April 24, 2008

Top Chef Chicago Improv

The sexual innuendo was flying everywhere this week but in the end the jokes weren't enough to save Jen from being sent home. This week began with a dessert themed quickfire. Ah the bane of the Top Chef contestant, dessert. It seemed that most people had learned from the previous seasons and had some dessert recipe to fall back on. I was pleased that Richard ignored the fear of baking and approached a dessert like I think most "chefs" (as apposed to bakers/pastry chefs) should. You can make a great dessert that doesn't require knowing formulas for baked goods. The uninspired chocolate cakes from several contestants only shows that they can memorize a good cake recipe. Richard's dish of banana scallops with banana guacamole shows that he was trying to bring the most out of a sweeter presentation of the ingredients given. I was happy to see him earn immunity and a spot in the Top Chef cookbook for his dish.

Next, the contestants are given a night on the town and seats at Second City. During the show colors, emotions and foods are chosen in random combinations shouted out by the crowd. The contestants are then told that these combinations will be the inspirations for a five course meal to be served the next night. The contestants pair up and choose their improved categories. The next day they go shopping. There is some complaining on the part of Lisa and Antonia about not wanting to use their improved ingredient, polish sausage, and so they swap in chorizo. Snotty comments about polish sausage fly. A few little twists are added in the Top Chef kitchen and they end up serving their dishes back at their own house. The squash soup starter goes over well and then comes the yuk it up phallic asparagus plate. This plate looks like such a mess I though Erik had snuck back in! The toasted, orange goat's cheese looks and sounds like it would be great with the asparagus but the plate is just too messy with too many things on it. The dishes of chorizo (Polish sausage stand in) with sea bass and pork loin with bacon look good, but not winning awesome. The wow-factor dish of the night is Richard and Dale's beef fat marinaded tofu with green curry. Not only does this sound awesome (beef fat, tofu, Thai curry, fried eggplant, yum!!) but it pulled in their emotion, perplexed, wonderfully. Everyone seems to enjoy the food.

In judging, the squash soup and tofu dishes come out on top with the tofu taking the win for the evening. The lower scoring teams end up being Stephanie and Jen for the asparagus and Lisa and Antonia for the chorizo/sea bass. Lisa really defends her Polish sausage hatred and in the end Jen is let go for the asparagus dish. Lisa is clearly on the outs with the fans from what I've read online and I have to agree. She seems to argue and complain and generally not enjoy herself. We'll see if she can improve her mood next week when all the chefs get to cook with kids. I'll have to see if Alex will want to watch this one. He watched Ratatouille this week and had to cook for us that evening. He's just like his mom though, he hates following a recipe.
This weeks winning dish: TOFU STEAK MARINATED IN BEEF FAT