Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top Chef 12/17/14--"Big Sausage" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: everyone had to make chowder, which was expected. I mean, they’re in Boston. Anyway, Katie lost and it was a Sudden Death Quickfire so she had to battle. They brought back all the eliminated contestants for no reason and they threw in George because he was the first out. Dumb. He was so terrible he didn’t even last a whole episode! Anyway, suddenly he’s better than Katie so she went home and he got to stay. So then the judges did the shopping for everyone, but they didn’t try to screw people as much as I thought they should be. Make dishes for Top Chef fans. Doug won for being awesome. Adam scalded shrimp in oil and that was a fail so he got sent home. Or technically to Last Chance Kitchen. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen everyone had to battle, like 7 people, and they had to remake the dish that sent them home. Rebecca won, and then she battled Adam and Katie, because of course now we keep two people through to the next round instead of one. Sigh. Anyway, make something both “dry” and “slimy” and Rebecca was easily defeated. So Adam and Katie are still around.

Doug loves winning challenges. George gloats about returning to competition. Whatever dude. No one else is excited.

Doug talks about how he and Katsuji are best friends or something. It’s the morning of the next challenge and we all have to tolerate everyone sitting outside and having coffee and talking about their lives. Katsuji gets some childhood photos so I guess he’s the next to go.

Rob Gronkowski is here. Padma flirts with him since usually there’s just random chefs here. She says he can call him “honey”. Sigh. Anyway, Rob wants Polish sausage, so the Quickfire is to make the best possible sausage from scratch in one hour. Cue dirty sausage comments.

Gregory says an hour is actually not that much time. Texture is important. Katsuji says “get punched by my sausage”, I believe. Mei makes Asian. It’s not very exciting today in the Top Chef kitchen. Not even with all the dirty jokes! George and Melissa can’t get their sausage stuffed properly. George finally gives up and makes patties. Melissa’s sausages end up tiny so she is worried.

Doug: beer-braised pork sausage with onions and mustard. Melissa: wild boar and pork sausage with lentils, cucumber, fennel, and pickled red onion. Mei: pork sausage with ginger, garlic, fish sauce, avocado, coconut puree and yuzu aioli. Katsuji: brisket and pork sausage with habaneros, cumin, coriander, ginger and saffron rice. Gregory: pork and boar sausage with kaffir lime, chilies, lemongrass, garlic, cucumber and carrot salad. George: pork and veal sausage patty with sunny side up egg and potato hash. George tells Rob he’s not a Patriots fan because George is not very bright.

Melissa did not make large enough sausages. Rob reads his joke about big muscles and he is terrible. Seriously if he can’t read the lines they gave him you’d be better off just letting him adlib. Gregory’s was spicy but it wasn’t the best. Doug’s simple sausage was delicious. George was also delicious even though he didn’t technically make sausage and also he’s not a Pats fan. George wins, which seems weird. Really? I guess. Now he has immunity, right after he came back from being eliminated.

Elimination Challenge. Padma brings in guest judge Tony Maws, who is a chef I’ve never heard of. He wheels in a big bookcase. There are names of famous authors who are from New England. Not even Boston? Sigh. Anyway, they will be inspired by one of these authors. They can pick out any work of theirs, short stories, poem, whatever. Diners should be able to get it from your plate. 3 hours to cook tomorrow. Gregory picks Edgar Allen Poe, Katsuji gets Stephen King, George takes Dr. Seuss (Padma says do not make green eggs and ham), Mei has Thoreau (she admits she has no idea about his works), Melissa has Nathanial Hawthorne. That means Doug is stuck with Emily Dickinson. “Yes! I’m feeling great about getting the depressed chick poet. From the 1800s.” Aww, they’re letting them study before shopping. Whenever they do stuff like this I always hope they won’t let them study and someone fails because they have no idea what is going on.

Everyone stands around and looks through the prop books the production has provided. I wonder if there is actually anything written in there. Mei is discovering that Thoreau talks about nature a lot so she’s doing vegetarian. Doug is going romantic. Katsuji wants to go with “Carrie”. Everyone jokes about if he’s going to splash blood on the judges.

Shopping. George is going with “One Fish, Two Fish” which is not the worst idea. Doug finds the phrase “bring me the sunset in a cup” so I think he’s making carrot soup. Hawthorne suggests to Melissa farms and seasonal transition.

In the morning Gregory talks about coming out of the closet in school, which is something he’s thinking about since they basically have a school assignment. He’s working off “The Raven” because when you have to make a dish based on a work by Poe that’s what you pick out. He has a lot of ideas, actually. Katsuji is making stew and a red sauce. He wants people to say “Shit!” but in a good way. Doug is making as many layers as possible for his soup.

Tom Time! George has a good idea for red and blue, and fish, but he has immunity so he can actually do whatever he wants. Mei has roasted vegetables. She actually has a drawing of what she wants her plate to look like. She stirs a giant pot of charred onions she chopped fine to make soil. Melissa is trying to have both spring and fall in one dish to show the changing of the seasons. Francis Lam shows up for judging. Gregory is anal about presentation since that is really important today.

Gregory: seared beef tenderloin, grilled hen, parsnip puree, beets, and crispy nori. He has clearly thought about “The Raven” more than just “I should make poultry”. The judges are impressed with how everything on the plate is important to the story, although they do get a full explanation from Gregory. After he leaves the table, it turns out one person at the table had overdone beef. Oops. George: calamari, mussels, clams, pan seared branzino, purple potatoes, roasted red peppers. I kind of wish he was more crazy with the presentation, to get some of the whimsy of Dr. Seuss. The judges agree with me. Mei: roasted vegetables, charred onion soil, tom kha snow, radish and carrot top vinaigrette. Tom kha is a coconut soup so that’s pretty clever. Gail says there is a lot of technique but the flavor came through too.

Melissa: seared halibut, spring vegetables, morels, charred baby corn, asparagus, peas and mushroom broth. Melissa’s plan was to have light spring flavors, then finish with the darker mushroom broth to show the passing of seasons to fall. Tom says she nailed it. Katsuji: first of all, his plates look like he took spoonfuls of tomato sauce and dropped them on the plates from four feet up. He gets up there, and starts to say what work he was inspired by, and then blanks. Good job, dumbass. I mean, it’s not like you can’t figure out “Carrie” from a bloody mess but come on. Fabada with white beans, chorizo, jamon serrano, short rib, veal osso buco, red beet puree and hot sauce. Fabada is Spanish bean stew. Tom says it’s the most unappetizing dish he’s ever seen. Oh come on, Tom. How many years of this show and THAT’S the most unappetizing dish you’ve ever seen? I doubt it. The sauces are thick but Gail thinks it all works somehow. Doug: grilled carrot bisque with grilled carrots, orange, cumin vinaigrette, radish and dandelions. It’s delicious and the color pops.

Commercial interlude: if Doug wrote a book it would be called “Wrestling Tigers!”. Yes. Katsuji’s book is “The Curious Case of Chef Katsuji Tanabe: From a Mexican Kosher Restaurant Catholic Immigrant in a New Country.” Because of course it would.

The judges talk a little bit about the dishes and who should win. Doug, Mei, and Melissa all get praise. George had immunity but everyone was underwhelmed, so Katsuji and Gregory are up for elimination. Katsuji is a mess sometimes and Gregory didn’t really succeed in matching his dish to the literary work.

Judges’ Table. Tom says this was a hard challenge but no one seemed to have a huge problem with it. Mei, Melissa, and Doug are the tops. Doug focused on the carrot. Mei was a little worried about going strictly vegetarian, but she’s proud of what she ended up with. Melissa had a clear idea of what she wanted. The winner is Mei. Nice. Gregory didn’t have a clear vision so no one could immediately identify what work he had. Katsuji’s idea was pretty good but the sauces were thick. Katsuji is eliminated. The food just didn’t hold up. He’s a great chef. Weirdly everyone gives him a group hug except Doug. Katsuji knows he’s on TV so that’s an accomplishment. He thinks his daughter would be proud of him.

Next time: stupid Andy Cohen, college students, Julia Child. I think it’s not on until after the holidays so enjoy the break!

Last Chance Kitchen: Katsuji is ready to go. He was not expecting two chefs, but he knows he can beat Katie. The peanut gallery is here too, even Aaron who I thought was arrested? Katsuji uses too many ingredients. For this challenge you must use at least 20 ingredients. Ha! 20 minutes! Hilarious. Tom forces peanut gallery members to keep track of everyone’s stuff.

Katsuji of course is throwing things in a blender and has a million things going. He’s making a kind of mole. Katie and Adam start listing things too. Katie’s going for Indian since chutneys and the like have a bunch of ingredients. Adam rants about making everything cohesive. He’s one ingredient short right now and he’s really bitter at having to do this challenge.

Tom appears to bother everyone. Adam has ceviche. He hates this challenge but he claims to have 21 things. Katie has eggplant and is boring so Tom bails on that conversation quickly. Katsuji of course has 20 ingredients, he has 31 ingredients. Heh. Katsuji’s station seems to be clean by some miracle.

Katsuji: pescado encacahuatado mole with nuts, dry fruits, and chiles. Basically fish in complicated sauce. Tom says it’s good but it’s missing something. Ha! Katie: Indian tomato “stew” with yogurt herb sauce and seared spiced eggplant. Adam: Peruvian ceviche, summer vegetable “leche de tigre”. Leche de tigre is the liquid you use to marinate the ceviche. Katsuji had great flavor, Adam’s dish still appeared simple, and Katie was super focused. Katsuji makes it through, as does Adam. So Katie is out. Aww. Adam had the best dish, so he’s thrilled because during the regular show he never won anything.

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