Tag Archives: Bravo

Top Chef Masters: Crickets and Curveballs

21 Apr

Last night’s Top Chef Masters was for the crickets — well, bug eaters. The Quickfire Challenge was to make a five-star dish using bugs and wild plants. Looking at the worms, nightcrawlers, and scorpions, the cheftestants were creepy-crawly freaked out. (The captioning under Alex read, “I can’t f***ing do this.”) Well, they had to: $5,000 for their charity and immunity was at stake. They were soon grilling and frying up bugs. (Except for Suvir, who grew up as a practicing Hindu vegetarian; he could cook meat, but not take a life. His bugs were served alive in a jar, with a small torch for the taste testers to finish them off.)

The guest judges were the hosts of Man, Woman, Wild. Superhot host Curtis Stone ate around most of the bugs in the judging, and when he finally tried some, he looked like he was going to hurl … not attractive, Curtis! More of those looks, and you’ll move to our number two slot for Sexiest Man in Food TV.

The winner of this challenge was Hugh (we’re so mad that we didn’t come up with the nickname Hughnibrow first), who made tempura crickets over carrot and sunchoke puree.

The Elimination Challenge wasn’t nearly as Fear Factor like. The chefs had to create a 10-course dinner to raise money for the charities they are playing for. It seemed simple enough — one dish per person — but S.F.’s own Traci remarked that it all felt a little too easy and that something didn’t seem quite right.

We awaited curveballs, and boy, did they come. First, no running was allowed in the kitchen. Second, the chefs had half an hour removed from their allotted three hours of prep. Finally, there were no servers: The chefs would have to step in. Naomi and Hugh both wanted to take control and butted heads.

The critics’ table was a little different this time around; no Ruth Reichl. Alan Sytsma, editor of Grub Street, was the guest judge. We learned that his first job in his food writing career was as an assistant to James Oseland, the head critic at the table and at Saveur. Can we get an awkward turtle soup up in here?

The differences in experience were highlighted with the reception of Traci’s dish, a roasted ribeye and slow-cooked broccoli with red wine sauce and fried shallots. Restaurant Girl Danyelle Freeman called it “musty,” while Sytsma called it “swampy.” Oseland responded with, “You guys are young; you’ve just been brainwashed by all of this noncooking of vegetables. What Traci has given us here is bold cooked vegetables.”

The diners voted for their favorite dishes and each gave $100 to that charity. In a rare move, the critics and the diners agreed on a dish and thus the chef. The winner was Naomi and her celery veloute with salsa verde and lemon oil.

The least favorites weren’t bad, just bland. The chef packing his knives was John, who played it safe with a one-note risotto.

Next week, the cheftestants will be cooking for the contestants on The Biggest Loser — and we are big enough losers that we will be watching and reporting for you.

Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post

Top Chef: All-Stars, Week 5: Hong Kong Like Donkey Kong!

6 Jan

Nice tats, Jamie. Now go home!

​Last night’s Top Chef: All-Stars marked the 100th episode for the Bravo franchise, so we had some high hopes (especially since the show skipped last week). The special night’s Quickfire Challenge featured Tom Colicchio in the kitchen, cooking for the first time in Top Chefhistory.

He made a dish as fast as he could, then set the time limit of 8 minutes and 37 seconds that all of the other cheftestants had to obey for their dishes. His bald head was sweating as he got in the game, which is funny, because as a food baller who knows nothing about sports, I once saw the book Get in the Game and was convinced the author was Colicchio, though ― alas ― it was
Cal Ripken Jr. Colicchio cooked black sea bass with clams, tomato, and zucchini. It was hailed as the quickest Quickfire ever (scary), but fortunately the winner would get immunity and a Prius. To quote Chris Daly, “It’s on like Donkey Kong!”

The challenge pushed the cheftestants and revealed their weaknesses. Dale T. said, “I have nothing and it tastes like doo-doo” when his pad thai-inspired dish went to shit. Marcel showed off his doucheyness when he saw how much the judges liked Mike’s dish. “Mike Isabella is actually after me and the judges seem to really like his dish,” he said. “I’m kind of wondering if they are still maybe getting some lingering flavors from my dish and it’s kind of carrying his.” Oh snap! Mike was in fact the winner with his pan-roasted branzino with black olive and caper stew.

Like our maybe new mayor Ed Lee, it’s not quite on like Donkey Kong because our cheftestant had to go to Hong Kong. Okay, well Chinatown. The Elimination Challenge was to take over the lunch rush at a dim sum place in Chinatown. Richard spoke the truest words: The whole concept of working together as one team in a Chinese kitchen has disaster written all over it. After all, the title of episode was “Dim Sum Lose Sum.”

This challenge took them to a Chinese market instead of the usual Whole Foods; hilarity ensued. Fabio saw a turtle tank and was very upset because he has a turtle at home that he calls his princess. *Cue video of Fabio taking his pet turtle on a walk with a chihuahua leash.* Oh man, these people will never survive Chinatown. Hey Tiffani, you aren’t in Santa Rosa anymore! There were no pedicures; Casey had to personally take off all of the toenails on the chicken feet she bought.

The judges’ table was the only table in the restaurant served, and people were pissed. To quote Mike, “Everyone sucked and everything sucked.” The winner was Dale T., the only one with dim sum experience, with his sweet sticky rice with Chinese bacon wrapped in a banana leaf.
The person sent home was the night’s most shocking moment of the night. Jamie, who got out of cooking for the last two episodes, finally cooked but delivered two weak dishes. Even she was expecting her name to be called and her knives packed, but the person sent home was Casey. She had a very creative dish ― a play on chicken and waffles (chicken feet and a scallion pancake). Guest judge Susur Lee remarked that he would have been able to eat only one while watching TV for hours, it was so tough, tough as this week’s elimination. We’ll spend the upcoming week chewing on that and scratching our heads a bit.

Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post