Hello dear readers! Tis I, Iguanachocolate, here once again to lead through the halls of an elite culinary competition and out onto the battlefield that is Top Chef! It’s none other than Superbowl week, so you know what that means, yes? Yuppers, the return of chef’s from seasons past who are allegedly ‘superstars’. Given the names that have been bantered about, I have my doubts about their superstardom, but I get ahead of myself.
First we see the cheftestants in all their morning glory as regrets from Hosea and Leah’s ‘kissing’ transgression last week are haunting Hosea and Fabio complains of having to sleep in a ‘bunky bed’. But the all pull themselves together in time to troupe to the Top Chef Kitchen in time for the Quickfire Challenge.
The product placement du jour for this challenge is Quaker Oats and the chef’s will pick a place on a board to determine which food group they will have to pair with the secret ingredient: oatmeal. Carla is thrilled to do this challenge as she apparently eats Quaker Oats 4 times a week and Fabio is less than thrilled because his food category does not include meat. Jeff is determined to show himself off by doing four thousand mediocre dishes instead of doing one dish, err I don’t know, well. The guest judge standing next to the lovely Padma is Scott Conant of the recently opened Scarpetta Restaurant. The chef’s will have 45 minutes for this challenge. After the usual flurry of activity the results are:
Fabio (veggies) – eggplant rolled in a huge amount of oats and deep fried (I think) with a corn and parmesan salad
Stefan (dairy) – banana mousse and almond petit fours
Jamie (fruits) – coconut and oat crusted shrimp with a nectarine salsa and avocado crème fraiche
Carla (nuts – and I am refraining from any commentary on that) – pecan and oat crusted tofu with an oatmeal and lentil salad
Jeff (poultry) – oat crusted chicken paillard, fried zucchini and grits
Leah (seafood) – oat crusted branzino and mussels with bacon and escarole
Hosea (meat) – Wiener schnitzel with an oat crust, and a warm potato salad with mustard.
And the losers are: Leah, Jeff and Fabio. Jeff, had way too much going on and it wasn’t pleasing to look at. Leah went to the other end of the spectrum by nearly killing her fish again by overcooking it verses last week raw fish fiasco. And poor little Fabio went overboard on the Quaker Oats and lost the flavors he was trying for. The tops tastes were Jaime who had a nice fruity blend with her oats and perfectly cooked shrimp, Carla, who made even tofu taste good and Stefan the Ego. The Ego wins making his head so large it is in danger of not being able to go through doorways. Totally against character for him (/sarcasm), he is cocky about it claiming he is invincible in the kitchen. He claims to have now won 5 challenges in a row – can we have a recount on that, please? He doesn’t win immunity, but he does get an advantage in the Elimination round.
Well, this week it is the Top Chef Bowl! Ooooh, wow, this will rock the sports world, I am sure. The challenge this week will be a chef against chef cook off with the opponent being “All Stars” from seasons past. Granted, I think ‘all stars’ is a bit much. They include Nikki, Andrew and Spike from Season 4; Miguel and Andrea from Season 1; Camille (who?) from Season 3 and Josie from Season 2. They will go against each by choosing a city with an NFL team and cooking with that cities regional theme and key ingredients in mind. The teams huddle together and came up with this lineup:
Stefan (who by winning the Quickfire got to choose his opponent and his city) – chooses Dallas against Andrea. Way to challenge yourself, Ego.
New York, Leah vrs. Nikki
Miami, Jeff vrs. Josie
San Francisco, Jamie vrs. Camille
New Orleans, Carla vrs. Andrew
Seattle, Hosea vrs. Miguel
Green Bay, Fabio vrs. Spike
There’s a flurry of activity when the chef’s get 2 hours on the Top Chef kitchen to work out their recipes and the foods they will be cooking. I think they had direction that it was supposed to be Superbowl or snack type of food, but don’t quote me. I accidently deleted the show from my dvr so I am sketchy on some of the details. Anyway, there’s a whole lot of cooking and trash talking going on between the cheftestants and their challengers. Finally that is over and the next day they get to the competition.
For the challenge they will have 20 minutes to prepare a dish. This will first be served to the judges who will vote on their favorite. The chef winning their vote will receive a touchdown and 7 points. Then their dish will be served to 5 audience members who will vote and the winning chef will receive a field goal and 3 points. If there is a tie with the judges, then the audience members will decide the winner who will receive all 10 points available. If a Season 5 chef loses, they will face the judges.
And the challenge goes like this:
Leah – NY strip steak with creamed corn and snap peas and an arugula salad
Nikki – chicken livers with onions and goat cheese served on toasted challah bread
Scoreboard: Leah – touchdown, Nikki, field goal Score: 7-3, Season 5 leads
Hosea – crispy salmon roll with a ginger and blackberry sauce
Miguel – cedar plank salmon with Asian noodles and mushrooms
Scoreboard: Hosea – touchdown and a filed goal, Miguel – nothing. Season 5 leads 17-3
Carla – gumbo with crawfish and andouille sausage over grits
Andrew – crawfish crudo with a spicy lime vinaigrette
Scoreboard: Carla – touchdown, Andrew field goal. Season 5 leading 24-8
Stefan – roasted pork with coleslaw, steak with a corn, pepper and pesto salad
Andrea – TexMex chili with fried corn chips and a guacamole slaw
Scoreboard: Stefan – nada, Andrea – touchdown and a field goal. Season 5 leading 24-18
(Andrea should get a two point conversion for a hysterically humorous impression of Stefan!)
Jamie – crab cioppino with olives, basil and toasted sour dough bread
Camille – miso sweetened potato mash with a mustarded crab meat and salad
Scoreboard: Jamie – a touchdown and a field goal, Camille, nada Season 5 leads 34-18
Jeff – rock shrimp ceviche with a sangria sorbet
Josie – warm rock shrimp ceviche with papaya
Scoreboard: Jeff – nada, Josie – touchdown and a field goal Season 5 leads 34-28
(Jeff practically throws a hissy fit in diary saying that Josie’s wasn’t really a ceviche and how could he lose to such sloppy low brow food, etc. Well, bro, hers tasted better. So there.)
Fabio – venison in mustard sauce with salad and cheddar cheese
Spike – venison with a port reduction and a micro herb salad
And it is all down to this score. If Spike should pull out a 10 point round, then Season 5 loses. Oh the tension. It. Is. Unbearable. Not. Spike wins the judges over for a touchdown but Fabio gets the win for the team by scoring a last minute field goal by winning the fan vote. Season 5 is the victor 37-33. Jeff, Fabio, and Stefan (ha! Take that, Ego!) will have to face the judges.
Everyone but the losers troupe out to face the judges. Carla finds out Toby tasted the love and Tom loving the flavor. Hosea gets praise for his egg roll and Guest judge Scott fawns over Jaime’s technique. Leah is called simple. I mean her dish is called simple. Carla wins it all scoring two tickets to the Superbowl. Needless to say, she is one happy little muffin of love.
Now the loser’s are up. Jeff is told is dish was not really a ceviche either after he complains about Josie’s not being one. He launches into how he did 19 things and everyone else did one. Dude, quantity over quality never wins. Neither does arguing with the judges. Unfortunately, Fabio decides arguing with the judges is a good thing and tries to defend his overcooked venison by saying it took them too long to get to it and it kept cooking past the done point. Stefan is called out for picking an allegedly ‘weak’ chef and weak flavors. Ultimately, it is Jeff who goes home. He’s probably happily cooking a 19 course breakfast snack as you read this.
And that’s all for this week, folks! Next week, I am back to the desperate women vying for the last remaining man on Earth, and you are blessed with a visit from the lovely Phonegrrl. Have fun!