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Top Chef Fodder

Top Chef: Savage Feast

valerie.jpg I'm on vacation this week, but I made sure that I set aside time to at least deliver to you a full, if haphazard, review of this week's episode. After all, why should you be deprived from this lunacy while I'm off galavanting along the east coast?

So we return to the Top Chef Chicago home and find out contestants going about their morning routine. One chef has left already and the worst is yet to come. They're getting used to their new setting, bonding with one another while simultaneously sizing up their competition. Spike says that Nimma shouldn't have been ousted so soon. Perhaps he has some tension with his other contestants? Ahhh, the fun is just beginning.

Zoi and Jennifer discuss how they're trying to keep a comfortable distance so as not to affect their competitive nature. (Somewhere in the world, a thousand straight guys groaned in disappointment.) Valerie mentions that her and Stephanie worked together years ago and that she hopes they can team up together sometime soon. This is usually a sign of doom, as whenever a bond is mentioned between two chefs, one is usually sent packing. Will they beat the odds?

It's not long before the chefs are to begin their next Quickfire challenge. They arrive at the Farmer's Market and are greeted by Padma. The chefs are quite enthusiastic until they learn they are only permitted to use five items in their dish--including both the items purchased at the market AND those found in the Top Chef pantry. These don't include four basic ingredients: salt, pepper, sugar, and canola/olive oil. Dun dun DUNN. And with the clock ticking, they are off.

The cheftestants scurry around, in a desperate effort to gather their ideas and items in the time allotted. In this rush, Spike obtains poorly cut meat, Richard pours on the desire to be unique and separate himself, and Mark manages to walk off without snatching one of his items. By the time he notices this, he's run out of time and is unable to return and pick it up, leaving him in a mental frenzy attempting to put ideas together.

They then return to the kitchen to conjure up their meals. Richard learns that the guest judge is Wylie Dufresne, a fellow molecular gastronomist. As he tries to suppress his giddiness and keep his boner contained, he feels confident that he will impress his idol. Valerie tells us that she's mellow in the kitchen and needs to figure out a way to assert herself. Her spotlight continues to grow more ominous with this clip when time is called and Padma and Wylie make their way through the chefs to taste their potentially delectable delicacies. Some appear to be good, some bad, and some disqualified...well, one: Andrew. When he named his five ingredients, he mistakenly included one item that was NOT part of the four basic ingredients which he simply utters dorkily, "Poop". Adorable.

When all is said and done, Wylie announces his bottom three...much to his surprise, Richard's eucalyptus-tinted chicken soup dish was too greasy, Erik's dish was poorly presented, and Spike's flawed cuts of meat failed to leave an impression. However, the three that did impress him were one of last week's bottom four (Ryan), our mellow and self-concious chef (Valerie), and the forgetful shopper (Mark). And the winner of the challenge turned out to be the kiwi, who overcame leaving an item behind to prepare an impressive dish and thus provide himself with immunity from the next Elimination Challenge.

Speaking of which, the chefs were kept in the dark to the details as they drew knives for teams. And on each knife...were different animals. They were baffled when they extracted such blades as Vulture, Gorilla, Lion, Penguin, and Bear. Andrew aspires to do lion, because he feels he has a fierce growl. In fact, he roars for us. Growwwwwwl. Oh, run away with me, please. However, when he draws his knife, it turns out to be penguin...which is fine by him, because "penguin is dope". Represent!

After all have drawn, the teams turn out to be as follows: The vultures are represented by Zoi, Mark, and Manuel; the gorillas by Stephanie, Valerie, and Antonia; the lion by Ryan, Erik, and Richard; the penguin by Andrew, Lisa, and Jennifer; and the bear by Nikki, Dale, and Spike. Padma then explains that the challenge is a cocktail party for 200 people at the Lincoln Park Zoo and they are to base their dishes off said animal's diet.Zoi ponders on what vultures could possibly eat...road kill and squirrels, perhaps? Yeah, that seems accurate. However, the menus provided to them offer something else to the chefs.

Antonia shows her early cunt attitude by stating how she mistrusts Valerie, whose cooking she hasn't tasted as opposed to Stephanie's, whose dish last week she adored. The gorillas have a primarily vegetarian diet, but Stephanie and Antonia decide to put a carnivorous spin on it. Valerie disagrees with this, but goes along with the group...uh oh. Dale also exhibits some more cockiness when he whines that he doesn't like to team up when trying to win a competition. Aw, how sad for you.

The groups head off to the grocery store, where Spike morphed into an animal when shopping and embodied his inner bear. Yay, he's dropped the douchebag exterior...well, this week anyway. Unfortunately, Lisa slipped due to something that rolled off during Spike's stampede. No injuries though, thankfully. Valerie's group expresses concern for her and blah, blah, girl drama, save it for the CW, thanks. And Nikki insists that they spend some money on decor for the table, which makes me worry that she's losing focus on her dish.

We return to the kitchen, where Andrew begins slamming pots and pans on a jumbo bag of ice. Oh, this sneaky devil is up to something...and it seems like some kind of wonderful. Because his group is the penguin tribe, he's decided to make a flavored glacier to help emphasize the theme. Now THERE'S the genius I knew he had in him. "That's kosh," he says, as he jigs back and forth from the pantry. Could he be on all future reality shows? PLEASE??

Not long after, Tom enters the kitchen and surveys the chefs' work. When he learns of the glacier, his interest is piqued in a slightly skeptical, but ever intrigued way. When Tom asks how it's going, he replies "We're sexy". Mmmm. Damn right you are. One of the other chefs than enters Andrew's zone and Andrew begins shouting "Sabotage! Sabotage!", much to my delight. I'm seriously ready to elope with him at this point. Ya know, after his reign is over and all, of course.

Stephanie begins to panic when she realizes her chips are soggy. Valerie expresses pessimism over her bilinis, because they're better when served immediately. And Nikki's group is displeased with the look of the stuffed mushrooms, as they appear to look like turds. And that's right out of the mouth of Spike and Dale, our Top Chef asses.

Antonia continues her reign of bitchitude by dissing Valerie to the camera at every chance she gets. Gee, I don't know woman...perhaps if you supported your fellow contestant a little more, you might save your karma from planting you in front of a moving train after you become a cripple. I hope you choke.

The gala begins and the tasting follows. Tom looks as distant as ever...probably wishes he was at his Mr. Clean convention. At the gorillas' table, Stephanie decides she will not allow those chips to be served and tosses together a crab salad. Turns out the salad is watery and blah, basically. It's a good thing her banana bread was so delicious, otherwise I'd be panicking at this point. Antonia's dish was well-received, but Valerie's were not. Then over at the vultures' table, the judges were in heaven. They adored Mark's and Zoi's meals. The lions were...barely acknowledged. The bears were met with some disappointment, as Nikki chose to let the judges eat their mushrooms despite withdrawing them from being served. Fortunately, when the judges met with the penguins' team, they were utterly delighted. They loved Lisa's, Jennifer's, but especially Andrew's glacier and squid creations.

Back at the judges' table, the Vultures and Penguins were chosen as their two favorite teams. But when it came time to award a winner...the victor was, lo and behold...Andrew! Sweet! I'm so thrilled...especially because he was the most creative. I didn't have to taste it to know how genius it was.

As for the least favorites, the losers were the Bears and Gorillas...specifically Nikki's mushrooms, Stephanie's salad, and Valerie's bellinis. Thankfully, the banana bread spared her this time and Nikki's platter were really a problem caused by the whole group. Spike stood up for her though, thankfully, when Dale tried to place all the blame on her in a desperate attempt to save himself. Oh, shut up. Antonia reaffirmed all uberbitch impressions when asked which she'd hire in a restaurant, Stephanie or Valerie (clearly, a producers' decision based on the footage). And in the end, without much surprise, Valerie was sent packing her knives. She was certainly a genuine person who just didn't care much for the competition angle. She's no doubt a good cook though, as some of her dishes have impressed. And frankly, that's not a bad note to end tune in next week to see what's served next and who is served with a plane ticket home!

Posted by on March 20, 2008 11:58 AM
Permalink |

What exactly is molecular gastronomy?

-- Posted by: Lori at March 20, 2008 10:27 PM

Molecular Gastronomy: in cooking, the study and application of chemistry, physics, and other scientific principles on its processes, preparation, and materials.

Hello, my name is David, and as I said last week......


If they failed to taste their creation before making someone else taste it, they deserve to be fired, canned, baked, roasted, axed.

I'm starting to pull for Andrew more now, he's passionate. For some reason, they are really focusing on certain chefs, makes me wonder if they will focus on other chefs when their necks are on the chopping blocks. Or maybe when they become a little more interesting.

I thought the Glacier was interesting, daring, creative, impressive, and most of all, a nod to the judges that they can follow the directions of the task.

Whereas the Gorrilas adding meat because they wanted too, should have automatically put them all on the block.

Good episode, a weaker chef in my opinion goes. Another Top Chef rule, NEVER "go along", stick to your beliefs and guns! That way you can defend yourself. And she was also knocked out partly because the other two new each other, raw deal there, but she still failed.

"Well, they are best eaten when served fresh, but let's see how they do sitting for four hours." Idiot.

And how come they all decided to remove the turd-mushrooms, then cheese them, still not like them, and remove them, only to bring them out for the judges to taste? If I made crap, then it goes in the TRASH! Not on a platter so just incase someone wants to risk their palette!

Till next time, great post!

-- Posted by: David at March 21, 2008 2:40 PM

Great post!!!!

I agree why would you serve something you have never tasted? Those mushrooms looked more like turds than anything else.

I am loving Andrew more and more. After this week he has definitely become my favorite...that glacier thing was amazing!

I can't wait for your next post!:)

-- Posted by: Bridget at March 24, 2008 10:15 PM

I hope we can all get the recipe for that glacier...mmm, sweets and penguins, two of my favorite things!

And now, off to complete my new post.

-- Posted by: James De Roxtra at March 27, 2008 12:04 PM

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