Thursday, January 22, 2015

Top Chef 1/21/15--"The Final Battle of Bean Town" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: there was only one challenge: make an appetizer and an entrée using fresh shellfish. Oh and your sous chefs will be your family members. Oh and they are making the appetizer and you can’t touch it. OH and no elimination but if you win you go straight to the finale. They shouldn’t have said there wouldn’t be an elimination 5 minutes into the episode. I stopped caring. Anyway, Melissa managed to win because her mom is the best cook. At least that’s what I thought was the reason. (click for more)

In Last Chance Kitchen it was Adam vs. Doug to decide who goes to the finale in Mexico, using a crudité platter and ranch dressing. Doug won!

Everyone’s tired from hanging out with family members and whatever. Melissa is shocked she won. Gregory got some negative feedback but since no one was eliminated he didn’t go home. That would have changed things.

In the morning Mei prepares for a twist. George thinks he “hung in there” instead of not doing shit for half the show and then getting a chance to come back because everyone felt bad for him.

Wylie Dufresne. Time for the final Quickfire, which involves beans. Finally! You know when you were like “what food specialties are there in Boston?” baked beans was the first thing you thought of. So I guess we had to save it for last. You can make whatever you want as long as it features beans. They don’t have to be baked. I wonder if they are dried? You have to soak them, right? Winner gets a trip to Napa.

One hour. I guess they are dried and they’ll have to use pressure cookers? George makes a fart joke and complains about peeling garlic. He thinks he has an edge because Greek cuisine has lots of beans. Gregory doesn’t cook with beans so he’s trying to make Asian food with beans somehow. Melissa sniffs that he needs to push himself. She’s pureeing beans and bacon. Mei, the smart one, makes bean foam for eggs, because she knows to make Wylie eggs. Hee. It is not appealing but I think she just shrugs and goes with it.

George: tomato base (sauce, just say sauce you guys) with chickpeas, cumin, paprika, and pork tenderloin. So where are the beans? Did they count chickpeas as beans? Pff. Mei: black beans and corn with chipotle peppers, bacon, poached egg, and pinto bean foam. It is a brown mess. Like baby food, because the foam was thick and spread out to cover everything else in the bowl. Melissa: seared pork tenderloin with bacon butterbean puree, roasted carrots, and fried chickpeas. Beans are not the focus, says Wylie. Did he say that to George? Because I’m not sure what the difference is. Gregory: navy beans with sake, ham, avocado, and carrot chips. It’s bitter, I think.

George cooked his beans well although maybe it didn’t need the pork. Melissa didn’t let the beans shine. I guess George did? Gregory overcooked his beans, and then he had avocado so it was all mushy. Mei’s dish looked bad, but she had great textures. The winner is Mei. It’s her first Quickfire win, and she’s all “Napa here I come! I’m gonna get wasted.” Hee!

Elimination challenge. Apparently Boston is “the center of new ideas”. Sure. You must make a dish that is innovative and pushes your own boundaries. So I guess if you aren’t doing gastronomy things, it counts if you do flavors and techniques you aren’t familiar with. The restaurant will be packed with scientists and chefs. The winner gets $10,000 and also gets into the finals with Melissa. Then Padma says there are only two tickets left, not counting Melissa, so the double elimination I was hoping for is not coming. Only one person will be out.

Shopping. George is making pork belly and octopus, except that then there is no pork belly. Oops. Gregory says he’s making something straightforward and clean, but still Asian flavors, but somehow with innovative textures. I guess with chicken and salmon skin. George is still mad about the pork belly.

Gregory talks about getting his life back together after his drug addiction. Oh no Gregory! Don’t talk about your life! Mei flat out tells everyone that her parents love her brother more than her. Ouch. Also phew, because if everyone talks about their lives then there isn’t editing about how anyone is going home. Except for George making a giant deal about his stupid pork belly so I’m sure it’ll be fine.

3.5 hours to cook. Melissa says she’s going to be a little more adventurous because she has immunity. She’s mixing miso with duck and cherries. Gregory puts a ton of things in his tom kha broth. George grinds octopus heads and makes little balls of apples with a melon baller. He says Gregory makes Asian food all the time so maybe he isn’t very innovative today. Mei makes yuzu and curry, I think. Mei and Melissa are really close and I think they would like to battle each other in the finale.

Tom Time! Plus Wylie, who has put a chef’s jacket on for the occasion. George has a drawing of his dish which they laugh at. Rude. His dish is complicated but Tom and Wylie don’t really say anything else about it. Melissa has walnut miso and she gives them spoons to taste. She tells them she’s helping Mei make farro and whatever. I don’t know how I feel about that. Is it fair? I guess they can do whatever they want to help out if they want to ignore their own dishes. Gregory hems and haws some about how he is being innovative. All he says is “texture”. Mei is making duck curry. Hmm.

Blais is here. It’s very crowded in the kitchen because they all appear to be plating at the same time. Or at least they’re all right next to each other. Gregory is behind, and they keep showing the clock but I can’t read it. He somehow manages to get done. Salmon in tom kha broth with roasted tomatoes, crispy chicken skin and crispy salmon skin. So the crispy skins are the innovation. It’s delicious, and the crispy skin is good, but Tom’s like “What innovation?” He thinks as long as he’s cooked well he’s in.

Commercial interlude: Mei has no emotions. She has resting bitchface. Oh it’s so true.

Melissa: seared duck breast with farro, walnut miso, and pickled cherries. I thought the farro was Mei’s? Whatever. The innovation was in flavors she’s not used to. Gail loves the miso and duck and walnut. I think Tom says she’s not on the plate? But they really like the combinations. Wylie doesn’t think she risked anything, but Blais says she did a little bit.

George: charred octopus, yellow split pea puree, green apple and harissa. There’s a fritter with the ground head meat also. He’s never made the apple harissa combo. There is a lot of stuff going on, but the char on the octopus is bitter. Tom hates on it. This dish would have been easier on him and possibly better with editing.

Mei: duck curry with vadouvan and yuzu yogurt. It’s a light curry and citrus in the yogurt, which you don’t see in Thai curry. Tom says it’s tough because he likes it but he can’t describe it? They don’t know what to make of it, but everyone’s reaction to that feeling is to be excited and say it must be a great dish.

Blais thinks Melissa should win because of walnut miso and execution. Gail wants Mei to win because she stretched her imagination. Wylie thinks Gregory should go home because at least George tried to be innovative. Gregory sort of half-assed his dish. Padma points out that they asked the chefs to take risks but will penalize them if they fail. Does perfect execution trump innovation? Generally I would say yes but since this challenge is specifically about innovation I’m not sure.

Judges’ Table. Mei and Melissa were the best. Melissa was still anxious, even though she can’t go home, because she’s trying to push herself. Her flavors were great together and the duck was good. Mei thought she confused everyone because Tom looked confused at the table. It was complex but they loved the broth. The winner is Melissa! Mei is also going to the finale, obviously.

George has made octopus a ton of times before, and the grill was too hot so it was too charred and bitter. But his green apple harissa was clever and that worked. Gregory’s dish was too safe. He’s all “well I sweated all day” but that doesn’t mean he took risks. And then George goes home! GEORGE! What?! I thought for sure Gregory was too safe and going home. Well fine, I don’t think George should have been there anyway. Gregory is grateful, but “it all paid off” so that’s all that matters. Don’t get cocky.

Next week: Mexico, paintings, eliminated chefs, Mei doesn’t know enough Spanish.

Last Chance Kitchen: Doug is ready to get back in. George is not surprised to see him. The very first challenge, he chose to shuck clams and failed. Then he chose to go up against Gregory and failed. Then he grilled octopus and failed. Failure all around. Winner gets back in the competition. They must either use clams or octopus, but Doug gets to pick which one. He picks clams, I think because he knows George can’t shuck them. 30 minutes to make a Mexican dish with clams.

There are outdoor kitchens. Doug says there was no way he was going to pick octopus, something George is super familiar with. I think George is steaming them like mussels so he won’t; have to shuck clams. Doug is making charred pineapple butter? Interesting. George’s clams are going into soup, so he has to watch them so they don’t overcook. The finalists show up to the house which is super nice. Lots of frantic cooking. George says he’s worked in a Mexican restaurant, so he’s got an advantage. That assumes Doug didn’t study Mexican cuisine. Tom appears and the finalists think their leisure time is over. Tom leads them back to the outdoor kitchens to see Doug and George. So are they not judging the challenge? Someone gives shit to George about clams. This is weird.

So I guess only Tom is judging. Doug: clams with charred pineapple butter, tomatillo, tomatoes and pickled red onion. Tom says nothing. George: steamed clams with serrano and tomatillo salsa verde. Tom says nice things about both of them but they won’t say who won, because of course they won’t. You have to wait until next week to find out.

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