Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top Chef - 12.17.08

At the Cheftestant's apartments, Ariane is feeling good about herself and vows to keep is simple and stick to cooking. Eugene is feeling vulnerable because he's been in the bottom. Fabio is upset at being called boring, and Stefan says that he woke up with what felt like Tom or Padma's shoe up his ass. And he said this while he carved a mean face in a watermelon, jack-o-lantern style.

Hosea got a call home on the T-MOBILE SIDEKICK LX (did you get that product placement) and talked to his sister. Apparently, his dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly before he went on the show. That's rough, and I'm glad he got a chance to chate.
Quickfire Challenge

They have to make a delicious holiday dish using only one pot. And their guest judge is ... Martha Stewart!

It's a mad dash to try to get things chosen and cooked. Hosea is doing a paella. Jeff is making a potato risotto. Ariane is making a cauliflower puree and filet mignon. She and Jamie have formed a kind of partnership, tasting each other's foods and offering suggestions. Interesting. A lot of people are cooking something and then pouring it out of the pot, and using something else in the same pot. That seems like cheating to me.

Tasting time!

Eugene - Spicy Korean Stew with Pork and mushrooms, cilantro sour cream and wonton chips. Martha could tell that his broth was thickened with cornstarch, and he admitted it wasn't his preferred method, but due to time restraints, he couldn't thicken it by cooking it down. Martha is enigmatic in how she feels about it.
Stefan - Veal Celtic Goulash with potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms. Martha appreciated the chanterelles.

Hosea - Paella with Seafood, chicken, and chorizo. Martha and Padma liked it.

Melissa - Pork Tenderloin, Braised cabbage, apples, and bacon, with and orange and fennel salad. The flavors were applauded.

Jeff - Potato Risotto with crispy pork and sauteed brussel sprouts. It was called interesting, and pungent because of vinegar. Didn't sound good to me.

Jamie - Potato and Kale Stew with scallops and fried sage. It looked good and got good marks.

Ariane - Cauliflower puree with herb rubbed filet mignon. Martha thought there was butter, but it was just cream. Martha called it excellent. Good.

Carla - Brined Turkey breast with apple and dried cherry breadless stuffing. It was called "Excellent" and "Very nice," so those are good reactions.

Fabio - Roasted mushroom polenta with seared duck breast. Martha just said "Thanks," again enigmatically.

I would like to complain again for not seeing everyone. I think the only person they skipped this time was Radhika. Why skip? Turn down the product placement for a second, and show me all the dishes!

Martha did not like Jeff's potato risotto, and also didn't like Eugene's stew, for the corn starch, and also didn't like Fabio's risotto because the mushrooms were not visible and were kind of grey. Fabio was offended.

Hosea's paella, Jamie's dish, and Ariane's dish were on top. Jamie has got to be pissed that Ariane won the challenge instead of her again, and received an autographed copy of Martha's latest book.

They'll be catering a holiday party for amFAR, for 250 people. Since this was probably taped in August, Padma brought in the Harlem Gospel Choir to sing some Christmas songs for them to get them in the mood. It was nice. Hosea suspected it was a twist, and he would be correct. The Cheftestants pulled knives with numbers and had to cook according to a theme from The 12 Days of Christmas.

Let's review:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

Each dish must be inspired by their assigned knife. They have 3 hours to prep, then 1 hour on location at the party the next day. The party is hosted by Natasha Richardson, and Michelle Bernstein will also be guest judging.

Stefan got 12, Hosea got 11, Jeff got 10, Fabio got 9, Melissa got 8, Jamie got 7, Ariane got 6, Eugene got 5, Leah got 3, Carla got 2, and Radhika got 1. Let's see how they handle this one - it's a toughie.

They got 45 minutes and $800 at Whole Foods. There are some intersting ideas passing about in the grocery store, and then it's time to prep. Hosea's marinade on his grilled pork smoked up the whole kitchen. The refridgerators are packed with not really cooled down food, which is not ideal. The next morning, they find that one of the fridges is warm. Everything is spoiled. Hosea's pork, gone. Radhika's Duck? Spoiled. Melissa's cheese? Bad, but she found different cheese in the kitchen.

They got more product for them, and everyone hopped in to help solve the problem. Radhika's duck breast was the only thing that was ruined, and the rest of her duck was in a different fridge and was saved. Somehow, people managed to get their own stuff prepped as well, and they were off for the party. The guests are instructed to pin their AIDS ribbons next to their favorite dish.

Stefan (Twelve drummers drumming)- Creamy Chicken Pot Pie with English peas, white asparagus, thyme, and parsley. He used the chicken as "drums"

Radhika (partridge in a pear tree) - Braised duckleg on a toasted brioche with pear chutney & toasted pistachios. Sounds good.

Carla (Two turtledoves) Braised chicken with duxelles and mushroom cap. She said the mushroom cap was her inspiration because it looks like a turtle's shell. I say she is confused as to what a turtle dove is. It's this:

Not this:

Anyhow, it was called salty and one note.

Eugene (Five golden rings) - Poisson Cru with pineapple ring & yukon potato chip. He told a little story, but it didn't help him get good marks. It was overly sweet, and one of the judges said he couldn't possibly have tasted it first. ouch.

Fabio (Nine ladies dancing) - Sweet corn and roasted pepper crab cake with chipotle, lime aioli, and coleslaw. He told a little story about how crabs = ladies dancing, but it was called greasy and dense.

Jamie (Seven swans a-swimming) -Crudo of sea scallop in vichyssoise with lemon olive oil, crispy leeks, and micro greens. It's called "wrong" and "slimy." Ouch. Guess she should have prepped her own stuff more, since it was called raw.

Melissa (Eight maids a-milking) - Gorgonzola & NY Strip steak on sourdough crostini with cranberry vinaigrette. It did not get good marks.

Leah (Three French hens) - Braise guinea hen with butternut squash puree over puff pastry. The puff pastry was said to dull the dish down, which is a shame.

Ariane (Six geese a-laying) - Deviled Eggs six ways. I didn't catch them all, but Tom thought it was a bit boring and uninspired, even if they were delicious.

Hosea (Eleven pipers piping) - Smoked pork loin with chipotle mashed potatoes & apple brandy jus. This got good marks, and got a few favorites. He pimped his restaurant a bit.

Jeff (Ten lords a-leaping) - Seared halloumi & kasseri cheese with roasted beets, pears, mint, and spices. This was called well rounded and also got some favorites.

Four calling birds was left out due to lack of chefs.

Judge's Table

There was much Christmas Love in the Stew Room.

Hosea, Jeff, Stefan, and Radhika got pulled back in the top. Radhika's ducklegs were very well cooked, and the judges acknowledged the difficulty that she (and Hosea) had. Jeff's salad was called "memorable," though the judges didn't think he needed both Greek Cheeses. "It's a bit like putting Brie on top of Camembert," but still, delicious. Hosea's pork was called "very nice."

The winner is Hosea. He garnered the most red ribbons and was also judge's choice. Because he had help, all the chefs are getting cookbooks as a present - from one of the guest judges.

And going in for the bottom rung is Eugene, Melissa, and Jamie. Jamie's scallops were lukewarm and should have been crispy cold. She stood up for them being good, and one of the judge's said she should have seared the scallops. Tom wanted it to be ceviche instead of raw. Melissa's very cheesy intense dish was too much. Eugene's dish was called underseasoned and overly sweet. He refused to believe that his dish had anything wrong with it, but only 8 people thought it was the best. He got a talking to. The guest judge (the chef) said "You're only as good as your last dish."

The judge's were disappointed in the overall quality of the whole night, and wanted to address the whole group. Tom said he wanted everything to be delicious, and they need to start cooking the best food they can.

In the spirit of the Holidays, and because they all pulled together in the kitchen, no one is going home.

And I stayed up until almost midnight for no one to be going home.

Next week is a grand Top Chefs of Seasons Past Holiday Showdown! Fun fun fun.


David Dust said...

I know - at the end, after we've gone through all that drama - and then everybody stays. Kind of misses the point of a competition show.

CLICK HERE for David Dust's Top Chef recap.


Ed said...

You need to start watching more TV and blogging about it...

Astrid said...

The calm before the storm, my friend... the calm before the storm.

American Idol starts next week. I am so excited. It's my favorite show to blog.

And a new Top Chef is on tonight...

Started watching the new Biggest Loser season last night. Not blogging that one, though. Trying to actually *gasp* exercise during it!