Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"He HAS to do a foam!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

By some miracle, I am now a mere three episodes behind in my recapping efforts. Granted, catching up requires several hours of television watching, but as the cursed water company has taken over the street for the day AND shut off my water, I figure this is just as good a day as any to catch up. It's not as though I can take a shower and prepare myself properly for any outings.

Opening scenes:
At this point, the least I can say for Jamie is that she put up an admirable effort in praising Casey's fearlessness for preparing chicken feet. The chefs spend a bit of time in the stew room admiring her and all secretly wishing Jamie was gone. I'm pretty sure they would have all devoured ALL of Casey's bad chicken feet if it meant she stayed and Jamie had gone home. Marcel uses his time to instigate a fight with Trying-to-Reform-Angry Dale. Something about how he cooks for the people, and for the challenge. Tre tries to stay out of the tirade, while Dale tosses back a few calm curses. Apparently, he has taken anger management, and is above all of Marcel's "saltiness." We'll see, Dale.

For some unknown and ominous reason, the chefs are up and 'at em at 4:30 in the morning. They head into the Top Chef kitchen and find a personalized note from Padma and Tom, accompanied by a map to Montauk. Must be a fishing challenge. Thank goodness the chefs have their Toyota Siennas for the drive.

Despite my slight prejudice against all wealthy areas of the country, I must admit that the lighthouse point where the chefs met Tom and Padma was quite stunning. It was made even more lovely by the early morning sun casting golden light on Tom's head. My favorite informs the chefs that they will be going out fishing in four teams, two teams per boat. They will be cooking what they catch in five hours for a double elimination challenge.

Team 1: Angry Dale, Carla, Tre

Team 2:Mike, Angelo, Tiffany D.

Team 3: Antonia, TIffani F., Jamie

Team 4: Marcel, Fabio, Richard

As they prepare to head out, Angelo displays a remarkable knowledge of shark biology and admits that he is terrified of the water. A bit odd considering that seafood is is specialty. Have some respect for your product, Angelo! Fabio, on other hand, is completely in his element, having come from good Italian fisherman stock.

Dale, also a descendant of a fishing expert, was the first to catch a fish. It's impressively huge. Antonia screams like "a fourth grader" when she picks up her first, and soon, the boat they share with Team 1 is loaded with fish. Afternoon crickets are chirping on the other boat, which has yet to pick up a fish. After three hours. I start to worry that those two teams will have nothing to prepare for the challenge. It's a bit odd, because it appear that the two boats are within sight of each other.

Finally, with practically an hour left to go, Teams 2 and 4 start reeling in some fish, despite having to resort to a rather intimate technique which Tiffany does not completely appreciate. Back on the successful boat, Dale ends the trip with the triumphant catch of an enormous striped bass, which he believes resembles Marcel in some ways.

Once they're back on land, the chefs head to a local farmer's market to shop. I loved this, despite the fact that I KNEW we'd have to hear from Jamie about how she feels totally in her element when shopping locally and within season. An especially great moment was witnessing the camaraderie between Richard and Fabio as they pulled a cute green wagon full of produce around behind them.

The next day, the chefs head to a beachfront area with an awesome view of Manhattan, where they'll be serving for an evening beach party. It's difficult to figure out what's going on with the respective teams in the midst of Jamie's myriad of complaints.

Fabio, Richard, and Marcel have opted to make one dish, which, as well all know, is a huge risk. "Baby-kisser" Fabio concludes that it's a great plan, because if they end up on the bottom, the judges will have a hard time figuring out who to eliminate. He also mumbles something about reverse psychology.

Carla informs us about the infamous bloodline of the blue fish. It's not the greatest fish anyway, but if the bloodline is not properly removed, it becomes downright unpleasant. I have a feeling this might become a problem.

As is his wont, Tom visits the chefs during prep time. Predictably, he questions Marcel's team for only cooking one dish and slightly chides Dale for not making his own flour tortillas. We hear more about the blue fish and its tendency to be overly fatty and delicate.

Tom and Padma are joined by Gale and Kerry Heffernan, a Long Island chef and close friend of Tom's. I read up on Heffernan after the episode, and through Tom and Gale's blogs, learned that he had never done a television appearance before. He was a natural, and it was enjoyable to see how much Tom enjoyed his presence.

Perhaps it was the lovely locale or lively presence of a beach party, but the chefs displayed an uncharacteristic calm and charm while serving. Catching the big fish was transformative for Angry Dale, and he prepared a delicious, perfectly appropriate fish taco. Carla's "ode to New York" lettuce wrap, ensconcing smoked blue fish and bagel croutons, was a huge hit. Antonia prepared the notoriously difficult porgy, crafting it into a delicious po-boy with Old Bay mayo that the crowd devoured with relish. Angelo, Mike, and Tiffany's dish suffered from too many components. It didn't help that Angelo referred to every one of those components as "beautiful" while plating. The curse of the bloodline came up with Tiffani's smoked dish, and Jamie's poorly cooked fish died a second death, drowned in cucumber water.

Surprisingly, Angelo's team was called out with Dale, Carla, and Tre for the favorite dishes of the night. It's starting to get a bit confusing, because the top group hasn't been consistently brought out first. This time, the winner would be Carla, who skillfully prepared a less than stellar fish in an inventive way. Her prize? A trip to Amsterdam. She is really starting to pick up some steam!

Fabio, Richard, and Marcel did indeed face criticism for preparing only one dish, but also because their dish wasn't especially fitting for the setting. Despite the disorganization of their dish and unnecessary components, their errors seemed minor compared to the lack of flavor in Jamie's dish or the mistake of including the bloodline in blue fish. Poor Antonia was put on the spot by a icy cold Padma, who asked if she could have done anything to salvage their dishes. On a positive note, she was praised for having Tom's favorite dish of the night, and informed that if she had been on another team, she would not have been facing the judges.

To no one's great surprise, Jamie was FINALLY sent to pack her knives. It was such a long time in coming that the remaining chefs (and me) barely noticed that Tiffani F. was the second half of the double elimination. I'll miss the brazen redhead, and only wish that Marcel could have gone in her place. He is simply insufferable. It was a nice touch to hear her final thoughts-they were refreshing humble. I didn't even pay attention to the last time Jamie appeared, and can only hope that we never see her again.

I believe 3 o'clock has arrived! My water has returned! This can only mean the end of my relaxing day...

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