Thursday, November 21, 2013

Top Chef 11/20/13--"Piggin' Out" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: musical chairs Quickfire. Brian won immunity with that. Then was a weird challenge to make a “cohesive” potluck, which is A MEAL. It was a meal served family-style. Come on, show. Anyway, even though Nick was ill for the Quickfire he got better. Stephanie won with fried artichokes. Patty made a lame salad and was sent home. It wasn’t the most exciting episode, apparently, because that’s about all I can come up with. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen Patty and Janine had to prep onions and then do all their prep before cooking anything. Both dishes had big problems but Janine ended up winning.

Common consensus in the Stew Room is that Patty is a new chef and so of course she didn’t do that well, and that Sara is upset that she’s only done well once and it really bothers her. Not that everyone thinks Patty sucks or anything, just that she’s so new to being a chef there was no way she was going to do that well. Back home Stephanie slurs about winning. I mean…she’s not sober. She says she hopes she wins more. That was profound.

The Quickfire greets everyone with Dr. John. Brian says he “recently dropped bombs with the Black Keys”. Hee. Nick says “Lookin’ good” but Nick looks terrible in confessional so I’m not sure if he’s being sarcastic or he’s tired or what. No dishes today. Today everyone has to make hot sauce. Awesome. Dr. John says “I know y’all are gonna do a hip maneuver.” They subtitle him. Nina freaks out. Dr. John continues to talk about “hip tang” and “tangosity”. Winner gets immunity.

45 minutes. At least most people put gloves on to work with the chilies. Stephanie has never made hot sauce before. It sounds like everyone is trying to put flavors in their hot sauce and not just make it stupid hot. Justin imitates Dr. John in confessional which is hilarious. Nick got an ulcer in his 20’s so he has no idea about hot sauce. They make everyone bottle it which is only sort of amusing. Eh.

Brian: jalapeno and Serrano, with lime and yuzu. Padma has a plate of saltines, and Dr. John has…a whole plate of food that I can’t immediately identify. Everyone says “hip tang” a bunch and Padma tries to translate for Dr. John. Shirley: habanero, Serrano, ginger, and pineapple. Connie: Trinidadian pepper sauce with habaneros and green mango. Nick: sweet and sour, with smoked apricots, vinegar, and coffee. Louis: Fresno chilies, distilled vinegar, maple syrup, and chili powder. I thought Fresno chilies weren’t that spicy? Stephanie: peach vinegar and habaneros. Carlos: Yucatan-style with mango, passion fruit, and habaneros. Nina: Caribbean, with habaneros, ginger, and apple cider vinegar. Justin: fermented anchovies. There are peppers too but he doesn’t say what kind.

Nick’s sauce was sweet and sour but not really a hot sauce. Carrie’s was too hot. “Trinidad-ily over-the-edge hot.” Nina’s was also way too hot. Brian did a really good job. “Verily hip”. Justin’s anchovies were very interesting. Carlos knew what he was doing. The winner is Brian. Two Quickfires in a row.

Elimination challenge. “It’s time to pig out.” Ha ha. Some guys wheel in a whole pig. Not like, a suckling pig. An adult pig. The two guys are Toby Rodriguez and Donald Link. Donald is the guest judge this week. The theme is “boucherie”, which is the Cajun term for “nose-to-tail”, where you use all of the animal. Everyone will butcher the hog as a team, which is 300 pounds. Teamwork is key. Then tomorrow they’ll have 5 hours to cook for over 250 people. Everyone has to do one dish, and together they have to use the whole hog. Justin claims he is familiar with this because he butchers a couple of hogs a year.

A lot of them have butchered hogs before. Not like that one idiot that season. Is that a thing now? Learning butchering? Sara is standing behind everyone being bossy. Nick and Nina split the head between the two of them. Justin knows he’s the local guy, but he wants to do Mexican today. He thinks he is being unique but Carlos tells people he’s going to make tacos. Louis is making popcorn for some reason. Shirley runs around and I think shoves by Travis. He makes a vaguely threatening comment, but he’s not threatening. Travis is making ramen but not his own noodles.

Dinner is courtesy of Toby and Donald, which is cool. There is so much food! Shirley says it reminds her of Chinese New Year at home. Carlos claims people travel for hours for his mom’s posole verde. I guess today is about people’s family recipes. Justin and Carlos are having a taco throwdown. Nina tries to fake them out that she’s also doing tacos which is funny.

Nick is up first, I guess, and claims he’s awesome because he has babies. Some people are just morning people, you know. Everyone arrives outside, where there are some random kitchens and giant propane burners with pots and charcoal pits. No real kitchen for you today! Justin gets pissy about the grill, because he’s claimed the one wood grill or whatever. So he built a fire, but then after an hour when he’s finally done, everyone just jumps to put their stuff on it. They play the music they always play when drama happens. Justin claims he needs the whole grill for the whole time so everyone needs to move all their stuff. Nina says he’s such a bitch and claims he’s crazy looking. Someone finds an alligator in the bushes. Stephanie says these challenges are making her creative. Louis says he wasn’t going to make friends but now he’s made more friends here than in his whole life. He’s so doomed.

Tom time! People seem to be in good shape. Shirley and Travis have Asian flavors, and Nina has less spicy flavors. She’s out of her comfort zone. Tom thinks either someone will totally screw the pooch and it’ll be easy to eliminate them, or everyone will do well and it’ll be the hardest elimination yet.

Justin’s precious fire that he chased everyone away from has gone insane. He’s about to burn the roof down. Now everything is overcooked. How did he screw that up? Brian is using the “oven”, which is just a box with charcoal on top. His pork looks a little burnt. But he has immunity, so he’s not super worried. Nina’s dish is flat, and she maybe has three minutes, so she puts cayenne pepper in.

Hugh! Everyone beers up and gets in line. Tom tries to cut in line and is denied. Hee. Brian: porchetta with oyster mushrooms. Sara: pork dim sum with crab and shrimp hau gow. Both of these seem OK. Justin: wood-roasted pork breast taco with pork liver salsa verde. Padma makes a face. It’s dry. Carlos: posole verde with fried chorizo taquitos. Yum. Delicious. Shirley: jiazoi dumplings with pork, grilled kidney, and crispy pork fat salad. Points for cracklings. Louis: slow-grilled pork leg with spring onions, shitake mushrooms, melted corn, and popcorn. The corn is weird. Tom talks to a little kid while Hugh gives the kid a fist-bump. Stephanie: pork brodo with braised pork belly and summer vegetable pickle. She has no idea what is going to happen with it. Brodo is broth. Good except the pork belly. Travis: Cajun-style pork ramen with pork bone broth and collard greens. Hugh and Tom kind of roll their eyes at store-bought noodles. Hugh has spilled food on himself. Carrie: crispy trotters with snap peas and pickled onions. Nick: tete de cochon with summer beans, lemongrass, vinaigrette, and wheatberries. Heavy. Nina: braised pig’s head ragu, roasted corn and mustard greens. Spicy.

Commercial interlude: Stephanie is like Richard Blais with the constantly complaining about her food sucks and probably it will be awesome.

Tom claims that overall this was the most enjoyable food in all 11 seasons. Sure. Shirley, Nina, Brian, and Carlos get praise. Justin’s pork was dry. He claims it was all ribs and fat. Louis’s corn was weird. Travis has flaws. They’ll probably nail him for not making noodles. Stephanie’s seems to have been sort of OK at best. She’s like “I told you no one would like mine.”

Justin is still bitching about his pork, even though when he practically set the place on fire he admitted it was getting overcooked. Padma collects Nina, Shirley, and Carlos. There is a side conversation between Carrie and Louis where Louis is convinced he’s going home. I only mention it because of how the editing was earlier.

The top three arrive. Shirley gushes about helping her grandmother cook and how great it was. The dumplings were delicious and the salad could have stood alone. Carlos’s posole was delicious and Tom wants the recipe. Nina’s dish was not traditional at all but it held its own with the family recipes. The winner (by a slim margin) is Carlos. He’s thrilled to have won.

Loser Gong for Justin, Louis, and Stephanie. Justin gets defensive from the beginning, but we all know his pork was dry. Tom reiterates that none of the dishes were horrible. But the pork was dry. Stephanie cooked her pork belly like, six times. But all the flavor ended up in the broth. Tom knew it wasn’t finished, which is what Stephanie had said before. No one liked Louis’s popcorn. Or the “melted corn”, which had a thick skin and looked gross.

The bottom three just didn’t have a lot of passion. Stephanie overthought and it didn’t work at all. Justin’s pork was dry and it ruined everything. Louis had too many things going on, but his pork was delicious, at least.

Justin was inconsistent, Stephanie missed the mark, Louis put too much other crap in his dish. Padma sends Louis home. I told you. He thinks other people screwed up worse than he did. Louis doesn’t think he got to lay down his viewpoint like he wanted. Ready for a comeback.

Next week: maybe in two weeks!? Restaurant Wars! Justin gets pissy, Sara fake smiles, people are in the weeds as usual. It’s not on my DVR for next Wednesday so maybe we get a week off for the holiday.

Last Chance Kitchen: Louis is planning to use his anger to win. Louis didn’t want to see Janine (she’s surprised to see him too) but he’s ready. $25 dollars to shop at the farmer’s market, and then make whatever you want. They get in the product-placement car to use the product placement features. Stephanie declares the car too sexy to be a man. Yes. Louis is in his zone. When they get back, Tom grins and laughs at them basically, and then says since Louis can’t edit they have to pick out three of the things they just bought and only use those three. I know Tom loves doing this. Also only 20 minutes instead of 30. Louis has tomato, fennel, and shrimp. Tom takes his stuff and throws the watermelon at the peanut gallery. Janine has catfish, potatoes, and asparagus. Michael babbles about how Louis is a cheetah and not a gazelle. Tom brags to the peanut gallery he wrote a whole chapter in his book about using three ingredients. Louis: olive oil poached prawns with tomato and fennel bisque. Janine: catfish with potato, asparagus, and saffron sauce. Tom says you have to dig deep into the ingredients. Louis’s sauce was gritty but overall the dish was delicious. Janine didn’t dig that deeply into her potatoes and asparagus. And it’s Louis with the upset! Janine is pissed. Aww. Louis says he’s ready to get back in the game.

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