Monday, December 7, 2009

Top Chef - 12.2.09

This recorded later for me, so sorry that the blog is late!

Finale, Part I!  I'm excited.  Red Beard for the win!!!

The finale is in Napa Valley.  Jennifer, Michael, Bryan, and Red Beard are up against each other.  Apparently, there is a Facebook Page supporting Red Beard's Red Beard.  That's kind of awesome.

Padma's got new thick bangs (like I sported in high school) and a sweet baby bump.  I love baby bumps!  I think she looked better with her previous hair style, but I appreciate the desire for change.

They have 30 minutes to cook something in homage to the grape on the Napa Valley Wine Train and present it to Padma and Michael Chiarella (whos name I have misspelled terribly)

It's the last High Stakes Quickfire, and the winner will win a new Prius.

They are given all sorts of grapes to choose from. 

Red Beard gets a little motion sick, so he was not excited to be working on a moving train.  Michael grabbed a prep table at the back, and Bryan was bitter that he didn't get it first.  Red Beard did some product placement (Calphalon non-stick - not my personal favorite, and I have experience with lots of pans...), and cooked dessert.

Red Beard turned out a beautiful honey & fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil, and sea salt, topped with sweet little edible flowers.

Michael presented graped lead stuffed with couscous, vinegar glazed grape and scallop kebab.

Bryan made a roasted hen, brussel sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa, and arugula.

Jennifer made sauteed chicken livers, clams, cabernet grapes, wild mushrooms & tendrils.

Michael got the win, because he used all the parts of the grape and told a complete story.

After the Quickfire, there was more product placement on the LG Sprint phones, and the Samsung Sprint phone.  Blatant Blatant Blatant.  Ugh.  Guess that's what we get for having the ability to fast forward through conventional commercials.

Elimination Challenge

The winery is hosting the season's end crush party, and they will be catering the party.  Their ingredients are all local, except for salt and pepper.  They each have to make two dishes, one vegetarian, and one featuring a local protein, for 150 people.

They will be cooking at Bricks restaurant (I think I got that right).  They have 5 hours to cook.

Red Beard was giving tips to Jennifer, who said that they were all wishing the best for each other (because they want the party to go well), but they of course want to win.  Bryan feels that he is going to do better than Michael.  We'll see.

Red Beard is planning a grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta, and marinated root vegetables, and a carrot and beet salad with salsa verde.

Jennifer is doing a chevre mousse with honey mushrooms, and a duck with foie gras vinegrette

Bryan is doing a delicatata squash ravioli, and a braised short ribs with a fig puree.

Michael is making a vegetable pistou with egg, and is doing a turnip soup with foie gras tureen.

The coals died down and Jennifer had to change her mind because she didn't have a chance to smoke it on the grill, so she did a confit.  Michael was poaching eggs in the shell, which was new to me.  If only the rest of my family were fans of poached eggs.  I would totally give that a try if I was making more than one poached egg...

Bryan served the judges first.  Gail loved the squash in the ravioli, but they all thought that the sauce needed salt and pepper.  His short ribs were also thought to be under salted.

Michael's dishes were called marvelous by diners.  Tom thought that the egg overwhelmed the vegetables, and Michael thought the veggies were cut too small.  Padma wanted her egg a little more cooked.  His foie gras had a bit too much sauce for some of the judges.

Red Beard is always good in front of a crowd, and Gail loved the colors on his vegetarian dish.  It was called a brilliant use of local ingredients.  His brisket was a little too stringy, and Tom worried it was tinny.  The polenta got rave reviews, though.

Jennifer's duck went over very well.  Her goat cheese and radish dish was too salty for some of the judges, but they really loved the flavors.  Tom loved that the duck really tasted like duck instead of being covered in other flavors.

They got a wine tasting with Tony Terlato in the Terlato Wine Caves.  Gorgeous. 

Judge's Table

Red Beard defended the texture of his brisket.  Bryan's dishes were good, but they wanted more figgy flavor in the short ribs.  Michael's texture was not rustic enough.  His eggs were a little too runny.  He had a lot of foie gras leftover, and the judges wished there were some more on the plate.  Jennifer's goat cheese and basil were applauded, but her use of flake salt was a problem, because the salt doesn't dissolve right off, so in tasting, you might miss the seasoning.  She did say that she would have preferred to grill the duck, but the judges really loved how it tasted in the confit.

The judges wanted more of Jennifer's foie gras vinaigrette.  Michael's soup was wonderful for Tom, but Gail thought it was too bitter in the end.  His egg was too big and not plated carefully.  Though Bryan needed more salt, he produced some really good food.  Red Beard's vegetarian dish was a revelation in carrot top flavor.  His brisket, no matter how much he called it "toothsome," needed some more time.

In the end, the winner of the challenge was Bryan.  He has never been in danger of being eliminated in the whole competition so far.  He's always been on top.  That's pretty cool.

The chef eliminated at this point was Jennifer.  I think that is the right decision.  She was good, but the Voltaggios and Red Beard are so good, I think it's been destined to get down to them for a while.

I repeat - Red Beard for the win!

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