Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fantasy Top Chef Update Week 2: Ashes to Ashes

Ah, Top Chef - what would I do without you? In "previous cheftestant news", Dr Pauly sent me along a link to an interview with the man: check it out.

On with the show (recap)!


Quick Fire Challenge

Charlie Palmer, ex-boss of the Volt brothers, is the guest chef. I had actually heard that he would be on the show, and panicked that it might mean that both the Volt brothers would have to be eliminated before he appeared; fortunately this seemed not to be the case (this also means we might see Eric Ripert again, who Jen has/is working with). It's quite possible the Volt brothers will be marked harder than the others, so we'll see how it shakes out.

The actual challenge is to create a pairing with the first product placement that I can recall seeing this year. The product? Some chips I have never heard of, which come in different flavours, and the chefs can choose whichever type they like. Apparently they have had them at the Chef House, so the assumption here is they are not coming to this completely cold.


QF Losers

Robin (Garthmeister J., -0.5): Robin strikes once again, and Garth loses again. Robin made a sweet corn pannacotta with avocado mousseline, paired with the jalapeno flavoured chip. This doesn't sound good, didn't look good... no surprises that she comes up short. Again.

Ash (None): Garth breathes a sigh of relief, as the two bottom feeders once again feed off the bottom - no matter who he chose at the end of the draft, he was boned. Ash, despite vowing to "make his food", makes chilled cucumber avocado soup with crème fraiche, crab, and red pepper, paired with the BBQ flavoured chips. Guess what? Tasted weird, and Ash ends up in the loser's lounge. Again.

Jen (Saunter, -0.5): For the second QF in a row Jen is unconfident, and ends up bottom in the QF with her overdone pork chop. Saunter can't be happy with Jen's QF results, which looked more promising earlier in the season.


QF Winners

Bryan (Daddy, +1): FINALLY Daddy makes some kind of an impact in the Quick Fires, striking paydirt with Bryan's rib eye dish (despite Charlie calling it "safe"). Also safe? The point that Daddy gets to lock up.

Kevin (Garthmeister J., +1): Garth's first pick continues to roll, scoring with his take on a green bean casserole. Of note? All three winners used the onion-flavoured chip. Smart, or just tastier?

Overall QF Winner: Eli (Saunter, +3): And Eli strikes it big for Saunter! This is where Saunter's drafting position and strategy paid off: her final pick (and seventh overall) was Eli. His ability to produce, and perhaps not suck too badly, might pay off healthy dividends. Is it possible he could go deep, as a dark horse? It's not out of the question at this point.


After the Quick Fire, Saunter was the big winner, picking up 2.5 points to add to her lead. Daddy followed, with his single point collected via Bryan's efforts. Garthmeister J. was left with a lonely half point, Robin's suckitude torpedoing Kevin's cuisine.


Elimination Challenge

Ever heard of Pigs and Pinot? No? Well, I bet you wish you had now. This is some annual shindig that Charlie Palmer puts together, and I am pretty sure Daddy has booked for 2010 already. The chefs draw knives for a piece of the pig. Jen gets the wild card knife (card knife? knife card? whatever) and chooses pork belly, because she is not a moron. Pork bellies roooooooooooool. The chefs then do a pinot testing, and take turns selecting Pinots to pair with their dishes. Oh yeah: they have to serve 150 portions of their dishes. I wonder how many bottles of Pinot that is? Eh, who cares, it sounds awesome.

Seriously, dudes. Pigs and Pinot. I'm so there.


Elimination Winners

Bryan (Daddy, +2): Daddy's Big Gun Bryan once again bags a kill, this time with his braised pork ribs. And it looks like Daddy needs Bryan to keep scoring, since it is not clear if Laurine is going to add anything positive to the ledger any time soon.

Michael V. (Garthmeister J., +2): Michael gets his groove back with his braised pork cheeks dish, despite braising it in root beer (which instantly caused Garth to recoil in fear). Seriously, the man scored using root beer. As long as the younger Volt doesn't out-reach himself, he looks solid with his creative choices.

Jen (Saunter, +2): Jen bounces back (again) from her poor QF showing, though this time she did not bring home the bacon (yeah, puns are fun). Her pork belly dish, braising using soy sauce, lifted her out of her pork belly funk. Now let's see if she can be a little more consistent and bring it in both challenges.

Overall EC Winner: Kevin (Garthmeister J., +6): Seriously this man is a machine. He should almost be banned from any challenge involving pork, as he will destroy all comers. At this moment Garth was pretty confident, while hoping that Robin did not screw up (again) or at least was eliminated.


Elimination Challenge Losers

Robin (Garthmeister J., -1): Nope! Robin's dish brined center cut chop was a failure, surprise! I think if we learned something from this dish, it's "if you are not Kevin, braise your pork". I mean, does brined pork sound good? Hells no. However, this week it seems that her dish is mediocre, and not catastrophic, and she stays another week. Sorry Garth.

Laurine (Daddy, -1): Laurine sticks around, despite serving up something that judges described as being like cat food, and furthermore despite Charlie Palmer telling her that she doesn't know how to make the dish ("rillette"). And yes, she sticks around! Yikes. It's hard to tell whether Daddy is happy or sad with this result; losing Laurine means he is down to betting it all on Bryan, but at this stage that might be a good thing.

Eliminated: Ash (None): Despite vowing to make "his food", Ash does not make "his food", and the judges have finally had enough of his junk. Garth breaks something cheap, as it appears that his "Robin over Ash" strategy has backfired, unless the mouthy older chef can pull some results out of her chef's hat. Which does not look likely at this stage.


League Table

Garthmeister J.: 12.0 (+7.5)
Saunter: 9.5 (+4.5)
Daddy: 5.0 (+2.0)


Right now Garth and Saunter have opened up a gap on Daddy, but this is due more to each of them picking up an Elimination Challenge win. If Bryan has won this week's challenge instead of Kevin, there would be a logjam on the leaderboard. Having said that, Saunter and Daddy have to be hoping that one of Garth's big horses, Kevin or Michael V., take a spill as they are beginning to produce. It appears from the promos that once again the Volt brothers are getting into it, so the question is: will a big name go down?

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