Thursday, November 19, 2009

You Say Ballotine and I say Terrine

I was wondering, way back during Episode 4, what sort of amazing challenges were in store for the chefs who reached the final five of the competition. You see, Episode 4 was the Daniel Boulud, snails, Joël Robuchon, and classical French sauces episode. A great episode to be sure but I wondered why this great episode happened so early in the season. Now we know why. Bocuse d'Or.
First, a bit of history on the Bocuse d'Or. It's a culinary competition pitting the best of the world's chefs using classical French Cuisine. The competition is not that old, the first was held in 1987. The event is held every two years in Lyons, France. France has won the Bocuse six times, Norway four times, Luxembourg and Sweden have won one each. Americans have not even sniffed a Bronze Bocuse, only coming as close as sixth. A team consists of two chefs, a lead chef and an assistant chef who must be under the age of 22 at the time of competition. They have five and a half hours to prepare their two dishes, meat and fish, in front of a live audience. It's about precision, technique, presentation and taste. It is not for the faint of culinary heart.

Back at the condo, our chefs prepare themselves for their last Quickfire in Vegas. Eli reveals that he's playing to win...not so much for himself but for Richard Blaise. For some reason, Eli believes that Season Four's title of Top Chef was unjustly taken from Richard, going so far as to quote the great movie line from the Princess Bride, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.". What Eli doesn't seem to realize is that Richard choked during the big game. This can only mean one thing (Dun-Dun-Dunnnnnn) Loser's edit. Still it's not all doom and gloom because Jennifer gives us a Condo parting gift...

...Tank Top Tease!!! (thanks to whoever was following Jen around with the camera)

Our chefs arrive at the kitchen to find Padma wearing her tallest black heels.Because there's nothing a beautiful woman loves more than towering at least a full head over a short man.Standing in Padma's slim shade is Gavin Kaysen, the Rodney Dangerfield of the Culinary World. He was in the 2007 Bocuse D'or but had the misfortune of having a French dishwasher mistakenly eat two of his side dishes and ended up placing 14th. Again in 2007, as a contestant on The Next Iron Chef, he was eliminated for having an under seasoned dish but did not reveal until later that his food had been improperly stored by the tech crew, resulting in it soaking in an ice bath and leaching out all it's flavor. Will Gavin find respect and a little love from Top Chef?Maybe. Padma certainly looks like she's about to tuck him into her pocket. Gavin goes on to describe the chicken Ballotine he made in 2007, leaving out the part about the French Dishwasher's Snack (the name of my next cookbook or band, I can't decide) and how it's a protein, inside a protein, inside another protein. So the Quickfire is to make a version of Gavin's dish, a Ballotine, in ninety minutes. Immediately, the Asshat Voltaggio veers off the track into doing exactly what he wants to do, totally ignoring the whole spirit of the episode which is about fundamentals and precision.BRILLIANT! Jennifer, who needs a win desperately, begins to worry me when she starts to sound like the Ghost of Robin past by explaining that she's never made a ballotine before but at least chooses to make a ballotine from seafood which is in her comfort zone. Apparently Michael has already crowned himself Top Chef and has skipped ahead and also made himself a Judge.BRILLIANT! Finally the ninety minutes is up and the Protein-fest begins.Eli, who I doubt has made a ballotine before, makes a good choice of Scotch Egg. No one spits it out.Michael's Poultry Terrine Chicken with Turkey & Bacon Mousseline is up next.Jennifer finally finds her mojo again with a beautiful Calamari Steak, Scallops, Salmon, Shiitake, Shiso with Rice Noodle Salad which earns a warm "Welcome back." comment from Padma.
Bryan gives us a beautiful Rack of Lamb & Merguez Sausage Wrapped in Caul Fat. He also has sauces of carrot, curry yogurt, roasted pepper coulis and date and fig puree.Kevin sticks to his Juggernaut strategy of drawing on his deep Southern heritage and reinvents Cormeal-Fried Fillet of Catfish with Scallop & Shrimp.Now for the long and the short of all the dishes. Kevin gets a little grief for having dry catfish but it's Michael's terrine that gets called out for being (drumroll please....) a terrine and not a ballotine.BRILLIANT! Maybe the accumulated tattoo ink in his body is causing Michael a bit of short term memory loss....
Of course the winner is the one person Michael claimed had nothing left to show.No immunity or gold big money chip but she does receive an extra 30 minutes she can use for the Elimination Challenge. If we're lucky, she'll model that tank top again.

Up next: Mini Bocuse


Making Space said...

I have questions:
1. Is Padma a chef?
2. Is it true that li'l chef dude had his food eaten by a dishwasher? Faint!
3. The asshat (brilliant photochopping by the way) - why is he TALKING?????
4. What is caul fat? Eeeeeek!!!
5. Aren't you proud that I came up with these questions when there was a photo of Jennifer in a white tank? I'm AWFULLY proud of me.
6. Why did nobody do a turducken? Just wondering...

Dani said...

Thank Goodness for tank top Tuesdays. ;)

Buzz Kill said...

I've only seen this episode once but if memory serves, Jen originaly said she was going to do a turducken. I remember thinking she's dead if she tries to do one in 90 minutes. And then she's making this seafood thing, so I'm not sure what was going on with her. I'll have to watch again.

Mike V (with Brilliant Asshat Photoshop pic) is a bigger smacked ass than Spike ever was. I hope he watches these episodes and realizes why he didn't become Top Chef.

Until this episode I had never heard of a Ballotine, so thanks for the description. I have seen the Bocuse d'Or on TV but really didn't know much about it either. Thanks for the recap.

Big Shamu said...

I'm pretty sure Jen's Turducken comment was a joke. She hit on the one thing that Americans unfamiliar with a ballotine might identify with to understand what they were attempting to make.

Making Space said...

Yeah yeah yeah I didn't seriously expect anyone to make a turducken. LOL Well, perhaps Mr. Asshat... heh...

Dani said...

Do most of the chefs competing have their own restaurants?

moi said...

Ballotine and Terrine – sounds like a Vegas nightclub act. Personally, I was hoping for Hagis. (Speaking of which, those are Louboutins on Padma's feet, for which I applaud her heartily. The bangs, however? Non. Nope. Nyet. Nej Tack. Absolutely not.)

Boxer said...

I am two weeks behind on my Top Chef's but I have plans to catch up this weekend.

In the meantime, your posts are more than entertaining.

Big Shamu said...

Sorry I'm behind in my answering the many questions, was in a software class all day. So here goes.

1) I believe Padma falls under the category Celebrity Cook/Model.
2) Yes, poor Gavin had two of his sides mistaken by a french dishwasher for food that was rejected/not used and proceeded to snarf it down. There were rule changes and watchers added to the competition because of it.
3) The Asshat talks so to confirm his asshattedness. He apparently can't help himself.
4) From Wiki:"Caul fat is the fatty membrane which surrounds internal organs of some animals. It is often used as a natural sausage casing and to encase pâté. Caul fat is also known as Lace Fat." Sometimes it's used to add extra fat to a lean cut of meat. I've yet to use it.
4) Frankly I don't know how you did it. It's obviously from the picture above I couldn't resist.
5)Most likely no one did a turducken for two reasons: a) not sophisticated enough and b)it takes whole birds, deboned and stuffed inside each other to accomplish this dish. Once it's all stuffed then you have to cook it which I'm sure would have taken longer than the 90 minutes they had.
7) Only 6 questions?

I knew I could count on Moi to identify Padma's killer shoes. Next weeks Padma Bangs I feel are going to be packing their knives and going.

Boxer I wish I could say you missed a lot...but I can't. Of course you're always welcome here.

Making Space said...

LOL Software classes leave you feeling detailed, no? Rockin' answers. I can see Jen in my imagination anytime, see, so think of my capacity to ask questions as multi-tasking. BoooYAAA.

Caul fat - I'm feelin' a little different about my turkey keilbasa now... Hmmm...

So, no Velveeta with Rotel dip on anyone's menu coming up, right? Just checkin.

fishy said...

Well, I missed Top Chef this week so I offer you a big thank you! Loved your presentation of both the personalities and the challenge.

moi said...

For a second there, I read that you were in a SoftBALL class and was thinking, that Wii bitch is really on your tail, isn't she?

Big Shamu said...

I've done my lesbian duty playing softball years ago. Fini!
Working the old brain yesterday.

Hey Fishy, glad to see you, sorry you missed it, lots of pretty food to look at. Can't wait to see how much everyone one changes during their time off...and Padma's ill advised Bangs.

MS, on fall weekends in the Midwest, it's always Velveeta and Rotel days.

Making Space said...

NO WAY!!!! I thought people who were into food would diss my Rotel Dip obsession. Woo-friggin-HOOOOO!!!

LaDivaCucina said...

1. Rotel dip rocks. La Diva ain't no food snob, if it tastes good, I eat it. (I try not to eat it often though!)

2.shamu, thanks for such a great recap and all the info. Very thorough you are, girl. Of course I love your photo shop photos! hehe.

3. Michael likes to hear his own voice and would be a bear to cook for. (kind of an insult to bears actually) I'm surprised his ego fits in the kitchen with his big head!

4. I asked numerous people (ooh, even on Wiki answers) six months ago what was the method of stuffing a partridge into a chicken into a duck into a turkey into a deer et all and all the answers I got were for turducken. Philistines. Now I know it's called a ballantine.

5. Someone really needs to cut Jen's hair. That frizz is doing her no favors and she'd look extra cute with it shorter. Which brings me to padma's fringe....very Cleopatra looking....have not seen enough of her in it yet but "bangs" always make one look younger.