Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Chef New York Episode Six

On another glorious Noo Yawk morning, our chefs awaken refreshed and ready to start the new day.

Although they cut this part from the "supersized" episode, it was in the previews and I thought it was important to share: Jamie is a complainer.

After the kawfee drinking and whinefest, the chefs suit up and head to the Top Chef Kitchen of Corporate Sponsorship where they find the set-ups for a holiday that is only a few months around the corner....

Padma, whose clothing budget has been drastically cut, leaving her to wear jeans so tight one can see the outline of the front pockets, is there to greet the cheftestants.

Pretend it's Christmas and not summer, people, and listen to what the ho ho ho has to say. And Padma, those jeans do stunningly horrible things to your ass.

Today's Quickfire is to create a one-pot dish for the holidays, to be guest-judged by none other than Martha Stewart. She paraphrased Einstein and told the cheftestants to keep the dishes simple, but not too simple. And you know by that she was referring to last week's PYKAG-ed cheftestant Danny....

I'm not seeing what's so challenging about this challenge, as I try to make a one-pot-type dish every year. This year it will be chicken cacciatore, last year was pasta carbonara, the year before short ribs. I never understood those families who farted around with yet another turkey dinner only a month after the first stinking bird came out of the oven.

For some folks, however, one-pot meals are a foreign concept. Foreign, geddit?

If memory serves me correctly, Tom Colicchio got Medieval on someone's ass in a past season (Richard Blais, maybe?) for having called a dish "paella" but not producing the traditional crust of rice in the pan. Hopefully Martha won't be as semantics-lovin'.

After the cooking came the tasting. Martha was wonderfully and cruelly stone-faced through most of it, leaving the cheftestants shaking in their clogs.

Hosea is in luck as Martha "gives props" to his paella. She also enjoys Jamie's scallop dish with potato and kale, but likes Ariane's cauliflower puree with filet best of all and proclaims her the winner of the challenge AND a copy of her new cookbook. "From one Jersey girl to another." Awww.

Yet another reason for WhineyJamie to snivel later.

Martha leaves the group with some words of wisdom and beats a hasty retreat before the Elimination Challenge is announced. At that moment, Padma brings in a group of individuals sadly afflicted with Melisma - the need to sing fourteen or fifteen notes where only one is written.

Recently this condition has become epidemic and has afflicted many of our popular perfomers, from Mariah Carey to American Idol contestants. Won't you please help us find a cure? Donations may be sent to theminx, P.O. Box 123....

The chefs head to the knife block. They pull out numbers from one to twelve, which Padma explains are representative of lines in the classic song, "The 12 Days of Christmas," at which point the choir mangles the corresponding line with too many syllables.

The cheftestants are to create an hors d'oeuvre inspired by their assigned line, to be served to 250 people at a benefit for amfAR, hosted by Natasha Richardson. They get 45 minutes to shop with an $800 budget, and then three hours to prep in the Top Chef kitchen that evening. There's not much time to plan, so the chefs think on their feet.

Hey Bravo - how do you like the way I managed to work the name of one of your sponsors in there? You can send the check to theminx, P.O. Box 123....

WhineyJamie decides to make scallops again, this time omitting the kale and making a vichyssoise instead. Hosea goes for pork tenderloin, which he smokes. Actually, he smokes the whole damn kitchen in the process.

Finally, after 2AM, prep time is up and the chefs get to catch some sleep.

When the cheftestants enter the Top Chef Kitchen Sponsored by Glad, et. al., the smoke has cleared but one of the refrigerators was found open. The least-full fridge. It seemed only to contain Hosea's smoked pork and 40 pairs of duck breasts belonging to Radhika, plus Melissa's cheese. That is not to say that Radhika has duck breasts, or that Melissa is cheesy....

Hosea is distressed.

After he miraculously discovers a bunch of pork loins hanging around in another fridge and we find Radhika had saved the non-breast portions of her duck elsewhere, I suspect that Bravo had sabotaged the situation in order to pump more drama into the show. However, this is such a professional group of contestants, they decided to band together and do whatever was needed to assist Hosea and Radhika.

Your evil plot was foiled, Bravo!

Finally, the cooking is done and the chefs head to the Prince George Ballroom.

The Ballroom is decked out for Christmas, and as the chefs set up their stations, guests show up in holiday finery. Mostly sleeveless dresses, as it's hot as hell in NY in the summertime.

The guests are each given a red AIDS ribbon to wear and are told to pin the ribbon at the booth of the cheftestant whose hors d'oeuvre they like best.

After the eating and schmoozing, the judges and chefs head to the set known as Judges' Table.

Hosea, Jeff, Stefan, and Radhika get called to stand before Tom, Padma, Natasha Richardson, and Miami chef Michelle Bernstein. The judges were impressed that the chefs banded together to assist Hosea and Radhika, and that their dishes were among the best. Hosea was awarded the most AIDS ribbons at his booth, therefore he was declared the winner of this challenge. And of course Bernstein got to plug her new cookbook, Cuisine à Latina, and gave a copy to each of the chefs standing before her.

The bad dishes were numerous, but Jamie, Melissa, and Gene were singled out for their awesome awfulness.

Gene stood behind his dish 1000%, which should have been the kiss of death for him. However, the judges were full of the Christmas-in-July spirit. Or they drank a lot.

Tom visits the stew room...

...and delivers the verdict:

Wow - I would have sent all three chefs packing. Merry Christmas!

Next time: Top a-Scallop!