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Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 11 – Baby Vomit and Wood Chips… Yummy!


Now the train wreck. Padma is pleased to see Spike in a suit. Bourdain points out the silver and purple linens and gives us this winner: “I feel like I’m in the back of Prince’s van!” HA! And that is the second REJECTED ARTICLE TITLE. Ted riffs back that it is more like Aerosmith’s mike stand. Less funny, but he gets a point for that. The best part is that Spike is standing right there pouring the wine. Awww, I actually felt badly for your there, Spike.

Lisa says that she thinks that the laksa is the first mistake that she has served this season. I think she needs to watch some of those episodes again. Two words: Magenta. Drunken. Dale panics that the food is waiting to go out.

The laksa – Jose is waiting for Bourdain to react. Bourdain thinks it is “too damn smoky.” I think they would welcome Smokey the Monster from our favorite Lost island to show up and go all Eko on Lisa’s ass.

The dumplings – Padma loved them. Ted thinks there is a nice char on them.

The short rib – Spike is worried about the portion size and asks Lisa if “that’s it?” She feels like it is a good size and Dale again panics and yells to get the food out of the kitchen. Padma loves a good braised short rib, and girlfriend is on something alright.

The scallop – Ted thinks it is like “Willy Wonka scallop.” No blueberry pie, please. Bourdain thinks that butterscotch by itself is almost too much. Some random woman hysterically comments that she isn’t sure what she is eating. By rule, if you can put in ice cream, it probably shouldn’t go on shellfish.

Lisa and Dale continue their love affair. Dale thinks she is negative and cannot take criticism. Before I can break out a pot/kettle reference, Dale admits that he can’t either but that she’s worse. Lisa doesn’t think he was a good Exec Chef.

The Halo Halo – Bourdain thinks it is ok and has a familiar flavor and they “arguably did it right.” Jose thinks it was a great idea. Padma says it was compared to “this atrocity,” as she angrily tosses her mango rice to the side. Bourdain calls it “baby vomit with wood chips.” HAHAHA!! Totally gonna be my title. Ted jokes that Bourdain should tell us how he really feels. A random guy gets in another shot by stating that they have to go out for dessert now.

Diners fill out comment cards and Jen tells us that she tried her best for them. Steph also did her best and Spike says that the customers never know about the kitchen drama. Really? Do any of us EVER know about kitchen drama when in a restaurant?

Commercials – I always totally dig the Mac/PC ads.

Meat Locker of Doom. Foghorn toasts them all by saying they opened a restaurant in five hours. Padma calls for the Dream Team and Dale buries his head in his hands.

Foghorn is working a bigger rooster-do here as they are told that they won. Bourdain was really impressed. Foghorn did the salad and Bourdain tells him this was one of many great decisions. Steph is given credit for the pasta – again, sorry Nikki – and Jose thinks it was perfectly cooked. Steph also claims the cheesecake and Ted praises it. Jose gives the win to Steph, and I will admit to being surprised that she took it over Exec Chef Antonia, but she did a great job herself. Padma tells her that the team did a great job and the dishes were fantastic. Steph wins a nice trip to Barcelona. I think she should take Nikki with her.

The other team comes in to take their lumps. Bourdain clues them into the many errors. He starts with Spike’s décor. Spike lies and says that all three of them picked out the linens. Lisa gives him a look and Dale starts to laugh. Bourdain says they had high hopes from the upscale look of the front of the house. However, while it looked like a “place where a greasy dumpling would be unforgivable” it was a place where a greasy dumpling “would be a delight.” Ouch.

Dale claims the scallops and admits that they were a little sweet. Padma is still mad when she snaps back, “a little?” Dale sighs as he can see where this is going. Bourdain says that hearing butterscotch and scallops together was worrying to him in the first place. It looked like a “melted candy bar.” Boy, would that be a bad candy bar.

Bourdain starts in on Lisa’s laksa as Dale literally points a finger at her. Lisa gets credit for taking full responsibility for the dish. Everybody sing… STAND BY YOUR DISH! She was taught to make laksa smoky and she took it too far. Spike claims to have originally thought of the laksa but has a different recipe. Dale says he trusted them because he was unfamiliar with laksa. Bourdain gives him a scold because he was Exec Chef and he didn’t even know what laksa should taste like.

Jose says that Spike’s short rib was the highlight. Here you can see that Spike knows that he is safe. Dale says that Spike provided the recipe and conceptualized the dish but told Dale and Lisa how to cook it.

Lisa says her rice was bad because they had the wrong rice. Bourdain relays a comment that the mango rice dish looked like “baby food with potpourri.” HA! I would have tried that with my son if I thought he was going to eat it. Dale disputes that he found the substitute rice and Lisa says he did. We know he did because we can rewind. Bourdain tells the children to shut up; they are not talking to their “parole officer.”

Jose is mad at them and says that they are showing a “lack of teamwork that, wow, is not what this business is all about.” Wow, that may have been the most painful of all zingers this episode.

Bourdain asks Spike what went wrong and he carefully answers that it appeared to be poor communication between Dale and Lisa. Bourdain gives an eye roll to this. Dale tries to explain something about taking suggestions after service and Bourdain lashes back that he needs to give the customers what they paid for.

Dale accuses Lisa of being a smart ass. She says she asked him to taste the salad and he mocks her for using a different tone here. Dale says that you are only as strong as your weakest link. Lisa counters that you are only as good as your leadership.

What will they do?!?!

Judges confer. Padma thinks there was more blame flying around than at her mom’s family gatherings. Bourdain thinks they all had their own agenda. Jose jokes that Spike was smart for staying out of the kitchen. I am surprised that Spike is getting as much credit as he is for not really cooking this episode. Bourdain thinks he did a nice job presenting.

Bourdain thinks that Dale should get nailed for the scallops that were “ridiculous” with the “slopped on horrible butterscotch” sauce. As a manager/conceptualizer/executor, Dale “fell down.”

Padma reminds us of Lisa’s many failures this challenge. Bourdain says that from her body language, “she is not inclined to accept criticism from this table or anyone else.” Bourdain is ON HIS GAME this episode.

In the Locker, Lisa explains to Spike that Dale’s attitude wasn’t helping. Dale responds that if “you got something to say, then say it, bitch.” Foghorn just looks down, embarrassed for them all. Dale continues that he tried “to play the good guy and not be such a dickhead in the kitchen.” Spike and Lisa give him a death stare and Spike makes a yap yap gesture with his hand.

Commercials – the A-List Awards… I never thought there would be a worse idea than the ESPYs, and yet, here we are.

Bourdain sums up that this challenge required skills not seen in other challenges. Dale’s leadership and awful scallop dish caused him to fall down and fall down hard. This was a dysfunctional group and as Exec Chef he should have accounted for that. Lisa is told that “smoke is smoke” and her pudding was awful. Spike is given points for good luck and that it was a “good day to be in the dining room.”

As we wait for Padma’s announcement, I am truly not sure which one is going home. I think it should be Lisa for cooking nothing well this week and for several bad dishes in the past. Dale was awful this week, but he did have a little bit of a track record. However, it is Dale that is packing his knives. He earned this defeat, but I think they made an error here.

In the Locker, Steph asks if he is “f****n serious.” Dale THs that you either love him or hate him. To be honest, I still don’t know what I think about him. Spike gives him a hug and says that they had their differences but he is “super” talented. Nice gesture, Spike. Dale gives Foghorn a very respectful Man Hug and THs very tearfully how disappointed he is. Wow, didn’t see that coming. He and Joey can hang out and talk about tough guys crying from cooking competitions.

Next week: the other chefs seem fed up with Lisa. One is going home, and we have Hands Across Judging Room as we await the final cut. I will be pissed if it is Foghorn, Steph or Antonia going home.

THE RESTAURANT DISHES:

Warehouse Kitchen
Antonia – Lamb squared: lamb loin and braised lamb shank
Antonia – Trout with cauliflower
Foghorn – Beet salad with goat cheese & Ras el hanout spices
Foghorn – Banana “scallops” with banana guacamole and chocolate ice cream
Steph – Fresh linguine and clams with sausage and horseradish crème fraiche
Steph – Gorgonzola cheesecake with sweet potato puree and Concord grape sauce

Mai Buddha
Dale
– Butterscotch miso scallops, spicy eggplant and pickled long beans
Dale – Halo halo with cantaloupe, coconut, avocado, kiwi and candied cashews
Lisa – Spicy coconut laksa with grilled prawns and vermicelli
Lisa – Thai mango sticky rice with toasted coconut
Spike – Braised short ribs with pickled red cabbage & apple basil Thai salad

Send your comments to Jeremy at jeremy@realityshack.com.


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