The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef Episode 11: “Fit for an Evil Queen”

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I loved this episode.  We didn’t get any hokey Texas-themed meal or food service for 5000 people.  In the Elimination Challenge, the chefs worked  solo and were given a lot of leeway.  Being able to focus their energy and creativity led to some outstanding meals.

Have you been playing the Sarah Grueneberg drinking game?  I introduced it a couple a weeks ago and she hasn’t disappointed.  Every time she has some overblown OMG reaction to something (which usually includes a hand to the mouth), take a shot.  If you played last week, you probably got loaded.  I counted 5 moments.

This episode starts with the chefs kicking back after last episode’s Restaurant Wars.  Tom walks in to tell them that they had to immediately go back to San Antonio and – BAM! – there goes Sarah’s hand to mouth thing.  DRINK!

Quickfire Challenge – Quick Thinking

The guest judge was none other than Eric Ripert, the legendary chef of New York’s Le Bernadin.  The challenge itself didn’t have anything really to do with him, so I think it was just an excuse to unleash his AWESOME accent on us.  The chefs have to display their quick decision-making in making by making a “sophisticated dish” in thirty minutes.  There’s a conveyor belt in the kitchen that’s constantly moving and the contestants need to choose three items from the belt and use all of them in the dish.  The twist is that better ingredients will come out later, however they will they won’t have as much time to cook it.  The winner gets immunity.

  • Sonny Chiba –Sauerkraut soup, shrimp, macadamia nuts, & black truffle
  • Ugly Chris – butter poached lobster with foie gras
  • Grayson – butter poached dover sole with goldfish crackers & rosemary
  • Kundun – Mussels in ginger & bitter melon broth with toasted Wonderbread batons
  • Sarah – Fried soft-shell crab (coated with saltines), artichoke, & cottage cheese sauce
  • Penishead – Bouillabaisse with grouper, clams in a fennel-pernod broth
  • Bev – Glazed sockeye salmon, tofu sauce, & black eyed peas.  She also had curried Rice Krispies but didn’t have time to add them.

Bottom 3 – Ugly Chris (ingredients didn’t complement each other), Grayson (citrus was overwhelming), and Kundun (bitterness of the melon was unappealing)

Top 3 – Sarah (soft shell crab and artichokes were good), Penishead (complementary, harmonious flavors), and Beverly (praise for salmon and sauce made from tofu)

Winner – Penishead.  However, Beverly was told that her dish would’ve easily won if the Rice Krispies made it on the plate.

Elimination Challenge – Create a dish for a 7 course gothic feast fit for a queen

It’s blatant product placement time with the introduction of special guest Charlize Theron, who’s promoting her role in the upcoming “Snow White and the Huntsman”.  I can live with the marketing this time because, let’s face it, she’s a helluva lot sexier than a Toyota van.  In the movie she plays the bloodthirsty wicked queen so the dishes should be inspired by this.   The judges are Ripert, Emeril, Charlize, Tom, and Padma.

Before I go on, DRINK three times for Sarah’s instant orgasm when Theron walked in.  It may have been the same reaction, but it was shown three times. 

Ugly Chris should really knock this out of the park.  He doesn’t have a lot of imagination in terms of food and combinations.  But his type of creativity – concepts and presentation – should help him out here.  I’m almost dreading this because I like most of the remaining chefs.  The only two that I would love to see booted are Penishead and Sarah.  However, Penishead has immunity and I Sarah’s too good.

  • Sonny Chiba – Play on the classic battle between good and evil symbolized with black and white sauces.  Tuna Tartare with black garlic ponzu & Asian Pear vinaigrette, and fried fish scales.
  • Kundun – Enchanted forest filled with temptations and a bloody handprint.  Foie gras with bacon, pumpernickel pickled cherries & beets.
  • Bev – Snow white is the halibut who prevails amidst the wickedness blah blah blah…  Ok, that was weak.  Seared Halibut with red curry coulis & forbidden black rice.
  • Penishead – Seared scallop over witches stew (braised shortribs and dragon beans)
  • Sarah – Amarone Risotto with lamb heart, currants, sunchoke, thyme- Took inspiration from the royalty of this blood-thirsty queen.
  • Grayson – Black chicken with pickled beets, quail egg & foie gras.  She wanted to look like a chicken got slaughtered on the plate.  The egg symbolizes the baby inside her when she got slaughtered.
  • Ugly Chris – Poisoned apple and cherry pie with granola.  There was a worm and puffed rice maggots coming out of it and some liquid nitrogen smoke for effect. It looked gorgeous when opened.

Judges’ Table

All of the chefs are called to the table where they are congratulated for one of the finest meals in all the seasons of the show.  It was literally a love fest with all the praise going around.

Winner – Kundun. And for his efforts he gets 2 tickets to the world premiere of the movie.

Bottom Three – Everyone did well, so the comments were more nitpicking than any real flaws.

  • Sarah –Charlize’s risotto was salty and Tom’s undercooked.
  • Bev – Excessive use of arrowroot in the sauce made it sticky and offputting.  As they talk about her dish she starts crying, which she hasn’t done in the past few episodes.
  • Grayson – The greens were salty, and the fried egg was clumsy.  Also, the foie gras didn’t seem to fit.

Loser – Beverly.  The missed opportunity for immunity in the Quick Fire came back to haunt her.

Random Thoughts

  • They’re back in San Antonio at the mansion.  Maybe FINALLY, I’ll get the hot tub scene – the staple of Reality TV.  Hopefully, it won’t be with Ugly Chris and Sarah.
  • Every time Sonny Chiba opens his mouth the  wisecracks are pure gold.
  • Loved Bev’s shit-eating grin in the van after winning the last challenge.
  • My mom used to make bitter melon when I was a kid and I almost puked it up  every single time.  Nasty.
  • Charlize Theron is certainly attractive, and she had some really great commentary.   But I’ve always found her to be somewhat wooden.  She even gave Padma a run for her wooden money.  I think the only reason why she won the Oscar for her role in Monster was because the depiction was SO un-Hollywood.  The same formula worked in Nell, Rain Man, and Forrest Gump.
  • They had an exclusive sneak peek of the Snow White movie.  The special effects were really cool, but Kristen Stewart as Snow White?  If Theron is wood, Stewart is petrified wood.  This has stinker written all over it.
  • Also saw a trailer for “One for the Money” featuring Katherine Heigl…. Wow, she looks like Grayson with the limp-ass curly hair.
  • Black Chicken?  They have that at Whole Foods?
  • Some real tender moments with Ugly Chris on the phone with his wife.  Wonder if she would appreciate the crotch bump he did with Grayson.

    In Wisconsin, we don't fist bump...

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

7 comments on “Top Chef Episode 11: “Fit for an Evil Queen”

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This entry was posted on January 20, 2012 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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