Top Chef Canada: Episode 8

Birds chirp. Morning sun peeks through a window.  Darryl disses Andrea. “The consensus in the group is that Andrea is not a team player.  Even the servers at Milestones were  “like, what’s wrong with that girl?””

Well, first of all, the servers at Milestones are probably ditching their Psyche 101 class to make a shitload of tips on a drunken 5:30 business crowd so they probably have no idea what a chef does.  Secondly, if they’re going to be “like” p.o’d at Andrea, maybe they address her properly as in, “why is that chef such a bitch?”

Secondly, Andrea has been saying she’s “in it to win it” from Day 1, so no big surprise, though I guess we need a new outsider now that Chris and Jamie have been zapped.

Anyway, Andrea is now the bad-ass though she could care less, “I came here for myself, so whatever.”  See! Balls the size of watermelons.

Quickfire Challenge

Mark McEwan is back and I think he got highlights.  Looking very Summer 2011.  He tells the teams that from now on working together is “vital” and indeed, teamwork is the theme of this episode.  There will be no more immunity granted.

(See how the producers are setting this up? Teamwork good.  Andrea bad.  Tension building. Watch and learn reality show hopefuls.)

For todays’ challenge the chefs are divided into two groups.  Francois and Rob pull the knives that decree them team captain. Flashback to elementary school, the captains get to pick their team.  (its OK, I’m fine about not being any good at volleyball or basketball and always picked last, even for hurdles).

Francois’s first choice is Dale.  Rob’s first choice is Dustin.   (Hey–if you take Dale–and turn that frown upside down–you get Dustin!)

Francois then chooses Connie.  Rob looks pissed but settles for Todd.  Francois takes Darryl and Andrea is stuck onto Rob’s team.

Andrea, “I don’t care, I’ll play the underdog, but I’m sure they know I’m a force to be reckoned with.”  (unspoken: bunch of pussies.)

Each team has 40 minutes to make a dish.  All the chefs will be blindfolded.  One chef starts the dish and after 10 minutes the next chef steps in until all four have had a turn.  Like those games where one person starts drawing the feet and the next person draws the torso….hey, is this Top Chef: Summer Camp?

GOES DOWN LIKE SO:

First 10 min: Andrea and Darryl start for their teams:   Andrea grabs scallops and starts a white asparagus puree.  Daryll grabs snapper and begins to clean it.

Second 10 min:  Rob sees scallops. He sees the puree.  Goes for bacon.  Dale sees that Darryl started a reduction for butter sauce so works on that and braises some radishes and fennel.

Third 10 min: Connie says the “plate needs some colour”  so she makes a “green oil.”  YUM, green oil.  Todd, “I can’t figure out what’s happening”  just makes a (traditional Newfoundland I presume) potato cake.

Last 10 minutes: Dustin tastes everything to see where stuff is at, as does Francois.  They plate everything and Francois’s hands are shaking as he adds the final touches.

Red Team (Rob Captain) creates a pancetta-wrapped scallop plate with potato rosti, white asparagus sauce and braised leek.

Blue Team (Francois Captain) creates a pan-seared snapper with butter sauce,  braised radish and fennel and sea asparagus salad.

Chef McEwan makes a joke! “Does anyone know what this is?” he asks.  He is getting lighthearted– perhaps seeing the end in sight.

Both teams have done well– but Rob (Red Team) is finally vindicated winning his first Quickfire, or as he says so eloquently, “I finally won a quickfire for fucks’s sake”

The winning team gets to choose their serving area in the Restaurant War Challenge.

Elimination

The restaurant  war takes place at McEwan’s own Bymark.  One team will serve in the dining room and one on the patio.  Rob’s Red Team, now known as “To New” (a bad play on the Toronto Nfld connection) is allowed to pick since they won elimination.  They choose patio.

Francois’ team, now called By Bleu (another bad play on words: Bymark+ blue aprons) gets the dining room.

The first challenge is figuring out who the sucker’s going to be that runs front of house.  Typical of anyone in the kitchen everyone seems to agree with Francois that, “front of house can seriously screw back of house.”  And the chef’s still have to create a dish even if they are not in the kitchen.

Finally Andrea agrees to take one for the Red team. “I’m always in the dining room at my restaurant….” Unspoken: reaming out my staff.

On the blue team Darryl also steps down and out of his whites.  Dale, who has fully taken charge, graciously comments that, “Darryl is going to fuck up, he doesn’t know fine dining.”  My favourite excuse for not doing front-of-house is Francois, “I won’t understand the English people’s jokes so I can’t do it”.  But of course.

Team Rob’s concept: contemporary Canadian fine-dining with a casual feel.

Team Francois:  Dale asks and then answers his own questions.  ‘What’s our concept?” beat. “Modern European?  Fine fine dining. Settled.”

Connie is not happy, she is not on board with the “fine-fine” dining not having done it in years.  This somehow causes her to forget her baby potatoes during prep and she has to run off in a van to find them.  Call me crazy but did they clear all food out of the Bymark kitchen?  Surely, there is a potato or two rolling around in there?  (ohh, wait, maybe they were already pickled.)

Service:

Team To New:

The judging team arrives with Chef David Adjey in tow as Chef Judge (The Opener).  Thea Andrews looks amazing in her silver dress. There is some painfully awkward small talk between Chef McEwan and Andrea  before service.

The judges sit down on the patio first to partake in the meal from To New (Rob, Dustin, Todd and Andrea). Generally things go from Ok to worse. A couple of the dishes are deemed to have “hotel-itis” by McEwan (like Andrea’s asparagus salad and the main lamb course) meaning, “looks great, tastes like nothing.”

Todd’s terrine is a bit of a disaster–it’s falling apart and the chutney is way too spicy.  The judges like Dustin’s Halibut but his gnocchi is deemed more akin to mashed potatoes. Dessert crescendo in banal badness.  Rob’s mousse really does look like poop on a plate and Todd’s custard looked like a slap-dash affair.  Winning dish of the service was Andrea’s Octopus.

Team By Bleu:

Darryl looks quite adorable and also like a duck out of water all spiffed up.  He manages to get his hands on Chef McEwan’s crotch when he decides to put all the napkins on the judges laps, something “he’d seen done in fine dining”.  All the judges try hard not crack up.

By Bleu (Francois, Connie, Darryl and Dale) does much better with their dinner despite a near fist-fight (no helmets) between Dale and Darryl when Dale tries to “un-simplify” Darryl’s duck dish and later when Daryll doesn’t get Dale’s strawberry souffles off the pass and out to the guests before they start to deflate.

Yet the food that gets out the judges table is turning out well.  Darryl’s duck is called, “perfect, just the right subtle smoke and degree of doneness” by Chef McEwan. Francois’s lamb and eggplant is “spectacular”. Connie is flumoxed that her tuna dish is being described as “canned tuna” by the diners but in the end her semi-freddo dessert plate and Dale’s souffle are tagged as “big league desserts”.  In fact, Chef McEwan says he couldn’t have made a better souffle himself.

Judges Table

Team By Bleu is called in a declared the clear winners with Dale’s souffle taking top prize.

Which leaves Team To New as the losers.  Andre is safe as her Octopus dish came out on top despite her being chosen last for the team. Which leaves Dustin, Rob and Todd.  Cut to commercial.

It must be Todd.  It has to be Todd I am thinking.  And yes, Todd is declared out of his league and asked to pack his bags.  He leaves us with his usual Todd-isms that have endeared him all this way, “I ran out of bullets.  I tried something outside my comfort zone and it didn’t work.  Going back home to my wife, daughter, buddies and back deck.  It’s going to be great.”   Big sigh.

Next week the Chefs create food for President’s Choice.  Bigger sigh.

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