Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top Chef: Season 5, Episode 13

Bam! That’s Some Good Gumbo

Previously: Stefan talks about Hosea’s balls, some major chefs come for one final dinner, and Fabio takes the win despite breaking a finger in a still undisclosed way. Lazy Leah finally goes home … or does she???

We’re in the home stretch and the show has moved to New Orleans as we get ready for the finale when someone wins the title of … TOP CHEF.

Opening scenes are all about NOLA, so that apparently means river boats and lots of references to booze. (Oh. My. Gawd, I just came back from a food event in San Francisco that was in honor of Cocktail Week, and now I’m slightly buzzed while watching this episode. So my apologies ahead of time if I’ve skipped some things because my mind is moving much slower than the TV.)

Big Ho is the first to arrive in the Big Easy. Then he’s followed by Monkey Ass Fabio, who is wearing an extremely bright pink scarf and has don a new haircut that looks kind of like a Mohawk but not spiky enough to make it apparent. (Me no likey.) Carla Top also has a new ‘do that’s more straight and actually makes her look younger. She’s still her crazy self as she dances to some jazz band at the airport. The New Orleans Airport must ROCK!

Stefan is the last to arrive and his haircut is the same (wink) but I think he’s gained some weight. After the fake hugs and kisses, they jump into an SUV and head to the Houmas House, which is some big ole’ plantation with beautiful gardens. Standing there to greet them are Padma, Chef Tom and Emeril Lagasse. You can’t come to New Orleans without seeing Emeril, like you can’t go to the Vatican without kissing the Pope’s ring.

Quickfire challenge. Padma tells the four cheftestants they can take it easy in the Big Easy (LOL, I don’t know why that’s so funny right now) because they’re not going to be competing in the quickfire. Instead, out comes Jamie, Jeff the Hair and Lazy Leah (she’s like a bad habit you just can’t kick!). They all get a second chance to get back into the game by coming up with a dish using crawfish.

The three are cooking at makeshift tables in front of the plantation, and have a whole hour which is like the longest quickfire in the history of Top Chef. Oh, I think I just heard Lazy Leah sigh.

So this episode is all about Creole cooking, which means lots of talk about crawfish, grits, gumbo, andouille sausages and anything they can deep fry.

Let’s do the tasting already. They start with Jeff, who made crawfish and grits with andouille sausage and beer. The judges don’t really say anything, except Emeril asks each of them if they’ve cooked with crawfish. Does it really matter? How does it taste?!

Jamie, who actually smiled the most I’ve seen in this episode compared to the season so far, made a griddle corn cake with poached eggs and something called tasso.

Lazy Leah made gumbo, which is kind of surprising to do in one hour.

Emeril congratulates all three, but he chooses … you’ll find out after the break. Hey, no one takes Ryan Seacrest’s job, not even you Emeril.

Commercials. Either the commercials are so repetitive or I’m so tired because all I want is a hamburger to balance off my buzz that I’m skipping recapping the commercials tonight.

So Emeril chooses Jeff the Hair the winner of the quickfire. Yeah! I love Jeff, and his hair! I’m glad he’s back. But Padma says that while he will compete in the elimination challenge, he has to win it in order to move on to the finale, not just come in second or third. Dang, that’s harsh. I LOVE YOU MAN, YOU’VE GOT TO WIN. Oh, Jeff also wins a copy of Emeril’s new book and Jeff seems sincerely honored to get one while I on the other hand is thinking Emeril, is that all you got? I guess you’re not doing so well after the Food Network canceled your contract? Geez, I just realized I’m kind of a mean drunk sometimes.

The cheftestants, now with Jeff the Hair, head to their hotel and then they get ready for dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant. When they arrive, Jeff finally looks happy and his hair looks especially shiny and nice. I’m kind of mesmerized by it right now.

This segment is all about the cheftestants’ head and their thoughts about why they want to win. Fabio talks about his sick mom again and how he needs to help her, Carla Top talks about her husband and step son, and Stefan and Hosea are fighting about what’s French cuisine. What losers. OH. Geez. Did you see that? The moon just exploded into the sun. That’s some crazy shit.

The next morning they head to this warehouse with all these crazy floats and dummies with really big heads and eyes. Padma and Emeril are there and Padma says this is the Mardi Gras floats place or something and something else about Orpheus. All I know is there’s a masquerade ball that they have to cater and I don’t see why they were in this warehouse in the first place. It’s not like the party is going to be there. I think it was just a trick to throw in some Mardi Gras reference. Oh, they each have to make two dishes and a cocktail! Yeah, COCKTAILS! I want more!! (I bet you’re all wondering where I went huh? Read my post on Saturday.)

Oh, I guess they had to go to the warehouse so they can drive in that stupid Toyota car that’s going to go to the winner of this challenge. Monkey Ass Fabio says he wants that car, not for his sick mom, but because his car “is a piece of poo-ooh.” Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be driving around a car made of poo-ooh either.

The cheftestants head back to Emeril’s Delmonico restaurant to create their dishes. They can use anything in his kitchen, so no running off to Whole Foods for shopping.

Carla Top decides to make an oyster stew, but all the oysters in the kitchen are still in their shells, which means she has to shuck them. And she says she only shucked her first oyster a week ago. Now she has to shuck 100. Good shuck, Carla!

Monkey Ass Fabio is making a variety of stuff, including something called a maque choux, which I’ve never heard of. Jeff the Hair is sweating so his hair doesn’t look as sexy as it did earlier in this episode.

Big Ho and Stefan are both making gumbo, but Hosea at least seems to be putting in more effort. He says you have to cook the roux for a long time until it darkens like its burnt. Gosh, I never realized that about gumbo. Stefan, on the other hand, is either going to get water or going for a smoke.

Chef Tom comes in and visits each one of them. Outside, he gives a mini report saying he doesn’t think Fabio is really doing Creole as much as he’s doing Italian, Jeff should be comfortable coming from the south, Carla should have just steamed the oysters and let the shell pop (Oh. My. Gawd, that’s such a good idea. She really should have done that.), and he thinks Stefan is cocky confident, or maybe he said confidently cocky.

Yum, Fabio brings out these really huge muffaletta bread he baked. Carla Top is still shucking oysters. She’ll probably still be shucking them in the finale at this rate.

The cheftestants arrive at the New Orleans Museum of Art to set up their stations for the party. Their bartenders also arrive and they give their instructions on how to mix their drinks. Stefan goes for a smoke break.

The judges arrive wearing masks and all dressed in black. Then Padma introduces Gail Simmons! She’s back and married, I guess. I guess that’s it for Toby Young. It was just a few weeks and then back across the pond for that chap, cherrio mate!

Jeff the Hair is asking Carla Top for two cups of cream, and then Hosea is looking for a whisk. Carla Top’s all like, “just like typical men always asking for my help but not coming over and offering to shuck some of my oysters.” Stefan says “I’ll be there in a second honey” but I’m pretty sure he went for another smoke break.

The guests start to arrive all dressed up and Fabio makes a comment of how it reminds him of some porn movie. I think that’s what he said. I can’t really tell with his accent, and you know it’s even worse when you’re drunk. Or when I’m drunk, I mean. Oh whateves, where are the subtitles when we need them?!

The judges visit Jeff the Hair first, and try his cucumber mojito (sounds refreshing but not very original). He also makes fried oyster with sausage and arugula and a crawfish pot de crème. Emeril calls Jeff a refined cook.

At Stefan’s table, they drink a black cherry and rum cocktail. For food he made creamy grits with duck, rabbit and, wait, I typed here gum but I’m pretty sure it’s not. Oh, who cares, I think the judges just liked the creamy grits part. Then he made an apple beignet which looks pretty with the powdered sugar. Oh wait, the gum was supposed to say gumbo. You know, it’s hard recapping under the influence. People, do not drink and recap! Find a designated recapper before you go out drinking.

Monkey Ass is flirting with some married woman, and then the judges arrive to try his Trinitini, which has macerated red bell pepper. I don’t really know how you macerate a red bell pepper but it doesn’t sound good. He also makes sausage and rabbit maque choux and homemade casercci pasta with crawfish. Gail likes the crawfish flavor in the pasta, and Tom and Emeril think the maque choux is missing heat.

A woman in the crowd is yelling “hootie” at Carla. I guess she thinks she’s lost at the grocery store. Carla says she’s having a lot of fun so the food must taste good because you know her whole theory of sending out the love with the food. She made a shrimp and andouille sausage beignet and oyster stew. Tom is in love with the stew, and it’s the first time I think I’ve seen him love a dish.

Big Ho is cooking and trying to keep up with the crowd who just grabs the food as it’s plated. Hosea makes his version of a Hurricane using blood oranges and then made chicken and andouille gumbo and a pecan-crusted Louisiana catfish. Emeril loves Hosea’s gumbo, which is very traditional.

Everyone’s passing out beads and looks like Fabio and Jeff the Hair have the most beads. Big Ho looks kind of pathetic with his beads. Maybe he should have flashed someone.

Ugh, this is an extra long episode. What’s with these long episodes? It can drive any man to drinking! ;-)

At the judge’s table, they do the typical evaluation one by one, and it’s all so repetitive of the same comments they were making when they were trying the food, so I’m going to fast-forward past this section and get to the deliberations after the cheftestants leave the room.

It sounds like everyone did really well, but the leaders really seem to be Jeff the Hair, Carla Top and Big Ho. I think everyone was turned off, as they should be, by Stefan’s attitude and Fabio came off too Monkey Ass Italian. Tom realizes that Jeff needs to win this to stay and you can tell Tom would like to see Jeff in the finale but realizes he might not have been the clear winner for the evening. This is going to be a tough call.

When the cheftestants come back in, Emeril names the winner and it’s Carla! All that shucking paid off. Now she has a brand new car!

So that means Jeff won’t go to the finale since he didn’t do quite good enough. Too bad, I think he would have made it interesting cooking southern food in New Orleans. Bye Jeff. I LOVE YOU MAN! Let’s go get a cucumber mojito at South Beach! You know what sounds better than a mojito right about now? A hamburger. Do you crave hamburgers when you’re drunk? I always do for some reason. I wish I had meat in the freezer. But then it would be frozen, stupid. Ugh, it’s hard being drunk in Oakland.

Tom tells Hosea that he did well so he’s guaranteed for the finale and he leaves. That just leaves the two Euro brothers. Tom tells Stefan to his face that he was cocky and Fabio was too traditional. Padma then says ciao to Fabio. Oh, no. I would have sent Stefan home. Fabio tells Stefan that he has to win this now or “I’ll kick your ass.” No pressure.

Monkey Ass says Stefan is going to win, because now that he’s out, Stefan is the clear winner, because he believes this is the year of the Euro Top Chef. As for him, he’s going back to his busy LA restaurant and cook until the monkey asses go home. And we’re not done with him because “you going to see me very soon, beeg time.”

Whew! That’s it! Next week it’s the finale and thankfully my last recap for awhile. Now, I’m off to find me a hamburger!

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


Mrs. L said...

How was the hamburger? Me, french fries, when I'm drunk I want french fries....not that I'm ever drunk-giggle.

SteamyKitchen said...

OMG - you are hilarious!!!!

xo, j