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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2010, 08:44:29 AM »
TC7, ep. 9 Restaurant Wars

That famous line from South Park "they killed chef Kenny" has to be considered here because the South's Park's Kenny looked almost identical to TC7's Kenny.  Why this was important will be made clear to you over time.

This episode started with a Quickfire to make the best possible dish within the usual constraints. The Guest Judge was Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The dishes prepared were:

Alex - Roasted Lamb Chop, English Pea Puree, Smoked Bacon,  Parmesan
Amanda - Oakwood Grilled Strip Steak w/ Roasted Sunchoke, Maitake Mushrooms w/ Red Wine Au Jus
Angelo - Confit of Tomato Soup, Farmers Squash, Olive Crouton
Ed - Seared Rib Eye w/ Crushed Walnut Potatoes, Baby Arugula, Balsamic Fig Reduction
Kelly - Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart, Blackberry-Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Blackberry Puree
Kenny - Crispy Aged Goat Cheese w/ Strawberry-Rhubarb Relish
Kevin - Pan Roasted Halibut, Fennel, Marmalade, Tomato Fennel, Emulsion
Tiffany - Crudo of Black Bass, Yellowtail Snapper w/ Meyer Lemon-Caper Relish

The winner was judged to be Ed, who did not get immunity or anything special.

The Elimination challenge was a United Nations of Flavors Restaurant Wars competition with two teams of four chefs but really every man/woman for himself. It involved complicated buying within 45 minutes and $1000 each at both Restaurant Depot and Whole Foods. Prepping was for 2 hours, followed by staggered 2 hour cycles to allow a switch in front of the house and back of the house from one team ot the other. The dishes presented were:

rest. EDOO (Mediterranean-inspired)

Angelo - confit tomato soup w/ crouton and squash
Tifffany - crudo of black bass and yellowtail snapper
Tiffany - seared striped bass w/ clams, chorizo, spinach
?- seared lamb w/ Paremsan foam and pea puree
Angelo and Ed - Slow Baked Turbot, Eggplant Caviar & Black Olive Jus
Alex/Angelo/Ed/Tiffany - Roasted Red Snapper, Wilted Greens and Maitake Mushrooms
Alex - sautéed rib eye with crushed walnut potatoes

Rest. ?
Kelly - Corn Soup
Kenny - beet salad w/ endives and chorizo/citrus vinaigrette
Amanda - NY strip steak, maitake mushrooms, Swiss chard, sunchokes
Kenny - fried goat cheese on strawberry/rhubard relish
Kevin - pan-roased halibut w/ fennel marmalade, tomato/fennel emulsion, white beans
Amanda/Kelly/Kenny/Kevin - Sauteed Shrimp Over Angle Hair with Sauce and Crispy Basil

There was a lot of chatter about which dishes were stronger, but to the judges was crystal clear. The Angelo/Ed/Alex/Tiffany group had produced better flavors. Although some from his team arguing on his behlf were trying to find a way for kenny to be retained despite being judged Worst of the worst, there is no such way. Ed's perfectly cooked turbot was judged was judged Best of the Best.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 01:35:06 PM by apskip »


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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2010, 08:54:28 AM »
TC7, ep. 10 Covert Cuisine

This episode used Wylie DuFresne, chef/owner of WD50 as Guest Judge. This Hihg-Stakes Quickfire had a prize of $10,000 and required the 7 remaining chefs to create whatever they liked to use up all of a series of ingredients arriving in mystery boxes. Those were:
Rockfish and Fava Beans and Hominy Grits
Squid and Blac Garlic
Ramps and Passion fruit

This was a challenge to creativity and the results were interesting. Dishes created were:
Alex - Rockfish with Fava Bean Puree; Ramp Fondue; Sauteed Squid
Amanda - Crispy Skin Striped Bass; Squid Fricassee; Leek and Mushroom Fondue
Angelo - Smoky Hominy Grits, Squid, Rockfish Tataki, Passion Fruit Gel
Ed - Rockfish Sashimi and Hominy-Basil Puree Pashion Fruit, Grilled Squid Marinade
Kelly - Yucatan Seafood Stew w/ Black Garlic, Fava Beans, Grilled Ramps
Kevin - Pan-Seared Rockfish, Black Garlic, Hominy Puree, Jicama, Passion Fruit Salad
Tiffany - Fish Stew w/ Hominy, Fava Beans, Saffron and Black Garlic

Wylie selected Tiffany as the winner.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

This started with drawing knives to pick a dish to cook. Here are the results of that:

Amanda - French Onion Soup 
Alex- Veal Parmesan
Ed - Chicken Cordon Bleu
Angelo - Beef Wellington
Kevin - Cobb Salad
Kelly - Shrimp Kung Pao
Tiffany - Gyro

The challenge is to disguise the dish so that its description does not give away its original name but still make the flavors right for the original dish. This is a very delicate balancing act involving flavor and execution. All chefs struggled a bit, with Kelly ruining an entire pot of rice and having to do it over (she did not think there was time until Tiffany told her it could be done and Kelly remembered that cooking times are entended at the 8,000 where she typically cooks. Leon Pannetta, U.S. CIA Director and clearly a culinary connoisseur from his time in Congress and earler Presidential administrations was asked his opinions until he had to leave. He was to easily able see through most disguises.

The real judging was Wylie, Eric and Tom and these were the dishes:
Alex - Veal and Parmesano Chese with Tortelloni and Tomato Sauce and Tempura Cheese
Amanda - Consomme with Oxtail Marmalade, Caramelized Ohions, Shaved Gruyere
Angelo - Tartlette topped with slivers of Beef
Ed - Roasted Chicken Breast, Ham and Cheese Croquette, Spring Onion Soubise
Kelly - Spicy Shrimp Broth w/ Rice, Peanut/Vegetable Salad, Szechuan Shrimp Tempura
Kevin - Romaine Lettuce, Bacon, Rocquefort, Tomato, Avocado, Cucmuber and Turkey
Tiffany - Smoked Leg of Lamb with Smoky Eggplant, Tomatoes, Pickled Eggplant

It was apparent from the commentary that Alex was in trouble for both flavors and execution. The Winners Group consisted Tiffany, Kelly and Ed. The 5 night trip for 2 sposored to Paris by Hilton Hotels was won by Tiffany, who would use it for her honeymoon.

The Losers Group consisted of Angelo, Alex and Amanda. Alex wass judged the worst and eliminated.

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2010, 12:59:12 PM »
Ep. 8 Foreign Affairs


Washinston DC is our nation's capital and as such has a constant influx of foreign dignitaries and many of their cuisines represented.  You can conceptualze this episode as a way to challenge chefs toward international cuisine thinking.

Marcus Samuelsson arrives to be Guest Judge for this episode. He recently won Top Chef Masters 2 and is chef/owner the the Red Rooster.

The Quickfire is to create a dish based on the principles of Ethiopian cuisine, at which Marcus is an acknowledged world expert. Those principles are :
injera bread (used to sop up all liquids and substitute for all utensils and plates)
wat or stew
use of wide arrays of spice blends

The dishes created and presented were:

Alex - Beef and Lamb Tongue Stew with Cabbage and Potatoes
Amanda - Stewed Goat on Inijera Bread, Sauced with Braised Liquid
Angelo - Berbere-spiced Dora Wat Chicken w/ Egg, Mango Yoghurt, Mint on Steamed Injera
Ed - Stewed Lamb and beef tripe cauliflower, chickpeas, braised greens
Kelly - Leg of Lamb Wat, Cauliflower, Yoghurt and Mint Puree
Kenny - Duo of Lamb Meat Loaf and Ribeye w/ curry and Dukkah Spice
Kevin - Braised Chicken w/ Chickpeas, Cucumber Mint Salad and Yoghurt
Tiffany - Beef Goulash w/ Poached egg, Red Currants, Red Peppers and Yoghurt

Marcus' judgement was that Alex (too dry) Kevin's salad and Stephen's dish were the worst.

The best dishes were from Angelo (who admittedly cooked in an Ethiopian restaurant before), Amanda for her fine work cooking difficult goat, and Tiffany for her ability to use Ethiopian principles in a dish not Ethiopian. Tiffany was the big winner, of immunity and of bragging right over Angelo.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

The embassy folks from many nations were served this lunch at the Meridien House, with only sterno heat for chafing dishes so no onsite preparation or finishing could happen. 100 tasting portions were to be totally prepared at the Top Chef 7 kitchen at the Hilton Hotel for 30 minutes finishing the next morning. The food budget was $200 and time to purchase 30 minutes at Whole Foods. The most striking item was Stephen's purchase of brazil nuts as part of his ingredient (was Bravo trying to tell us something?).

The chefs were shown a map of the world with the the national colors of maybe 10 countries on it. They were to draw knives to determine the order of picking the cuisine they would do. Here are those results:

1. Tiffany Mexico
2. Kenny Italy
3. Ed China
4. Kelly France
5. Angelo Thailand
6. Alex Spain
7. Stephen Brazil
8. Kenny India

The resulting dishes were:
Alex - Cordobresa Braised Veal cheeks, jamon torta, olive and tomato salad
Amanda - Beef bourguinon w pommes fourchettes, horseradish mousse
Angelo - Sashimi of Tuna with Candied Wasabi & Soy Infusion
Ed - Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Pot Stickers in Szechuan Jus
Kelly - Beef Carpaccio with Spring Vegetable Salad, Truffled Vinaigrette & Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kenny - Curried Chicken with Leek & Parsnip Puree, Lentils & Cucumber-Mango Salad
Stephen - Flank Steak in Chimichuri Sauce w/ Black Beans and Rice
Tiffany - chicken tamales with queso fresco and Tomatillio Sauce

Joining the judges panel for this was world-class chef Jose Andres, the popularizer of tapas in the U.S. and chef/owner of minibar and Jaleo in Washington DC. The judges sampled 4 dishes round 1 and 4 more round 2. They decided that the Winners Group was Tiffany, Kevin and Kelly. The winner was Tiffany and a surprise prize of $10,000 was awarded. She is adding to her honeymoon in Costa Rica hoard.

The Losers Group was Stephen, Alex and Ed. Per Tom, Stephen's dish had poor execution and the rice was overcooked and he used the concept of Chimichuris inappropriately. Ed had not rendered off some fat and it sounded that he was a marginal member of the Loser's Group. Alex had some poor cooking technique  It was quite obvious that Stephen's limited skills had finally caught up to him. He was eliminated.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 12:43:36 PM by apskip »

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2010, 07:12:17 PM »
TC7 ep. 11 Making Concessions

The guest Judge is Rick Moonen, a noted seafood master chef. So we can anticipate that this QAuickfire will use fish in some way? No such luck! The theme of this one if use of food idioms. Each chef got to draw a knife to deteremine order of selection of a food idiom which will be the basis for their dish.  The winner's recipe will go into Schwann's frozen meals delivery service. Those choices are:

Kevin - Bring Home the Bacon
Amanda - The Big Cheese
Kelly - Sour Grapes
Ed - Hot Potato
Tiffany - Spill the Beans
Angelo - Bigger Fish to Fry

Amanda - Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon and Jalapenos & Pork Chop
Angelo - Chili Crusted Tilapia Satay with Asian Tartare Sauce, Sambal & Sriracha
Ed -  Herb Roasted Garlic Ghocchi, Spring Vegetables & Mushroom Fricassee
Kelly - Pan Roasted Chicken Breast over Caramelized Brussels Sprout Leaves with Red Grape Sauce
Kevin - Bacon 3 Ways: Bacon Puree, Chopped Bacon, Bacon Froth with a Poached Egg
Tiffany - Pan Seared Cod Over Stewed Beans, Swiss Chard, Carrots and Bacon

Rick Moonen didn't like Kelly's Sour Grapes dish, nor Amanda's Big Cheese baked macaroni and cheese dish.
The dishes that were on the top were Kevin's bacon dish and the winner was Ed's Potato dish. 

The Elimination Challenge was to create a dish for serving at an upscale concessions stand at washington's Nationals Park. The shopping time was normal, but it appeared that the budget was $2000 per chef. They had to select a concept that could flourish  in that environment. The cooking was done mostly in the Top Chef kitchen and then reheating in the cramped concession area. As the chefs were setting up, 3 Nationals stars came by to watch and chat, then later to eat. This provide instant publicity for the effort.

One of the loose ends was how orders would be handled. Angelo volunteered to do this but had second thoughts. It worked out OK without hurting his food. The dishes selected were:

Amanda - Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Fennel, Meyer Lemon & Fava Bean Puree
Angelo - Sweet Glazed Pork, Lobster Roll with Sweet Sesame Pickles
Ed - Shrimp and Corn Risotto Fritters with Jalapeno Aioli 
Kelly - Open faced Crab Cake BLT w/ Sweet Potato Fries
Kevin - Herb Marinated Chicken Kabob w/ Romesco Sauce, Shoe String Fries and Smoked Paprika Aioli
Tiffany - Italian Meatball Sub with Fennel, Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

The top two rated by Eric Ripert (who doesn't seem like a baseball type), rick, and Tom were Ed and Tiffany. Ed was ratedas having perfect balance of outside crunchiness and inside creaminess, so he won a trip to Australia. After the $10K prizes that is the best prize I remember for TC7.

The other 4 were all rated in the worst group. Angelo had way too much bread ono his sandwich and it was soggy and there was to much sweetness on the plate. Kelly had fabulous crabcakes but a poor BLT. Kevin had put fries on teh skewer, which wass too long and difficult to handle. He had a problem with demand for his chicken. Rick thoought he should have gone Romesco sauce but noy two sauces. Amanda, to have things ready the day before in the prep, had diced her tuna and it had oxidized into a grey/black color which was unappealing. Amanda earned the elimination.

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2010, 07:19:26 PM »
There are only 3 or 4 episodes (how do you count double ones?) left. It's time for an assessment of who should win. Originally I did an analysis which showed that Angelo and Kenny were top dogs, with Ed fairly close behind. I rated Kelly in the middle and  Kevin and Tiffany low. Q few things have changed since then. Ed and Tiffany have been cleaning house and Angelo, Kevin and Kelly were dropping. A this point in TC7, here is the order of finish I predict:

1. Ed
2. Tiffany
3. Angelo
4. Kelly
5. Kevin


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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2010, 09:06:43 AM »
TC7, ep. 12, Gastro-nauts


The Quickfire was about pairing food with wine and the Guest Judge was Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine. The chefs had to choose a wine and then create a dish that matched it as closely as possible. This was announced as a High Stakes Quickfire. The dishes were: 

Angelo - Sautéed Foie Gras w/ Black Salt & Fennel Salad (Evolution White Wine)
Ed – Grilled Wagyu Rib eye with Spring Potato Risotto & Wild Mushroom Ragout (Rosso Del Montalcino)
Kelly – Wild Boar Tenderloin, Black Berry Conserve, Blue Cheese Emulsion & Mache (Federalist Dry Creek Zinfandel)
Kevin – Grilled Quail w/ Shaved Apple-Fennel Salad & Apple Vinaigrette (Tangley Oaks Merlot)
Tiffany - Cocoa and Black Pepper Crusted Wagyu Tenderloin with Spring Risotto (Two Hands Shiraz)
Dana was not fond of Kevin’s quail (a last-minute substitution for a braised pork belly that did not cook enough in one hour). She also disliked the blue cheese foam in Kelly’s dish. The Winner’s group was Angelo and Tiffany. Angelo won. Kevin stated that it looked like Angelo had his mo-jo back.

The Elimination Challenge was to create a dish that could be quick frozen and sent as meals to the International Space Station. Food scientists from NASA gave a presentation on what the considerations that needed to be factored in> those included low sugar content and small bite sizes as well as spiciness whenever possible. The chefs designed their dishes for 8 portions and bought ingredients at Whole Foods in 30 minutes for $200.  They prepped in the Top Chef kitchen and would finish with 1 hour in the cramped Langley kitchen. Everything appeared to go well except that just before the end of the prep period Tiffany discovered that her mussels had frozen in the refrigerator and died, necessitating some adjustments. Final cooking was completed and the meal was served to 1 NASA food scientist, 2 NASA astronauts, the legendary Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 fame as the guest diners plus Padma, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, and Tom Colicchio as the judging panel. The winner would win a loaded Toyota Avalon car and also be the guest of NASA for viewing one of 2 remaining Space Shuttle launches. The dishes prepared were:
Angelo - Ginger Lacquered Short Ribs with Pea Puree, Pickled Mushrooms & Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Ed - Yogurt Marinated Rack of Lamb with Eggplant Puree, Cous Cous Croquette & Hummus
Kelly – Pan Roasted Halibut with Artichoke-Fennel Barigoule, Salsa Verde Salad
Kevin – NY Strip Steak with Bacon, Jalapeno & Corn Puree
Tiffany - Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut with Coconut Curry, Snow Pea Shoots & Jasmine Rice

The Judges Table back at the Hilton went right to the heart of the choices the chefs made. It was hilarious that Bourdain and Ripert seemed to disagree on just about everything. The concensus of the judges was that all dishes had superb flavors so the differentiation of one dish from another would be difficult. Angelo had a near-perfect dish, except that Tom found the candied ginger too sweet. Kelly lost points only for low originality, since she had an almost perfect execution. Ed had a very complicated Moroccan-inspired dish to go for the desired spiciness; Eric thought it was too complicated but Anthony and Tom thought he pulled it off. Kevin used sirloin steak as comfort food; the judges thought he could have attempted something less banal. Tiffany had made flavor substitutions of fish sauce for the spoiled mussels. That fish sauce was too raw and the black pepper sauce was overpowering; Anthony also thought her choice of fish should have been a stronger one.     
The winner was Angelo, who in addition to the car won the new book Modern Raw by Anthony Bourdain plus of course the ticket to the semifinals. So, who would not be going to the semis? The loser was Tiffany. Ed, Kelly and Kevin all are going to the semis.

Padma announced that the site of the semis would be international for the first time, in Singapore, a worthy international food capital.

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2010, 12:48:30 PM »
TC7 Finale, part 1

The chefs arrived in Singapore and undoubtedly checked into the Singapore Hilton but were sent to a special building with thousands of hawker street food stands to tour it under the guidance of K.F. Seetoh, a legendary Singapore street food expert and blogger. Seetoh led them to many different types of street food and you hope they were taking careful mental or written notes because you know that what they were learning will be needed all too soon. They rejoined Padma in an area with 4 mini-kitchens set up with ingredients and just woks for cooking. The Quickfire was to create a special Singapore
Street food dish that the locals would enjoy. Seetoh was the judge. You might expect that Asian food expert Angelo would have an advantage, but watch what happens! Padma announced that this would be a surprise High Stakes Quickfire, with the winner going straight to the finals with immunity from the coming Elimination Challenge. The dishes created were:

Angelo – Chili Frog Legs with Pineapple and Rambutan Salsa

Ed - Stir Fry Noodles with Black Pepper Sauce, Lobster and Gai Lan
 
Kelly – Chinese Noodles with Lobster, Cockles, Bean Sprouts and Chinese Broccoli

Kevin - Seafood Stew with Lobster and Cuttlefish with Crispy Shallots

Seetoh’s comments were:
Angelo – liked Rambutan flavor and pineapple
Ed – liked Gai Lan Singapore style, use of 2 types of noodles, range of flavors
Kelly – imparted broth flavor into noodles
Kevin – sophisticated and complex flavors

So, you might guess that Seetoh named Kevin the winner, but there is a lot of effort in Top Chef finales to not give any results away prematurely, which requires toning down the commentary on the winner’s dish. In this case the actual winner was Ed. The chefs went out for a brief walk afterward and found a prawn pond where only Kevin was successful in catching one, but he did not want to take it off the hook.

Elimination Challenge

Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine was throwing a small soiree for her 80 closest friends in Singapore. Not really, it’s probably only major foodies allowed in. She has commissioned the TC7 finalists to cook the food for this special event at the Tanjong Beach Club. The chefs were required to work together as a team for several reasons, one of which is the cramped kitchen space at that club. They have $200 each to shop for Asian spices and specialty items and the proteins, vegetables, etc. are being provided. Their first step was to plan their menu. They presumably have not slept from landing in Singapore and with only one hour to prep and 90 minutes to cook with no sous chef help they all decide to do only one dish. However, Ed had a Pearl Harbor sneak attack set up, as he was ready for 2 dishes because he did not believe they would be allowed to do only one. The chef prepped the next morning and then transferred to Panjong Beach Club to do final cooking. They were moving right along with 28 minutes left when tom arrived and provided the twist that if they have ever seen a Top Chef finale you know must come some time. Tom stated that one dish per chef is unacceptable and they all must do two. Ed was ready, so he now have a huge advantage. Kelly, Angelo and Ed must scramble to finish their first dish, create a second dish and cook it in less than 28 minutes. The dishes created were:

Angelo - Lamb Tartare with Rambutan Ceviche and Curry Oil
Spicy Shrimp Broth with Ginger and Prawn Dumplings
Ed - Crispy Rice and Potato Cakes, Sweet and Sour Pork, Kai Lan
Fried Banana Fritter with Red Chili Paste
Kelly - Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup, Bitter Melon Salad; guava/apple salad
Seared Prawns, Spicy Red Coconut Curry, Crispy Prawn Heads
Clam Chowder Flavors of Southeast Asia
63° Farm Egg, Pearl Tapioca, Radish Condiment

The judges (Tom, Padma, Gail and Seetoh, s Dana did not join them) mostly reserved their comments for back at Judges Table, where they opened it by asking each chef for an overview of their concept. Kelly talked about how they all worked together as a team (Angelo added in a brigade system).

Angelo (tartare) - talked about how he wanted to do Indian spice blends and sought a major challenge, having never done lamb tartare before
Angelo (broth) – it was highly oversalted (Padma)
Ed (cakes)– tastelicious (Gail); pork and sausage nice complements to the rice (Seetoh); could have fried rice cakes to add a new texture and make this even better (Seetoh)
Ed (fritters) – perfect stoner food (Tom); I wanted 6 of these, not just the 2 I received (Gail)
Kevin (chowder) – elevated (Gail); needed more heat (Seetoh)
Kevin (congee dish) - a huge risk but it was perfectly executed (Tom); would have liked an additional crispy or herbacious texture added to make it even better (Seetoh)

The decision on the winner was easy. Ed wanted it more and pushed himself for the victory, with Gail stating that his dishes directly reflected his personality. He was the first part 2 finalist. Kelly, Angelo and Kevin had to wait for more judges’ discussion.

The judges next summarized their additional perspectives on the dishes:

Angelo – soup oversalted but lamb tartare perfect
Kelly – cucumber soup fish texture off but guava/apple salad superb
Kevin – chowder nice, congee superb

Padma announced that Kelly would be packing her knives and leaving (actually, I will bet they have a role for her in the part 2 finale). Kevin and Angelo breathe easier as they are in that finale part 2 along with Ed.

It's time to look back at my July 17 predictions about who the final 4 would be:

Expected by Me to be the Final 4
Ed
Kelly
Kenny
Angelo

So, that happened except for Kevin substituting for Kenny.

If you ask me who I think will win, I say whoever was best on the day of competition. They have different styles, but all are excellent chefs. I think Ed has a 40% chance of winning, Angelo 35% and Kevin 25%.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 01:12:56 PM by apskip »

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2010, 09:07:38 PM »
For lack of anything better to watch tonight, I turned on the replay of Sunday night's Iron Chef America. Who should appear as sous cjefs for Cat Cora's team but Richard Blais (2nd placed a few seasons back) and Ed cotton (who will win. place or show TC7 next week but it was flimed months ago). They lost by 11 point to a California chef named Kostow, with points deducted for Cat's apple tobacco smoker impacting one dish badly the difference.

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Re: Top Chef 7
« Reply #33 on: September 16, 2010, 04:15:24 PM »
TC7, finale, part 2

It's the second and last part of finals in Singapore, with Angelo, Kevin and Ed competing for the grand prize. It was staged over a two day period following the elimination of Kelly. Padma immediately called the Final 3 back to hear that they would be cooking the best 4 course meal of their lives. The famous knife block was there for some type of draw. The courses would be:
1. Vegetable
2. Fish
3. Meat
4. Dessert (and Gail Simmons gave a plug for dessert since her Just Desserts new show was premiering immediately after Top Chef's finale)

Tom Colicchio stated that he and Eric Ripert were going to the market the next morning and buying the fresh fish, meat and any other proteins that all would cook with. There would be 3 hour prep time the next day. The sous chefs were brought in and they were all prior Top Chef winners. Angelo wanted Hung Huynh because they were in Singapore and Hung specializes in Asian food. The draw was:

Kevin – Mike Voltaggio (TC6) (both Ed and Kevin wanted Mike)
Ed – Ilan Hall (TC2)
Angelo – Hung Huynh (TC3) (note that Angelo’s wish was granted. Was this a harbinger?)

Seetoh’s final word to the chefs was “Sock It to Me”. I can just imagine him on 1967 Laugh-In saying that with his modest accent.

Angelo on returning to his room was very ill and a doctor examined him. It was one of those “it will pass, buddy, but not soon enough to allow you to cook” diagnoses. The next morning Angelo was totally out of it but the doctor gave him an antibiotic shot just in case it helped. Tom decided to allow Huynh at the market where each group had $300 and 1 hour to shop for other ingredients to be in phone contact with Angelo in his bed and later in the prep kitchen. It was as if Angelo’s group was almost competitive with Huynh’s extreme energy vs. the focus of Ed/Ilan and Kevin/Mike. Angelo was clear on one raw material he believed was critical, the in-house or store supply of foie gras (which was extremely limited). Huynh cornered the market by taking the one roll of it, which meant that Ed and Kevin could not use that ingredient. I believe that the original plan was to have the final cooking and meal that evening after another 3 hour period of cooking and plating, but it did not happen until the next morning. The doctor pronounced Angelo weak but able to compete and so he did to the best of his surely limited-by-the-lingering-effects-of-flu abilities. The market trip by Tom and Eric resulted in these proteins:
Fish –rouget, cuttlefish, cockles, clipper lobster
Meat – pork belly, duck

Tom cautioned that all of the non-primary proteins must be used up in other dishes. During the prep period some tensions between Ed and his sous chef Ilan Hall seemed to materialize. Ed was unhappy about the final execution of the fairly simple dessert. Kevin did his pork belly sous vide.

The dishes prepared were:

Angelo #1 Royale mushrooms, Noodles, char sui bao Pork Belly w/ watermelon tea
#2 Asian Style bouillabaisse w/ sautéed rouget and poached cuttlefish
#3 Sauteed duck breast and foie gras w/ marshmallow + tart cherry shooter
#4 shaved ice and coconut-vanilla ice cream w/ exotic fruit

Ed #1 chilled Summer corn veloute
#2 Bacon-wrapped slipper lobster and char-grilled cuttlefish w/ zucchini pesto
#3 Duck 2 Ways: marinated roasted duck breast and braised stuffed duck neck w/ baby spinach
#4 Sticky Toffee Date pudding with fleur de sel crème chantilly.

Kevin #1 Eggplant, zucchini, roasted pepper terrine, tomatoes, jalapenos, black garlic puree
#2 Seared rouget and cuttlefish noodles, pork belly, cockles, slipper lobster, cigala
#3 Marinated Roasted Duck w/ duck dumpling, caramelized bok choy, orange coriander sauce
#4 “Singapore Sling 2010” gorgeous fresh fruit of contrasting colors inside a purple shell floating over a coconut pannacotta

The invited diners for this special meal were:
Iggy Cha, restauranteur
Su-Ly Tan, travel author
Susan Feniger, Top Chef Masters competitor
David Chang, chef
Vincent Bourdin, pastry chef
Paul Borlotta, owner
Dana Cowin, Food and Wine magazine editor-in-chief
Andre Chang, owner

The meal was enjoyed by all diners and there were appropriate comments about special aspects of it. The 4 core judges went back to Judges Table to question the chefs interspersed with their own commentary (which was revealing nothing about relative performance). Here are a select few comments:

Angelo’s Vegetable - smart, utilizing local ingredients (Gail); vegetables were special (Eric)
Angelo’s Fish – Cherry Puree was by no means a palette cleanser (Padma); Angelo responded that it would have been if she recycled to the salad; there was no user’s manual (Tom)
Ed’s Fish – roasted duck breast and neck then braised the neck; demonstrated great skill (Tom), spinach was excellent (Gail) 
Ed’s Dessert – really good (Gail); disagree strongly, it’s what I could get at home (Tom); why not something more advanced?(Tom); Ed responded he did not want to take a risk on the dessert course even though he had considered lemon curd (author - not all that “advanced”)
Kevin’s fish – Kevin stated pork added to enhance this dish
Kevin’s Meat – duck cooked nicely, not over-rested
Kevin’s Dessert – Singapore Sling 2010 – I went to where the original was invented (Raffles Hotel) and yours is much better (Gail); coconut on bottom was a surprise and highly refreshing (Eric)

The conclusion from the judges talking internally was that they had succeeded in getting the chefs out of their comfort zone (“element”) and that with 4 judges with major differences in perspective a decision would not come easily since all chefs had cooked exceptional meals.  A course-by-course review led by Padma unearthed these additional comments:

Vegetable – Angelo’s noodles were pasta, not veggie in character (Eric); Kevin’s noodles not exciting (Padma went further to say timid)
Fish – Angelo’s beautiful (Gail); Kevin’s rouget was not very good (Tom); I disagree totally, it was cooked on one side and the skin was crispy, perfect (Eric, a higher authority on fish than Tom)
Meat – Angelo’s duck a great job (Gail), slightly overcooked (Tom); Kevin – cooked sous vide and perfectly (Eric), all the flavors worked (Tom),
Dessert – Kevin it was a fruit punch, which actually carried a huge wallop (Gail); so refreshing (Eric)

Summary comments about the chefs were Ed did a nice job (damning with faint praise?) and Angelo (“you paid homage to the ingredients”), but nothing was said about Kevin. Tom stated that the Top Chef title and prize was about to be awarded to the chef who took the most risks and had the best meal. They made the final decision, to proclaim Kevin as Top Chef. I have to believe that Angelo was hampered by the 3 hours prep time lost. Ed apparently made a mistake with his dessert, although there were no judging comments along those lines. That mistake was its extreme simplicity and admitting being unwilling to take any chance with simple add-ons like lemon curd, which could have enhanced the dish. I don’t think that a little bit of salt in the whipped cream (which Ed accused Ilan of) was responsible. Contrast that with Kevin’s approach exemplified by the creation of Singapore Sling 2010. Kevin just had the highest level of taste and flavor development particularly in my opinion with his Singapore Sling.



 

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