Friday, February 13, 2009

Top Chef’s Last Supper In New York…By The Way Where WAS New York?

Scenes from last week. That eel thing was gross. Don’t remind me.

Stefan is smoking on the balcony. He’s happy one more person is gone.

Leah actually sounds like she thinks she can win. Carla used to model…Interesting. Stefan barges out the door to go to the next challenge as Fabio holds the door and says, “Ladies first.”

Wylie Dufresne is in the kitchen. Padma says he’s famous for his obsession with eggs. The Quickfire Challenge is to create something with eggs that will delight and surprise “egghead” Wylie.

Fabio turns out to quite au fait with molecular gastronomy. Hosea is trying to turn the egg into something it’s not. Stefan is confident his dish will impress Wylie. Carla says “Molecular gastronomy and Carla are like oil and water.”

Eggs Two Ways - Poached Egg on Brioche with Ham & Béarnaise
Panna Cotta with Mango Purée & Sweet Béarnaise
Wylie: ”Almost sort of an Eggs Benedict here. Very Clever.”

Quail Egg in Potato with Caviar & Brioche with Ricotta & Bacon Hollandaise
Bacon is obviously to Leah as scallops were to Jamie.
Wylie: “Nice, very nice.”

Carla Green Eggs & Ham with Green Tomato Salsa & Jalapeno Oil
(Her inspiration must be Dr. Seuss. Is that because she thinks Wylie looks like he comes from Whoville?)
Padma: “VERY pretty, Carla.” Wylie: “It IS.”

3 rolls - Egg White Roll with Salmon & Asparagus (That sounds nasty to me.)
Egg White Sticky Rice with Poached Shrimp & Avocado
Avocado & Tempura Fried Egg
None of that sounds good to me.
Wylie asked how he made the egg white sheet. He says, “Neat idea. Not as eggy maybe.” Is that good or bad?


Why did he start by saying he’s not big on breakfast?
Quail Egg with Buckwheat Pancake
Coconut Milk Panna Cotta with Mango Purée
Lychee Soup with Melon Yolk

I can’t tell from Wylie’s comments if he liked it.

Padma asks who’s on the bottom. It’s Fabio. Wylie says since he wasn’t comfortable with breakfast he kind of danced around “the idea of playing with eggs”. Fabio should NEVER have said that. He’s po’ed, but it’s his own fault for opening his mouth.

Wylie appreciates Hosea’s “efforts”, but didn’t see how they played off one another. He liked parts of Leah’s dish but thought the potato ravioli was heavy and greasy.

Winners: He liked the “playfulness” of Carla’s dish, saying,“Humor is always good in cooking.” He thought Stefan’s technique was very strong. Expertly prepared. Carla wins the Quickfire! Good for her.

Elimination Challenge

They draw knives. Fabio draws a knife with Lidia Bastianich’s name. Hosea draws Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation. Stefan knife says Marcus Samuelsson. Leah gets Wylie Dufresne. Hmmm. What could this be about? Carla gets Jacques Pépin.

Since this is their last challenge - “their last supper” - in New York, these famous food folks were all asked what their last meals would be and the cheftestents have to cook it for them.

Hosea’s “getting tingly” just thinking about it. Carla has the option of swapping her dish with anyone. She loves Jacques Pépin and isn’t swapping.

Padma tells each of them what their person wants as a last meal.
Later they have dinner at Perilla, Harold Dieterle‘s restaurant.

They go to Whole Foods to shop. She thinks she and Jacques are “two peas in a pod”. Stefan doesn’t think Hosea has the balls to be a chef and that he could beat him without his arms and legs!!!???

They cook at Capitale. Carla says she’s doing very little. “Less is More.” Leah charmingly says that she sucked ass in the last challenge. Hosea wonders if he’s supposed to put his own spin on things or go traditional. Fabio injures his finger and refuses to go to the hospital.

Poor Fabio. There is no way he can peel stuff with that finger. He says something filthy that I can’t understand about shoes, his ass and a toilet.

Carla second guesses Stefan making spinach two ways. “Marcus”, she says, “I know that’s your dying wish dinner, but I’m going to give you something else…WHAT the hell?!!”, she mocks Stefan.

I don’t care that Hosea would want a BLT for HIS last meal.

Tom comes in to make them nervous and tells them not to embarrass him.

At Capitale, Padma says welcome to the Last Supper at Top Chef. They’re even sitting at a table that looks like a Last Supper table. Jacques will represent all the chefs at the judges table.

Leah brings out her Eggs Benedict with a salad and introduces the dish in her usual bland, no-expression way.

Eggs Benedict with a Slow-Poaching Egg & Bacon on Challah for Wylie Dufresne

Wylie: “The white is a little watery for me. I don’t think I want to be bothered with any salad on my last day.” Marcus: “This dish is based on a lot of textures and she doesn’t really have the textures down.” Jacques: “The Hollandaise should be thicker, otherwise it’s really good.” (She thinned it at the last minute.) Toby: (I forgot about him) “I quite like my egg whites runny, so I have no complaints there.” Wylie shakes his head.

Salmon with Spinach Two Ways, Roasted Potatoes & Dill Sauce for Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus: He “nailed” the elements, but “I think the salmon is overcooked”. Stefan OVERCOOKED something?!! Wylie: “I think the fish is HORRIBLY overcooked”.

Oh gosh, everyone in this episode is saying repeatedly the competition is only about the chef's last dish. If you make one mistake you’re gone. Are they trying to make us think Stefan will be voted off the island? If Leah gets to the finals and Stefan doesn’t, this whole thing is absurd.

Jacques appreciates that Stefan’s dish is well-seasoned. Lidia says the fish would be sent back in one of their restaurants.

Hosea is shaking.
Shrimp Scampi with Tomato Provençal & Beurre Blanc for Susan Ungaro

Hosea makes some dumb remarks to the dining chefs ending with a particularly charmless, “I’m not trying to kiss anyone’s butt.” PLEASE don’t use that word in a formal dining setting unless you’re talking about a cut of meat!

Jacques: “He didn’t cook from his guts. THIS is not a Tomato Provençal. I like the tomato cut in half and SEARED.” YEAH, you tell’em Jacques! Toby: “A bit disappointing.” Lidia: “I’m not a fan of cream.” Susan: “I would have liked a little more garlic flavor with my scampi.”

Roasted Chicken with Herb-Roasted Potatoes & Caramelized Cipollini for Lidia Bastianich

He holds his injured hand behind his back. If it were Hosea, he would whine about it to the judges.

Jacques: “THAT looks good.” And he drinks a toast to Lidia’s last meal. I love him. Wylie: ”The chicken is awesome. Super tasty.” He didn’t like the salad that Fabio served, however. Marcus: “It’s the first dish I’ve seen that could go straight into a restaurant.” Lidia: “This is something I was hoping (for)… Simple straight forward well seasoned.”

Carla is worried about the temperature of her dish. It’s all about emotion, Jacques says, when asked why he chose squab. His mother would make it for important occasions.

Squab with Lemon Thyme Butter Sauce, Demi-Glace & Butter Tarragon Peas for Jacques Pépin

Susan: “Carla has made me a convert. I would never have selected squab as my last meal.” Marcus liked the simplicity, but thought the breast was a little overcooked. Lidia says the dish is a reflection of a purist and that it doesn’t have to be blood red. Tom says the younger generation of chefs likes squab less cooked and the older generation MORE cooked. Is Tom calling Lidia old??? Tom likes Carla’s audacity in giving them something so simple. Jacques: ”Very good, the peas are scrumptious. (The squab) is tender like butter. I think I could die happy with that.”

Tom tells them they did a great job. The judges drink some more wine.

“It’s Top Chef, not Top Pussy,” Fabio says when Leah says she doesn’t know what she would have done if she had hurt HER hand as badly.

Padma calls ALL the chefs into to judges’ table. Their remarks:

Jacques says Leah’s egg needed more cooking and the hollandaise was too thin.

Stefan was told the salmon was cooked too much. Hosea gloats. The judges say there was no difference between his two spinach dishes. Stefan looks ill.

Hosea’s dish didn’t have enough garlic. Jacques tells him the tomatoes were too refined.

They all agree that Fabio’s chicken was delicious, but they didn’t like the salad. Fabio says he’s going back in the kitchen to shoot himself for doing an airplane salad. THAT’S a heck of a lot better reaction than saying he doesn’t like breakfast. Tom says it’s okay, the airlines are always looking for good chefs.

Jacques grins at Carla. He doesn’t think the squab breast was overcooked. He was sooooo impressed that she shelled the fresh peas. He said they were incredible. “I loved it. I enjoyed it. Thank you,” he said to Carla.

They leave the room. It seems clear that on the basis of what they’ve cooked tonight that Stefan will go home. That is just craziness. Leah’s egg white was snotty. Isn’t that worse than overcooked fish? Who would have thunk that I would be defending Stefan? But he is sooooo clearly the superior chef in this group.

Stefan calls Fabio, “Airplane Bitch”.

Oh good, Tom says Stefan’s dish was well-seasoned. Good again, Hosea’s dish was Toby’s least favorite, ”It was dull and lacked impact”.

Leah SHOULD go home…maybe not this week, but so many times in the past and Stefan probably will. Tom apparently knew about Fabio's broken finger.

Jacques announces the winner – Fabio. He wins a huge bottle of Terlato Angel’s Peak wine, which Fabio says is going to be gone in a couple of hours. Plus he wins a 3 day trip to the Terlato family vineyard in Napa Valley. Nice!!!

Tom says Fabio and Carla can leave the kitchen and start celebrating.

And the loser is…LEAH!!! Finally, they got it right!!! She doesn’t seem too unhappy, actually. I’m happy that she’s so gracious about it all. She left with me with a good taste, if you know what I mean.

The end is kind of feel-good. I kinda like them all. Well, not Hosea, but the rest of them. Fabio reminds us that he only arrived in this country 2½ years ago. He’s really learned a lot of foul slang since then.

In the previews, Fabio has a weird Mohawk. In the next episode, Hosea is still saying that he can’t worry about Stefan…Yeah, talking about him constantly is really the way to do that. NOT!

Finally, a friend brought this to my attention, which I can’t believe I didn’t notice before. This season of Top Chef took place in New York and they did almost NOTHING to exploit all its fantastic locations and possibilities.

Aside from the first episode when the cheftestents (I just LOVE that word) arrived at Governor’s Island via the ferry and they had that pitiful Elimination Challenge about the diverse cultures of New York, there were almost no New York-themed challenges. (There WAS that Hot Dog Quickfire.)

The rest of the season they simply went inside various kitchens and they took one field trip to Dan Barber’s Stone Barns farm, which is kind of paltry considering all that New York has to offer. Honestly, they could have been in Des Moines.


Tracy said...

You're right about NYC, but I read they had a tough time maintaining confidentiality in the city. I wonder if that had something to do with it.

And I hate the word pussy but even that sounded good coming out of Fabio's mouth. More like "poosy." I hope he or Carla are the surprise winner.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't even thought about it until now, but where was New York?

Carla is growing on me. I'd love to try some of her fabulous peas!

DebCarol said...

Well "Calm in the Kitchen" - it seems Carla is growing on all of us. Actually was funny you mentioned Wylie looking like he was from Whoville. I was going to say it was fitting Carla made a Suessian breakfast because SHE looks like she jumped out of the Cat in the Hat book. Gotta love her. So Leah went - lets look for Hosea to follow her!

Anonymous said...

Leah kind of petered out. At the beginning she was winning quickfires, then it's like she lost her groove. Or maybe got too involved in her stupid shenanigans with Hosea.. But EVERYTHING about Stefan's dish, except the seasoning, they thought was bad. And when they kicked of Ariane, and the hawaiian guy (who's name I cannot remember), it was because they had ruined the protein and "if something's going to die, treat it with respect" blah blah. I think that, if they feel that "judge based only this meal" is going to let a really weak person stay, they silently forget that rule.

Lys said...

I know I'm jumping into TC at the middle/near the end but I think Carla is really one to watch out for. I would have never guessed it at the beginning but this seasons isn't so bad. Now, if only I could slap Stefan and Hosea upside the head, I'd be happy.

Sue said...

Hi Tracy,
But couldn't they still have done some parts of the challenges in more New York locales? The judging would still be done behind closed doors.

Yeah, Fabio is really foul-mouthed.

I agree Carla is great.

We can only hope...

The judging does get a bit weird. Jamie was clearly one of the superior contestants and they let her go.

If you saw last night's episode, then you'll know how exactly right you are.