Sunday, January 21, 2018

Top Chef 1/18/18--"Olympic Dreams" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: first of all, Lee Anne couldn't recover from the stupid camping trip and she had to go home because of severe dehydration and altitude sickness. The Quickfire asked chefs to take their most involved recipe from their restaurant, and recreate it in 30 minutes for a Buzzfeed video. Chris won, and won immunity, which was good because the Elimination challenge involved beer. And he's a recovering alcoholic. Anyway, Top Chef made up a German festival, for everyone to make “elevated” German food paired with a beer drink. Tanya won, with a more traditional apple/pork flavor combo. Brother Luck tried to make German egg rolls, and they didn't taste German. Then Tom went on and on about how dumb he was for making egg rolls, when we all know egg rolls with random fillings is a very common fusion food. But Brother Luck was eliminated. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Tu and Brother Luck had to cook with parts of trees. Just go with it. There was some stupid drama where Tu couldn't find the plastic wrap, then Brother Luck went and got it and didn't offer Tu any, so Tu immediately condemned him for playing dirty. Then Brother Luck won anyway so whatever.

OK up front, this is the episode where John Besh was a judge, but was edited out of everything because of his sexual harassment allegations. You can see him in some shots, like his back, but mostly he's gone. I'm assuming later when there is scoring, that if add up the scores on the screen they probably don't work out because they're not showing his score? I'm not going to double check.

The Stew Room is occupied by Hipster Joe whining about how these challenges aren't suited to him or some shit. Whatever. Tanya is pleased with her win, and is hoping other young women of color are inspired to impact the industry. She also explains to Hipster Joe that she fucked up a lot when she was his age but he'll get there.

Back at the house Bruce's wife tells him the birth mother's water broke, so he's about to be a dad. Aww. They break out the champagne and everyone is super happy for him. They all stay up late until the baby is born. Aww it's so supportive!

At 6am Padma rings the doorbell to troll everyone. I love when reality shows wake people up early for no reason. Oh and Brooke is here. Sigh. You'll recall how I feel about Brooke's win, which is that someone decided she should and arranged the season so it would happen, so even if she deserved to win I'm disgusted by the producer interference. Bruce knows Brooke (of course) and tells her and Padma that he's a dad. It's breakfast time! Everyone wake up! The Quickfire is to take 30 minutes and make breakfast with nutella. Winner gets immunity and $5000.

You guys, I actually don't like a sweet breakfast so I don't know about this. Someone hollers for eggs and more than one person says “Eggs over here!” simultaneously. So their pantry has shelves full of food? Sure. It is very crowded and the burners are crazy. Carrie is going savory somehow, as she is kneeling on the counter so she can reach the stove. Adrienne prefers to drink her breakfast. Attagirl. Magically everyone eats nutella all the time! What a coincidence! Sigh. Hipster Joe has claimed the grill outside, which is probably a good idea. Joseph made oatmeal, but it's like, banana nutella stock, “which is not a thing. Probably for a reason.” Heh. Claudette complains about something. Adrienne fails to put her nutella syrup on her plates.

Chris: french toast with nutella cream and nutella coffee perdu. Hipster Joe: nutella crepes with nutella cherry filling and espresso hazelnuts. Bruce: pancakes with nutella, dried cherries, bacon, chopped hazelnuts and spiced bourbon maple syrup. Joseph: nutella oatmeal with shaved coconut, bacon, strawberries and almonds. Claudette: vanilla crepe filled with blood orange paste, topped with whipped ricotta and nutella. Tanya: orange zest waffle with caramelized banana, toasted walnuts and nutella syrup. Adrienne: waffled french toast with sugared nutella hazelnuts and hazelnut nutella espresso. Carrie: eggs Benedict with nutella, strawberry habanero jam and hollendaise. Fatima: almond waffle with nutella yogurt, candied turkey bacon and toasted hazelnuts.

Brooke says that Joseph's salty oatmeal, Tanya's too sweet waffles, and Adrienne's dry French toast are the bottom. Carrie was successful in making a savory dish. Claudette was reserved with the nutella, and Fatima had a great texture. The winner is Carrie. Nice. She says she loves to do twists on more classic dishes.

Padma says now it's time for games. Olympics time. Three people come in, and Fatima immediately recognizes the ice dancer. Nice. Anyway, this is Meryl Davis, freeskier Gus Kenworthy, and skeleton racer John Daly. They talk about competition, which we can guess is important. I mean really. The Elimination Challenge is to work in teams of three to feed 70 people and the judges. You will be tested on speed, precision, and creativity. Pick your teams! Adrienne, Carrie, and Fatima (Red); Bruce, Joseph, and Hipster Joe (with chants of “bears”) (Blue); and Chris, Tanya, and Claudette (White). Chris tells us that he's looked up to Tanya for a long time. He also kind of rolls his eyes about the bear team because it's very old at this point.

Round one (speed) is for one chef to feed 30 diners in 45 minutes. Jeez. Round two (precision) is for someone else to cook a protein perfectly, and also display chiffonade, brunoise, and batonnet cuts. Round three (creativity) is for freestyling with a mystery protein.

The girls quickly agree on which rounds to do, as do the bear den plus Hipster Joe. One of the boys says something about pasta. Chris is doing the freestyle, and he knows something about Korean food that he wants to throw in there. Awesome tie-in. Tanya wants to do the speed round, but I think Claudette just started talking and assigning things. Tanya never spoke up to her team as far as we see.

Bruce is tired but now that he's a dad he's feeling it and ready to go. Shopping time. Adrienne has the precision round, and she talks about how satisfying it is to look at vegetables and know you can break them down into identical small pieces. The bear den eats samples at the store. Everyone plans to help the first person plate, for speed. Meanwhile Fatima, Chris, Adrienne, and Tanya make a surprise party for Bruce. Aww this is so cute! Look how nice it is when everyone likes each other! Please do this all the time. So it's a baby shower, complete with dumbass games like diapering baby dolls and drinking out of baby bottles. I love shit like this. Bruce loves it, although he's kind of struggling with how much he wants to fly home right now.

Everyone gets ready for the day with pep talks. When the chefs arrive at the Top Chef Kitchen, there is an audience and the judges. Bruce, Claudette, and Fatima are speed. Joseph, Tanya, and Adrienne are precision, and Tom quizzes them on what temperature they are cooking their proteins too. Tanya fumbles on her temperature, because she normally just does it by eye, and Tom clearly thinks she's wrong. Tom confiscates all the thermometers. For every three degrees off you lose a point. The third round will be cooking short ribs. They're all relieved because they thought it would be some weird shit.

I think the last group, the improv group, has 2.5 hours. There is a lot of frantic working. Bruce is making polenta. Tom suggest to the other judges that everyone should start the short ribs right away. Tanya is trying to focus on her precision, but she keeps getting pulled away to help Claudette so she can't do her own work. She reiterates that she should have done the speed round. Claudette is pretty bossy about it, asking if this is all her shit in front of her and barking orders. In a regular kitchen that Claudette was running, it wouldn't be out of place, but here there's not even a please which is kind of low.

Fatima flails a little bit, as does Claudette. Tanya is pissed she can't do her own work, and Claudette bitches that Tanya is too negative. But Claudette also chose to make pork belly in thirty minutes? And she's asking for things that are already in front of her. I can't be 100% sure, because of editing, but it's presented to us as though no one else is asking for as much help as Claudette is. She also says that she just gave up on asking Tanya for help, but then Chris offers to help and she tells him she's fine. Padma even brings up that Claudette is working alone. She's just putting lemon juice because she couldn't do what she wanted, but let's remember, she sent Chris away.

Bruce: creamy polenta with mushroom ragu, parmesan, pickled ramps and pink peppercorns. Fatima: seared scallop with coconut broth, avocado mint puree, spicy papadum, and pumpkin seeds. Claudette: crispy yellow corn grits with crispy pork belly and pipian sauce. Fatima got texture in there, but it's not perfect. Bruce's dish has a ton of flavor. Claudette's pork belly was a little chewy and muddled. Score time. Red team earns 47 points. White team has 41.5. Blue has 50. Then they give out medals, which is hilarious. Also, because it comes up later of course, the judges do notice the lack of acid which is the thing she was trying to do and ran out of time for, but chewiness has nothing to do with that.

Joseph knows he won't be able to sneak shitty knife cuts past Tom. But he doesn't know why anyone would ever do a batonnet. Adrienne says she teaches culinary classes, so she can't mess this up. Tanya asks Claudette for a pot to put the collards in, and Claudette is like, you don't have a list of all the equipment you need? Who does that? Tanya fires back that she did, but she was helping Claudette, “don't forget”. Claudette claims she wasn't giving attitude, but come on. She's clearly still bitter because she didn't think Tanya helped enough. Also she's complaining in confessional that Tanya is screwing up, and they can't come in last because they need to win. Conveniently omitting the part where the whole reason they can't come in last is because Claudette fucked up her course. Bruce or someone does a good Chicago “Daaa Bears” and Chris gives a great side eye. Claudette says that Tanya cooks to feel, and “I don't cook like that” so she “couldn't say” if Tanya's temperature was wrong, but 145 degrees seems high. So if you don't cook proteins to feel, then the only other option is to use a thermometer, right? I can't think of any other way to know if things are cooked properly, unless you're cutting into every piece of meat. So this whole “Oh, I couldn't say” bullshit is just Claudette pretending to not call people out. Just own your bitchy attitude already and stop acting like you're just concerned for the team.

Adrienne has Tom check her protein, and she's off by 10 degrees so the highest she can score is 7 per judge. Boo. Joseph loses 2 points, and Tanya has lost 6 points. Damn. Well, the problem is that the meat is perfect, it's just that the temperature she told Tom was way too high because she never uses a thermometer. That sucks though. Claudette asks a question and Tanya is like, “I can't hear you, Claudette” in a bitchy manner so it's not as though Tanya is blameless in this. I mean, I would act the same way if I was in her shoes, but she certainly is contributing to the drama.

Adrienne: roasted filet with chiffonade kale salad, apple brunoise and butternut squash batonnet. Tanya: north African leg of lamb with chiffonade collard greens, couscous, shallot brunoise, glazed carrot and zucchini batonnet. Joseph: urfa biber roasted chicken with apple brunoise, sorrel chiffonade and butternut squash batonnet. Urfa biber is dried Turkish chili pepper. The chicken is cooked very well and his knife cuts are good. Adrienne's knife cuts are best though. Tanya's lamb is delicious but the knife cuts aren't great. Red team: 40.5, White team: 18.5, Blue team: 42.5. Jeez. Bear den is winning by like 30 points. Padma has to tell Joseph to turn his medal around because it's backwards. Hee.

Carrie has been making pasta, so she's going to shred the short ribs and make a bold sauce. She talks about only having one shot to do a good job. Claudette and Tanya snipe at each other, but Chris is trying to ignore them. He's making Korean food and is hoping to get them out of last. Hipster Joe has ravioli, I think. And fried carrots, and “dehydrated carrot pulp” or some shit. He says this is the kind of food he loves to cook, which for some reason really bugs me.

Carrie: beef short ribs, fettuccine, butter poached morels and oyster mushrooms with bleu cheese sauce. Chris: braised short ribs with ginger tofu cream, miso caramel and bok choy kimchi. Hipster Joe: beef short rib casconcelli with carrots and ramps. That pasta is a filled pasta. They don't like Carrie's pasta or her sauce. Tom calls it the worst of the season. Damn. Chris's flavors were fantastic but the tofu is useless. Hipster Joe nailed it. Red team: 35, White team: 51, Blue team, 51.5. Damn. So Blue team has three golds and the win. Then Red, then White in the bottom. Hipster Joe says some dumb things about being a bear cub.

Everyone wears their medals to the Stew Room and the Blue team is smug. Tanya kind of rolls her eyes and whatevers, and Bruce seems genuinely confused and says they're not even talking. Tanya says they monopolize the conversation when they lose, and they monopolize it when they win. Do they? She tells them to have empathy, which is not a great look. I don't think they're that annoying, and telling people they can't be glad they won never works out. Plus she's not going after Red team for bugging them and congratulating them and everything. I know people are over the Bear Den stuff, which is dumb, but from what we've seen they are nowhere near the most annoying winners. I think Tanya is pretty much done with everything and everyone here.

Judges' Table. Gail calls the Blue team a boy band. Hee. Bruce's dish was light and a perfect starter. Joseph's chicken was delicious, and his knife cuts were good (but not as good as Adrienne's). Hipster Joe was perfect, and the winner. Tom actually announces the winner as “Mustache Joe”! Ha! He claims he's gotten it out of his system. Sure.

Time for the White team. Chris talks about his Korean inspiration, and the judges tell him it was basically perfect except for the tofu cream,, which shouldn't have been there. Tanya's knife skills were lacking. Tom also knows that she doesn't use a thermometer to cook protein, but she should know what the temperatures should be. She says in her restaurant she doesn't use lamb or beef. But she cooked it properly, she just didn't know the temperature. She admits to screwing up. Claudette's dish was very rich, and she says something about green onions and lemon. That was the thing she was going to put on, but ran out of time. Then she throws Tanya under the bus, saying she was mean or whatever when Claudette asked for help. Joseph whispers to Adrienne that this is the same thing that happened when Claudette and Adrienne were on the bottom and Claudette was eliminated the first time. I looked it up, and she did try to blame the dish on having to compromise, and she herself had a much better idea, but she was trying to be a good team player so she never brought it up. This was after an episode of confessional comments from Claudette about how great Adrienne was, and no mention or attempt to get her way, except for offering to cold smoke trout, which she didn't even know how to do. So she offered to make the trout, screwed it up, then started going on at Judges' Table about how she had a much better idea but didn't present it. A much better idea than cold-smoking, apparently. It made no sense so it just looked like she was trying to get Adrienne into trouble.

Padma tries to grill her on why she felt she couldn't ask for help, and Claudette is like, oh, it was an under the breath comment, I don't remember exactly what she said, as Tanya shakes her head. Adrienne shakes her head too. For real, don't blame your dish on how your teammate was mean to you, and then be too chickenshit to be specific. Plus, Tanya didn't say anything under her breath, she said everything to your face, so at least get that part right. Tanya speaks up for herself and says she was put behind because she was helping Claudette so much. Claudette then claims she was going to help Tanya, but as we know she didn't, and we don't hear an explanation for that. Padma asks for Tanya's side of the story, and Tanya says no. She told it already. Gail tries to figure out why she's upset, because she was behind or because she didn't put out the dish she wanted. Tanya says she's not upset for either of those reasons, Gail, so don't project it on her. Oh man, we haven't had a good Judges' Table fight in a while. Tanya explains that she could have made a great dish for the speed round, and Claudette tries to say “But you never said it!” and pat her on the shoulder and Tanya is not having it. JFC that was condescending and fake. Don't touch people with your fake ass sympathy. Tanya brings up how she got attitude for asking for a pot. Tom asks Chris about it, and Chris claims this is the first he's hearing of it, because he does not want any part of this shit and he's not in charge anyway. It's true that Tanya didn't say anything about what part she wanted to do. But the team “discussion” looked like Claudette just telling everyone what part they were doing. However I did notice that Tanya is doing exactly what Claudette did the last team challenge: waiting until Judges' Table to say she had a much better idea for a dish.

Tom knows Chris was the best out of that team, and no one is getting rid of him. Claudette's dish had all the same texture, and it was the least appealing that round. Tanya's dish was better, but she was nowhere near meeting the challenge. Back in the Stew Room, Hipster Joe tries to start shit by telling Tanya she's really quiet. Tanya says she doesn't want to get into it, and then Claudette is all, I don't want to ruin the relationship over a comment. OK but you just tried to make Tanya look worse than you about the comment she made, so get out of here with that shit. Tanya says it was from the beginning. “But you didn't say anything!” Tanya interrupts her and says she's not listening right now, which is what she's talking about. Plus, let's be honest, you know and I know that if Tanya had said something in the beginning, we would have had to listen to Claudette whine all episode about how Tanya fought her and isn't a team player and whatever the fuck. Carrie says something dumb, I guess. I couldn't understand her but it sounded like she was trying to tell Tanya that Claudette meant well or some shit, which is debatable. Bruce gently tells her there's a time and place for people to say things, I guess to suggest to Carrie that she not get in on this, and Tanya is all, yeah CARRIE, we don't all experience the world the same, get woke. Rude, but seriously, Carrie, just stay out of it.

Tom makes a dumb analogy about swimming relays. I don't know. Tanya is eliminated. Of course. She hugs Chris but I am pretty sure Claudette is completely ignored. She's tired of dealing with all these personalities, and I think she's done with this show. I mean, she failed the challenge, which is the thing, but still. And she should have spoken up. But this is twice that Claudette's been in the bottom, and both times she's blamed her teammates, so either she can't take responsibility, or somehow magically she's always paired up with people who drag her down because they suck.

Next week: restaurant wars! Plenty of drama, as always.

Last Chance Kitchen: Tanya is very excited to get a second chance. Tom brings up the drama, and she says that she was trying to stay out of drama, but she does think the judging was fair. That wasn't the space to bring it up. I mean, Claudette did bring it up. And I am sure that Tanya has had way too many experiences being “the angry black woman” when she's tried to bring up stuff and she doesn't want to deal with it. Brother knows Tanya is good, but he's ready to keep the streak. Tom knows Tanya wanted to do the speed round, so the challenge is to get 15 minutes to cook something. When Tanya rolls her eyes at the time limit, Brother Luck brags he could do it in ten. She keeps asking what they're making, and Tom keeps insisting that he doesn't care. Make whatever you want. Brother Luck has a strategy, which is that if he can keep Tanya off balance he might have a chance. She seriously asks like three times what they're making and Tom keeps saying “make whatever you want”.

Brother Luck complains that this is very hard, but he's going to make some fish. Tanya grabs fish too, because she can't find shrimp. Brother Luck has made some variation of this trout and cauliflower puree before, just not in ten minutes. Tanya has a salmon steak, which the peanut gallery says is thick and also on the bone. She gets some blackening spice. Tom is wandering about. Tu yells that Tanya, there is plastic wrap in the kitchen. They all laugh so I guess maybe he's over it. Brother Luck is puling pinbones and he's lamenting that his big mouth ruined the time limit. He could have had five more minutes. Tanya seems more relaxed, but that might be that Brother Luck gave himself more work. She's making romesco sauce, which she thinks is like a condiment where you don't have to have sauce in every bite. ...Don't you WANT condiments in every bite? Her salmon is undercooked so it's back on the stove. Brother Luck is hating how he got cocky. At least he admits it's his own fault. Brother Luck finds his sausage is burnt so he pulls all of it off the plates. Somehow they both have plates.

Tanya: blackened salmon with romesco sauce. Brother Luck: seared trout, chorizo vinaigrette, cauliflower puree. Tom gives Tanya crap for wanting to go fast. Brother Luck could have seasoned a little more and had a little more acid, but it was good. Tanya's sauce had a lot of raw onion, but her salmon was well cooked. The winner is Brother Luck. The raw onion was too much. He promises to never give up time again. That sucks. I wanted Tanya to get back and ruin Claudette, but she's glad to have gone out on this note. Sometimes people are great chefs but they don't do well in this contrived atmosphere. And a lot of the contestants had already heard of Tanya so it's not like she needs this show to boost business or make a name for herself. Brother Luck is ready to go.

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