Friday, February 23, 2018

Top Chef 2/22/18--"Nut Allergy" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: we're officially in the finale section of the show. Joseph rolled in from Last Chance Kitchen to compete in a Quickfire with sarsaparilla. There was a weird gimmick about being limited in ingredients, but it didn't matter because Carrie made fancy toast again and won. I mean, it looked really good, and that's all she had to work with basically. The Elimination challenge was cooking at 12,000 feet, with a requirement of baking. So you had to bake something. Hipster Joe didn't do perfectly on the baking part, but I guess the whole rest of the dish was so great he won. I know that no one's baked goods were perfect but still. Carrie didn't challenge herself and her dish wasn't super cohesive, but she cooked everything well. Chris took some risks but it wasn't refined or whatever so he was eliminated. (click for more)

Hipster Joe is getting cocky. Carrie was thrown by being in the bottom but I think she's ready to recover from this. However she does admit she didn't think she'd get this far. Adrienne has her shit together finally. Also in some places on the internet this episode is titled “Sunday Supper”?

In the morning Joseph and Carrie talk about what they'll be doing today. Maybe riding an elk. Maybe lunch for Oprah. Joseph keeps talking about how glad he is to be here, and tells a story about working with Art Smith and feeding the audience on Oprah's show. He and Carrie continue their conversation in the car, speculating that maybe it's a downhill bike ride. Everyone ends up outside somewhere with Padma and both Voltaggios. It is finally time for Rocky Mountain oysters. Why did they wait so long? Padma makes a nut allergy joke. Joseph worked with someone whose specialty was Rocky Mountain oysters, and Carrie I think has worked with them specifically because she knew they'd be on this show. Carrie knows what's up. Prepare Rocky Mountain oysters two ways. More ball jokes.

30 minutes. Joseph says the flavor is between a gland and a brain but with more iron. He has a plan for puree and fried testicles. Adrienne is making soup, because they remind her of cod sperm sacs that are made into soup in Korean cuisine. Carrie cuts up her testicles so you don't need to have such a big bite, but she's also making pate. Apparently the Josephs are both making the same thing: fried and also in a puree with beans. Hipster Joe is just assuming these are going to be like sweetbreads, and then he makes a snide comment about fancy toast in confessional. Immediate cut to Carrie in confessional saying she wouldn't spread it on toast or anything. Hee. Joseph isn't sure he's cooked his properly.

Hipster Joe: cornflake breaded Rocky Mountain oyster,white bean puree, and brown butter braised Rocky Mountain oysters. Adrienne: Rocky Mountain oyster dashi with chili oil and fried Rocky Mountain oysters. Joseph: fried and pureed Rocky Mountain oysters with white beans and amatriciana sauce (a type of tomato sauce). Carrie: Rocky Mountain pate with fried Rocky Mountain oysters, garlic and shallots. Michael Voltaggio looks like he's trying to hold onto his punk youth while Bryan is like a hot dad. Bryan has always been the hotter Voltaggio, don't @ me.

This is a challenging ingredient. Joseph had good intentions but the fried testicles are overcooked. Carrie made pate but it was too “liver-y” and unbalanced. Adrienne made a great broth with deep flavors. Hipster Joe made a pretty dish that was cooked well. The winner is Hipster Joe. He wins an advantage and is very pleased with himself.

Padma says something about buckling up for the ride. They all pile into the cars and head out. Carrie casually mentions to Joseph that they could break Hipster Joe's fingers to keep him from winning. By the time they get to wherever they're going, it's all dirt roads and everything. They end up at the Observatory and Padma sends them to open the door themselves, so they can find family members. I mean the preview was pretty obvious it was everyone's parents. Adrienne says she didn't feel homesick at all until she saw her mom. Joseph's grandmother is here and she doesn't even clear his shoulder which is cute. Carrie's mom is here and Hipster Joe's dad.

So in what is actually a great twist, the family members have made lunch. That's really cool. Everything looks delicious and non-cheffy. Carrie and Hipster Joe laugh about their own potluck from earlier in the season. Joseph's grandma made rigatoni and meatballs, Hipster Joe's dad has lasagna and pigs' feet in gravy (I legit thought it was hot wings). He says it's their traditional holiday meal. Carrie's mom made stroganoff. Adrienne's mom made gumbo and it looks good. We get the dirt on everyone. Joseph helped his grandma out a lot after his grandfather had a stroke. Hipster Joe's dad claims he was a perfect child. Uh huh. He does get choked up talking about his mom because she's just passed and everyone else's moms are here. Adrienne was always in the kitchen, and her mom had been in the restaurant business her whole life and she didn't want that for Adrienne. But she grew up there so she felt at home there. Carrie was athletic and kept up with all her boyfriends. Hee. Padma wants the dirt, and Carrie tells her mom to be nice.

The Elimination Challenge is to take inspiration from your family member's dish and do your own version. Also show your growth or whatever. I mean you know the drill by now. 90 minutes to cook. Hipster Joe will get 30 extra minutes. None of these dishes look like you could make them in 90 minutes. Adrienne doesn't think she can make gumbo in that short amount of time and asks why her mom couldn't have made cookies. Heh. Also Hipster Joe has two dishes, one of which is pigs' feet so good thing he'll get extra time. Their family members get to stay and taste tomorrow too.

Padma and the Voltaggios leave and everyone gets to hang out with their family members. All these dishes have personal stories and meaning. Carrie used to make beef stroganoff with her dad and now he's in assisted living and she's here partially for him. She jokes that she's going to have PTSD when she leaves. Joseph's grandmother actually apologizes to him for making something that she thinks is hard to work with, because there's not a lot there. Aww! Joseph promises her he can totally work with it. Adrienne knows her mom will tell her to get her shit together, but with a smile. She wonders why she couldn't have been here to do that a few weeks ago. I mean her pep talk is to show herself and her own food, with the slight exasperation that only a mom can give her kid who isn't living up to potential. Hipster Joe laments he has to do two dishes, and his dad promises that God and his mom are with him. Hipster Joe is going to make me cry and I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's like Mike Isabella never making Italian food professionally because it was too painful.

Back down the mountain for shopping. Hipster Joe says lasagna is what his mom always made for special occasions. He almost doesn't want to change it. Adrienne's mom has been working on her gumbo basically Adrienne's whole life and she doesn't want to change the flavor. Carrie's dad is a hunter so she's adding buffalo. Everyone calls out “Eleven minutes left!” and then Joseph is like anyone know how much time we have? Heh. Hipster Joe plans to make lasagna roll-ups so he doesn't have to make lasagna. Joseph doesn't want to make something his grandmother won't get. He's going to stuff the meatballs in the pasta.

Back at the house Adrienne tells everyone how her mom kicked her ass about slacking. Hipster Joe has his hood over his head and he's slumping around. It's emo, but he's still pretty upset about his mom and he says in interview how she was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away two months later. I am pretty sure he said it's been seven years. But it's clearly still fresh. He really doesn't want to get sent home making her food.

Hipster Joe gets the kitchen to himself for half an hour. He's thrilled to have it for his tomato sauce and pasta dough. Everyone else gets to be greeted by Eliza from Top Chef Seattle who owns the restaurant. Honestly I don't remember her at all. When the other three chefs get access to the kitchen, they do so with a maximum of noise and yelling Hipster Joe's name. Everyone has really gotten along this season except for Claudette. It's nice to see everyone joking around and being goofy. Carrie's making pasta too, to make stroganoff raviolos. Adrienne says it's hard to elevate the gumbo while keeping the deep roux flavor that is important. She's got a plan to cook everything individually so each ingredient stands out. So a deconstruction. Joseph cooks tomatoes down, and saves the juice to cook his pasta in. Carrie's dough, though, is terrible. It's too dry. But it looks like she eventually gets it together. Family members and judges arrive so it's time for some awkward conversation. Hipster Joe wants some crispy edges on his rotolo so he busts out the blowtorch.

Hipster Joe: pig's feet rotolo with braised chicken, mushrooms and Swiss chard. It's pasta rolled around filling like a cinnamon roll. You've probably seen lasagna rollups on Pinterest or something. They think that you can taste the spirit of the original dish. His dad likes it, although his first thought was “Is this going to be good?” I wonder if they'll be nicer than usual because the family members are there. Certainly I doubt they'll say anything negative about Hipster Joe.

Carrie: beef stroganoff raviolo with buffalo sausage, mushroom duxelle, herbed crème fraiche and caramelized onions. All the parts represent someone in the family. Carrie's mom says she can make it every Sunday. Aww. The egg yolk on top reminds everyone of egg noodles which is what normal people put their beef stroganoff on. Mom's Japanese, though, so we had it over rice and I had no idea it was normally served over noodles until I got to college.

Adrienne: “Mom's gumbo”--butter poached king crab leg and shrimp with trinity, fried andouille chips and rice. It's one shrimp, with carrots and celery leaves and a thick gravy, and andouille chips. On a separate plate is a piece of crab leg that is partially hollowed out with rice inside. Each piece of seafood is perfectly cooked and very well seasoned. Making it fancier didn't take away from the flavor. Everyone looks really pleased.

Joseph: pork and veal agnolotti with pomodoro paste, Parmesan crisp and basil. It seems to go over well. The filling is exactly like the meatballs they had yesterday, and Tom says it doesn't stray too far from “Sunday gravy”. Padma thanks everyone for coming and the contestants get one last goodbye. The Stew Room involves a wine bong crafted from a funnel and a tube. Carrie and Joseph are hilarious.

Judges' Table. Padma tells them it was the greatest food of the season for her. Adrienne is the winner! Awesome. Everything was perfect and had the right balance. Cooking the proteins separately was the right decision. Padma reassures the other three that there isn't really a bottom today. Hipster Joe had to take inspiration from both lasagna and pig's feet. He married them together really well. Carrie made delicious ravioli, but Tom says the only thing he would do differently is mix the braising liquid with the crème fraiche. Joseph managed to keep his sauce from breaking which a home cook wouldn't know how to do (?) and it set him apart. The Parmesan crisp added some salt but was maybe a little chewy.

Joseph had the best pasta, but the Parmesan was chewy. But he needed that cheese because he needed salt. Carrie could have made her crème fraiche into a real sauce, which would have mimicked beef stroganoff sauce which is an important part. Hipster Joe got his crispy edges, but the judges think the curled crispy edges are a result of his slicing the pasta rolls too soon. It is crispy and they get the relation to the crispy edges of lasagna, but maybe that was unnecessary.

It's hard to send someone home on a dish based on a family recipe. Carrie is eliminated. Aww. She just really needed that sauce to tie things together. She was killing it though, but I think when the finale started she just kind of slid downhill. She still considers herself a local girl, but she knows that she's stronger than she thought.

Next week: fishing, Food and Wine in Aspen, lots of famous people.

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