Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Chef - 11.19.08

Let's see if I can keep everyone straight this time! I apologize for my sometimes lacking formatting, it's a busy time.

Richard laments the loss of Pat from Team Rainbow. Ariene feels vulnerable, and Stefan feels pretty good. Fabio says he doesn't mind Stefan winning the challenges. "In Italian, we have a saying. It doesn't matter how many dragons you kill, it's who takes home the princess."

And with that, onward to the Quickfire, where the guest judge is Donatella Arpeia (sure I messed that name up). I wish I knew these guest judges more.

Their quickfire is all about cooking something New Yorkers love - hot dogs. They are cooking against a famous hot dog cart cook - Angelina. Chef with the best hot dog in 45 minutes wins immunity.

Some are making hot dogs from scratch, and both Stefan and Fabio decide to make something on the panini side of things. Radhika, who doesn't want to be called the Indian cook, is making an Indian-inspired kebab-dog. Sounds good, so hopefully it won't pigeon-hole her.

Jill - Summer Roll hot dog cooked in chili, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. She did not make her own hot dog, and they didn't say much about it.

Radhika - Kabob-stule sausage (lamb, pork, ground chuck) with caramelized onions, cucumbers, and tomato jam. I would so eat that. Of course, I love Indian food, and I love kabob, so I am predisposed to cheer for Radhika.

Daniel - Pork Hot dog with horseradish mustard, fried onion, garlic powder. He used his own casing. They looked like they liked it.

Eugene - Maki roll hot dog with pita bread, boursin cheese, and red onions. The guest had an almost pained look on her face. Probably not good. I don't know if I would have called it "maki" because that brings to mind the horrors of Spam Musubi.

Hosea - Pork Hot Dog with Roasted Poblanos, Jalapenos, smoked bacon & red vinegar. They seemed to appreciate the smokiness.

Stefan - He called this a "world dog" - Italian Sausage on French Bread with Wisonsin Cheese and Irish Tartar Sauce, served with a German beer. Padme appreciates a cocktail, so she looked pleased. Sounded yummy. I think I could have skipped the tartar sauce.

Carla - Lamb & Pork sausage with sauerkraut, caramelized onions. They liked how moist it was, or at least commented on it.

Ariane - Chicken sausage with bacon, celery seed, garlic and white pepper. They commented on how strong the celery seed was. Probably that's not a good thing.

Fabio - Andouille sausage with goat cheese, roasted bell pepper and sundried tomato. They commented on it's mediteranean flavors.

Jamie - Pork & Beef sausage with bacon, onions, and cayenne pepper. Oh nooooo - Padma got a piece of bone. That's such a no no.

The judges then enjoyed a hot dog from Angelina, and it looked yummy.

They skipped some people. Were they that bad, or just in the middle of the pack and not worth mentioning? Curious.

Jill is called out for using a store-bought hot dog, which is one thing, but then she used it in an unimaginative way. The guest judge said that she wouldn't travel anywhere for Stefan's "World Dog" and he is upset by that.

On a positive note, she loved Radhika's offering, along with Fabio and Hosea's. The win is given to Radhika. I am happy.

For their challenge, they are going to be opening a Top Chef restaurant in Manhattan, with a 3 course New American menu.

They split up to do appetizer, entrees, and desserts. They had $1500 to shop between themselves.

Hosea made the dubious decision of taking the only crab available, in a carton, that he couldn't look at, smell, or anything first. That could bite him. Fabio is planning a carpacio. Jill was drawn to ostrich eggs and decided to do a quiche. I am not sure how a store has only one kind of crab, in a carton, but has ostrich eggs. That seems a bit off to me.

They have 2 hours to prep.

The appetizer group is Fabio, Hosea, Melissa, and Leah.

The entree group is Stefan, Alex, Eugene, Jill, and Jeff.

The dessert group is Carla, Ariane, Daniel, Richard, and Radhika.

Tom arrived to tell them that they would be cooking in one of his restaurants - Craft. All the diners will be 50 NY chefs that tried out for the show and didn't make it. Ouch. This should be interesting.

Back in the Chef apartment, Fabio dropped his favorite quots about princesses and dragons again. The next morning, Carla and her crazy eyes were feeling the pressure of working at Craft. They get to the restaurant and they have 2 hours to prep.

Jamie is doing a cold corn soup, and Fabio is doing a funky olive technique, and Hosea is feeling good about his crab after adding some seasoning. Ariane wanted everyone to taste her Lemon Meringue Martini, and there seems to be some consensus that it's too sweet, but she decides to keep it, and tells them "if I go under, you're all going to hear it." Way to stand up for your own product.

The disgruntled diners arrived and started complaining right off about the menu, but mostly because it wasn't theirs. Tom and one of his chefs is expediting.

Appetizers go out.

Jamie has made a chilled sweet corn soup with chili oil and mint. She is pretty confident about it, and the judge's table liked it.

Hosea's dish is Chilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing, mango, and avocado. The judges called it slimy and muddy, and one of the diners called it tinny. Not good at all. I wonder if Hosea actually tasted it.

Leah made Yukon potato, seared scallops, with chives and pink peppercorns. The scallops were called sandy, and the judges called it "very 80's." Yipes.

Fabio's appetizer is a beef carpaccio with arugula salad, parmesan, and his spherical olives. The judges appreciated his olive technique.

Melissa's dish is grilled avocado, white peaches, nectarines, and a light balsamic vinagrette. Nothing special, seemingly.

Onto the entrees!

Jill's offering is ostrich egg quiche with rice-pecan crust, asparagus, and aged cheese. It's taste is likened to glue and dog food. Not good.

Eugene has made an open meatloaf sandwich with ciabatta, gouda fondue, and portobello ragout. The presentation is called bad.

Stefan's entree is a pan seared halibut with micro greens, ravioli, champagne sauce, and dill oil. The judges liked it a lot, as did the diners.

Jeff's behind serving his dish, which is southern chicken, with honey mustard, and corn spoon bread. It seemed to go over well.

Alex has made a grilled pork tenderloin with potatoes and mixed vegetables. It's called "not good at all."

And it's dessert time.

Radhika made a citrus avocado mouse with chocolate wontons and a chocolate milk kalhua shot. The judges called it sweet guacamole, and she was lucky to have immunity, and they said you could tell she had immunity, because there was no real other explanation for that dish.

Daniel made a ricotta pound cake with toasted pistachios and strawberry lemon coulis. It gets good reviews.

Ariane's Lemon Merinque Martini has hidden cherries under a cookie at the bottom. The judges looked like they wanted to spit it out because of the sweetness. Not good at all.

Richard's looks much better - a banana bread sandwich with peanut butter and banana brulee, served with grape gelato. The judges called it an after school snack.

Carla made a rustic apple tart with ginger peach tea, apple cider reduction, and some cheddar cheese. The judges did not appreciate the plating of the cheese, but liked the flavor.

Once service was over, Tom tasted all of the food in the kitchen in front of the chefs. They looked about ready to throw up with nerves. The diners seemed even more bitter about not being chosen for the show after tasting some of these dishes.

It's time for Judge's Table. Tom appreciated the way they worked in the kitchen, but did not like a lot of the food. Jamie, Hosea, Ariane, Fabio, Carla, and Jill were sent back to the Judge's Table.

Carla's dessert is given high honors, and Fabio got defensive about his dish before they even told him how they felt about it, and was humbled when they said they liked it. I am little disappointed that it is the same dish he has made at his own restaurant. Jamie's corn soup is lauded. They liked how fresh it tasted.

Fabio is named the winner, and they really loved his olive trick. I still wish it was a new dish for him. He's happy to be tied with Stefan.

Hosea's crab salad was one of the worst ones, and they said it was underseasoned. He thought he was going to win. He was obviously delusional. Ariane's martini was pretty dreadful. Padma spit it out. Jill's ostrich egg quiche didn't go well together and she couldn't answer when the judges asked her how she would make it better if they keep her. She floundered a bit and looked lost.

It's Jill going home, and Ariane thought she was going. I was happy to see Jill gone, because she also failed at the Quickfire. Ariane felt that she didn't deserve to stay, and broke down afterwards.

Next week is a Thanksgiving episode. Fun.

Do you think the right person went home tonight?


Lori said...

I think those Europeans will win it this time. Ariane is next to go. She is too limited.

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