Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top Chef New York Episode Twelve

The five remaining cheftestants start yet another episode making beds and contemplating life.

Fabio enjoys breakfast.

And Stefan laments the absence of Jamie. Or maybe he doesn't.

Carla's ready for the next challenge. She's classically trained, you know.

She's already had several cups of coffee this morning.

Finally, the chefs get their shit together and head to the Eggland's Best Kitchen where they find Padma with a celebrated American chef whose accolades include "plays with chemicals," and "worst haircut ever."

Today's Egg McMuffin Quickfire Challenge:

While Fabio plays with his powdered chemicals, and Leah thinks it's a good idea for a chef to know about molecular gastronomy, Carla thinks differently. Classically trained, you know.

She decides to do green eggs and ham, which of course has been done so many times before, it's not whimsical anymore. Stefan goes for a far more clever approach, making panna cotta with a fruit puree inside, to resemble a poached egg.

Because all of the chefs but Carla (a big believer in "keep it simple, stupid") have decided to use multiple elements on their plates, they have to scurry around the kitchen in order to get things done on time. Fabio insists he's like "da Flesh," by which he means "the Flash" unless he's rethinking his culinary career and considering porn. (All in favor?) And I could have sworn Hosea said something about "hauling aspic" but Mr Minx insists he said "ass." Which of course makes sense, coming from Hosea, who possibly doesn't even know what aspic is.

Fabio, Leah, and Hosea end up with Dufresne's least favorite egg dishes, which "peeses" Fabio off. He wanted to win at least one Quickfire. Stefan's faux poached egg impressed the guest judge, but not as much as the simplicity of Carla's green eggs and ham. Color everyone surprised.

Padma then says that the chefs will find out about their Elimination Challenge as soon as they draw knives. This time, the instruments of culinary destruction sport the names of famous chefs.

Fabio gets Lidia Bastianich, Hosea gets Susan Ungaro (who?), Stefan gets Marcus Samuelsson, Carla gets Jacques Pepin, and Dufresne gets stuck with Leah.

As winner of the Quickfire, Carla gets the option of switching her chef. As she is quite enamored of Pepin, she opts to keep him.

Now...let's go back. (cue currently overused needle-scratching-LP sound) Who the hell is Susan Ungaro? She's not a chef. Oh...apparently she is the president of the James Beard Foundation. Still, not a chef.

The challenge is to prepare a "last meal" for these culinary giants (plus Ungaro), who have chosen the dishes for the cheftestants to cook. Jacques Pepin wants squab with fresh peas. Lidia Bastianich would like to eat roasted chicken, potatoes, and onions with a salad on the side. Marcus Samuelsson wants salmon and spinach. Wylie Dufresne would like eggs Benedict. And Susan Ungaro would like shrimp scampi and tomatoes Provenรงal.

The chefs have 30 minutes and $300 to purchase ingredients at Whole Foods.

Hosea continues his pissing contest with Stefan.

You mean by winning, Hoser? (For the record, Stefan has won 4 Quickfires and 4 Elimination Challenges. Hosea has won only one each.)

Whereas, there's no mistaking yours, Stef.

Ok boys, enough.

I said enough!

grrrrr.....

In the kitchen at Capitale, an events venue in Manhattan, the cheftestants get to work. They have two hours to prepare their meals as part of a 5-course dinner for all of the celebrity chefs, plus Tom, Toby, and Padma. And that Ungaro chick.

Tom comes in to give them a little pep talk.

Suddenly, there's a commotion in the kitchen - one of the cheftestants has been injured. Oh maybe it's Leah! No such luck - it's poor hapless Fabio, who really needs-a da ween.

Turns out Fabio now sports a broken pinky finger. A medic patches him up and asks if he wants to go to the hospital.

Fabio gives us lots of amusing sound bites for the rest of the episode as he worries about his condition and the difficulties it gives him while attempting to peel potatoes and onions.

Life's been hard for poor Fabio.

Comedy gold. Even I can't make this shit up.

Finally it's time for service. All 457 guest judges are assembled at table. Looks a little crowded on that one side....

Tacky. Sacrilegious. Ugh.

Leah's egg Benedict comes out first. Her hollandaise is too thin and her slow-poached eggs are not quite well done enough for most of the judges. Except for weirdo Toby who likes his egg whites undercooked.

On the other hand, it's unanimously agreed upon that Stefan's salmon is overcooked, albeit well-seasoned. What was that you said earlier in the show, Stef?

Welp, you're not winning this challenge, that's for sure. If it's any consolation to you, I overcook salmon all the time. ;)

Hosea, who had wondered if he should go traditional or put his own spin on the assigned dish, is criticized for not being traditional enough. Guess that answered his question.

'K, put down the wine glass, Jacques.

Fabio worked hard to butcher his shicken with his clever (his words, not mine) and presents his dish to rave reviews. It was just what Lidia was hoping for, and Wylie proclaims it "awesome." But he also thinks the side salad seems like airplane food.

Finally, Carla's squab and peas so pleases Jacques Pepin he states he could die happy at that moment. Seriously - he is the nicest chef ever. Or he's had too much wine.

After dinner, the cheftestants go back to wait in the Glad Family of Products Stew Room one last time. A braless Padma enters the apparently quite cold room to request the presence of all five chefs before Judges' Table. Chef Nicey-Nice is in the guest judge seat. He praises Carla's peas to heaven once again, but the winner is....

In addition to his second Elimination Challenge win, Fabio gets a magnum of wine and a 3-day, 2-night trip to Napa.

How did you do it, Fabio, even with a broken finger?

Now, whose food stunk up the place enough to merit elimination?

Finally, we hear Padma say the words we've longed to hear for lo, so many weeks:

Can't tell if that's disgust, sadness, joy, or relief on her face. Or maybe all of the above.

There is celebration in the stew room, as the final four rejoice and Fabio tries to break a leg by walking on the chairs.

My sentiments exactly. Next week: the final four head to New Orleans where Hosea consults a voodoo priestess to put a curse on Stefan, who falls in love with her instead....