Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tom Cooks Real Fast; Jamie Cooks Real Bad And Dim Wits Cook Dim Sum

We see the end of last week’s episode with the surprise of Spike leaving. Antonia is unhappy that Angelo “touches” everybody else’s food. Richard is unhappy that Jamie hasn’t done any cooking, except that she “comes out every once in awhile and cooks some chickpeas.” (And not very well, either).

Padma greets the chefs in the kitchen and tells them that the Quickfire will test their speed “against one of the nation’s best chefs”. He’ll cook a dish as quickly as he can and the chefs have to beat that time. They wonder who it is and in strolls Tom. Good one.

Marcel is excited and nervous about the challenge. Marcel is always excited and nervous. He reminds me of a toy poodle…nothing against toy poodles.

I love it when Tom says that people “come to restaurants for food, but they come back for service.” AMEN, that is certainly what I believe.

Angelo says they’re going to need a paramedic because they’re going to go into cardiac arrest if they have to cook at Tom’s speed. Angelo tells Tom he’s sweating after Tom says it’s been a while since he’s done something like this. Tiffany D. tells him not to worry and to take his time. Funny. Carla predicts that this will be a 15 minutes or less Quickfire challenge.

Tom starts. Dale notes how “prepared” and “mentally focused” he is. He runs to grab his cooking equipment and his ingredients in a dishpan-like bin and returns to his station. I love how he unstacks his pans and lays them out in front of him. Fabio says “the most impressive thing is how organized he is. Every move is synchronized perfectly.” Antonia is impressed with how fast he opens clams.

The only bobble is when Tom throws the leftovers of his fish into the bin and it falls on the floor. I guess it was quite near Padma, because he apologizes to her.

Tom puts some stuff in a frying pan and then runs to the stove. The funny thing is that the chefs, as one, follow him to the stove. Minutes…no, seconds later, he grabs the pan and returns to his station, again with the mob of chefs following as if they’re one entity. Really funny. It looks like a cartoon…or the finale of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

He completes his dish – a black sea bass with clams, tomato and zucchini - in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. Mike looks stunned. Richard says he can’t make his daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in that time. Fabio says that would have been a good dish even for half an hour. Tom says that’s the first and last time he does that.

What have we learned from this exercise? That Tom’s got game. For real. He did have that one squirrelly moment of something falling on the floor, but he was fast and the food was eminently edible. Wow!

So the chefs have to beat his time and Tom says they’re going to factor in difficulty in the judging. The prize is immunity AND a brand new Prius.

While everyone is rushing around the pantry, Marcel goes and grabs Tom’s leftover fish. (From his garbage bin??) Dale says if he had a wok he could crush Tom’s time, but without one, he’s not so sure.

Angelo says that even though Tom said he didn’t want a raw dish, he thinks if he gives an interesting spin to it, it’ll be okay.

Dale is in trouble with his noodles. He says he has nothing ready and it tastes like doodoo.

Several of them do very well, then Tom gets to Angelo and remarks that Angelo’s dish is uncooked. Fabio says, “Tom told us not to do a crudo dish and what does Angelo do? A crudo dish.”

Marcel is strange. He says that Tom and Padma liked Mike’s dish a lot, but maybe that was because they tasted it after his and “they’re getting some lingering flavors" from his dish and “it’s carrying into" Mike's. Ewww.

Jamie is kind of a failure, because she only serves 2 clams each to Padma and Tom.

The worst dishes according to Tom? Dale and Jamie’s. AND Angelo’s – because he did exactly what Tom didn’t want him to do. The flavors were okay, but Tom had to give him “a little knock” for doing a raw dish.

The best? Mike, Richard and Marcel’s. The winner is Mike.

The Elimination is not going to be easy. The chefs have to work as a team (I hate that) and serve dim sum in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown to “hundreds” of lunchtime diners. Marcel says that going to Chinatown is basically like going to China. Everyone’s Chinese and you can get cheap massages.

That reminds me of my blind foot massage in Shanghai. And, no, my feet weren't blind, just the person massaging them!

Dale and Angelo seem to have the biggest advantage in this challenge.

The chefs all discuss the dishes they want to do. Unbelievably, Jamie wants to do a scallop dish. Remember how she was mocked for doing tons of scallop dishes? They decide that Mike should be the expeditor for the day, since he has immunity. Dale and Angelo are doing two dishes as is Jamie, which amazes Marcel, because he says Jamie is really slow.

They hang out while Dale goes off on his own to focus. The gals start talking about bras and someone rubs Antonia’s jalapeno-squirted eyes with a bra. The guys run from the room. Men are such scaredy cats.

Tiffany F. tells us she was in China for a month, so she feels comfortable with the challenge.

The chefs have to shop in a Chinese market. Fabio is unhappy because he sees a tank full of turtles. And he tells us about his pet princess of turtle and how he takes her for walks with a Chihuahua leash. Is that an Italian thing or just a weirdo thing?

Dale says he grew up in a traditional Filipino household and that this is his challenge to lose. Fabio says he’s screwed, because there isn’t the traditional oven that he needs.

The chefs seem very scattered and disorganized in the kitchen.

Casey is making chicken feet. She tells us that she’s super-interested in butchering and wants to show the judges how great she can be. She collects art about butchery. Gross. And she really wants “to impress the judges with her chicken feet.” She actually said that.

Carla doesn’t love her rice paper rolls. Tre doesn’t love his custard dessert.

Angelo had to pick through rice as a boy for his father. If there was a black grain, there was a problem. Great story, but he’s not making rice.

The restaurant fills up with tons of Chinese people, who look incredibly serious about their lunch. I don’t see this going well.

Fabio says he looked at his ribs “and there is the first Top Chef miracle to happen. The short ribs are perfect,” even though he was having trouble cooking them at the temperature he wanted.

Mike goes into the dining room and sees 250 people. Carla and Casey are the runners. Gail, Tom and Padma are there. Oh, the guest judge is Susur Lee. Great choice.

Here are the dishes.

They love Angelo’s spring roll. Susur says the shrimp inside is perfectly cooked. And he likes the sweetness of Fabio’s ribs. They don’t love Richard’s dish. Gail says the alcohol hasn’t burned off. Susur likes the concept of Marcel’s wing dish, but Tom says the flavor is bland.

Tiffani’s salad is not successful and Carla’s spring roll is beautiful, but bland.

Tom is looking around and doesn’t see any carts. The people aren’t getting any food. The only ones getting fed are the judges. “Obviously, it’s not going well,” says Mike and he tells us that he would be fired if he actually worked there.

Tom and Gale like Dale and Angelo’s Cheung fun. They love Dale’s sticky rice and Tom even asks if he can finish Gail’s portion. Susur says Jamie’s and Antonia’s long bean dish tastes too much of hoisin sauce and it’s greasy.

Susur says Tiffany D’s steamed bun tastes really authentic. Tom loves it too. Tre’s dessert is not cold enough, it’s too runny, which is what he was worried about in the overly hot kitchen.

Casey finds that Antonia is not cooking her chicken wings and that no one person is taking care of her dish.

Tom goes into the kitchen and asks who’s in control of the kitchen. No one really answers. Carla: “When you see that your daddy has shown up where he’s not supposed to be, you know you’re in trouble.” He tells them to get it going.

Mike says it’s embarrassing. Antonia says Dale would have been the best person to lead the kitchen. Why didn’t they appoint a head chef? The people in the dining are grabbing the little food that’s coming off the carts.

Susur says Mike’s dumplings are too salty, which doesn’t matter because he has immunity. Antonia’s shrimp toast passes muster.

Casey’s chicken feet haven’t been deep-fried Susur says, which is how they’re supposed to be cooked. Padma says, as hungry as people are, they aren’t touching the chicken feet.

Tom says there’s “too much wrapper in proportion to the filling” in Jamie’s scallop dumpling and that “it doesn’t work for him.” He sounds like Wynonna. (Ugh.) Susur says if there were more scallops that that would balance it.

After everything’s been served, Mike sums it up pretty well. “EveryONE sucked and everyTHING sucked.”

Have you ever the noticed that the Top Chef or Bravo announcer guy actually YELLS? During the commercial he tells us that, “CREATING AN ITALIAN MASTERPIECE IS SIMPLE” Please, could he use his indoor voice?

Back in the stew room, the chefs are all pretty fed up. The judges call in a pretty big group of losers – Antonia, Jamie, Tre, Casey and Carla.

Let me just say that if Jamie doesn’t go home, I’ll…I’ll…I’ll START YELLING LIKE THE BRAVO GUY!!! It’s unreal that’s she still here. For whatever reason, she just didn’t come to play this season and she needs to be OUT. (Does Heidi still do that? Is that show still on?)

Padma says the service was “dismal”. Tom wonders if there was a plan going in. They just say they had an expeditor and runners, but there should have been a chef in charge.

Tom focuses on Jamie first. She says she’s not surprised to be there because of one of her dishes. Tom asks which one. She says the dumplings. Almost like the spider trying to catch the fly in his web, Tom wants to know from Jamie what was wrong with her dish. She says something BS like she didn’t like the flavor or the way they were steaming.

How about the fact that they were flat as a Chinese gymnast and had nowhere near enough filling?!!

Now Jamie is just being dumb. Susur schools her gently in the cooking of dumplings. He says the wrappers she used are meant to be boiled in water, so they get tender, not to be steamed.

I don’t want to go overboard on criticizing Jamie. I love strong capable women, but Jamie has spent her time (this time) on Top Chef mostly hiding out. They HAVE to send her home.

Padma brings up the long bean dish. Gail says there was too much oil and that “the goal was not to make BAD Chinese takeout”. Tom learns from Antonia that she prepped the beans, but that Jamie cooked them. Okay, it’s a slam dunk that Jamie is going home. They said they liked Antonia’s shrimp toast.

Casey says she wanted to make something different. Gail says lots of chicken feet were left and Susur says it would have taken him hours to eat just one. When Casey says her scallion pancake was supposed to be “light and playful”, Tom’s eyes nearly pop out of his head. I guess he’s not in agreeance.

Then there’s a strange interaction between Casey and Antonia. When asked who cooked her dish while she was in the dining room, Casey laughs (or is it a scoff?) and says Antonia. Antonia nervously laughs and starts tearing up. Padma asks why she’s crying. Antonia says she wishes they had more time to help each other. Tom actually smiles in acknowledgment (I think) of how difficult a challenge it was.

Tre knew all along that the kitchen was too hot to have his dessert set and the judges agree. Gail liked the idea but not the result.

The judges think that Carla’s spring rolls LOOKED pretty, but didn’t have enough flavor. Plus she admitted to over soaking the rice noodles, which made them mealy. Susur says benevolently that she was “cooking with her eyes instead of her stomach”.

Whie they think about whom to send home, they talk to Fabio, Tiffany D., Dale and Angelo.

Susur says it’s amazing that Fabio has no experience with Chinese cooking.

Gail says Tiffany’s pork bun had a lot of flavor and brightness. She said it was like “a savory marshmallow”. Interesting.

Tom tells Dale he’s a sucker for sticky rice and he really liked his. Susur points out that the oil from the banana leaf in which the rice was steamed gave it a nice flavor.

Padma loved Angelo’s spring rolls. Gail: “You kept the authenticity of the dish, but also gave it textural integrity.” Huh?

Susur announces that the winner this week is Chef Dale. YAY!!! MY DALE WON!!! Oh boy, what does he win? I can’t wait to hear. Nothing? Zip? Zilch? Boohoo. That sort of stinks. Mike wins a car for cooking a dish in 8 minutes, but Dale hustles to get out dozens of dim sum and he wins nothing? Weird.

Dale is funny. He says to us that he felt he robbed the bank on this win, because all the dishes sucked, but he said if they wanted to give him the win, he wasn’t giving it back.

They judges go over the losing dishes again. Okay, let’s get this over with. It’s going to Jamie. Of course, it is.

They come back in and it’s…CASEY. Whah?!!! This is completely insane. It as if someone said, NO MATTER how badly Jamie does, let's keep her. EVEN Jamie cannot believe that she didn’t get sent home. Everyone in the stew room is shocked as well. This is not a good decision. Not that Casey’s dish wasn’t bad, but BOTH of Jamie’s were.

There’s a history of folks overstaying their welcome on Top Chef. Remember when Lisa inexplicably made it to the finals or even worse than that was Leah. Do they do this just to shock the viewers? I know things go on which we’re not always privy to, but keeping someone around way too long is never a good idea. It’s one of things that ruined Top Chef Desserts. Top Chef All Stars has been pretty good so far. Let’s not wreck it but having inexplicable outcomes week after week.


Anonymous said...

When Tom made the "people come back for the service" I immediately thought of you.

Did you read his blog? He said the producers told him he needed to have his dish done in less than 10 minutes. I wonder what would've happened if he just didn't.

I always remembered Fabio's original "It's Top Chef, not Top Scallop" comment. To which I say to him (for this season) - dude, two gnocchi dishes.

Tom also said that Casey's chicken feet were inedible, and that inedible beats not good every time. I think it wouldn't have been such a shock, except the producers totally edited it to seem that Casey was going home and then kind of just blind sided us with it being Casey.

Emily said...

Yeah, Amy is right... I guess inedible does beat not good. But you're absolutely right!! Jamie should have gone home. She should have gone home weeks ago.

Marcel, Dale, Richard... top three? That's my prediction right now. But one of the ladies might be in the top.

astheroshe said...

Jamie.... My least favorite chef from day one..Please go home!

Carla! still the Queen

Fabio..nice to look at, but really?? i'm tired of your gnocci. Glad he cooked something other than that and the Judges love it.

Richard..still the man :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I wonder if I should give up trying to watch this show since I missed it 3 weeks in a row. I can't even seem to catch the reruns.

That was a really interesting challenge though. One has to wonder if it's wise to fool too much with something as classic as dim sum.

Now I want dim sum. I wonder if I'll ever find that place in Chinatown a friend took me to years ago again.

Sue said...

I love being thought of.

I never read the blogs until after I've written something, unless I say I have...but I'm going to read it now.

Jamie making scallops over and over bothers me, but Fabio making gnocchi doesn't. Gnocchi can be SO good and it's not that easy to make.

Okay, maybe you're right - inedible is worse than not good. BUT Jamie has squeaked by for weeks now. Maybe they should have gotten rid of both of them.

Okay, okay. I already said Amy was right and I was wrrrr...I can't quite bring myself to say it...WRONG! Perhaps Casey WAS the right one to go home.

MARCEL??? In the top three?!! What did you put in your last batch of brownies? (And, PLEASE, may I have some??!) I have to think about that one.

Hiya Astheroshe,
YES!!! You agree with me about Jamie, but now I think we may both be wrong. BUT you're right, of course, she should have been gone already.

Fabio is okay and Richard isn't eliciting the gag reflex in me that he did in his original season.

No! Don't get hooked. Read a book instead.

Let me know when you find that dim sum place again.

Anonymous said...

So did Tom get a challenge out of the blue the way the contestants do, or did he have his dish all thought out in advance with everything at the ready? It would make a huge difference.

Sue said...

Hi Tom,
We don't know how they arranged it. If I find out from Tom's blog, I'll let you know.

Sue said...

Okay, Tom, read this. http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/season-8/blogs/tom-colicchio/some-dim-dim-sum

He did know about it and he did do a walk through of the kitchen in advance, because the chefs certainly know where everything is and so that's not too unfair. Even if he had practiced 100 times, his timing was still amazing.