Trouble With Toast

TCAS – Double Elimination Fun | December 17, 2010

Even though I have Ad Hoc at Home dishes that I am DYING to write about, I feel like I should comment on this week’s TCAS first – not because the episode was super awesome or anything, but because it gives me the opportunity to brag about beating my husband in Fantasy Top Chef All-Stars.  Yes, there is a Fantasy game for foodie nerds.  Deal with it.

Despite being interested for Fantasty purposes, I felt like the episode was kind of…off.  I don’t know if it was the hour-long format (when the previous two episodes had been 75 minutes), or the fact that half the time was spent watching the contestants eat at their assigned restaurants, but it seemed like one minute I was watching the quickfire challenge and the next minute I was watching judges’ table.  There wasn’t a whole lot of actual COOKING that made the final cut.

Anywho, the quickfire was a modified version of the mise en place challenge.  The chefs were randomly assigned to four teams of four.  There were three ingredients (lamb, artichokes, and garlic) to break down simultaneously, and the first team to finish to guest judge David Chang’s standards got to hit the button to start the 15 minute clock for preparing a dish with the ingredients.  The other three teams then had to complete their mise en place as quickly as possible, as they would only have whatever time was remaining to finish their dish.  Right as I was saying to Jason, “I bet half of these chefs haven’t done their own mise en place in YEARS,” Tre laughed nervously about how he works in a restaurant with its own butchers.  Conversely, Casey was shown butchering the hell out of some lamb, and Dale commented that she had to redeem herself for Oniongate in Season 3.  That WAS pretty embarassing.

The Green Team of Angelo, Straight Tiffany, Mike, and Fabio finished their mise en place first, and they were all kinds of confident (ahem, cocky) about their dish being the best because they had the most time.  Two teams wound up with lamb carpaccio because they didn’t finish with enough time left to actually cook a piece of meat.  The Blue Team of Blais, Spike, Tre, and Stephen pulled out the win, and they each got to take home $5,000 for the honor.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs (in the same teams) visited four of Manhattan’s best restaurants.  Then, they each had to create a dish that could appear on the menu of whatever restaurant they visited.  The only one I was familiar with was wd~50, and I kept obnoxiously shouting to my husband, “I’ve eaten there!  I’ve been in that kitchen!”  Like I mentioned before, it seemed like we didn’t get to see a lot of the prepping/cooking (and “shopping” consisted of an exterior shot of the Whole Foods), but we saw enough to know that Stephen couldn’t work a blender, Carla was still talking about her sous vide finale disaster, and Straight Dale was trying to capitalize on Wylie Dufresne’s well-documented love of eggs.  I love them, too, Wylie!  Let’s have brunch sometime.

Oh, and by the way, on the subject of Stephen – he was yammering on about how fashion has become an obsession of his, and apparently he said, “Could be worse; could be cocaine.”  But, what I heard was, “Could be worse; could be cooking.”  Which, duh, sounded really weird, considering he was saying this on a COOKING competition.  Guess I need to get the wax out of my ears.  Moving on…

The judges’ visited all of the restaurants, and it was pretty tame commentary, even from Bourdain.  So, the top four ended up being Straight Dale (egg dumpling with pork belly and broth that “tasted like breakfast”), Angelo (fish with white chocolate), Tre (grilled swordfish), and Antonia (riff on peas and carrots).  Straight Dale won, scoring himself a trip to New Zealand and me some major Fantasty points.  Woot!

The bottom four were Gay Dale (veal with peanuts, popcorn, and french toast – eek), Gay Tiffani (frozen melons – giggle), Fabio (wannabe Asian train wreck on a plate), and Stephen (salmon with fennel pollen that Bourdain said “tasted like a head shop,” whatever that means).  Since two of the bottom four were on my Fantasy team and two were on my husband’s, I was pretty much planning on splitting this one – but alas, the TC gods were smiling upon me, and Stephen and Dale (both on my husband’s squad) were sent home.  I will miss Dale’s funny commentary – hell, he actually talked about and demonstrated jazz hands in this episode – and Stephen’s well-tied ties, but that’s about it.

Looking forward to the U.S. Open challenge next week…will my winning streak continue???

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