Thursday, March 20, 2008

Top Chef 4: Don't Feed the Animals

by Erin and Xani

Last night was Episode 2 of Top Chef, and it was a good one! Here's a quick and dirty recap:

  • Quickfire Challenge: Chefs go to Chicago's Green City Market and have to make a dish with 5 ingredients. Mark (the Kiwi) wins with his dish even though he forgot one of his five ingredients at the Market.
  • Elimination Challenge: Chefs must cater a party at the Zoo and are divided into teams of 3. Each team's menu is inspired by a different zoo animal and must incorporate the main ingredients of that animal's diet into their menu. Team Penguin and Andrew win the challenge with his charred squid dish (and edible gelatinous glaciers!). Team Bear serves mushrooms that not only look like poo, but don't taste so hot, either. But in the end Valerie of Team Gorilla was kicked off with her black olive blini.

Erin's Take:

I liked this episode - I liked that the teams had an interesting theme to work around, and I think many of the teams did a great job at capturing the essence of their animals' diets. I picked Andrew, Richard, and Dale for my fantasy team this week, which earned me 9 points for Andrew's win and some cursing by Andrew and Dale, though I lost points since Dale was on the chopping block for his team's stuffed mushrooms. Who puts a strong flavored garnish like pecorino on a mushroom and doesn't taste it??

Dish I wished I were eating: Mark's white anchovy on a quinoa croquette. Looked very interesting! Also, Stephanie's banana bread looked delicious and gorilla-friendly.

Favorite chef at the moment: Well now that Mark has redeemed himself from last week, I'm definitely back in the fan base. Though he should lose the headband - why are we highlighting the receeding hairline, Mark??

Xani's Take:

I also liked the episode although this early in the season, I find it hard to keep track of all the chefs and their dishes! I was glad this was a team challenge; it always spices things up to force the chefs to work in groups. Nikki was so bossy! And she made those poor-looking mushrooms. Andrew really surprised me by working well in a group (he seems so arrogant I was sure he was going to be a problem child) and then SHOCKED me by winning the elimination challenge (and earning me 6 points). Nikki lost me points for saying she didn't taste her dish nor did she stand behind it. Boo-- she is "auf-ed" from my team next week (oops, wrong Bravo show!)! I ended this week with 6 points, bringing my total to a staggering 16 points (that's sarcasm, folks).

Dish I wished I were eating: I second EP's vote for the quinoa and anchovy concoction, and also Team Vulture's Moroccan-spiced meatball. Personally I was eating a bowl of skin-on mashed potatoes from scratch while watching the episode, so I was pretty content with that, and not dying of food-envy.

Favorite chef at the moment: I'm still on the Andrew train. Despite last week's Mayonnaise-gate, I think this week he stepped up and showed up he can cook good food, be creative (yuzu glacier?!), and work well in a team.

What did everyone think? How did everyone do with their fantasy team??

E & X

6 comments:

  1. Last night's losing teams were plagued by rookie mistakes. I realize that Top Chef is a pressure-filled environment, but these are professionals. Come on people. Not only did no one taste the mushrooms, but they pulled them from the table because the team didn't want to serve the dish to the partygoers and yet still served them to the judges! Team Gorilla made two dishes that shouldn't have been prepared in advance (the blini and the crab salad). They should have known better.

    I totally agree with Xani that there are still too many chef to keep track of this early in the season. We haven't gotten to know everyone's personalities yet, so I found myself repeated trying to remember which one was which throughout. However, I was amazed that Andrew didn't drop any f-bombs this week.

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  2. I was disappointed by the show this week....or by the performances again I guess. Who doesn't taste a dish they've prepared before serving it??? I mean seriously, we're talking fundamental ABC's of cooking stuff here. For the second week in a row I was embarrassed for them and wondering why they were on the show at all! It's like watching the audition portion of American Idol where there are four William Hung's out of the 16 "chefs" instead of top quality performers. It's brutal. One silly ass mistake after another. It would have been very easy to eliminate Valerie, Nikki and Dale last night. And I think that's three different people than the four last week who were up for elimination. All 7 should be gone!!! Brutal. C'mon chefs!!! Get better!!

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  3. I don't know...I've never worked in a kitchen, and I'm only a sort of good home cook, but I actually am fairly impressed by the whole group, at least as compared to previous seasons. There are definitely mistakes (if you're going to pull something JUST PULL IT - the judges will respect you more that way than if you serve crap). But I think there's also some interesting thinking and decent skill.

    I also think it's hard to truly evaluate without really understanding the pressure the show puts on the chefs. It's so early in the season - I'm sure nobody's used to having a camera in their face. I know I'd find that distracting...

    BTW, I am ROCKING the fantasy game. I don't know how - just luck I guess - but I'm in 17th place overall right now. THANK YOU, Dale, Stephanie and Andrew!!!

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  4. Andrew really came off differently this week- I do think he has his own charm and he wasn't so cocky. My heart was in my mouth for Stephanie. thank goodness her banana bread saved the day!

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  5. I was not impressed my Richard's quickfire dish this week, and what really annoyed me was the fact that he kept calling it molecular gastronomy. I hate how some chefs throw that term around. His dish was basically a cider braised chicken with the addition of an herb, in this case, eucalyptus, which really could have been anything else, rosemary, basil, thyme...

    And I really admire Wylie Dufresne's innovation and everything, but what is up with the stringy hair?!

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