Monday, June 29, 2009

The Offal Truth

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott

For the Elimination Challenge our four chefs have to get down and dirty and sell their dishes to the real people of Hollywood. Or as real as they get in LA. The twist is the protein. Offal.
A friend of mine asked me if this version of Top Chef was more difficult than the challenges of 5 seasons of regular Top Chef? I would have to say yes. This challenge in particular is the reason why. The producers are basically doubling up on the elimination challenges. You've got a street food challenge (Season One and the Forgotten Jicama) which means that not only are you making the food in a less than optimal environment but you've also got to sell your food to a doubtful public. Doubtful why? Because you're not selling ordinary street food, you're selling offal street food. How often in America will you find willing participants to eat cow's stomach cooked outside a clean kitchen? For most Americans it's about two steps away from Bourdain choking down warthog anus in the African bush.Ludo, let's hope it never comes to that. Three hundred dollars to shop for additional ingredients and three hours to cook and pack. Shopping goes much smoother for these chefs then previous chefs since they actually ASK where items might be located. Like hominy.
Or Cheese.Or Irony.
(Thank you TV Gods for the Crazy Frenchman with the Bad Haircut and the Shifty Eyes)
Yes, thank you so much, been there, been called that. Moving on.
Their three hours of prep time begins and Wilo seems to be making a drastic move from Masters cooking to Michael Midgley Mayo Mastery 101. Nothing says American cuisine like smothering something with mayo or ketchup. Or mayo AND ketchup.
What is the French translation for "In the Weeds"?
Universal Studios is the "street" where our chefs will be cooking.
This is a Test of the ASSHAT ALERT SYSTEM. When an asshat appears, here's a sample of what you might encounter.
"Come on Rick, slip me some tongue?"
WHAT? You don't think Gael Greene hasn't been slipped some tongue?


Meanwhile back at the Isle of Gael.
Ludo tries his hand at diplomacy.
French diplomacy.

Time for Judgements.
Cindy's Menudo, which I thought was a crazy choice for an LA morn seems more appropriate after seeing both the tourists and the judges layered in jackets and scarves. The judges however wanted a bit more of a gut punch of spice.
Ludo's Pork Ear Quesadilla with Chorizo, Pinto bean puree, Lime Aioli and smoked paprika doesn't exactly wow the judges. A grilled cheese with Pig's ear is the best they can do.
Rick's Tongue Tacos with Chorizo, bacon, guacamole and pickled onions leaves Gael Greene wanting more.
Wilo's Beef Heart Tripleta with Ham, Chicken and a cheese sauce in Pita gives the judges too much topping and not enough toast on the bread before getting to the heart. Still they seem to enjoy the flavors.
The Chefs retire to the Wine Cellar Stew Room (which they always seem happy to see) while the Judges further gnaw on their decisions. They can gnaw all they want but as soon as Gael spoke the words "...and Rick used bacon..." it was all over. Sure, play your little game with the Counting of the Stars but you know that Baconized Dish won the day.
As for this man?
While he might still be a little young, we'd love another serving of this fine French cheese.


MakingSpace said...

I stand by my earlier comment. Your report is infinitely more fascinating (and hella funnier) than the actual show. I know this for a fact even though I am so cheap I will never ever pay for enough cable to get Bravo. LOL

moi said...

Any time of day is a good time for Menudo! And for making fun of the French.

But for God's sake, when I get to be Gael's age? Shoot me if I start wearing bucket hats, will ya?

Big Shamu said...

Just keep me updated on the location of your firearm and I think you will find yourself Buckethat Free.

LaDivaCucina said...

Sham, this is one funny post! Yes, zee Frenchman MUST stay as I get so nervous/anxious watching him stress!

(according to my translator: Le Français était dans les mauvaises herbes!!)

I'm so LOVIN' the food shots, Sham! Rick's taco looks so authentic (well I 'spose it should considering his background....) He deserved to win!

I think Gael's haircut AND choice of hat is aging could be one cool older dame in a quirky chapeau but I must admit, her look is more tired than signature.

BTW, it can be quite chilly in L.A. even in summer when the "marine layer" (aka fog) rolls in.

Dani said...

I like the picture of the piggy ears on the silver platter. Too funny!