leave your inhibitions at the door
I always wonder how I’d do as a contestant on Top Chef. Obviously, as a corporate schmuck with self-taught culinary skills, I’d get smoked. Like beaten bad smoked, not woodchip smoked. Although that would be a distinct possibility.
But let’s just say I was able to take a little pill that gave me enough magical kitchen skills to compete. All of the chefs here have some amount of ability and experience, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the show in the first place. There are other qualities needed to get through the competition:
Encyclopedic Knowledge – If it’s not clear by now, I remember everything. Gordon Jump played the Maytag repair man as well as the creepy molestor in Diff’rent Strokes. Big Punisher was 5’2” and 698 pounds at the time of his death. It’s a curse.
Ability to make something out of nothing – Just take a look at 90% of the posts on this blog.
Perseverance – As seen by my undying devotion to bad music. And Lindsay Lohan.
What I don’t have are tattoos or a hipster haircut. Yet.
The contestants were tasked with making a big sausage dish from scratch for Rob Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots. They had an hour and the winner got immunity.
Least Favorites: Melissa (too small), Gregory (too complex)
Favorites: Doug, George
Winner: George. It was a basic breakfast sausage served with eggs and toast. What probably won it was that it was a huge plate and simple enough for The Gronk.
Local chef Tony Maws wheeled in a bookshelf with books from New England-based writers. The chefs had to choose an author and then create a dish inspired by one of their works.
OK, this is where I would suffer a humiliating defeat. As an Asian male who had aspirations of becoming a doctor, I killed at math and science. English, not so much. I mean, I’ve heard of these authors but could barely tell you anything much more about them. Outside of a couple Poe works, I don’t think I’ve read any of these authors. I’ve seen a few Stephen King movies, but that’s all.
Gregory (Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven): Seared beef tenderloin, grilled hen, parsnip puree, beets, & crispy nori
George (Dr Suess’ One Fish, Two Fish): Calamari, mussels, clams, pan-seared branzino, purple potatoes, & red peppers
Mei (Henry David Thoreau’s Walden): Roasted vegetables, charred onion soil, tom kha snow, radish, & carrot top vinaigrette
Melissa (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance): Seared halibut, spring vegetables, morels, charred baby corn, asparagus, peas & mushroom broth
Katsuji (Stephen King’s Carrie): Fabada with white beans, chorizo, jamon Serrano, short rib, veal osso buco, red beet puree & hot sauce
Dougie (Some Emily Dickinson poem): Grilled carrot bisque with grilled carrots, orange, cumin vinaigrette, radish & dandelion
Top Three: Mei, Melissa, Dougie
Bottom Three: Gregory, Katsuji, George (but he had immunity)
Gone: Katsuji. The interpretation was great, but the execution wasn’t enough.
– I’m bummed about Katsuji being eliminated. He and last week’s loser Adam brought a lot of personality to the show. And, like Adam, he had enough skill to get to the finals. At least way more than Melissa.
– It was a little more than awkward seeing Padma flirt with Gronk. But at least the producers made up for it by having all those sausage-related dick jokes in there. Padma’s was clearly written in, but others were organic. This hit home perfectly with my lower-than-sophomoric sense of humor.
– Although they missed a perfect opportunity by not referencing Gronk’s position – tight end. As in “put a big sausage in a tight end.” It’s not like Bravo’s core demographic WOULDN’T get the joke.
– Of all the contestants, Gregory probably knew the most about the piece of work that inspired the dish. He touched on all the themes and every component on the plate was linked to the story. Even with all that, the overall theme was a little lost. It’s one of those things where, if you have to explain it in painstaking detail, you probably didn’t do a good job of getting your message across.
– I’m really not impressed with George’s cooking. It sounded like he probably would’ve been booted had not had immunity. His dish, like the Quickfire sausage plate and the two from last week, lacked any kind of creativity or panache. Completely uninspiring.
– He does well because he executes them perfectly, but that will only take him so far. I’d be pretty disappointed if the overall winner of the show was the one who gave us sausage and eggs and a grilled lamb kebab.
– Melissa stepped up her game and offered something a little more substantial than her usual. That said, I can’t imagine her (or George) lasting past the next episode.
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