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Hello, my little lovebirds. This week's episode is all about perfect pairings. What goes better with a spicy curry than a refreshing beer? Nothing. What goes better with a gorgeous Curtis than a gorgeous Lindsay? Nothing.
The Quickfire demanded the chefs to create curries in a hurry (Lynn's a poet and she didn't even know it!), specifically curries they could pair with Goose Island beers. Sang compares curry to an Arcade Fire. This makes so much sense. Win Buttler, the lead singer of Arcade Fire, is one of the most frightening performers on Earth. And we all know how much Sang Yoon frightens me.
The chefs all make their best curries -- or in the case of Douglas Keane -- don't. While I applaud Douglas' constant aspiration to turn culinary preconceptions on their heads, Curtis and our guest judge, KCRW's Jason Bentley, wanted a real curry. Sidenote: I've been known (by me) to stream KCRW (since I'm in New York), so I was pretty pumped to see the stellar radio station -- a dying breed -- represented.
"Holly balls on crutches!" -Neal Fraser (who I'm renaming Neal Phraser, cause he really know how to turn one -- get it?!)
Don't worry, Neal -- you finished your dish in the allotted time. So, "Cheers, big ears," it's time to hear what the critics have to say. Jason makes a couple comments about Franklin and Jennifer's dishes being difficult to eat. Franklin assumes he's having trouble opening the whole mussels. I hope that isn't the case. Once again, Sang doubts his dish, lamenting his lack of basmati rice he sees Neal use. And so, Sang wins again. Sans rice. That's another $5K for his charity. Sang is, in fact, on fire. Arcade fire.
On to one of the most joyous Elimination Challenges we've ever witnessed on Top Chef Masters -- a surprise engagement party for Curtis Stone! "So, what's Curtis really like?" I'm so glad you didn't ask. I think this is the time where I can get pretty sappy and say that Curtis is every bit the charmer and sweetheart you see on TV. It's a treat whenever I get to see him. Oh, and does that boy have dance moves, which you might remember from last summer's Summer by Bravo promo spots.The fake premise is set for the chefs: they will be creating a party for James Oseland and Saveur magazine, who, actually, always throw really awesome parties. But as James is left to "menu plan" with the chefs, in walks Curtis' beautiful fiancee (now wife) Lindsay Price. When Lindsay walked in, all I could think about what how underrated Lipstick Jungle was. That's the show where she got to make out with my first and longest celebrity crush, Andrew McCarthy. Sigh. Back to Lindsay. "He needs to marry that shit." Yes, Sue, he does. And, he did. Lindsay tells the chefs about her most memorable culinary moments with Curtis and lists some of his favorite foods, including Korean and chocolate! The rest is left up to the chefs. They break up into three teams. Because Douglas' sous chef, Drew, won Battle of the Sous Chefs, he gets to pick his team. He selects David and Sue. You'll remember in the last elimination that the chefs were competing against their "teammates," so this makes me wonder whether Doug thought he'd be competing against David and Sue, and whether he'd win. Hmmm. Fortunately, this time, they're really working together. Doug even gets free samples at the grocery store out of the deal. I don't know that I took Douglas for a free sample kind of guy, but the more I learn about him every week, the more he surprises me.
Lynn, Bryan, and Sang are put together because their sous chefs were in the bottom of the Battle of the Sous Chefs challenge. They are also only given 15 minutes -- half the time -- to shop for their ingredients. No sweat for those power shoppers.
As the chefs cook, we see some of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. I love this stuff, seeing how the crew kept Curtis in the dark, seeing how the show is made. This was truly a labor of love.
Finally, it's time for the critics to arrive at the "Saveur event." When Curtis walks in and sees Lindsay and all his friends from overseas, he smiles like a little boy. In fact, the pitch of his voice goes up about 10 octaves. He's happy. He runs toward his beloved. He's a keeper. Aparently Curtis is notoriously hard to surprise, but the crew was able to pull it off. They don't call themselves Magical Elves for nothing. Time to eat! Curtis and Linday provide an interesting perspective on each dish and what it might mean to them based on the pointers Lindsay provided. (Who else melted every time Curtis referred to Lindsay as "darling" or "my beloved"?)
Curtis' friend Zach also provided the best critique in my opion when he declared one dish "blew up in my mouth." I knew the second he approached the critics, he was going to be fun. Apparently Zach left quite an impressionon me, and probably only me. Don't let that friend go, Curtis!
Desite the fanfare, ultimately, one team was going to end up on top, and one on the bottom. Let's talk about the middle first, though -- the Blue Team, which consisted of Bryan, Sang, and Lynn. Their dessert -- a group effort -- seemed to be the weakest dish of all the ones they offered. So, despite a handicap handed to them by their sous chefs, they all live another week.
The Blue Team was good, but not as good as the Red Team of Doug, David, and Sue. This team could have really imploded. Doug and David are both creative, but they seem to have totally different approaches. Doug says he wants to hang out with David, see where he gets his crazy ideas, so the respect is there.
Sue's beignets, a nod to Curtis and Lindsay and her city of New Orleans, looked awesome. All that time she spent at the fryer just to get away from "scary Douglas" worked to her advantage. Doug's umami broth packed a punch. This week, his "intense" flavor was just intense enough. I have to admit I was nervous about David's cheesecake pops. But you know what? Thre are few things better than a well-executed New York-style cheesecake. David is just such a New Yorker sometimes, it brings a smile to my face. All three are winners -- literally -- and each walks away with 5K!
The same, unfortunately, is not true for the Green Team of Franklin, Neal, and Jenn. Their team dynamic was imbalanced from the begining. Neal did a simple dish so he'd have time to be a team player, which was supposed to mean helping Franklin with the dessert. Jenn wrestled with the pasta machine and needed his help instead. So, Franklin did three dishes. The question came up at Critics' Table whether Franklin should be help accountable for being so productive, albeit not successfuly. And ultimately, he was sent home. I think a case could have been made to send any of the chefs in the Green Team home, but I think that cocktail really hurt Franklin.
Until next week. HAVE A NOSH.