Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top Chef Chicago Episode Twelve

After a quick montage of grooming shots, the chefs head off to the Quickfire Challenge, held in part at Allen Brothers, purveyor of fine steaks.

There they are presented with sanitary garments to cover their clothing, led to a room full of meat, and given slabs of American-raised, USDA Prime, dry-aged, rib eye to cut into awkward-on-a-plate "tomahawk" chops.

I'm not saying a word, Spike.

After butchery, the chefs take their steaks back to the Top Chef kitchen where they are met by Padma and Chicago's own celebrity chef Rick Tramonto who tell them this Quickfire is about butchery and temperature. First they butchered the steaks, then they cook them to Rick's chosen temperature of medium-rare.

Rick and Padma don't bother tasting the steaks, they just cut them open to check the temperature. Stephanie's was badly butchered and undercooked. Richard also had problems in those areas. Lisa and Antonia fared better, but Spike won the challenge for his "amazing" butchering.

While waiting for Padma and Rick to make the rounds, the three remaining gals bond.

The guys, not so much.

For the Elimination Challenge, the five remaining cheftestants are taking over the kitchen of Tramonto House of Cholesterol Steak & Seafood for one night. Each have three hours to come up with an appetizer and dinner entrée, using the ingredients found at the restaurant.

Spike's Quickfire win advantage gets him first pick of proteins. He chooses the tomahawk chops (which, btw, Tramonto's menu lists as 40oz at $80) and a bag of frozen scallops, which causes lots of tittering and "I can't believe he chose the f*cking frozen scallops" comments. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, unless Chicagoans farm them in their bathtubs or something, most scallops in that town are going to be frozen at some point. I think the problem with Spike's selection is that they were probably *still* frozen, or not completely thawed.

The chefs commence to working on their dishes. Stephanie says she thinks this is a good last challenge. Does this girl ever complain? Tom comes in for the Sniff 'n' Sneer and to make the chefs nervous. He thinks Richard might be playing it safe, but Blais swears to under-promise and over-deliver (which worked fine for Team Can't Lose in the Restaurant Wars challenge).

Lisa is putting peanut butter in her mashed potatoes, which makes Tom throw up in his mouth a little, but she swears it's good eatin'. Spike gets the heebie-jeebies when Tom brings up the frozen scallops and runs to the walk-in for several cans of what looks to be crabmeat, just in case.

Tom announces that there will be three VIP guests in the hizzouse:

The cheftestants muse whether these past champs will be more critical than the usual judges.

Tom also announces that he will expedite. If he remembers how.

Finally, it's time for tasting and judgement. The judges table orders a tasting menu for six consisting of 1/3 portions of each appetizer and entrée.

Lisa's shrimp and lemon salad got compliments for the lemon, but complaints for the chilled shrimp. Richard's appetizer, the cleverly-named "vitello Tramonto" (a riff on vitello tonnato; I'll wait while you look it up) of raw hamachi and crispy veal sweetbreads was a big hit. Not surprisingly, Spike's scallops were panned. Stephanie's sweetbread dish "had what Spike's dish was missing" (sweetbreads, obviously). Antonia's salad had a perfectly-cooked egg, but wasn't the strongest. Probably because Sam wasn't there to make eyes at.

Everyone chose steak as their entrée protein. Richard's tenderloin was deemed "a project, not a relaxing dining experience" for its overly-complicated nature. Tramonto loved Lisa's peanut butter potatoes, but Gail thought the meal wasn't entirely balanced. Spike's crust was good, but Ilan didn't like the too-sweet sweet potato, Brussels sprout, and cipollini accompaniment. Probably because there was no saffron involved. Stephanie's dish was deemed gorgeous, and Antonia's dish was also a favorite.

As the chefs finished service, Tom demanded a tasting portion of each dish for himself before cleanup and retiring to Judges' Table. Gotta eat before you can bitch about it!

We then see the chefs settling into their usual long wait in the Glad Family of Products Commemorative Storage Room. The producers personally stocked it with a selection of alcohol in the hopes that it would result in cursing, chair throwing, and finger-pointing. You know, TV gold. Lisa would prefer Xanax, but she takes what she can get.

Padma comes in to announce that they want to see all five chefs at Judges' Table. Ever notice that even after a huge meal, she never looks any fatter in those skin tight dresses she wears? Does she only pretend to eat? Or...maybe it all goes to her ass.

The judges determine that while Richard's is the best appetizer of the night, and that Rick loved Antonia's steak most of all, Stephanie deserved the win because of her overall performance and deliciousness of both dishes. At first it seems her extra prize is cheesier than usual - merely a copy of Tramonto's latest cookbook - but then Padma tells her she's also won a complete suite of GE appliances like the ones she's been using in the TC kitchen. Sweet! She, Richard, and Antonia are then asked to leave the room, leaving behind Lisa and Spike.

Tom and the other judges point out their flaws. Lisa has been in the bottom three five times and Spike seven times. The suckitude of the scallops is brought up again. Tramonto goes on about telling your purveyor where to stick bad merchandise and Spike defends himself by saying he found those scallops in Tramonto's walk-in, therefore they should have been high-quality. Oooohhh, snap! Spike realizes his ass is so grass and tries a quick CYA maneuver by shaking Tramonto's hand and thanking him on his way back to the Glad Family of Products Commemorative Storage Room.

'Twas a futile attempt. When they are brought back, Padma announces that it's time for Spike to pack his asshat and go.

WTF? Bad Attitude/Apathetic Lisa gets to be in the Top Four? It should have been Dale in that position. Hmpfh.

Next Week: theminx most likely has a run-in with the lesbian, who sports a nifty new haircut!


h said...

Wow. Great writing. I'm gonna have to check out other posts later.

David Dust said...

"And sometimes we bump them together like this"...


You are too funny!!

CLICK HERE for DavidDust's Top Chef Chicago recap.


John said...

The three funniest cheftoons:

"This, chefs, is a culinary boner." and "Hey. I'm married. Don't look at me like that" had me, well, "ROTFLMAO!" so to speak.

I'm so glad Mr. Assman is gone, though I'm not as satisfied as I thought I'd be.

barrie said...

Lovelovelove the pictorial :-)

Kit Pollard said...

OK, Padma's pants and also what did you think of Gail's outfit? I didn't hate it passionately...but in general I think that big boobs + high waist = not a good look.

Nanc Twop said...

'$80!'... 'Um, I'll have it without the... you know'...

You kill me with your culinary 'bon mots'... not to be confused with, well, you know. ;-0

Tracy said...


I forgot about Hung's monkey comments. You have to admit, he was an entertaining contestant.

Flamingos & Flip Flops said...

Check out what Allen Bros sells the tomahawks for! We've had their stuff, its good, but not for that $$$$$

I found it fun to watch them "butcher" the slabs...
Glad to see Spike go, I hope Stephanie or Antonia win - I thought Dale would, but I guessed wrong huh?