Friday, December 22, 2017

Top Chef 12/21/17--"Keep On Truckin'" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: the mise en place relay race happened, which was fine although I always hope for complicated prep work. Like cleaning artichokes or shucking oysters. The winning team had to cook with the prep ingredients (filet, shallots, mushrooms) and Joseph won immunity. Then the two teams were asked to make a four course progressive menu, each course using sheep's milk cheese from a local farm. Tu and Hipster Joe made some terrible lamb, but were on the winning team and were safe. Carrie won with dumplings. Claudette was sent home for making smoked trout, but the trout wasn't smoked at all, plus fish and cheese is weird. She blamed her partner Adrienne for the dish. (click for more)

In Last Chance Kitchen, everyone had to cook with curds and whey, oh and also dried tarantulas. I don't know. Sadly Marcel went home. I say “sadly” because he was more mature than usual this time around.

A logistics note: because of where Christmas and New Year's are, I don't think there are any interruptions of “Top Chef” during the holidays, which is a problem because I won't be home. I'll try to watch online and write recaps but they probably won't go up the same night. (This will also affect “Project Runway All-Stars”)

In the Stew Room everyone pretends it could have been anyone going home. I guess, but probably not. Well I guess Adrienne could have gone home. She feels that she got thrown under the bus because Claudette claimed the dish was 50/50. But it was, wasn't it? Anyway, whatever. Back at the house Carrie assumes she now has the respect of the other contestants.

In the morning Laura gets her phone call home and the “this is the first time I've been away from my family for so long” interview. She tells us she almost didn't come on the show because she didn't want to leave her son for so long.

Padma greets everyone for the Quickfire with Lachlan Patterson, who was on “Masters”. Bruce knows him, but he claims it just happens that all the people he knows are judging this show. The Quickfire involves Denver omelettes (eggs, ham, onions, bell peppers, cheese), which Lachlan says started as a sandwich. Deconstruct a Denver omelet. That means don't make an omelette. Carrie claims she practiced Denver omelettes before coming on the show. Oh also it's Sudden Death. The three bottom chefs will have to go head-to-head and someone will be eliminated. I'm glad they actually made it Sudden Death, instead of the whole “pick someone to battle but they won't go home if they lose” that it used to be.

30 minutes. Tanya works on crepes. Everyone talks to each other as if they care about talking to each other and weren't forced to by the producers. I know this is how it always works, but it just seems really fake and forced this season. Laura flails and blames it on her homesickness. Rogelio makes toad in the hole, which is where you punch a hole in bread and then put an egg in it. Tu scrambles eggs and then cuts them up. He's planning to serve cold eggs. Interesting. Carrie makes a sandwich. Well someone was bound to. Laura finally decides on savory french toast. Tanya's crepes aren't very good but she's out of time. Brother Luck smokes some eggs and makes tempura batter. Bruce yells about bears and makes gnocchi. A lot of frantic plating.

Carrie: Denver breakfast sandwich with bacon pepper jam, soft scrambled egg and crispy prosciutto. Tanya: cornmeal crepe stuffed with Virginia ham, Gruyere cheese, red pepper sauce. Tyler: dumpling stuffed with egg yolk wrapped in ham, sauce soubise and cheddar. Sauce soubise is an onion sauce. Laura: savory french toast with cheddar cheese crust, crisp Serrano ham and fried quail egg. Brother Luck: smoked duck egg with red pepper gastrique, cheddar and ham tempura, pepper salad. Bruce: ricotta gnocchi with duck egg yolk, sharp white cheddar and applewood smoked ham. Rogelio: egg in a hole with cheddar cheese, basil and red pepper sauce. Adrienne: chicken fried ham with egg yolk sauce on a brioche roll. Tu: fried egg salad with ham, peppers, caviar with onion and tarragon vinaigrette. Hipster Joe: challah bread with goat cheese, yolk sauce and pepper puree. Fatima: pan perdu with grilled paneer, curry leaf, pepper and onion relish. Pan perdu is “lost bread”, similar to french toast. Joseph: Denver panzanella with ham and basil aioli.

Carrie made a simple dish but did it well. Brother Luck's smoked duck egg was great, and Tu had great acidity. The best creativity while being simple was Brother Luck. He brags that he's been turned down from the show before so this is a great win. The bottom three are Tanya (dry), Laura (french toast was heavy and ugly), and Rogelio (eggs were overcooked). Well sure but only Laura has been complaining about homesickness and having extra interview time. Tom rolls in with some bowls to “help”. Now the judges want a perfect French omelette which shouldn't be brown at all, and very fluffy. Tom's got a tray with three bowls, all with ingredients? I guess. They don't ever say.

15 minutes. Tanya grabs her frying pan, and says that to make French omelettes you have to use a certain type of pan with the right slope to the sides. I'm sure you can make them in any pan if you know what you're doing, but the right pan certainly would make it easier. Laura is reduced to washing a pan. In her interview she's already crying so that's not a great sign for her. French omelettes don't usually have any fillings. Tanya puts her eggs in the pan and the judges make frowny faces. You also have to have a perfect fold. Laura realizes she should have started her eggs earlier. She adds crème freche, which melts, and now she's folding the eggs by hand and draining the crème freche into the trash. It's not good.

There is no discussion, just the three judges tasting. Rogelio says he was aiming for a little runny on the inside. His omelette is labeled “mushroom and onion”, I think. Laura's is labeled “mascarpone and tarragon”, which are two things not found in Denver omelets. She admits she didn't have enough time to cook. They look terrible, and I like runny eggs. Tanya has “asparagus and spinach”. Weren't they supposed to make Denver omelets? They were, weren't they? No, I guess it was just “French omelettes”. Tom chides them all for stuffing their omelettes, and Tanya says she thinks French omelettes have fillings. No. Padma wishes one of them had given them just a plain omelette with eggs and the filling on the side, I guess. The loser is Laura. She's embarrassed because she knows what she's doing.

Elimination Challenge. Oh look, it's Hosea. Whatever. We talk about food trucks and Hosea's “empire”. Sure. Work in teams of three to create a restaurant concept out of a food truck. Each team needs a three item menu to serve 150 college kids in Boulder. This is not a terrible idea. Joseph claims to know college kids because he went to four colleges in four years. Even though it's obvious what the producers are intending Padma says each person has to be responsible for one dish. Time to draw knives. Carrie gets on a team with Joseph and Tanya, and she thinks they could come up with something to serve drunk college students. 3.5 hours to cook tomorrow. Oh and for some unfathomable reason, they got Logan Paul to promote it. Sigh. Logan Paul is a YouTuber who used to be a Viner, and I'm rolling my eyes, but then again you're trying to attract college students so I guess it's relevant. Each person will get one ticket for food, and the team with the most tickets will be safe.

15 minutes to plan and check out the food trucks. Yellow team is Fatima, Hipster Joe, and Tyler. Hipster Joe says that's the team he would have picked out. He then claims last week's team challenge they couldn't come together and he was embarrassed by his dish. Wow, I can't believe they couldn't come together even with your telling everyone what to do. They discuss hangover food. Green team is Bruce, Brother Luck, and Rogelio. Rogelio seems to be talking salad. Blue team is Adrienne, Chris, and Tu, who are discussing spicy sandwiches. Carrie wants her team's truck (Black team) to be called “Down the Chin”, like when you bite into a messy sandwich and it drips down your chin. Carrie. That is a terrible name. She at least acknowledges it sounds dirty, but she still wants the name. Tanya and Joseph go along with it.

On the way to the store Adrienne says if they all use the same bread in the sandwiches it'll be much easier. Hipster Joe brags that he was in a fraternity and has made a lot of late-night stoner meals, but then the screen is showing him sitting on top of the UC Davis sign. UC Davis is not a party school. Although I guess I could see it being full of stoners? I mean it's known for agriculture. Still. You're not hardcore so quit smirking. Bruce was in a band in college. His pictures are much more hardcore. He does say that the biggest show they ever played, they opened for Meatloaf, and his deadpan face is perfect. Rogelio is making Mexican street corn, but as a salad.

Tu discusses with his team that other trucks are making three courses that flow together, instead of three different dishes. He's done pop-ups before, so he feels this is an advantage in terms of working in tight spaces. Tanya plans chicken and waffles. She says when she opened her restaurant, it was in an industrial area because no one else would lease to her, and it meant the space dictated some of what she made. And she happened to pick chicken and waffles.

In the morning, Adrienne tells a bunch of people about her favorite bodega sandwich, which is a hamburger cooked on the grill and then chopped up and covered in cheese. That does sound good. She's added Flaming Hot Cheetos to it also. Interesting.

Someone has put the names of the trucks on the side: Foodgasm, Blazin' Sammies, The Hangover Cure, and Down the Chin. Yeah those are food truck names. Fatima is making very fancy waffles for dessert. She uses one of those canisters to make the whipped cream but she's afraid it's broken. Tyler didn't actually go to college but he lived like a college student and was in a band and stuff. THEY wanted to name their truck “Hot Box”. Sigh. Bruce is making pork grilled cheese. Brother Luck used to hang out with gangs? And then he just wandered into culinary school one day? Sure. Hipster Joe says if he screws up chicken wings he should go home. I'm just repeating it. Green team discovers the convection oven is not on, which is a disaster because Bruce is making pork belly and needs it. Carrie is making a burger stuffed with cheese, which is a Juicy Lucy and is not a new concept. Bruce is reduced to “hillbilly sous vide”, which is where you wrap the meat in plastic wrap, then foil, then you put it in a fancy toaster oven. Chris is making fried fish and is worried about frying it in batches. As he cuts up bread, he mentions that some of it is “sweaty”, because they've left the bags somewhere in the sun. I don't know that it's relevant but it seems like it might be. Fatima's whipped cream canister is really broken, because it's just sort of oozing constantly. She has to set up a mixer. Tanya maybe blew a fuse. Now the green team's fryer isn't on. They may have a problem with the gas?

Oh look, it's Logan Paul. Whatever to this also. He films himself being obnoxious and asking everyone to dab. I am going to pull a muscle rolling my eyes. Yellow team has a huge line and Tom and Padma are there asking people if they're hung over. I think when you give up your ticket you get all three dishes? So maybe going for three courses wasn't such a terrible idea? It's not super clear. Tyler: smoked tomato soup with vodka and grilled cheese croutons. Hipster Joe: “sticky licky” chicken wings with sake and kale. Fatima: “yum yum” waffle with strawberries and cream. The soup is delicious even though it's odd for a truck. The wings and the waffle are great also.

Blue team. Some random person complains that there is too much bread. Chris: crispy fried fish sandwich with jalapeno jam and southern red pickle. Tu: braised meatball bahn mi with traditional garnish. Adrienne: Harlem chopped cheese. The fish is over-battered and the sandwich is dry but the chopped cheese is good. The bahn mi is good but sort of boring. Tom says for a sandwich truck they probably bought the wrong bread.

Black team. They seem to be handing out paper hats to everyone. Carrie: “Juicy Lucy” (oh, so she does know what she's doing) cheeseburger with bacon aioli. Joseph: Maxwell street style ribs. As far as I can tell this is about Maxwell Street Market in Chicago, which has a lot of Mexican food vendors. But they don't really explain it. Tanya: fried chicken and waffles. The burgers are well done. Chicken is great, and the ribs are fine. Also they gave everyone wet-naps so that was smart.

Brother Luck says he's working the line for the Green team, encouraging people to come to their truck. I guess. Rogelio: “nibble on your ear” elote salad with queso fresco and pepitas. Bruce: “the oh face” pork sandwich with smoked gouda and spicy tomato jam. Brother Luck: fry bread with drizzled chocolate mousse and powdered honey. The salad needs acid badly, Bruce's sandwich is greasy, and the fry bread is stale. Also why didn't Brother Luck have to make up a stupid name for his dish?

Judges' Table. The team who got the most tickets is the Black team, “Down the Chin”. Everyone loved their food, and then Padma says they're all safe, but then the winning team was the team that had the judges' favorite dishes, and this line sounds like it was dubbed in later. That's low. I mean, I know they never said the team with the most tickets would win, but it's a slap in the face. Anyway, the Yellow team are the actual winners. Tyler's soup was fantastic, even though it was hot outside. Hipster Joe's wings were cooked really well, and the kale even wasn't too weird or out of place. The waffles were delicious and everything went together. The winner is Hipster Joe. He says “finally my first win” but it is the third episode so calm down.

I want a Loser gong. Green team explains how their truck sucked, and Hosea says some shit about how you have to be resourceful. The fry bread was dense and sat around. Rogelio's salad wasn't cold enough, and he says he wanted to make the corn room temperature but then add cold slaw. Padma looks offended, and says “So you wanted it room temperature, but cold” and he says “Exactly.” That makes no sense. Tom says it lacked acid and texture. Bruce's pork was too fatty, but he tries to spin it as hangover food. Gail turns the attention to the Blue team, and asks them why they wanted to use the same bread in all the sandwiches. They admit it was to streamline the service. Tom nails them about not thinking of the food first. Tu's bahn mi didn't have any of the garnishes it was supposed to. Adrienne's sandwich was fine but didn't wow anyone. Chris didn't put enough jam on his sandwich and that was the best part.
Padma kicks them out.

Tom starts out saying at least the Blue team delivered on the concept of “Blazin' Sammies”. Or at least on the sandwich part of it. But “Foodgasm” doesn't make sense and the menu didn't go together. Padma didn't think anything on their team was made properly. Bruce refuses to blame the equipment. Rogelio's salad was terrible, but the Blue team made a terrible decision about the bread and all the dishes suffered. Hosea says Chris's sandwich was the worst today, even with Bruce's sandwich being so terrible.

Padma tells everyone the Green team had the worst dishes. Tom says some stuff about food trucks and then Rogelio is eliminated. The salad was too terrible. Rogelio says to follow your dreams.

Next week: toy dishes? Kids? Yeah kids for sure. Make dishes based on your “heritage”. Lots of flailing.

Last Chance Kitchen: Laura and Rogelio discover Lee Anne and Kwame. Oh and Claudette, but I think they are not surprised at her. Laura fangirls. She needs to get it together. Tom says two people will be eliminated today. Laura served a raw omelette. It looks terrible. Rogelio made a terrible salad at a weird temperature. Each basket on the table by Tom has two ingredients that do not go together, I guess as a reference to the two mistakes. Vanilla beans and pickles, garlic and strawberries, licorice and peanut butter, and sour candy and gochujang. It's like a Chopped basket. I also see capers and bananas, and bonito and chocolate. There are seven baskets and five chefs. Lee Anne is already planning.

30 minutes. Lee Anne doesn't get what she wanted but she has to make this work anyway. Claudette takes the bonito and chocolate to make a mole. That's not a terrible idea actually. The bonito will add salt and umami. Laura starts to say garlic and strawberries is easy but she catches herself. Rogelio took the gochujang and sour candy that he's going to fry? Sure. Marcel is very loud but part of what I like about Last Chance Kitchen is the peanut gallery. Lee Anne is planning to put the vanilla with garlic and orange juice to make some chicken. Claudette asks Kwame for some bananas, and Marcel starts up with dick jokes. OK that wasn't that bad. Marcel then turns to Tom to say that bonito and chocolate could go into a lot of stuff, as Tom keeps walking and says “Eeeeeeeehhhhhhhhh” dismissively. Hee.

Tom Time. Kwame is making pepper stew with bananas and capers. Since it's all blended he's hoping the ingredients will serve as seasonings. Lee Anne is recovering after not getting what she wanted. Rogelio isn't making corn salad, right? Heh. But he is marinating with sour candy. Laura says something about Alaskan halibut and going “home school”. That's not the phrase, Laura. You know, mostly I've been indifferent about her, but this episode suddenly she's really on my nerves. I don't think her “I'm from Alaska so I'm not used to your big city” is an act, but it hadn't bothered me until now, when it is intolerable. She's making halibut with garlic and a strawberry salsa. Rogelio is also trying to deep fry sour candy. It's gummy worms! Tom basically laughs at him, because it melts and we all saw that coming.

Tom tells everyone to make sure everything is cooked and seasoned.
He shouts that Laura is over by the wood oven! “Don't overcook the halibut...!” shouted out of the side of his mouth, trailing off at the end. Hee.

Lee Anne (vanilla and pickles): Veracruz chicken with dried chiles, vanilla, orange and grapefruit juice, cucumber salsa. Kwame (bananas and capers): Nigerian red pepper chicken stew, plantain chips, pickled pepper and crispy capers. Claudette (bonito flakes and chocolate): seared venison with raspberry mole. Rogelio (sour candy and gochujang): sour candy-marinated tuna, fennel, apple, pepper and red onion escabeche. Escabeche is like ceviche, but the fish or meat is cooked in the acidic sauce, instead of being added raw and cooked only by the acid. Laura (strawberries and garlic): black garlic roasted halibut with strawberry, heirloom tomato and garlic salsa.

Tom is impressed everyone used the ingredients. Lee Anne's chicken was really well cooked but maybe was a little sweet. Kwame made something delicious. Claudette developed some good flavor in 30 minutes. Rogelio failed at frying the candy but he did go for it. Laura's halibut was well cooked but not seasoned. The winner is Claudette, and Tom gives her shit for not ever showing these flavors on the show. The bottom two are Rogelio and Laura. Rogelio did actually include the candy on the plate instead of just in the marinade, which he didn't have to do and which was a terrible idea. Laura didn't season anything. She practically interrupts Tom to agree with him. See that's what I mean. Just shut up. In confessional she basically just gushes about how much of a fan she is. Rogelio is pretty at peace with it. 

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