Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Top Chef #7: Dinner Party: Prawn with the wind
I have to say right up front that this was not the most scintillating episode of Top Chef. Maybe the tone for the episode was set by poor Jennifer, who was really sick the whole time. Maybe it was as close as she could get to last episode's play-the-cancer-card routine. But without some of the, shall we say, larger personalities, it seems like it's down to the real chefs now, who are grim, humorless and determined to win.
Quickfire challenge: TV chef Tyler Florence was the guest judge for the quickfire challenge, where chefs had to cook dishes combining three words selected on a slot machine. My daughter thought there was something hilarious about the Adventurous Crunchy Asian selection, and that's certainly the one I'd chose to cook. But several of the chefs, especially whiny, egotistical Mike said they never cook Asian food. How is that even possible?
Not too bright: Robin seems to think curry powder belongs in Middle Eastern food.
I'd eat that: I thought Ashley's feta pudding and sumac-crusted halibut (above) looked good despite the no cheese-with-fish rule.
If you need a little more Ashley, check out her Top Chef photo gallery here.
The winner: Kevin, who also says he doesn't know Asian cooking, does a nice simple chargrilled pork with Vietnamese herb salad, and chooses the $15,000 instead of immunity.
Elimination round: Nancy Silverton and Govind Armstrong are among the chefs from Macy's Culinary Council who will judge the dinner party episode.
This challenge is tricky, because working in pairs seems to bring out the worst in the chefs. Because Mike can't stop bad-mouthing Robin, inevitably he must team up with her, and says he's "livid." Way to be gracious, Mike!
Michael Voltaggio, who has likely eaten at Mozza many times, gets Silverton's bag of food, and decides to do a ravioli-topped halibut, thinking she'll appreciate the pasta.
Mike gets the Takashi Yagihashi's bag, so he's stressed that he has to deal not only with Robin but with the likes of dashi and ponzu.
Stupid idea: As soon as Ashley and Eli announce they're making grilled spot prawns over gnocchi, Tom Colicchio looks suspicious. The finished dish is beautiful though, with a beet creme fraiche sauce providing a vibrant backdrop.
Those are some tense boys: Both Michael and Bryan Voltaggio look tense and miserable, as if their life depends on this challenge. When the electricity goes out while Michael's cooking his halibut, he looks like he's going to cry. Bryan also seems pretty tightly wound. Note to self: Do not apprentice in their kitchens.
The winner: Despite being sick, Jennifer and Kevin win for their Korean Kobe beef dish (above), snagging $10,000 Macy's gift cards. Maybe next week's contestant should arrange to chop off an arm or something for an advantage.
The loser: Indeed, the halibut is badly cooked because of the electricity problem, but even worse was the idea to put a frozen egg yolk in the ravioli, which seems to gross out Colicchio.
But even worse was Ashley and Eli's gnocchi and prawns dish, with tough, salty gnocchi and undercooked prawns. I guess looks aren't everything. I'm devastated to see Ashley go, because she was my girl crush, and I liked her tats. Jennifer must have liked her too, because she cries when Ashley leaves!
Was it my imagination, or was this episode a touch lacking in drama, despite the sad ending?
at 9:14 PM