Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wedding Wars

It must be tough finding challenges for Top Chef Masters. A challenge that works well on Top Chef doesn't always cross over successfully to Masters. Restaurant Wars is not really a big deal to chefs who have opened and closed more restaurants than your normal 8th place Top Chef finisher. However one challenge that appears to strike fear into the hearts of chefs everywhere is Wedding Wars. The most fearsome aspect of Wedding Wars? Working on teams? Nope. Long hours? Nah. The Bridezilla? Just send in Obi Waxman to calm her. No, what they really fear is...

the cake

...The Cake!

Carrying over their teams from the Quickfire, the chefs have 12 hours over two days to make the Bride's food and cake and the Groom's food and cake for 150 guests. Let's meet the happy couple.


The Blue Team, having won the Quickfire, get to choose whose food they want to cook. They choose the more adventurous food of the Bride. The Teams now get 45 minutes to find out what foods their customer likes and despises. Right off the bat, the Red Team realizes that the Groom is Jewish so the Pork Dish repertoire is tossed out of the kitchen. Carmen is suddenly at a disadvantage. Over on the Bride's side a whole ocean of shellfish sleep safer in their shells as the Bride pronounces them persona non grata despite Rick's best efforts to have them make an appearance. Not only does she shoot down the shellfish, she also takes the lamb off the table but I don't think that suggestion sunk deep enough for one chef.

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We've all seen this type of look before. It's a look that says "I can change your mind about lamb". It's a gutsy look. Let's see if she has the chutzpha to back it up. As for the dreaded cake, the Groom goes Carrot and the Bride wants Bananas Foster. Carrot cake is kinda pedestrian but Bananas Foster is an interesting request. A flambé of bananas and rum served over ice cream is not your usual wedding dessert choice. It pretty much guarantees someone gets to run a dessert station for the night, making the dish upon request. Could be disastrous.



Back at the kitchen, the six hours of prep work begins. It's tough, each chef has to prep two courses and think about the cake.

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Which Susan does not want to do.

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The Blue Team is looking tasty on hors d'oeuvres while the Red Team...

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...looks a bit safe. I'm actually kinda stoked to see what sort of hors d'oeuveres these master chefs come up with. The usual offerings we get from the Top Chef contestants run to the sad and doughy side and we hate that. Prep time is also revelation time. We learn that Susur and Jody have never made their respective dessert assignments of carrot cake and bananas foster.

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And I have no idea what Marcus is doing to this tenderloin?

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Just a side bar here, it cracks me up to no end that Master Chefs use slap choppers. Do you know just how often Bravo uses a chef's knife graphic in it's Top Chef and Top Chef Masters advertising? What next?

the slapper

This guy as a judge?

So prep is done for the night and the chefs toddle off to what I'm sure are swanky digs to rest up for the next day's activities.

Jonathan and Marcus start things off right by facing off in their own personal Grilling Wars.

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I know Obi Waxman likes to listen to the ingredients to guide him onto the path of Culinary Enlightenment....Picture 23

...but I'm fairly certain this cake is not saying it wants to look like Ass.

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(yes, capital A, Ass) But he's not concerned because he has faith in Jody's Banana Foster which is a good thing because Jody is getting a little tense watching Susur and his Land of Many Desserts.

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So it's the Blue Team's Ass Cake and Bananas Foster versus the Red Team's Carrot Cake, Croque-em-bouche, an Upside Down Raisin Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce, and a kids dessert with chocolate sauce. Jody has a right to be worried.

Time to start passing the hors d'oeuvres.

Blue hors

Red Team hors

Just by sight and description, I'd have to say the Blue Team gets the edge here. I know the Red Team went all seafood but it seems lackluster and messy. I know Jonathan got called out for his offering being bigger than one bite but overall the flavors on both teams get high marks.


Now...there was a lot of food. Each team apparently did a salad and many sides but much of that food was not shown nor reviewed by the critics. So we'll give a fly by to the main dishes and scoot to dessert. The Blue team had Jody's Rack of Lamb with Rosemary, Farro and Autumn Vegetables, Jonathan's Roast Chicken with Tarragon Velouté and Cauliflower Puree, and Rick's Seafood Grill on Sweet and Sour Eggplant. On the Red Team we had Marcus's Roast Beef Tenderloin with Grilled Onion Ragout and Pomegranate Sauce, Tony's Flaming Ouzo Shrimp and his Au Gratin Potatoes. Not shown are Carmen's Grilled Corn Salsa or Tony's Pasta dish. The winners in all this food? Jody's lamb, Jonathan's chicken, and Tony's shrimp and au gratin potatoes.


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The CAKE in all it's Assy Glory. Time to submit this puppy to Cake Wrecks. It didn't help that it was dry. But that's OK because Obi Waxman was right.

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Jody's newborn efforts at Bananas Foster blew all of Susur's desserts right off the table. Finally the wedding event is over.

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The Blue Girls are just a bit giddy to be done.

I have to say that this was some of the best food for a Wedding Wars challenge I've ever seen. The Bride and Groom should be very happy to have had such wonderful food. Still someone has to go home. The critics overall seem happy but point out the obvious cake disaster. Yet despite that, Susur's dessert heavy contributions and Carmen's lone Corn Salsa dish make the Groom's food seem uneven. Did Jody risk too much by giving the Bride something she didn't want?

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NO! The Blue Team survives and moves on to the next Challenge. The winner overall?

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That's right, Big Risk, Big Rewards Jody Adams. It's an amazing contrast between the two teams because the Groom's team gave him exactly what he wanted just not in the most exciting or the more finely executed way. Carmen in particular finds herself the Anti-Jody. Because her background is spicy and porky she just couldn't find a way to make a dish that made her mark. The critics seem to think she didn't work as hard as the rest of the team which I don't believe it's just that she chose to submit to the wishes of her client. In the end, she takes one for the team and is sent packing.

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Next up: The Simpsons?


Making Space said...

Oh man, Jody and Susan make me so happy. LOL

Carmen! No me diga! I wanted Ms. Don't Complain Don't Explain to stick around. Sigh.

That CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was a crazy lot of food. I hope the wedding party and the guests enjoyed it.

LaDivaCucina said...

I think Susur was brilliant to come up with the idea of the French wedding cake of cream puffs. What chef doesn't know how to make pate a choux? It still puzzles me that all the contestants on this show, whether Masters or not, get so befuddled by desserts and cake.

Even though Jody's lamb was superb, lamb isn't one of those meats that you can easily sway people to like, most either like it or don't. Chef's egos just kill me. I hate liver, you could cook it any way you like and put it in a pastry, it's still liver and I would still hate it.

And Carmen complaining about her whole thing is pork, well, get over it. Where is the imagination? Can't get past the pork and rice and beans? Puh-lease! I thought she should have been more aggressive in pushing her own dishes instead of being so helpful. She might be good to work with but it was a competition.

the apps look incredible.

Buzz Kill said...

Another episode that I missed. Great write-up though. Carmen was on borrowed time anyway.

moi said...

If I were a chef, I'd live in terror of wedding wars, too. Not because of the cake, but because I know for a fact that 99.9999 percent of brides are beeotches to the nth degree. And, they can't dress themselves for their own wedding day, as witness this gal's stripper gown. Seriously? It was nearly Not Safe for Primetime.

That being said, the right person stayed, the right person went home. Now excuse me while I go make some bananas foster. Yum.

Big Shamu said...

MS, aren't they cute together? I know they're not "together" but they do look like enjoy each other's company.

It's because there are way more rules to baking than say riffing on a sauce. Yes Susur could pull off the Croque-em-bouche but sounds like he whiffed on the carrot cake.
I like Jody's risk taking. She weighed the chance that she could make a lamb that many people would like plus the bride against making something else that was just eh. Remember, the bride didn't have the final say but even then it sounded like she liked the lamb. All the guests get to vote and then the critics vote. I think she bet right.
Those appetizers did look good. I loved the variety of the Blue Teams choices.

Buzz, Carmen may have been on borrowed time but Marcus is not looking too snazzy either.

Moi, I was kinda wondering if they were going to get one of "those" brides. She seemed easy enough to get along with but we didn't really see any behind the scenes. That was a very interesting choice of wedding dress. Perhaps a Bravo Housewife in Training?

Never had Bananas Foster.

Making Space said...

Right. I get that they're not together, they're just too adorable. HHeehee

You should definitely do bananas foster for lunch at work tomorrow.

Dani said...

So many yummy things to eat!!

LaDivaCucina said...

Shamy, I meant to put at the end of my lamb comment that in spite of what the bride liked, it IS a competition and Jody did the right thing (obviously!)

I am not sure if I can wait for your next post after last night!!!!!!!

Heff said...

Is Jack....I mean "Vince Offer" peddling Slap Chops now ?