Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top Chef 10/29/14--"The Curse of the Bambino" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: The Quickfire tried to teach us about Paul Revere, which was not really educational but we’ve certainly had dumber themes. James wins, which makes him and his Patrick Swayze tattoo happy. But he does not get immunity. The Elimination Challenge is to serve some firefighters and police, and also be in teams. Of course since Aaron and Keriann had a dumb argument in the Stew Room they are on a team together, and proceed to fight the entire episode. But you know how this goes. A non-drama team will win, while the drama team is on the bottom but no one actually goes home from that team. Instead Joy, who served raw veal, was given the boot. (click for more)

Back in the Stew Room after elimination, Ron asks everyone to not act like children if there’s another team challenge. Aaron asks if he’s saying his team had something to do with Joy’s going home. Ron thinks the stupid fighting during plating was a shitshow. It was, but then Ron’s team served BEFORE Aaron. Not saying their dumb fight didn’t throw off the whole kitchen, but from what I understand of the timeline, Joy was either out serving or back in the kitchen and done with everything by the time that happened. Aaron of course basically shrugs and says it was Joy’s problem and he had nothing to do with it. Which is true but doesn’t make Aaron any less of a douchebag. Adam announces that they should just all go home for the day. Good idea.

The next morning James and Aaron sit on the balcony and commiserate about how they have similar backgrounds. James, don’t associate with Aaron. He’s a jerk. All of a sudden Aaron’s interviewing about how he came from a broken home and he didn’t have a dad and he had to grow up quickly and whatever. Am I supposed to forgive all his asshattery now? If you want him to get a redemption arc you need to wait more than one episode. He interviews that he seems like a jerk, but underneath he really understands all his faults and “Top Chef” is helping him work them out. Until I see an apology or some kind of acknowledgement of that fact in public, shut up Aaron.

Ming Tsai is here for the Quickfire. Boston Tea Party time! Everyone has to make a dish with tea. Melissa gets screen time which is really weird because I’d forgotten she was on this show. Plus Martin Yan was on TV before Ming was, just an FYI, Melissa. Love Martin Yan. Oh also this is a Sudden Death Quickfire. Padma says if you lose “you will face immediate elimination”. Winner gets immunity. Each chef will get one flavor of tea, but Padma doesn’t say how they’ll pick.

45 minutes to cook. Oh, apparently they’ll pick by storming the table and hoping they pick something good, because the tea canisters are covered and unlabeled. Adam grabs yellowtail before Aaron can. Good. Aaron ends up with monkfish cheeks. Rebecca complains that she got lemongrass ginger pomegranate rooibos tea, instead of plain black tea. Then in the next sentence she brags that she does pastry all the time so sorry if that’s threatening. Sigh. Ron has chocolate tea so he’s doing mole. Melissa is using toasted nut tea in her rice. She gets more backstory so that’s not looking good for her, in terms of editing. Aaron overcooks his monkfish. Too bad.

Melissa: seared duck breast with toasted nut oolong tea-infused jasmine rice. Katsuji: toasted brown rice tea broth with brown rice-crusted tuna. Aww yeah, that’s my tea that I drink every day. It’s green tea with toasted rice, so it has a really nice savory flavor to it. Super cheap at the international grocery. Katie: golden honey black tea panna cotta, Asian pear with brown butter tea compote. My favorite part is when Padma shakes the bowl first to see if the panna cotta has set properly. There is a weird conversation about how Ming makes jasmine tea soufflé, but you can’t make it in 45 minutes, and then Padma is like “Well making a Ming Tsai dish is not part of this challenge” all serious. Weird. Gregory: tuna crudo with strawberry white tea and coconut. Ron: chocolate and salt herbal tea-crusted duck breast with polenta and balsamic glazed mushrooms. That sounds really good on paper. Aaron: seared monkfish cheeks, Asian pear and mint salad with gunpowder and spearmint tea gastrique. Adam: pineapple and burnt citrus “iced tea-viche” and toasted pine nut gremolata. Sigh. James: crispy skin trout with quinoa in beurre blanc and Asian pear tea salad. Rebecca: lemongrass and pomegranate rooibos tea-infused cake with strawberries and apples.

Ming says Melissa did really well and also Gregory. Plus Ron’s mole sauce really worked. The winner is Gregory. So he’s got immunity and he’s just this side of cocky because he’s been on the top twice and it’s the third episode. The bottom three are James (too much sauce), Aaron (overcooked monkfish), and Rebecca (her cake didn’t taste like tea). The loser is Aaron. Aww. Wait I don’t care. So Aaron gets to pick someone to cook against. So it’s not “will face immediate elimination”, PADMA. Jesus. There is no way this is “immediate” or even “certain”. So stop saying that shit. Aaron challenges Katie, which is kind of out of left field. Not Keriann? Sure. When asked about it, Aaron is like “yeah I can beat her, she’s a culinary school instructor and I never went to culinary school, so…haha”. Which isn’t a rousing cocky statement. In confessional (because apparently he’s too chickenshit to say this out loud in front of everyone) Aaron says Katie’s cooking is boring and he can totally beat her. 30 minutes to cook, using only boiling water as a heat source.

Aaron decides to make spring rolls, while Katie is making pasta. She would be super embarrassed to lose to Aaron. I think Aaron is putting minced shrimp into a baggie to make a shrimp wrapper? Katie has to hand cut her pasta because the roller is not working. Gregory says everyone is secretly rooting for Katie. Ha. Aaron: cucumber, carrot, mint, and raw peanuts wrapped in pureed shrimp noodle. Padma asks how she should eat it which is generally not a good sign. No comments by the judges, although Aaron tries to kiss ass. Katie: saffron hand-cut pappardelle pasta, smoked mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Katie needed more sauce, while Aaron shouldn’t have used raw peanuts. The winner is Aaron. Dammit.

Elimination Challenge. Padma makes a “ball game” reference and then some concession vendors show up. She mentions Fenway, and I think this is where Katie gets it because she gasps. But I’m not sure if everyone else has gotten it or what. They are going to actually cook in Fenway Park. The chefs must use a “classic ballpark snack” to make a fine dining dish. Nice. There is a mad dash for snacks, which seem to include peanuts, popcorn, pretzels, and cotton candy. They didn’t list anything so I may have missed something. 3 hours to cook today, and 1 hour tomorrow at the ballpark. Also Dennis Eckersley will be there. I remember him from when he pitched for the A’s in the late 80’s.

Flailing and shopping at Whole Foods. They get 45 minutes to shop which seems like a long time. Also $350. Stacy and Adam tease each other since Stacy is from Boston but Adam is a Yankees fan. Ron is planning on popcorn soup with a fried croquette like a baseball. Katsuji has to incorporate “fried dough”. That’s what it says, “fried dough”. The fuck is that? Katie talks about her dad, who had cancer and one of her last memories of him is when they went to a Twins game. Aww.

3 hours to cook. I think Aaron tries to give Katsuji shit about his sunglasses and Katsuji is like “your mom likes my sunglasses”. He’s hard to understand but I think that’s the gist of it. James brags that he doesn’t eat junk food or snacks so this is a hard challenge. He’s making lobster cakes with pretzel panzanella salad. Keriann is making beer braised short ribs. Nice. She is aiming to have it all and tell her kids you can have everything you want and so forth. Hopefully she can get it done. I think Adam either breaks the blender or sprays stuff all over the table. He’s putting fish in an immersion circulator, I think. He wants to poach it today so it’ll be ready to go tomorrow? Hopefully he doesn’t overcook it. I think when you poach stuff if you do it right it won’t overcook so let’s see if that is the case. Katie is making crème brulee. Yeah. A giant pan of crème brulee so she has no idea if it’s done or set.

In the morning Gregory does some stretches and talks about how he had a drug problem but he’s made amends and he feels really strong right now. The chefs end up all crammed into a really small space. It looks like the concessions prep area. Katie’s crème brulee never set, of course, because she mentioned it earlier. So she’s whisking the custard into some whipped cream to make “free-form crème brulee” and now she’s behind. Aaron is making pretzel dogs, except with pork rillette instead of hot dogs. He still manages to snob about how Katie is in the weeds. I mean, she really is in the weeds but shut up Aaron. The judges get to sit out on the warning track on the field. Dennis Eckersley looks the same. Blais and Hugh are here.

The chefs get to come through the clubhouse and the tunnel to walk across the field to serve. Aaron: pretzel wrapped rillette and spring pea tendril salad. Ron: popcorn soup, breaded fish croquette, dill pickled celery and sun gold tomatoes. The croquette is supposed to be like a baseball. The fish is too huge to be a garnish. Sadly Aaron seems to have passed through. Katie: popcorn mousse, blue cornmeal salted shortbread. Katie makes the mistake of leading with a statement about how she screwed up and this is not what she wanted. They liked it, so she gets yelled at a little bit for selling herself short. Then she gets choked up about her dad. Padma reassures her she did her dad proud.

Doug asks Katsuji if his pork is kosher, and Katsuji says that it’s circumcised. Hee. Dennis tells a story about some famous home run someone hit off him, and how afterwards no one would look at him. Then Padma is all “You should have played for the Yankees” and everyone laughs. I don’t get it but I don’t follow sports. The first three chefs are hanging out in the dugout. Nice. Doug: seared scallop, grilled corn, sweet corn sauce and popcorn with piment d’espelette. That’s basically red peppers but with a fancy French name. The sauce isn’t too sweet so that’s good. Keriann: beer-braised short rib, horseradish parsnip puree, crispy pretzel shallots, and lager-infused fondue. I would eat that right now. The short ribs aren’t cooked enough, plus there isn’t a lot of pretzel flavor. Katsuji: bread pudding with mushrooms, bacon, and deep fried braised pork belly. Too much going on, plus the pork belly is tough.

The next round of chefs gets ready for service. Stacy is freaking out. Melissa: corn and ramp soup with pickled ramps, fried calamari, truffle butter and bacon popcorn. Mei: seared pork loin with braised peanuts, peanut sauce, herb salad and peanut brittle. The pork is a little overcooked. Stacy: seared scallops, pickled peanuts with peanut and sunchoke puree. They love the pickled peanuts. Melissa seemed to do fine, they didn’t say a lot about her dish.

Commercial interlude: everyone figures out where to put everyone if they were a baseball team. It’s not terribly funny.

Gregory gives Adam shit by asking if Jeter plays for the Red Sox. Hee. Rebecca is making salmon, and she’s trying to cook her fish at the last minute. Adam is freaking out because the oven has really overcooked his fish. Rebecca: roasted salmon with mustard and honey glaze and toasted pretzel streusel. Blais is like, I’m so glad you didn’t fuck up the salmon like the time I did. I’m trying to remember but I can’t. Eh. James: sautéed lobster cake, pretzel panzanella, and avocado buttermilk mousse. The texture is off. Adam: watermelon curry, peanut oil poached halibut with jalapeno and fresno chili salad. Everything is fantastic except the fish. Gregory: roasted duck, peanut nam prik pao, peanut brittle, crispy shallots and fresh herb salad. Everything works together.

The judges discuss the challenge, and suddenly it is REALLY sunny. Like, it looks like it’s a totally different day and they all came back to film this part because it didn’t turn out last time. We’ll hear it all later I’m assuming. Meanwhile the chefs are standing in the dugout talking about their mistakes.

In the Stew Room there is more complaining about mistakes. There is nice furniture in there now that they make everyone stand around at Judges’ Table. As Aaron is talking about how he screwed up pretzel dogs, Katsuji is just needling him every chance he gets. It’s kind of a dick move but Aaron is a dick, so. When Aaron tells him to shut up, Katsuji is like don’t come at me like that. See, now you’ve lost me. You started it. Katsuji keeps talking but I have no idea what he’s saying because I can’t hear or understand him over Aaron. Eventually Aaron is like “five year olds make bread pudding”. I guess Katsuji is threatening him? James does admit that Katsuji picks at you until you explode, while Aaron is more direct.

Judges’ Table. Oh, HERE is the Loser Gong. OK. Some people overreached today. Gregory, Melissa, and Katie were the tops. So I guess I was wrong about Melissa’s sudden screen time. Katie served a really great dish and should have stood behind it instead of apologizing for her mistake. Melissa’s bacon popcorn worked really well with the soup. Gregory balanced everything really well. Ming says the winner is Gregory. Tom tells everyone else to step it up so Gregory doesn’t run away with it.

Ron, Keriann, and Katsuji are the bottom. Aaron smirks because he is a dick. Keriann thought she could braise the short ribs in time, and she argues that she doesn’t like them too mushy. Hugh says it was really tough. Aaron actually laughs because he is a garbage person. Katsuji knows it’s the same mistake he’s been making, having too many things happening. He had a good idea, but he needs editing. Ron had a soup but then a giant fish ball. They were confused as to if it was supposed to be a soup or a fried fish ball with sauce. After some bad baseball puns, Ron is eliminated. That’s too bad. Aaron gives him a big hug, which makes me realize that Keriann and Katsuji both had fights with Aaron, and they got to stay. Ron’s fight with Aaron was mostly lame, and he is eliminated. He’s really upset. He’s better than the people who are left. He’s got renewed vigor.

Next week: George Wendt, double elimination, Emmy Rossum (I think?) who springs a gluten-free diner on the chefs. Man just tell them that ahead of time.

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