leave your inhibitions at the door
I’m sick. No, not “sick” in the sense of making jokes about Asians eating dogs. Oh wait, I may or may not have made that joke. Seriously, I feel like ass. It started last weekend, hence no posts since then. But enough of my whining.
I really loved this episode from beginning to end to post-show with Last Chance Kitchen. There were really cool challenges, really creative dishes with good execution, a big twist, and humorous moments. Also, since there’s fewer contestants, we’re starting to learn some more about the chefs’ backstories.
There was no actual cooking in this challenge as it focused on knife skills. The guest for this competition is Master Bladesmith Bob Kramer. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that Kramer makes the best kitchen knives in the world. Those of you who read my post about my custom knife will know this got me geeked. For those of you just tuning in, I bought my custom-made knife from Cut Brooklyn.
It was destined for Gwneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s hands but came to yours truly. This thing makes me feel like King Arthur with Excalibur – I can do just about anything with it. I don’t know if I can cut ropes like Kramer demonstrated, but then again his knives sell for $500 an inch. So mine was a downright steal.
The chefs competed in teams of three in three different challenges.
Round 1: Each team had to sharpen really dull knives to the point where they can slice paper. Stefan, Lizze, and Brooke were eliminated, as they were the last to get their knives sharp enough.
Round 2: In a show of precision, the teams had to tourne (cut into 7-sided mini footballs) 50 potatoes. Josie nicked her finger so she was tossed, which slowed down Time Bomb and Kristen. They lost.
Round 3 – The remaining chefs – Sheldon, Yukon Cornelius, and Aaron Neville Jr – competed against each other. The first to break down two rabbits wins a Kramer knife and immunity.
Winner – Micah.
In celebration of the show’s 10th season, each chef was assigned to cook a dish inspired by a memorable moment from a previous season. The winning dish would then be used in a new Healthy Choice Café Steamer, so the dishes had to be healthier versions of the original. In addition, the winner gets $15K.
Season 1 – Josie: Herb-roasted Chicken with parsnip puree & steamed root vegetables. Described as not exciting. Understatement of the year. I can make that with my eyes closed.
S2 – Stefan: Roasted red pepper soup with bacon & grilled mimolette cheese sandwich
S3 – Tim Bomb – Umami risotto with chicken, salmon roe, burdock root & carrot emulsion. Some serious problems with the risotto – some of it completely overcooked, some completely raw.
S4 – Sheldon – Beef Carpaccio with poi aioli, mizuna & mushroom salad with silken tofu foam, miso-candied salmon
S5 – Lizzie: Seared scallops with roasted fennel, garlic puree, orange & olive salad. The scallops were smelling funky.
S6 – Yukon: Soy-glazed pork tenderloin with smoked cashew puree & heirloom peaches
S7 – Brooke: Smoked salmon, forbidden black rice, with English pea & parsnip puree
S8 – Kristen – Poached chicken breast, carrot puree with garlic & tofu emulsion
S9 – Neville Jr – Five-spiced duck breast with miso polenta & pickled cherries
Joining Tom and Wolfgang Puck for dinner were veterans of Top Chef Masters – Wylie Dufresne, Jonathon Waxman, and Chris Cosentino. Cosentino stuck around for the actual judges table.
Favorite dishes – Yukon (nicely balanced), Kristen (homey flavor), Brooke (perfect salmon)
Winner – Kristen. No surprise there. The inspiration was chicken pot pie and she completely deconstructed it, but the judges said it tasted exactly like it was supposed to. It was also truly the healthiest because of its ingredients, what’s NOT in there, and sensible portions.
Least Favorites – Time Bomb (unevenly cooked risotto) and Lizzie (questionable quality scallops that weren’t cooked well)
Twist – The two had to cook a dish inspired by a memorable moment from THIS season – CJ’s burger with pickles. They had 45 minutes to make a healthier version of it.
John – Lamb burger with fried egg & spicy pickle, tomato & pomegranate salad. Not sure how this is really that healthy.
Lizzie – Chicken burger with goat cheese ricotta & dill pickle roasted red pepper salad
Gone – All of the judges – Wolfgang, Tom, Padma, Cosentino – voted Lizzie’s as best. Adios Time Bomb.
– I don’t know if I’d like the “gravy” Kristen made – a combination of poached garlic, tofu, and soy milk – over the real stuff. But it was pretty damned inspired.
– There was a commercial for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” Christmas special. Because that’s exactly what Jesus would want.
– The winning dish was going to become a Healthy Choice Steamer. I would’ve made a Boston Steamer with Kristen. See, told you I was sick.
– They showed a lot of clips from previous seasons. Holy shit were there some major fights.
– I drew some ire last year for calling Sarah fat and bitter. At the risk of doing so again… Josie made a big deal about teaching people how to eat and live healthily. I’m not sure she’s the right person to be doing that. But maybe it was the camera that made her ass look that fat.
– Sheldon’s dish had a lot going on, but execution was poor. I like the guy, so I hope he turns that around.
– At the judges table, Time Bomb was complaining about the crappy pots. Yukon chimed in saying the pots were just fine like a true prick. It sounded like they purposefully asked Yukon what he thought about them. He probably should’ve taken the high road. Meh.
– The equipment issue came back in Last Chance Kitchen. It was awesome and I highly recommend you watching it. Or you can get my Haiku review on my Facebook page.
– Did you notice that I specified that Kramer makes the best kitchen knives? Because best knives for non-kitchen use are made by Hattori Hanzo:
– Holy coincidence!!! As I’m finishing this up, I looked up at the TV and Bravo is showing Kill Bill Vol 2!