Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top Chef 1/9/13--"Battle Before the War" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: a Quickfire involving knife sharpening and then an Elimination challenge involving “memorable” moments from past seasons. Some were actually memorable, like “I’m not your bitch, bitch”. Some were not. Lizzie and John both end up on the bottom, and are tasked to make something related to this season’s memorable moment: CJ failing at burgers. So they do, and John is irritated because he thinks he couldn’t find a proper pan, so that’s why his food sucked, and Lizzie is on him about taking all her dill and leaving the oven open, but she should be grateful because he shared the pickles with her. As if the judges wouldn’t have seen right through that bull. In the end, to the celebration of everyone, John loses. (click for more)

And then in Last Chance Kitchen Tom makes John and CJ cook in shitty garage sale pans and CJ wins! Woo!

Josh is glad John has lost. Stefan jokingly asks where his “boyfriend” is. Josie says something about how everyone is a threat, I think.

Wolfgang is waiting with Padma. Today’s Quickfire is to work with ginger. It’s a product placement challenge, but they don’t have to actually use the product which is nice. The twist is they have 15 minutes. Winner gets immunity.

Brooke makes squid, while Lizzie has watermelon. Kristen is using a foaming canister to infuse things, I think, which seems like a cool idea. Josie and Josh run into each other. Lots of flailing.

Josh: white chocolate and ginger soup with peaches and tarragon. Josie: seared scallop with ginger-honey yogurt and miso-ginger sauce. Brooke: ginger-caramel squid with fresh lime and chili powder. Lizzie: watermelon and ginger soup with fresh mint. Micah: ginger shrimp salad with radish, plum, ponzu vinaigrette, fried crispy ginger. Kristen: fennel-ginger salad with brie and tomatoes. Sheldon: wok fried ginger skirt steak with ginger and oranges. Stefan: ahi tuna with lemongrass and ginger vinaigrette.

Sheldon’s food was “pedestrian Chinese food”. Ouch. Josh’s dessert lacked flavor and was underwhelming. Brooke was innovative, Stefan had a good simple dish, and Lizzie made a beautiful soup. The winner is Brooke. Good for her.

Padma introduces Danny Meyer, who is a restaurateur. It is time for Restaurant Wars! Of course. Because there are 8 people left. It will be different this year, though: each of them will come up with a complete restaurant concept, and one dish to showcase it. They’ll present at Bite of Seattle, which is a “restaurant showcase”. I like it. It’s like when they make designers sketch on “Project Runway” and then present to see who is team leader. There will be two winners, and each of them will be executive chefs and open their restaurants in the second part. Each winner also gets $10,000. Yes, I do like it.

200 portions to make, but Padma said they’d get four sous chefs. Josie says she and Micah and Sheldon are somewhere different from the other chefs, for shopping. I didn’t catch where they are but maybe it is just a different market so they don’t strip the place bare. Sheldon is making Filipino food, to no one’s surprise. He’s making soup, like he used to make with his grandfather. Micah is showcasing raw foods. He has to use fish, because I guess he can’t serve any of the other meat raw. Kristen wants to prove she deserves to be here, even though I think she’s done that.

The four sous chefs are Chrissy, Carla, Kuniko, and Eliza (I think). Sheldon grabs Chrissy to help him with the Filipino food. Stefan takes Carla, because he knows she is fast. Josh is honoring his father. Josie grabs Kuniko and she is making Cuban. Lizzie has dumplings and I hear her making extra so that’s good.

Tom time! Stefan is making Thai food. OK. He doesn’t want to be locked in by his name…? I don’t understand all of what he’s saying. Also he tells Tom he’s always getting “sloppy seconds”. Ew. Brooke says something about Jewish food gone awry, which sounds interesting. Kristen has “contemporary French bistro”. I guess they all shared the sous chefs because there isn’t a lot of arguing over their help.  

The next day, more product placement food is cooked. It’s Sheldon’s birthday! There’s a cake and everything.

Everyone runs into Bite of Seattle to start prepping. Josie is out of time and her croquettes are not ready. Everyone comes in and starts eating. OMG there is a picture of Tom with hair. Creepy. Gail is here today! Stefan tries to blend something and sprays it all over some poor guest.

Josh: seared eye of rib eye with cauliflower puree and mushroom red wine sauce, and parsley pistou. He’s got a bistro concept. Lizzie: mustard green canederli with fonduta and crispy speck. Her restaurant is northern Italian farm kitchen. Canederli is a type of dumpling, fonduta is a kind of cheese I think. Josh’s dish is nice, but his steak is not seasoned. Lizzie’s dish is classic, but it’s heavy and Gail doesn’t like how it looks. Hey, Theirry is here!

Sheldon: sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp, and snapper. Stefan: Thai lobster bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes, and radishes. Also Bavarian cream mango lollipops. His concept is “German Thai” which is why I didn’t know what he was talking about before. He also promises Padma this is not the same dish he served during the finale of his season. I can’t even remember back that far. The lollipop doesn’t work as well as it could, although the judges seem to like the soup and the idea of his restaurant. They love Sheldon’s dish even though it’s maybe not the prettiest.

Micah: salmon, snapper, hamachi, squid, scallop, and mackerel with raw vegetables. Kristen: onsen egg with camembert-mustard sauce and buttered radishes. It’s a French bistro, more formal. “Onsen” seems to be a slow-cooked egg, that you probably sous vide, to get a creamy texture. If so, those are crazy good. Gail likes the eggs, so you know they’re good. Micah’s presentation is not impressing Tom. They don’t think it’s any better than just going to a sushi place.

Josie is doing her shtick again and she has a long line. Brooke: matzo ball soup with duck confit and toasted rye bread. “Unkosher” is kind of a fun idea. Josie talks a lot about her dish: puerco asado, black bean chorizo croquette, pickles and mojo sauce. Roast pork, she says, can’t be any closer to her heart. Tom snarks that he hopes it gets closer to their plates. Heh. Brooke’s duck confit is wonderful but the matzo ball is terrible. Josie’s pork is too dry. Padma asks who should go home, but if they send someone home they won’t have even teams. So how are they going to work that?

Commercial interlude: Padma and Danny talk about making recipes and how if the food is good, the concept can be slightly scary and your restaurant can still be successful. That…wasn’t very interesting.

Padma calls Kristen, Sheldon, and Josh. I just noticed the “usual” Judges’ Table is in the kitchen they use for Last Chance Kitchen. These are the top three. Josh’s dish really worked for explaining his concept. Kristen’s dish was indulgent. They all wanted to keep eating Sheldon’s soup, and there was nothing extra on the plate. The two winners are Kristen and Sheldon. Nice. Poor Josh. Kristen has I believe $45,000 now. The restaurants open in less than 48 hours. The spaces are completely empty. They each get a folder. Padma tells them they can staff their restaurants now, but someone will still be eliminated. So you’re making them guess who you’ll get rid of? That sucks. Whichever one of them wins Restaurant Wars wins a car. Nice.

Kristen takes Brooke, Lizzie, and Josie, so Sheldon has Josh, Stefan, and Micah. Boys vs. girls. They’re picking before they even know who’s on the bottom, let alone who’s going home, so that’s a little scary. Padma calls Micah, Josie, and Lizzie as the bottom. Kristen quietly freaks out. Micah was happy with his dish. There was too much fish, and you couldn’t taste the differences between the different types. He tells the judges he wanted to get some beef tenderloin, but they didn’t have any good enough at the store. Tom wishes he had sliced it in front of them. Lizzie talks a little more about northern Italy and says maybe she didn’t explain her concept well enough while they were at her station. But she’s kind of pissy about it, which is weird. The dumpling wasn’t cooked enough, and it was heavy. Gail says she has to get the details right. Josie says something about giving people the option of fattier vs. crispier pork, and Tom is rolling his eyes. Danny says the pork fought back. Gail only tasted grease, and Tom is sick of “The Josie Show” because she lets things slide.

Tom tells everyone maybe their concepts were too much from their heads, and not from their hearts. Padma sends Micah home. Ouch. Josie is all smiles and asks who she’ll fight with. Micah hopes this wasn’t all a waste of time, so he’s hoping to win on Last Chance Kitchen.

Next week: the actual Restaurant Wars. Josh and Stefan fight. Kristen has to force Josie to work. People screw up.

Last Chance Kitchen: Micah is not surprised to see CJ. He is ready to go. They seem to respect each other. Tom presents them with bison, lamb, duck, and beef heart. They cannot cook any of it. CJ loves tartares. He thinks he can make the duck skin work. That would be impressive. He freezes it with liquid nitrogen and says he’s going to grind it and pickle it. Interesting. Micah can’t slice his meat as thin as he would like because it’s warming up. CJ wonders where Tom is, glances around, and then Tom walks up behind him. Hee. He is making beef heart, but also pickled duck fat, which sounds nasty and Tom seems to agree. Micah has both the duck and the bison. Tom tells the peanut gallery about the duck fat, but CJ says it tastes good. Micah says he’s going to make sure his flavors sing. CJ notices that Micah’s dish is “a large mound of meat. Which may impress some people.” Hee! CJ: beef heart tartare with chili, pickled duck skin and tomato water. Micah: bison carpaccio and duck tartare, with quail egg yolk, pickled carrots, chilis, and arugula. Tom says the pickled duck fat worked, but he wishes CJ had bound the dish a little more. Micah had a good punch of flavor, except at the end there was some raw shallot. The winner is CJ. Wow. Tom says it’s the best dish he’s done. Micah now says he’s accomplished what he’s come here for. CJ is getting cocky again, which isn’t such a good sign.  

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