The Smilin’ Nine walk in the Top Chef Maestros culinary salon. It’s a Curry Quickfire. Curry comes from the Tamil word “kari,” which means sauce, but from there it spread through the world. Thus this Quickfire could be really anything, unless your Douglas Keane who makes something that is not curry, but is a surefire winner in the poached fish Quickfiire that he was expecting. Great dish yeah, curry no.
So some of you don’t listen to Arcade Fire, the band that Sang references. You should. They, like Bryan Adams, Chef Lynn, Gordon Lightfoot and I, are Canadian. No, we don’t all know each other. No, we don’t live in igloos. No, we don’t speak Canadian.
Somewhere, on a dark and rainy suburban Portland street, Jenn Louis is singing:
“Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling again”
“The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire
The chefs all grab some curry ingredients and get to work. This is a difficult challenge for most because, except for Sang, this is not their medium. There is beer, though, and they have to pair with that. They talk the talk to each other on what they are cooking, and then they all trying to cook mussels, which have a natural kinship to beer and curry.
Lynn is on to something with Indians in the kitchens of Canuckistan. They are the backbone, along with Sri Lankans and Bengalis.
“Holy Balls on Crutches,” sayeth Neal. This is Middle English for being subtlety nervous.
Keane is selling stoves and coconut water. Go Dawgs. He says at the end that he did “chocolate shrimp,” Sue laughs, not understanding that this is completely not true.
KCRW Jason in the house.
Franklin agrees that his curry would have tasted better cooking for another 45 minutes, and that this is “beside the point." No, Franklin, this is entirely the point. It’s a timed challenge. If you cooked a duck that was raw and needed 45 minutes more, that would be a point of contention as well. Franklin. Are you understanding the point here? It’s a time challenge. And the wrestling with the meal comment was probably about the tangle of long scallions you had roping everything together, and not some inability to pull mussels from a shell.
Were Squeeze stoned out of their minds when they wrote songs?
“But behind the chalet, my holidays complete
And I feel like William Tell, Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet
Pulling mussels from the shell
Pulling mussels from the shell”
“Pulling Mussels from the Shell,” Squeeze
So this is the run down of dishes:
Franklin: Malaysian Mussel Muscle
Jennifer: Herr-issa Moules with Pappadum
Doug: Ain’t no curry in this Sole… cooked in Coco water on a GE Monogram stove.
Lynn: Meatless Monday Curry
Sang: Ain’t nothin’ but a chicken… thigh. He is always downplayin’ his food.
Neal: Ain’t nothing but a chicken… leg… but with coconut.
Bryan: Molecular curry with orange cell.
Sue: Who dat. (not shown)
David: Who knows? (not shown)
Lynn’s looked great, and Curtis is right that most of India is not really into the Chicken Korma so popular in the USA. Sang’s gets a nod too for being a great curry. Bryan has made the best pairing, though Jason thinks genealogy may get in the way of authenticity.
Oh, Hugh! I wish you had mentioned the late, great Stan Rogers among your fellow Canadians. The man was the true voice of Canada, infusing every song with history, geography, and regional culture. His music inspired me to read all I could on the Great White North, and there will never be another voice like his.
I am enjoying this season but I really feel for the sous chefs. Their chefs are acting as if the sous are putting out crap when they don't win a challenge. The chefs are doing quick fires also, they know what they judging is like. Franklin seemed to indicate that his sous chef (who looks like a sensitive soul) not winning immunity was the reason why he lost and had to pack his knives. That is just not the case. Present good food (and cocktails) and you won't be sent home. However these are TOP chefs. Presumably all the food is good. The judges have to split hairs to pick a winner and a loser. That is true for the fine sous chefs as well. I hope their chefs realize this.
Chef Hugh, one question, if you please. I am saving your kimchi recipe, which sounds delicious. How potent is the fermentation smell? I live in a condo, and am concerned my neighbors might have issues (although they are a pretty multi-cultural lot).
Great blog, Hugh; and I love how you are running the Sous Chef battle. I look forward to it every week. You can see the talent in all of them; but you also see their sous-ness. Still working their way up to chefdom. I was a little surprised none of the chefs incorporated their beer into their actual curry dish. I thought that would have helped with the pairing idea.