On week 7 of Top Chef Season 10 in Seattle...after a quick postmortem in the stew room, we head straight to the Top Chef kitchen for this week’s Quickfire challenge.
|The Girl and the Host|
Standing next to our beautiful host Padma Lakshmi is Top Chef winner from Season 4, Stephanie Izard. Since winning Top Chef, she mostly stayed out of the Bravo limelight and opened up her successful restaurant The Girl and The Goat in Chicago. She’s the first Top Chef winner named Best New Chef from Food and Wine magazine. She’s also the only female chef to win Top Chef. Although I think that is going to change this season. Yup you heard it here first. I predict one of the awesome lady chefs to take it this season.
This week’s Quickfire sounds really simple. Cook whatever you want. The caveat is that EVERYTHING, and I do mean EVERYTHING is covered in aluminum foil. Yup. Everything single can, box, jar is covered completely in foil. You must use whatever item you uncover. It’s cooking with ALL surprise ingredients. So even if you try to shake, rattle, and feel your way around, it’s still going to be difficult to find out what you’ve got underneath. Oh and one more thing. You can only use aluminum foil as your cooking vessel. That means no pots, no pans, just foil.
|Aliens can't get us now!|
Kudos to the production people on Top Chef. It might have taken forever to individually wrap all the ingredients. Sure, it’s tied in with the good folks of Reynold’s Wrap, but at least they’re being somewhat creative in this challenge.
Only 30 minutes. GO.
Everyone’s squeezing, shaking, probing the aluminum bundles in front of them. Hoping for the best. Kristen must have x-ray vision or something, because she has set out to do a sponge cake?! I’m amazed because how does she even know she’ll get eggs?! Apparently I’m not the only one amazed. Danyele can’t believe it either, “That’s the ballsiest shit I’ve ever heard off!” Yes Danyele, that’s is probably why neither one of us will win Top Chef. Yup right now I have as much of a chance winning as you do, and I’m on my couch watching.
Bart is really excited about this challenge. He’s shaping the wrap around his head to make a bowl. Frankly I’m impressed at how versatile the foil can be. People are making pots with handles, baking pans, soup pots. I would have made a hobo pouch and called it a day.
-Danyele: Cannellini Bean Stew with Bacon, Asiago Cheese & Tomatillo.
I gotta say. Pretty impressed that she made bean stew in 30 minutes. Though I suspect it was canned beans. Judges kinda agree. Stephanie liked the surprise of tomatillo in the dish.
-Micah: Grilled Lamb with Tomato Fennel Panzanella.
That lamb looked so rare I think it just bleated. (Yes I had to look that up.) Padma agrees. “That lamb looks quite rare...” she said cautiously.
-Stefan: Hot Smoked Salmon with German Potato Salad. (With a glass of champagne)
How does he keep ending up with these Scandinavian products?!
-John: Beef Egg Drop Soup with Braised Pineapple
I’m not sure how this works. Ground beef in egg drop soup just sounds wrong. Also contrary to what John thinks, pineapple isn’t a staple in Chinese cuisine.
|Even Hobos won't eat this.|
-Brooke: Bacon roasted Yams with Bacon, Onion & Apple Salad.
Brooke’s a great chef but she missed the mark here. The raw onions were too pungent for Padma.
-Josh: Roasted Chicken with potatoes, Poblano, Tomatillo & Carrots.
Stephanie liked the heat of the poblanos. Honestly this dish like an actual hobo pouch.
-Kristen: Almond & Chocolate sponge cake.
Yup. Sponge cake. She actually pulled it off. IN 30 MINUTES. Judges loved the texture, great flavors. Looking good.
-Bart: Beer Poached Cod with Butter Beer Sauce.
Even though it look over cooked, Stephanie thought it was beautifully done. Poaching fish is always a good way to go.
-Sheldon: Lemon Grass Smoked Scallops with Tomato and Shallot Salad.
Judges thought the smokiness came through nicely. Sheldon says he got lucky with the mint. Nice looking dish.
On the bottom we have Brooke’s uncooked onion salad, Micah’s raw lamb, and Kevin’s uninspired hobo pouch.
Sheldon, Kristin, Stefan, Danyele, Bart, and Josie all did a good job. Hey wait. We didn’t see Josie’s dish! I’m not complaining because I can’t stand her bawdy personality. She’s like the Guy Fieri of Top Chef contestants. Ugh.
In the end Kristin and her amazing 30 minute sponge cake takes win and the immunity.
Elimination Challenge Time.
It’s head to head competition! The chefs will battle head to head at the Remlinger Farm’s Berry Festival, and you guessed it - the main ingredient will be berries. Each chef will need to create a dish highlighting their specific berry for 150 people.
The top finishers from the Quickfire got to pick who they wanted to cook against. Kristin will cook alone since she has immunity.
Sheldon challenges Micah because Micah’s the youngest and will push him the hardest.
Danyele picks Josh so they can have a Texas/Oklahoma battle. I would have picked Josh because the man owns a pork restaurant and can’t cook pork.
Stefan goes with John. An interesting choice since despite being a douche, John can actually cook. Maybe Stefan’s channeling his inner Bond villain and will play head games with the mentally volatile John.
Josie takes Lizzie. It came down to choosing between Lizzie and Brooke. Hell I wouldn’t have wanted to challenge Brooke, but Lizzie’s no joke either. I mean, she’s cooked for Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, TWICE! Frankly though, dude’s been in jail for a VERY long time. I’m sure he would have enjoyed whatever you served him. Well, maybe not Josh’s pork dishes.
Bart ends up with Brooke, who is flattered that being the last one picked meant nobody wanted to mess with her.
Tomorrow, they’ll have 3 hours cooking out doors for 150 people. The guests will cast ballots to decide who wins the head-to-head battle. Loser faces elimination, and one winner will take home 10 thousand dollars.
Each duo reaches under the table to find out what they assigned berries are.
Time to go shopping.
We’ve got a little traffic jam at the fish counter. Sheldon beat Stefan to it and bought all of the fresh tuna, forcing Stefan to buy the frozen saku bloc tuna instead. John immediately gets on his case about this, “It’s Top Chef. Who uses frozen fish?”
This little tete-a-tete continues back at the loft. Where it is hard to tell who’s getting inside whose head. However, what I can’t stand is the obviously flirting that’s going on from Stefan to Kristin. He’s laying all over her like a cheap blanket. Leave her alone!
Pretty scenic shots of Seattle. Somehow they found footage of a sunny clear day! The gang drives about 40 minutes outside of the city to Remlinger Farms for the Berry Festival. FYI, they do birthdays and company picnics!
The lovely drive to the farm reminds Stefan of his family and the realization that there’s more to life than cooking. Oh oh. Usually talking about family life is a death knell.
Once we get there everyone dashes to the outdoor kitchen. Poor Brooke had to remind people that this isn’t football. Well, cooking here apparently IS a contact sport. Spaces are extremely limited and no one’s gonna do anyone else any favors.
Danyele whines, “Can somebody just make space for a cutting board please?”
A real Top Chef wouldn’t have whined. Michael Voltaggio would have stared down the rest of the cast until someone beta person (like Danyele) backs off and whimper in tears.
In comes a tractor full of fresh picked berries.
Lizzie and Josie are battling it out with raspberries. Lizzie is assembling some ground pork with red cabbage leaves and Josie is doing her raspberry Rock n’ Roll. Her take of a california roll. You know who else makes things “Rock n’ Roll?” and has the worst reviewed restaurant in Time Square? Yeah, that GUY.
With the lack of space comes with the lack of equipment. Bart’s looking for a spare blender, and while John has one just sitting there, he refuses to let Bart use it. When Bart reaches for it, John literally barked him out of it. Once again, a real Top Chef like Michael Voltaggio would have just taken it.
Josh Valentine not only cannot cook pork, apparently he can’t use a blender either. The rules of blending hot liquids are this: Don’t fill it all the way up and HOLD the LID down! He violated both rules and sprayed everyone with his hot cream. *ahem*
Here comes Tom Colicchio with the “cook n’ chat” portion of the day. Always a good time. *Not really* Right away he zings Stefan for making a mess of his station. Tom then asks Stefan if he can beat John. Stefan saying mockingly, “Listen. He’s 53 years old.” Ah. Let the head games continue!
When Tom reaches John’s station, the “good natured” jabs between Stefan and John all but dissipate when, once again, it’s brought up that Stefan is using frozen tuna. Like a true instigator, Tom incites the conflict then backs away to enjoy the drama.
|For the boring berries. Who made Padma's dress?|
Micah tells us about his two beautiful daughters. He knew that he was going to name his kids with something “culinary-derived” but decided Cayenne and Cinnamon sounds like stripper names so he went with...Sage and Saffron. Umm. Ok. ProTip: Don’t name children after things you put in your mouth.
Josie’s not ready. She’s going to have to roll by order. That pretty much means people will be waiting and she won’t get her food out. In a hard “Hands up. Utensils down.” situation she’s have nothing to present.
Guests start to show up.
This week’s judges are Stephanie Izard, Food and Wine’s Gail Simmons, Head Judge Tom Colicchio and host Padma Lakshmi.
Let’s get started.
Danyele presents a Chicken Pine Nut Terrine with Blueberry Mostarda and Josh gives us a Savory Goat Cheese Mousse with Blueberry Compote.
|Can you say Lunchables?|
*Crunch* Jesus, did somebody chip a tooth? I don’t know if they cranked the mic when it’s time to bite down on that crostini, but it sounded like people crunching on day-old bread. Tom says Danyele’s chicken terrine was flavorless and rubbery. Last thing you want is to serve Tom rubber chicken. *bad-dum-dum!* Meanwhile Josh’s blueberry had some heat to it, nice flavor, but could have used some crunch. Looks like Josh wins this battle.
Judges get to Josie’s station and Tom impassively reads the sign “Rock n’ Raspberry Roll.” Yeah. Josie’s still got nothing to serve. Instead she breaks into her best Food Network schtick. “Whassup guys! We’re having fun at the Berry Festival today...”
“Is she high?” Gail asks. While Josie’s continuing her one-woman disaster show. She’s literally stalling for time, explaining some drivel about “highlighting some of the northwest’s great product...”
“Keep cooking.” Gail snapped.
Josie’s dish is a summer roll with Sockeye Salmon, Dungeness Crab & Raspberry Aioli. Frankly, the thing looked like a bloody mess. Tom’s expression reads: “Are you really serving this to me?!”
You know you’re in trouble when potential cast of Real Housewives of Seattle are mocking you.
On the flip side, Lizzie’s serving a Raspberry Steamed Cabbage Roll with Heritage Pork and Bacon Stuffing. Now that’s a delicious pairing. Sweetness goes really well with pork. Good move. Judges loved her dish and totally trashed Josie’s performance and her dish. Mayo with summer roll?
Wanna see a good summer roll? How about Sheldon’s Ahi Poke, Strawberries & Sweet Chili sauce. Now that looks like a light summer roll. Sweet and spicy is always a good thing. Micah gives us Strawberry Fried Chicken with Strawberry & Bacon Biscuit.
|Cheeseburger Cheeseburger Cheeseburger...Soup|
John’s White Gazpacho with Spanish Chorizo, Gooseberries & Sweet Grapes goes up against Stefan’s Cali Crudo with Radishes, Gooseberries & Spiced Vinaigrette. The tuna crudo needed a little sauce and a little more gooseberry, but overall Tom liked Stefan’s dish. However, John’s hot chorizo in cold gazpacho really turned people off. Looks like “cheeseburger soup” won’t be a new restaurant trend in 2013.
Brooke serves a Spicy Smoked Chocolate Pudding with Blackberry Tapioca, and Bart creates a Blackberry Soup with Salmon & Rhubarb Yogurt. Really Bart? Salmon in blackberry soup sounds about as disgusting as, well, salmon in blackberry soup! Even a little child taps into her survival instinct and refuses to try that concoction. All the judges like Brooke’s dish, comparing it to s’mores. Yeah, chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers sounds a helluva lot better than salmon berry soup.
Kristen went with a Matcha Goat Milk Custard with Macerated Tayberries. All the judges raved about her dish. The olive oil macerated berries were Stephanie’s favorite item of the day.
Seems like the smart move here was to go with something semi sweet/savory and pair it with the sweetness/tartness of the berries. Most of the winning dishes had a soft savory custardy component topped with something crunchy.
Oy. John and Stefan are still bitching about that frozen tuna. It’s gotten to the level where John’s heckling guests who’re voting for Stefan. “You guys can rest easy tonight knowing you voted for frozen tuna.” What a sad little man you are.
You know how we didn’t know who the hell Josie was at the beginning of the season? Well, we know her now and frankly we all wish we didn’t. Quote of the episode belongs to Josh, “It hurts my soul when Josie laughs. A little of me dies every time.” Amen brotha. Amen.
Back in the stew room Stefan’s had enough. It’s fun to see these two battle out of the kitchen. Stefan goes around the room and EVERY one of the other chefs have used the saku bloc frozen tuna. Having been essentially overruled everyone, John finally shuts it. To top it off, Stefan suggests that John performs a certain latin-termed service on him...
Here comes Padma rounding up five chefs.
John. Josie. Bart. Micah. Danyele.
|Why do you guys disappoint me so?|
Normally the first round to Judges Table are the winners. However, even those who got called knows that this was a march to oblivion.
Among the damned: John, Danyele, and Josie got hammered the most. Josie yapped too much and served a heavy pepto bismol-looking roll, Danyele’s chicken terrine was like chicken bologna, and John, well John has a lot of excuses. You know when someone starts a sentence off with, “I’m not making excuses but...” exactly - here comes the excuses.
Brooke. Josh. Sheldon. Stefan. Lizzie. Kristen.
The group got a general overall kudos and judges wasted no time in singling out the winning flawless dish. Kristen’s Custard with Macerated Tayberries.
I’m telling you. This girl’s a machine. She has been on or near the top every single challenge. Looks like my comparison of her and Michael Voltaggio isn’t too far off. *pats back*
|Cover your eyes!!|
Ugh. That weasel Stefan sneaks in for a kiss on the cheek. Gross. What’s even more disgusting is that Stefan refer to her as “wifey?” No no no no no.
At this point I think the going home chef has gotta be between Danyele and Josie. No matter who goes home, my money says the other one isn’t long for this world.
In the end Danyele gets the ax.
Just too many mistakes, and frankly every one in the room knows that she’s too young and too inexperienced to be Top Chef. Who knows, we could see her in the future?However, she says she was ready to go. Good luck in Last Chance Kitchen Danyele.
As a final coup de gras, we’re treated to a non sequitur Stefan and Josie altercation.
Regardless of personality or drama, if Josie doesn’t get her act together she’s definitely next on the list.
Thanks for reading peeps!
Looks like next week we’ll have some muddy shell fish digging and Padma on roller skates! Whee!
Have a great week people and give yours truly a follow on twitter @ChezWu!