Hi Top Chef fans! First, I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving and hopefully you're not all going nuts with your holiday preparations.
OK, now onto the fake Thanksgiving meal we had the pleasure of "attending," on tonight's episode. I have been waiting for this episode forever. I get the episode guide well in advance of the season airing, and I gotta say I got more excited than usual for two reasons: One? I love the Foo Fighters. Let's just say that the acoustic version of "Everlong" WILL be my wedding song (yes -- that's a dealbreaker for me.) Secondly, the episode is set in Rochester, NY. (I'm just going to give THIS BLOG a shout out because the writer lives in Rochester and watches Top Chef.) I have a special fondness for Rochester as I lived there for four years during college. It was no surprise to me at all that it started to rain, and if it had been just a few months later, the chefs would probably have had to contend with a blizzard! I gotta say, though, that Rochester (and much of Upstate New York -- excuse me -- Western New York) is absolutely gorgeous in the Summer and I urge you all to visit.
Before we dive into the Foo Fight, let's start with the Quickfire. The chefs had to make a recipe from Top Chef: The Cookbook (Get your copy now!) and recreate it. I got a little nostalgic during this part remembering all the amazing dishes we've seen in past seasons. The fact that I remembered who made all them made me realize I need to get out more! But, I digress ... The chefs were thrown their first curveball when they learned they would have to make a soup using the ingredients from their original dish. Most of them looked horrified. Making a good soup is not easy. And I know that because I've had some pretty bad soups in my day. Leah really pulled it out with her white asparagus soup, even though she admitted that she hates white asparagus. I really wanted to try Danny's soup. It just sounded so hearty, and salty, and delicious. The Guest Judge is Grant Achatz, who was named 2008's Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation. I was not only happy he was on because I now know the correct way to pronounce his name, but his restaurant, Alinea, was on almost every one of our Top Chefs' lists as their favorite Chicago restaurant for our Restaurant Finder. Chef Achatz's accomplishments have not been the only thing talked about in foodie news. Last year, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer and there was talk about it affecting his sense of taste. Well, no need to worry! We're happy to report he's been in remission for a year now, and I asked him about it in our Q&A with him this week.
After the soup curveball, the chefs then got another one -- this time a welcome one. They received a video message from the Foo Fighters tasking them with creating Thanksgiving dinner for the band and the crew. The band was performing at Blue Cross Arena, which is in Downtown Rochester. I've seen a couple concerts there, and I like it as a venue. (I wish we would've gotten to see more concert footage!)
The chefs broke into two teams, and I was pretty disappointed with the team names. Sexypants? Cougar? Really? Come on, guys. Let's be original. The chefs are then thrown another curveball -- they didn't get ranges! And another -- what I consider the biggest curveball -- they didn't shop at Wegman's! This, my friends, is Rochester blasphemy! Hedgehorn's? I haven't lived in Rochester in a few years, but I have never heard of Hedgehorn's, and it made me sad. I heart Wegman's, it's wonderful service, and its loose candy section.
Anyway, the chefs made it through, and it seemed that the highlights for the band were Radhika's Vegan stuffing, Alex's bacon mac 'n' cheese, and Ariane's turkey. My vote is always for stuffing. Growing up, my mother always made two -- one "wet" and one dry, and I would devour them both. It seems like Gene really hit a chord with the bacon, a favorite of Dave Grohl and historically Top Chef judges. Grohl's facial expressions were PRICELESS. Sigh. I just love him. (How cute is guitarist Chris Shiflett though.) In the end, Sexypants wins. The problems seemed to really lie with the desserts. Jeff's dishes kind of fell short, but he really came through in the managerial side of being a chef. And then there were Richard's S'Mores. I honestly didn't think it was that bad, and if chefs were kicked off for things looking like spit, Marcel would never have made it as far as he did, but I guess he not only ruined the very basis of what a S'more is, but it just didn't taste good. I was pretty sad to see him go -- he is hilarious. Don't want to dwell on Team Rainbow (I can tell from your comments you guys aren't feelin' it), but it seems that Jamie is their only hope. Team Euro didn't really shine this episode either.
Overall, a very entertaining episode. The only thing that would have made it better is if the chefs had to recreate the garbage plate.
Next week, Rocco visits! Swoon.
I wish you all a tasty Thanksgiving and as always, leave messages below.
- Monica A. Reyhani
P.S. What's Rochacha?
P.P.S. I just watched the episode for I think a third or fourth time and JUST noticed Melissa totally rockin' out during the concert. Seriously, it's AMAZING.