Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Top Chef 2/4/15--"Holy Escamoly!" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Doug rejoined the competition, because clearly he belongs in there more than George. The chefs have to make dishes with xoconostle, which is a special prickly pear fruit. Doug won that partially because he went vegetarian. The Elimination challenge was to make a dish that matched an artist’s visual style. Everyone magically got paired with an artist that created the same way they cook. In other words, I smell producer interference in the “random” artist assignments. Whatever, it’s not like one person got screwed, everyone did well. Doug won by making Texas chili, a simple dish that was perfect. Even though all the dishes were fantastic, Melissa was sent home. Aww, she really grew on me. Back in the beginning of the season I would forget she existed but she is really an excellent chef. (click for more)

Mei is upset that she was in the bottom. I think the judges were nitpicking. She wants to win for both her and Melissa. Doug has won every challenge in Mexico so far and Gregory is worried.

In the morning everyone seems really tired and tense. The vans take them to an organic farm. Sweet. Padma is there with Enrique Farieat who is the executive chef of the farm. Today is the last Quickfire of the season. They will need to cook with chocolate. Two dishes, one sweet and one savory. Doug complains that he doesn’t do desserts. Vegetables will be harvested directly from the farm which is cool. Winner gets first dibs on sous chefs for the Elimination challenge.

45 minutes. Frantic running and picking vegetables. Everyone is out of breath. Doug has no idea about his sweet dish, but I think the other two have some idea. Gregory says his white chocolate doesn’t look right. Mainly that’s because it’s really cocoa butter. Mei really wants to win because she wants Melissa as her sous chef. Doug’s dessert is basically melted chocolate. That’s all. Oh Doug.

Mei: duck with bitter greens and chocolate mescal; and chocolate yogurt with cocoa nibs and nasturtium. Doug: seared hen with onions, tomatoes, chocolate and ancho chili; and melted chocolate with chocolate mescal and white chocolate. Didn’t burn off the alcohol. Gregory: seared lamb with white chocolate ancho sauce and green chorizo vinaigrette; and baby carrots with turmeric, dark chocolate and ginger.

Doug did a good savory dish but clearly his dessert was terrible. Mei’s two dishes were well done. Gregory also did a good job, and is the winner. Enrique wants the recipe for his dessert.

Elimination Challenge: work as a team to make a six course progressive meal highlighting certain ingredients. There will be six ingredients, one for each course. Everyone gets two dishes. They have to work together, I guess to make it progressive. Two hours to cook tomorrow. The eliminated contestants show up again, and everyone gets one. Gregory takes George, I guess because he’s insane. George? Even Padma is surprised. Mei takes Melissa of course, and Doug takes Katsuji. Their six ingredients are up at the villa. Katsuji rubs Doug’s neck which is weird and slightly creepy.

The secret Mexican ingredients are: guava, avocado, Mexican queso, poblano peppers, huitlacoche (corn smut, a fungus that grows on corn), and…escamol. Escamol is ant eggs. This selection of ingredients is unfair. Someone is going to get fucked over. Maybe two people. Mei claims avocado, while Gregory wisely claims two things at once so he has guava and poblano. Mei says she’ll take huitlacoche, which screws Doug with cheese and ant eggs. Not together but still. You snooze you lose. Katsuji seems weirdly confident, but he’s weird so whatever. Doug curses about cheese, and Gregory is like but you’re a great cheese chef! “YOU’RE a cheese chef.” Hee.

Katsuji is busy telling Doug that escamoles are super expensive so they should showcase them. Maybe fry them. Mei wants super chunky guacamole. The chefs plan the order of courses. I wonder if anyone will care. Katsuji is the best sous chef for shopping because he can speak Spanish. Doug interviews that he picked Katsuji for sous chef because they’re both…um…(Katsuji: “Sarcastic assholes? Pathetic human beings?”) Hee. Gregory has been researching Mexican food. Huitlacoche is fuzzy, apparently.

In the morning everyone hangs out and talks about how much they want to win. Mei says her parents told her she better win. If she wins they’ll finally approve of her. That is so sad you guys. OK cooking time. Gregory is making guava soup for the first course. The escamoles are going into a Spanish tortilla (like a frittata with eggs). Melissa is making pasta for the huitlacoche course. They are all girl power today. Doug is doing a million things with cheese. Blais is here.

Gregory: chilled guava soup with bay scallops, habanero and roasted guava. The balance is great and it makes a really great starter. Mei: guacamole with xoconostle, radish, serrano, and tortilla strips. She cut strips of avocado and put the guacamole inside, and then rolled it like a sushi roll. It looks cool. Maybe there isn’t enough stuff inside? I think the dish was successful but then again, she made guacamole. Doug: tortilla Espanol with escamoles and escamol aioli. Blais makes a terrible “huevos” joke. Maybe not enough escamole flavor, and Tom says the texture is too similar to the potato in the tortilla. One of the guest judges says it could be spectacular with a little fine tuning.

Commercial interlude: the chefs talk about serving unsuspecting people insects. One of them said she was making worm sauce but because of her accent everyone decided she was saying “warm sauce” and thought it was great.

Mei is kind of freaking out. Huitlacoche agnolotti with roasted corn broth. Agnolotti seem to be like tortellini, so filled pasta. The huitlacoche is kind of bitter, but she was hoping the broth would even everything out. But pretty much all of the judges seemed to think it was great. Gregory: pork and poblano stew with tomatillos. They can’t say enough great things about it. Doug: smoked queso fresco with spiced honey, squash chips and charred pickles. He managed to not have a boring cheese course.

Mei interviews about how much pressure she feels for being the last woman standing. Padma liked both of Gregory’s dishes the best out of all the courses today. Everyone else agrees he belongs in the finale. Mei missed an opportunity with the avocado. Blais didn’t like the escamole. Mei’s huitlacoche was great but Padma likes Doug’s cheese course better. Of course Tom would vote for Mei so they can fight about it. And we saw last season Tom tends to win those fights.

Judges’ Table. Doug admits to everyone that he didn’t really get to pick the ingredients he wanted. But then they move on so I guess no one cares? Everyone loves all of Gregory’s dishes and they rave about them before telling him he’s going to the finale. Mei’s guacamole was delicious, but still guacamole. They love the corn smut. Doug maybe put too many things in his escamol dish, but still did a good job. The cheese course was excellent. Tom and Padma both tell them that they should be proud of how far they got and how well they’ve done. Then Padma sends Doug home. I told you. Tom promises to come up to Portland to fish and hang out. Doug seems pretty dejected. Aww.

Next week: the finale, Hugh, Blais, Tom says they are the future.

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