Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tag, You're It

Champions Rd 1

WELCOME to the CHAMPIONS ROUND

Time to start ratcheting up the stress. How best to do that? Just a little thing called The Blindfold Tag Team Challenge.

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It's a nasty little thing the producers came up with during the most recent season of Top Chef. It's brilliantly simple. Two teams of 4 chefs. Each team produces just one dish that they all have a hand in making. Except they each take a turn producing the dish. No one can speak and the chefs waiting their turn must be blindfolded so they cannot see what the current chef is doing. Each chef gets ten minutes with the dish keeping in mind what the strengths of the team are and what they can accomplish in their allotted time. I LOVE THIS CHALLENGE.

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The chefs? Not so much. Why? Because little details or weaknesses that you could hide in other challenges suddenly leap out into the glare of the spotlight. Like say....

don't hurl

...claustrophobia. Yes the Obi Wan of the Kitchen suffers from paralyzing claustrophobia. And they made him the anchor of their team so that means he waits the longest under the dark, constrictive blindfold. I personally wanted a Jonathan Cam because I thought for sure he was going to faint into a crumpled heap.

So the race begins. Really the first chef on your team is the most important (despite what Marcus may think about the anchor being the most important) because they have the most time. Yes they only have ten minutes but if they want to use a protein that takes longer than ten minutes to cook they have the best opportunity to get it started. The Red team ( Tony, Carmen, Susur and Marcus) choose Tony to go first. The Blue Team (Susan, Jody, Rick and Jonathan) have Susan set their team up.

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Not surprisingly they pick similar product out of their assigned refrigerators. Scallops and mussels are on both their menus with Tony also taking some bass. The time flies by. The next two chefs are Jody and Carmen.

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Jody, who not only admits to watching Top Chef but can recite the strategy that Jen used for her stint at this challenge, starts whipping up a sauce. Carmen starts preparing the bass. Your time is up, in flies Susur and Rick.

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Each starts putting their own spin on the dish, adding flavor and setting up the anchor so they can easily finish and plate. Meanwhile...

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...Jonathan still hasn't reached his Happy Place. Finally Jonathan is freed from his phobic bonds. Obi Wan is back and calmly assessing the dish before him.

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His team watches in awe. Waiting for the...The Look.

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The ingredients are speaking to him, the Force is flowing through him and all is calm. The dish whispers "I'm lonely, cuddle me in butter" and Obi Wan hears it's cries of loneliness and seeks to calm it fennel bitterness. He is Obi Wan

Obi Wan Waxman

Master of the Kitchen.

Jay Raynor is our only judge for the Quickfire (Kelly still being full from her Grilled Cheese sandwich Quickfire sampling back in Episode 2). What does he think of the two dishes?

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The Red Team has produced a Prosciutto Pan Seared Sea Bass and a Truffle Spiced Shellfish Broth. All the seafood components seem to be perfectly cooked. The bass sits on a bed of prosciutto that might be a tad under cooked. Jay likes the "herbiness" of the dish but is confused by the two component aspect. Is it one dish or two?

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The Blue Team has a Mussel and Scallop Stew with Orange and Fennel. Again, Jay compliments the cooking of the seafood. He's a bit taken aback by the bitterness of the fennel. Is it too much or just right? Did Obi Waxman add enough butter to balance the fennel? Jay's not saying.

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The Red Team comes on strong with 4 stars.

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But the Force is with the Blue Team as they squeak by with that extra half star. Thank you Obi Waxman.

Next Up: Wedding Wars, Master Style

7 comments:

Making Space said...

So to sum up - it's bettah with buttah.

You're like an evil genius with the photochopping. What the hell though, does that dude really look that much like Obi Wan? What the hell did you do?

But it was the pic of Susan and Jody and whatever testosterony person was in there with them that will stick with me, so thanks. What. I mean it. Thanks.

Yeah yeah, I know it's about the food. Y'all talk amongst yourselves.

moi said...

Bwahahahaha to Waxman as Obiwan. So spot on. He's my fave contestant. I love the blindfold challenge, too. A genuine test of creativity, flexibility, and cool-headedness with just the right drop of drama.

LaDivaCucina said...

These are comments for the whole show:

Ok, I love Susurs comments and the fact that he admitted he called his wife to whine cracked me up!

I KNEW when I saw Jody ask to taste the bacon that Shamy would be fallin' for her....

What the hell is Kelly wearing? Reminds me of that pseudo Victorian prairie style that was in for a while in the 80's...(Moi?)

Don't get how hard it would have been to incorporate bananas foster into a wedding cake? Why not a rum cake with banana cream in the middle?

Carmen should do more to contribute to making and showing her dishes instead of being so helpful. In the Quickfire she chose to prep the fish too.

WTHell is the bride thinking wearing that slip dress with those gazoombas? Looks like the gown is more for the honeymoon. Tacky!

Oh yeah, the food looked great! haha!

LaDivaCucina said...

Has Gael had work done? She looks different somehow...

Dani said...

Damn, I can't see the pictures!!! I'll check back in later.

intuitive eggplant said...

I agree with Shamy: the tag-team relay is one of my all-time favorite challenges. Interesting that these chefs also went for the winning strategy from its introduction in last season’s TC – putting the strongest chefs on each team in first and last positions. Couldn’t quite tell whether this was a conclusion they came to on their own, whether they were borrowing the idea from TC7, or whether the episode was just edited to make it look that way. (And of course one can always debate which competitors among this pool are actually the strongest.)

Also interesting is this interview with Carmen Gonzalez, where she says that if she had it to do over again, she would have done a more prominent dish in the EC.

http://eater.com/archives/2010/05/07/carmen-gonzalez-top-chef-masters-exit-interview.php

Carmen also says she prepared an additional dish that didn’t make it into the episode, an a la minute cooked spinach salad. It makes me cranky the editors completely shut us out from seeing or hearing about it. The heck with the damn “story arc” – we want to see the food!

Meanwhile, sorry to say, but I won’t be able to join in this Sunday’s DSS. I had hoped to bake chile chocolate pumpkin muffins to go with the breakfast burritos, fruit salsa, and cinnamon tortilla chips I took to work today. But we are apparently in the midst of the great pumpkin shortage of 2010 and there was none to be found. The work week has left me pretty spent and I still have to make a couple of dishes to take to Tennessee tomorrow, when I rendezvous with my sister who is driving in from Iowa and we surprise our mom for Mother’s Day. (Didn’t want to post that on my own blog in the unlikely event my mom might actually read it.) So I’ll be spending a cook-off-free few days (not that DSS is exactly a cook-off . . ., but I think you know what I mean) and look forward to checking out everyone’s bakery treats when I’m back.

To the moms in the crowd, I hope your kids make you feel as appreciated as you deserve. And to the rest of us, here’s hoping you’re able to bring a smile to your mom’s face if/while you still can.

Hah, my verification word is "waffles"!

moi said...

OMG! I TOTALLY forgot to weigh in on She Who Doesn't Eat's top. I like me some silk. I like me some lace. Put them together, though, and you walk a VERY fine line between super cute and 1950s coffee table doily.

And I was reserving my WTF with the Bridezilla's Gazoomba comment for when we get to that part. Hey, you got girls? By all means, show them off. Discreetly. Don't let them steal the keys to the car, run wild all over town, and leave with the troop of marines. All before the wedding's over, no less. Tack. E.