Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's Get Saucy

The Elimination Challenge had no twists. had no twists if you were well versed in classical French cooking. Julia Childs would have felt right at home working this challenge. Hector or Mike I., not so much. Classical French cooking requires an understanding of the various sauces and their versatility. For this challenge they gave the chefs six classic sauces. A quick review.

Sauce Béarnaise - a reduction of clarified butter, egg yolks, chervil, shallots simmered in vinegar.
Sauce Velouté - stock thickened with a blond roux seasoned with salt and pepper.

Sauce Meunière - Brown butter mixed with parsley and lemon.
Sauce Américaine - Lobster stock with onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, salt, cayenne pepper and butter.
Sauce Au Poivre - Pan juices from the peppercorn covered meat cooked in butter, with cognac, stock, heavy cream, salt and pepper.
Sauce Chasseur - A compound brown sauce made with demi-glace, mushrooms, shallots, tomatoes, and white wine.
The challenge wasn't just about whether the chefs were familiar with these sauces and could reproduce them but it was also about the chefs putting their own personal stamp on their dish with these particular sauces and proteins. Never was the divide between the contenders and the kitchen fodder so clear as it was with this challenge.

Mike and Bryan had the trout and Béarnaise. How did Bryan make this his dish? The deconstruction of the sauce and the preparation of the trout. Mike? He executed the sauce but as it was presented on the show (always keeping editing tricks in the back of my mind) it sounded like Mike wanted to deconstruct the sauce and didn't know how and it was Bryan giving him a method of an egg less béarnaise that would work. I know early rounds of Top Chef have lots of team and pairs challenges but I can not wait until we get whittled down where that won't be necessary.
Working more as a team as opposed to one teammate carrying the other were Jen and Michael. They had the rabbit and the Chasseur sauce. The delicate rabbit looked like it was cooked to perfection and they seemed to have added a little Asian flavor to the dish by incorporating shiso and mustard noodle. I would have had a hard time picking between the two but it sounded like The Man Robuchon liked the trout just a little more than the rabbit.When The Man says the trout wins then the trout wins.
Bryan takes not only the honor of winning this challenge in front of a whole lot of French Power Chefs, he also gets to stage (culinary internship) with The Man Robuchon himself in Vegas. My advice? Rosetta Stone because The Man only speaks English when he feels like it and I don't think that's very much in his own kitchen.

As for the kitchen fodder? Ashley discovers she was paired up with a French bus driver.Now as I saw it you had Tintin, the French chef and Hector, the Puerto Rican chef cooking in a classic French challenge and neither doing well. I know I would have tossed the guy who couldn't even cook his own mother country's food. In fact the little monkey should have auffed himself in embarrassment for even admitting that it had been a very long time since he had cooked a Velouté sauce or that there were 8 non French chefs that cooked French food better than he did. Frankly Tintin should thank Gail for his continued presence because once Gail latches on to a Food Foul......she will not let go. So Hector goes home a little sooner than Tintin but the French cheese is on the wall and it's only a matter of time before our little Tintin joins Hector in the Condo of Shame.

Next Episode: Tom refuses to swallow.


moi said...

You know, the French are so either/or for me. Hubert Keller, loaded with class. Juh tem. Tintin (ROLFL at the moniker), not so much. He can go home now.

Big Shamu said...

What about Ripert? With that purdy mouth and blue, blue eyes? I hear all the girls think he's dreamy.

LaDivaCucina said...

Haha! Le Tintin got what he deserved. It must have been sweet for Ashley to be on top and have Tintin (whom I thought he threw under the bus the week before) go home!

Magnifique! I was so not impressed with him (or his jaunty rouge scarf!)