Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Top Chef - 1.7.09

It's been so long since there's been a new episode! I swear, it seems like it was last year....

That joke had to be made, but I still apologize for it.

Down to business!

After a short recap about how much many people sucked during the Christmas Challenge, but still managed to skip elimination, it's time for the new show! I'm very excited. (It's been so long - will I remember names? It's a challenge!)

Fabio was cooking, Eugene was angered at being in the bottom, and Melissa is feeling pressure. She is really an awkward looking girl. Hosea, on the other hand, is feeling good about his win. Stefan doesn't care that Hosea keeps winning, he still thinks that he's the best chef around, and Jamie is feeling unappreciated here.

Time for the Quickfire! Guest judge for the day is Jean-Christophe Novelli, who is apparently going to be a host of a new show on Bravo, Chef Academy. Hmmm. He's a pastry chef.

The "Diet Dr. Pepper" Quickfire Challenge is to create a sweet treat... without sugar. Any sugar. In 45 minutes.

The fridge is stocked with Diet Dr. Pepper, naturally. That stuff is good, but I bet the chefs hate to use it. Not exactly gourmet. Cans are displayed prominently, naturally.

Honey is in the kitchen, so that makes sweetness possible. Seems like cheating. The creations are:

Fabio - Granola and Oat tart with eggless pastry cream and fresh berries. The cream is called not cooked enough. Fabio thinks the French chef has it in for the Italian chef. I think his cream was probably not cooked enough.

Jeff - Frozen Cherry and white fig yogurt with a baklava spring roll. It is called an "interesting combination." It sure does look interesting. He had the judges scoop out their own frozen yogurt. Wonder if he ran out of time to dish it out?

Eugene - Mini Blini "burger" with banana lumpias "fries" with a strawberry and star anise dipping sauce. It was called "original." We'll see if that is good.

Melissa - Baked Dessert Burrito with Greek Yogurt Sauce. Not sure how they felt about that.

Radhika - Bread pudding with sauteed white peach & roasted cashews. Sounds delicious. IT is called adventurous.

Leah - Crepe with whipped ricotta, strawberries, and a balsamic reduction. I think I've seen this type of thing before.

Stefan - Sugar free mousse-de-chocolate with cherries. I couldn't understand some of the "banter" between Stefan and the guest judge, but I think it was positive.

Hosea - Green Figs & White peaches with honey and balsamic. It was called interesting, with a shrug, so I don't think that's good.

Ariane - whole-wheat crepe with carmelized pears and toasted almonds. That sounds yummy. She offered them whipped cream, but the guest judge refused, saying it was too stiff.

Jamie - Ricotta, mascarpone, peach, nectarine, and cherry Napoleon. It got another "very interesting"

Carla - Baklava with a chocolate disc and fried bananas. She was apologetic about it (bad idea) since her bananas were supposed to be frozen, but didn't freeze in time. Her presentation style sucked. Own your dish. Nuff said.

The least favorites are Carla, Ariane, and Jamie. The favorites are Radhika, Leah, and Jeff. Radhika squeaked out a win. I'm happy for her.

Toby Young (English food critic) is replacing Gayle for the rest of the time in NYC. That makes me sad. I like Gayle.

Padma told the cheftestants to take a night off and relax. Surprisingly, there were no twists, though there was some some product placement (Sidekick phones, and more diet dr pepper)

It's the day of the Elimination Challenge, and no one knows what's going to happen. Tom walked into the house in the morning. He arrived with knife block in hand. For the challenge, they have to cook for the judges, a group of foodies and critics (12 people). No limits, just family style, for a blind tasting. No one will know who has made the food they are eating ahead of time. And...

Two chefs will be eliminated.

As the winner of the Quickfire, Radhika gets immunity, and can choose which group she wants to cook with. Each chef gets $100 at Whole Foods.

Group A (cooking first) is Melissa, Eugene, Jamie, Radhika, Fabio, and Hosea.

Group B (cooking second) is Ariane, Jeff, Stefan, Carla (who took her time in the grocery store and chill, talk to her ingredients), and Leah.

Many people are doing fish or seafood, but Fabio is making homemade ravioli with souveed (I always spell that wrong) lamb. Sounds delicious. Or, it would be, if it hadn't been terribly undercooked. Jamie is making scallops again. To prove she can make them right, since she messed up with it before. Fabio says in confessional that it's not Top Scallop.

Fabio also had issues because the past machine wasn't staying on the counter well.

And there's a twist.

The cheftestants in the second group are the other "foodies" who are going to be taking part in the blind tasting (and vice versa).

Group A's food was:

Radhika - Curried Crab Bisque with a lemon scented crab salad. It got bad reviews, and I think she is lucky lucky lucky to have immunity. The new judge Toby is very sharp-tongued and calls the soup a WMD. Yipes!

Hosea - Bacon-wrapped halibut with roasted vegetables in a buerre blanc sauce. The vegetables are called fantastic. So good that they upstaged the fish.

Jamie - Seared scallops with fennel, garlic, oranges, and onion. This got good reviews, so maybe Jamie chose right.

Fabio - Rack of lamb with cheese ravioli and mushroom sauce. The lamb got called for being undercooked, but his pasta and sauce were good.

Eugene - Crispy Red Snapper with tomato, basil & daikon fettucine. It was pretty, but Toby called it the bland leading the bland. Yipes. Stefan didn't like hot daikon.

Melissa - Ahi tuna fish tacos. Toby said it tasted like cat food and said that the chef didn't seem very confident.

Toby is the Simon of the food critic world, I think.

Time for Group B to cook. They have the unfair advantage of knowing about the twist. Jeff is running around like crazy with prepping for 100 tapas dishes.

Stefan - Roasted Duck with braised red cabbage and bread dumplings. Radhika thought the dumplings were too dense (and Stefan thought that she knew it was his, and therefore had it out for him), but everyone else (including Tom) thought it was really lovely as a dish. Now, I want some red cabbage (I love red cabbage)

Jeff - Trio Tapas: Oysters, seared tuna, avocado sorbet, and grilled peaches. Eugene thought it was too much. Tom thought it was just a bunch of appetizers. Toby called the avocado sorbet like Tom Cruises Cameo in Tropic Thunder - an unexpected treat. Tom still didn't like it.

Ariane - Skate Wing with pineapple and cauliflower puree. This dish is called fabulous.

Leah - Seared Rouget encrusted in bread with fried beans in chorizo sauce. While Jamie didn't like it, Toby thought it was an upperclass version of fish and chips and appreciated it.

Carla - Seared scallop on top of risotto with gremolata topping. The scallops get good marks, but the garlic is too much in the gremolata, and the risotto is uninspired.

Judge's Table

The skate, duck, and scallop with fennel are called back first. That would be Ariane, Stefan, and Jamie, respectively. This is the top of the pack. The winner is Jamie. She has got to be so pleased. Padma looked happy to finally give her a win.

The bottom of the pack is Melissa, Eugene, and Carla. Two of them are going home. Carla said that she wanted to make a vegetarian dish, so she made the risotto, but then threw on the scallop. She is apologetic, and does not stand up for her dish. Melissa says that even though the criticism was rough, she liked hearing it. Tom called it a lack of imagination. Toby said you could smell it "in a way that wasn't pleasant." Eugene says that he thinks outside of the box. Toby said the dish lacks punch.

The judges deliberate. Toby rallied to give Eugene another chance, because he is creative. Tom said that Melissa's fish tacos are who she is, and Toby suggested that perhaps that's why she should go home. Toby (with another zinger) said that Carla's dish seemed like a person who was driving with her eyes closed, and that her reluctance to just serve a vegetarian dish shows that she lacks confidence.

Amazingly, Carla is the one staying. I will not miss Melissa, but I really was hoping to see Carla and her crazy eyes gone. Melissa cried about the fact that no one sees her creativity and imagination. Perhaps she should have shown it more in her food.

Hung is a guest judge next week. Cool.

Where you surprised by tonight's results?

No comments: