leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s another two-fer as we had some family at our place last week. When I do these reviews, I’m usually watching alone late at night. No, I’m not switching back and forth with Skinemax. That allows me to pause, take notes, pictures, etc. I couldn’t really do it last week with a cousin camped out on the couch. Not that I cared about keeping him awake, but he’s the type that would’ve been looking over my shoulder, reading, asking questions. Basically, I would’ve wanted to throttle him.
I decided to watch both episodes back-to-back and it was hard. I mean, brutally hard. If you missed it, I started a 10-day cleanse where I consume nothing but lemonade. Until then I was doing perfectly fine with not being hungry, but watching 2 hours of this with all the food-related commercials nearly put me over the edge.
The shit I do for my readers.
Episode 12 – Mississippi Mudbugs
The Quickfire Challenge involved the chefs making their interpretation of crawfish etouffee, which means “smothered.” We learned that Stephanie is allergic to some shellfish, so she had to fly a little blind. The bigger problem was that Carlos had no idea what “smothered” means.
Least Favorites – Stephanie, Carlos, Carrie
Favorites – Brian, Nina, Shirley
Winner – Shirley
The Elimination challenge was to create a dish that highlights two different seafoods for 1000 people at some seafood festival. Yep, it’s Top Caterer again.
Brian – Grilled swordfish, shrimp & sweet onion puree with fennel daikon relish
Nicholas – Oyster leek soup, champagne emulsion, green apple yogurt & cured amberjack
Carrie – Flounder croquettes with oyster emulsion & pickled cucumbers
Shirley – Tuna & amberjack ceviche with aged soy sauce, lime dressing, & toasted pecans
Nina – Marinated wahoo with salsa verde, tonnato sauce, & pickled vegetables
Carlos – Amberjack ceviche with rustic peach & shrimp relish
Stephanie – Fried oysters with tuna & pickled beech mushrooms
Top 3 – Stephanie, Brian, Nina
Winner – Stephanie
Bottom 3 – Carrie, Carlos, Nicholas
Gone – Carrie. This was a no-brainer as the halibut got completely lost in the croquette.
Episode 13 – Oui Si a Challenge
Quickfire Challenge: Culinary legend Jacques Pepin demonstrated how to make poached dover sole with mushroom duxelle, stuffed artichoke, & sautéed asparagus. The chefs had 35 minutes to re-create it with winner getting immunity.
Least favorites – Carlos, Brian, Stephanie
Favorites – Shirley, Nicholas
Winner – Nicholas
Elimination Challenge: French vs Spanish cook-off. The chefs were split in 2 teams and were challenged with making a 5-course menu in either French or Spanish styles. The teams were coached by Dominique Crenn (Fr) and Julian Serrano (Sp) and the menu had to highlight ingredients featured in both cuisines – olives, almonds, chocolate, mussels, and chicken.
Team France – Shirley, Nicholas, Stephanie
Snapper ceviche with dehydrated olives & ice cream (Shirley)
Pickled & poached mussels, crustacean jus & tomate (Stephanie)
Chicken liver mousse with roasted chicken bouillon (Shirley, Stephanie)
Cornish game hen & spced chocolate with corn silk nest (Nicholas)
Almond flan, plum, & dark cocoa (Nicholas)
Team Spain – Nina, Carlos, Brian
Ensaladilla rusa with green olives, gulf shrimp, & potatoes (Nina)
Ajo blanco with almonds, crab & cherries (Nina)
Mejillones (mussels) a la romesco with crispy leeks (Carlos)
Pollo con arroz: chicken & saffron rice (Carlos & Brian)
Flan de chocolate & strawberries
Winning Team – Spain
Winner – Nina
Losing Team – France
Gone –Here’s where it got really interesting. Stephanie’s and Shirley’s dishes were the best of the night and Nicholas’ were terrible. But he had immunity. Pepin asked him if the team should be penalized for his work or should he resign. After a long awkward pause Nick responded, “I did well enough yesterday to earn immunity today.” Since they had to choose one loser, Stephanie got sent packing.
– While I can see where Nicholas should have resigned and the other two were rightly pissed, it’s a game. A game with a life-changing $125K at stake. Of COURSE he wasn’t going to take the fall. A similar thing happened in Top Chef Texas where Sarah (aka “The Mouth of Sauron” and “Picnic Ham with Eyes”) won a Quickfire and had a choice between taking the elimination off and getting assured a spot in the final, or competing and potentially losing. Other chefs said they’d want to earn their way into the final. Yeah, right…
– Week after week you see the chefs gushing about the guest chefs, but you rarely see them cook. Watching these guys fumbling over what Pepin did effortlessly was incredible. The guy is truly a master.
– One thing that I’ve learned about myself this season is that I’m a sucker for accents. Carlos’ velvety accent is fantastic, but nothing compared to Pepin’s, Crenn’s, and Serrano’s. It was especially fun to see Crenn and Serrano trash-talking the other’s team.
– Besides the accents, I LOVED all of episode 13 for the drama and the quality of the food – especially the Quickfire. They always throw in one skills-based challenge, and it usually involves something stupid like peeling 30 pounds of potatoes or slicing meat.
– I’m excited that they announced that the finale is going to be in Maui. Maybe we’ll get my favorite chef from last year to appear – Sheldon. At very least, maybe we’ll get more gratuitous beach shots of Padma.
– The Spanish-French throwdown is very reminiscent of cooking with me and The Sicilian. She always opts for Rustic and I’m always leaning towards Avant Garde. On tv, rustic won out. But around here, my food is supreme.
– Let’s see if she caught that.
– Episodes 12 & 13 have set-up some a storyline with a building beef between Nick and Carlos. To be specific, it’s Carlos being a dick and Nick getting all prissy on him – and it it’s continuing next week. To me it looks like Carlos doesn’t give a shit and that’s just pissing Nick off even more. While I admit Carlos could be a little less ignorant, Nick got his first ulcer at 18, so the guy’s pretty tightly wound. But then again, what we’re seeing could be a matter of editing.
– Meanwhile on Last Chance Kitchen (Spoiler Alert) – Louis is on a tear. He was eliminated in week 8 but is still around. In Week 7, I mentioned that he could surprise people. I was curious to see how he’d do when some of the better chefs got booted, but he beat Stephanie hands-down. Could be interesting going forward.