Friday, March 2, 2018

Top Chef 3/1/18--"A Little Place Called Aspen" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: everyone finally got their challenge with Rocky Mountain oysters. You know you were waiting for it. Hipster Joe won by making fried and braised testicles, and won an extra half hour to work in the Elimination challenge. Everyone got to greet family members, who made family dishes for everyone. The Elimination challenge was to reinvent these dishes. Hipster Joe was very emotional, because the dish(es) his dad made were from his mom, who has passed away. Adrienne deconstructed her mom's gumbo, and everyone loved it so much she won. Sadly Carrie went home, mostly for nitpicking reasons (they wanted more sauce). (click for more)

The top three celebrate in the Stew Room. I don't mind this top three. Weird, right? I'm so used to reality show drama that I'm expecting to not like someone. The finale is very close but no one is guaranteed a win yet.

Time to go to Aspen, which is where the Food and Wine Classic is being held. You know, the thing they're going to win a spot at after this. Except if they're going there now they've already had a spot there? Eh. Adrienne has been dreaming of this. The boys tease her because the window of the dining room of their suite is covered up, and the only open spot is up near the ceiling. So they give her crap about being short. Joseph calls his wife and promises her he's almost home. They look really cute together. Then he tells her he's in the final three which seems like maybe it's not the best idea. Don't do spoilers. He's ready for his own restaurant.

Everyone meets Padma outside with Chris Cosentino. Nice. It's the last Quickfire and it's time for fishing. 40 minutes to make a trout dish, and that includes catching the fish. Ha! Plus it's fly fishing. The pantry has some canned fish if you don't catch anything, but when they show a shot of all the cans they're all blurred out which seems odd if anyone is going to actually use them. So spoiler, I guess.

Fly fishing is hard. My grandfather used to take my sister and I out fishing, but not fly fishing. The boring kind where you bait a hook and then just sit there. Caught some good trout that way, though. No one here seems to know what they're doing. Joseph manages to catch something, which prompts some memories of fishing with his dad. Also the time stamp says he caught his fish in the first five minutes. Hipster Joe manages to catch a fish three minutes later, and he makes a dumb bear reference. You're not a bear. He's never butchered a fish. What? Never? You've never cleaned a fish? That seems ridiculous. They show the time, which is 27 minutes remaining. Joseph gets some black garlic. Adrienne finally catches something with like 20 minutes left, but she's confident she can get some kind of dish done. Plus it's so fresh it's not like you have to do a lot. Hipster Joe put his fish on the grill to get some smoke, but in trying to catch the smoke he managed to catch the heat too. So it may be overdone. This Quickfire seems like it showed a lot of Hipster Joe's faults, at least in fish cookery. Adrienne wants to barely cook her trout. I've never heard of raw trout. I've always eaten it cooked.

Adrienne: pan seared trout with spring onion and jalapeno ponzu vinaigrette. There's also some fried rice paper. Chris asks a leading question about if she wanted to cook the fish, and apparently because bears shit in the woods it taints the water and you can't serve raw trout. I'm not sure how ocean water is so much cleaner, but fine. They sort of pick around most of the fish. Hipster Joe: smoked trout rillette with spring onion corn cakes and summer berry glaze. Joseph: pan seared trout, black garlic beurre blanc with fennel, mushrooms, asparagus and bread crumbs.

Adrienne didn't cook her trout but the sauce was incredible. Hipster Joe had a lovely corn cake and it was “frontier”. Joseph should have crisped his skin more, but the thought process was stellar. The winner is Joseph! Nice. He wins an advantage.

They walk out of the shelter and over to a field where there are pots on tripods, set up to be put over a campfire. And also some tents. They will be doing their own event at the Food and Wine Classic. 200 people, with plenty of big names, including guest judge Daniel Boulud. Also no proteins. Vegetarian dishes only. Three hours tomorrow to prep and cook on the cauldrons, which actually have grills on them. So I don't think they go over fire but you put the fire in them? This is a lot of work, so here are Bruce, Chris, and Carrie. Joseph gets to pick his sous chef and then assign the other two. He takes Carrie, and then gives Bruce to Adrienne and Chris to Hipster Joe. Gotta split up the two guys who make pasta all the time.

There's a display of vegetables and it looks like Chris takes a lot of it. Just like, taking entire tubs of product. Hipster Joe talks about fritters, which doesn't seem like a good idea over a campfire, essentially. He's hung up on the 200 people part and he's having trouble thinking of things to make. I think eventually he says something about yellow beets and yogurt. Joseph talks about pesto and grilled summer squash, with a goat cheese. Adrienne has a corn puree idea that she wants to wrap in something, and then Bruce is like “we can wrap it in pasta” and he's talking a lot. Or at least they're showing all of his talking, because they're doing that thing where it's all rapid cuts of all his ideas. Adrienne won't let him boss her though, because it's her dish. Eventually she decides on rice paper or possibly cabbage. At Whole Foods Hipster Joe buys yogurt and plans a salad. Joseph discovers that Carrie not only knows how to use the cauldron things, but her dad used to build them. Hee. Adrienne knows her best dish this season has been the gumbo, so she wants to make an elevated corn pudding. She seems to be discovering her voice as “fine dining Southern” which is cool. I'm glad she finally figured it out. The beginning of the season people really got on her for namedropping all the people she used to cook for, and I think she was making that food she made for them. Hipster Joe spends every last cent exactly.

Back at the hotel Joseph tries to fold napkins and fails. They all cook dinner and have some time to hang out because everyone this season is friendly and likes each other. Even Hipster Joe. I guess he's the “worst”, but compared to someone like Nicholas or Spike he's fine. In the morning they study their notes and get ready. Joseph loves this final three because they push him.

Three hours. First thing is to start the fires. Chris jokes that he's working for Hipster Joe so of course there's a lot of prep. He's finally decided on beet carpaccio. There is bread involved, which is on the grill, but it is somehow not fancy toast. Sure. He tells Carrie he's making fancy toast! Nah, not really. You know, some self-awareness of how you gave Carrie shit about fancy toast like two days ago would go a long way here. Adrienne says failure is not an option. She's being very ambitious, with champagne dashi and stuff. A deer wanders into the field and Joseph messes with Hipster Joe with some fake facts.

Tom Time! And Nilou Motamed, Food & Wine's editor. I thought it was Gail for a minute. Adrienne has corn pudding wrapped in a Swiss chard leaf. Tom just does his “sure OK” face. They edit like Tom stands there talking to her for forever about nothing. Hipster Joe talks about beets, and then Tom is like “so you haven't been able to do your food because you're just a sous chef?” which makes it sound like Tom is trying to psych him out. Joseph is grilling the small zucchini and he also used the larger ones, but those went into the pesto. So neither Joe got talked at, or if they did, they didn't show it. So why waste Adrienne's time? Feels sexist.

Hipster Joe takes logs from the fire and puts them directly into the pot with the beet juice. Does that work? That seems gross. He's also roasted yellow beets directly in the coals which sounds delicious. Adrienne is trying to fry tempura shishito peppers, but the batter isn't right. I worried about frying things briefly but they seem to have tabletop fryers. Anyway the batter isn't setting and the corn pudding is too soft and the wine caviar isn't working either and she's on the verge of freaking out. She scraps the tempura and the wine pearls for a gelee and charred peppers. She's just hoping for the best.

The event starts and there are a lot of people here with chyrons and names. Danny Meyer is here which I note because he just opened a Shake Shack here, in St. Louis, where he is from. Why did he wait so long? Some nonsense about hospitality. Whatever, dude, he put it in a place with no parking and I have no desire to wait in line for burgers. Don't act like the Midwest can't be properly hospitable though.

Hipster Joe: beet carpaccio with beet yogurt, green bean tomato vinaigrette and sourdough bread. I think if it's on bread it's fancy toast, JOE. It's not cohesive, even though the individual pieces are fine, plus the bread is just toasted with nothing on it, no butter or anything. The Voltaggios give him shit about the mustache, but he responds that he glues it on every morning which is great.

Adrienne: charred corn pudding wrapped in Swiss chard with shishito peppers and champagne broth. They really like it, although the sauce is a little runny. But the flavors are good. Gail wishes maybe she could have been bolder with the chard. Adrienne is discovering everyone is assuming Bruce is in charge. Well that could also be the part where Bruce knows everyone, but it's probably sexism too.

Joseph: grilled baby zucchini topped with hazelnut zucchini pesto, mushroom vinaigrette, goat cheese and raw asparagus salad. He actually has a good smoke flavor and is grilling zucchini to order. The zucchini maybe doesn't taste like anything, but the goat cheese was a good choice. It all comes together. Danny Meyer tells his other chef friends he doesn't like hazelnuts and they all give him shit about it.

In today's Stew Room, which is outside on a patio, Hipster Joe tells the others he's worried. Everyone made great dishes today. Adrienne interviews that the last time he didn't like his dish, he won, so whatever. She worries her dish wasn't enough.

Judges' Table. Everyone's dishes were good, but Tom thinks they missed the opportunity for smokey flavor based on what they were using to cook on. There's also a balance between elevated dishes and more rustic dishes based on the location. Adrienne was really creative and had bright flavors, but she didn't have that smoke flavor and Gail was missing it. She tried to char the corn and shishito peppers but it didn't work. Tom praises the combination of her flavors. Hipster Joe was smart to use the yogurt, and the gooseberries, but the yogurt was one idea and the carpaccio was another and the bread was bread. Joseph embraced the challenge. The baby zucchini were so small they got overshadowed. I think he used the regular size ones to make the pesto, and Tom says they overshadowed the baby zucchini. Padma kicks them out.

Hipster Joe had good yogurt sauce and strong flavors but no charred flavor. And they don't like the bread. I know he's going to get a TON of shit about fancy toast on the internet. Joseph had a great pesto, but they maybe wish he'd tweak it slightly. Gail wishes he had been more playful. Adrienne didn't get as much char as she wanted but she was very creative. Daniel thinks the coconut broth was very acidic and overpowered the corn.

This was a difficult decision. Clearly. Joseph is the winner! Adrienne was more creative but I guess execution matters. He's so relieved. Hipster Joe is out. Tom tells him the dish just didn't come together. He's come a long way in a short time, and he knows that third place is not a bad showing. Don't be afraid to try things. Adrienne is very thrilled.

Next time: finale time, four course meal, you know the drill. Eliminated chefs for sous chefs, disasters, very pretty food, someone wins.

No comments: