Thursday, February 23, 2017

Top Chef 2/23/17--"Trial By Fire" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Brooke returned from Last Chance Kitchen and then promptly won both the Quickfire (cooking goat) and the Elimination challenge (make a dish and margarita pairing). Are you surprised? I'm not. Tesar was finally sent home, for making his drink too strong or whatever. I actually like everyone in the Final Three, but I have the feeling this whole season was set up for a Brooke win, because she lost the one season they had a weird finale set-up that everyone hated. (click for more)

Sheldon claims to be happy Brooke is back. Come on. You can like Brooke but her returning is the kiss of death for Shirley and Sheldon. Shirley especially is feeling kind of out of sorts because Sheldon and Brooke were on the same season.

Shirley went out third during her season. She really wants to impress her family and prove to her parents she should cook. Brooke of course is still smarting from losing to Kristen. Everyone arrives at their resort which is very pretty. I mean, it appears to be in an all-inclusive resort so of course it's really swank. Sheldon just hopes he can make it to the finale. All three of them go snorkeling which looks like a ton of fun. Brooke does “Top Chef” as a selfish thing, for her own growth.

The next morning they get a note that says to eat up because they're traveling somewhere and it's going to be hot. Sheldon knows he has to step it up to beat Brooke at anything. If you even are allowed to. The car takes them to some little town square. Padma looks pregnant. Was she just pregnant? Whatever. Anyway, she introduces the guest judge Ricardo Zurita, who says something about the city, and Padma says the winner of the Quickfire gets a week's stay at the resort they're in. This Quickfire is to make a dish with habanero peppers.

One hour to shop at the local market and cook. The market is just an open-air market with a giant roof and some ceiling fans. Shirley says she made some Mexican-Chinese fusion for Jose Andres before so she has some knowledge here. Brooke is making it up as she goes. Sheldon has horrible Spanish skills and he knows he's getting cheated but he doesn't care that much at this point. He buys tamal, which is thinks is cheese based on what it looks like. Yeah no. It's a tamale.

Everyone returns to cook and chokes on the habanero fumes. Shirley says sometimes she wakes herself up by eating straight peppers. Why am I not surprised. Sheldon is figuring out he did not buy cheese, but he's going to use it anyway. Brooke can't get her food processor open. Frantic cooking.

Brooke: roasted pork loin with orange and green habanero salsas. Sheldon: pan roasted chayote squash stuffed with tamal and charred habanero salsa. Shirley: masa dumpling with poached egg, chayote squash, habanero & chicharron. Everyone did a good job! Woo! Shirley was smart to make dumplings and had good sauce. Sheldon was smart to use the squash but the tamal was a mistake. Brooke's salsa was refreshing and had a good balance. The winner is Brooke. Shocking. Shirley is not that thrown because she has a better record on Elimination Challenges.

Elimination Challenge. There is another guest judge, Jeremiah Tower. Make a dish with traditional Mayan ingredients and cook over an open flame. You can have your knives but no modern equipment. Right now, though, is a field trip to taste local dishes. Also to look at a recreation of a Mayan home and dig around in the garden to find things to eat. This seems like a thing I would love to do. Everyone worries about what to do. Then everyone goes back to the resort for drinks and to have interviews about how much they want to win.

So the challenge is at night, outside somewhere. I am sure it's not real ruins. It looks like a set for like, a stage show. You know, like you would get at a theme park with stunt people jumping off the mast of a ship and explosions and shit like that. Anyway, there are tables and a pile of food. 90 minutes to cook. The three contestants look over everything and discover there are no onions, no aromatics like garlic, no limes or other citrus. Also there are some things they don't recognize. Shirley is determined to keep her calm, while Brooke is thrown. Sheldon has more chayote squash. He's determined to make his food, using crab and fish and burying sweet potatoes in the fire. Brooke doesn't think the fire is hot enough to keep her fish from sticking. Shirley puts shrimp shells on a plate over the fire, then tries to pound them into shrimp salt. Interesting. Brooke is trying to build flavors without having a plan, plus now she has to wrap her fish in leaves to keep it from sticking. Sheldon doesn't want to wrap his fish, even though he's watching Shirley and Brooke do exactly that. The judges arrive to stare at everyone. I think Graham is actually here. Sheldon is discovering he should have copied the girls and wrapped his fish. Yeah, they did that for a reason.

Brooke: hoja santa leaf-steamed snapper with bean and corn ragout, jicama & papaya relish. Hoja santa is the name of the leaf and it's usually used to wrap things. The plate doesn't look that impressive, because it's a green square and some relish. The fish is cooked perfectly, but not everyone likes the salsa 100%.

Sheldon: grilled snapper with annatto crab sauce, Yucatan vegetables & habanero salsa. Before Sheldon can even say anything, Tom has had a bite and announced to the table it's spicy. There's just crab flavor. Sheldon made the mistake of describing the dish as “whole grilled snapper” but because the fish stuck to the grill everyone just has a pile of pieces. Tom tries to help him by suggesting that he broke up the fish to look like crab? No, it was just a fuck-up. The flavors are not terrible, except maybe the salsa is really hot. I think Tom is just fixated on the fish not being whole and maybe he has decided Sheldon shouldn't win.

Shirley: hoja santa leaf-grilled grouper with crustacean habanero tomato sauce & dragon fruit corn salad. They like the sauce. Tom tries to ding her for not doing anything Chinese, although he at least phrases it like he does understand that there are no Chinese ingredients or equipment. Come on, Tom. She can't make her usual fusion today. Anyway, Shirley explains to him about how she made the shrimp salt as a way to get her heritage into the dish, and when they cut to Tom right after that he looks pissed off. Like he thought he was going to be able to argue that she had screwed up and “wasn't true to herself” or some bullshit and she just ruined his plan. Tom does later tell the other judges she did a good job editing.

Judges' Table. Padma says one dish stood above the others, and that was cooked by Shirley. She's so shocked! Hee! She jumps up and down and freaks out. They loved her sauce and the dish was her, and she didn't throw everything in there just to throw things in.

Sheldon picked out things that were similar to Filipino ingredients, and then from there he made a bold sauce. The crab sauce was aggressively spicy, but good. But the fish stuck to the grill. They ask if the contestants tested the fish beforehand, and Brooke explains how she tested a filet, while Sheldon admits he didn't test anything. Brooke's fish turned out perfect, but there wasn't enough flavor in her dish. That's what Padma says, although Tom says there was too much going on and everything fought with each other. Brooke gets choked up and says she doesn't want that to be the last dish she makes on “Top Chef”, but if it is she's thankful for this experience. Sheldon then says his goal is to be Top Chef, and it's difficult to be in the bottom. This is when he was eliminated on his season. I love Sheldon, but I just don't see how they don't pass Brooke through so she can win, or at least have the shot at winning. You know?

Tom tells everyone that Brooke's dish didn't come together at all, while Sheldon's dish was far more interesting but the fish was terrible. Padma is pro-Sheldon because he brought out the flavors more. Graham asks her this question in a weird way, asking if she's more pro-Sheldon or anti-Brooke. I guess to determine if she really thought Sheldon was better or if she just thought Brooke should lose, therefore Sheldon was better by default? Sheldon met the challenge better than Brooke did. Graham insists that Brooke was thinking more like a chef because she tested her fish first. Tom says you can still see the fish stuck to the grill from where they're sitting, and if they could have Brooke's fish and Sheldon's sauce it would be perfect.

No one wants to go home. Padma says it was a difficult decision. Tom says some platitudes about loving to cook, and then Padma sends Sheldon home. BIG FUCKING SHOCK. I don't mind Brooke, but I HATE how she's come back from Last Chance Kitchen and then magically can do no wrong. I hate how I feel like the end of this show is a foregone conclusion because then why am I spending my time watching this? Plus Sheldon is the best. I should feel like he was eliminated because he just didn't do as well, not because the producers have decided Brooke should win so he can't continue.

Next time: the finale, I am sure drama, but we all know Brooke is supposed to win so I am calling it now and then you don't have to spend time watching the show.

No comments: