Thursday, October 10, 2013

Top Chef 10/10/13--"Rebuilding New Orleans" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: we began the new season in New Orleans with many, many people. No one made a huge impression on me because there were just too many people. It’s the usual variety of cocky jerks and snarky people and people who are competent. Everyone had to make either frog legs, alligator, or turtle in the swamp somewhere. Nina (who is from St. Lucia and is the former prime minister’s daughter) won by making curried turtle meatballs. Ramon made dashi, but in order to cool it down quickly he just put straight ice in it, so it got watered down and bland. He was sent…away…because of course Last Chance Kitchen still exists. Now that it’s won an Emmy or whatever they’ll never get rid of it. (click for more)

The Stew Room is full of people freaking out. Padma shows up and freaks everyone out. She’s there to give them their Quickfire right now: cook gumbo. Since gumbo takes a long time, they’ll start cooking at the house tonight. In the morning they can finish it in the Top Chef kitchen. The guest judge is Leah Chase, whom I don’t know but everyone else seems to. Aaron has never made gumbo, so that should be interesting.

They get started at 10:30pm. 18 people means a ton of crock pots and rice all over the floor. Actually there are a lot of people who haven’t made gumbo and are making fusions or whatever. Asian gumbo, Polish gumbo, Iowan gumbo. Michael starts over at 1:30 in the morning. Seems like a questionable idea. That was actually kind of a boring cooking segment. Carrie’s gumbo is a weird green color but she says it tastes good. Jason covers his dish in foam. Bleh.

So now everyone has to serve and they’ve all stayed up all night. If we’re lucky someone will say something dumb. Leah Chase says she’s glad to see so many young “beautiful” chefs, and also very glad to see all these women. Michael: drunken chicken gumbo with dirty rice. Shirley: braised pork belly gumbo with Mexican rice and Italian salad. Janine: Australian curry gumbo with macadamia nuts and coconut milk. Aaron: hot and sour Asian-style gumbo with prawns and sushi rice. Justin: pork rib gumbo with okra, shrimp, and deviled egg. Patty: Puerto Rican mofongo style gumbo with sofrito and pork belly. Bret: New England and Miami inspired gumbo with fried clams and butter poached lobster. Carrie: Iowan-Trinidadian gumbo with coconut, green mango, and corn crumble.

After the commercial there are more people. Carlos: albondigas chipotle gumbo with bone marrow. Jason: Polish inspired gumbo with whipped potato, cabbage, and shaved beets. Nina: plantain and yucca based gumbo with poached egg. Egg? Huh. Louis: Moroccan inspired gumbo with lamb shank, root vegetables, and sumac. Sara: crab and silken tofu gumbo with toasted forbidden rice. It doesn’t look like gumbo. It’s a small pile of solid food instead of a soup-type item.

Leah didn’t like Jason’s, and she tells him he should have made borscht. Ha. He crabs that it’s bullshit. Michael’s didn’t turn out either. Oops. Patty had a good idea but it didn’t pan out somehow. Aaron’s shrimp turned out crunchy, Carrie’s reminded Leah of a gumbo she cooks during Lent, and Shirley’s flavors were good. Carrie wins. Aww, she’s cute. She wins immunity which is pretty sweet.

Elimination challenge: Susan Spicer comes out but doesn’t really say much at first. Food trucks! Shirley actually owns a truck but couldn’t get the proper licenses. They’ll work in teams to make a menu and serve some Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Leah and Susan talk about persevering after Katrina. Padma makes teams based on how everyone is standing, two teams of five and two teams of four.

Outside everyone runs to whatever truck they think looks coolest and they get their menus together. Yellow team: Aaron, Carrie, Carlos, Brian, and Travis. They discuss tacos and ceviche. Brian brags that they’ve got “the Mexican” on the taco truck. Blue team: Jason, Patty, Nicholas, and Bret. Jason tells us their concept is some kind of “refreshing” seafood, for “sustained energy”. See, that’s why people think you’re a douchebag. “Sustained energy”. What does that even mean? Green team: Louis, Sara, Shirley, and Stephanie. Louis manages to tell us he likes a kitchen full of women without sounding like a sexist asshole. Sara says the success of their Mediterranean food truck depends on Louis’s “dreamy” smile. Hee. Red team: Justin, Bene, Janine, Michael, and Nina. Janine is thrilled with her team. And Bene. Sigh. Everyone talks over Bene and I can’t tell if his team is jerks or if he has dumb ideas. The highlight of shopping is Carrie buying a giant wine bottle to use as a rolling pin.

Back at the house everyone kicks back. Michael “throws” everyone a crawfish boil. He and Jason save one crawfish for some dumb reason, and then throw him in the pool/hot tub where I’m sure he’ll die just as quickly. Good job, morons. Wait, it might be a kiddie pool. Still dumb. Jason looks like a surfer and is “really fucking pretty” according to Nicholas, so he’s going to work the window.

The next day everyone has a totally not staged conversation with Justin about where he was during Katrina. Not that I think no one cares about Justin, just that I’m sure someone prompted them to ask him about it.

Two hours to cook. It looks like each truck is assigned to a different work site? Maybe two trucks? There are at least two work sites. Trucks are cramped. Bene’s team bosses him around. Michael says something about his role, which sounds jerky. I’m not sure but it sounds like Michael told him he was going to be everyone’s bitch and now he’s saying “I told you so”. Carrie actually put her wine bottle in the cooler, so it’s cold as she’s rolling. That’s a good idea. Nicholas tells Patty (I’m pretty sure it’s those two people) to cook all the tuna so they can just slice it as people show up. That…seems like it’s going to backfire. Jason is also rolling his wraps ahead of time. He’s outside talking up some girls and being Jason.

The judges walk around talking about how people still need work and people volunteer and stuff. Gail is here but not Hugh or Emeril. Padma and Susan totally cut the line in front of all the volunteers. Weak. Yellow team is up first. Travis and Brian: dorado and shrimp ceviche with tomato. Carrie and Aaron: beef and pork curry empanadas with watercress and mango. Carlos and Aaron: tilapia tacos with chipotle aioli and cabbage. The empanadas turned out crispy and flaky, and the ceviche is ice cold.

Blue team time. Jason says his rolls are getting soggy but “multiple women” kept eating more and more. Whatever. Jason: salmon hand roll with quinoa, honey mustard miso and cucumber. Nicholas: grilled shrimp with melon-sungold salad and crushed wasabi peas. Bret: coconut ceviche with red snapper and bay scallops. Patty: tuna slider with crispy pancetta, avocado, and tomato. The hand rolls are falling apart, but the shrimp is good. The ceviche is served with hot fried plantains which is weird.

Commercial interlude: various people talk about how good they are at building things. Michael tried to build a closet but it sucked so now he just keeps the door shut. Jason of course is super handy and built his restaurant. Sigh. Brian says he built some Lego stuff once. Janine says “I’m pretty good with my hands” while Bene makes an amused face.

Red team. Janine: green gazpacho with pickled shrimp. Justin: lobster and crab fritters with bacon jam and corn puree. Nina and Bene: jerk chicken sandwich with mango and crispy plantains. Michael: ricotta with burnt honey, stone fruit, and toasted coconut. The cold gazpacho goes over well. The fritters are like funnel cake, but Gail likes the jerk chicken.

Green team. Stephanie: crispy chickpeas with watercress and radish salad. Sara: tuna burger with sprouts, avocado, and watermelon rind pickles. Shirley: spicy grilled lamb salad with cucumber and Asian pear. Louis made the “amuse” which appears to be watermelon on a stick. The tuna needs salt but there are enough other flavors it’s not terrible. The lamb is spicy but no one seems to think it’s too spicy.

Over at the other site Tom eats fish tacos and says “This shit is muy bueno”. Hee. Everyone packs up and hopes they’re not eliminated.

Stew Room. Oh, are we still doing this thing where the chefs can watch the judges talk about them? I don’t think I like it. Yellow and Green were good, Red and Blue were bad. Yellow team wins! Everyone said what they were best at, so for example Carrie did the dough for the empanadas and Aaron did the filling. Everything was delicious, but the winner is Carrie. But they just said Aaron did the filling! Tom says the pastry was what “set it off”. Whatever, he seems happy for her.

Blue team and the Loser Gong. Bret says he thought they did well, because other teams ran out of food. Somehow this is a good sign for them. Tom and Padma laugh and say that’s because people went back for seconds at other trucks. Nicholas’s peas were too crunchy and Tom couldn’t taste the watermelon. But the tomatoes were good. Bret’s ceviche was only sort of cold, and then the plantains were so hot you could barely hold them. Jason says he likes that hand rolls are “crisp and refreshing” but he rolled his ahead of time. He knows he should have done them as they were ordered, but he chose to pre-make everything so he could schmooze the crowd. Jason says he didn’t know this would hurt the dish. Duh. Patty made a simple dish, but the tomatoes were “nothing special” and she knew it.

This team didn’t try to make the best food possible. They did seem to half-ass it. Nicholas’s wasabi peas ruined the dish, but that’s not the worst dish. Everyone made a big deal about Jason’s rolls being soggy, but Gail reveals that the filling was a weird texture. Tom only had one bite of ceviche.

Tom rails on everyone for sucking and then Padma sends Jason home. He says “THANK YOU” in a loud voice and then walks off. He knows he’s not the worst. To his credit, he admits he’s a poor loser and he’s bitter and angry. His plan is to make it to the end to battle Nicholas.

Next week: elimination Quickfire, Commander’s Palace, people are in the way.

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