Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Top Chef 1/7/15--"For Julia and Jacques" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: It was so long ago! Right? OK, let’s try to remember. There was a sausage Quickfire which was only amusing for how much Padma flirted with a football player. George won, which was odd because he had just come back from being eliminated, and then suddenly he’s winning and getting immunity. Whatever. Then everyone was supposed to be inspired by New England authors, which isn’t a terrible theme for a challenge. George got Dr. Seuss which is awesome but he didn’t do anything crazy. The most disappointing. Mei won with a cool vegetarian dish, and Katsuji was eliminated for being gross and having blood spatters basically. To be fair, he got Stephen King and went for “Carrie” which makes sense. But Tom was all “THE MOST UNAPPETIZING DISH I HAVE EVER BEEN SERVED ON THIS SHOW” so that was that. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Katsuji, Katie, and Adam had to make dishes that had a minimum of 20 ingredients, because Katsuji is crazy. Katsuji and Adam survive for the next round, while Katie is out.

Mei says her literary dish was one of the best dishes she’s ever made. She deserves to be in the finals. Doug kind of misses Katsuji, while Gregory says he hasn’t won as much as he would like. He’s won plenty. Mei and Melissa are buds. Mei says they’re like sisters, in that their families don’t agree with their career choice, and also they’re the only women left.

Stupid Andy Cohen is here. SIGH. Also some random guy who turns out to be Andy’s college roommate. Dave is also described by Andy as “the straight version of me” so either he’s also super annoying or he should sue Andy for slander. Dave says Andy was “a real late-night trickster” and “nosher”. Andy asks everyone who will win and then he gives Doug shit for not raising his hand fast enough. Everyone is most intimidated by Tom. Also he wants to know who is hooking up which, shut up Andy Cohen. The Quickfire is about ramen noodles. You must put your own spin on it. George says he has never eaten ramen, not even the cheap instant kind, because he is a weirdo. Some actual college students from Emerson roll in with shopping bags, because they will have to make these dishes with whatever these kids found in their dorm rooms. Andy warns the chefs they might be “a little jank.” Shut up, Andy. So, make a dish with instant ramen noodles, using only items “found” in an actual college dorm room. Everyone picks students without seeing what supplies they have. Doug picks the kid that does not look like a stoner. Pff, stoners have the best food stashes. Andy demands cheese and fresh vegetables. Winner gets $5000.

30 minutes to cook. Melissa got a bunch of cheese. People have actual leftovers. Doug says he was rowdy in college and spent a night in the drunk tank, while Melissa tells a story about a two story double-barreled beer bong. “Apparently I can drink that much beer”. Hee. Gregory scraps the toppings off leftover pizza to make broth. Mei got miso soup and nori somehow. I’m not sure how. When Padma comes in to call time Andy is behind her pumping his fists. Shut up, Andy.

Doug: ramen with coconut pineapple water broth, ham, egg, and grilled tofu. Andy is trying to eat noodles with a Chinese soup spoon because of course he is. He also tries to give Padma shit for slurping, but 1. she’s using chopsticks so shut up, and 2. you’re SUPPOSED to slurp, so shut up. Gregory: ramen with bacon and pizza broth, string cheese, edemame and Dorito crunch. George: ramen chili with hot dog, crispy chicken wing and crispy spam. Melissa: mac and cheese carbonara with roast chicken and Frito crumb topping. Mei: ramen with spicy tomato miso sauce, sushi shrimp and nori. So I won’t lie, I’d probably eat all of those, but the girls’ sound the best.

Mei needed more broth, and Doug had a weird combo of flavors. George’s dish was like Spaghetti-o’s. Gross but they liked it for some reason. Gregory gets praise for bacon, except I saw it was that fully cooked bacon which is way inferior to real bacon so whatever. Melissa had a good texture. Melissa wins! She can buy herself a new scooter! Andy goes away. Yay!

Everyone goes back to the Stew Room, where there’s a TV and a video of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. I loved that show. So then Padma walks in and also Jacques Pepin, who is carrying wine in one hand and glasses in the other. Hee. For the Elimination challenge, they must create a dish “worthy of Julia’s legacy” that will be “an ode to Julia”. 3 hours to prep today, and 1 hour tomorrow. Right now they’ll be hanging out with Jacques to ask questions and figure out how to make an ode to Julia. George asks about separating things, which sounds like a weird fiddly question, but I think he’s asking about if you should serve everything together, or separate all components. Nothing at the expense of taste. They’re all star-struck.

Shopping. Melissa tells us she helped make a birthday cake for Julia once. Gregory is making coq au vin. Doug says “whole roast foie gras”. Whole? Plus he wants to do family style. He knows it’s a huge risk. Mei corrects his pronunciation of “Jacques Pepin” and Doug’s like “I’m from Texas anyway so whatever”.

Everyone knows the pressure’s on. George is using pressure cookers for veal shanks. Melissa talks about how she was inspired by Julia as a female chef. She’s braising her short ribs traditionally instead of using a pressure cooker, because she thinks Julia would never use one. But it means her time is tight. Gregory is cooking bacon in butter for his coq au vin. Mei has a slight modern Asian interpretation of duck a l’orange.

Tom Time! And Jacques! Mei watched a lot of Julia Child as a kid. Tom and Jacques seem pleased. They are super excited about whole roasted foie gras. I love that Tom and Jacques were both in their chef’s jackets. I bet Tom would have come in street clothes but he was trying to impress Jacques. Melissa says her short ribs aren’t quite done so she hopes they finish tomorrow.

In the morning all the chefs talk about how nervous they are. Gregory’s chicken is now too salty from sitting overnight. All the judges are outside and it looks really pretty. Dana Cowin is here. And Hugh! When Hugh first started as a judge I was annoyed but he really has grown on me. Lots of frantic working.

Gregory: coq au vin with glazed carrots, fava beans, and snap peas. It’s good, although Jacques says something about how carrots and peas are not traditional so maybe he would have served them on the side. Solid good cooking. Melissa: duck a l’orange with turnip puree, orange puree, and glazed vegetables. There’s five spice in there. It’s nicely cooked and they don’t seem to mind her spin on it.

Commercial interlude: everyone makes fun of Julia’s voice but Melissa can’t even do it right. Also a commercial for “Best New Restaurant” and I’m hoping it’s like “Ramsey’s Best Restaurant” which was a pretty good show.

George thinks maybe he could have used a little more cooking time. Tom tells a story about how his birthday is around Julia’s and so every year around that time she’d come to eat at one of his restaurants. Nice. George: braised veal with pomme puree, morels, and glazed carrots and asparagus. It comes together but the veal is a little underseasoned and needed another twenty minutes. Melissa may have burned her short ribs. Uh oh. Melissa: red wine-braised short rib with brown butter polenta and jardinière. Jardinière is mixed vegetables. The short ribs are dry and a little bitter from her leaving them in the oven too long. But they’re tender. Doug is hoping he rested his foie enough. Doug: roasted foie gras with roasted peaches, sweet and sour onions and hazelnuts. Tom says it’s overseared and under cooked. Uh oh. It didn’t rest enough, but the flavors are good.

Everyone says the chefs did a really good job today. Mei’s was modern, and Gregory’s was really well done. George’s veal and Melissa’s short ribs were not good, but they rave about Melissa’s vegetables. Doug had a great idea, but he just didn’t execute it. Tom points out that all the dishes on the bottom just had execution problems.

Judges’ Table. Overall the food was great. Gregory and Mei are the tops. Mei put her own spin on it, while Gregory was dead-on classic. He says that trying to make the dish exactly the way Julia did is the highest form of homage. Mei wanted to put herself into it. The winner is Mei. She gets choked up. Aww. Everyone else had great vegetables and garnishes, but the meat was not done properly. George wanted a braise, but he took the meat out of the braising liquid so it dried out. Melissa would have picked another protein, rather than try to make short ribs again. She knows they were seared too much. Doug didn’t rest his foie enough, and he knew it. He charred the outside but the center was totally raw.

Tom says he knows Julia wouldn’t want them to make anyone feel bad about cooking, but sadly someone must lose. Doug is eliminated. Aww! Padma sounds really unhappy. He’s really disappointed, but he now knows he can cook with the best.

Next time: loved ones and family members, someone gets a free pass to the finale, oysters, Mei’s brother burns mushrooms.

Last Chance Kitchen: Doug says he should get back in the competition because he was only in the bottom one time. Only once! Katsuji and Adam come out and Katsuji is surprised to see him. He calls him “Chiquito” I think. Also there is liver. No one is happy. Tom announces to everyone that Doug is here for undercooking his foie gras. Katsuji snickers at him so Doug is like “Do you even know what that is?” Ha! Tom presents them with beef, pork, and goat livers and 20 minutes to make something.

Doug has pork liver and chimichurri. He gloats in confessional that Katsuji has goat liver, and goat liver has too much gristle and whatnot. He’s making liver and onions basically. Sadly Katsuji doesn’t really cook liver ever because it’s not kosher. Adam also has liver and onions. “I’m going to allow my grandmother’s culinary voice shine in this absolute shitshow of a challenge.” Hee. He calls Top Chef a bunch of sick twisted fucks.

Tom Time! He asks Doug stuff but doesn’t really get a good answer. I think also Adam is cooking things like Tom would do, and Tom seems shocked. Tom also gives Katsuji shit about how he has plenty of time to put like 20 more things in his dish. Hee. Adam can’t get his liver cooked enough. He was cooking a big chunk and it’s raw in the middle. Katsuji makes a terrible “de-LIVER” pun. Doug is confident.

Adam: beef liver “alla nonna”, onions, peppers and roasted portobello mushroom caps. Adam makes a long involved statement that only serves to allow him to do a Hannibal Lecter impression. “Hi Doug. This one’s cooked, right?” Hee. Doug: seared pork liver with onions and chimichurri. Katsuji: higado encebollado: goat liver and onions. Tom says great job across the board, and the garnishes were good also. Doug’s onions were great even though not soft, Adam did his grandmother proud, Katsuji had a great result. The only person getting bad feedback is Adam could have used more salt. But then Katsuji is eliminated, because he didn’t clean his liver properly. Aww. Doug is back in, and Adam looks proud.

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