Some bloggers have noticed that the second person interviewed in Top Chef episodes seems to be the one who gets cut. This episode's second interview: Richard. NOOOOOO!!!!!
The Quick Fire: to make a sexy salad. Guest judge: sexy Sam, from season 2. Verrry nice to see him again. My pal Jenny got to see him in person and I was soooo jealous. (This is a photo she took of him.) My favorite comment on Jenny's blog post: "Oh have mercy Sam is a beautiful beast," by Flutter. Yep, what she said. He and Padma standing next together proves that God played favorites when he was passing out sexy.
Where was I? (fanning myself ...) Oh yeah, a salad. A sexy salad. And they have 45 minutes to make one, which seems to be a lot of time until I remember I couldn't didn't come close to turning out an un-sexy one in 30 minutes last week (see previous post). In the end, the one that catches my eye: Antonia's poached egg wild mushroom salad with a bacon vinaigrette and squash blossoms. When the yolk is pierced with a fork, the yellow goo runs over the salad. Dang, that does look sexy and delicious. Antonia is growing on me. She cooks well and has a droll sense of humor with a good chortle-y laugh.
Andrew is NOT growing on me but his salad with mangoes, strawberries, raspberries and Sriracha looks colorful and sounds interesting -- sweet and heat. Not sexy though. Maybe he should have saved his culinary boner for this week.
Antonia does wind up in the top three, along with Dale (Asian poached chicken salad), as well as Spike (Vietnamese beef salad with mint in it). Spike gets the win.
The bottom three: Richard, Stephanie and Lisa. It proves that Richard is human, after all. Stephanie ran into trouble and didn't finish -- the Quickfire doesn't seem to be her strength, but don't count her out. Lisa's salad had squid, lobster and banana -- flavors I can't quite imagine together.
They wheel out a big table full of the junk food that Chicago cops eat for lunch every day. Lisa comments that it looks good, and I kind of agree. I don't think Lisa is all bad, and neither is Dale. They both have intense moments, which I've been known to have, so I can kind of relate to them. Andrew and Spike, on the other hand, come across as borderline demented.
I thought the chefs might have to do a healthy twist on one of the junk food items, but no, they have to make healthy, hearty boxed lunches for Chicago cops. I like that they featured Chicago's finest, but it wasn't a terribly exciting challenge. Maybe they want to give the chefs something that's not terribly taxing after the wedding marathon.
Spike gets 10 extra minutes to shop -- and he rubs every one's noses in it. He also gets to pick a fruit, vegetable, grain and protein that his opponents can't use -- definitely a bigger advantage than last week's bride or groom choice. He selects chicken, tomato, bread and lettuce as the ingredients his opponents can't use -- talk about mundane ingredients. This means the chefs will have to think outside the box, so to speak. I wonder what Richard, who has proven himself to be a classy competitor, would have done. Toss them a soft ball? I'm guessing he'd pick a terrific dish for himself and then choose items that wouldn't duplicate the flavors. I wonder if Spike considered that if, by some wild stretch of the imagination, he made it to the end, he'd most likely need some of these people on his team.
Then they serve the lunches to the cops. Richard is mocked out for saying over and over, "do you like burritos?" Give the guy a break. He's just trying to make a dish with some unfamiliar ingredients seem more approachable.
The top two:
- Dale, for Bison "lettuce" wraps (using Napa cabbage) because Bison is very lean. Although I haven't tasted Bison, that was a good idea because Chicago cops will probably like red meat. I'm not a fan of the lettuce wrap, only because it's messy and awkward to eat, but they were a clever way to get around not being able to use bread.
- Stephanie, for a barley and butternut squash soup with meatballs. Going with a soup was a good idea. I love barley, especially in soup. I'd try the recipe (in the fall) if I trusted the accuracy of the recipes on the Bravo site.
Dale wins, and his prize is a fancy bottle of wine. He's definitely one of the stronger chefs. And has anyone noticed that his personality is much nicer when he's not taking part in a team challenge?
The bottom three:
- Lisa, for a shrimp stir-fry with undercooked shrimp and rice. She claimed that someone turned up her heat to sabotage her. Don't you think the cameras or another competitor would have noticed? She also points out to the judges that Andrew's dish didn't have a grain, a requirement of the challenge -- ironic, considering she was on the team that substituted chorizo for the required Polish sausage a few episodes back.
- Spike, for an uninspired chicken salad. Oh, how satisfying that he landed in the bottom three after the way he handled his Quickfire win.
- Andrew, for a mock sushi that didn't satisfy the cops or the judges. He blamed the judges' attitudes about healthy food, which never seems to be a smart strategy. I would argue that that Andrew's attempt had a higher level of creativity and difficulty than Spike's pedestrian chicken salad, so I would have preferred to have seen Spike cut. But I'm not terribly disappointed to see the guy who coined the term "culinary boner" pack his knives and go. And I vow that the term "boner" will never be used again on this blog. Ugh.
Next week: Restaurant wars! Yeah!
P.S. A couple of Rochester restaurants -- Dinosaur BBQ and California Rollin' -- are mentioned on this week's Team Top Chef Blog! The blogger defends sushi as a concept that, when creatively executed, can meet the definition of "hearty." Apparently California Rollin' serves a Dinosaur BBQ tempura roll with tuna and drizzled with Dinosaur BBQ sauce -- which pretty much typifies Rochester's approach to fusion cuisine. The blogger raves about it so even though it doesn't immediately appeal to me, I might have to give it a try. (I checked California Rollin's menu and didn't see the roll the blogger mentioned ... but I still want to check out California Rollin')