Thursday, November 14, 2013

Top Chef 11/13/13--"Jazz Hands" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: the chefs went out to the farm to make tomato dishes, which Nina won. Then the Elimination challenge was to make “farm to table” dishes with cream cheese. Why everyone had to talk about locally sourced produce and proteins and then slap some nationally available cream cheese in everything, I don’t know. The stupid gimmicks and product placement work much better in Quickfires. OR, don’t do them at all. For the record one of the top finishers made a dish where you couldn’t taste the cream cheese. Nina won this one also, because fried things stuffed with cream cheese will work much of the time. Bene made boring steamed food that was gross, apparently, so he was sent home. (click for more)

Last Chance Kitchen involved cooking with canned and frozen vegetables. Although both Bene and Janine did well, Tom liked Janine’s dish best so she gets to stay and make ominous statements about winning all of Last Chance Kitchen.

Nina is sad her friend is gone. She is so delirious she’s like “At least I still have Travis!” Travis is kind of mental too though. Nick is ill. Like, calling for a medic sick. The doctor says he probably has strep throat and it’s not a very good idea to be around things like people and food. He hopes he doesn’t have to drop out, as the medic tells everyone to stay away from him for a day.

Padma asks after Nick, and is told he’s at home. She says he hopes he feels better by the Elimination challenge, a statement which is clearly dubbed in later. You don’t see Padma talking and it doesn’t matter how good your technology is, you can always tell when they dub something in later. Anyway, if he’s not better he’ll have to forfeit, but my guess is they moved the Elimination challenge back a day so he could compete, and then dubbed in this statement to sound all dramatic and stuff.

OK! Quickfire! Jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins! Improvisation! Not all musicians have to be good at improvising, Padma, but at least this is better than cream cheese. There are random ingredients and “cooking tools” at each station. Everyone will start cooking, but if Kermit plays his trumpet they’ll have to start moving around like musical chairs. When the music stops you have to start cooking whatever is in front of you. 30 minutes in total. Winner gets immunity.

They start with music, so at least they get shuffled before they start. There’s a microwave, which Carrie says she doesn’t use, so I anticipate her ending up there. Shirley ends at the “tofu and bacon station” which is the microwave station. Justin gets quail, and starts setting up because he thinks he’ll end up there again. I would think they would purposely avoid having you end up there again. The trumpet starts up again, and the clock is still running down which is kind of mean. Travis ends up at Nina’s station and hollers about Asian ingredients. Of course. The chefs yell at each other about what they were doing, which is dumb. You shouldn’t be able to do that. You should be thrown into the deep end. Brian is lost so he’s just sautéing vegetables.

More walking, and to my surprise they end up where they started. Cue much complaining about how whoever didn’t do things right. Travis somehow didn’t screw up anything. More trumpet. A completely random station! Louis complains that he thinks somehow Brian loitered to get off a station or keep a station or something. Justin has the microwave, and Patty’s cous cous has to be thrown out. Shirley said the same thing (she was there before) but I guess never got around to throwing it out. Justin is now worried he won’t have anything to serve. Nina’s fish is now salty which worries Carlos. This is really confusing. So they had four stations. Station 1 and 3 were the same for everyone.

Justin: marinated tofu salad with crispy bacon and cucumber. Travis: Asian inspired steak and potatoes with soy reduction. Sara: trout with cabbage and pepper slaw and deep fried cannellini beans. Brian: duck and mussels with flavors of Asia. Patty: pork chops, tamarind sauce, shaved red onions, mint, and jalapeno. Nina: liver with Serrano chiles, celery salad and coconut curry mustard sauce. Stephanie: braised chicken and clams with red bean sauce, green apple and red onion slaw. Carlos: pan seared redfish with cucumber slaw, red beans, and butter sauce. Shirley: shrimp boil and herb salad with parsley, ponzu, and olive oil. Louis: rosemary okra, rendered pork, confit potatoes with frog legs and queso fresco.

Louis and Justin had bad dishes. I don’t like this challenge because if the other people were good, you benefit. But there isn’t much you can do if you show up at the end and people have ruined everything. Carlos did well, because Nina crisped up the skin. Brian also did well, and Brian verbally thanks everyone else who worked on that station. Patty gets some praise, which is stupid because she’s the one that ruined the cous cous Justin threw out. Then Justin gets yelled at because he didn’t do enough. Brian is the winner, and he still makes sure to thank everyone else who worked that station. And he has immunity. Sara started there and she’s jealous.

For Elimination: “band together” to create a “potluck-style” menu. Lots of cursing. Patty doesn’t even know what “potluck” means. The chyron says “as a team, create a cohesive potluck meal” which is an oxymoron. Have you ever been to a cohesive potluck? They’ll be serving a bunch of musicians at Kermit’s restaurant. They get in teams of four, which they get to choose themselves, so that’s nice. More voiceover about how Nick has to be cleared and if he’s not he’ll be eliminated. But one team will have to hope he’s better and leave him a space. The Blue team ends up being Shirley, Louis, Justin, and Sara. Yeah, that seems solid. Green team: Carrie, Nina, Stephanie, Carlos. That means the Gray team is Patty, Brian, Travis, and Nick if he comes back. If not, they’ll have a team of three. This team seems destined to fail. Two hours to cook tomorrow, then 30 minutes to finish on-site. But tonight they can go to a concert by Kermit and eat whatever he grills between sets. Awesome.

In the cars everyone discusses menus. Carrie says in confessional she has lots of desserts, one pot things…then when Carlos asks about dessert everyone stares at her and she’s shocked. Well she IS from Iowa. Midwesterners know about potlucks. But they aren’t cohesive, you just have everyone bring whatever and somehow it all works out so you don’t have one salad and 45 pies. But it is nowhere near cohesive, none of the dishes go together. Shirley bosses her team. She’s loud, but she does seem to be listening. In the last car, Nick (on the phone) asks the important question of “Is this ‘picnic’ potluck or ‘fancy at your friend’s house dinner’ potluck?” Travis says he was “thinking like, ‘legit’ potluck” which is not an answer. Shopping is boring except for when Travis is doing everything Nick tells him to do and complaining about it. If you hate it, then hang up. To Travis’s credit, Nick is telling him things like, make sure you smell the fish and make sure it’s OK before you buy it. Louis buys broccolini, which I only note because I don’t think anyone has made it well since CJ, and you all know how much I love CJ. It’s cursed.

Everyone comes home and Nick talks to his team for a bit. I think he’s trying to be super anal to make up for the fact that he’s been sitting home all day. The rest of the chefs get ready and then ditch Nick so they can go out. Everyone drinks and dances around at the club.

In the morning Nick is better and is cleared to cook. Who didn’t think that would happen? You don’t watch much reality TV, do you?

Sara says potlucks should be comfort foods, and a little indulgent. Louis is making pickled radishes for his broccolini, or broccoli, or whatever, Sara and Shirley are braising beef, and Justin is making shrimp and grits. Gray team: Nick is frying chicken, and making a side dish for the fish, and breaking down the fish, and probably a bunch of other stuff. I’m not sure why he’s doing so many things when all he missed out on yesterday is the actual physical act of shopping. Brian doesn’t know if this is such a good idea but he has immunity so in the end he doesn’t care. Stephanie (who is actually not on this team) interviews about how Nick is on steroids. Sure. Green team: Carrie and Carlos are making tiramisu, Carrie is also making goat cheese mousse, and Carlos is doing pistachio microwave sponge cake (?) which appears to be in paper cups. Those things go together? Nina is making gnocchi. Stephanie is making artichokes, I think frying them. I think Patty is making watermelon salad. There is a longish discussion of chili threads and a shot where they made sure to get the label in so I guess they’ll be going missing later.

30 minutes for final prep. In the front of the house a lot of people show up. I don’t listen to jazz so I don’t know who most of these people are. Kermit claims he and his friends used to cook for the whole neighborhood until the cops stopped them for having too much fun. Or not following health codes maybe. Shirley thinks maybe her beef isn’t tender and she kind of freaks out.

Blue team is up first. Justin: hominy grits with brown shrimp, roasted okra, fava beans, and smoked bacon. Louis: grilled and pickled vegetables with crispy sunflower seeds and mustard vinaigrette. Shirley and Sara: braised beef with charred onions, melon pickles, and pickled ginger vinaigrette. It looks good but also doesn’t look any different from family style. How is this a “potluck” and not just a meal served “family style”? The grits have plenty of butter but aren’t super smooth. Louis’s vegetables are good as is the beef. Shocker, this team did super well.

Nick says the fish are small portions so they’re cooking quickly. Oh, and then Patty forgot the chili threads. I told you. Gray team brings out their food. Brian and Travis: togarashi fried chicken with bee pollen and ponzu. Togarashi is peppers, and “Brian and Travis” apparently means “the people who came up with the idea but allowed Nick to break down the chickens and bread and fry them.” Patty: tomato watermelon salad with Szechuan pepper and goat cheese espuma. Nick: barramundi and red drum fricassee with zucchini, and truffle and yuzu kosho. Travis and Brian: caramel glazed BBQ ribs, dehydrated potatoes and peanut gremolata. The chicken is delicious but the fish is dry and has no flavor. Rib sauce tastes burnt. The salad is a good palate cleanser, but they get a shot of Tom saying it needs spice.

Green team. Stephanie: fried baby artichokes, preserved lemon and anchovy aioli. Nina: semolina gnocchetti with sausage. Carrie and Carlos: summer tiramisu with nectarines, pistachios, and cheese. Yeah, I think everyone heard “potluck” and made “family style meal”. You know what? The potluck challenge was last week. Think about it: you were assigned a category (appetizer, entrée, or dessert) but you could make whatever you wanted. Then you just served everything all together. There’s your potluck. This is “make a meal to serve family style”. Sigh. The artichokes are well-cooked. Someone calls the gnocchetti “fancy Hamburger Helper”. Hee. The tiramisu is like trifle but appears to taste good. Sometimes they care that you called it “tiramisu” and it wasn’t tiramisu. If that’s the case I predict the secret requirement is unhealthiness. No fruit.

Come on, Andy Cohen. You produce this show and you’re from St. Louis. I know you know what a potluck is. Don’t front. You might come from a fancy suburb but I know they have potlucks there.

Commercial interlude: everyone interviews about what the rules of a potluck are. There is always too much dessert (lies, there’s never too much dessert). Travis loves ambrosia salad which is sad. Also Jell-O with carrots. What the hell, Travis.

Time to listen to the judges. Everyone liked most of the food. Except the tiramisu brought the rest of the team down. Oops. Carrie curses. Some of the beef was overcooked, so that’s Shirley. Justin’s shrimp and grits was too different possibly. Patty’s salad was very bland, and the fish was dry.

Padma calls the Gray team first, and as soon as she’s gone everyone analyzes her facial expression and delivery to convince themselves that this is the episode where they shake things up and call the losers first. This is of course what happened. The fried chicken was great, though, and the breakdown of work was that Nick prepped the meat, Travis made the breading, and Brian fried it. The fish (all Nick) was not consistent. Patty did all the salad work, and she claims they put peppercorns all over the whole thing. No one tasted it at all. They admit the chili threads got left off. Travis just sort of gets slammed for the ribs but they only use up like, one sentence talking about it so probably he’s fine.

The Green team gets called in. They are the tops. Stephanie’s artichokes were delicious. Nina loves to make gnocchi, but they do know she’s made them before, so I guess at some point they’ll get tired of it. The judges want more layers in the tiramisu, and then Tom reveals that the secret requirement of tiramisu is coffee flavor. No, that totally makes sense. The winner is Stephanie! She’s kind of shocked but finally recovers to be gracious.

Travis’s ribs were cooked really well but there was too much dry rub. The fish was very dry and boring. Chicken was excellent. Salad was lame and they wonder if they cut everything up the day before or something.

Brian has immunity, and did the chicken anyway so he’d never go home. Patty gets sent home, which is not a surprise. She was out of her league. She’s really upset though. She takes responsibility for not making her dish perfect.

Next week: a whole dead pig, Sara gets bossy, Nina argues with someone else.

Last Chance Kitchen: Patty thinks she’s either up against Jason or Janine. Janine is pretty cocky. Tim tells Patty she’s a sous chef but she acts like a prep cook. Montage of her getting bossed around by bossy people. Tom busts out a whole crate of onions. They have to chop a whole tub of onions before they start cooking. Then they can grab whatever they want, but once they start cooking there can be no more prep work. So you must plan. 40 minute to cook. Patty gets a rhythm going, to the amusement of the peanut gallery. She says she doesn’t have prep cooks so she’s used to this. Somehow Janine finishes just ahead of Patty. Janine has a plan. Patty puts a pot on the stove so Tom takes her knife. She kind of freaks out. Janine also loses her knife, and then she actually takes some tongs to try to crush a lemon. Tom yells at her because that counts as prep. Patty says some of her potatoes are salty but not all of them so she thinks it’s good enough. Wrong. That never turns out well. Janine’s pork chops aren’t browning. Tom tells the boys she’s sweating her pork chops. I do love the snarky Tom of Last Chance Kitchen. Patty: grilled pork loin with confit potatoes, Andouille sausage, and onions. Tom specifically asks about how she salted the potatoes. Janine: pork loin with apple rolls, goat cheese, bacon, and caramelized onion. Neither one used the onions that much. Janine’s apple rolls were good but the pork wasn’t seared. Patty’s potatoes were salty. Janine wins again. Patty thinks she should have known by now not to put anything on the plate that isn’t perfect. Janine is still bragging about how she’s going to win the whole show.


Beatnik Mary said...

I love your blog! We should be blog friends. You write your blog and I'll read it. It's a match made in heaven! Also, I love that you talk about a bunch of random shows that I also watch and want to talk about. Every couple of years I try to revive my Project Runway blog, but then I abandon it after a few episodes.

Do I have the option to "join" this site or get email updates?

Toyouke said...

Thanks! I think you can follow blogs by putting the website into your Reading List on your blog Dashboard. I'm going to try to set up the widget for people to get emailed when there are new posts, too.