Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top Chef - 12.10.08

Melissa, after finally getting some face time last week, is feeling like she needs to step it up, because her first face time was very nearly her last.

Stefan is doing some flirting with Jamie - yup, the lesbian Jamie. Good luck with that buddy.

Quickfire Challenge - no guest judge - it's all about pallate. It's time for a round of "Identify that Ingredient."

People are getting paired up with knife draws. And Stefan is thrilled to be paired with Jamie.

Each pair will taste the same sauce and then compete to identify ingredients in the sauce. They have 15 seconds to taste. It's culinary Name that Tune.

Daniel and Hosea are up first. They are tasting a shrimp and lobster bouillabase.

Hosea called 4 ingredients - onion, shrimp, carrot, lemon. Daniel said he could only do three. He's out. Hosea wins the first bracket.

Jeff and Ariane are up next. It's Ariane vs. Jeff and Jeff f'd up, guessing crab.

Stefan vs. Jamie go - and Stefan went the easy way, choosing salt and pepper as two of his ingredients. He wins the bracket.

Leah won against Eugene when he got one wrong.

Radhika won against Fabio.

Carla and Melissa went next, and Carla said that she can taste ingredients in her mind thinking about them. She's interesting.

The next rounds starts and it's Thai Green Curry. Hosea knew exactly what the sauce was and beat Ariane out.

Stefan went against Leah and Stefan named 8 ingredients, knocking Leah out.

Carla and Radhika went across each other next, and Radhika chose chili powder and was wrong, so Carla went onto the finals.

The final round is Mexican Mole Sauce, and they all taste at the same time and then identify ingredients one by one. It's Stefan vs. Hosea. Stefan chose tomato paste and was wrong, and Hosea won the Quickfire after choosing a correct ingredient for his round. I'm glad that Hosea won, because as much as I usually love Scandinavians, I don't really care for him.

They draw knives for the Elimination Challenge, and they are groups of - Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue. It's a bridal shower for Gail!!! Gail does not like veal or black beans so much, but wants to impress her friends with good food.

Something Borrowed is Ariane, Radhika, and Jamie. Jamie suggests that Radhika should make something Indian-inspired that she could say she "borrowed" from her culture. Jamie said she has a secret ingredient to use. Could be interesting. Radhika is nervous to cook Indian food. I think the idea makes sense.

Something Blue is Leah, Melissa, and Fabio. This could be a really tough theme to go with. Melissa wonders about figs... Fabio thinks fish - something out of the ocean.

Something New is Daniel, Carla, and Eugene. Somehow for something new, Daniel thinks pickling is the way to go. Because when I think fresh (and new)... I think pickles, first thing. Um. Or not. Carla was really worried. Eugene thought sushi might be good - a surf and turf sushi roll. Carla is not sure about the idea but isn't talking. Bad idea.

Something Old is Jeff, Stefan, and Hosea. They are playing on heirloom tomatoes. They are all doing their own dishes. Jeff wanted to do a sorbet (which is a bad idea catering, according to Stefan - I would tend to agree). Jeff wants to go ahead with his sorbet.

It's shopping time. Half and hour and $800 to shop. Carla is insane and calls out "Hootie" in the grocery store when she gets separated from her group - it's apparently a Marco Polo type call she and her husband do in public. So he must be insane as well. Stefan did some bossing around and got on his team's nerves.

The menus shape up - Something Borrowed is planning on doing: Eastern Spiced Lamb marinated in yogurt, Vadouvan carrot puree, wilted kale, and cucumber raita. Sounds good, and I'd eat it. Of course, as previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of Indian food, so you could stick my head in a vat of Indian spices and I'd be happy.

Something New is planning a Surf & Turf sushi - with shrimp on the inside and fillet mignon on the outside. Not sure about that. They are also planning on a frisee salad in a crispy won ton bowl (I like that presentation idea, but worry about frying the won tons the day before, as Carla is doing), a peach-miso bbq sauce, and yuzu sorbet. They also would not have gotten along well with Stefan. What is the bbq sauce going to go on? The sushi? I'm confused.

Something Blue is referencing the ocean in their menu of Chilean Sea Bass, Roasted Corn puree, and swiss chard. Not sure about the ocean in corn and chard, but... we'll see.

Something Old is planning on a Tomato Terrine wrapped in eggplant (Stefan's), a cappaccio with tomato sorbet (Jeff's), and a gazapacho (Hosea's).

Eugene's rice got mushy from the rice cooker, and he got very flustered.

Tom showed up to see what teams were up to, and he seemed particularly confused about the New team's menu - saying it could be awful or spectacular. Stefan was apparently married to the "same chick" twice, and is now divorced. Interesting. Tom also thought that the Blue offering looked a little weak.

Eugene salvaged his rice by turning it into a chili pepper sticky rice. Interesting.

Back in the Apartment, Eugene decided to have people "build their own sushi rolls." Daniel did some weight lifting, and thought it sounded like a great idea. Stefan was not sure about the idea, but was told basically to mind his own business. And then he went on to do some more flirting with Jamie.

Again, good luck with that.

And that was the short flirting heavy mid-commercial clip.

Leah and Hosea are hitting it off, even though they both have attachments at home, so it's going to be platonic.

Something Old is up first, and Tom is in the kitchen because he isn't allowed in the girl's party. Hosea was really nervous and almost spilled gazpacho on the guests. Their guest judge is Dana Cowin, the editor-in-chief of Food & wine.

Their offerings are -

From Jeff: Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio and sorbet.
From Hosea: Heirloom Tomato gazpacho, with mint, watermelon, and cucumber salsa
From Stefan: Tomato terrine wrapped in eggplant with basil.

I hear goodthings from the guests about the gazpacho and the sorbet, while someone called Stefan's terrine bland.

Something New is working on serving their "roll your own" surf and turf sushi, and Daniel decided to add some mushrooms to the bottom of Carla's salad without telling her. Hmm. She was not happy when she saw the mushrooms. Their plates look insane with all sorts of craziness happening on the plate.

This seems more of a team effort, but it seems like

Eugene: Tempura shrimp with his rice (and the whole sushi idea)
Daniel: Beef Skewer with peach-miso bbq sauce, yuzu grenada
Carla: The salad.

This looked like a really messy and confusing dish, and Eugene did not explain how to eat the dish. The shrimp was called cold and Gail said it seemed that it was fried in old oil.

Something Borrowed is up next, and Ariane had troubles getting the lamb cooked well enough, and it was quite rare. Everyone helped plate, which was nice.

Their offerings were

Ariane: Indian spiced lamb
Jamie: vadouvan carrot puree
Radhika: raita

This got rave reviews all around and Gail said it made her really happy. I feel the same way when I eat Indian food.

Something Blue is setting forth an uninteresting looking plate, and Leah is not sure that the fish is seasoned well.

Fabio spoke to charm all the women.

Fabio: Chilean Sea bass crusted with blue corn
Melissa: Corn puree
Jamie: Wilted kale

It gets mixed reviews, and is called out for not being bold enough.

Judge's Table:

Old and Borrowed are pulled back first - on top. And there was much rejoicing. Jeff's sorbet got top marks for the sorbet - so eat THAT, Stefan. Jamie's carrot puree and Ariane's lamb were raved about. Ariane won for the lamb, and got a set of Calphalon stainless cookware, and Calphalon Kitchen Electrics. She felt guilty for winner instead of Jamie, and Jamie was miffed.

New and Blue went back next - on bottom. Eugene's mushy rice didn't convince anyone. Daniel refused to see that there was anything wrong with the dish. Eugene admitted that it didn't turn out well. The judges were concerned about the mushrooms that Daniel added to the salad, and even though the judges said that it wasn't good, he insisted he was still proud of it. That's not the right kind of reaction to have. Blue's dish was called "Nursing Home Food," and Tom said the dish was Blue for a different reason - in that it made him Blue. Fabio bit his tongue on a retort, and I think he did the right thing.

The judge's were disappointed in Carla's not speaking up, and Daniel's lack of insight, and Eugene's bad rice.

Team Blue was sent to safety. Team New is reprimanded, and in the end, Daniel is out, and I think that was the right decision. It's one thing to cook something sub-par, but it's another to totally fail to see it's a bad dish. Daniel said he was proud not to throw anyone under the bus and then made a football reference I didn't get.

Next week looks interesting. Martha Stewart and a non-functional refrigerator are involved. Can't wait!

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