Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quick Doesn't Always Mean Best

Because this is Top Chef All Stars, The Season of Redemption, it was only natural that there would be a Quickfire that featured team food preparation. You knew it, I knew and Casey especially knew it. I'm sure as soon as she signed up for this season she started chopping onions in anticipation. I think I even heard a rumor she was Meryl Streep's stunt onion chopping double in Julie/Julia.

I think we can safely assume she was more than ready for this particular Quickfire. A great Quickfire too. It takes the original Mise En Place Relay Race and ramps up the competitive nature and stress even more. Deceptively simple, four teams of four, prepping three ingredients, whole heads of garlic into four cups of chopped garlic, trim down fifteen artichokes, and french a whole lotta racks of lamb. But that's not the end and finally, they figured out how to keep all the teams in play. Once one team is done with all three ingredients and hits the red button, the countdown clock starts winding down from fifteen minutes. The quickest team off the ingredients now has the entire time to make a dish using the three ingredients. The remaining three teams will have whatever time is left once they finish their prep work. All four team members can participate on all the prep work to get it done. Best tasting dish wins the challenge and $5000 for each member of the team.

If I had to predict which team would have been the fastest off the prep just by team makeup I think I would have gone with the Blue Team. Asshat knows meat and is pretty quick on prep and Tre also looks like he wields a mean meat prepping knife. However Tre shares a little secret...

...which doesn't look good for the Blue Team. He could have taken some lessons from Marcel who is whipping through his lamb with his hammering technique.

Is he using a sharpening steel to do that? Whatever it is, he's right, it's cleaning the meat away from the bone much quicker and cleaner then the other methods we're seeing. Not that it matters right now because the first task that gets done is the garlic by the Fabio and the Green Team. This sends all the other teams into a panic. Except for Tiffani who for some reason decides to use a mandolin to slice her garlic. Slowly and methodically.

Definitely a wtf moment in Blogging Basement Central. It doesn't help that the Green Team just got done with their lamb followed closely by the Red Team completing their garlic task. That leaves the White Team and the Blue Team having yet completed anything. It gets worse for them because now the Green Team is having their last task checked and racing to hit the big red button.

Which means the fifteen minute countdown to dish completion has now begun. The knives start flying for the other three teams as they race to complete their prep work. Still it has to be good prep work as Asshat finds out the hard way...

...when guest judge David Chang rejects his garlic as not being cut small enough. Finally the Blue Team gets done with twelve minutes to go. Actually enough time to put some heat to the meat. Red Team clocks in at ten minutes. The White Team struggles to finally finish with eight minutes and thirty eight seconds. The last two teams realize that raw meat is their only choice and both choose to serve lamb carpaccio. The last eight minutes whip by in a frenzy of cooking and ideas. Now it's time to taste the dishes.

Green Team who had the most time comes up fried lamb with a bizarre colored sauce.

The Blue Team with a pan seared lamb and artichokes cooked three ways.

The Red Team's lamb carpaccio with large flakes of cheese.

The White Team and lamb carpaccio number two.

The low teams on the totem pole? Green and Red. This leaves Angelo confused.

How can this be, the Green Time had the most time but turns out their herb additions blew out the other flavors. Which is also what happened on the Red Team with their cheese addition. The White Team and the Blue Team turn out the be the top two, even though White slapped something together with less than nine minutes. Who wins the big wad of cash?

The Blue Team....except Richard can't wait to explain how he was the leader of the winning effort. (I see a big, sparkly necklace in Richard's future.)


the dogs' mother said...

A mandolin to chop garlic? All my fingers curled up in terror at the sight!

Big Shamu said...

Froggy, I haven't a clue why she was doing that. The only way she could have gone slower is if she had used the Good Fellas prision razor blade slicing method of chopping garlic.

Buzz Kill said...

Laughing at the Goodfellas reference. I wouldn't have the nerve to do something that small on a mandolin.

I liked this quickfire. And I especially liked the clock starting when the first team finished the prep. It really gave the teams incentive. Artichokes 3 ways really showed some team work and I think the Blue Team had the best dish. The white teams dish looked great for 8 1/2 minutes. The red team might have pulled it off had they gone lighter on the cheese.

This was a thinking-on-your-feet challenge because of the different times each team had. I liked it..

Big Shamu said...

Me too Buzz, the quick on the feet thinking. No time to remember one of the many recipes you memorized just for this occasion. Full out, panic driven inspiration. Great Quickfire.