leave your inhibitions at the door
Much to my dismay, Bravo decided to run a new episode on the night before Thanksgiving. When I was working at Harrington’s Pub in Chicago, this night was the biggest partying night of the year. Bigger than St Patrick’s Day. So as I sit here typing away, I’m enjoying my third Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury Ale.
This isn’t the first time I’ve posted under the influence, just the first time I’m admitting it.
Last year I had a pretty easy time coming up with nicknames for almost all of the chefs – Penishead, Suge Knight, Kundun, Sonny Chiba, and Twitchy, to name a few. Oh, and the lovely, award-winning blogger Hyacinth Jones suggested Sarah be called “The Mouth of Sauron.” That’s still brilliant.
I’m having a tougher time this year. The only one I could think of so far was “Overgrown van Damme” for Bart. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little lazier or these guys are just a little too vanilla. Anyway, I’m starting to get into a little bit of a groove here and came up with:
- Josh = Yukon Cornelius
Christmas yukon cornelius
- John = The Time Bomb. He’s notorious for being a Class-A jerkweed who pisses off everyone he meets. I was thinking that being sober has mellowed him out, but he’s starting to grate on people. But it could be creative editing.
- Micah = Aaron Neville Jr
Anyone have any good ones to add?
The chefs had to create an authentic international dumpling. Since many of them were somewhat obscure, the contestants got five minutes to research them on brand new Amazon Kindles. The guest judge was Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine Magazine. The winner gets immunity.
- Stefan – German Klopse – ground lamb, mashed potatoes & capers. Cheater
- Lizzie – Hungarian Szilvas Comboc – plum and cinnamon filling in a potato pastry
- Carla – African Fufu – Chicken & lamb filling with red sauce. She didn’t read recipe, so she winged it. Here’s what the real thing looks like.
- CJ – Polish Pierogi – veal and pork filling with demi-glace
- Kuniko – empty bowls, she ran out of time
- Josie – Korean Mandu – Pork, tofu, shiitake mushroom filling
- Overgrown van Damme – Norwegian Potetball – potato ball with lamb and fried spaghetti
- Kristen – Nepalese Momo – pork & chicken liver with ginger & cumin
- Time Bomb – Swedish Kroppkaka – potato dumpling with béchamel
- Sheldon – Chinese Jiaozi – pork & shrimp filling with shiitake mushrooms
- Brooke – Indonesian Siomay – chicken & shrimp with peanut sauce & Daikon – No actual wrapper. I say she gets a pass because others Bogarted the flour
- Neville Jr – Kazakhstan Manti – Ground lamb with dates, curry & cinnamon
- Wait a minute. We’re missing quite a few of the chefs…
Bottom Three– Brooke (tasty but no wrapper), Carla, Kuniko
Top Three – Josie, Stefan, Neville Jr
Winner – Josie
The chefs split into two teams to create a Thankgiving dinner for FareStart, a non-profit that gives culinary training to homeless people. Each team was guided by Tom and Emeril and the menus would reflect their reflective traditions. The chefs would then individually create all the elements – turkeys, side dishes, desserts.
Emeril’s Grey team – Creole-inspired
- Josie – Triple Spice Turkey with Cayenne & Hot Sauce. Bird is well flavored, but clearly raw.
- Danyele – Emeril’s mom’s dressing – bread stuffing with chorizo & cayenne
- Time Bomb – Emeril’s cornbread dressing – with ground turkey & bacon
- Kristen – Assiette of root vegetables, parsnip, truffle puree & crème fraiche
- Tyler – Andouille and shrimp gumbo – bitter, lack of flavor, no depth
- Kuniko – Potato Pave – Under-seasoned and near raw. Oopsie!!
- Sheldon – Braised greens with ham hocks – flavored well, but not cooked long enough
- Brooke – Sweet potato buttermilk biscuits
- Chrissy – White chocolate & Pecan bread pudding
- John – spiced pumpkin & goat cheese ricotta torte
Tom’s Red Team – Italian twists
- CJ – Braised Turkey with Tom’s Stuffing
- Carla – Carrot Soup with Turkey Meatballs
- Van Damme – Fennel, gorgonzola, orange & pumpkin seed salad
- Yukon Cornelius – Sweet Potato Ravioli with Pecans
- Neville Jr – Roasted Brussels sprouts with cranberries, bacon, & shallots
- Lizzie – Potato puree
- Stefan – panna cotta with orange cardamom crisp & candied pecans
- Eliza – Chocolate tart with white chocolate & mint syrup
Since Tom and Emeril worked with the teams, they recused themselves from judging. Joining Padma and Dana were Megan Karch (Executive Director of FareStart) and local chef Thierry Rautureau.
Winning Team – It was pretty obvious that the winning team was Tom’s Red Team. There were so many missteps in the Grey team’s dishes.
Best Dishes – CJ for his perfect turkey, Carla for her surprising soup, and Lizzie for the super-rich potatoes.
Winner – Carla, who went from worst (in the Quickfire) to first. For her trouble, she gets a check for zero dollars and the right to move on. Just like all the other contestants.
Least Favorites – Tyler’s gumbo, Sheldon’s greens, Kuniko’s potatoes, Josie’s turkey (would’ve been sent home if she didn’t have immunity)
Gone – Kuniko, who went from first (in last week’s episode) to worst.
– It took me three times to correctly type that Cowin is editor of Food & Wine magazine. I kept on typing “Hedonist” instead of “magazine.” I hope you’re doing the same.
– Neither of the challenge winners won anything besides immunity and the right to move on. Thought for sure they’d get at least a one of the Kindles. C’mon, Amazon’s stock is doing well enough. Give out some freebies.
– It was good to see the judges in action. We got a tease of it with Wolfgang Puck making an omelet in the premiere. It’s easy to forget why they are famous.
– Tom mentioned that basting is very important for a successful turkey. Not so, says Alton Brown… I’m actually making two small turkeys today. I’ll try to baste the hell out of one of them and see who’s right.
– I make a killer gumbo that was based on Emeril’s. Here’s the recipe.
– Seems they’re giving Josie, Stefan, and CJ a lot of camera time. It doesn’t seem fair since they’ve had plenty of camera time already. It would be good to know some of the new ones a little more.
– Tyler’s been sober for seven months. And as I just finished my fourth beer.
– I love when Kuniko walks back and everyone says “NO!!” Do you think they edited out the “why wasn’t it Sheldon?”
– Kroppkaka is from Sweden? I thought it would be the from Cornholio’s homeland…
– A lot of Top Chef followers talk about making desserts in the restaurant challenge as the kiss of death. I say it’s layered slices of potatoes with cream. It must be really damn hard to cook these things because undercooked potatoes are what did Whitney in last year.
– In the aftermath, Time Bomb started pissing people off by analyzing Kuniko’s mistakes which pisses off several of the judges. At one point he tells CJ, “You’re full of shit right now!” Guess my nickname was spot-on.