Friday, December 2, 2016

Top Chef 12/1/16--"Something Old, Something New" summary

One day, this show will come to St. Louis and I will find a way to at least go to an event, if not be on TV. Also one day this show won't be on Thursdays at 8 Central like 3 or 4 other things I would like to watch and also one day “Project Runway” will either get canceled or stop sucking so hard and I can give this show the attention it deserves. (click for more)

Charleston, South Carolina. If you didn't read it somewhere, half of this season's contestants are new and half of them are people who have been on the show before so you get to see them again! Yay! It seriously took me a minute to place some of these people. Freaking 16 people.

Tom and Padma are here to meet the new people in the Top Chef Kitchen. Everyone has awards and their own restaurants and shit. The one smart person (Sylva) knows there should be more people. They'd never only cast eight contestants.

So here are the returning people, hiding in the Stew Room. Shirley, from New Orleans. I remember her, she was good. Brooke, from Seattle. I vaguely remember Brooke? In that I thought “Yeah there was someone named Brooke?” Katsuji from Boston. Katsuji is mental, so this will be entertaining. He tells the girls they're not cooking this season and I can't tell if they believe him. Sam from Season 2. I couldn't tell you where they were that season and you don't care. Sam was “the hot one”. Fucking John Tesar from Seattle. I could do without him. Amanda from DC. ...okay? I don't remember her very well. Casey. Casey, you already have been on this show twice. I'll allow it because you fight with the judges and it's entertaining. But come on. Sheldon from Seattle. I like Sheldon.

Back in the kitchen Tom says there's only eight of them because they're going to test them in two groups, and this is the first group. This conversation is being piped into the TV in the Stew Room. Tom and Padma continue to brag about how great Charleston is. Sure. Then they call everyone out. Like, “Where's Jim? Jim, I heard you cooked for the governor” kind of thing. Everyone is great, blah blah.

Quickfire: a test devised by Tom. One hour to make as many dishes as you want featuring the ingredient under the domes at each station. Interesting. Under there each person has a whole chicken. You can do whatever, and serve whenever you want, and Tom and Padma will stop and taste your dish right then and there. Interesting. So there supposedly won't be any worry your dish will get cold or soggy or something, but you might get dinged if you don't use all your time. Ha, I am imagining the insanity Katsuji will produce if given a whole hour to do whatever he wants. Winner gets immunity, loser gets a “Sudden Death Cook-off” with the other group's loser and someone WILL be eliminated. So an ACTUAL Sudden Death Quickfire.

Jim's doing chicken livers with a sauce that has strawberries in it. And...ranch dressing? What. Sylva appears to be working slowly, but it is clean so there's that. BJ is aiming for two dishes. BJ also in his photo on the website looks kind of like Bryan Cranston but on TV looks like Seth Rogan. Gerald busts out the smoke machine. He's from St. Louis but isn't here now which sucks. Padma flirts with Jamie by asking him if he's tattooed everywhere, like, calm down Padma. Silvia is making pasta. Why is there a Silvia and a Sylva. Emily swears she's been fired for her attitude but she's making buttermilk fried chicken, chicken skewers, and Korean BBQ wings and this is not so exciting you should brag about your attitude. Annie is so nervous she admits she's only making one dish and is just awkward. She didn't even turn the oven up high enough.

Tom complains that he thought they'd be eating by now. I don't think anyone wants to be nailed for not using their time wisely. Silvia finishes first, meaning she made fresh pasta and still had time left over. Silvia: Tagliatelle with chicken ragu, mascarpone, orange and crispy chicken skin. Tom says it's fine but then she still has another dish to finish. So if you make more than one dish you don't have to have everything done at the same time. BJ decides to just make one dish because the time is killing him. Everyone seems to be scrapping dishes and only making one thing. Jamie burns his vegetables. Oops. So I guess Silvia is going to be the only one to serve early. Jim realizes he made something with chicken livers and then scrapped his other dishes so basically the entire chicken is sitting underneath his station. So he's kind of freaking out.

BJ: Chasseur-style chicken thigh with mushrooms, bacon, liver, and ricotta gnocchi. Chasseur is a French sauce usually made with mushrooms. Jim: fried chicken innards with aioli, bitter lettuces, and strawberry vinaigrette. Emily: semolina fried chicken, buttermilk black pepper biscuit with bread and butter pickle, slaw. Also Asian BBQ wing with tamarind and chili glaze. Gerald: smoked buttermilk-poached chicken with chicken jus, wild mushrooms and sweet potato fricassee. Jamie: pan roasted chicken breast and chicken grand-mere with glazed spring vegetables and crushed potatoes. “Chicken Grand-mere” is “Grandma's chicken” which is not a thing? Whatever. I guess it just means “old-fashioned”. Sylva: paprika and chili-marinated buttermilk chicken with grated corn pudding. Silvia (again): corn, jalapeno, and heirloom tomato salad with balsamic-marinated chicken. Annie: pan seared chicken breast with panzanella, fennel puree, shaved fennel, and black garlic jus. She gets in trouble because she said “panzanella” and I guess not all bread salad is panzanella. Oops. Tom's in full Sass mode though: “Why exactly is this a panzanella?” “Um, the bread salad under the chicken.” “I know what panzanella is. I'm asking you why you think this is panzanella.” I love Sassy Tom.

Tom of course wanted to see more, and he's all Disappointed Dad about how so few people made more than one dish. Silvia did a great pasta dish, Emily's chicken wings had good flavor, and Jim somehow did something good. The winner is Jim. Huh. So the two people who made more than one dish are passed over for the guy who ignored the vast majority of his chicken. This whole time the returning people are in the Stew Room giggling and making comments. Anyway, Jim has immunity. The bottom: Annie struggled (and croutons =/= panzanella), Gerald had greasy sauce and overcooked garnish, Jamie burnt his vegetables. So the loser is Gerald. Boo. He's disappointed but he does admit it's his least favorite dish he's cooked, so there's that.

Now the returning contestants walk in the kitchen, lead by Amanda, arguably the least recognizable one of the bunch. But eventually Silvia curses and people figure out what's going on. She cursed because she's always had a crush on Sam. Hee. Padma tries to argue that everyone knows their strengths and weaknesses, but how exactly are you going to use that? Emily discovers there are no winners so that's something. Also Padma announces Graham Elliot is joining the judging panel. I feel like this is why he was gone from MasterChef.

Graham gets to test the returning chefs. He says they need to get creative with shrimp and grits. Nice. 30 minutes to make their spin on it. Casey says you can barely make grits in half an hour. Also she says that to do this competition three times you must be insane, and she's either a competition whore or a TV whore. Some kind of whore, apparently. BJ claims to be picking up tips. Sheldon has miso and corn and dashi. Brooke has a seafood restaurant so let's hope she cooks the shrimp poorly or something. She's making scotch eggs but with shrimp instead of sausage. Shirley wants to combine shrimp and grits, and steamed egg custard for super comfort food. Tesar says something about kimchi. He claims to be kinder and gentler, which means either he is even more of an asshole, or he didn't like how he was on TV and now he's super boring. Katsuji keeps track of how many ingredients he used. I think it's under 20. Sam thinks everyone is watching him, which I think they are? Sheldon can't get the immersion blender to work. Amanda hurt herself so she says she hasn't been cooking for two years. Sassy Tom smirks at how she looks like she's in the weeds. Brooke's eggs are perfect.

Brooke: shrimp scotch egg and grits with lemon fennel salad and espelette pepper. Sam: shrimp with coconut milk, grits, blackened tomatoes, vinegar, chili, and maple syrup. Shirley: “bowl of hug”; shrimp and grits with steamed egg custard, corn, and bacon. Katsuji: Mexican adobo-style shrimp and grits with charred tomatoes, jalapeno and guajillo peppers. Needs editing, hee. Casey: coconut shrimp and grits with corn, smoked tomato sauce, peach and fennel salad. Tesar: Korean shrimp and grits with faux kimchi and kimchi butter. Amanda: head-on shrimp and grits with Tasso ham, pickled raisins, roasted peaches and kale. Sheldon: dashi-poached shrimp and miso grits, with sauteed corn, pickled cabbage and yuzu miso broth.

The best dishes were Amanda (looked like shrimp and grits), Brooke (great technique and flavors), and Shirley (“bowl of hug” is cute). The winner of immunity is Brooke. Shirley looks mad. The bottom was Casey and undercooked grits and not being on the level of everyone else, Tesar and the grits being terrible and pointless kimchi, and Katsuji (he curses) and not enough pickled vegetables. The loser here is Tesar. I'm OK with that.

Everyone heads to the hotel or house or wherever they stay. They mixed everyone in the cars so they can all chat. The house looks nice. The returning people run through the hallways to get first dibs on beds. Casey smugs that BJ and Jamie claimed a room, but neglected to put anything on the bed to claim it so she and Brooke stole it. “Rookie move!” Emily I guess is going for this season's bitch label as she interviews that she has no interest in meeting any of the veterans because they had their chance already. Emily. You aren't that great. See, she's perfectly happy to talk to rookies. Calm down. Gerald says he feels like when your mom says you'll be in trouble when she gets home and then she takes forever to get home.

Tesar interviews that he's a dying breed because he's old and still going? Something? Whatever, Tesar. Katsuji tries to encourage him to fuck with Gerald and get in his head. Tesar insists he's not that guy anymore. Boring. Gerald says when he and his wife were separated, she couldn't afford her own place where the kids could stay, so he lived in his car so she could have the house. That's a deep factoid and I hope it doesn't mean he's going home now. Gerald gets into the kitchen and Tesar is suddenly worried because Gerald is now in the zone.

The whole fleet of cards drives out to a plantation somewhere. Boone Hall Plantation. Tesar says “This is a plantation where people were enslaved.” Yes, we know how American history works, Tesar. You're battling a black guy today. If I didn't know any better I'd say they planned it this way. And I don't know any better. Out at the barn is everyone plus Gail. Hi Gail! Padma makes Gerald talk about how he feels, being on a plantation. Don't do that, show. We can all guess how he feels, plus then they ask Tesar the same question so he can talk about how his mom was a civil rights activist which is not the same thing as having ancestors who were slaves so can we get back to the cooking?

They're still calling this a Quickfire. Charleston has an oyster festival. Huh. Anyway, oyster roast. Open flame with like, wire mesh over it for cooking. Only 20 minutes. Gerald is going Thai. He doesn't want to overthink it, but he knows if it's simple it has to be perfect. Tesar is making soup with oyster liquor, hot cream, truffles that he brought from home I guess. Gerald only cooks like, five oysters, so no backups. Tesar is going to poach the oysters in the hot cream which sounds kind of gross? The peanut gallery starts doing the wave, which seems hilarious, actually. Shirley interviews that Tesar is being creative, but Gerald is keeping to the spirit of the oyster roast. Gerald shucks his oysters but discovers they have tiny crabs inside, so he can't serve them. New oysters with three minutes left. He loves his sauce, anyway. The new oysters are perfect and no crabs.

Tesar: cream-poached oysters with truffle butter, hot sauce and shaved truffle. Based on Tom's side-eye and Gail's question about how long he poached the oysters for, they may not be cooked. Gerald: roasted oysters with Thai-style mignonette and tomato compote. He jokes that he didn't bring truffles.

Judges' Table, which is the judges standing in the barn and having their conversation subtitled. Padma doesn't know how to compare two dishes that are so different. Gail says she wanted more smoke, but not who she's talking about. Gerald had a great flavors, and Tesar had a good combo with the truffles. Gerald is eliminated. BOO. Tesar had a better oyster flavor, and Gerald didn't have enough smoke or heat from the Thai sauce. However, Last Chance Kitchen. Padma then says the first Elimination challenge is now!

This season: lots of bitching, Hugh, some dumbass challenge, Sheldon hurts his back pretty bad, Hootie, Tesar is a jerk, Emily is a jerk and then cries because whatever.

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