Tag Archives: the Voice

Top Chef Masters, Week 6: Traci Gives Adam What He Wants, Scores Big for La Cocina

12 May

Adam Levine.

​We know there’s a rockin’ contestant from Santa Cruz still in the running to be the Next American Idol (be sure to overenunciate every word, like Seacrest), but SFoodie is all about the fact that S.F. chef Traci Des Jardins is still in the running to be the Next Top Chef Master. Plus, Idol seems like yesterday’s singing-based reality competition show, now that The Voice has proved a more interesting contender. Last night’s Top Chef Masters was sweet music to our ears, and eyes, if that’s possible. You know what we mean.

The heavenly episode began with a seven-minutes-in-heaven Quickfire. The cheftestants had a spread of the most luxurious and delicious ingredients but only seven minutes to create a dish, beating the existing Quickfire record by more than 60 seconds. Hugh(nibrow) was worried his underpoached tuna belly turned out to be perhaps the most elaborate cat food ever. The others agreed, which was bad because the seven remaining finalists acted as the judges, number-rating each other (and themselves) for everyone to see. Traci and her simple beef tenderloin carpaccio with truffle, maitake mushrooms, and balsamic was everybody’s favorite — another $5,000 for La Cocina, plus immunity for our hometown chef. The only thing that would’ve been better is if we’d been granted alone time in a dark closet with that raw tenderloin.

Traci was a total rock star.

Traci’s win gave her first pick for building a team and a choice between having more or fewer chefs on her side (she chose more). The Elimination Challenge brought Voice coach Adam Levine and the rest of the Maroon 5 gang. The cheftestants were asked to make a family-style meal for the band, taking into consideration each member’s particular likes. We counted, and we get it, there are five band members. Adam likes Japanese food and steak, there’s a guy from Nebraska who wanted corn, a vegan who wanted Mexican, a spanakopita guy, and a guy who wanted Thanksgiving on a plate. But that was just the beginning, since each team was also given its own rock-star tourbus to cook in. Suddenly, Traci’s decision to have four instead of three chefs on her team was problematic in the cramped quarters. They prepped while the driver took extrawide turns. Somehow, they made it work, with Floyd taking an induction burner into the bathroom to sear off beef. Hell, that beats Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.

The Red Team (Floyd, Alex, and Celina) featured dishes cooked almost entirely by Alex, and in a cafeteria-style kind of way. His tapioca with what were described as “grape contacts” caused the night’s first bit of judging controversy. Adam loved it, James Oseland didn’t, snidely adding, “Taste is subjective.” Adam countered with, “I’m gonna stab you with this fork!”

Mary Sue of Traci’s Black Team covered the bed in tostadas, a fetish Hugh said he’d never heard of. The completed vegan tostadas were said to look like “poop rolled in birdseed,” a fetish we’re pretty sure does exist.

Later, James recovered major Maroon cred when he called a dish “flaccid.”

The Black Team won the challenge, and Traci’s dish was once again the rock star of the competition (another $10,000 for La Cocina). She gave Adam exactly what he wanted by combining his two favorite foods: Japanese-style steak with a miso-braised daikon, cucumber, and pea shoot salad.

The person packing his knives? Alex, the guy with too many dishes in the air and on the table, with the taste of stress oozing from each one. Last night’s episode was titled “I’m with the Band.” We can now firmly say that we’re with this show.

Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post

Top Chef Masters, Week 5: Slow Food at the Drive-Through

5 May

This way to the quinoa fritters.

​Last night’s Top Chef Masters was called “Would You Like Fries with That?” ― a full-on low-end episode with the Masterstouch.

The Quickfire was dollar-menu style, as the cheftestants had to make an appetizer with a price tag for ingredients that couldn’t exceed $1, total. Since an onion cost 48 cents, the challenge proved costly and difficult. Brendan Newman and Rico Gagliano from the Dinner Party Download were the guest judges.

“This is like from the fanciest dollar store in the world,” Newman said.

The challenge winner was a woman who knew how to shave as much as possible from two spears: Naomi‘s asparagus and bread salad with cherry tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette clocked in at 90-something cents.

The Elimination Challenge was kept under Saran wraps. All the cheftestants knew was that they were to create a main dish and a side for 100 people at a mystery location and the diners would have no utensils. According to Hugh(nibrow) and his pursed lips, “I’m completely in the dark about what this can be, and that scares the poop out of me.”

They arrived at a Farmer Boys to learn that they’d be manning a fast-food restaurant. The chefs, who had already chosen pork loin, salmon, or clams, had to either alter their dish or stay true.

The group broke in two, with the first bunch working the counter and drive-through window while the second bunch cooked. Then, in the middle of the lunch rush, they’d have to switch. Most chefs were super out of their element; others reminisced about their days at fast-food pizza joints, or how they begged a Bennigans manager for a job.

It quickly became clear that the food was coming out of the kitchen anything but fast. “It’s like an architect who builds beautiful, tall, awesome buildings but can’t even make a house out of Legos,” Hugh noted.

Half the critics walked in while the rest did drive-through. Service sucked. Host/chef/judge Curtis honked at the drive-through after dead air greeted him at the order kiosk. The chefs were cut a lot of slack for service, even though they’d all have easily been fired from a real McJob. Really, it all came down to the food, from concept to taste.

The bottom three ― Alex, George, and Celina ― had the most ill-conceived dishes. Alex produced a measly salmon taco that ate more like a mini burrito. George felt the need to ask the question, “You didn’t think the clam in the cucumber was easy to eat?” and Celina’s wrap was more of an unwrap.

The top three: Mary Sue, our Traci, and Floyd. Traci’s chicken verde burrito caused Curtis to fist-pump the table in delight and the critics to agree that it was the easiest of the dishes to eat with one hand on the wheel. But the person taking top prize was normally-at-the-bottom Mary Sue for her skirt steak quesadilla diablo, with a side of quinoa fritters with sweet pepper and garlic mayo.

The worst fast-food adapter, George, was sent home. His food was ugly, and his pork and chorizo skewers with a clam, cucumber, and olive side made zero sense.

We have to say we gained a new appreciation for fast food and its systems. And we’re excited about the rock-band tour bus the chefs will be cooking out of next week. SFoodie just can’t get enough of Adam Levine on the Voice ― we’re ready to see him feed from the hand of the Masters.

Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post

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