Chef Spike could not revive his frozen scallops {Top Chef}

May 30, 2008

The Quickfire Challenge this week was a vegetarian’s nightmare. The chefs had to show their “butchery skills” at Allen Brother’s meat plant and cut seven chops with a “frenched bone” from an American raised long-boned rib-eye, USDA Dry Aged Prime Rib rack in 20 minutes. After returning to the Top Chef Kitchen, each of the five remaining chefs had to cook a tomahawk chop in thirty minutes. Spike, a grandson of two butchers, soared through both parts of this challenge, and as a reward he was able to have first pick of ingredients from Rick Tramonto’s kitchen in Rick Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood restaurant. For the elimination challenge, each chef had to create an original appetizer and entree. Chef Tom Collicico took on the role of “Expediter” for the dinner service. Tom’s quiet demeanor was quite a switch from Chef Ramsey’s famous freak-outs in Hell’s Kitchen. Previous Top Chef winners Harold Dieterle (Season One), Ilan Hall (Season Two), and Hung Hynh (Season Three) were invited as the judges’ VIP guests. (I must say that Ilan looked a little out of place wearing a brown tee-shirt)

Stephanie won the challenge with her Sweetbreads with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts appetizer (she was proud that she could make sweetbreads taste like Chicken McNuggets) and her Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushrooms & Apple Sauce entree . Richard’s Hamachi with Crispy Sweatbreads, Radish, Avocado & Yuzu appetizer was the favorite dish of the evening, and Lisa’s Peanut Butter Mashed Potatoes was the best side dish. Chef Tom thought that Antonio’s entree tasted best out of all the steak dishes.

Lisa and Spike wound up as the bottom two, Lisa was at the bottom for the fifth time. I think Padma saved her because she thought Lisa had “an amazing pallet.” The frozen scallops turned out to be Spike’s downfall. Spike tried for a long time to drain the water out of them with paper towels, but he still could not turn them into fresh scallops. Moreover, at the Judge’s Table Spike told Rick that he shouldn’t have had scallops in his walk-in that “weren’t high quality.” (Ouch) Rick rebounded with, “I’ll take that shot, bro. I had frozen scallops in my cooler, but you got to take the shot that you used them.” On the positive side, working in Rick’s hot kitchen made Spike remove his signature silly hat. I really hope he tossed it into the wood burning oven. Next week the four remaining chefs head off to Puerto Rico. Will there be an all women final three?

PJ


Chef Matty’s in heaven on Hell’s Kitchen

May 14, 2008

Chef Matt Sigel soared high above Hell’s Kitchen this week, far from the the Blue Team and Wrath of Ben. After beating Ben in a blind taste test challenge and securing a win for the Red Team, Matt thoroughly enjoyed watching Ben, “getting his ass kicked tonight.” Matt did not hold back his comments: “You can’t cook, buddy” and “I love it when Karma bites you in the ass.” Matt was proud that Ramsey said his risotto was “the best risotto ever served in Hell’s Kitchen.” But Matt couldn’t have been happier when Chef Ramsey found out that Ben didn’t have the lamb ready:

Ramsey: What’s on that ticket? Come on!

Ben: 6:30

Ramsey: What time is it now?

Ben: 8:00

What were they doing for an hour and a half? The Blue Team couldn’t get it together, and aside from Louross working hard at the salad station, Ramsey watched the rest of the men go down in flames. Ben didn’t help by telling Ramsey he “couldn’t work in this system”; ironic because it was Ben who spearheaded the men’s system of incompetence.

I give the guests on the Blue side a lot of credit for their patience and tolerance. Some walked out the door, but one women broke out a Breakfast Bar and remarked, “This is really embarrassing, you know? I don’t want to have to eat a snack at a restaurant.”

In the end, neither kitchen completed their dinner service, but it was the men’s team who lost. Ben continued scheming by asking everyone to nominate themselves. This strategy worked for Petrozza whose “level of maturity” won praise from Ramsey, but it backfired on Ben and he was sent home.

Meanwhile, Ramsey asked someone from the Red Team to volunteer to move over to the blue team for the next challenge. Corey wants Matt to return; she’s been gunning for Matt since he switched teams. During the Red Team’s reward (spa treatments), she openly told Matt, “You’re the next to go.” But Matt didn’t let Corey get to him; from under his chocolate face-mask and cucumber slices, he reminded her that it was he who helped them win. Then he told the women (strategically, I think) that he only cared if Ben went home first. No one enjoyed the spa treatments more than Matt who was even served iced tea by Ben.

This week Jen and Rosann both faltered during the dinner service, but Ramsey singled out Jen to receive his Navy Seal training techniques. Jen was dumbfounded and went through a whole range of emotions, but her funniest comment was: “Chef Ramsey, he got it out for me. He supposedly likes vocal people. He want a leader, he wants somebody to stand down. Now I guess he on his period or whatever today, so he gets pissed off at me when I try to be vocal and be the leader.”

(Above: The drama continues with chefs Matt, Corey, & Jen)

PJ


Dr. Phil offers more home-spun advice for feuding family members

May 12, 2008

I enjoy family feud episodes like today’s Sister in Law from Hell because Dr. Phil is really in his element. Guests whip themselves into a Jerry Springer-esque frenzy and Dr. Phil turns down the volume with rhetorical questions like: Do I look stupid to you? No seriously, did someone tell you I wasn’t very smart? I’ve yet to see someone reply, “Actually Dr. Phil, I met 10 people waiting in line this morning who said you weren’t very smart.” But no one ever acts defiant; individual family members are too busy justifying their own point of view. In-law strife episodes have been cloned hundreds of times with different families, but there was so much animosity between today’s family, I think Dr. Phil could not afford the liability of tossing them into “The Dr. Phil House” and letting nature take its course. Dr. P made it clear that if they sit on his stage, they become his “teaching tools.” So what is the difference between a teaching tool and a guinea pig?

Bottom line: No single person is the the only cause of family chaos. Take ownership of your role in creating the drama and kicking up the rhetoric.

Dr. Phil-ism: I tell ya’ if insight was lard, I couldn’t drink a skillet out of the whole bunch. Translation please?

PJ


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