Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ghosts of Dishes Past

How utterly delicious. The Quickfire has just finished, Team Chicago is basking in the glory of Immunity when Top Chef Minions dressed head to toe in black (what is this, Top Chef All Stars, the Dark Side?) come bearing silver domed serving trays of food.

Every jaw muscle tightens, palms begin to sweat, eyes start to roll. What is under the dome? Wild boar? Rattlesnake? Live eels???
No, it's worse. In front of each chef are the ingredients that made up the dish that sent them packing their knives. So diabolical. Because you know that each one of them replayed that last dish in their heads over and over and over.

Playing the What If game until only large quantities of alcoholic beverages can ease their weary brains. They have three hours now and two hours the next day to put in play all the changes they plotted in their heads if they could have just had a do over. Not all eighteen chefs will find peace when finished with their do over dishes but someone will win $10,000. How sweet is Immunity looking right now for the four Chicago chefs? The luckiest of the four?

Asshat and his frozen scallops. Which if I remember, was par for the course for his season, timely immunity. (Serenity NOW!) I do have to admit, seeing Rick Tramonto smack Asshat down again at Judges Table was pretty sweet.

Apparently some folks didn't think their original dish was all that bad.

This is not a good strategy but some people just won't listen. The other person who has it really tough is Stephen. Unfortunately he doesn't have Immunity to fall back on.

You see Stephen wasn't sent home for making a bad dish, he was sent home because he didn't really make a dish at all. Instead he spent his last hours on Top Chef instructing the waitstaff which wine glasses to use. I doubt he's worried very much about those dishes once he left. He'll be starting from zero. Except for his lovely shirt and tie combination. He'll always have that to fall back on. Cooking is hot and heavy and those chefs who took the original criticisms of their dishes to heart seem to be doing well.
The presentation of the Do Over Dishes happens at the Russian Tea Room.

Why the Russian Tea Room? Not a clue but here we are. Now because there are so many chefs, they divide them up into two groups for two different services. When not cooking, you'll be eating and of course, critiquing the other chefs food. This little ploy has happened in the past and normally what happens is that the weaker chefs attack whatever chef they think is their strongest competition. Not necessarily the most honest critique of a dish but always highly entertaining to the viewer to see such blatant game playing.
The two cooking hours begins for the first group and the only person who seems to be a bit in the weeds is Stephen who has three dishes to make and plate. Tiffani, in a show of Season 1 solidarity, helps Stephen get his plates to the window.

With Tiff's help, Stephen makes it before time runs out but he's not happy with the presentation of his dishes. Then again, he could have taken the Richard Blaise approach to plating and the timer.
Just ignore it. Just keep plating, Tom's not here to tell you to stop, right? What's the old phrase, It's only cheating if they catch you? There's another old chestnut, It is what it is and the eight other chefs saw it as cheating and a leg up on $200,000. If Richard really thought no one else would rat him out he's not exactly the Super Genius he thinks he is.

No reason other reason for this photo other than I think Carla is a beautiful woman and beautiful women always have a place on this blog. Not that I would ever neglect my female readers....

...I give you Mr. Tony, a man who will quickly cut into the heart of your dish, usually with a sledgehammer. (Again in all black. Who is he supposed to be, Johnny Cash?) Gird Your Loins! Back in the kitchen, a loud TV has suddenly appeared. Now the chefs nightmare is complete as they will watch their competitors either love or hate their dish in High Def.

The highs first, Blaise, Angelo, and Dale T. all seem to redeem themselves. The lows are much more brutal than the praise was soaring. Fabio seems to come into the worst of it from both Bourdain and Colicchio however all Fabio hears is Bourdain saying he really hated his dish. The cute little charmer that all the ladies loved back during his season instantly disappears to be replaced with a guy who perhaps takes his work a little too seriously. Stephen and Elia also take a lot of criticism.

Next group takes to the kitchen for their two hour cooking time.

No reason other reason for this photo other than I think this pork belly is beautiful and beautiful pork bellies always have a place on this blog. Cooking and plating for this group is quietly uneventful and frankly so are their critiques. Jen, Dale L. and Marcel get some mild words. On the up side, Casey proves she can cook pork belly, Asshat proved he can hide frozen scallops under a plethora of other ingredients, Antonia gets a split decision, Jamie conquers a dish she still hates. Onto Judges Table or, if given his way, Fabio enters the Octagon with Tony for a little mixed martial arts action.

Your top four chefs for the night but first....

...Tom kicks Blaise out of the top four for cheating. Well, really for getting caught cheating on camera. Again, not too brilliant Professor Blaise. The winner of the first elimination and for conquering his own personal demon Do Over Dish is Angelo for his revamped Homemade Ramen with Sweet Glazed Pork Belly and Watermelon.


The bottom three hold no surprises.

They are probed and prodded as to why their dishes failed. Elia didn't realize her fish was nearly raw, Stephen seems really off with his cooking skills and Fabio is just plain angry. I have to point out that all three judges has issues with Fabio's dish, not just Bourdain. Not to be outdone by Fabio and his confrontational comments, Elia leaves the judges with her own admonishment not to eliminate her, she's got so much more to show them. And she really means it. The wise man of the group, Stephen keeps his mouth shut and in the end, lives to fight another day along with Fabio. Elia has the distinct dishonor of being the first Allstar going home first.

Probably never to be seen on Top Chef again. Can you smell the burning bridges?

Next Up....Can you guess what Elmo and Cookie Monster say A is For?


the dogs' mother said...

A is for appetite!

MakingSpace said...

CAAAAAAARLAAAAAAAA!!!!! Just had to say that.

If Bourdain starts singing "A Boy Named Sue" at any point in the proceedings we're in trouble. Two packs a day, people. Two packs a day.

Fabio was always funny during his season. Here, notsomuch.

I still don't know what pork belly is.

I always thought Angelo was a grease spot, but he actually behaved like a human being/chef on this episode, so frankly I do not begrudge him his win.

Tiffani helping Stephen? That would NOT have happened seven seasons ago.

Now I want to see her cook for Sesame Street characters. And kids. Oh yes. Again. Hahaha

Captain Obvious said...


Captain Obvious and pork belly are very good friends.

Captain Obvious thinks you need to get yourself acquainted.

MakingSpace said...

Captain, oh my Captain! I'm sure pork belly and I would be friends - if I had any idea what it was or where to find it.

Buzz Kill said...

I said it before and I'll say it again - shame on the chef that didn't go home and perfect the dish that got them booted. If for no other reason - pride and personal satisfaction. I had the going home order as Fabio, Stephen and Elia, so I was surprised to see Elia go. And is it wrong that I wanted Bourdain to sing Ring of Fire?

This week's challenge is gutt-check time. Let's see how the chefs hold up to a bunch of screaming, fickle kids. I will tell you all it's not for the faint of heart (I think MS will back me on this).

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious says:

They sell Pork Belly at Whole Foods and Captain Obvious has seen it at Japanese, Chinese and Korean supermarkets.

Pork belly has layers of fat and meat and when done correctly, it'll taste so good that you'll want to slap your momma.

MakingSpace said...

Hmm... I would think I should be able to find it easily where I live then... I just don't venture into the pork area of the grocery store much...

As for slappin' my mama, there we have a whole other subject. snort

Big Shamu said...

Well now MS has a homework assignment. First find a restuarant in your area that serves pork belly. Go there and try it. See if you like it but since you're bacon's bitch, this won't be too hard.