Top Chef 9.11 – Fit for An Evil Queen

Last week we lost the seriously good guy (and talented chef) Ty-Lor and yes Chris “I’m all Gimmicks” is still in the game. Whatever. Sarah, inhabited by the Ghost of Heather, it seems, is continually bitching about Bev not deserving a win. And that Lindsay, who totally borked her job as front of the house for Restaurant Wars should have won. Um, no.  

Tom comes into the stew room where they all begin to softly cry. But no, he just wants them to know that they’re going back to San Antonio now, so load up in the Product Placements and they’ll drive you the two hours back to where you came from. My guess is the producers were hoping they’d be so tired that they’d get into smack talk. Not so much. The guys guess correctly that Lindsay and Sarah are peeved with Beverly.

The next day is a Quickfire, and Eric Ripert is finally here! Quickfire challenge: It’s all about quick thinking. They have 30 minutes to make something fabulous. The catch: there’s a conveyor belt with random ingredients moving on it. They’ll have to pick three, and all three have to be in the dish. The longer you wait, the better the ingredients.

It starts rolling and things like Pop Rocks and Goldfish crackers come out. What? This isn’t going to be easy. As time ticks, better things come out, like black truffles and a beautiful Dover sole. Chris Jones manages to snag a lobster on the third try with just minutes to go.

Quickfire Results

  • Ed – Sauerkraut Soup, shrimp, browned butter and black truffle (Nope. Lost me on sauerkraut soup.)
  • Chris – Butter poached lobster with foie gras (As much as he bugs me, this looks gorgeous)
  • Grayson – Butter poached Dover sole with Goldfish crackers and rosemary (haha.)
  • Paul – Mussels in ginger with bitter melon broth (bitter melon…that’s a hard sell.)
  • Sarah – Fried soft shell crab with cottage cheese sauce (as unappealing as cottage cheese sauce sounds, it looks amazing)
  • Lindsay – Bouillabaisse in Pernod-fennel sauce (She’s serving THE French chef Bouillabaisse. Kinda.)
  • Bev – Glazed sockeye salmon with black eyed peas. (One of her ingredients, Rice Krispies that she’s coated in curry, doesn’t make it to the plate. Oh dear.) It does look pretty, though.

The least favorite: Chris, as his flavors didn’t compliment each other at all; Grayson, too much citrus; and Paul, because no one in the entire world actually likes bitter melon. (I’m kidding. Three people do.)

The most favorite: Sarah, her soft-shelled crab was very nice; Lindsay, for her harmonious flavors, and Bev. They ask to try her dish with the Rice Krispies and are surprised at how much better it tastes. She could have won if only those had made it. D’oh! But the winner, by default, is Lindsay. She’ll take immunity in the elimination challenge. Nice backhanded compliment, huh?

Charlize Theron randomly enters the kitchen. Well, not randomly because some producer for this show is also a producer for a new movie Charlize is in, so we’re going to have a thirty minute commercial for her Hunstman movie about Snow White. Charlize is essentially a serial killing Queen, and wants them to make her a dinner.

Elimination Challenge: They’ll each make a course to a 7 course meal that will be gothic in theme and reflect evil. Okay? Charlize wants them to really go for it and be indulgent. Cool. They’re all really excited by this challenge.

Dishes:

  • Ed – Tuna Tartare with Black Garlic Ponzu and Asian Pear Vinaigrette. (Wow, does this look and sound delicious.) The judges go bananas for his sauces, meant to be eaten alone, and then together with the main portion of the dish. Very cool.
  • Paul – Foie Gras with Bacon, Pumpernickel, Picked Cherries and Beets. Paul has made a “bloody handprint” on the plate with a glove and beet juice, and the plate is ringed with “an enchanted forest” of all of the main ingredients. It’s utterly cool looking. The judges are surprised and happy with the end result.
  • Bev – Seared Halibut with Red Curry Coulis and Forbidden Black Rice. It looks delicious. Eric loves it, the halibut is declared to be perfectly cooked.
  • Lindsay – Seared Scallop over “Witches Stew” and Dragon Beans. They all waft the aroma into their face, and they love it. They didn’t think she needed the immunity at all.
  • Sarah – Amarone Risotto with Lamb Heart. I didn’t think it was a pretty presentation (looked like peasant food) but they are all over the moon for her perfectly cooked heart, especially Charlize.
  • Grayson – Black Chicken with beets, quinoa, quail egg and foie gras. It’s meant to look like a slaughterhouse. It does. It is also ooh’d and ahh’d over for both the presentation (it’s super cool with a clawed foot on the plate) and the flavors. They are all in love with how it looks.
  • Chris – Poisoned Apple and Cherry Pie. Okay. His gimmicks have won me over. It’s a hollowed out green apple with the fruit and juices backed inside, pastry wrapped around the top, and liquid nitrogen chilled topping added at the end so it “smokes” as they go to cut it open. It looks scrumptious, I have to say. They all declare it fabulously inventive and tasty.

Tom says this is the most exciting meal in Top Chef history, and I have to say that I agree. Eric says it’s definitely the best meal he’s every had on the show. Damn! It’s going to go down to the most nitpicky aspects to determine who’s going to go home.

Padma loves how they all (almost) went for the theme. They’re all brought out, Charlize thanks all of the chefs, and even Tom tells them thank you. The winner is…Paul! Yay, local boy! His plate was really inventive, plus it was delicious. He’s won two tickets to the World Premiere of the Huntsman movie.

Paul's winning dish

Ed, Lindsay, and Chris are declared safe and can head back to the stew room. That leaves Bev, Grayson and Sarah on the “bottom.” Tom reiterates that they’re having to be nitpicky, so hold your head high – it’s a testament to the skill they all have. Aww, I like it when Tom is nice.

Sarah, while her dish was pretty (really, Charlize? It looked like goulash.) the risotto was a bit salty with too much cheese and a little undercooked. (She’s horribly offended, as she learned in Italy how to make it.)

Bev, everything was really nice, except for that sauce she thickened with arrowroot. It became sticky and didn’t feel good in the mouth. The main reason is that the plate didn’t stay hot, which led to it being sticky. Charlize makes a face over it. Padma comments on how she didn’t really embrace the theme of “wicked” at all, barring the name of her rice.

Grayson, they loved her idea, without a doubt. But the greens were too salty and there wasn’t enough foie gras on the plate. Grayson says that sure, they might have to be nitpicky, but she embraced the theme better than almost anyone, save Paul. And she didn’t make something she’s been making over and over in the competition, ahem, Sarah and your risotto, she’s made something new with each and every challenge. Grayson? I am seriously digging you.

Grayson's "murder scene." Love it.

 

Padma breathes deep and says, “Beverly: please pack your knives and go.” Oh, Beverly. So sorry. But you can’t have a sauce that people make a face at after a few bites.  Also, you should have gone full evil.  You should have called your dish “Heather’s SOUL.”  Just a thought.

She’s proud of herself and how she played the game, however. (And don’t forget there is the Last Chance Kitchen online, where my girl Nyesha is still kicking ass, and will hopefully beat Bev and come back to the final Four. She went home way too soon, I think we can all agree to that.

 

Next Week: head to head battle!

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