Monday, December 20, 2010

New York's Finest

I'm not sure just how much I enjoyed the Elimination Challenge. Could be that my ambivalence stems from my Big Gay Boyfriend getting auffed and my other all time favorite, Tiffani almost getting auffed. But I think it has more to do with what they were asking the chefs to do. They were basically asked to put on another chef's jacket and make a dish that fit on that particular chef's menu. I get the genesis of this challenge. It has everything to do with Marcel's little dust up over his making a cyber egg dish for an article in Wired Magazine back in 2007. Later a sous chef at wd-50 claimed that Marcel stole/copied/plagiarized the idea from Wylie Dufresne. It actually led to some very interesting discussions as to who owns the intellectual property of recipes. On the one side you've got Coca Cola and their high tech security set up to protect the recipe of Coke but then you've got every other chef out there looking for an edge at getting and keeping customers in their restaurants and if that means borrowing a great dish idea from a competitor, so be it. Here each team has to go to one of four restaurants, eat some of the dishes the menu features and then make a dish that would fit on menu, tastes good and still manages to represent the contestant. It's a pretty hairy challenge.

Knives are drawn to determine which team gets which restaurant and menu. The Green Team of Mike, Fabio, Angelo and Tiffany draws ...

...David Chang's French/Vietnamese arm of his Momofuku empire. The Red Team of Casey, Jamie, Dale L. and Antonia pull...

David Burke's interesting take on Modern American Cuisine. The Blue Team of Stephen, Tre, Richard and Asshat yank...

...Michael White's coastal Italian cuisine with a heavy emphasis on seafood. Last but not least, the White Team of Tiffani, Dale T., Marcel and Carla are left with...

...Wylie Dufresne's delicious laboratory of molecular gastronomy.

Right off the bat you know some of these chefs are going to struggle. Fabio would have been much happier if his team has pulled Marea but instead he's got to put aside his natural inclination towards Italian and pound out a French/Vietnamese dish. Tiffani, I'm sure, would gladly trade places with anyone on Townhouse's team since modern American is more in her wheelhouse.
A little sampling of what our chefs enjoyed.

Wylie's aerated foie gras.

While they never named this Marea dish I think it's roasted John Dory.

Angelo tries to snort the Pickled Watermelon at Má Pêche.

Two hours to cook a dish in that restaurant's kitchen. Double elimination. Why? Because they can. It goes rather smoothly which really means no one cut themselves and went to the hospital. Just going to hit the highs and lows but first I have show you this dish.

I don't know about you but I see plenty of radish, peach and cilantro (?) but what I don't see a lot of is flounder. This is Tiffany's Flounder crudo and I know I'd be pissed at how little fish is actually in this dish. I'm hoping she meant it to be an appetizer and not a main at Má Pêche.

The dishes that really nailed the challenge?

Dale T.'s Sunnyside Up Egg Dumpling with Braised Pork Belly and Milk Ramen that hits Wylie in his soft eggy spot and manages to make an awesome bacon and egg dish that would have been fun to serve to the museum kids of the last episode. I seriously want to slurp this up.

Tre's Swordfish with braised artichoke, mushroom panna cotta and basil oil for Marea. Not the biggest swordfish fan so I'll take the judges word on this dish.

Angelo's Turmeric marinated fish with dill, cilantro, salmon roe, chorizo and white chocolate for Má Pêche. This is where your adventurous foodie side has to kick in. Automatically I would never order fish with white chocolate. No, I'd have my most daring foodie friend with me and let her order it and I'd taste it. That is a heck of a lot going on. Think about these flavors separately: turmeric, salmon roe, chorizo. Just those three on the same plate is playing with fire not to mention what looks like a lot of dill but not so much cilantro. If Angelo can make all that work in a dish together with fish (only mentioned as river fish) and white chocolate, then yes, snort all the pickled watermelon you want because that's quite the trick.

Then there's Antonia's Seared Scallop with Pea Purée (oh geez, not pea purée again), carrot purée, pickled carrot and mint oil representing Townhouse's menu. Now her dish is interesting if only for the fact that it got the patented Tom Colicchio too salty comment. However and this is where many a former Top Chef contestant starts pulling their hair out, David Burke says it's not too salty for him. He likes aggressive salting of his food. So we're left to wonder, would Antonia been in the top if Burke hadn't spoken up about that particular issue? Not that it matters because Dale T. wins the challenge and gets a sweet trip to New Zealand.

The bottom four are fairly easy to pick out.

What can I say? Tiff was definitely out of her element in the wd~50 kitchen, Fabio went way too heavy for the lighter side of Má Pêche, Dale went too sweet (and remember that Burke said he liked where the dish was going) and Stephen just couldn't walk the tightrope with his aromatic spices. As I said earlier I thought for sure it was Tiff and Dale so I have no idea how the judges ended up with Dale and Stephen. All I know is that the fashion aspect and the entertainment quotient dropped considerably with these two wonderful competitor's elimination. They will both be missed.

Which means no more descriptions like Food with Jazz Hands. You bastids!


MakingSpace said...

You got Dale with jazz hands. I'm all choked up.

I never understand how pea and carrot puree end up on the menu of anyone over the age of eight months. I just have to say that.

I'm gonna miss those guys. Dale's fantastic (and has already put the re-worked version of his losing dish on his restaurant menu - LOVE THAT); and Stephen is just really really good TV. LOL sigh...

Big Shamu said...

I know, I'm still in mourning. Man I love that guy.

MakingSpace said...

It really won't be the same show without him. And I really love his attitude, rework it and immediately put it on his menu. And I hope he gets his Michellin star next year. A most excellent fellow.

Buzz Kill said...

I'm with MS in that I don't get the pea/carrot purees either. But whenever they're on someone's plate it's the best dish going. When I think of pea puree, I think baby food.

I had Dale as the best dish of the four bottoms. I was really surprised when he was PYKAGed. I had Stephen and Tiffani on my score card (alright, I don't have a score card).

Dani said...

So sorry for y'all!

I got no love for pea puree either.((shudder))

moi said...

I wonder if Angelo snorts his food when out on a dinner date? So, so not sexy. But just when I want to throw a shoe at him, he goes and does something REALLY interesting. Damn him.

But the dish I wanted to clutch to my chest and duck into a back alley with was Dale T. egg dumpling and braised pork belly. That looked unbelievably tasty.

Big Shamu said...

I don't mind the purees but then again I've never had kids. I'll have to take yours, MS and Dani's word that it's too close to the baby food.

Damn Moi, not your shoes....he's not worth a shoe. You are correct though, that dish Dale T. made looked absolutely luscious. I wonder if Wylie really will put it on his menu?

Sharon Rudd said...

I too am so sorry to see Dale L. go. Did you hear he is offering a re-worked version of the dish that got him auf'd at Sprout? Gotta love him for having a sense of humor about it.

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by my place, and best holiday wishes to you too!