Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top Chef: Season 7, Episode 5

“Make sure you season your food guys.”

Previously: It was a double elimination, and it would have been nice if it were Ed and Alex, the sloppy odd couple, to go, or maybe Angelo and Tamesha who are too busy flirting with each other. But it was Lynne and Arnold, who now can go home and moisturize.

I’m kind of excited seeing so many people gone, but at the same time there’s still so many people I don’t know and probably want to see go home. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Oh, a ducky on the mall! So cute. Kenny says everyone’s in a somber mood because two people are gone. But what’s weird is that they show two empty twin-size beds that are side by side, like we’re supposed to believe that Arnold and Lynne slept next to each other in those beds. Weird.

You know what else is weird? They spend a long time showing Angelo and Tamesha talking in the garden and Angelo is just spilling with the advice, and Tamesha is all absorbing it, calling him her mentor. And then Angelo says again, like he said last week, that’s he attracted to Tamesha. And not to be mean, but really? Tamesha? I know she’s the youngest, but youth doesn’t automatically mean sexy. And she talks like she’s wearing braces. Not that I have anything against people who wear braces, so save your letters. But for the record, my family couldn’t afford braces for any of us. But back to Tamesha, she’s not the first person I would fall for in that group.

Then it’s like a whole segment on odd coupling because they show Ed and Tiffany getting along, and I’m like, really, Ed? Chefs have the oddest attraction, it seems.

Quickfire. The cheftestants arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and there at the main table are a whole bunch of crawly Maryland blue crabs. Yum, I enjoyed eating this last year, even though they’re smaller than the West’s Dungeness crab. And Padma is there with this guy who I hate to say but looks like he’s spent a lot of time as an extra on Nip/Tuck. He’s actually Chef Patrick O’Connell, owner of the Little Inn in Washington, D.C. And I’m still wondering who he is, and then it hits me that he could be the Professor from Gilligan’s Island, but not the young sexy Professor but the one that showed up for the reunion episode when they’re still stuck on the island after 40 years.

So back to the crabs, of course Padma plays with the whole “you’ve got crabs” and I don’t know if Angelo scripted this but they show him looking dumbfounded and saying without any irony: “Well, I had crabs. It just brought back bad memories.”

The cheftestants run out to start cooking with the Maryland blue crabs. Padma didn’t really give any direction, so everyone’s just making what they want. A lot of people are chopping into the live crabs and already there’s a lot of Asian influences and Old Bay seasoning going on.

Andrea talks about the Miami stone crabs that have more meat and how it’s difficult to get the meat out of the tiny Maryland blue crabs, and Timothy apparently is an expert since he’s from Maryland, so he’s just cooking a whole bunch of crabs and simply seasoning them.

Tamesha has difficulty getting to her crabs, so she runs to her mentor Angelo for a quick lesson on opening up the crabs. Kenny is busy showing off, saying he’s going to make three dishes while everyone is just making one. He’s so cocky. You know everyone calls him “The Beast”? Wait, I don’t think everyone calls him that. I think he calls himself that.

Time is up and Andrea already eliminates herself.

Commercials. Pine Sol, I’d like you to send me a hunk to mop my kitchen floor too! Oh wait, I think I saw a classified ad like that – in the 70s! Round Table BBQ Chicken pizza, with red onions of course!

Padma and the Professor goes to Tiffany first and her hot and sour crab soup. Chef O’Connell says there’s a lot of crab on top.

Ed made a jumbo lump crab with Thai basil. O’Connell asks if it was Thai inspired. Um, there’s Thai basil in the dish. You thunk?

Angelo serves up a blue crab broth with lemongrass and ginger. It’s funny how several people made a crab broth but when they serve it up it’s all in these big bowls with a small little drop of broth.

Timothy kept it simple with beer-steamed crab with avocado, while Stephen did a crab salad with sweet bell pepper. I actually wouldn’t mind trying that.

Tamesha made a crab chowder, but I don’t really see the crab. Chef O’Connell says it’s unusual and intriguing.

Amanda made a crab salad with some fancy cheffy terms like a sautern and gelee. Padma says “woah,” and Amanda asks if that’s a yummy woah or a bad woah. Padma says it was a “woah, that’s pungent” woah.

Kevin also made a blue crab chowder , while insecure Andrea made a warm crab salad. The Professor says “that’s not your mother’s crab salad.”

Kenny is last with his crab three-way, a Korean-style bisque, crab bruschetta and a crab custard.

Padma asks Chef O’Connell who was his least favorite and he says Amanda’s gelee was out of balance, Kevin’s dish was confusing and the crab got lost. Hey, this guy is pretty good with the critique. They’re almost poetic. I wonder if this guy writes his own material. He really is like a professor.

Then the Professor says he likes Kenny’s trio of crab dishes, Angelo’s dish (“delicate and showed off the crab”), and Ed (“a dish where the natural component of the crab came out.”) He names Ed as the winner, his first win, and he gets immunity.

Timothy (who everyone in the show calls Tim) says all the Asian influenced dishes seems to have done well, so now he thinks he should have put chili sauce. Or maybe he said “silly sauce.” I’m not really sure. I don’t understand the guy sometimes.

Ugh, it’s so hot in my apartment tonight. But then I turn on my little fan and then the air dries my eyes and I can’t focus on this recap. So then I have to turn it off. Then it gets hot and I have to turn it back on. Sigh, so many sacrifices I must do for this blog. ;-)

For their elimination challenge, Padma tells the cheftestants that they will go to a Virginia farm called Ayrshire, an organic and humane farm, where they’ll cook for the chefs and farmers. And they’ll all work as one single team, and you can tell everyone doesn’t like that idea. They have to make a family-style dinner with six dishes but everyone has to be responsible for something.

The cheftestants head home and try to come up with a plan. Immediately Angelo is trying to take the lead, but Kenny won’t have any of that, saying people should pull names so they can decide who cooks which course. Angelo isn’t into pulling names, and the two start to bicker. Tiffany tries to get them back on track but they talk over her and she gives up. Then Stephen tries to contribute with the lamest suggestion: a fresh fruit platter for dessert. What? That’s like serving a plate of fresh figs.

Commercials. Scrubbing Bubbles has this weird new toilet bowl cleaning gel where you squirt a blue blob onto the side of your toilet. Weird. But let me save you all a bunch of money, don’t do it! I used to make my toilet water blue and in my latest apartment the blue chemical clogged the toilet system and eventually my toilet wouldn’t flush properly. After I stopped using the blue tablets, things came back to normal as my toilet flushed itself of the blue water. So I’m helping you save a lot of potential money for a plumber: Don’t put the blue into your toilet water. You’re welcome.

The cheftestants are still arguing and Andrea calls it a trainwreck. Eventually Kenny suggests everyone work in the same teams of two from the last challenge, and most people agree except Ed volunteers his partner Alex and says he’s willing to give him up for someone else. Of course, no one says anything so they’re still the Odd Couple.

They now talk in their teams of two, and Tiffany, it turns out, doesn’t like working with Tim, and the editors try to make it like she would have teamed up with Ed. And I’m thinking, this is so stupid because if Ed and Tiffany want to team up, why don’t they do it. There wasn’t any rule that they all had to stick to the same pairs. Alex and Tim could be their own team.

It’s the next morning and they jump into their Toyota vans to head off to the farm. When they arrive, they get their first look at what their ingredients are, and it looks like they have a lot of good stuff to cook with from lamb to duck to beef to an assortment of vegetables. Plus, they have a pantry in the back of one of the Toyota piled with a lot of pantry-like stuff.

So they all start working on their dishes, and Kenny is planning on making some sides because he thinks it’s easy to do a main so he’ll show off his skills with some killer eggplant. His partner, Kevin, is going to make a cauliflower couscous, Andrea is making pork loin and she’s complaining about the cold. Amanda says she’s going to make a vegetable minestrone.

Stephen says he’s making a simple salad, and I think if he makes a salad like Ubuntu’s garden greens, then it’ll be killer. Kelly feels like Tim is hogging all the vegetables so she goes to negotiate to get some beets in exchange for her turnips. There were a lot of minutes spent on the two of them going back and forth and in the end the exchange is made and I’m still not sure why Tim wanted to hog all the vegetables.

Tamesha and Angelo still have sex on their minds. Tamesha is making a cherry compote that she calls “super sexy” and Angelo is making duck breast, which he says he basically “made love to the duck.” Oh Angelo, I don’t know what you did with that duck in the back, but really, TMI.

As they’re cooking, it looks like Tamesha knocks a bowl of couscous next to her. She looks shocked, but doesn’t really own up to the fact that she pushed it over. I’m pretty sure she did. The bowl was actually Kevin’s cauliflower and Angelo tries to scoop up the cauliflower from the ground but Kevin nixes that idea because “it’s a cow pasture” so instead he goes to grab some broccoli and decides to use that instead.

Andrea is worried about the grill and everyone’s giving her their opinion, and most of them say it won’t be hot enough to cook the pork loin. So she decides to cut them into smaller pieces.

I love the idea of a country outdoor dinner. I’ve never been to one but I love those long tables out in the open.

Tim was making some kind of turnip dish but it’s not working, so everyone says it looks good just as it is, so he decides to call it a rustic roasted vegetables dish. Amanda tastes her soup and says it’s better than Progresso, but I’m not really sure if that’s such a high standard to reach.

Andrea gets busy cooking her pork pieces on the grill but she has to slide it all over and around the pots that are sitting on the grill. Kelly feels she has some time so she decides to make a strawberry rhubard crisp. And you know what happens when cheftestants spread themselves thin and make more than one dish in a group challenge.

Commercials. That guy playing the robot on that eSurance commercial is creepy. Oh. My. GAWD. Someone put a pretzel in my M&M. I wonder how many years it took the M&M product developers to think of mixing chocolate and pretzel together?

In this episode’s little “quick look” at Top Chef, we learn that Kenny is the smooth operator in the house and he has nicknames like “Black Daddy,” “Black Angus,” “Black Lightening,” and the aforementioned “Beast.” The girls think he’s suave and got the moves, and I think Kenny thinks he’s sexy too.

The guests arrive and everyone is seated at the long table. Kenny leads the group, talking about how he wants to show the world he can make the best sides. Enough with the sides already! Andrea talks about being cold. The cheftestants stand for a minute as the food gets placed on the table and I start to wonder if they’re all just going to stand there and watch everyone eat, but then they go away, leaving the judges to start critiquing the food.

I have to say the judges go over each one rather quickly. They start with Amanda’s soup, which looks rustic, but Tom says the vegetables weren’t cut uniformly, so they didn’t cook equally. Stephen’s salad left Padma cold and Tom doesn’t like bruised lettuce.

Again, I’m kind of impressed by Chef O’Connell (yep, he’s still there) who has a comment on every dish. He talks more than Eric Ripert, who’s just eating everything in his sexy French way. Ripert does say he doesn’t like beef loin stuffed with ratatouille and O’Connell eggs him on saying it’s the French technique to stuff truffle in the middle of a loin. Ripert reminds O’Connell that ratatouille is different from truffle.

Tom says he liked Kelly’s dessert, which was like extra credit. Eric says he ate everything and is very happy.

Back in the stew room, Padma calls for Kevin, Kenny, Andrea and Kelly. You can see Kenny smile a bit because he knows he’s on the top. At the judges’ table, Padma confirms that they are the top four. Then they talk about why they were so good.

Kevin talks about how the cauliflower mysteriously tipped over (um, hel-LO, I told you Tamesha did it) so he improvised, which the judges liked. Padma compliments Kenny on his curry eggplant, and Tom reminds him that’s high praise coming from Padma, who is Indian in case you forgot.

Chef O’Connell picks the winner, and he says it was the first dish he tasted that was “striking in clarity and beautifully balanced with the accompanying dish.” Really, this guy doesn’t need any writers because he’s like poetry in motion. And the winner is Kenny. They all leave and I wonder if Kenny’s big head can squeeze back into the stew room.

Big Daddy sends Tim, Amanda, and Stephen to the judges’ table.

Padma says they had a lovely meal, and the three totally fucked it up for them. So you know this is going to be a very bitter discussion. They go over each one, starting with Tim, who admits that he was making something fancy but it wasn’t working so he decided to keep the vegetables whole. Eric says the vegetables were cut so tiny that they couldn’t taste them and the seasoning was bland. Tom says Tim knew he didn’t like the dish and tried to fix it but couldn’t.

Chef O’Connell told Stephen that you should never serve salad in a bowl because the dressing all sinks to the bottom, and he gives a perfect quote saying “it’s like a concrete truck pouring cement on silk.” Really, this guy should come back every week. I love him. Even though he looks like his face doesn’t move when he’s still talking.

Eric asks Amanda what is a minestrone, and she goes over her ingredients, but Eric asks why there’s no pasta and Amanda looks surprised like that’s the first time she heard minestrone needs pasta. Tom asks why she didn’t cut the vegetables uniformly, and Padma says it felt amateurish. Chef O’Connell, what do you think? “It was like your grandmother cut the vegetables with an ax. It wasn’t polished like a chef.” You tell her, Professor!

Deliberations. Tom says Stephen’s presentation was all jumbled up. Padma says the salad was “over thought and over dress” and she looks a bit pleased with her quote (but you have nothing on O’Connell). Eric is still mad that Amanda didn’t put pasta in her minestrone.

Commercials. Chips Ahoy now comes with Reese peanut butter cups, that’s like taking it to the nth degree. But really, shouldn’t they just leave childhood candy the way we remember? Stop fucking with my Reese peanut butter cups!

Back at judgment, Stephen looks like he’s ready to cry and Amanda can’t even look at Eric because she’s mad that they dished her minestrone. Tom says Amanda has to know how to cut vegetables, Stephen has no confidence to give a perfectly dressed salad, going overboard instead, and Timothy moved in one direction and went missing. Again, they talk about how it would have been a great day if they didn’t have to eat their three dishes. Then Padma sends Tim packin’ and Amanda rushes to give him one of her “I’m so glad it’s you and not me” hugs.

When Tim walks back into the stew room, he says to everyone “Make sure you season your food guys.” He actually throws out a lot of quotes, saying things about “keep the love train rolling” and how he didn’t roll the dice correctly, and more about “salt and pepper.” It’s all very blah blah blah blah blah. Then he’s gone.

Next week: Angelo is helping Tamesha and Stephen, and everyone else wonders if it’s some kind of strategy, and they’re judging each other in shifts and they rip into each other’s dishes and they didn’t even serve them yet. Oh, and Amanda serves chicken with some cartilage. Calcium anyone?

Top Chef airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Check your local listings. Photos courtesy of the Bravo TV website.


Nate @ House of Annie said...

How come you can't point the fan away from your face?

I bet those pretzel M&Ms can't hold a candle to the peanut butter-filled, chocolate-dipped pretzels rolled in toffee bits from JC's Stix in Novato. Those are the bomb!

I wonder how that Korean-style crab bisque tasted. Sounds intriguing!

Single Guy Ben said...

Nate, when I point the fan away from me, then it's like it's not even on! I know, I have a cheapy fan.

That Korean bisque did sound good. Add some tofu and it would have been perfect soon!

Terry S. said...

I love your recaps!

“It was like your grandmother cut the vegetables with an ax. It wasn’t polished like a chef.” You tell her, Professor! That was the best line of the evening.

JluieK said...

Thank you for all you go through to bring us this blog and your wonderful recap. Glad you verified that "I had crabs" comment, I thought I hadn't heard right!

Carolyn Jung said...

I agree. The "axe'' comment was a hoot. And boy, it sure did look cold out there when they were all cooking and eating in that big field. Brrrrr!! Maybe someone would have scored points if they had whipped up some hot chocolate, too. ;)

Jenster said...

I loved your recap, Ben! Whenever Eric Ripert is a judge on the show it takes all my efforts not to drool over him, especially when my 13-year-old son is watching him and referring to him as "scary-face guy" or "vampire man." Guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

And yes, I thought the "couplings" (Angelo and Tamesha and the other pair) was kind of weird, not because of the people involved but just the weird way they would position themselves with each other, like they were trying not to make out or something.

Is it me or do the chefs usually look much older than the age listed on the screen? Seriously, Tamesha is only 23 and Tim is only 40?

Karen said...

I love your recaps! They are better than the show!