Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Chef - 1.21.09

It's time for Restaurant Wars!!

Carla feels that it's no longer about cooking, it's about psychological warfare. Leah and Hosea (who was shown mentioning his girlfriend at home) threw Ariane under the bus, and some people feel grumpy about it.

Quickfire Challenge

Guest Chef is restaurateur Stephen Starr. Everyone is thrilled to hear that this week is Restaurant Wars.

For their Quickfire, they have to do a tasting for Stephen Starr, creating one dish that will showcase their concept for a restaurant. Stephen will pick his two favorites, and those two winners will be the heads of the dueling restaurants.

They have 30 minutes. Jamie admitted to not wanting to win. Interesting.

Carla's Concept: Homemade Rustic Foods - Cod Seared in Tomato Oil with Italian salsa, mache green salad. It's undersalted.

Hosea's Concept: Mediterranean Inspired Seafood Restaurant - Shrimp with Morel mushroom cream sauce, garlic potato puree, poached asparagus. The flavor was good.

Leah's Concept: Asian inspired (Philippines)- Tempura Poussin with Dashi soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. It was called tasty.

Stefan's Concept: Euro-American - Fried White asparagus with trout, asparagus salad, and white asparagus soup. Also called very good.

Jeff's Concept: Fresh, seasonal, American fare - Grilled Salmon with sunchoke and artichoke puree, grilled corn and asparagus salad. Called mushy. Not good.

Radhika's Concept: Global Influence (Indian, Middle Eastern)- Pan-seared cod, butter braised corn, spinach & chorizo in cream sauce. Called very well seasoned.

Jamie's Concept: Seasonal Cooking - Chilean Sea Bass with Creamed Corn, bacon, peas, and garlic scape. It's simplicity was appreciated.

Fabio's Concept: Lunch-heavy meditteranean - Tuna and swordfish carpaccio, roasted vegetable salad, filet mignon sandwich. Called a little too salty.

Jeff and Fabio are on the bottom. Radhika is one of the winners, joined by Leah.

Radhika chose Jamie, Carla, and Jeff.

Jamie chose Hosea, Fabio, and Stefan.

The first day is to plan menues and shop for decor and linens. The next day they have $3000 to shop for food, and 6 hours to prep.

Radhika's restaurant's name is Sahana, which is beautiful. It means Strong in sanskrit. Radhika is bullied (basically) into being in the front. She should have chosen Jeff to be in the front of the house, so she could run the kitchen. Just my thoughts. It's based on Old Spice Routes.

Leah is in danger of being run over by domineering Stefan and Fabio.

They shop with $5000 at Pier 1. It looked like a mad house.

Jamie tries to pull Carla out of her shell and take charge of something. Carla is taking charge of desserts. Jeff lacks focus and has too many random ideas. Radhika is giving Jamie a lot of leadership, which I think is a good idea.

Stefan is refusing to divulge what his actual desserts are, and it's annoying everyone. Leah and Hosea blow off some steam by flirting a bit too much and kissing at bedtime. Oops. They both regret it in the morning. This ought to make an interesting Reunion show.

On the way to shopping, Hosea and Stefan decided to name the restaurant Sunset Lounge. Yipes. I hate that.

Jamie is stymied because there are no lamb shanks anywhere. Jeff managed to find some in the freezer. Jamie is concerned it's not going to thaw in time.

Now it's time to make those restaurants!

The Menus

Sunset Lounge

Egg roll
Sashimi Two Ways
Short Ribs
Coconut Curry Bisque
Seared cod
Chocolate Parfait
Panna Cotta

Sahana

Curried Carrot Soup
Grilled Scallop with Chickpea cake
Braised Lamb Shank
Seared Snapper
Baklava
Chocolate Cake
Frozen Yogurts

Right off the bat, it seems to me that they both could have gone with more thematic desserts. What's Asian about Panna Cotta and Chocolate Parfait? Baklava I can see. Chocolate Cake and frozen yogurt? We'll see what kinds of flavors Carla brings into the yogurts...

There is tension between Hosea and Leah in the kitchen. Jamie is basically chef de cuisine, and is focussing on the lamb shanks, which seem to be thawing well. Leah did some foolish portioning of fish before boning. There were problems with the freezer, and both Stefan and Carla were having problems with things not freezing. Radhika is having a hard time leading and making executive decisions.

I think Jeff got the quote of the day, saying "I feel like a Hummingbird on Cocaine." Fabio's in his snazziest Don Johnson suit and thinks he could make their team win anything, because he is that awesome. In his opinion.

The restaurants are open. Jamie is frustrated by the servers, who don't pay attention to details and mess up the plates. That is annoying.

Judges arrive for Sahana. The appetizer is naan, which Tom doesn't get, and thinks it is french toast. The soup is called very nice, and the chickpea cake is also getting good reviews, with it's scallop. I want some of the lamb right now, but Stephen thought the couscous was like dishwater. Ick. The snapper did not get good reviews, because it was swimming in liquid. For the desserts, they did spice up the cake well, and the yogurts were also spiced up... but they didn't set up, and didn't taste good. Toby said the meal was like the career of Elvis Prestley - strong out of the gate, and got weaker and weaker until dying on the toilet. Nice. Radhika didn't introduce herself as hostess and got really flustered, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen, which was not good. She should have chosen Jeff for that job, no matter what he wanted.

It's time for Judges at Sunset Lounge. Fabio is definitely better than Radhika at the front of the house, and is playing up his charm and thick accent. The food itself starts off weak, and Tom said he's gotten better frozen eggrolls. Ouch. The soup and appetizer get a little better reviews, but not great. The fish is undersalted. The short ribs get good reviews, but the cod that Leah made made the judges cough from the sauce and it was undercooked. Not good at all. Stefan's desserts looked really good, and he managed to spice them up enough to make them fit. He finished with a palate cleanser with mango, chocolate, and ginger "lollipops" and it looked lovely. Stefan did a great job.

It's down to the comment cards and what the judges thought. Fabio's service really helped Sunset Lounge, even though Sahana's food was better on the whole (with the great exception of dessert!)

Sunset Lounge went to Judge's Table first, and they are the winners, largely because of Stefan and Fabio. Leah's cod is uniformly panned, and she was told she would be going home if she was on the other team. Stefan is the winner, and gets a suite of GE Appliances. Nice.

Sahana headed to Judge's Table. Radhika's lack of leadership and the miserable desserts were the biggest problems. Carla admitted she wasn't happy with her dishes, but decided to just have fun with it, even though they were awful. Radhika just abdicated everything, and there was no leadership. The fact that Carla sent out bad food knowingly was horrible.

In the end, it was Radhika who went home, and I think deservingly. She admitted that she should have insisted on Jeff being in the front of the house. I liked her, but I think it was her time to go.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Member, FDIC.

Oh, and Survivor on the 12th!