Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better...

Now that our Master Chefs have broken bread together, it's back to work. Except they've really been working all along. In true Top Chef form, the Elimination Challenge is to take one of your competitor's dishes and put your spin on it.This is a tricky thing not so much on the part of Top Chef but with regards of the camaraderie you just established with your fellow chefs. Unless it was edited out, I don't remember seeing anyone spitting out any dish (apparently that move is only reserved for the judges on regular Top Chef) or expressing any criticisms at all. But that's not to say they didn't have any or thought to themselves perhaps they could do it better. Add to that not only is someone trying to improve your dish, YOU have to watch them messing with you masterpiece.It's a fascinating twist also for the fact as to the question of did the chefs really do their best signature dish? I only point this out because this isn't even the finale, it's just the first round. Wouldn't you save your best for the final challenge? Round and round we go.

After shopping we're back in the kitchen where Art seems to be trying his hand at some return smack talking directed at Hubert and that there fancy French cookin'.Art also reveals while he's been cooking quite a while he's only worked in a restaurant for a year and a half which is amazing when you look at his competition.
The breakdown of who is doing what goes like this.
Hubert, who was the two-fer on the winning team of the Mise En Place relay race gets to pick the dish he wants to reinvent. He chooses Anita's Scallop dish. This also means she gets to re-make his Lobster and Truffle dish. French vs. French Asian. Art and Suzanne will be trading Seared Grouper and Chopped Sirloin with Egg and Rick and Michael will be delving into Fennel Balsamic Quail and Rack of lamb with chiles and figs.

Michael wraps his lamb with his caul fat or, as he calls it, Sicilian pantyhose. Good luck finding this ingredient in the online recipe version of this dish.Suzanne is still struggling with her texturally challenging fish while Art is...well...
I'm not sure what Art is doing.
Let's Eat!
SURPRISE! Your former competition will now be judging your dishes. (Thank you TeeVee Gods for bringing me another slice of The Ludo, my new favorite French Cheese) Will they be kind or hypercritical? Let's see.
Art's Lamb Scotch Egg with sweet potato fried and tomato tart. I'm glad he followed the tried and true rule of Baconizing his dish but this is not appealing to me at all.
Elizabeth Falkner and her extra spikey Judging hair wonders how the dish might have turned out if Art had tried using a soft boiled egg instead of a hard boiled egg. Not too much positive feedback.
Rick's Quail with Parsnip and proscuitto stuffing over wild greens is presented next.Hey Ricky, he likes it! Actually everyone seems pleasantly surprised that Rick stepped out of his Mexican box.
Suzanne's Roasted Great White Whale of Grouper with gnochi, peas, bacon, and parsnips.
Falkner cuts a sister no slack as she brings her A Game Judging standards and points out the overcooked fish and cold gnochi.We can dig it James.
Hubert's Seared scallop with cream of sea urchin over fingerling mashed potatoes. The only knock on his dish is that it seems that there's not enough sea urchin flavor in the sauce. But there is bacon so it's got that going for it.Michael's Rack of lamb stuffed with fig mostrada chick peas and fried rosemary. While it looks really simple it's much more layed and complex than it appears but the diners aren't convinced it's the best it could be.
Anita's very interesting corn chawanmushi, champagne gelee and lobster biscuit sandwich. All the diners seem to enjoy the dish. Which is good because her take on Hubert's dish makes her this week's winner.
This week's loser I'm sure you can tell by her reaction...Whoops! Sorry...
...there we go. I know I'm sad she's leaving because after some of the antics we've seen on Top Chef, this calm soul was a welcome breath of fresh air.


MakingSpace said...

Bacon! Woooot!

Or maybe I missed the point. I sorta do when bacon is introduced.

LaDivaCucina said...

I still don't understand the whole grouper texture thing. I never found it so mysterious or difficult to cook.

Hey, Sham, did you see what Michael C did last night with that lemon? I think I saw him squeeze it with his mouth? What the hell was that about? Hands not good enough?

Thanks for the pine nut wonder they are so expensive (I think I saw sumpin' about them soaking in vodka too...hehehe....)

Big Shamu said...

BACON baby, gotta love the bacon.

I have to go back and look. I'm really hoping that him adding lemon juice via his jaws was not the case.

I don't think it was so much a case of grouper being the hardest fish to work with but perhaps a chef who is much more comfortable with beef and lamb than seafood especially a tricky seafood to time and serve to many diners. I think grouper is not as forgiving as perhaps other fish in that regard.

LaDivaCucina said...

RE MC: I think it was right before they started to cook for the main competition. I thought I saw him put the lemon in his mouth, bend over and squeeze it into a bowl (or pan, whateve) It was weird.

I already erased my copy, otherwise I'd look too.