Hello dear readers, tis I, Iguanachocolate, here to bring you all the latest doings on Top Chef. When we last saw the cheftestants, they had just been given the gift of non-elimination from Santa Tom Colicchio. This week brings us a new judge, Toby Young, replacing the honeymooning Gail for the rest of the season and two, count 'em, two eliminations. Allegedly, he is the food world’s Simon Cowell. Well, we’ll just see about that, won’t we? Come on, fellow foodies, let’s get cooking!
The lovely Padma walks in with some French guy and introduces him as
Jean-Christophe Novelli, who incidentally is hosting a new show on Bravo called Chef Academy. I don’t feel like remembering his name, so I shall call him Pepé. I’m pretty sure he owns restaurants somewhere, but I’ve never heard of him. Padma says this is the Diet Dr. Pepper Quickfire (oooh, kudos to Bravo, two product placements in one challenge!) and the challenge will be to create a delicious dessert without using sugar. Padma says “time starts now” and the cheftestants begin the patented Top Chef scramble to gather their ingredients and begin their chefing, one chef handily holding a Diet Dr. Pepper as one of the Top Chef producer’s no doubtedly told them to. Fast shots of things being diced, sizzled, frozen (or not in the case of Carla’s bananas which she then sears instead). Ariane seems to be making a reduction with Diet Dr. Pepper, but nothing is really said of that. Finally, time is up and utensils down and the judging begins:
Fabio – granola and oat tart with an eggless pastry cream and fresh berry goodness
Jeff – frozen cherry and white fig yogurt and a yummy baklava spring roll
Eugene – a blini with banana lumpias ( a deep fried banana)
Melissa – a baked fruit burrito with yogurt sauce
Radhika – bread pudding (ok, my absolute favorite desert on a cold winter’s night with sautéed peaches and cashews
Leah - a crepe filled with ricotta and strawberries drizzled with a reduced balsamic
Stefan – (who is trying way too hard to kiss up to judge Pepé – maybe ole Stef has a bit of a crush on the French chef) sugar-free mousse de chocolate with cherries
Hosea – caramelized green figs and white peaches with a honey and balsamic glaze
Ariane – whole wheat crepes with caramelized pears and almonds
Jamie – a Napoleon with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses layered with peaches, nectarines and cherries
Carla – baklava with chocolate discs with nuts and fried bananas
Pepé and Padma taste each dish with Pepé and Padma taste each dish with Pepé offering comments like ‘adventurous’ (to Radhika) and ‘interesting’ (to someone I can’t remember). Overall, he seemed rather underwhelmed. So, who were the bottom three? Carla, Ariane and Jamie. Looks liked our forever bridesmaid Jamie had been downgraded to single friend at the kid’s table. Who came out on top? Radhika, Leah and Jeff with Radhika taking the win and the immunity for the next elimination round.
Chef Tom comes over to the loft the next day to talk about the crew. He lets the cheftestants know that a new judge is in town and that at the next elimination two people will be going home. So that the new judge will be able to get to know the chef’s cooking styles, the chef’s can cook anything they want to, just so they wow the judges. Judging will be done blind and along with the judges there will be assorted foodies on hand to help with their decisions. The cheftestants draw knives to sort themselves into teams: Team A consists of Fabio, Hosea, Jamie, Eugene and Melissa. Team B has Stefan, Jeff, Leah, Ariane and Carla. Radhika gets to pick which team she wants to be on and she chooses Team A citing Stefan’s incessant talking as the reason. Personally, I would have thought his tremendous ego wouldn’t have left much room in the kitchen for an extra chef, but that is just me.
They get $100 and 30 minutes to shop and 2 hours to prep for the service of their family style dishes. The teams will cook one at a time with Team A cooking first. A flurry of shopping and prepping happens without much drama, so let’s get right to the dishes:
Radhika – curried crab bisque with lemon scented crab salad
Hosea – bacon wrapped halibut with roasted vegetables
Jamie – seared scallops with fennel, garlic, oranges and olives
Fabio – rack of lamb with cheese ravioli and a mushroom sauce
Eugene - crispy red snapper with a daikon fettuccini in a tomato basil sauce
Melissa – ahi tuna crudo tacos
Before the judging begins, we do get Fabio’s comment that Jamie seems to think this is Top Scallop and not Top Chef. We also learn that Fabio is very aware his lamb is under cooked but thinks there is nothing he can do about it. I say he had five minutes left, nothing like a quick sear to rid the plate of a bloody mess, but that’s just me. The team trots out to show them selves to who would judge them and lo and behold, it is Team B! The chef’s will be rating each other’s cooking in this ‘blind’ testing. Yes, they don’t know each other’s exact dishes, but they pretty much know by now what the other chef’s cooking style is. It isn’t that hard. See a scallop, it’s Jamie’s, see pasta, it’s Fabio’s. See something weird you don’t understand, it’s Eugene’s. Team A troupes back into the kitchen just to see a giant television screen that has been set up so they can witness the carnage, errr, I mean the tasting of their dishes.
New judge wastes no time declaring Radhika’s bisque a weapon of mass destruction. You know he has been just waiting to use that one on something. Really, it is so last president. He also says Melissa’s dish tastes like cat food which makes me wonder what he’s been eating. The other chef’s critique their little hearts out knowing that their turn will be next.
Team B dons their chef coats and cooks their dishes. Again, no drama in the kitchen except for Stefan’s incessant noise. I think he talks so much because he considers himself quite the witty wordsmith. I beg to differ with his Ego-ness. Team B’s dishes:
Stefan – roasted duck and braised cabbage with bread dumplings
Jeff – trio of tapas with oysters, seared tuna, avocado sorbet and grilled peaches
Ariane – skate wing with pineapple and a cauliflower purée
Leah – seared rouget encrusted with bread served with fried beans in a chorizo sauce
Carla – seared scallop on top of a pea risotto with a gremulata
Team B seams to be better received. Tom is practically orgasmic over Stefan’s duck and cabbage dish. Carla has been a bit too heavy handed with the raw garlic in her gremulata and Jeff’s tapas plate is deemed a grouping of appetizers.
In the judging holding tank, Padma enters to call three of the chef’s by dish: skate, duck, and scallop. Ariane, Stefan and Jamie get up to go and stand before the judges. They loved the braised cabbage that was Stefan’s saying any southern German would be really appreciate it with Tom in the afterglow declaring it perfectly cooked and spot on with the seasoning. Toby loves the combination of fennel, orange and olive flavors in Jamie’s dish and Jean-Christophe called it a refined and lovely recipe and then goes on to say that Ariane’s dish was great. And then it happens. Jean-Christophe announces Jamie the winner.
Our little bridesmaid has done finally gotten herself hitched! (Well, until the Prop 8 miser’s take it away from her.)
They are sent back to send out the bottom three, who are surprisingly not called by dish, but by name. Errr, abandoning the farce of a blind tasting are we? Out trot Eugene, Melissa and Carla to do battle. Melissa defends herself by saying she really, really, really, really wants to be there. Eugene says he is cutting edge and creative and that gets in his way and Carla makes a pretty good assessment of her dish and how she would change it the next time. The judges say that Eugene is very creative but can’t control it and needs work on his technique; Melissa lacks imagination and Carla over thought hers. Melissa and Eugene are eliminated.
And that is it, folks, one show two eliminations and it’s over. Next week Jamie calls Stefan a douche bag! Cool! See you then.