Friday, March 21, 2008

Top Chef Recap!

My two favorite things in one episode: cooking and animals! Thankfully, they were not cooking those animals.

Let's start with the Quickfire:
A bunch of shots of the chefs running around Chicago's Green City Market, generally displeased with the selections of meat, and getting grumpy remarks when attempting to rummage through the wares of the seller. The Quickfire challenge was simple: Cook a dish with no more than 5 ingredients (though salt, sugar, pepper, and oil were gimmes).
I really liked the look of Erik's dish, the lamb chop, baby carrots, and potatoes, but as I've said in earlier posts, the plainer my food arrives, the better. Wylie Dufresne, the molecular gastronomist and guest judge of this Quickfire, thought it too plain and told Erik it lacked cohesiveness. Grr.
Hyperactive Andrew, whom I can't decide if I'm taking a shine to because of my earlier days as a teacher, or because I'd pay money to see the man given Ritalin (or are these things one in the same?), is called out on his illegal use of balsamic vinegar. Which was ok with me because the whole plate was brown! Probably tasted out of this world, but not as visually appetizing as his end product usually is.
Mark, who we see running around the market unable to decide, purchasing items down to the last minute, and then LEAVING a key ingredient in his dish behind, pulls it out with his sirloin steak with turnips, mushrooms, peaches & butter. Looks like he didn't need the other vegetable after all. Wylie was suitably impressed, and Mark was granted the first immunity pass of the season.

The Elimination Challenge:
They drew knives and matched up in teams according to the animal on the knife: lion, vulture, penguin, bear, and gorilla (this is where the hearts of half the viewing audience stopped: were they going to cook these animals?).
Nope, they were charged with catering a cocktail party at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Each team had to create a menu of hors d'oeuvres that incorporated elements of their animals DIET (phew). Zoi immediately showed a great sense of humor listing what a vulture likes to eat. Just how many ways are there to cook a dead carcass?
The winning team of the night was penguin, with their black-and-white themed canapes, penguin decorations on the table, and Andrew's special edible yuzu glacier. Team vulture came in not too far behind with Mark's marinated anchovy on a quinoa croquette (high in protein and fiber, yum!)
Unfortunately, two of the other teams didn't fare as well: gorilla and bear were called to explain themselves.
When the camera man showed team bear's stuffed mushrooms (Nikki's) I turned to NAH and said, "those look like poop!" The thing was, that's exactly what they resembled. No thanks! Dale seemed to recognize this, and decided to add pecorino cheese to make the color more varied. The downside? After all that work they were too cold too serve at the party. Nikki thought she was remedying the situation by serving them to the chefs, but they appeared to be confused as to why they had to eat them if the other guest weren't. Seriously, they looked that awful. Blueberries and mushrooms is circumspect to me to begin with. Cold blueberries and mushrooms with pecorino cheese were even worse in the judges' opinions. Thankfully (and I'm saying this because I get the feeling Nikki could do well), team gorilla had two lousy dishes as compared to bear's one. Here's where things got tricky.
Gorilla had Valerie's black olive blini (which for the love of god, people is pronounced BLEE-NEE - no extra syllables!! A bellini is a drink!) with slightly-raw rutabagas on top, and Stephanie's pre-salted so it drew out all the moisture crab salad on celery chips that were too soggy to serve. In the judge's eyes Stephanie redeemed herself with the banana bread in caramel sauce (not to mention Antonia's vote that she'd rather keep Stephanie), and Valerie was sent packing.
Until next time!
~The Allergic Diner

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