Friday, December 4, 2015

Top Chef 12/3/15--"Pop Up Pandemonium" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Bravo made new graphics for this season, all “surfer” and “California” and whatever, and I don't like them. 17 contestants start out this season, with one returning contestant, Grayson. They didn't make a big deal about it which was nice. Grayson was on the Texas season, and was the one woman who was nice to Beverly, and basically didn't take shit from anyone. She also did talk back to the judges some, so her defiance at Judges' Table was expected. The Elimination challenge was to make a dish for a festival or something. You can make anything you want. Wesley was dirty and Grayson was boring. Jeremy won with a clean simple crudo, and Garret was sent home for being inconsistent, apparently. (click for more)

Also I do not like Renee or Phillip and neither do many of the contestants. It was also late when I wrote my recap so I feel like I missed a bunch of stuff. Hopefully today will be clearer.

So remember last time they got the information that today's Elimination challenge is to make a pop-up restaurant. Padma finally introduces Ludo. Ludo tells them this will be a nightmare. Ha! Kwame says he has done this on tour, so that's impressive. Padma assigns teams. Isaac, Angelina, Marjorie, and Amar; Phillip, Grayson, Renee, and Frances; Karen, Carl, Jason, and Giselle; Chad, Wesley, Kwame, and Jeremy. Your restaurant will be in a “diverse” neighborhood and must reflect that neighborhood. You will not know what that is until you get there. They'll shop and have two hours to prep before they have to serve anything.

Phillip is already being the annoying local boy, claiming that where they're going is “white people town”. I immediately assume he's full of shit. Isaac's team ends up at “Taste of Tehran” which is Persian. He has no idea. The chef/owner meets them and describes grilled meats, sour and sweet, stews. Marjorie has worked at a Greek/Turkish/Lebanese place so she seems to be the most prepared. They divide up the work and dishes pretty easily.

Karen's team is in Koreatown. Nice. All of them were in the car hoping for Asian food. Big flavors, variety, lots of vegetables. Karen claims she does Asian fusion so she doesn't want to go home for this. Giselle admits to her team she's eaten Korean food plenty of times but never made it. Then she hesitates and stutters a couple times and then is like “You guys aren't going to let me fail...?” As everyone stares at her and says absolutely nothing she keeps on babbling.

Grayson's team (Team Annoying, sorry Grayson I love you but, Renee and Phillip) ends up at a nursery and is making vegan food. Phillip claims he runs a “vegan-friendly” restaurant. Shut up Phillip. Renee says something about growing vegetables and how she's super healthy now. There is a weird pin-up photo of her in a bra and lab coat with a glass of wine. I don't know. As the team wanders the garden Grayson gives a hilarious interview where she's like “God put animals on this earth for a reason? To EAT them?” I love you, girl.

Jeremy doesn't want Mexican, so of course that's where they are. But Chad OWNS Mexican restaurants and is all over it. Mole is mentioned. No one on this team has questions, even though Kwame has never made Mexican before. I thought it was Jeremy complaining about not wanting Mexican food, but then Kwame says he has experience? They were in the car so I'm not 100% sure who was speaking.

I think they're letting people shop in ethnic groceries. Isaac is pleased to use whatever is in this market. Angelina can't find fish so she changes to chicken. Amar says they're a team so if she goes down they all go down. The vegan people get to go to Whole Foods. Phillip claims his cauliflower dish is so good someone threatened his life if he ever took it off the menu. I'm sure that's the reason. Grayson plans to make a charred bean salad but they don't have beans? She flips out. Frances buys canned chickpeas which I'm sure will be totally fine. They find beans for Grayson. Giselle is still super nervous about her chicken wings. Karen has assumed Giselle has never even fried chicken wings in the first place, let alone used Asian flavors. I guess? I'm not sure she's quite that inexperienced but we can go with it. Giselle approaches some poor random woman in the Korean market to ask if she's Korean and if she makes wings at home. Jeez.

Prep time. We also get some menu hints. The Persian team has Isaac on spicy beef kabob and lamb meatball (it's kofta, I think many of us know what that means), Amar on roasted carrots and cauliflower hummus, Angelina on fennel coriander crusted chicken, and Marjorie on rose water-orange yogurt mousse and pistachio sponge cake. Marjorie has a year of pastry experience so she's confident. Korean team: Carl on cuttlefish salad with shrimp and avocado, Giselle on chicken wings with cucumber salad, Jason on noodles with chilled radish broth, and Karen on grilled kalbi (short ribs) with nectarine kimchi. Karen says that the short ribs haven't had enough time to marinate so she rubs them with lots of gochujang, which is spicy fermented chili paste. Hopefully it's not overpowering.

Vegan team. Grayson's still pissed about having to make a vegan dish. Renee is trying to be positive for her but I think it's backfiring. Grayson on charred bean salad with frisee, Renee on stuffed beets with spring green sauce, Frances on chickpea curry with tofu chips, and Phillip on cauliflower. The menu chyron just says “cauliflower cauliflower cauliflower”. Frances thinks Phillip is super bossy but if they win from his leadership, then whatever. I was all set to write down the Mexican team's menu...but nothing.

Isaac says he might not get to his eggplant puree, but he's feeling more confident about Persian food that he's never made before. Padma and Gail tweet at people to get diners. I think Padma is taking a selfie. Then suddenly people are lining up and we still have not talked to the Mexican team at all. What is that about? The Persian team is running around so maybe the start times are staggered so much the Mexican team hasn't started yet.

Persian team is serving. It's busy but there don't seem to be problems yet. The carrots have vadouvan which is a curry blend. A little too much cumin. The chicken looks really good, and is well cooked. Tom wants salt. The kofta is good but spicy. Dessert is fantastic.

OK here is the Mexican team. Chad on carrots with banana yogurt and carne seca, Wesley on chorizo tomato stew with cotija cheese, Kwame on shrimp a la plancha with masa puree, and Jeremy on grilled skirt steak with poblano almond puree. I notice you left in all the technical terms for this team, Bravo. But not “kofta” or “kalbi”. Carne seca is meat, cotija cheese is a mild cheese that doesn't melt, masa is the corn mixture you use to make tortillas. Kwame is going for “looks unfamiliar, tastes familiar.” Service time. It looks like everyone is doing fast casual type service, where you order at the counter and then go sit down. Padma is shocked that no one asked questions of the owner. Tom says his carrot is undercooked. Doesn't seem to be Mexican either particularly. The shrimp is now “chipotle raisin glazed”. Interesting. This goes over better than the carrot. Jeremy's dish also is not Mexican. The chorizo stew looks good, but doesn't taste like chorizo. Gail assumes that they all screwed up because they didn't ask questions.

Time for the vegan team to serve. The cauliflower is roasted? I guess? I don't listen to Phillip. No one says what the beets are stuffed with. Grayson is STILL complaining about vegan food. Phillips' puree is not that great. Hilariously they love the chickpeas when I thought they would hate the canned stuff! Renee's stuffing is a terrible weird paste. Grayson's dish is again dismissed as boring and uninspired.

Karen says Giselle's wings actually turned out really good. The food looks good. The wings are maybe not super authentic but good. Karen's dish is the most Korean. They even love the noodles. The cuttlefish is cooked well but they wanted it grilled or something. But this team clearly did really well.

The Stew Room is full of everyone filling each other in about where they were and what they were doing. Ah, there's the Loser Gong. At the beginning. The winning team is the Persian team! Nice. Tom makes sure to emphasize that they asked their chef/owner a lot of questions. Amar treated the carrots like meat. Angelina had crispy skin and it was cooked really well. Isaac also cooked his meat well. Marjorie had a perfect dessert. The winner's dish was so good that it's going on the menu, and that's Marjorie! Aww. She's so thrilled.

The losing team is the vegan team. The Mexican team looks relieved, and the judges tell them that Kwame's dish saved their asses. Gail says the food was not exciting and they should have asked the chef there for advice. Yeah but Renee and Phillip decided they already knew what to do. Frances describes her dish and lets it slip the chickpeas were canned. All of a sudden everyone is horrified and Tom is very disappointed. You guys loved it! You had nothing but praise! Stupid. Grayson's salad was boring. Tom yells at them for not having passion, and Grayson says she wasn't excited. She's still not sorry. Renee saw some produce and “didn't want to make a salad”. Not enough sauce and the texture was really off. Padma tells Philip they wanted more inspiration, and he starts saying how you can't compare ice cream to a piece of meat? They didn't have the chance to use some of the great ingredients the other chefs did so maybe that was some of it? OK so first of all, you are the one who bragged this dish was so fucking awesome people threatened your life to keep it on the menu, and secondly, Grayson, the woman who has spent this entire episode bitching about not being able to cook with meat, is currently rolling her eyes and looking heavenward for strength. Padma says they had the easiest task because they could do anything. Gail says it was fussy. Everyone gets kicked out.

In the Stew Room Grayson stirs the pot by “thanking” Renee for saying shit about salads right after Grayson got yelled at for making a boring salad. Oh Grayson. Why is all of your drama so entertaining to me and not obnoxious? She's kind of smiling? But pissed? Tom pretends to care about canned chickpeas, even though he had great things to say before. Renee's dish had no flavor and was mushy and dumb. And they hate whatever paste she stuffed the beets with. Phillip's dish was OK, but Padma says he didn't use his experience to help his team. Grayson had zero inspiration.

Nothing was special enough, says Tom. Renee is sent home. Tom announces Last Chance Kitchen, because of course. Bye Renee. I won't miss your annoying “sassy” comments.

This season: Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, San Francisco. Sudden death Quickfire, catering a gay wedding (yay!), food fights, making shit out of junk food, Carl raps in front of M.C. Hammer, Blais is around, drama.

Last Chance Kitchen: Time for Garret and Renee to battle. Garret is ready to kick some ass. When he sees Renee he's confident. We are reminded Renee won immunity in that first Quickfire. Tom reminds them of how much they suck and how they failed. The challenge today is to “make a winning dish out of a losing dish” in 30 minutes. There are two baskets with the ingredients for those two dishes, but they're going to swap. So Garret has to make a vegan dish and Renee gets ingredients to make noodles and stuff.

Garret's as pissed as Grayson was. Renee's not too thrilled either. It looks like she's wrapped chicken around lemongrass. Tom appears to give people shit which I love. Renee is super enthusiastic about everything, while Tom shows skepticism about her time management. Garret burns some cashews right before Tom shows up and he's kind of worried. He is not using any beets. As Tom leaves he fries the cashews instead. Tom interviews that Garret should have used the beets for flavor, and Renee may be burning her chicken. We do discover that it's burnt.

Garret: tofu with coconut and tea braised mustard greens, roasted cashews and lemon vinaigrette. He says the beets were too dirty and he didn't have time to clean both them and the mustard greens. Renee: pan roasted chicken, sauteed dandelion greens and crispy poached egg. Tom immediately notices she cut the burned side off. Some how she's trying to spin it like it was on purpose? I have no idea what she's talking about. Tom tells them to taste their own dishes. Renee lets out a big sigh. Garret should have used the beets, and the sauce was salty. Renee's was a little bitter and also didn't use a lot of the flavorful ingredients that she had. Garret wins. Renee says the competition is not for her. Garret is ready for anyone.

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