This week's episode combined two of my favorite things: film and food. But before we get to the Elimination and my answers to some of your questions from last week's blog, let's talk Daniel Boulud. He is one of my favorite guest judges. We always get the occasional, "Who does that guest judge think he/she is?" comment here at the site, but I have a feeling they might just not happen this week. And I agree with one commenter one of our blogs (honestly, I'm too lazy to look) who said that the chefs shouldn't just kowtow to the guest judges, they shouldn't be disrespectful either. Um, so, when Ryan said Daniel's restaurants "weren't his style." All I can say is, "OK, kiddo. Whatever you say" No one can really deny Boulud's place in the culinary landscape, and the chefs' faces pretty much say everything whenever he enters the Top Chef kitchen. He doesn't patronize the chefs by telling them everything's great or staying quiet, he gives them real criticism. (Oh, and his glasses were really flattering on his face.)
The chefs had to show off their technique, which for many of them, meant their knife skills. Zoi had it right -- she poached an egg -- which presumably when done incorrectly can be, well, nasty. (Is it weird that I can't recall every having eaten one?) This challenge made me think of our Holiday Special last year when Season 1's Stephen Asprinio made the "perfect omelette," which was by far the simplest dish presented, and he won. Why? Because of his technique. (Sidenote: The only advice I can offer in making your omelettes better/fluffier is to whisk your eggs rather than beat them -- a little tip I picked up from watching the legendary Jacques Pepin on PBS when I was younger.) Anyway, a lot of the chefs seemed to do the same thing: blanche vegetables. But Boulud was quite taken with Dale's knife skills and Richard's progression. Ultimately Dale won. I'm actually really surprised to see all the comments comparing Dale to Hung or Marcel. Sure -- I guess they all have an attitude? Maybe it's my love for Hung and Marcel that's blinding me, but I just don't see the similarities.
Onto the Elimination Challenge. The chefs were asked to choose their favorite movies. When I heard their choices, I was all "Huh?" Now maybe you can't really pick your absolute favorite movie because you cant' think of a food tie-in (or it's pornography, ahem), but let's be real, I think Harold hit it on the nose when he says in his blog, "I don't really know anyone whose favorite movie is Good Morning, Vietnam." We polled around the office, and a couple of us thought Overboard with Goldie Hawn could have been really funny. They could have made a trio that progressed from haute cuisine to comfort food. (You can vote for it in this week's Foodie Poll!)
It seemed like most of the teams worked backwards, choosing what food they'd like to cook before choosing the film. How sad was it to watch Mark trying to think of the films Ryan was suggesting? I just wanted to yell, "Stop yelling at Mark -- he's adorable!" I gotta say, though, I would eat that quail spring roll in a heartbeat! Again, Lisa and Antonia looked like strong, but quiet, contenders as members of their respective teams, and I think it'll be interesting to see how far they both make it in the competition.
And what about Richard, Andrew, and Dale? I literally said, "Wow -- what a Dream Team" to my TV screen. I think the only thing that could've gotten in their way was a clash of personalities or stubbornness. Thankfully none of them let that happen. Now I've been pretty open about my irrational affinity for Andrew (although his Oompa Loompa impression this week left a bad taste in my mouth), but I can't even tell you how many comments we got this past week asking a)whether Andrew is on something or b) if he probably should be. All I can say is, I would hate to see what you guys would say about us editors at around 4 p.m. each day, after some serious exhaustion and caffeine intake. It happens every day, but there's a point where I'll just start singing the theme song to The Golden Girls, and well, you know I've officially cracked. Moving on.
So, the Dream Team wins, impressing Daniel Bouloud, and guest eaters Richard Roeper and Aisha Tyler. Padma told us Ms. Tyler was super-nice -- something we always like to hear about our guests. I don't much care for salmon, unless it's on my bagel with scallion cream cheese, or in my sushi, but the Willy Wonka-inspired dish sounded interesting. And I was pretty happy to see the team use chocolate in a savory dish. This is the perfect time to plug our Bravo For Foodies Chocolate blog. This week our chocolate expert, Clay Gordon (seriously the man knows more about chocolate than one can imagine), talks about what beers to pair with your chocolate. Um, count me in!
I was pretty annoyed with the conversation happening in the stew room over the winning dish, though, particularly with Zoi's comments about knowing that the dish couldn't have taste good. Cause guess what? They didn't try it, and I wouldn't argue too much with Daniel Boulud's palate, would you?
And if the judges seemed nitpicky about the colors of dishes and things, I gotta say that's a good sign. It shows how high the quality of the top dishes were, and, well, they have to pick a winner. So, everything counts.
As for Spike and Manuel's dish, it was kind of sad. I felt bad for Manuel because he seemed like a really gentle guy (Did you notice he didn't open his mouth when the other chefs were bashing team Wonka?). Also, i don't know how many of you have frequented Dos Caminos, but you must order the street corn. (I'm full of tips today!) Alas, breaking one of the Top Chef Commandments, he didn't speak up. And so Manuel went home.
Next week's guest judge is Ming Tsai, and he's, well, dreamy. And I can't wait. Now onto a few of your questions:
"Sooooo...what you are saying is that the royal "we" does not apply and a different staff person writes this blog every week. Or, explain please how one writes a blog by committee. ..."
Well, I do have to apologize for being so unclear, which I was. Every other blog on our site is written in the royal "we." However, this blog will be written by one editor -- me -- every week, so I'm sticking to the first-person. You can call me "superfan." (Everyone else does.) I really hope I've cleared that up.
The next biggest question is when Top Chef is coming out on DVD -- trust me I want to relive Harold's glory just as much as the next fan. I'll ask around and see what I can dig up.
And the cursing? Well I responded to that last week, and Dale addresses it this week in our new Burning Questions blog, where we will interview the winning and losing chefs each week.
Finally, I just want to thank everyone who commented -- I appreciate the compliments and criticism. And even if I didn't shout out your comment here, that doesn't mean I'm not addressing them around the office. So, keep posting.
Anyway, let me know what you thought of this week's episode, which movie you would have chosen, and if you've made any of the recipes from this season yet.
Until next week,