Top Chef: A Grease Fire Fit for a King
|Written by Lauren Cheal|
|Tuesday, 15 March 2011 21:02|
So, after last week’s emotionally draining show, we are headed to the Bahamas with the final five contestants. I don’t know if this means this is the last show or not. I guess time will tell. It could go a number of ways today, but those ways don’t include Mike or Tiffany. Sorry! It is nearing the end and I have to bring the harsh truth. The chefs arrive at some sort of fort, and there they meet Padma, Tom and Eric Ripert. Along with them are each of the winners from the chefs’ original seasons.
Quickfire: Chefs battle head-to-head against their season’s winner
That quickfire name could really use some punching up. It feels like that is what they called it in the initial mapping out meeting of the season and then they ran out of time and didn’t fix it. I will help them. This challenge is now called Blast away your Past. You’re welcome, writers. The chefs will have to cook with a secret ingredient that Colicchio selected for each of them. Each mini battle will net the winner $10,000. Not to shabby for 30 minutes of cooking.
Season 6: Mike, Mike and Duck.
Michael Voltaggio makes duck breast with duck leg in bacon vinaigrette, burnt leek and coffee pesto.
Mike makes cashew dusted spiced duck breast with duck leg and mushroom jus. Mike takes the win.
Season 5: Carla, Hosea and Lamb.
Carla has trouble with one of her burners and she dumps her rice into her stew, knowing that it won’t be cooked in time. God love her, but she is kind of terrible at quickfires.
Hosea Rosenberg makes braised lamb in red chili broth with olives and mint, goat cheese and rosemary polenta.
Carla goes for Jollof rice and harissa lamb with peppers, onions and lime. I don’t understand many of those words. The winner is obviously Hosea.
Season 7: Tiffany, Kevin and Pork.
Kevin Sbraga makes barbecue pork with cilantro, celery, shaved onion and citrus salad.
Tiffany goes for pork stew with potatoes, peppers, citrus and allspice. Tiffany takes the win, with Tom and Eric both selecting her dish.
Season 4: Richard, Antonia, Stephanie and Veal.
Richard and Antonia are from the same season, so they both will battle Stephanie.
Stephanie cooks veal scallopini with tapenade and poached egg.
Antonia makes roasted veal, leek and almonds puree with sautéed mushrooms, arugula and raisins.
Between the two, the vote is split because no one likes either one. Antonia’s veal is dry and hard, and Stephanie’s dish just has too much going on. Stephanie takes the “best of two evils” victory.
Richard has a pretty easy task now, we would think. He makes seared veal loin and braised veal cap with raisins, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. He takes an easy win.
So Mike, Tiffany and Richard are the three winners here. It is as if someone wants me to make an ass of myself.
Elimination Challenge: Create a dish for Bohemian Royalty.
We don’t get many details about this challenge, but they will be cooking for the Bohemian Royal family as part of a welcome celebration. The chefs spend 2 ½ hours prepping in some kitchen and then are transported to their location. They are greeted by a festival atmosphere and dancers. They are dazed and confused about what is happening, but seem game for it (for a personal story related to this feeling, see notes below).
Tom comes out and tells them that they will be cooking for the King of Junkanoo (a festival similar to mardi gras), instead of the country’s royal family. Most of the chefs have prepped very fancy, 4-star restaurant foods, and this is not on par with the type of food befitting the new challenge. Tiffany claims that her food is perfect for this challenge, which makes it seem like she would have really lost the original challenge. I am surprised that the chefs really thought they were going to a fancy state dinner when they were all wearing jeans and t-shirts.
When the chefs get back into the kitchen, they find out that the only cooking apparatuses they have are deep fryers, microwaves and a flat-top grill. Antonia is concerned about one of the fryers that is smoking and refuses to listen to the temperature dial (apparently) controlling it. The grease inside catches fire, to no one’s surprise. The chefs contain the blaze and then the fire trucks show up. All of the food is coated in chemicals, and the chefs have to start completely from scratch, after the kitchen is scrubbed down. This is still the same night. The bonus for most of the chefs is that they get to re-think their dishes. Tiffany thinks this sucks.
They re-prep and several people make changes to their dish. When they are back in the kitchen, there are some new counter-top fryers for them to use, instead of the fire hazards they were working with before.
Carla: Fried pork medallion with sweet potato puree, apple sauce and apple chip. The judges say that the food is too sweet and Gail’s portion is freaking raw. Carla had problems cooking her pork in the fryer, and I am really thinking she is done with that mistake.
Antonia: Crispy shrimp and grits with cilantro and pickled vegetables. The judges are generally displeased with the dish, and criticize it on many fronts. It has texture problems, flavor problems and garnish problems.
Mike: Sous vide chicken, mushrooms, yams, lobster sauce and lobster hash. He is very happy with it, and the judges are generally praising.
Richard: Roasted lamb loin and malted braised leg with pickled turnip and mustard. How did Richard roast a lamb with no oven, I ask? Oh, maybe he did it in the prep kitchen. The judges really like it. Of course, Richard thinks it is terrible.
Tiffany: Roasted spiced pork tenderloin, dirty rice, curried slaw and tomato jam. The judges like it, but they comment that it is nothing special.
The chefs just all seem exhausted during their questioning. Some of Carla’s portions were super raw, Antonia’s dish wasn’t very good, Tiffany’s dish was boringtown. Mike generally gets praised, and his sauce in particular was good. Richard’s dish was good but some of his veggies were too soft.
Mike wins the challenge, and Richard is also safe.
The judges deliberate. Carla’s dish was too sweet, and her apple chip was a grease ball. Antonia’s shrimp was dry and the grits were not good. Tiffany’s dish was sad and boring.
Carla has to pack her knives and go. Damn. Carla is disappointed with herself, and I am disappointed for her. She cooked an inedible dish, so it seems fair.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 11:18|