Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Top Chef 11/6/13--"Campfires, Cream Cheese, and Countryside" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: The Quickfire was the “let’s make the interns wrap everything in foil and have some product placement” Quickfire. But we got to meet Gail’s and Padma’s moms, so there’s that. The team paired with Padma’s mom won $10000 but no immunity. The Elimination challenge paired up the chefs for no reason to cook for Lea Michele’s Halloween party. She is vegan but eats cheese (seriously she would not shut up about the cheese) so three people made arancini. Carlos made fondue, and Travis made ceviche, and those dishes were deemed the best. Michael was his usual jerky self, and even though everyone decided to yell at his teammate Nina for letting him fail, he was sent home for making the worst of the three arancini. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen Michael and Janine had to make risotto, and Michael was such a weirdo he quickly lost. His rice was mushy and he didn’t put butter in it? Whatever, he’s gone.

Nina is glad to see Michael go because he’s a douche. She’s been winning and now she’s determined to never be in the bottom again. Carlos tells everyone he’s had obstacles his whole life and he’s not giving up now.

Sara tells her roommates she’s had a shitty attitude and she’s going to try to improve. She misses her boyfriend. Padma appears with John Besh. Why are they having so many chefs meet them in the house instead of the kitchen? Padma tells everyone to pack an overnight bag. Nina is not going to guess what is happening because she says she’s always wrong.

The contestants drive out to the country somewhere. They even drive by a tractor which was clearly parked there by production. It’s too perfect. John Besh welcomes them to Countryrise (?) Farms, which provides produce for many restaurants in the area and also grows “Creole tomatoes”, which are special in some way which is not specified. I mean, they only grow in Louisiana, I guess, but are they sweeter? More sour? What? The Quickfire is, 20 minutes to make something with the tomatoes. Padma has all the pots and pans in the cars. Winner gets immunity.

Justin says the tomato has “a super thin skin and a high acid level”. OK. Brian is cooking toad in the hole, only in tomatoes and not bread. That sounds good. It looks like the egg leaked out. Travis whines that he can’t think outside the box because it’s hot and the sun and bugs, probably. Stephanie can’t think of anything either but she doesn’t mention why. Nick rolls his eyes about how easy this is. Bene has made two bad tomato dishes in a row, so he is looking for redemption. Nina wants to make a cold soup, but she says if it’s not ice cold it will be gross. Stephanie is upset she has a crappy dish and John Besh is “a stud”.

Bene: chilled tomato watermelon soup. Carlos: olive oil poached tomato with red onions, cilantro, and basil. Stephanie: Creole tomato steaks with vinaigrette and olive oil. It’s basically tomato watermelon salad with some feta and avocado. Which doesn’t sound bad. Nina: chilled watermelon tomato soup with jalapenos, fresh basil, and shaved zucchini. Nick: caramelized melon, cherry vinegar, tomatoes with watermelon cucumber. Justin: tomato skin tartare with squash blossoms and olive oil. Travis: seared Creole tomato with steak, feta and wilted arugula. Louis: tomato seed bouillon, marinated tomato, watermelon cucumber, and zucchini. Looks like soup too. Brian: “toad in the hole”, Creole tomato with an egg inside, and Andouille sausage. Patty: roasted tomatoes marinated in olive oil and cherry vinegar with arugula and asparagus.

John says Patty’s dish was a mess, and Stephanie made something that was too simple. Travis made something that was too safe and didn’t showcase the tomato. On the other hand, Nina kept her soup really cold, Carlos elevated the tomato, and Louis had big flavors but still showcased the tomato. Nina is the winner!

For the Elimination challenge, everyone will cook in John Besh’s restaurant (one of them, anyway) for all of his executive chefs. Each person has to make one dish, family style, that involves cream cheese. Seriously? You had to have product placement and you put it in the ELIMINATION challenge? Why couldn’t you throw that shit in the Quickfire and then force everyone to make tomato dishes for the Elimination challenge? This is stupid. There is also some stupid kind of “farm to table” thing, but when you’re using a nationally available brand of cream cheese that whole idea goes right out the window. The only dairy they’ll have is milk, cream, and cream cheese. No butter. They’ll draw knives for courses. This is dumb. In addition to “farm to table” being overdone, if you’re going to do it right you should find a local dairy and use their cream cheese. Or make them make cream cheese. Something. Ugh.

Nina picks appetizers, and then everyone else picks either appetizers, entrees, or desserts. Winner gets $10,000. Nick manages to work in some product placement and then says he quit his job to be on the show. I always wonder about people that do that. It’s a pretty big risk to give up a job you have for the chance to win a one-time payment of money. And not even a million dollars. They’ll spend the night at the farm and cook tomorrow.

Everyone hangs out and plays in the pool and relaxes. Later they go for a walk and pick things and wander around. Sara and Carrie make grass whistles which is fun. Nina says everyone has a clique and she, Bene, and Travis “were crowned” the Gossip Girls. Nina talks about how much she likes Bene and how she has a soft spot for him. Since she has immunity I assume this means Bene is doomed. They are the only ones making s’mores and hanging outside which is weird. Nick wants to open a restaurant, so he wants the money for that and his kids. So…Nick wins and Bene loses? Not a spoiler, just my guess based on editing.

Challenge time. They have to use whatever’s in the pantry, which is what is in season. Shopping is insane because the walk-in is small. I think they have two hours to cook. Travis says he’s using the cream cheese in some way no one else thought of. Bene has some chicken but he seems really lost. Especially since there’s no butter. Can’t you brown in some other oil? Justin knows the people they’re cooking for, so he knows he has to bring it. Shirley wants to make steamed custard, but she burns the first batch. Nick wanted to make beignets, but can’t find yeast. So he’s making funnel cake. That’s not a good idea. You have to serve it right away or it gets tough. The first batch is greasy so he has to start over also.

John Besh time! Travis says his mom has a crush on John so if he does poorly his mom will kill him. Heh. He’s making succotash with cream cheese. Succotash is nasty. Nina wants to win because she’s studied agriculture and “farm to table” and she should be the most irritated about the stupid cream cheese. Justin is making duck. Ew. Just…duck and cream cheese. Sara has seriously miscalculated how long it is taking to stuff her lamb loin. The stuffing is stuck in the piping bag, so she’s cutting it close in terms of cooking it enough. Travis says his knife is too sharp so when he’s cutting the fat cap off the lamb it “butchers the fuck out of it”. So it won’t cook evenly. Sara kind of shrugs that the lamb isn’t what she wants but it’s not disgusting.

Patty: snapper crudo with cream cheese vinaigrette. Brian: summer squash and zucchini tagliatelle with poached oysters and emulsified cream cheese. Carlos: poached beets and pickled carrots with peach, habanero and cream cheese sauce. Nina: crispy zucchini blossoms stuffed with eggplant and cream cheese puree. Sara: island spiced lamb chop stuffed with cream cheese and curry powder. Carlos did well, but maybe Patty needed to do more. Nina gets high praise, which is unsurprising to me because her dish didn’t sound gross. I’m sorry, lamb chop stuffed with cream cheese? Bleh. Brian’s oyster was salty but the vegetables were good. Sara’s lamb is indeed undercooked.

Carrie thinks Bene is in trouble. His vegetables are kind of underdone. Bene: roasted chicken breast filled with caramelized onions and tarragon cream cheese. Carrie: vinegar-braised chicken in cream cheese sauce with chilled cucumber. Justin: roasted duck breast with eggplant vinaigrette, chanterelle mushrooms, and corn puree. The cream cheese is in the corn puree. Travis: seared lamb chops with Moroccan succotash and cream cheese aioli. Carrie somehow managed to dry out chicken legs, and the cucumbers are drowned in sauce. Bene’s food looks steamed. Oo, that’s not good. It’s really not good. Travis’s lamb isn’t evenly cooked. Tom points out that if anyone there had made a dish like this for John, they wouldn’t be at this table right now. John agrees. You can’t taste the cream cheese in Justin’s dish, which seems to be working in his favor.

Stephanie tries to add cream cheese to whipped cream and it separates. Well…yeah. Louis: graham cracker with blackberries and cream cheese mousse. Nick: funnel cake and carrot cake with peach flavored cream cheese. Why two kinds of cake? Whatever. Shirley: “Philadelphia” steamed egg custard with macerated blueberries. I think she says the blueberries are macerated in olive oil and black pepper. Stephanie: cream cheese, peach, and cherry mousse with cream cheese short dough. They know Stephanie’s mousse is jacked up. The carrot cake is good, but they don’t say anything about the funnel cake. Shirley’s custard is overdone. It’s not sweet enough either. Louis made a graham cracker bar with stuff on top and it’s soggy. Stephanie knows she screwed up.

Commercial interlude: If you were a farm animal what would you be? Louis: a bull so no one would bother him. Sara: sheep because “I have big hair”. Sure. Brian: Shirley would be a duck because they’re loud and “majestic”. Majestic? Shirley: “Brian is…a…fighting cock. A cock.” Nina: horse because of reasons. “Who would be a pig? Nobody.” Cut to Travis saying he’d be a pig because they are one of the cleanest animals in the world. Sigh.

The judges complain that no one stepped up because they had all that lush produce! Well, yeah, but you made them drown it in cream cheese. So shut up. Nick had a really great dish, as did Nina and Justin. Let’s remember that Justin had “by far” the best entrée, and if he didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know there was cream cheese in it. The judges bag on Travis and his uneven cooking and raggedy cuts, and Travis bitches that he wanted it that way. Except for the part where you told us your knife was “too sharp” and you screwed up. Bene screwed up again, as did Sara, but Sara knows. They all know something happened last minute to Stephanie. They can see what she meant to do.

Padma collects Nina, Nick, and Justin. I hate how there is no suspense now. We all know they are the top. Nina wanted to highlight the produce, and she hit everything she tried to do. Nick has developed some desserts, and they talk about his carrot cake, I guess, but no one has said one single word about the funnel cake and I want to know why. Justin put together a nice complete dish. The winner is Nina. She’s been on top for four challenges, so she knows she’s got a target on her. She wants to keep the momentum going.

Bene, Sara, and Travis get called up. I guess they saw enough of Stephanie’s vision that she isn’t in trouble. Sara knows she had trouble with her time management. The stuffing didn’t work out and that’s why she had problems. Remember how Bene’s vegetables were underdone? He covered the pot to cook them, which is why they got steamed and gross. There was a disconnect between all the components, because he tried to do too much. Travis was in a rush, which was part of his sloppy cuts. I sort of remember him saying something about texture, so I guess he’s trying to say all the raggedy cuts are on purpose because of texture. They’re not buying it.

None of these dishes were inspired. Sara’s dish was raw, and she didn’t abandon her idea when it was clearly failing. I’m not sure how they knew this didn’t happen to Stephanie, but I’m not a chef so it’s possible they can tell the difference. Like a couple of seasons ago when Richie wanted to make salmon stuffed with goat cheese, and in order to get the cheese hot he had to overcook the salmon. Then they nailed him for having a crappy idea, because by design you have to screw up part of it. Not that I’m upset, I agree with the bottom three, it’s just interesting. Travis had miserable vegetables. Padma can’t even remember what he did which is also terrible. Tom says Bene made cafeteria food.

Tom yells at everyone and then Padma sends Bene home. So I was partially right. It’s too bad. He’s going to miss his clique. They’ll be lifelong friends! Aww.

Next week: Musical chairs of some kind, a team challenge again I guess, lots of dancing. Team challenge, blah.

Last Chance Kitchen: Bene is ready to go. He just laughs when he sees Janine, because he was paired up with her when she got eliminated. He claims to not be threatened. For the challenge, they will be cooking with canned and frozen produce. Hooray. 30 minutes to cook, and they can use whatever proteins they find. Bene runs around and hitches up his pants. The peanut gallery gives him shit. I feel like those guys are kind of annoying bros, but they are fun to watch when I don’t have to actually be there. Janine says she would be devastated to lose to Bene. Tom comes over and asks if Bene’s swordfish is fresh enough for tartare. They joke about Bene getting back at Tom by making him sick, and then Bene says it’s so great that Tom is his friend and they’re best buddies now or something. I think he’s just giving you shit but OK. Janine tries to use squeeze bottles to make designs with her purees, but both bottles squirt everywhere. One of the boys says “We got a squirter!” which is both funny and disgusting. When Janine agrees they cringe. She almost gets Tom. Bene: duo of swordfish (seared and tartare) with sweet pea asparagus puree, pine nuts, and raisins. Janine: seared scallop with pancetta, and minted pea and corn purees. Tom says they both did a good job, both cooked their proteins well. It’s close, but if he had to go take another bite, Tom says it would be of Janine’s scallops. He looks sad. Aww. Bene did redeem himself, though. Janine brags that she’ll have no problem winning the rest of Last Chance Kitchen.

No comments: