Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Top Chef - 5/21/08

Tom wakes the chefs up (and these people are NOT morning people). Their Quickfire Challenge is to work the egg station at a popular chicago breakfast joint. That can be tough. Eggs (done well) can be tricky.

They get to watch for a little bit to get the idea of how it works, and then they each get to take a turn under the owner's watchful eye.

Antonia is up first, and she does a good job at calling orders back. I couldn't tell if she actually was cooking well.

Stephanie had to poach some eggs and had a bad time of it, and ruined some eggs.

Richard had a bad time of it, and Lisa melted some styrofoam.

Spike seemed to me moving well.

Dale was a little confused, but also seemed to do well.

The owner's top two were Antonia and Dale. Antonia wins the challenge, and I was happy for her. She gets "an advantage" for the Elimination Challenge. Tom won't be there for the challenge, and he sends them to a mysterious address to find Padma.

It's Restaurant Wars. Fun. Their space looks like a giant yoga studio. They will divide it, share a kitchen, and get 35 diners the next night. Antonia gets to pick her team, and she picked Stephanie and Richard. This makes it kind of a re-match for Wedding Wars, minus the missing people.

Team Antonia talks menu first, and they are called Warehouse Kitchen. Not sure about that name.

Team Dale does Mai Buddha, which is an Asian style restaurant. Since Dale is only really good at Asian food, there you go. Spike and Lisa both have Asian cooking backgrounds, too. That's potentially good.

Off to Whole Foods, which doesn't have all the specialty Asian products they needed, so they improvised.

Then to Pier One, where they shopped like mad. Lots of Buddhas were bought for Team Dale.

In the kitchen, Lisa and Dale start by being confrontational with each other. In the front of the house, Stephanie and Spike are working on decoration.

The Menu for Warehouse Kitchen is:
1st course - Beet & goat cheese salad, and linguine and clams (interesting)
2nd course - Trout & cauliflower, and lamb leg & loin (double yum)
3rd course - Gorgonzola cheese cake (weird sounding) and banana scallops (huh?)

The Menu for Mai Buddha is:
1st course - Shrimp Laksa soup, and pork & pickled plum potstickers (sound yummy)
2nd course - miso scallops and braised short ribs (sounds yummy)
3rd course - Halo-Halo and Mango Sticky Rice (kind of weird)

Warehouse kitchen is doing a homemade pasta, and they are nervous about it being good - and they didn't get any backup pasta.

Anthony Bourdain is Temp Tom this week, and it freaks the contestants out some. Each team is getting an eliminated contestant. Antonia wants to pick someone to roll out pasta! Team Dale picks (I forget her name!) and Team Antonia picks Nikki to role pasta. Dale is making an avocado something and ends up using a brown one, and it makes his whole puree icky brown instead of nice green. Lisa gets pissy about rice being pulled off the burner, blaming someone else again.

There's grit in the clams on Team Antonia, and they do the smart thing and re-wash them.

Team Dale has some things that aren't working well, including the sticky rice, which is more like Sloppy Rice. Not very appetizing.

Warehouse Kitchen's appetizers went out and went over super. The 2nd course was so-so. There's skin on some trout, which is a no-no, but the lamb was good. The 3rd course (the banana scallop) ended up looking a bit like poo, but the cheesecake went over well.

Over at Mai Buddha, the colors (silver and purple) get some not so good comments. The dumplings get good remarks, the soup not so much. Padma calls the dumplings "slamming." The second course is also mixed - butterscotch scallops? Ick. But the short ribs go over well. Dale and Lisa get into it with each other in the kitchen. The rice is called "baby vomit with woodchips." Ick. The Halo-halo gets mixed reviews.

Not surprisingly, Warehouse Kitchen wins the night. Stephanie wins the night, and I think she deserved it. She wins a culinary tour to Spain. Sweeeeeet.

Mai Buddha is called up next, and they get some rough comments. The decor choices are questioned. Dale's butterscotch scallops are reamed. Lisa's smoked Shrimp Laksa is also reamed. Spike says the Laksa was his idea, but "my laksa is very different." The short ribs are good, but no one can decide who made them. Dale and Lisa get into it about who's idea the horrendous sticky rice was. They then argue with each other about who to blame for the failure. I just can't wait to see one of them gone.

The judges don't like that Lisa flubbed on two dishes she's made before, and they don't appreciate her defensiveness. They hated Dale's sticky sweet scallops, but is it enough to send him home? Anthony Bourdain tells Spike "It was a good day to be in the dining room." True nuff, and Dale is gone. I think it is because he was "executive chef" in a failed restaurant.

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