Friday, September 21, 2007

Top Chef: The French Convection


Did we know 4 people are going to Aspen? I did not recall that.


The chefs are wandering New York City, then wander over to legendary restaurant Le Cirque. Apparently they were told the address or something because they act like “Aha, this is where we are supposed to be.”

They taste a super-special, VIP-only dish, served by the restaurant’s equally legendary founder. Then the Quickfire is to duplicate the dish, cooking one at a time in the Le Cirque kitchen as the staff is cooking food for paying customers.

It freaks me out to see people using a mandoline without a hand guard. Sarah especially is just scary with that thing. How she escaped incorporating paper-thin slices of hand in the dish I do not know.

I’m also disoriented to see a challenge without a product placement. I kind of doubt Le Cirque paid a placement fee.

Damn, did Dale just blow up Hung. “The best food has heart and if you don’t have one . . .” Nonethelss, the win goes to Hung. Casey is close and apparently also gets hottie points.

The teaser for the next segment shows Padma saying that the chefs and Le Cirque consider “these ingredients to be the ultimate culinary test.” Could be eggs, though they already did that for the season 1 and 2 throwdown.

Elimination Challenge.

French Culinary Institute. Faculty has come up with “ultimate culinary test.” Chicken, pototo and onion. For as ubiquitous as it is, chicken is challenging to cook – particularly the white meat. Cf – every fundraiser dinner you’ve ever been to.

This will be particularly challenging given that Colichio seems extremely picky about chicken. He’s probably less than .500 for the sum total of chicken dishes made on the show over three seasons.

Hung gets an extra half hour for winning the Quickfire and will serve first. As usual, he swings his knives around like an ostentatious crazy person.

They have $200 at a green market. Uh oh. Dale talks about being close to Casey. Last two people who were featured discussing a tight relationship with Casey didn’t last that episode.

We get some up close and personal time with each chef. Some happy talk about Why We Cook, in addition to what they are cooking.

Brian tells Colicchio about the peasant’s pie he face falls. Colicchio has something cautionary to say about each chef’s choice. He’s particularly troubled that Casey is calling her dish coq au vin. (BTW, that’s how you spell that which she keeps calling “coco van.” Yahoo! I’m coocoo for coco van!

The judges are the deans of the school. Even Colicchio is intimidated by the level of talent in the room. Interesting that they are eating a series of chicken dinners and matching with red wine.

Hung first. One chef quibbles with his pommes dauphine. Other than that, it’s a successful dish. Sarah’s dish doesn’t go over at all. Plus Gail’s chicken was undercooked. That’s a big problem.

Dale forgets the sauce that was going to be the major wow on his plate. The judges like Brian’s. There’s a complaint about whether it’s a chicken dish or a sausage dish rounded out with chicken. Funny how they like it so much better than his co-competitors. Casey also is successful, but again they complain about branding it coq au vin,

Looks like it’s Dale or Sarah heading home.

Judge’s Table.

Is Casey really going to lose out because she called her dish coq au vin? Apparently. Hung wins, but gets nothing. Would be interesting to know how the resolved the conflict. Gail and Tom preferred Casey’s dish. The guest judge preferred Hung.

Casey and Brian are in.

The judges retire to discuss who gets sent home. Interesting framing by Colicchio. Dale’s dish was a poor concept. Sarah had a good concept but poorly executed. He asks which is the bigger sin. I suspect the answer would be bad execution. When they were eating, Mrs. French Culinary Institute makes the remark that Sarah needs more experience. That doesn’t get you on the road to being Top Chef.

Padma does a switcheroo, saying “Dale . . . you are going to the finale.” Good TV maybe but pretty harsh to Sarah.

Damn, Dale must be good. He survives being friends with Casey.

So we have our final four. We know that anything can happen in the semifinal. Last season Marcel getting in the final and Sam not was a huge surprise. Hung and Casey have to be the favorites going in and if the final challenge is just cook your best, Hung is an overwhelming favorite. But the semifinal is always something funky and the previews show cooking outside on a campstove. Getting down to the final two will be interesting.


Jeff said...

Definitely between Hung and Casey. REALLY hope that it is Casey -- because (a) she's a woman, and (b) Hung is Hung - he has no heart.

We missed that next week is on an outdoor stove. Yeah, that could definitely throw Hung off (we hope!).

We're a little surprised that Casey is in the finals. Although we saw the glimmer of promise in her cooking, she was presented as such a cheerleader/bimbo stereotype, it seemed like she might get passed over. But, hey! It's all good!

The strange bit actually is Brian. What the heck is he doing in there, anyway? Every week he says that NOW he's going to really buckle down. And here he is in the final round!

- Jeff and Phyl

ps - Thanks SO much for blogging this!