Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top Chef 10/23/14--"Boston's Bravest and Finest" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Our season started in Boston, where everyone bragged about their awards (as you do) and Padma introduced both Richard Blais as a new judge, and the Sudden Death Quickfire, where someone can be sent home in the middle of the episode. I like this. It turns out it’s technically the CHANCE someone will be sent home, as George was the slowest in the mise in place relay race, but he got the chance to battle Gregory by cooking the mise in place ingredients. Had he won, he could have stayed, but Gregory won so George went home. I couldn’t bring myself to care that much because we just met him 20 minutes ago. Then everyone had to cook for the Top Chef Food Festival. You have to make a dish based on the first thing you learned to cook. Or something. I wasn’t paying attention. Mei made congee and won, while Michael made corn soup with salmon roe and was sent home. It didn’t sound that great. (click for more)

Everyone applauds Mei in the Stew Room. They all stood around at Judges’ Table so everyone already knows who won and who lost and what everyone said. They also laugh at Katsuji for having like, 27 ingredients and saying he had tacos. Also Blais hates olive oil powder, which seems pretty rich coming from someone who made banana scallops on multiple occasions. Keriann is upset because everyone else LOVED her olive oil snow. Aaron is quick to point out that to a “real” gastronomy person it’s a rookie move, so of course she got blasted. They have a really stupid argument about it. Like, doing molecular gastronomy doesn’t make you a chef. Except that is Keriann’s argument so…I’m not sure what point she’s trying to make.

In the morning everyone’s in the apartments, which are nice but crowded as usual. James walks around shirtless but it’s not that great. Plus his tats border on dumb. I mean, he has Patrick Swayze on his shoulder because he “respect[s] his craftsmanship”. What does that even mean?

Padma introduces everyone to Todd English, although it seems like most of them know who he is. She then talks about Paul Revere and the lantern thing. One if by land, two if by sea. The Quickfire is to make a surf and turf dish. If one lantern goes on in the middle of the “cook”, they have to grab an ingredient from the land table. Two lanterns, sea table. Also first come, first serve, so they’ll have to watch the lanterns. The final dish has to be cohesive. No immunity but the winner will get $5000.

45 minutes. One lantern goes on so everyone goes over. Keriann pushes Katsuji, who still manages to snag sweetbreads. Doug does not get them which is too bad for him. Stacy is lost, because she doesn’t know what surf she’s going to get. The “land” light goes on again. Mei grabs ramps and she’s thrilled. 15 minutes gone and everyone wants to figure out seafood. Katsuji makes some sauce, then Katie slams into him and he scalds himself. Plus the sauce is on the floor. She sort of asks if he’s OK but he’s really pissed. Now people are standing next to the sea table. As they get bored and go back their stations, that’s when production turns on the lanterns. Ha! There is shoving but I’m not sure who did it. Adam is oblivious and is stuck with “dried crab snack”. With 10 minutes left the land lantern goes on again. No one likes what they get stuck with on this round.

Adam: shoyu marinated flank steak with pretzel dashi and dried crab snack. Hee. Gregory: grilled lamb chops with aromatic soy dressing and bluefoot mushroom salad. Melissa: frito misto with mushrooms, pollock & razor clams. Joy: marinated buffalo strip steak, veal cutlet with warm slaw and sea salt. Stacy: grilled pork chop, fried skate cheeks with black radish and arugula salad. James: sautéed mussels with boar bacon broth, sautéed fiddlehead ferns, sauerkraut & tosaka. Aaron: smoked bacon and shiro miso dashi with pork meatballs, fishcake and nori. Mei: pan seared haddock with ramp tomato nage, wasabi tobiko and shaved fennel salad. Katsuji: poached sweetbreads, quail egg, uni, and caviar with hot pepper jelly. Tosaka and nori are types of seaweed, and tobiko is fish roe.

Various people got comments, but none of them seemed that terrible or great so I left them out. Joy’s steak and veal were weird together, and Stacy’s pork chop wasn’t seasoned or cooked well. Katsuji pulled it off seemingly because Todd English likes uni. James used the boar bacon really well. The winner is James. He’s thrilled to have money because of course he had a rough childhood. I think everyone on reality shows has a rough childhood or some other kind of backstory.

Elimination challenge! They will be cooking for some Boston police and firefighters. Padma carefully explains how the police and fire departments work together. We know, Padma. Team challenge time. Each team will make one cohesive dish, which is nice because it’s less work for me to talk about. But not nice because team challenges always spell drama. I get that you have to work with others in real life, but let’s be honest. You just want at least one team to fight. Stacy says she’s honored because she’s from Boston. 2 hours tomorrow to prep and cook, but no time to shop because each team must “respond” to sets of ingredients in that kitchen. Everyone draws knives for teams. Team 1, the Red team, is Mei, Katie, and Katsuji. Mei is not terribly pleased. Team 4, Yellow, is Joy, Ron, and Melissa. They are high-fiving. Team 5, Green, Keriann, Aaron, and Stacy. OF COURSE because Keriann and Aaron had an argument yesterday. You can’t tell me that was random. Team 3, Gray, is only Doug and James,. I guess because there was a chance George wouldn’t have gone home in that first Quickfire so they could have had all teams of three. But as Padma points out, this might be better. Team 2, Blue, is Adam, Gregory, and Rebecca. Your team number also tells you the order you are serving in. And picking the “ingredients” in. The police guy says not to make donuts. Heh.

They send everyone home to try to plan without having any idea what they will find in the kitchen tomorrow. Ugh. Plus they will be at a restaurant they are unfamiliar with, so there is the question of equipment. Adam brings up 9/11, because his mom worked at the WTC. But she wasn’t in the towers that day, but he didn’t know about it. On the one hand, he’s upset and that must have been terrifying. On the other hand…I am sure the producers encouraged him to bring that up to give him a storyline. Red team plans to not make something really heavy because they’re first. Katsuji has some weird idea but the girls remind him they won’t know what they’ll find. He’s annoyed because he says he’s a good chef. Mei decides she’ll be in charge but I’m not sure she’s told the other two that yet.

Green, a.k.a. Team Drama, knows they’re going to end up with whatever stuff no one else wanted. So they will not have any choice. They suspect it will be dessert items for some reason, which is probably not a bad guess. Keriann drops that she went to pastry school, but when Aaron asks her what she thinks will be in the basket she has no idea. Just because she went to pastry school doesn’t mean she knows what will be in the basket. I’m not sure why he thought that. Also he’s been a jerk so I’m not inclined to take his side. Keriann is talking about stepping away from molecular gastronomy, but then Aaron is like “what if there’s gelatin? Gelatin is a [some technobabble term], so are you not familiar with gelatin?” Shut up, Aaron. There are probably a million things to make with gelatin. He finally hollers he doesn’t want to do anything molecular. UGH. YOU AGREE. Shut up and listen to her. Then he invents the word “hypothetics” and does that super annoying thing where you make a big deal about taking a deep breath to calm down. Don’t be so concerned with being condescending and say you agree. Keriann says he’s being an asshole, and Aaron says “no, you’ll know when I’m being an asshole.” Oh you mean like right now?

The boxes don’t look terrible. I mean, they all look fairly equal in terms of having proteins and veggies and no weirdo ingredients like on “Chopped”. Mei wants to make fennel and pickled rhubarb, but Katsuji is like “guacamole with fish sauce.” They fight over the sauce, and Mei gives some epic side eye, but she eventually lets him do it. But not without ordering him to hurry up because she wants to taste it. See that’s the danger in deciding you’re in charge without telling anyone else. Blue team takes some scallops and filet. They quickly get going. Gray team is making pork chops, Yellow wants to take veal, salmon and kale. Joy talks about how veal should be at mid-rare, and these chops are huge, and she wants to cut them down but her team does not. So I guess there will be more drama about the chops later. She doesn’t like some of the things they’re doing, but she is going along with the team. Ron wants vanilla in the celery root puree. Team Drama gets chicken and short ribs. Keriann is bored with chicken. Stacy offers to cook it, while Aaron says something about agar and setting sauces into marmalade or something. Did the box have agar in it? Keriann is really pissed about the “gastronomy” but making thick sauces doesn’t seem that fancy. Katsuji lets Mei taste the sauce, and she admits in confessional that she was wrong and it’s really fucking good. Aaron tells Keriann not to put onions in the corn salsa because he’s making onion jam and that’s too much. Plus he’s all “acidity, that means more acid”. Stacy interviews that she’s just keeping her mouth shut.

Tom is here with Gail and a bunch of people. No Blais and no Hugh. The cops and firefighters mock each other about donuts and sitting around. Red team up first: pea coconut purée with sautéed halibut, pickled rhubarb, cherry and grilled fennel slaw. Everyone comments on the dish while the chefs stand there. I don’t know if I like this. I think I liked it better when no one knew how they were doing and sometimes Padma would call up the losers and everyone would be confused. But now you know right away if the judges liked your dish. Eh. Anyway, everything works well together and they like it.

Blue team: filet mignon, parsnip puree, pan-seared scallops and marcona vinaigrette. Everything is cooked really well and it’s restaurant-quality. Gray team: grilled pork chop with grilled stone fruit salad, morel mushrooms and walnuts. The pork is well-cooked and they like the fruit salad. Someone tells them they’re two awesome guys and they totally agree.

Joy is pulling veal chops off while they are rare, and then she says they’ll come up to where she wants them. Melissa says she can see some of them are rare, but they don’t have time to fix them. That’s…probably not going to go over well. Yellow team: maple and vanilla wood-roasted veal chop with vanilla-scented celery root puree and citrus kale slaw. That is two vanilla things in a savory dish. Too much vanilla plus it seems people are having problems cutting the chops. All the veal is rare.

Commercial interlude: Gail asks about Boston after the marathon bombing, and the first responders talk about how moved they were. The woman at the table actually was there and saved some people. Awesome.

Stacy is confident about the chicken, but both Keriann and Aaron are hovering. So it’s not like Keriann is so great. However she’s just moved on to putting everything else on the plates, while Aaron is giving orders and being passive-aggressive. Aaron’s marmalade is too watery so he’s decided to warm it up? With under 5 minutes left? He and Keriann fight about it, because of course he’s just doing whatever he wants. Somehow they get food on plates, but only after a lot of petty bickering. Green team: pan roasted chicken breast with bourbon onion jam and fresh corn salad with serrano chilies. Gail loves the chicken. Everyone loves the chicken. They do not like the raw onion in the corn salad, plus the corn is raw so what? Why is the corn raw? Tom doesn’t know what the jam thing is and it’s not good either. Tom tells Stacy the chicken was perfect so she should be pissed because her team fucked up the rest of the dish. The relish was especially horrible. Keriann tries to pretend they came together in the kitchen, which is a crock. Aaron starts out OK by saying he and Keriann see things differently and that caused conflict, and then he goes off the rails by saying Keriann was “erratic” and made bad decisions. Pff. The dish is not cohesive. Plus then he throws her under the bus for raw onion in the corn. Keriann brings up how the relish should have been cold or something, blah blah.

Back in the kitchen Aaron pretends to be reasonable and says something about placement of things, like his hot relish should not be on cold salad, and Keriann is all, yes, you were wrong, but the dishes got out so the day is over. She leaves, and then Aaron is all “She’s such a bitch”. Yeah I’m pretty sure Stacy is not going to side with you on this one. Also Keriann was trying to be vague on this, and you were the one who started it with the judges. Then they rejoin the other chefs and Keriann calls Aaron “a lying sack of shit”. They have a stupid argument, because Aaron can’t let that comment go, but Keriann is like “It’s done!” Dude, you can’t hide behind that when you could have walked in and said nothing, or “They liked the chicken”, or “They hated the garnishes”. Aaron thinks he showcased technique, even though everyone hated it.

Judges’ table. Everyone comes in again, and I don’t think I like that either. Even for the simple fact that can’t they sit down? They have to cook and then stand around here for hours? Weak. Red team and Blue team are tops. All the components for the Red team were perfect. They have praise for everyone! All the proteins on the Blue team were well-seasoned and cooked. Tom also says the leek vinaigrette was not brown, which is what happens when you put the vinegar on too early. Important technique. Blue team wins, and they get a group hug.

Yellow and Green teams are bottom. LOSER GONG GOES HERE. Sorry but I miss it. Yellow team had problems with conception and “cookery”. Green team was doomed to fail from the start. Well, sure, because you set them up that way. Come on, Tom. Tom says they had two hours, and Aaron could have reduced his relish the old-fashioned way. Keriann smirks. She gets hers by admitting the corn was starchy, but she served it anyway, which is a thing everyone always gets slammed for. The Yellow team had way too much vanilla, plus the chops were raw. They also didn’t taste the dish all put together, with all components. They worked well, but as we know that doesn’t always matter.

Padma tell Aaron and Keriann that they should worship Stacy and her chicken for saving their asses. Joy is eliminated, for not cooking the veal properly. Aww. She’s sorry she didn’t speak up because she was trying so hard to be a team player. That’s her one regret.

Next week: Sudden Death Quickfire, someone burns something, Fenway Park and serving on the field. Hugh! Aaron fights with Katsuji because he’s an equal opportunity asshole.

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