Thursday, December 3, 2009
Grapes of Wrath: The Top Chef recap
As first reported right here in this blog, tonight’s episode was all about hair. Kevin went to the barber and apparently asked for “The Keebler.” Padma inexplicably decided to rock pregnancy bangs. Jen continued her grand tradition of “I don’t give a shit” in a ponytail and “I don’t give a shit” down on her shoulders. Gallant looked exactly the same, because steadfast consistency is one of his most Gallant-like qualities. And Goofus asked his stylist to make him look like a contestant on Chef Academy. Unfortunately, she misunderstood and made him look like a contestant on Tool Academy.
(Speaking of hair, did you know that there was a Facebook page devoted to Kevin’s beard? People are strange.)
So the 4 remaining cheftestants are in Napa Valley and the Quickfire involves cooking on a train. Trains are bumpy and Kevin gets motion sickness, so this does not bode well. Thankfully, any vomiting, if it occurred, took place off camera.
Guest judge is Michael Chiarello, and if you watched Top Chef: Masters you know two things: He’s a damn fine chef, and he has been known to go a little Rambo (or should I say Ramsay?) on his employees.
The challenge is to make a dish using the grape. Grapes figure heavily in tonight’s episode. (By the end of the episode, we will all feel graped.)
Gallant makes a mistake, cooking with a Concorde grape, even though the Concorde grape is not indigenous to the region.
“You used the Concorde grape?” ask Chef Chiarello, staring pointedly at Gallant.
“Yes,” says Gallant, staring pointedly back.
(I’ve decided that it’s really hard to have a quien es mas macho moment when you’re discussing a grape.)
Anyway, Goofus wins the challenge with his grapeapalooza (he even used grape leaves). And he also wins a 2010 Prius, which he will probably rename “The Victory Mobile” and drive around Gallant’s neighborhood whenever he gets a chance, honking his horn triumphantly.
The Elimination Challenge is to make 2 dishes, one vegetarian, using all local ingredients for the annual Crush party, which celebrates—what else?—the harvest of the grape.
Jen decides to cook her duck on hot coals, even though she’s never cooked with coals before. (Why, cheftestants? Why?) Goofus is doing something fancy with egg custard and says quite possibly the most modest thing he has ever said on the show: “It’s up to the egg at this point.” (Goofus ceding control of anything is a major step forward for that boy.)
Time to serve. Padma is wearing an outfit so inappropriate—tight black dress, shiny red boots—that her unborn fetus is actually embarrassed by it.
Other judges: Tom, Gail, and Chef Chiarello.
So everyone applauds Jen’s duck dish (which she ended up roasting, not coal grilling) for being appropriately ducky but her goat cheese and radish dish is too salty. Kevin’s undercooked brisket is too “toothsome” but his roasted beets and carrots are sublime. Goofus’s egg has, indeed, let him down, as it’s too runny, but his magical turnip/pear/foie gras trick seems to be delicious, except when the foie gras runs out the whole illusion falls apart and you are just left with yucky green sauce. Gallant could’ve used some of Jen’s salt but, besides that, everyone seems to dig his short ribs and pumpkin ravioli.
And Gallant wins!
And the loser is Jen. Sigh. Kind of fitting I suppose in a season where the first 4 cheftestants to get the ax were girls.
Gallant tries to have a tender moment with Goofus, but Goofus decides to mock him instead. But Gallant is having none of Goofus’s tomfoolery and pulls him in for a brotherly embrace.
And all I can say is, Kevin, you better win this thing, or that may be the last embrace the Voltaggio boys share for a loooong time.