Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top Chef 12/22/16--"The Feast of the Seven Trash Fishes" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: we had the mise en place relay race, where teams had to then cook with the things they just prepped. They also had the twist that all stations were worked on at the same time, and once you finished your station you could help someone else. Sheldon won the Quickfire and immunity for being a total team player. Then they stayed in the same teams for head-to-head battles using radishes. It came down to the last dishes, which is dumb and feels contrived but at the same time, at least everyone served their dishes. Brooke won again, for making dessert. Surprisingly Sam lost for making a bahn mi with brioche which is pretty dumb. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Sam and Gerald had to showcase celery. Dumb. Anyway, Sam won which is not terribly surprising.

Sorry this has taken so long! The plan is to get to last week's episode tomorrow and only be one day behind and then by next week I'll be caught up. I did read about what happened so I will try not to be heavy-handed with the foreshadowing.

BJ is upset his team lost the challenge. I mean, they did really well, but he was the other person on the bottom. Katsuji is all, don't take this the wrong way but Sam was way better than you and he was helpful and you didn't do shit. Not in so many words, but that's basically what he meant. Katsuji, you know I enjoy your shit-talking. But now is not the time.

Back at the house Tesar is telling everyone how Katsuji just likes to poke people and start shit. True. Usually it's entertaining but sometimes he doesn't get when the right time is.

In the Top Chef kitchen there are presents, and then the new editor of Food & Wine magazine, and everyone pretending it's the holidays even though we all know they filmed this in June. Padma says you have to utilize everything in your gift box for this Quickfire. So it's “Chopped”. “I can't wait until you open the boxes but don't open the boxes!” Hee. Winner gets immunity.

30 minutes to cook. Everyone gets a pressure cooker, tequila, pomegranate, chocolate pretzels, cloves, wasabi, squab, and a melon baller. Man if Katsuji can't come up with something from all this random shit then he shouldn't even be here. No one wants to use the melon baller. Sheldon says maybe he'll do a shot of tequila with a wasabi bump. BJ whines that white chocolate and wasabi is gross but it is not. I hate white chocolate and I have had ice cream with those two things. The chocolate cuts the wasabi's heat and you just get the flavor. Shut up, BJ. Brooke points out that with 30 minutes to cook, it's a perfect time to use the pressure cooker. Shirley is using the white chocolate instead of butter. However several people complain they can't use a pressure cooker, and Jamie points out you should just use the pot and not put it under pressure. Hmm. I don't know if I like that. Someone slips on the floor. Casey is making soup. Sheldon lights some shit on fire. Katsuji drinks tequila and says something about Hanukkah. Tesar makes mole. Sure. Also someone married Tesar. Just saying. Shirley can't find her tequila because Sheldon somehow ended up on the wrong station. Lots of people flambeing shit and Shirley burns her squab. Emily burns rice so now she's blending it with cabbage or something. At least she knows it's disgusting. Shirley now notices everyone seems to have melon balls of things...and Sheldon has two melon ballers on his station. Oops.

Katsuji: braised squab in tequila and soy sauce with pretzel, pomegranate and wasabi salsa. It almost sounds normal. Tesar: pan-seared squab breast with mole, avocado & pomegranate salad. OK look. Three melon balls of avocado and like, seven pomegranate seeds are not “salad”. Brooke: squab stew with clove, tequila, pomegranate stock & squash. As Brooke is getting critiqued Katsuji is drinking tequila straight from the bottle. Katsuji is all of us. Not me though, I don't drink tequila. Emily: pan-roasted squab and soubise with pomegranate juice, tequila & wasabi. Soubise is supposed to be an onion/Bechamel sauce but I think Emily's is rice and cabbage? Padma is like, well the squab is nice. Burn. BJ: pretzel-encrusted squab with wasabi cauliflower puree, tequila & pomegranate. Jim: pan-roasted squab with beet, fennel broth, smoked pretzel & tequila whipped cream. Casey: smoked chili, tequila & squab soup with squash, roasted chili, peanuts & compressed pineapple. Shirley: clove-roasted squab with wasabi rapini and tequila jus. She has to admit she didn't use the melon baller, although she throws Sheldon under the bus. Padma says, well good thing it's not a Sudden Death Quickfire, at least I don't think it is, I haven't decided yet. Shirley just says “What” and we go to commercial.

The worst: Shirley (burned squab and no melon baller), Emily (didn't use her pressure cooker properly and gummy soubise), and BJ (tough squab). The best is Brooke (flavors all came together), Casey (crisp squab), and Tesar (great mole). The winner is Casey.

Elimination Challenge. Mike Lata comes in, and Emily gets embarrassed because he is one of the people who fired her for her attitude. Remember how proud she was of how she was a badass with an attitude so extreme people fired her for it? Now suddenly she's super worried about the guest judge being an old boss. Anyway, this challenge is a take on the Feast of Seven Fishes. Silvia is thrilled. Tesar says he celebrated this too and his father caught most of it. A garage door opens and Mike says this is trash fish. All the fish you catch in shrimp nets and whatever that usually get thrown away because consumers aren't familiar with them. Jim says he won “The Great American Seafood Cook-off”. Teams of two, but Casey gets to work by herself for winning immunity AND she gets to pick her fish first. She takes amberjack. Everyone else draws knives to not only get paired up but get fish choices. Shirley is stuck with Sheldon, who sabotaged her. I think she'll be OK though. Katsuji gets stuck with Tesar, and right now I have it paused on Katsuji's confessional and the face he's making is perfect. The only person Katsuji didn't want to work with.

Everyone runs to look at whatever fish they got stuck with. The teams are as follows (I'm not listing the fish since that will come up in the dish descriptions): BJ and Silvia, Brooke and Emily, Jamie and Sylva, Jim and Amanda, Katsuji and Tesar, Shirley and Sheldon, and Casey by herself. Jamie says he has tunny, and they plan for a strongly flavored fish. Brooke is mixed about being stuck with Emily, but Emily is agreeing with everything Brooke is saying so she's not as worried as she could be. Emily has been on the bottom so she was worried. BJ is going to poach the fish and he's fine with being paired with Silvia. Tesar for some reason tries to talk Katsuji out of being extra. It's not going to happen. They get a duet confessional where Tesar is like “you love me” and Katsuji is like “fuck you”. Heh. I predict they insult each other constantly and then do fine. Shopping is shopping. Suddenly Shirley is like “Sheldon is my brother” and they're giggling and planning a super Asian dish. Casey brags that she has an awesome teammate. Jim plans to calm Amanda which is a tall order. Katsuji and Tesar has fish and tomato, and that's all they have right now.

Back at the house Emily admits to everyone that the guest judge fired her. Jamie says she needs to blast him with awesomeness. Is no one going to notice how she was cocky as shit and suddenly she's all nervous? Katsuji is an ass, because that is how he is. I don't care because I like Katsuji more than Emily.

1.5 hours to cook. Sheldon says he'll buy Shirley a melon baller for Christmas. Hee. She has a plan for their trash fish. Jamie is always working because they only take off Christmas day. Sylva says he chased his wife and his dredlocks helped. Hee. Emily says Brooke is the best and she should keep her head down and move forward. Such a change from the first episode. Brooke tells us Emily is going to concentrate on cooking the fish. Silvia breaks down the fish and makes a cracker that BJ won't even try to pronounce. Katsuji and Tesar bicker and are an old married couple. Katsuji announces to the room he got the trash chef. Hee.

The judges arrive and Tom is like, it's our dysfunctional family Christmas. Ha! Blais is here and Graham but also Hugh because Hugh is the best. And Gail. Tom still does the Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Sheldon is so glad he was paired with Shirley because she's awesome. Shirley and Sheldon: Szechuan peppercorn-braised bullet with tofu, celery & buttered radish. People spit out bones. They like it, even though everyone had bones.

Jamie and Sylva: ras el hanout dusted tunny with melted leeks, parsnip puree, wild mushroom ragout and XO jus. XO is a Chinese hot sauce. Graham says this is a good “gateway drug” dish to trash fish and it looks like an expensive tuna dish. The spices stand up to the strong fish. Hugh says they all expected them to fail miserably. Hee. Brooke and Emily: roasted blackbelly rose with marble potatoes, leeks, corn, fiddlehead ferns, coconut & tamarind sauce. Emily kisses Brooke's ass, but Mike isn't impressed. The dish is confused, and Emily pretends they were collaborative, but we all know Brooke just came up with ideas and Emily agreed.

BJ and Silvia discover their fish is chewy, so they try to cut it into thinner portions. Amanda is kind of a disaster. Jim seems optimistic regardless. BJ says to just do the broth now and not tableside. They run out of broth. BJ and Silvia: barrel fish brodo with leeks, kale, cauliflower & pane carasau. Pane carasau is a flatbread. The fish is still tough, because they took it out of the braising liquid. Katsuji and Tesar argue because of course they do. Tesar plates his tomatoes alongside Katsuji's because that is how Tesar operates. Katsuji and Tesar: triggerfish with chili sauce, fennel puree, bottarga & garlic breadcrumbs, stewed tomatoes. Bottarga is a kind of fish roe. Katsuji's sauce is fantastic, and the fish is cooked really well. Hugh is like, good for you to put aside your egos, we all thought you'd fuck it up. Hugh, please be here all the time.

Amanda is pressure cooking beans and flailing and she's never used a pressure cooker and it's a shitshow. She needs to calm down. Jim and Amanda: seared gray tilefish in tomato and fennel broth with mussels, white beans & fennel salad. Tom is all, who made the beans? I'm just asking why are you defensive? No one's buying it, Tom. Everything maybe is overdone or underdone. The beans are not done. Tom references Snooki and he should not be allowed to talk for that reason. Casey wonders if with immunity, she could just not serve anything. Casey: amberjack with kimchi, charred rabe & rice porridge. The fish is only cooked on one side for no reason and the porridge is gummy and flavorless. Hugh is actually nice and says there's great dish in there somewhere.

Judges' Table. Graham is here and Mike, but not Hugh or Blais. Top teams are Katsuji/John, Shirley/Sheldon, and Jamie/Sylva. Katsuji's sauce was fantastic. Shirley and Sheldon's dish had bones but every bite was amazing. Jamie and Sylva made a dish were every bite was perfect but you could still taste the fish. Tesar and Katsuji are the very top, and Katsuji is the winner. Aww. He can't believe it. He says he respects Tesar a little bit.

Now time for the bottom. Casey has immunity, which is very lucky. Everyone else is the bottom. Amanda undercooked the beans and mussels are pedestrian. Emily and Brooke claim they worked together without a lot of problems, but they need editing. Emily tries to say they both worked on the dish, so I guess points to her for not throwing Brooke under the bus and saying it was all her idea? Silvia and BJ made a tough piece of protein, like an overcooked chicken breast. BJ did the sauce, Silvia did the cracker, they both did the fish. Padma kicks them all out to the Stew Room.

Emily is now claiming Mike is her “favorite person”. Sure. We haven't forgotten how you were at the beginning of the season. At least I haven't. Zero sympathy. Katsuji, because he is an ass, talks about how she didn't do what she should have? I guess just rubbing it on on how badly she failed. Emily asks him for a filter, which I get but which I also get is useless. Katsuji has no filter. I would care if it was anyone other than Emily, who sneered at how the Veterans shouldn't get another chance and she wasn't even going to talk to them because how dare they be here and how she was also a Veteran and not a Rookie and who was proud of how she'd been fired for having an attitude. You made your bed, Emily.

Mike says the worst fish is Silvia and BJ, although the fish would have been better without BJ's over-reduced sauce. Brooke and Emily needed to edit and everyone was too nice to say anything. Amanda's beans were terrible.

Tom says something about sustainability, which is just a token mention because they weren't really concerned about sustainability, they just wanted to fuck with them. Padma sends BJ home. The sauce was reduced too much, and that was the biggest problem. BJ had been beating himself up and he's better than this.

Next time: Padma screws with everyone, BBQ, whole pigs, Sheldon is hurt which sucks.

Last Chance Kitchen: BJ is ready to go. Tom is like, you killed my holiday! Harsh. Sam is confident to see him because he is cocky. The peanut gallery comes out, Gerald in a Santa hat and beard. Today's challenge is leftovers. BJ calls it “a challenge fit for a stoner” which is perfect. Tom plays along and talks about eating leftover Chinese in your underwear and BJ is all, wait, do we have to cook in our underwear? Tom says only if they are reindeer underwear. Hee. Gerald strokes his beard and asks what they want for Christmas. I love this part of Last Chance Kitchen. The Sassy!Tom and the peanut gallery. Sam says you just need to go hard. He asks what BJ is making and BJ says “don't worry about it”. Heh.

Tom Time! Sam is using green bean casserole, which is a super Midwestern thing. I have to admit I grew up in California and never ate green bean casserole. And my stuffing had fresh fennel root. BJ is frying turkey legs and is maybe confident. Leftovers are a fried egg on top. Tom tells him the best is stuffing in the waffle maker. BJ asks if he couldn't' have said that 10 minutes ago. Hee! BJ lies to Sam about how many minutes are left. You know, at first I thought Last Chance Kitchen was just an excuse for more screen time. But everyone is more relaxed and there is more trash talking and usually the peanut gallery is hilarious. And Tom is funnier. So I'm not as opposed to it as I was.

Sam: reconstructed green bean casserole, creamed spinach, Swiss chard vinaigrette & sweet potato crisps. It doesn't taste like leftovers. Sam lays down on the floor. BJ: deep fried turkey leg with goat cheese mashed potatoes, miso gravy & fried egg. It looks good,'s also fried leftovers with an egg on top.

Both BJ and Sam made delicious leftovers. Sam brought some good texture, and BJ made some great gravy. But Tom's favorite was Sam's. was more creative. BJ is fine with it. Sam goes over to sit in Gerald's lap. He is feeling himself in a big way. “Coming to feel like nine more people one by one that was creepy but I don't care! Coming after them!” Hee.

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