Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Top Chef 11/5/14--"12 Chefs Walk Into a Bar..." summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Aaron tried to have a redemption arc via the producers, but was still a jerk about everything. He almost got sent home during the Sudden Death Quickfire but sadly did not. Also, “immediate elimination” indicates that person is gone when they lose, not that they can cook head-to-head and stick around, PADMA. Then everyone cooked dishes with ballpark concessions foods and served on the field at Fenway. Katie screwed up and then told the judges she screwed up, which is never the best idea. Always pretend you did things on purpose. Gregory won, and he also won the Quickfire so he’s doing quite well. Ron’s giant fried fish croquette confused everyone so he was sent home. (click for more)

The chefs go home and have dinner. Katsuji jokes about hitting Gregory in the face, on account of how often he’s won. Aaron sneers that Katsuji’s strategy is to get into your head. It’s not that hard with you because you’re a jerk, Aaron. Keriann is crying and homesick. She calls home and her husband flat out tells her “No” and that the kids are fine. Suck it up.

In the morning everyone finds a note saying to meet Padma at 84 Beacon Street. Cheers! Hee. Stacy admits she may have been asked to leave Cheers one time. Some good-natured joking ensues before they all drive off. Inside they find Padma and George Wendt. “NORM!” He rolls his eyes and says “Stop with that”. Hee. He has a seat with a nameplate! Hilarious. Padma says that by law, all bars must serve food. The Quickfire is to make a bar snack based on whatever is in the kitchen. Winner gets immunity.

30 minutes to cook. They’re cooking in two groups, I guess because the kitchen is too small. Keriann says she’s now in the game, after talking to her husband, and she’s ready to win. Aaron is making sliders with peanut butter and mayo. Yes. A lot of people are frying things, obviously. Rebecca doesn’t think she has enough glaze on her wings. Aaron: caramel bacon hamburger with peanut butter, mayonnaise, sunny side up egg. I’ll be honest, that sounds gross. Padma is shocked it doesn’t suck. Katie: beer-battered fried cheese curd with lemon lime zest and olives. Stacy: arugula pesto, prosciutto chips, balsamic tomato jam and burrata on crostini. Rebecca: crispy chicken wings with spicy ponzu glaze, lime vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Keriann: beer-battered onion ring with crab salad and spicy hollandaise.

The second group storms the kitchen to cook. Katsuji is making tostadas. Gregory loses some buns at the last second, along with a bunch of garnish. Was he flinging the plates around or what? Gregory: burger with caramelized onions, jalapenos, ginger, and sweet potato tempura fries. One plate just has a burger and one bun. Sad. Adam: black bean chiliquiles with fried egg. Mei: fried chicken wings with lime chili vinaigrette and pickles. James: pickled and grilled carrots with red bean puree. Katsuji: mahi mahi and tuna ceviche with roasted tomato and jalapeno salsa.

George says he’s never been so well fed. Gregory had a bad day, and James’s dish didn’t feel like bar food. Katsuji was really creative and Keriann was too. She’s so glad to finally be on top. The winner is Katsuji. Aaron looks pissed as Katsuji gloats. So he gets immunity, which is a nice deal for him. Then George Wendt leaves.

Elimination Challenge. Michael Schlow, who was on Masters, comes out and they tell the chefs tomorrow they’ll take over one of his restaurants. Work in teams of three to create “a classic three-course Italian meal” that includes antipasti, pasta, and secondi. So be aware they must have a pasta course. That will be important later. All the diners will get to see each team’s menu, and the team who gets the most orders will win. What? Whoever gets the most orders? So even if the food sucks you could still win just because you fooled everyone into thinking your food was the best? That is terrible. Double elimination tomorrow. 2 hours to cook for 60 people.

Pick your own teams! I’m more OK with teams you pick out yourself. Adam catches Mei’s eye and then spies Doug. Aaron gets stuck on Katsuji’s team, along with Gregory. I am willing to bet no one wanted to be on a team with Aaron. Gregory plans to put out fires. I think Katsuji is in the best position here because he has immunity. He doesn’t have to do anything, but Aaron’s actions can carry consequences. Everyone goes back to the apartments to plan. They plan words very carefully. Mei, Adam, and Doug are all sous chefs and are not used to writing menus. Melissa, James, and Keriann discuss seafood. I think both Melissa and James think they know best. They brag about their credentials.

Cooking day. Everyone fights for space. Aaron is a jerk until Adam shuts him down. He tries to ask Katsuji how he is doing, but Katsuji is like “I don’t want to talk to you, you know how we are”. Oh, Katsuji. You should go along with him. He was technically not doing anything wrong right then. Mei says at work she is “The Fish Bitch”. Hee. Melissa is making ravioli and she admits it’ll be hard. Katie, Rebecca, and Stacy discuss serving slices of meat or whole pieces. Whole pieces can get fat and gristle so they decide on slices.

Tom Time! Michael will be expediting, since it’s his restaurant. Tom bails, I guess because he was just there to say hello. Aaron tells Katsuji to clear himself, I guess because all his shit is in the way. He keeps at it, as Gregory tells them to work together. Michael tells all of them to shut up.

Padma appears with Blais and Emmy Rossum. They discuss the word “macerated” and whether or not the average person likes radicchio. Right away Purple and Blue teams get slammed. Purple team is Aaron’s team, and Blue I think is Katie and Rebecca and Stacy. Padma tells the server they’re going to start with Purple, and then Emmy is like “Oh, can you make sure the chef knows I’m gluten free?” That is some bullshit. Yes, people have random dietary restrictions. Yes, chefs have to adjust. But they have time to plan menus and do that. What gluten-free person is going to an Italian restaurant and assuming they can eat there? Wouldn’t you check to see if they had gluten-free pasta or whatever? I don’t like it because they told the chefs they must serve pasta, and then sprung this on them after service had started. It’s not like that time they went to Tom’s restaurant and then the guest judge was a vegetarian. They told them that twist before cooking started. Then you have time to plan alternatives. Now you’re making them come up with shit on the fly and it’s going to be terrible. The judges gloat about how good a test this will be. You need time to make fresh gluten-free pasta, TOM. I am sure when you advertised for random diners for this challenge you told them you couldn’t accommodate their restrictions.

Back in the kitchen Michael is breaking the news that there is at least one gluten free guest today. Everyone looks terrified. Katie claims to be calm. Aaron: seared scallops, macerated peaches, pickled ramps, and crispy speck. It turned out well. They do not know what to do about Emmy so it looks like they put some goat cheese and pea puree on a plate. Katsuji is calling it “deconstructed ravioli”. Listen, that is annoying, but that’s what you get for last minute twists. Katsuji: spring pea and goat cheese ravioli with pecorino, green chili, and mint. Emmy has all the innards just put on her plate. The judges tut about it, but the regular dish doesn’t look that much better. It looks dried out or something. Gregory: peppercorn crusted strip loin with sweet onion compote, roasted tomato, cured olives and herbs. This turned out really well.

Orange team is not doing anything. Mei knows if their food tastes good, then the judges will keep them from going home. Blais says he’s anxious about the salad. I guess because it’s a salad? People like salad. Doug: radicchio salad with warm pancetta, goat cheese vinaigrette, and hazelnuts. It’s tasty. Adam: bay scallop and fennel linguini with sun gold tomato and gremolata. Emmy gets a red quinoa polenta cake with the seafood like a broth underneath. Spicy but it goes over well and Emmy likes it. Mei: branzino with lemon jam, salsa verde, and radish. No one is ordering it but the judges really like this menu.

Emmy says she wouldn’t order the Gray menu because it says “Chilled wild shrimp”. It’s not been popular. James: chilled wild shrimp, mussels and clams with arugula, navel orange and capers. It’s not going over well. Melissa: house-made spring pea ravioli with ramps and bacon-parmesan broth. Emmy gets risotto with the spring peas and ramps and the same broth. OK…that is way better than just the insides of the ravioli. Keriann: pan seared halibut with olive oil potato, warm asparagus salad and pistachios. She did well, so I guess Aaron will be annoying about that.

Stacy is freaking out because she’s running out of vegetables. They’re overcooking, and she doesn’t have a bunch of extras and she hasn’t served the judges yet. Rebecca: seared scallop with charred fennel, orange, and arugula. The fennel isn’t really charred. Underwhelming. Katie: hand-cut pappardelle with basil-walnut pesto and confit cherry tomatoes. Emmy has zucchini noodles with the same pesto. Stacy: grilled rib eye with king trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, and Kalamata olive vinaigrette. Some of the asparagus is pretty burnt.

Michael joins the judges to discuss all the dishes. Purple team had a great menu aside from the pasta, but that’s Katsuji and he’s immune. James’s salad was also not great. Rebecca’s dish was simple, bur then she didn’t do anything with it and they were bored I guess. Stacy’s vinaigrette was fine, but the steak was cut too thin and the vegetables were hammered. Padma goes into the back with Emmy to admit she’s the gluten-free diner. Oops. I will admit I was wrong and three out of the four teams came up with good alternatives. I still think they should have told them about it when they started cooking.

Judges’ Table. Michael says everyone worked well together. The team that got ordered most often was the Purple team. That means Aaron, Gregory, and Katsuji are safe. No one else claps or looks happy. Aaron thinks this proves he can work on a team. Tom tells Katsuji he’s lucky to have immunity, and to his credit Katsuji looks sheepish and agrees. Orange team, Adam, Mei, and Doug, had great food, so they are safe. James, Stacy, and Rebecca are up for elimination. Stacy claims there was a though process behind her burnt vegetables. She talks about cutting them small, but that doesn’t explain how brown they were. She basically says they were good, until Blais shuts her down and says they were annihilated. Rebecca didn’t char her fennel and it was mediocre. James had almost no oil in his vinaigrette. He starts to say something about what Italian means to him and team harmony and something. Is he blaming his team for his dish sucking? Eventually he admits that maybe it wasn’t “Top Chef” level.

Tom says the bottom three were too boring and then Rebecca and James are sent home. No one looks happy. James regrets not making something louder and more seasonal. Rebeca wants to do better next time. She mentions “Last Chance Kitchen” which I have not heard anything about yet this season. Apparently it’s not coming until December 10 so we have a little while to enjoy not dealing with that producer interference.

Next time: head to head battles, more damn teams, Aaron being dumb and Hugh shutting him down which is always satisfying.

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