Thursday, January 12, 2017

Top Chef 1/12/17--"Booty" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: the contestants were asked to make healthy vegetarian versions of comfort foods. Also to run around. Sigh. Jamie won for making sloppy joes with tofu. For the Elimination Challenge everyone made a dish that was inspired by Edna Lewis, so simple Southern cooking that highlights seasonality and ingredients. Emily continued to fall apart and not be the person she acted like the first day. Sylva won for making perfect fried fish. Amanda made a decent dish, but it wasn't particularly Southern so she was sent home. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Silvia and Amanda cooked with Amanda's ingredients from the last challenge. Silvia won and Amanda didn't seem that upset about it.

In the Stew Room Sylva says he's the first rookie to win an Elimination challenge. Katsuji babbles something about Amanda but I have no idea what he's talking about. Jim says Amanda was fun to work with. He likes everyone. Emily is like, you're a sneaker, and then Jim tells her it's the first nice thing he's heard her say. Ha!

The Quickfire challenge involves big signs that say Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Sheldon asks if Captain Planet is coming because Sheldon is the best. The guest judge is Michael Cimarusti. Shirley says he was on Top Chef Masters. Anyway, Padma asks if anyone reads their horoscope, and Tesar does, saying he's a Scorpio. Padma is all, OH, as if she knows anything about Scorpios. You know she doesn't. Someone feeds her information as she says water signs are emotional. Yeah I can see Tesar being a water sign. Anyway, now there's an astrology lesson which is dumb. The Quickfire itself says to take inspiration from your sign and use ingredients and tools from your element to make a dish to show yourself. Sure, why not? They've had worse challenges. Winner gets immunity. Oh also it's a Sudden Death Quickfire. Bottom three will have to compete and the loser is out.

30 minutes to cook. Sheldon's a Cancer, like me. See this is why I love Sheldon. He babbles that Cancers like to put two sheets of fabric softener in the dryer. Hee. Emily doesn't really use any of the equipment because she doesn't get it. Emily takes all the chicken wings, but then Casey wants some and comes to ask, and Emily just offers her some. Where's that attitude, Emily? I thought so. Casey interviews that even though she and Emily are the same sign, she doesn't think Emily is anything like her. Jamie is going fire = chilies. He interviews about his wife, so that's some foreshadowing probably. Spicy lamb chops. Sylva also has lamb with peppers. Jim takes a blowtorch to tiny Thai chilies. For some reason he says in his interview he was really mad when Jon Snow died. What? Focus, Jim. Sheldon jokes that he's smoking blunts. Tesar says a scorpion crawls on the ground and then turns into a violent creature, but then you turn into an eagle? What in the fuck. Emily make spaetzle. Katsuji seems super calm. Sylva busts out the smoke machine.

Jamie: dusted lamb chop with fire-roasted pepper salad & toasted cashew jus. Sylva: lamb with fire-roasted poblano cous cous, sage butter & cherry smoke. Tesar: snapper and branzino tartare with coconut milk & chili. Brooke: oyster with cucumber pepper broth, fire-roasted poblano & ancho chili salsa. Emily: pan-roasted chicken with spaetzle and herb salad. Katsuji: charred onion with cauliflower puree, fire-roasted habanero & shishito pepper salsa. Shirley: fried cauliflower with brown butter & soy chili sauce. Sheldon: shrimp ceviche with coconut milk, orange & lime juice, radish. Jim: charred bison with watermelon dashi, chatted chili, basil & mint crème fraiche. Casey: chicken wing stuffed with 'nduja sausage, pickled egg cream. 'Nduja is a very spicy sausage spread, almost like a pate. Casey says the pickled egg cream has the flavors of a deviled egg. I didn't see one earth sign.

The most original dish was Katsuji, who curses in surprise. Guest judge Michael says he thought he knew what it was, but was surprised. Sheldon was very thoughtful, and kept his coconut milk on ice. Jamie had good heat. The winner is Jamie. So when they praised Jamie's dish it didn't seem as extensive as the praise for Katsuji and Sheldon. Whatever. Padma reminds him to serve her a plate this time. Burn. Time for the bottom. Jim didn't bring the fire. Sylva needed to adjust his seasoning and the chilies didn't come through. Emily took a risk to make spaetzle, but then her chicken wasn't crispy and lacked something. So three rookies up for elimination.

Graham rolls in, because even though he was announced as a judge he's been in like one episode. Since no one got Earth, the bottom three will decide what dish they are making based on those ingredients. Three minutes to plan and then 20 minutes to cook. Jim tries to contribute to the planning, but Sylva and Emily overrule him with steak tartare. They're freaked out about the time limit.

Jim talks a lot about how they're all roommates and he is super familiar with steak tartare. Emily says all tartare has crunch so she's making potato and beet chips. Sylva juices some beets. Sylva sears his steak...? Tesar says something about tataki style, which I guess is like searing a tuna steak, where it's just barely colored but the meat is still almost all raw. Emily is super confident.

Jim: steak tartare with arugula puree, egg yoke puree, lemon, olive oil & chive. Graham asks if this is what he wanted, which is never a good sign. Sylva: tataki-style steak tartare with beet juice, raw mushrooms & Brussels sprouts. They can't taste beets. Emily: steak tartare with fish sauce, egg yolk, radish & beet salad, potato & beet chips. I think the chips are salty.

Jim was refined but he didn't do enough? Sylva had a new take but needed more of a pop. Emily had a classic take but wasn't salty enough? I thought it was too salty? Anyway, the loser is Jim. You could have seen this from all his talk about his life and how confident he was. He seems pretty calm about it.

Elimination Challenge. Padma talks about pirates and Blackbeard. Supposedly he had a wild party here, but the authorities showed up and he was killed. Work in teams of three to host your own party. Sigh. Oh, but it's even worse than that. Each team gets a map so you can wander around Charleston to find ingredients. Are you fucking serious, Bravo? If I wanted to watch “Amazing Race”, I'd watch “Amazing Race”. This is at least as stupid as making everyone chip ingredients out of ice blocks and we all know how well that went over. The first team to get to each location gets their pick of ingredients. To choose teams we have swords instead of knives. Black team: Brooke, Katsuji, Casey. Yellow team: Sylva, Shirley, Sheldon. Red team: Jamie, Tesar, and Emily. So Tesar and Emily are in trouble because Jamie is immune.

Back at the house, Jamie is pretty confident because Emily is from Charleston and he spends a lot of time here. Jamie interviews that while he was cooking in New York he got addicted to heroin and had to overcome it before he could open his place in Charleston. Tesar argues to the other two that they don't have time to collaborate, so they should each do their own thing, and that way if they get stuck with some weirdo ingredient they can just dump it on Jamie since he can't go home. Not a terrible strategy.

So of course it's storming as they run around. Casey says it's a tropical storm, which seems likely. Everyone goes to meet some fake pirate, as they wear cheap-ass ponchos and are forced to listen to his stupid rhyming couplets. Brooke says she feels like she's at her 8-year-old's birthday party. True. Anyway, there's a map of seven treasure chests around town, with ingredients in them. Also your cooking time I think depends on how fast you move. But it's just a regular map, as far as I can tell, in that they know what they're heading towards and where they're going. Katsuji is slow. Red team finds seafood first, and Tesar insists on lobster, although Emily points out it might be a lot of work and they could be short on time. Yellow team is just behind them and gets mussels. OK they're showing a closeup of the map and it's not hard to read. There's streets on it. Black team finds “specialty ingredient” which seems to be truffles, preserved lemon, or roasted red pepper. I think they take lemon. Tesar is pissed because it looks like the locals don't know where they're going. Watching people wander around is not interesting and this is not the show I signed up for, Bravo. Oh, it wasn't that the locals are lost, it's that their team didn't actually walk up the stairs. Tesar appears to be issuing orders. Sheldon is hurting, but his team is the first team to finish. So I guess the strategy part of this is in what ingredients you try to get to first. For example the Red team has wandered around and left protein for the end of the run so they get stuck with chicken breast. Brooke reveals that her house is the house that gives out boxes of raisins on Halloween. Oh, Brooke. My house was the gum house so I feel you. Sugar-free gum, you guys. And each pack had five pieces! Brooke declares her team finished and slams the map to the ground. I feel you on that too. Red ends up with peanut butter so Tesar suggests peanut satay, which is not a terrible idea to be fair.

The Top Chef kitchen has like, a fake pirate ship and tequila and other nonsense. Yellow team has 2.5 hours to cook. Ingredients: mussels, macadamia nuts, filet mignon, asparagus, fresh herbs, pineapple, roasted red peppers. Not bad. Sheldon is going Vietnamese, while Shirley is using the mussels to make stew. Black team is only five minutes behind the Yellow team. Ingredients: preserved lemons, scallops, dried herbs, cauliflower, ground pork, Brazil nuts, raisins. Raisins, bleh. Brooke blames Katsuji 100% for making them come in second. Casey is making brined raw scallops. Katsuji has cauliflower soup with chorizo. The Red team starts five minutes later, so that whole thing about how if you finish first you get more time to work would only have given you ten minutes max. Dumb. Ingredients: lobster tails, truffles, oranges, exotic herbs, chicken breast, canned peas, peanut butter. Canned peas. Emily says at least Tesar's happy. Jamie is going to marinate the chicken in the satay sauce before grilling it. Both Emily and Tesar are using lobster, and she seems unhappy that she's breaking down all the lobster while he makes gnocchi. Then Tesar launches into an interview about millennials and how they come out of culinary school where they learned how to make canapes but they don't know the basics. And if you don't know the basics, you're just making stuff up. Like Phillip. Ha! Then Tesar loses all his points by bossing Emily around, and yeah, it's a team, but she IS doing all the work breaking down the lobster, and taking your share out of the shells (which, she's already cutting all the tails in half so take your own tails out of the shells), and then being told to get bread crumbs out of the oven. Without a “please”.

Sylva makes asparagus soup and a 63-degree egg. Those things are fantastic. The egg is cooked, but the whole thing is a creamy pudding consistency. Casey wants to prove she can do it this time. Jamie finds his chicken is stuck to the grill. He says someone turned it off, which is shitty because there isn't room for anything else on the grill except Jamie's food. I guess someone could have nudged it by accident. He says plan B is to bake it in the toaster oven they've been provided for service.

OK people are here in cosplay. Calm down. Yellow team is first. Sylva is nice about the stupid scavenger hunt. Sylva: asparagus soup with 63-degree egg, tarragon & macadamia nut pesto. Sheldon: filet mignon with pineapple nuoc cham, charred pineapple & candied macadamia nuts. Nuoc cham is a dipping sauce. Shirley: “crewman stew” with mussels, roasted bell pepper, farro & bacon. Sylva's “gold” in the egg is cute. Sheldon's dish is a little sweet, although I think Tom may be in the minority on that. Shirley did a great job too.

Black team. Casey: salt-brined scallop with preserved lemon puree & toasted Brazil nuts. Brooke: fried cauliflower with preserved lemon aioli, raisin, mustard seed & Brazil nut relish. Katsuji: cauliflower soup with spicy pork sausage, lemon hot sauce, chive powder & cumin. Katsuji's dish in no way looks like soup. It's a dark brown crispy-looking nugget and some green powder on a thick sauce. The judges are like, really? Soup? And he insists. OK I think in the end it's like, thick porridge. Padma says it's delicious. As they eat Brooke's dish they all make faces because it's very acidic. Casey's scallops are a weird texture. Over at their station Casey and Brooke stare at the judges and discuss how Padma doesn't look happy. The scallops weren't fresh enough to be served raw, but Casey served them raw.

Red team. Emily: fennel and lobster chowder with crispy chicken skin, kaffir lime leaves & orange zest. Tesar: lobster with truffle butter & canned pea gnocchi. Jamie: chicken satay with pickled fennel and orange salad. Padma says at least he served her a plate this time. Emily's chowder is rich and all muddied so they can't tell what's in it. Padma prefers Brooke's dish to this. Tesar did a great job with canned peas. No one is impressed with the satay. Graham points out that it's both predictable and not very good, which is a double whammy. But he's immune. Tom knows it's strategy, and he gets really heated about it for some reason. They had two bad ingredients, so they gave them to the guy with immunity, who basically was doomed to make a bad dish and has zero incentive to pull something out of his ass and make a brilliant save. Why is Tom so angry about it though? It makes sense.

Jamie tells the Stew Room he made a shit dish, and Shirley asks if he wasn't taking one for the team by using bad ingredients. Yeah, I'm not sure I agree with Tom here. The person who can't go home should take the ingredients that would most likely send someone home, right? Anyway, Jamie says if his dish is what put them in the bottom, he'll give up his immunity and go home. Casey doesn't think they'll even let you do that, because clearly she didn't watch the season in New Orleans and that debacle with Nicholas that punk.

Judges' Table. Yellow team is the winners. Shirley's dish looked simple but it was delicious and the farro was a great addition. Sheldon's dish all worked well together. Tom says Sylva's dish was too hearty? Maybe? But something about that's what pirates like? Shush, Tom. Shirley is the winner! Yay!

Both bottom teams get called out. Katsuji says he was confident. His dish worked so his confidence is not misplaced. Brooke says something about not liking raisins. Too much acid. Everyone gets on Casey for bad scallops. Casey gets pissed and says they were not bad scallops and she smelled them over and over and no one thought they were bad. Oh, belligerent Casey. She's not even sorry.

Tesar admits that “they” discussed having Jamie take any difficult ingredients, and then paints this picture of Jamie graciously allowing him and Emily to take the lobster because lobster and peanut butter don't go together. As opposed to what actually happened which is that Tesar got bossy and Jamie just kind of shrugged about it. Emily all of a sudden shouts that's not true, and that the discussion was all Tesar's idea. OK I do have to give Emily some credit for speaking up and then not backtracking all “Well I don't want to name names.” I hate that. Tesar says that's not how it happened, except we're all going to watch the show, Tesar, so come on. I suppose it's highly likely he's forgotten what actually happened. Emily says she didn't want Jamie to get stuck doing a crappy dish, and Jamie has to defend himself by saying he didn't do a crappy dish on purpose, so now Emily has to backtrack and insist he didn't. Way to defend Jamie, there, Emily. The judges ask about division of labor, and Emily complains that she was rushed, and took too much time to break down lobster, but we never hear her say “I lost time because I was breaking down lobster for Tesar” so it seems like a weird complaint. I mean, unless the judges are listening carefully and hear Tesar say he poached the lobster but not that he broke it down. But I feel like if I wasn't trying to write a recap I would have missed this and it just sounds like Emily didn't want to use lobster or something. Tom interrupts her that it wasn't a great chowder and it showed. Jamie was worried about his dish and missed all this. Tom and the guest judge remind him that someone else could go home for his fuck-up, although they don't go as far as they did with Nicholas, saying he should give up immunity and go home because it's all his fault. But as Padma is dismissing them, Jamie speaks up and offers to give up his immunity so they can judge him with his team. Respect. Tom is just like, we'll discuss that.

Katsuji gives Jamie respect for such a ballsy move. He admits he wouldn't have done it. But Jamie wasn't proud of his dish. Sylva asks why he didn't put some of the truffles in his satay, at least that would be something. Yes, I did notice that Tesar is the only one who used any truffles. Jamie asks that they all keep their opinions to themselves because he doesn't want to hear it. He doesn't want to win because he had immunity but didn't earn it.

So Katsuji's safe. Brooke's was too acidic. Casey's scallop was bad, no matter what she said. They all agree Katsuji saved his team. Tom and Michael think Jamie's chicken was the worst, but Padma and Graham think Emily's was the worst. Jamie is convinced his dish sent his team to the bottom. The judges discuss if Jamie has ambition or if he could have done something more or what.

Tom reminds them they're supposed to be a team. Padma asks Jamie if he still wants to give up his immunity, and he says he does. So she sends him home. Well. Tom, because he likes to cause shit, tells Emily if Jamie hadn't sacrificed himself she'd be eliminated. Jamie talks about pride and how if you can't execute you don't deserve to be here. Emily is crying.

Next time: Restaurant Wars. So you know how it goes.

Last Chance Kitchen: so there are two parts, one with Jim and one with Jamie. Jim tells Tom he's ready to go against anyone. Silvia says she wouldn't have expected Jim. Jim insists that he was throwing out steak dishes during the challenge because he wanted to see if anyone would step up. But he does say he would have picked steak and potatoes if everyone had gone with it. Oh good, because that's what Tom wants them to make.

25 minutes. Silvia grabs ribeye because it'll cook faster. Jim...takes a thicker steak. He then asks about lemons and Sam hollers that there is no talking, you're not friends now. Silvia is pretty confident, although she usually puts salsa verde on her steak and since she got eliminated for her salsa verde she's not going to risk it. Jim took all the butter. He tells a weird story about being vegetarian and then deciding to go to his favorite restaurant and order all the meat. Silvia cooks multiple steaks just in case. It looks like Jim tries to change a temperature on something she's using so she tells him not to, then asks for butter and gets it.

Tom Time. Jim has a total plan and Tom just kind of chuckles. Silvia has arugula pesto but it maybe isn't the best color. Someone from the peanut gallery told her putting the peppers in would discolor it. So she makes new pesto. Jim cuts his steak but isn't satisfied so he puts it back in the oven. As he runs away, Tom turns to Silvia and mutters “I thought it was fine.” Hee. Silvia's first steak is overdone, so she has to use the backup. Jim's happy with his steak. The backup is good too!

Silvia: grilled New York ribeye with roasted fingerlings, salsa verde & blue potato chips. She admits that she left the peppers out because of the color. Jim: seared porterhouse steak with arugula basil sauce, charred onions and fingerling potatoes. So both dishes are sliced steak with green sauce. Tom asks why the steak is so thin. At least Jim notices the plates are similar. Tom says there's a lot at stake here. Sigh. Terrible. Silvia's steak was a little undercooked and unevenly cooked. Jim's steak was sliced too thinly. Silvia's potatoes were over seasoned and Jim had a useless garnish. The winner is Jim. Eh. She's a little sad but she's happy she got this far and got to meet Tom.

Oh also here's Jamie right now. Jim is confused because Jamie had immunity so what gives? Jamie's still good about his decision. He took the two worst ingredients but made a terrible dish. We do see the clip from when Tesar was telling him to take any shitty ingredients, and Jamie did verbally agree with this idea. So for this challenge they will get to use the same ingredients from the challenge, but you don't have to use all of them. Meaning don't use chicken and peanut butter.

30 minutes. So remember they had “exotic herbs”? Apparently that was fennel, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, things like that. Jim's already planning something Asian. Jamie tries to encourage Jim to take the chicken and peanut butter. Heh. Jamie is thrilled. Jim takes all the butter again for some reason, leading Sam to praise his style. Oh, Jamie got some butter. They're both poaching lobster. BJ tries to make a terrible pun but Jamie is all “say again?” and it ruins it. But it was bad so I'm OK with it. Jim brags about his seafood skills. Jamie can't overcook the lobster. The peanut gallery mocks Jim for using so much butter. Jim gives Jamie some fennel and Sam goes into a long statement about “the integrity challenge” and I can't tell if he's serious or trying to be funny. Jamie has pea emulsion and he's put citrus in it to keep the color. Someone points it out and they put a shot of Silvia. BJ tells Jim to turn around because one of his pots is boiling over. Jim brags that he is glad to have fans in the peanut gallery, but I think he should keep track of his shit.

Tom Time. Jamie is blending flavors. Jim's dish...sounds almost exactly the same as Jamie's. Jim is like, oh, ha ha, maybe I shouldn't have said my dish too loud. That...wasn't that funny. Jamie just interviews that it's going to be close. Jim made a ton of sauce and says it's to feed the peanut gallery. Tom strolls by and mentions the butter is pretty hot. Drive-by Sassy Tom. Everyone seems confident.

Jamie: butter poached lobster & pea emulsion with a fennel, radish & black truffle salad. Jim: butter poached lobster in a fennel ginger broth with shiitake mushrooms and truffles. Both dishes were very similar flavor-wise. Jamie's dish was cooked well but under seasoned. Jim's broth was delicious but his garnish was too salty. Jamie wins. I'm not surprised because I can see Tom giving him another chance. They weren't demanding his immunity like Nicholas. Tom stops Jim to actually ask him if he tasted his dish because maybe his hands were wet and he put too much salt on.

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