Saturday, November 22, 2008

Top Chef: New York, Episode 2

Show Your Craft

Yay for another strong episode this week with interesting challenges! It's pretty cool that even though we're in Season Five, the challenges still feel pretty fresh. I especially liked the Quick Fire this week. The contestants had to create a hot dog representing their culinary view, which were compared to a famous hot dog stand in NYC. I have to say, I wouldn't have been super-impressed with the NYC hot dog, because it was covered in sauerkraut, which I borderline despise.

A couple of the entries looked basically inedible, particularly the two that incorporated packaged hot dogs into sushi. I can't imagine that those were anything but vile. I was disappointed that one of those came from Eugene, who I liked so much in the last episode.

The chefs that actually made their own dogs definitely fared better than those who used the Oscar Mayers. Radhika created a lamb kebab hot dog that looked pretty spectacular. Apparently it tasted as good as it looked, because she was named the winner.

The Elimination Challenge started off sounding pretty tame, the chefs either had to create an appetizer, entree or dessert to be served in a New American restaurant. The twist came later -the restaurant the chefs would be taking over would be Craft, Tom Colicchio's flagship restaurant in NYC (with an outpost in Dallas, of course). Not only that, the diners would be New York chefs who applied for Top Chef but were turned down. Eek.

After last week, when the majority of chefs really impressed the judges, this food this week was definitely a nose-dive situation. Chef Colicchio was particularly peeved by the outcome (no surprise, it didn't exactly make him look good to serve some of that that stuff in his restaurant).

There were a couple of stand-outs. Jamie's corn soup with mint sounded like a winner (I'm a sucker for fresh corn anything), and I found Fabio's olive technique (pictured above with his carpaccio dish) to be alternately repulsive-sounding and fascinating. He did something where he basically turned an olive hard on the outside and liquid on the inside, like an egg. The judges seemed impressed, so it must not have been as creepy as I imagined it to be. In fact, the olives carried him across the finish line in first place this week.

On the other hand, there were some *serious* disasters this week. Did anyone else want to jump into the TV and smack Hosea when he made the decision to use the canned crab meat rather than change his dish? Has he never seen an episode of Top Chef before? If a freakin' ingredient is sub-par, it is going to sink your entire dish, every time. Was it any surprise at all that he ended up in the bottom three? I could have called it right there in Whole Foods.

Ariane (who is quickly becoming my most-annoying chef of the competition) also ended up in the bottom three again this week. Her deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which sounded and looked like a good idea, was apparently inedibly sweet. Padma even spit it out. That is never a good sign.

Another disaster that kicked off at Whole Foods was poor Jill's decision to use Ostrich eggs in her quiche. First of all, quiche? Seriously? Just because you use Ostrich eggs doesn't make it interesting or special. But she was soooooo proud of them, right from the beginning. Just because you use a weird ingredient doesn't make something innovative. It would be like baking a cake with goat's milk and then bragging about being the next Stephen Pyles. Apparently, not only was it a stupid idea, it was under-seasoned and tasted "like glue" according to the judges. Ouch.

It was no surprise to see her kicked off, but still, Ariane has been in the bottom two for the first two episodes. Padma thought her dish was so inedible that she spit it out. Shouldn't she have been the one sent home? I thought so, but maybe I'm in the minority here.


eatingindallas said...

Hot dog sushi? That kind of kicks in my gag reflex. Yuck.

Classy&Sassy said...

Is that a pic of the girl you don't like, FP? She looks a little unhinged - but that could just be from a long day in the kitchen :)