leave your inhibitions at the door
Now that we’re down to eight contestants, there’s a lot more time to get to know the chefs. We learn about Josh’s dad passing away, about Brooke going to Spago for her 17th birthday, etc. But the biggest news of all? Kristen’s a lesbian!
Just kidding, she just wears really sensible shoes. UPDATE: to be clear, I don’t know nor give a shit if she’s a lesbian.
No, the biggest news was that Sheldon is… wait for it… FILIPINO! Represent!! For all of you who joined recently, yours truly was born there and emigrated when I was 9 months old. We’re kind of an oddball, mixed bag of a country that’s been bitch-slapped throughout history. Original Filipinos were darker, aboriginal types but most of us have features that are closer to Chinese because they spent centuries coming over from the mainland and having their way with us. Fast forward to Magellan’s arrival in 1521 and we became a Spanish colony for 300 years. So now we’re Catholics and have Spanish names. Then there was a bunch of wars and we were sold to the US, where we were a territory for about 40 years. Nowadays, you go on any cruise ship and the oil fields in Saudi Arabia and you’re likely to see us doing the shittiest possible jobs that no one else wants to do.
So I think I have every right to be a little proud of Filipinos that become famous. Last year’s winner of Top Chef Texas – Paul Qui – is Filipino. And in this season, in addition to Sheldon, there’s Krissy and Josie. (Although sometimes I really wish Josie wasn’t. If you haven’t met one, I can assure you that not all Filipinos have that annoying laugh)
Simple enough –create a dish for Wolfgang Puck that highlights ginger. That’s it? Where’s the blatant product placement like the Reynold’s wrap or that fake sugar? No Kindle Fire or Toyota Prius? Ahhh, it’s the official Canada Dry Ginger Ale Quickfire challenge. Whew, all is right in the world.
The contestants only have 15 minutes, with the winner getting immunity.
Josh – White Chocolate & Ginger Soup with peaches & tarragon.
Josie – Seared scallop with ginger-honey yogurt & miso-ginger sauce
Brooke – Ginger-caramel squid with fresh lime & chili powder
Lizzie – Watermelon & ginger soup with fresh mint
Micah – Ginger shrimp salad with radish, plum, ponzu vinaigrette & fried crispy ginger
Kristen – Fennel-ginger salad with brie & tomatoes
Sheldon – Wok fried ginger skirt steak with ginger & oranges
Stefan – Ahi tuna with lemongrass & ginger vinaigrette
Least Favorites – Sheldon, Josh
Favorites – Brooke, Stefan, Lizzie
Winner – Brooke. No complaints here.
Next week is Restaurant Wars, where the contestants split into two teams and start up a restaurant from scratch in a manner of two days. As a twist this year, they used this episode as a lead-in where each chef comes up with their own concept and makes one dish that represents it. There will be two winners whose concepts will be used in Restaurant Wars. Each of them will get $10K. Joining Tom and Gail at the Judges Table was Danny Meyer, one of the top restaurateurs in the nation.
Josh – Neighborhood Bistro: Seared eye of ribeye with cauliflower puree & mushroom red wine sauce
Lizzie – Northern Italian Farmhouse: Mustard green Canederli with fonduta & crispy speck.
Sheldon – Modern Filipino: Sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp, & snapper. We call it Sinigang.
Stefan – German Thai: Thai Lobster Bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes & radishes. Served with a Bavarian Cream Mango Lollipop to cool it down.
Micah – Raw food: salmon, snapper, himachi, squid, scallop, mackerel with raw vegetables
Kristen – Classic French with twist: Onsen egg with Camembert-mustard sauce & buttered radishes
Josie – Miami comfort food – Puerco Asado, black bean chorizo, croquette, pickles & mojo sauce
Brooke – Unkosher (non-traditional Jewish food) – Matzoball soup with duck confit & toasted black rye bread
Favorites – Kristen, Sheldon, Josh
Winners – Kristen & Sheldon. They then had to go back to the Stew Room and choose which of the chefs they wanted on their teams. The trick is that they didn’t know who the eliminated chef would be. Kristen chose Brooke, Lizzie, and Josie. Sheldon got Josh, Stefan, and Micah.
Bottom Three – Micah, Josie, Lizzie.
Gone – Micah. Josie’s dish was almost inedible and Micah’s just not good. But it sounded like the big difference was the concept and how the food represented it.
– I’ve always been surprised that Filipino food isn’t very popular when compared to Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. Like the people, it’s really an eclectic mix of flavors influenced by the different cultures that owned our asses. It’s not exactly a rich country either, so there’s always been a lot of creativity with use of all kinds of ingredients. In a way, you can make an argument for Filipino cuisine being a prime example for major food trends – Asian Fusion and Farm-to-Table.
– Speaking of Farm-to-Table, Gail hit on something that’s been churning in my mind for a long time. She thought it was interesting that Kristen was going for some formality in her concept, where the overwhelming trend in restaurants today is rustic and homestyle. I’m ready for going back to elegance and refinement. Farm-to-Table is fine as a concept and I do appreciate the simplicity and homey-ness. But these days people have been charging 25 bucks for really simple shit. For that money, wow me with something that requires the ability or patience I don’t possess.
– Growing up, I had Sinigang at least once a week.
– In the Elimination Challenge, they brought back four eliminated contestants to serve as sous chefs – Carla, Eliza, Kuniko, Krissy. I’m sure there was temptation to show more of Carla’s antics, but the producers showed some restraint. While I miss the entertainment (and looks) of Carla, it would’ve been pretty disrespectful to have her overshadow the others still in it. She had her chance.
– I wonder if Sheldon’s restaurant is going to serve Balut?
– Ok, that’s probably one reason why Filipino restaurants aren’t that big. Padma did mention another – usually Sinigang is really not that good-looking of a dish. Many of our dishes are toss-everything-into-one-pot deals. So it does look a like a mess.
– Stefan mentioned “Sloppy Seconds.” He’s been delivering some great lines like last year’s Grayson “Jam out with our clams out” Schmitz.
– Whoa Padma was looking fierce