Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

We've barely had time to shake out the sand from our shoes from the Beach Party challenge when we're whisked away to the most refined seafood restaurant in the country.

Eric Ripert's Little Temple of Seafood, Le Bernardin. Our lusty seafood adventure with the All Stars continues. Our Captain of the Quickfire, Anthony Bourdain, would like to introduce the chefs and the viewers to Justo Thomas.

Justo cuts up all the fish that's served at Le Bernardin. All of it. 700 to 1000 pounds of fish a day. Not like a 24 hour, a 5 hour time slot. Not only is he efficient and steady, he has to butcher fish to the rigorous standards of Le Bernardin. We're not talking Red Lobster here, we're talking no stray bones, no bloodlines, and no scales in that mountain of fish. When you read about how many awards, stars and diamonds a restaurant receives, it's not just because of one superstar chef, it's because that chef recognizes you need to find the best of the best for every member of your kitchen team. Justo is the man who makes the most of fish delivered to his chop shop. Waste not, want not. So now our chefs face more fish cutting.

Easy right? Out of the ten chefs left, the top four will be chosen. The clock begins and they are OFF!

Tiffany, despite being the executive chef of a seafood restaurant, struggles. Fabio cuts his finger but refuses to pull a Jamie (as I am sure it will now be forever known on Top Chef) and pushes through. Carla can barely get through one fish before time is up.

Not so good. However she's got Fabio, Antonia, and Tiffany as company in the bottom rung of fish butchery. The top four include Dale, Richard, Mike and Marcel but surprisingly not Angelo. But we're not done yet. The top four have a make a dish with those fish they just butchered.

Not from the fillets but from the heads and carcasses which still have plenty of usable flesh. I love it, don't waste a thing. Use it all. It's at this point where we witness a little kerfluffle between Mike and Marcel. Mike needs a chinois and asks out loud where they are. Marcel tells him in the back. Mike takes a brief look in the back, doesn't immediately see one and comes back to ask if he can use the one Marcel has already set up. Marcel declines. Mike, still searching, asks if he can take out his super bag. Again, Marcel directs him to procure his own tools.

Finally Mike finds what he needs but the cut aways have Mike calling Marcel a dick and I'm thinking: 1) Does Mike have to have help from everyone else for the simplest of thing like straining a liquid and 2) Why the hell would Marcel help you in a non-team Quickfire with Immunity on the line? This is still a competition and Marcel's not your sous chef. Hell, he didn't have to help you out at all.

Dick, thy name is Mike Isabella.

Forty five minutes whips by and Tony and Justo are back to taste what the chefs have to offer.

For 45 minutes and fish carcasses it all looked good. Tony has almost all nice things to say except for Marcel's dish which he calls too texturally monochromatic which I think means to much soft on soft. However it is Tony, he could be experiencing an extreme pharmaceutical flashback for all we know. It was very close between all four dishes but you know that bacon dashi had to kick Dale into the winner's circle.

Immunity doesn't hurt either because it's time for Restaurant Wars!!!!!!!


the dogs' mother said...

It was an inspired Quickfire. All I could think of was fish stock.

Buzz Kill said...

This was a really good quickfire and Bourdain should do more of them. "Monochromatic" even had Marcel scratching his head.

The 2nd part of the challenge was even better. I thought they all did well from the looks of the plates. I especially liked the looks and components of Mike's dish.

And it was nice to meet one of the backroom chefs rather than an executive chef. The Fish Butcher of Le Bernardin - sounds like a Nazi Camp Guard. Bwahahaha

Dani said...

What is the bloodline in fish?

Big Shamu said...

Dani I'm no expert on fish but here's a good discussion on this issue over at Chow:

Big Shamu said...

Froggy, yep, this is why we are not chefs. I have had halibut cheeks and my local sushi place does a fish collar dish but it was a great challenge. You know those chefs were thinking about what to make with the fillets as they were butchering their fish so to twist it up and have them makes dishes from the carcasses was excellent. Now I want to know what fluke liver tastes like and how Dale made that sauce. It was everything a good challenge should be, testing their skills, their ability to think on their feet and their creativity.

Buzz, you're right, Anthony should do more, he was straight forward and down to business. I liked his critiques of all the dishes...even the monochromatic statement.

Dani said...

Thanks Sham.

Sharon Rudd said...

Thanks for the link to "super bag." I was wondering what the heck that was.

Big Shamu said...

Hey no problem Eggy, I didn't know either and now that I think about it I think I caught a picture of on behind Marcel in the stew room. When he was being a dick to Carla.

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious says:

Captain Obvious has caught/filleted/released too many varieties of fish to count. Several thousands if CO actually kept count of individual fish.

The bloodline runs along the lateral line of the fish, under the skin and it goes from the skin side, through the flesh to the spine.

In some fish, they are really dark, dark, deep red when you fillet them, like a tuna. Some are very light and people leave it on and it doesn't really affect the overall flavor of the fish too much. You will see a tiny, tiny bit of the bright red bloodline on say...hamachi when you go eat sushi.

You might not see the bloodline being very visible on say a Tai Snapper, Fluke, Halibut since those are all white-fleshed fish and most of the time, the bloodline is cut off anyways since those fish are very delicate-tasting and chefs don't want the bloodline to overpower the fish.

Any fish that is really oily(like Bluefish in the previous episode) will have a really strong tasting bloodline. CO does know some people that like the bloodline.

Captain Obvious will give you a fish tip.

If you aren't keen on smell(fish should never smell like fish), a good way to see if fish is fresh is to look at the bloodline on the fillet if the store didn't remove it. A fresh fish will have a bright red/deep dark red bloodline. A fish that's headed for the pre-marinated section(don't ever buy that s***) will have a brown/greyish bloodline.