Well, hello again my little licorice sticks (obviously inspired by Tamesha's innovative Quickfire dish!) I'm in an exceptional mood this morning as we just found out that not only were Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, and Kathy Griffin nominated for Emmys in various categories, but this here very website has been nominated for an Interactive Emmy for the third year in a row! I just want to thank all our fabulous viewers and site users for, well, interacting with us!
OK enough of the self congratulations, onto this week's episode! I was waiting to see when we'd make the chefs make baby food for Tom and Padma! I thought this challenge was a hard one in that you need to have flavor, but it's a fine balance between providing enough flavor for a baby and not going overboard. As Eric Ripert mentions in his weekly video blog, I too was surprised by the amount of curry and strong flavors, but then again my oldest niece almost exclusively eats only white foods (white rice, plain pasta, etc.), sooo my frame of reference is less than ideal. It's probably safe to assume that Tom and maybe especially Padma are a little more adventurous in what they might feed little Luka and Krishna than the average parents. The chefs not only had to create baby food but an adult dish to complement it. While Tom seemed especially floored by Tamesha's licorice oil inclusion, it was Kenny's dish that won Padma over.
For the Elimiation Challenge, we were rejoined by some TC alums that work in D.C. and its surrounding areas: Bryan Voltaggio, Spike Mendelsohn, and Mike Isabella. I obviously adore them all, but anyone who read this blog last season knows I have a special place in my heart for Bryan, so I was really happy to see him back and hear his comments. Did anyone notice how Tom would lean over the entire table to hear what Bryan had to say also? Sigh.
The chefs were broken up into teams of two to create breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes suitable for Hilton Hotels and Resorts travelers. The format was sort of a backwards round robin elimination where the winners of each round actually got to sit out the next round. I almost felt bad for the judges becuas we were essentially making them eat more food from the bottom chefs in each round! Thankfully it looks like the dinner dishes were successful overall. In the end it came down to two short rib dishes. I didn't even understand how the dish with all that horseradish could not taste like horseradish, but Chef Ripert explained to me while we shot his blog this week that once you manipulate it, specifically boilling it, it loses its intensity. It seemed like it came down to a ltitle extra jus on the winning team's plate. The second place dish was only a little jus-ish. (Say it out loud phonetically.) Even though you didn't ask, the best short rib I've ever had was at Market Table. It was a short rib/gnocchi appetizer I had a couple years ago. Damn, it was good.Lynne and Arnold just couldn't get it together. I really liked Lynne when I met her, but I found her comments about relying on young chefs kind of condescending. As a younger person myself being underestimated gets old (hehe.) And it seems to me that she was ultimately kind of responsible for their team going home as the main complaint seemed to be about the pasta being undercooked. The only thing grosser than undercooked fresh pasta is undercooked fresh squid ink pasta. Although the judges questioned the use of squid ink at all, I think if it had been cooked they would have enjoyed it.
Either way, this challenge exhausted me. And I didn't even compete! Watching the chefs create three courses and be judged on each immediately was tiring. What was also tiring was hearing just how catty everyone seems to be. Although there are always a few "I'm not here to make friends" comments during a season, it seemed that not many groups even tried to work together to make the sum greater than their respective parts. I'm all for a competitive spirit, but wow. This all seems to get even worse next week when everyone's egos become too big for the house in this sneak peek:
The chefs also argued this week over whether or not you can tell a diner how to eat a dish. I think you can in certain circumstances. If Eric Ripert tells me how to eat something, I'll listen. In some more progressive restaurants these days, I need instructions! (I'm talking to you, Wylie Dufresne.) We've seen cheftestants tell the judges how to eat dishes in past seasons and they've listened, so I say go for it! It looks like whatever respect the other chefs had for Amanda following the grilling challenge was fleeting though. I guess we'll see how that pans out.
Until then, eat well and let me know what you thought of this week's episode.