Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top Chef: Season 5, Episode 5

Till Danny Do Us Part

Previously: They cook for live TV, but not really because only their food makes it to the Today Show. Melissa burns everyone’s mouth, and Alex is sent packing so he can finish that crème brulee.

Opening scenes of the approach to Grand Central Station and a weird pan shot moving up along the cheftestants’ condo building. Another shot of Jeff the Hair shirtless. You can do a drinking game of every time Jeff runs his hand through his hair or is seen shirtless.

Elsewhere, Melissa is thinking about being smart. The Cougar (Ariane) is getting cocky. And Jamie has a weird stuff animal that Stefan gave her. Apparently EU Stefan has a crush on Jamie because, you know, in Europe they swing both ways.

The cheftestants arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and Padma is there by herself in pigtails. There’s no guest judge this time because they’re doing the tasting test. But instead of tasting secret ingredients, they have to taste a secret sauce and guess what’s in it.

They make the cheftestants pull knives with numbers, and they’re paired up so two will go head-to-head, and, of course, Stefan is paired with Jamie (wink from the editors). He is just drawn to her lesbian scent!

They enter for the sauce tasting and it’s like some World of Poker face-off where they each have to give a number of how many ingredients they have to guess and then the other person has to go higher, or else “call” the other person to do the naming.

First up is a shrimp and lobster bouillabaisse, then a Thai green curry, and finally a Mexican mole sauce, which I never make simply because of all the many many ingredients that go into it. The cheftestants come and go, until in the end it came down to Carla, EU Stefan and Hosea, using a spelling bee format taking turns naming ingredients.

Carla gets cut first on her first guess of peanut butter. Then Stefan gets cut by guessing tomato paste. Hosea wins immunity by naming vegetable oil. And now we know one-tenth of the ingredients in mole.

For the elimination challenge, the cheftestants draw knives again with words that says “old,” “new,” “borrowed” and “blue.” Get where this is going? So did the other cheftestants. They knew either a wedding or something to do with a bride is coming up. Ugh, I hate weddings. Oh, Radhika just says she doesn’t want to be on Stefan’s team and she’d rather be on Satan’s team. Too bad Satan’s not on this season, because then maybe there’d be more drama.

Padma says they’re working in teams to help her throw a bridal shower for one of her girlfriends, and in comes Gail with some wind machine blowing because she’s just breezing in. Daniel is all pumped because I’m pretty sure he has the hots for Gail, and all the other women on the show, I’m sure.

Gail says most of her friends will be from Food and Wine magazine, and that she doesn’t like veal or black beans. Huh, I wonder how often she’s had that combo? Daniel can’t stop smiling listening to Gail.

The teams break away and start to plan their meals following the themes. On Team Borrowed, Jamie uses the idea of borrowing the cuisine of Radhika’s Indian culture. This, of course, prompts Radhika to go into a whole discussion of how she doesn’t want to be known as the Indian spice queen. Radhika really is worried about being seen as an Indian chef but she always ends up using Indian ingredients. Oy.

In the Something New Team, Daniel, Carla Top (that’s my nickname for her because she reminds me of carrot top with her hair), and Eugene are throwing out ideas, well, mostly Daniel who for some reason thinks he knows Gail really well and tells the rest of the team that she loves pickled foods. Eugene suggests a surf-and-turf sushi and Carla Top is really just letting the boys do their thing.

Commercials. Wal-mart’s Christmas commercial is soooo blue. And something about the Bluefly commercial and that naked girl at the holiday table is just not right. I mean, really, food and naked flesh? Dat don't mix.

The cheftestants are back at Whole Foods to shop for their ingredients. Fabio is smelling fish. Danny is tasting ice cream. Carla goes around saying “hootie-hoo.” We learn this is the way she calls her husband when they’re looking for each other at the grocery store. And apparently because this is the wedding episode, we get old family photos of the cheftestants and their spouses like Carla Top and her husband, Mr. Carla Top.

After some bossing around by EU Stefan in the tomato section, they head back to the kitchen for some prepping. There’s a lot of running around as usual and Jamie is using some secret ingredient she brought with her called vadouvan. Never heard of it.

We learn Eugene’s wife didn’t have a bridal shower because they just went to the courthouse. (More family photos.) We also learn that his sushi rice is too mushy because he’s not used to the digital rice cooker used to cook the rice.

In comes Chef Tom Colicchio to check on the cheftestants, visiting the Blue Team first. He tells them there are no blue food in the natural world, not even blueberries, which he says is purple (although I’ve seen some really blue looking blueberries).

When visiting Team New and their sushi, Chef Tom looks a bit skeptical. When visiting Team Old, we learn that Stefan was married twice, to the same woman! But now they’re divorced, and despite Tom’s prodding, Stefan doesn’t plan to make it three because he knows the three-strikes rule.

Outside, Tom gives a rundown and says this is personal because the cooking is for Gail, who will assemble a real foodie crowd. He thinks the Blue Team is stretching it with their interpretation of blue, and instead he thinks it’s boring. The New Team has too many components and it can be great or totally bomb, he says.

Back at the homestead, Eugene and his team are on the balcony smoking and he gets an inspiration to serve their surf-and-turf sushi deconstructed. So that means the girls get to make their own sushi, picking the ingredients they want to use. EU Stefan is nearby and tells Eugene that that’s a stupid idea because women don’t like to make their own food. Eugene tells him to fuck off and take care of his own cooking.

BTW, this is like the EU Stefan episode. Even the dumb text message question of the week is about him. They want to know whether Stefan is a bully. Um, what do you think? Duh.

Commercials. Who knew Victoria’s Secret sells robes and Pjs?

We get one of those weird short clips and I’m starting to think maybe these are scenes from the current episode, so why don’t they just show it during the regular episode instead of these commercial-like scenes? Anywho, since this is Stefan’s episode, it’s a scene of him in bed with Jamie. It’s not what you think because Carla Top is there with them. Stefan keeps trying to get Jamie to kiss him. I don’t think this will end pretty.

Back to the “real” show, they’re still at the condo and they’re featuring the other running romance of Leah and Hosea. They playing cards, and Leah says Hosea is her favorite. I can see why, he’s very cuddly I bet. Still, Hosea says they both have significant others back home, so really they’re just “friends.” Yeah, friends go around writing I (heart) H on women’s ankles.

The cheftestants head to Twenty Four Fifth, one of those exclusive Manhattan restaurants that’s so fancy they didn’t even bother thinking of a name.

The women arrive for the party and there are baggies for giveaways. I didn’t realize there’s so much swag working at Food and Wine. In a toast from Padma, we find out that Gail’s husband-to-be is named Jeremy. But that’s all we know. Tom tried to crash the party, but there’s no way that’ll happen so he’s stuck in the kitchen watching the cheftestants. Fabio feels nervous with Chef Tom watching them and calls him The Pope. Hey, for an Italian that’s serious.

EU Stefan is pissing all over his teammate Jeff the Hair’s sorbet. He doesn’t think it’s a good idea as a starter. Hosea, on the other hand, has the shakes as he brings out a plate. I mean, really, you can actually hear the glass clicking against the plate because he’s shaking so much.

In the crowd of women is this week’s guest judge, Dana Cowin, the editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine. I recognize her because I see her picture in the letter from the editor in my Food and Wine magazine that comes every month, and she’s always writing about what part of the world she’s eating from this month. Nice gig if you can get it.

Team Old used heirloom tomatoes, and everyone ironically loves Jeff the Hair’s tomato sorbet while others think the terrine by EU Stefan is kind of bland. No one says anything about Hosea’s tomato gazpacho.

Team Something New is next and in the kitchen Daniel decides to soak some shiitake mushrooms and throw them under the Carla Top’s salad, without consulting her. Hosea, watching from the sidelines, says there’s a lot happening on their plate.

When the present, Daniel is all excited saying the food will be so great the women will be taking off their clothes. Danny, that doesn’t happen until the stripper arrives.

They present their plate with tempura shrimp, beef skewers in peach-miso BBQ sauce, Carla Top’s salad and a yuzu sorbet that’s a palate cleanser. But Eugene forgets to tell them they have the option of creating their own sushi, so people are confused about how to eat and Dana Cowin doesn’t think it’s sushi so wonders what’s new?

For the Borrowed Team, they’re preparing their dish and that carrot puree is soooo yellow it looks like Playdoh. The Cougar is in charge of cooking the lamb and they’re up against the clock and it’s still rare. So when it’s finally ready to plate, all the cheftestants help the team out to plate. I thought that was actually really sweet of everybody because it shows how they’re competitors but they’re still friends. Awww.

When they serve the plate, everyone’s raving about how well the lamb is cooked, especially Dana who must have eaten bad lamb before because she says she’s so happy to have good lamb. Gail is really happy with this dish as well.

Next is the Blue Team and for some reason Melissa says they’ll rip her a new one if she doesn’t like the food. You know, I really don’t like that expression. It’s crude and always brings up a really bad imagery. But fair warning, this expression rears itself later in the episode.

They get Fabio the charmer to present and of course you have a handsome Italian with an accent before a group of women, smart move. He tries to convince them that their dish is blue with the ocean theme and they choose a Chilean sea bass, and that the green vegetables mixed with the yellow sweet corn puree are the components to create the color blue. They’re really stretching, yeah?

The women think the food is boring, and Gail is right when she points out that Chilean sea bass is a politically incorrect choice because of the over-fishing. One other woman thinks the dish taste like “old people” food, which I didn’t get at the time and now realize it means everything had a soft pureed texture to make it easy for old people to eat without their dentures.

Gail’s all happy from her party, and can’t wait to get married. I bet next season she’ll be pregnant and they have to do a baby shower.

The cheftestants arrive at the stew room and Padma comes in to get the Old Team and Borrowed Team members.

At the judges’ table, Padma tells them they were the favorites and hugs all around. Tom says he thought Jeff the Hair’s tomato sorbet was fabulous (oh, maybe he didn’t use that word and it was Gail?) and of course they do a close-up shot of Stefan who looks disgusted or jealous or both.

Gail says she liked Jamie’s spices in the carrot puree. Jamie says they were going for big flavors but subtle. Gail thought the lamb was cooked perfectly, and Dana Cowin adds that it had a lovely lingering taste. So you know she’s still eating a wee bit of it in her mouth. Right this moment. As she’s talking.

Dana chooses the winner saying it’s the person who made the most flavorful component, and I’m thinking Jeff the Hair and Jamie’s thinking Jamie, but it’s the Cougar who wins for making the lamb. I’m kind of shocked because really how do you affect the taste of lamb other than salt and pepper? I don’t think Ariane did anything else to it? I think that was a weird choice and I would have gone with Jeff the Hair.

Jamie, of course, says she’s always a bridesmaid. And not just because of losing out but because of dang Prop. 8 in California where she’s from. (Down with H8).

The other team goes in to face the judges and they talk about how they didn’t know how to eat the sushi and Padma calls out Eugene for making mushy sushi rice. They ask Carla Top how the mushrooms got into her salad, and Danny says it was his brilliant idea. Chef Tom asks Danny if he thought the plate was good and he, of course, says yes and Chef Tom can’t talk about it any more because he’s so disappointed at the thought of Danny’s palate. You can tell he’s a goner (Danny, not Tom).

For Team Blue, they repeat their comments about the food being nursing home food, and Tom says Team Blue’s food gave him the blues.

When the cheftestants head back to the stew room, Eugene says he’ll pull down his pants so everyone can see how the judges ripped him a new one. See, I told you someone would bring this up again, and this episode has gone down the toilet.

The judges deliberate and they use some pretty harsh words like “indefensible” and “catastrophic.” Yes, but what did you think about the food?

Commercials. I want that Calphalon movable grill pan and I want that guy to deliver it me. ;-)

Shocker: 73 percent says Stefan is way overbearing. Double duh.

Judgment time. Hey, why is this show so long today? It’s more than an hour. Why no warning guys? I’m so tired. Anywho, Tom says it was personal because it was for their girl Gail. Team Blue is boring. They’re excused. Team New, dishes go wrong in execution and conception. What’s up with Danny’s messed up beard? It’s like Tre came down in the middle of the night with an electric shaver to shave his beard in that weird way. See how boring this episode is that I’m obsessing with Daniel’s beard? Padma sends Daniel and his weird beard packing.

Daniel says he would have been there longer if he had thrown people under the bus. Melissa gets him to do this weird cartoon face shaking, which I’ve never seen him do in the show before. Maybe if he did that for the judges they would have kept him longer just for a laugh. He says something about football and that just loses me, so BUH-bye.

Next: In comes Martha Stewart looking like a professor with her book, and something goes really bad in the refrigerator so it looks like they’re cooking with garbage. And Christmas comes early for Top Chef land.

“Top Chef: New York” airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central) on Bravo TV. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV’s Web site.


Passionate Eater said...

Haha, I am glad that you are learning a lot more about the merchandise at Victoria's Secret by watching Top Chef. They also sell lotions, evening gowns, and makeup!

Anonymous said...

Radhika should have won! They liked how it was seasoned, and that was all the Indian!