May 16, 2008

Top Chef Chicago Serve and Protect

I was mistaken...last night the "next time on Top Chef" revealed the next challenge is Restaurant Wars!! I really was sad thinking they were only going to have a Wedding Wars challenge this season. I can't wait til next week!

We begin with a salad challenge for this week's quickfire. Haven't we heard enough that everyone thinks Sam Talbot is attractive? Bravo thinks not. In spite of the generous 45 minutes given, poor Stephanie forgets a component on her plate. Most of my favorite dishes this season have come from her but she just can't seem to pull it off consistently. Maybe it's just the pressure of the competition? Spike takes the quickfire win with his "Sensual Beef Salad". His over the top description and the messy looking plate didn't impress me but the taste really is the most important part.

The elimination challenge is revealed and the theme is healthy boxed lunches. Each lunch must include one ingredient from each of the four categories: whole grains, lean protein, fruit and vegetables. I love that the focus is low-glycemic index meals that would work for diabetics. My father is a type 2 diabetic and my own weight loss success has come at least in part from making high-carb foods treats only. For his win, Spike gets 10 extra shopping minutes and 4 ingredients that he alone can use. He gleefully announces that he plans on using this advantage to the fullest to screw over his fellow contestants. The chefs go shopping and Spike picks chicken breasts, tomatoes, lettuce, and bread. All are common staples that could really mess up the other chefs plans. Dale goes for lettuce wraps with bison, made with napa cabbage. I really love ground bison for chili and bison chuck for pot roast so I'm more interested in his dish. Andrew lets us know (repeatedly) that he studied nutrition for two years and plans to make a completely raw meal. His parsnip and pine nut "rice" for maki rolls sounds like a terrible idea. A broohaha occurs when Lisa finds her rice turned to high and cries "sabotage". Bravo gives us the vague evidence that Dale had been using the same range and furtive glances from all the rest of the chefs. The contestants pack up their individual meals and head for the police station. The officers are given the choice of meal and if necessary instructions on how to reheat them. Praise is given for most of the meals from the officers. Tom Colicchio prods Andrew's maki roll and looks offended.

In judging, Stephanie's comforting choice of leek and mushroom soup is given high praise for being a dish the cops could relate to but Dale's flavorful bison lettuce cups take the win. Lisa, Spike and Andrew are called as the bottom three. Lisa's undercooked rice and shrimp falls short. Spike's bizarre combination of olive and grape in his chicken salad and his lackluster use of the gameplay influenced lettuce, tomatoes, and bread come under scrutiny. Andrew's dish fails miserably as none of the judges liked it at all. Lisa then complains that she believes she was attacked and attacks right back with a unnecessary reveal the Andrew failed to use a whole grain. Andrew gets pissed. They glare at each other in the stew room and then are called in. Andrew and his raw maki get cut.

Again, I can't wait for next week's Restaurant Wars! In the meantime, I made some really delicious meatball soup of my own and I plan to post the recipe later today.

This week's winning recipe: Lemongrass Mango Bison Lettuce Wraps