs out because they know at any minute they’ll have to start working.

Somehow the kitchen on this ship is actually big. Curtis Stone! He has an unfortunate haircut but is otherwise cute. Quickfire is to cook for the “Welcome Aboard” party. 200 guests, 2 hours. It must contain iceberg lettuce. Stefan giggles at the joke, sort of, because “iceberg”, “ship”, get it? I didn’t get it either. Sheldon doesn’t like iceberg lettuce.

Lots of wandering around looking for things. Brooke is making a BLT with a scallop instead of tomato. What? You need tomato. Poor Lizzie is having trouble with the whole “the entire kitchen is electric” and also apparently all in metric. Sheldon is still complaining about the lettuce. Stefan wants to braise it. He wanders around because the outlet doesn’t work or something, and puts his stuff down on top of Lizzie’s. She’s pretty calm, but he of course makes a big deal about moving and being an asshat. Of course Josh is making bacon jam. Clearly. I keep seeing a box of Franzia out on the counter. Sheldon finally decides on lettuce wraps. He starts a fire because his sauce boils over. Lots of little tiny dishes. Frantic plating.

Stefan: braised iceberg lettuce, pastrami, fingerling potato, blue cheese sauce. Sheldon: Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork, shrimp, and pickled iceberg hearts. Lizzie: iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and anchovy vinaigrette. Josh: iceberg roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam, and blue cheese. Brooke: iceberg wrap with bacon, scallop, caramelized onion, and crispy quinoa.

Side note: I’ve taken the ferry from Seattle to Alaska, and it really is that beautiful. Highly recommended. Curtis liked everything. Stefan did a good job cooking the lettuce, and Josh played it safe but it was elevated and he also did a great job. Sheldon had complex flavors. Brooke’s was hard to eat, kind of, and Lizzie maybe didn’t have a whole bite? Or something, it doesn’t matter, it’s the Quickfire. The winner is Sheldon. He will have some advantage in the Elimination. Everyone gets the rest of the day off, until dinner.

Sheldon and Lizzie go for manicures. Sheldon admits he loves manicures, because chefs have to take care of their hands. It’s true. I never get nail polish on my hands because it chips if I look at it wrong, but just the pampering is worth it. The other three drink and Stefan celebrates having booze and also lets us know he got laid on his first cruise. Thanks. The girl doing Sheldon’s hands is also from South Africa so she and Lizzie chat it up. She tells us how her dad just passed away and she’s still upset about it. Josh reveals that his wife is due today, and he hasn’t been able to talk to her to find out if the baby was born or anything. Then he ruins it by saying he wants to see Sheldon’s manicure and “I want to see if he’s a woman now”. Then in confessional he says where he’s from, men don’t get manicures. Then he winks? Is he supposed to be joking? He’s not joking. Asshat.

Dear Canada Dry, Richard Blais is not a ginger.

Everyone comes in for dinner and Brooke talks about how nice it is to have a nice dinner, but you know it won’t last. They get menus on tablets. There are lamps attached to the ceiling. It’s that kind of place. Brooke says something, and Josh corrects her. I guess he said that already. She’s all, oh, shit, that must have been when I stopped listening to you. Heh. Josh fires back by bringing up the fried chicken and asking how that worked out for her. Oh, burn. He’s still an asshat but I must give credit where credit is due. Brooke rubs it in that she’s won more challenges than Josh, which is true, so Josh turns on Stefan who gives him a look of death. Seriously, he’s pissed. They get on Josh for breakfast sushi. The food starts coming out, and it’s sushi lollipops, and shrimp in some dish with flashing lights, and a giant case with like 16 compartments. It seems contrived. Like, maybe the food is taking a backseat to gimmickry.

Padma and Curtis wait until dessert to come out, and then they sit down at the table. Tomorrow they’ll be running dinner service here. Heh. They’ll all be making surf and turf, but must “turn it on its head”. Stefan brags that he is awesome. Sheldon gets first pick of proteins, and then no one else can use those proteins. Nice. Josh bitches that he doesn’t make “whimsical, creative, kind of fun food”. Brooke teases Sheldon that he should pick weird things.

30 minutes to choose ingredients. Sheldon picks lobster tail and beef tenderloin. Stefan rolls his eyes, but I’m not sure why. It’s old, I guess. Stefan announces he has eel and pork belly, while Josh has pork belly and scallops (and bacon, obviously). Lizzie takes a whole pig. Brooke decides on frog legs and mussels. There’s literally a warehouse-sized storage facility to shop in. Sheldon says it remind him of working at Disneyworld. Next everyone runs to snag all the fun plates and whatnot.

2.5 hours. Lizzie breaks down the pig with skill and speed. She doesn’t want to screw up the scallops again. Josh wants to make pasta out of his scallops. Like making seafood noodles the way they do on Iron Chef. Brooke points out he doesn’t know how to do that. Stefan wants to braise the pork belly in beer, and then make eel ravioli. I love eel. Brooke hopes they accept frog legs as “turf”. Sheldon has steak and tempura lobster, and he’s second guessing himself. He and Brooke have an argument about how he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who always does Asian, so maybe he shouldn’t cook Asian food all the time, but he’s not this time, but Brooke says bullshit. I can’t tell if they’re joking or serious. Stefan’s pork looks burnt, but he says he likes his pork to be super crispy. Josh’s pasta has failed. It’s all liquid. Well, he put it in a pan, and on Iron Chef they put it in a bag and squeeze ribbons in a pot of water. Maybe that’s how he should be doing it.

Commercial interlude: everyone checks out the staterooms, which have balconies and are big. Everyone goes on the balcony and when Lizzie sort of flirts with Stefan by asking him what he’s doing in this part of town, he says he’s on a gay cruise and this is his boyfriend Sheldon. Then he asks Sheldon if he’s ready for sexy time. Hee.

More cooking. Josh is scrambling his scallop mixture now, to be like scrambled eggs. He’s making breakfast again. Hugh! Yay! There’s some people from Celebrity Cruises but I don’t care about them. Brooke has seven components, and she is really pushing it to get all her food done. Her plates are big stone looking plates with wells and a center well with a cover. Mussels and frog legs with celery root and fennel puree, poppadum and shallot chutney. The flavors are good, and it certainly looks impressive. It’s kind of greasy, though. I think overall they like it.

Stefan has palette plates with lots of wells and a big center area. Hugh says yesterday he saw a seal. Or a scuba diver. Hee. Braised pork belly with beer sauce, parsnip and eel ravioli. The sauce is in two vials you pour over it. Tom says the sauce is greasy looking, and then he puts the pork in his mouth and makes a face. Hugh makes one too. They don’t like the crunchy pork, but Curtis says that’s how his mom made it and it’s a cultural thing. Hugh tells him that’s great for him and his “strong fluoride teeth”. Hugh can’t taste any eel.

Josh’s dishes are basically a giant metal thing with cone shaped cups, at different heights. Like a big candlestick but with cups. I think maybe each cup is one serving? He tells the judges he wanted to make pasta, which I think maybe he shouldn’t do. Just let them think you did that on purpose. Scrambled scallops with braised pork belly and bacon. The scallops aren’t really strong but Tom likes the flavor. Hugh knows this is a real stretch for Josh.

Sheldon is pissed because his food is not inspiring him anymore and the tempura is salty. Everyone gets a metal pail and a bento box. Korean BBQ filet mignon, tempura lobster, sesame cabbage, kimchi and teriyaki sauce. The presentation is fun, but apparently tempura should go on the list with panna cotta and gratin. It has failed. Hugh says he could eat the kimchi all day though. The two proteins don’t go together. Uh oh.

Lizzie finds her steamer is off, so she doesn’t know if they’re done. She has to plate. Aww. Cabbage stuffed with suckling pig and scallops with mustard sour cream. It looks like dim sum, but the rolls fall apart and the cabbage isn’t cooked enough. Curtis says the scallop is overpowered but it’s still a good dish.

The judges talk about everyone’s dishes. Brooke and Josh did well. They argue over Lizzie and Stefan. No one seems happy with Sheldon.

Official Judges’ Table. Brooke pushed the “boundaries” of surf and turf. It was a good job although the poppadum were greasy. Sheldon says he wasn’t inspired by his ingredients. Tom nails him because he got to choose them, and Sheldon admits he knew he could execute them. Oo. Curtis would have sent it back. He was supposed to reimagine the dish. They like Josh’s scallops and they seemed to work well. They couldn’t taste Stefan’s eel and his sauce was really greasy. He also brings up the time limit (apparently they had to stop cooking, then do the last 45 minutes right before service). Hugh says they need to come up with dishes that will work in the time limit they’re given. Also they hate on the pork being crispy. Lizzie had a great idea, but it was undercooked and fell apart. Curtis says Brooke is the winner. Nice. She also gets a free cruise. Lizzie and Josh are also safe. Sheldon’s tempura was bad, and Stefan’s pork belly was too hard. Stefan is sent home. Ouch. He’s not happy, of course, but he is taking some inspiration. “See you in fucking Last Chance Kitchen, motherfuckers!” Oh, Stefan. Never change.

Next time: super fresh salmon, Josh is distracted, everyone looks worried.

Last Chance Kitchen: montage of Stefan saying things and being Stefan. Tom greets him outside, and then Kristen comes out, and Stefan is all “of course it is wifey!” Heh. Kristen really wants to beat him. Tom points out to Stefan he’s got a lot to overcome. Not so many successes this season. Today’s challenge is to cook offal. They only have 30 minutes, though, so they will have to choose wisely. Kristen goes for chicken liver, while Stefan seems to have a bunch of stuff. You guys, Kmanpat and I had chicken liver pop tarts last week. They were little tiny pastry bits like, the length of my thumb. But they were so good. I notice as Kristen takes a box of salt off the shelf there is a framed photo of Andy Cohen behind it. Shut up, Andy Cohen. There is some minor flirting. Kristen is adding pickled fruit to her dish. I miss the peanut gallery. Stefan thinks he has the edge because it’s cold outside and he has a hot dish while Kristen has a salad. She is pretty confident. Kristen: chicken livers with garlic and mustard caramel, pickled fruit and herb salad. Stefan: beuscherl of innards with cream sauce, bread galette, liver and parsley salad. It looks like a stew, maybe. Tom really likes them both but one is a little more balanced, and that is Kristen. Stefan says that Kristen shouldn’t have been kicked off so she deserves to be in the finale.

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