Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Top Chef DC 11: There's No Raw Fish in Baseball

You know, I'm torn on not having Alex the Videographer around any more. While he never had a chance on winning, it was somewhat amusing to have him around to say outlandish things and to fail repeatedly. On the other hand, he was a giant tool. So, it's probably a wash. And we still have plenty of tools left (hi Angelo!).


Quickfire Challenge

Our guest chef is Rick Moonen, famous for fish, but instead of anything to do with that the Producers once again demonstrate that they are running out of ideas. This challenge is to have to choose an "idiom" to cook with; you know, "the big cheese" or "sour grapes" etc. This was clearly thought up two seconds before they started filming. They may as well have just gone "here's a bunch of food items, draw knives and choose which one you want to cook with", which is exactly what happened anyway. Seriously, wtf? Anyhow, the winner will get their dish added to "Schwan's frozen food range", which is something I don't know anything about.

Quickfire Losers

Kelly (Garthmeister J., -0.5): Kelly selected "sour grapes", and that's what she ended up with, as her pan-roasted chicken breast, caramelized Brussels sprouts leaves and red grape sauce did not impress. Lagging at the back of the pack, Garth needs Kelly to be bringing more to the positive side of the ledger.

Amanda (All-Star, -0.5): Amanda chose "the big cheese" and then made mac&cheese along with a pork chop? This is described as a "sledgehammer to the gut", which is not exactly high praise. Amanda then goes on and on in an interview about how she totally disagrees, and maybe the judges are out for her and how she is have a "pity party" in her mind... I guess all the meth use has finally driven her completely paranoid. Except for the part where the judges might actually have it in for her... but more because of her cooking ability rather than anything more nefarious.

Quickfire Finalist

Kevin (Saunter, +1): Another nice showing from Kevin, who selected the idiom "bringing home the bacon". He then uses bacon in as many ways as possible in his bacon puree, chopped bacon, and bacon froth with a poached egg. Angelo points out that this probably wouldn't make a good frozen dish, and that's very true. I wonder if that made deciding between him and the eventual winner of the challenge easier.

Quickfire Winner

Ed (Daddy, +3): Ed chose "hot potato", and created herb and roasted garlic gnocchi, spring vegetables, and mushroom fricassee which looked absolutely delicious. Apparently it also tasted delicious, as it brings home the prize. Good job Ed, despite the fact that he was wearing Tiffany's dress at the beginning of the episode (true) and also running around like a lunatic for most of the challenge (also true).


Elimination Challenge

The chefs are thrown a curve ball (zing!) as they are required to create high-end food for a baseball game. Which they will actually serve at a baseball game at Nationals park. This is presented as being a "group" challenge, as if they will be working together, which I don't quite get. I mean, what if three of them all want to do some kind of burger; who cares? It just makes it more likely that one of the burger people will go home. This kind of Burger Crisis is averted when Kelly becomes bossy and tells everyone what to do. Somewhat annoying, but way less annoying than the Kenny vs Angelo pissing match that annoyed America last time they had to do something like this.

There is also some strife about who might be taking orders etc. etc. which seems strange at the time, because why would one of the chefs be needed to take orders? But then it turns out that someone does need to take orders... man what the hell. Just let the fucking chefs cook, for Christ's sake. Angelo steps up and takes the bullet, though he tries to renege later (a total douche move, btw). Ed helps Angelo plate his food though, so that's cool.

Quickfire Finalist

Tiffany (Saunter, +2): Tiffany went out and made an Italian meatball sub with fennel, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella which looks amazing. So, so good. I was licking my TV screen (again), but hey, don't judge me. It was a great idea of making a baseball park staple high-end, and I was actually surprised she didn't win. This still solidifies her credentials as an Official Top Chef Threat (OTCT).

Quickfire Winner

Ed (Daddy, +6): The double! Ed with a solid showing, taking out both challenges in today's episode. While watching the episode, I was discounting Ed's shrimp and corn risotto fritters with jalapeno aoli, but then they turned around and took the whole challenge down! Bonus points to Ed for plating Angelo's dish as well

Elimination Losers

Only two "finalists" today, so the remaining four are losers.

Kelly (Garthmeister J., -1): Oof, more negative points for Garth. Kelly's dish is an open-faced crab cake BLT with sweet potato fries, which the crowd seems to like. Kelly was concerned that the bacon was cut too thick, making the dish a little too salty, which is exactly what the judges complain about.

Angelo (All-Star, -1): Angelo made sweet glazed pork on lobster roll with sweet sesame pickles. I actually feel sorry for Angelo here (shock!) as he settled for hotdog rolls as his bun, though he was clearly looking for something else at Whole Foods. The hotdog rolls brought him down, as all the judges complained about the amount of bun, and how it was like a sponge etc. Maybe he could have made his own rolls or something? The judges also complain about the sweetness of the dish, and when Angelo points out that some napa cabbage was there to cut the sweetned he is told "uh, that's sweet too". D'oh.

Kevin (Saunter, -1): Kevin made a chicken kebab with Romesco sauce, shoestring fries, and smoked paprika aoli. There were two errors here: firstly, Kevin seems to have organised the skewers so you felt like you were going to spike your own throat (not ideal). Secondly, he sprinkled shoe-string fries over the top of the kebab to provide "texture", and they soaked up sauce and became soggy. Whups.


Amanda (All-Star, -1): And All-Star is down to one chef. Amanda gets pinged her for poor planning and forethought. Her dish was yellowfin tuna tartare with fennel, Meyer lemon, and fava bean puree. Tuna tartare at a ballpark?! You have to give her credit for ballsiness. She decided that doing the tartare on the day of the challenge was too risky as she didn't know what she was walking into, so prepared the tuna the day earlier. Given this "risk", why not choose to do something else?

It seems the dish tasted well enough, but as she diced it the day before and didn't cover it in oil the tuna began to oxidise, giving it a grey colour. And if you thought that tuna tartare wasn't appetising at a ballgame, grey tuna tartare is worse than that. So bonus points for ambition, minus several thousand points for planning and execution. For this challenge everyone seemed to prepare a solid dish, and that mis-step cost Amanda. And now she's gone.


Points Table

Saunter: 39.5 (+2)
Daddy: 34.5 (+9)
All-Star: 16 (-2.5)
Garth: 10.5 (-1.5)
Grace: 10.5 (ELIMINATED)

On the back of Ed's standout performance, Daddy closes some of the gap with Saunter. Any of the five remaining chefs could take out the competition, but Saunter is the only person left with two chefs in her stable. If she doesn't lose someone soon, she could be hard to catch. All-Star has managed to shed Amanda, who has been bleeding points, but Angelo hasn't won a challenge since the Quickfire in Episode 7. Garth has to be concerned about Kelly; right now it's not enough for her to win the whole shebang, she's going to have to start putting points on the board in challenges if Saunter and Daddy are going to be beaten.

With 5 chefs remaining, and four Top Chef Fantasy teams still alive, there is a real chance that after the next episode, another team is going to be eliminated. Watch out!


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