Friday, January 12, 2018

Top Chef 1/11/18--"Now That's a Lot of Schnitzel" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: both Claudette and Lee Anne returned to the competition. Nice. Then everyone had to cook outside at a campsite, in the snow. So that was tons of fun. Bruce won, because of reasons. I guess because everyone has been talking about how everyone knows him and so he needed to win at some point. Tu lost, for trying to do to much. He's still headed to Last Chance Kitchen, but there wasn't an episode this week because he's the only one there. I'm sure this week there will be something. (click for more)

Everyone is very happy to be back indoors and in real beds. Brother Luck says anything can happen at any time, especially because of Last Chance Kitchen. Lee Anne has a headache that won't go away, because of the altitude at the campsite and being outside all day. Claudette tells her to take care of herself, and it's nice until you remember how Claudette was shittalking everyone so I immediately assume she's being underhanded and trying to get rid of Lee Anne. She does get judgmental about Lee Anne having to “think of the children”, basically. Tanya gets to talk to her dad. Then out of nowhere Lee Anne is headed for an ambulance and she's interviewing that she is going to sit out today and go to the hospital. That sucks.

Oh look, Blais is here. I know I gave Blais shit a lot, but I don't hate him. To be honest I get excited when I have foam or get dinner in a mason jar so I can't give him shit about hipster food. Padma tells everyone Lee Anne is fine and being checked out. In the back, you can see Adrienne cross herself, which is sweet. On the blackboard each chef has listed one dish from their menu. Their most complicated dish. The Quickfire is to make this dish in 30 minutes for a Buzzfeed Tasty video. Winner gets immunity and also a video. I enjoy this glimpse of people's restaurants and styles but not everyone is going to be on equal footing and also having to condense days into half an hour AND make it accessible to home cooks is going to suck.

Bruce's dish takes three days to make so he's predictably freaking out. Claudette has octopus that somehow is going to work. You could do it. Octopus needs to either be cooked for a super long time or for no time. Poor Fatima has to make biryani, for Padma, as she is talking in confessional about how she used to watch Padma on TV. I don't think I mind this gimmick, although I could do without the Buzzfeed reference. I wouldn't want to do it myself, though. Adrienne is starting to freak out. Hipster Joe scraps his gnocchi...but decides to combine the scallops and the gnocchi? What? He's very cocky. Chris makes polenta instead of rice. Brother Luck is supposed to make paella so he is trying to make rice. You can't make paella in half an hour. Although...bastardized paella with a million shortcuts made in 30 minutes is EXACTLY the kind of shit Buzzfeed would make a video about. Fatima knows her dish didn't have time to develop flavors. Brother Luck throws things in the broiler, to try to get crispy rice. Claudette runs out of time and doesn't even get the octopus on all the plates.

Claudette: she just serves pineapple salsa. Oops. Hipster Joe: it still says gnocchi, even though he's combined it? This is dumb. They're still listing what it's supposed to be, even if that's not what people made. Scallop gnocchi with wild mushrooms, cauliflower and sauce bourguignonne. Brother Luck: squid ink paella with arborio rice. Tanya: mushroom tart, walnuts with mixed greens and radish salad. Adrienne: crawfish stuffed hush puppies topped with molasses cane syrup. Carrie: Prince Edward Island mussels with red coconut curry. Bruce: roasted duck diavolo with Fresno chilis, rosemary, lemon and garlic. Chris: pepper pot shrimp with jerk spice, peppers and onions. Joseph: halibut salmoriglio with oregano, tarragon and baby leek sauce. Salmoriglio is a condiment of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Fatima: buttermilk fried chicken biryani with cumin yogurt sauce and kachumber salad. I need this. Kachumber is a tomato and cucumber salad.

Obviously Claudette failed. Adrienne's hush puppies were gummy and too sweet. Padma calls out Fatima and says last week her Western food was so flavorful so why isn't she cooking “our” food like that. Damn, that was unnecessary. I physically flinched. Chris (lots of punch), Brother Luck (great depth), and Hipster Joe (of course Blais enjoys the gnocchi and scallop combo) are tops. The winner is Chris. Nice. I did watch the video, and it was a good video. Chris is interesting and I also learned that in order to prep for the show he staged in a couple of different kitchens to get used to weird kitchens and other cuisines. That's a great idea, actually.

Padma says everyone's been working hard, so who's ready for a party? No one believes they're relaxing at a party. Keegan Gerhard rolls in. I know him from Food Network pastry challenges. It's summer and nice outside so let's have a German food festival! Make elevated German food and also a radler! A radler is like a shandy, so beer and some kind of fruit soda or lemonade or something. Hipster Joe says if you ordered that where he's from you get kicked in the nuts. Don't come here with your ridiculous facial hair and act butch, Hipster Joe. Plus you're from LA. Also this is for 200 people.

Field trip to a brewery to get beers and food. Oh man, we recently got a microbrewery and food hall that makes German-ish food. It's so good. Urban Chestnut, if you are near here. Brother Luck tells Fatima that pumpernickel means “devil's fart”. Hee. Chris doesn't drink so he's asking people how things taste. He's a recovering alcoholic, and so this is really unfair. He's even uncomfortable just standing at this bar. Lee Anne wouldn't be able to drink either. Asking people to pair drinks is one thing, because I know Carla just made something non-alcoholic and no one said anything. Asking both a recovering alcoholic and a pregnant lady to make specifically an alcoholic drink is not a great look. The food looks great actually. Some charcuterie and a pork shank and currywurst. That's my jam at the place. Currywurst, some deviled eggs, and a zwickelbeir. Keegan once again says something about elevated food.

Brother Luck is planning a spring roll with German ingredients. He says his parents were both exotic dancers. Really? That is actually really interesting. There's a photo of his dad that says “Mandingo: King of the Topless Go Go Boys”. Hee! He says he was raised around Asian culture, because they traveled Asia a lot, dancing. Chris promises him that German spring rolls sounds hot. Hipster Joe babbles about potatoes, I think. Tanya is confident because she's worked in Europe, but then talks about how being an African-American woman limits what she has access to. I'm not sure how these are related but I believe in her. Chris buys pre-made sausages and bread, but he's in a bad place because of the beer and can't plan properly. Thankfully he's got immunity.

Lee Anne is still in the hospital. She's got dehydration and altitude sickness, but she's stuck in the hospital and I'm not sure when she's supposed to get free to compete. That really sucks.

Cooking time. I'm not sure what time they have but whatever. Various people talk about German food. Adrienne is going to cook her food, because she can't win with someone else's food. Bruce says Bavarian food is comforting, like Italian food. He's trying to tie them together. His mostarda is going to do that, being an Italian condiment, but also German food features mustard. Brother Luck is now talking about frying his spring rolls, with cheddar and cabbage inside. Hey, Shirley made cheeseburger egg rolls that time and everyone loved it. Tanya makes blackening spice, which is not related to German food? I think Fatima is making a cake? She seems to have batter. She's making black forest cake, which is pretty daring. But a black cherry radler to go with it will probably be good.

Tom Time! And Keegan. Chris is making honey, ginger and radler with a wheat beer. I would order that in a heartbeat. Tom jokes with him that he hopes no one screws him by lying about what the beer tastes like. Shut up, Tom. He can't drink. He has to depend on others because you put someone with a history of alcoholism in a bar. Tom gives Hipster Joe shit for maybe not having enough sausage. Good. Carrie says something about hasselback potatoes, but she is calling them “Hasselhoff potatoes”. Hee!

Hipster Joe is realizing he may have fucked up by having too many things going on. Frantic packing of food. Back at the house Lee Anne is free of the hospital. She says they told her she needs to be back at a lower altitude, and even this just sitting around the house is hard, so she's going to quit. NOOO!! This sucks ass. She came back to the kitchen and immediately they were like “let's make everyone camp outside overnight in the snow” and she couldn't recover. Maybe a TINY bit of consideration for people and fewer stupid ass gimmicks? Maybe!? Stupid.

The beer garden is at an amusement park. 45 minutes to set up. Also a thunderstorm is rolling in so it's windy and fires are going out and stuff. This festival is possibly the fakest “festival” in the history of this show. Plenty of costumes and an accordion and horns and shit like that. Bruce: blood orange radler with smoked pork belly, goat cheese spaetzle and cherry mostarda. Oh look, Graham is here for once. Joseph: ginger apple radler with pork dumplings, nutmeg, mace, garlic and shallot. Brother Luck: chai tea radler with summer sausage egg roll, bok choy, apple, and potato.

Tanya: peach and ginger radler with pork apple croquettes in cheddar mustard sauce. Chris: honey clove radler with sausage sliders on pretzel buns, potato salad and caraway slaw. Thankfully his radler is good, but he didn't make his own sausage or bread. Adrienne: smoked ginger apple radler with brined arctic char, asparagus and pumpernickel crumble.

Fatima: cherry radler with black forest cake, chai mousse, chocolate sauce, and cherry kirsch compote. Carrie: jalapeno and limonata radler with duck fat potatoes, bratwurst, and sauerkraut. Jeez. It's very spicy. Hipster Joe: apple, ginger, and beet radler with wollwurst pretzel sausage in apple beer cheese sauce. Claudette: grapefruit and mezcal radler with cilantro lemon liverwurst, been schnitzel and potato salad.

A weird montage of chefs talking about various dishes. Like, Tom and Graham are walking around together, and if we were introduced to a dish with Keegan and Padma, then Tom and Graham's comments are in the montage. You get what I'm saying.

Back in the Stew Room, Chris talks about how hard it was to be at a bar and work with beer. Brother Luck points out he won his immunity fair and square so don't worry about it. That's a good point that I forgot, that he's immune so if his radler had sucked it wouldn't have mattered. Still. Bruce, Claudette, and Tanya are the top. Tanya wanted to do a traditional apple/pork combo of flavors. Claudette had great heat and there was some ash from the peppers somewhere. Keegan says it was cozy. Bruce was going for an Italian twist on a German dish. They knew it was Bruce's dish because it was very him. The winner is Tanya. She's cutely thrilled. Also she wins a three night trip to Palm Springs for some sponsor car thing.

Losers are Brother Luck, Hipster Joe, and Adrienne. Hipster Joe's food was dried out, because he fried it wrong, I think. He tries to spin it like he knows what he did and he is struggling with it. Brother Luck's egg rolls weren't German at all. So I guess his fusion didn't work out. Adrienne's dish was bland and needed salt, which has been an ongoing problem for her. She says she used to work with someone who told her if it tastes good to you, it's probably too salty for a guest. All the judges make horrified faces.

Hipster Joe's food was overcooked, Adrienne didn't season, and Brother Luck didn't really follow the challenge. Do we judge on technical issues? Or following the challenge? Brother Luck's dish tasted fine and I think was executed fine, but conceptually was bad. I know Tom has made a big deal about judging based on edibility but I also feel like he's been ignoring that when it suits him. Plus Brother Luck wasn't the only one to try to do something fusion and no one else got in trouble for it. If he had poor execution, or the flavors were bad, then fine. But don't act like the very idea of fusion is horrifying when you told them to elevate German food. Both Claudette and Bruce did fusion and they were in the top. Hipster Joe's radler was terrible, but Graham and Keegan claim to hate Brother Luck's radler just as much.

Brother Luck gets eliminated. See, I told you. His food was executed the best, while the other two were not good to eat. But it was boring and they decided he's boring, maybe, and he's eliminated. I don't get this judging but I'm assuming it's producer interference.

Next time: Olympics or whatever, teams, some drama for once because this season is largely drama free.

Last Chance Kitchen: it's Brother Luck vs. Tu. Tom says it's back to “old school” rules. He's also an ass about Brother Luck's attempt to make some kind of fusion food. Come on, Tom. Some hipster microbrewery somewhere is making egg rolls with sauerkraut. Whatever. Tom brings out a table with leaves and branch tips and dumb shit because that's what Denver has the most of: trees. Sigh. Leaves, some pine tips, etc.

Thirty minutes. Where is the rest of the peanut gallery? Why are there only four people? Apparently they only have the people from this season. Kwame, Jen, and Marcel got to go home. Everyone goes for kaffir lime leaves. Tu and Brother Luck play shove each other and give each other shit like they're actually related. Brother Luck actually does talk about how they're close. Tu has curry leaves too. Brother Luck burns avocado leaves and chilies. “Now it really looks like Colorado.” Heh. Tu's family has made fish sauce since 1895.

OK this drama. Tu makes a roulade and runs around looking for plastic wrap. You can clearly see he has a box, but abandons it so I guess it was empty? He can't find any so he has to Macguyver something out of a sous vide wrap. Meanwhile he's asked Brother Luck if there is any plastic wrap, and the response is “by the rabbit”. Eventually Brother Luck says he hasn't seen it, and then he runs off and comes back and he's found the whole giant box of plastic wrap wherever it was. Brother Luck interviews and says Tu's legs work and the plastic was there when he went for it. Was he being a dick by saying it was by the rabbit (giving Tu shit for his failed rabbit dish)? Was it actually there? In any case, once Brother Luck is done with it he certainly doesn't offer Tu any and the peanut gallery doesn't snitch on him. They kind of mention it but I guess Tu doesn't hear them.

Tom Time! Tu's got some fusion stuff. He's had to take the chicken out of the bag and grill it. Brother Luck has pork chops. Tyler talks to Tom about spruce tips and how great they are. Tu's chicken isn't crispy, but he complains about the plastic wrap again. Was he going to cook it and then sear the roulade? Because plastic wrap won't give you crispy chicken so I'm confused. When cooking is over Tu goes over to hug Brother Luck, which gives him the opportunity to notice the giant box of plastic wrap on Brother Luck's station. He says nothing.

Tu: chicken curry, curry leaves, bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves. He talks about not having plastic wrap, as Brother Luck and the peanut gallery laugh. Brother Luck: pork chop with avocado leaf ash and guajillo chilis, lime and jalapeno syrup, charred pineapple and mango. Tom is like, hey Tu, the plastic wrap is right here. Tu immediately gets on his “playing with integrity” high horse. It was a dick move, but Brother Luck is not required to tell you jack shit.

Tom is mildly annoyed that they did their best food here instead of the show. Tu didn't want to burn the spices on his chicken, but then it didn't get crispy enough. Brother Luck did a great job with the pork chop, but the rest of the stuff on the plate was kind of boring. In the end Brother Luck wins. Tu's really pissed about the plastic wrap. I can't dredge up any emotion about this drama. It's a giant cardboard box. Assuming Brother Luck didn't lie about where it was (and that's not out of the question), you missed it and he didn't bother to tell you he had a giant cardboard box on his station that you could have seen at any time.

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