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Top Chef New York, Episode 3, Abbreviated Recap – We’re Cooking for Rock Stars


Okay, before I start, a couple of thoughts.

1. Who at Bravo thought it was a good idea to program a new episode on the busiest travel day on the busiest travel holiday in the year? I know it was a Thanksgiving theme, but it would have worked last week too.
2. I tried to have family members take notes for me so I could write over the holiday, but if you ever tried to write a paper based on someone else’s notes in college, well, you’d understand how difficult that is to do. So I watched it on Sunday night and am banging out what I can today.
3. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I am sure Richard did not.

Previously: 50 jealous rejects. The Nanny had her food spit out. Jill’s eggs tasted like glue and the chefs sent American cuisine back 20 years.

Credits. Same 17 chefs, Padma is still gorgeous. Oh, and Glad sponsors the show.

Opening scenes, rather ho-hum. The Nanny thinks her nerves got the better of her. Richard is chatting about Gay Pride San Diego and thinks that Jeff is like Don Johnson and that Leah has a nice rack. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed Leah much until this episode. She does look great in her confessionals – we’ll just have to take Richard’s word, I guess.

[b]Quickfire Challenge[/b]
Padma is just trying to send me to an early grave, as she arrives in some sort of purple top that hides an exposed midriff. Why, Padma, why are you doing this to me! Anyway, she is bringing with her Grant Achatz, a James Beard winning molecular gastronomy expert. Somewhere, Blais and Marcel are applauding. Jamie is excited and Hosea is doubly excited because Grant beat cancer and Hosea’s dad is fighting it. Good luck Hosea’s dad, we’re pulling for you.

Chefs draw knives and get seemingly random numbers. These correspond with pages from the Top Chef Cookbook and recipes from chefs from past seasons. Cool challenge. Jeff got an easy Howie recipe from Season 3. Melissa (who?) got the CJ/Tre teaming on the freezer meal from Season 3. Leah got Hung’s tuna tartare recipe but feels confident that she can do it because she is used to working with those ingredients. They all have an hour to cook.

Padma and Grant return after 10 minutes to stop everyone. They want them to make soup with what they have in front of them. Wow. Nice twist. I wonder what prompted this change. I am sure it has nothing to do with a sponsor like Swanson Broth. Fabio is thrown for a loop by these crazy Americans and their love for soup.

Leah is nervous about making tartare soup and will be using chili to make it work. She also hates cooking with white asparagus but is being forced to. Carla is working with one of Lia’s recipes and makes a MacGyver reference. Hey, I like doing that! She also thinks her “special ingredient” is love. Didn’t Prof. Frink’s machine say that was the special ingredient in the Flaming Moe? Does that mean that Carla’s is really children’s cough syrup too? Did I watch too much of The Simpsons in the 90s?

Jamie has a Miguel recipe and says that she loves soup. If I recall, she did a kick-ass corn soup in the last episode. Richard has chili relleno in his recipe and is going to do a “funky little Mexican soup.” I wonder if that is like Funky Cold Medina?

Plating Montage! And judging commences:

Finn – It looks like he has CJ’s Red Robin winning burger recipe. He made Thai Green Curry Bisque with Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings. Grant likes the broth.
The Nanny – She had season 3 Dale’s rack of lamb recipe. She made Diced Lamb, Eggplant, Red Pepper, and Couscous Soup. She used the Swanson Beef Broth. Grant thinks it is overcooked.
NY Daniel – Had Betty’s surfer breakfast recipe. He made Ham and Egg Soup with Sautéed Mushrooms, Corn and Cheese. Padma has never had ham and egg soup and I am equally intrigued by it. Grant thinks it’s a good complement to the recipe.
Richard –He made Black Bean and Roasted Pasilla Pepper Soup with Rice. Grant thinks it needs acid. I wonder if he is going to put LSD in his, because that would be a cool challenge.
Melissa (Who?) – She made Italian Wedding Soup with Black Truffle, Parmesan, Linguini and Chicken. Grant thinks this blurred the line but not necessarily in a good way.
Fabio – I love that the Italian, American-hating European chef got the quintessential sloppy American chef’s recipe when he pulled Michael from season 3. He made Mushroom and Asparagus Soup with Seared Trout and Salmon Belly. I hate using the word belly in food titles. It makes it sound almost cruel. Grant thinks it’s a little flat with the flavor.
Carla – She made Shrimp, Tomato and Coriander Soup with Cucumber and Avocado Salad. Grant thinks it’s really nice.
Leah – She made Chilled White Asparagus Soup with Brioche, Tuna and Tapenade. Grant gives her props for the tough ingredients.
Jamie – She had deconstructed falafel to start with. She made Chick Pea Soup with Pickled Chilies, Yogurt and Crispy Shallots. Grant says it’s “great representation.”

Grant thought they all handled the twists well. He especially liked Jamie’s well balanced soup, Leah’s difficult soup, and Daniel’s complete vision. Leah gets the win and immunity.

Leah’s win lets her pick her team for the Elimination challenge. She picks Jamie, Hosea, Finn, Melissa (Who?), Fabio and Radhika. NY Daniel thinks that the secret message from their client will be Donald Trump. It’s not. It is the Foo Fighters and let me just say…WOO HOO! I love the Foo Fighters. The Chefs are psyched.

They will be making Thanksgiving dinner for the band and their entourage. In an obvious voice over added because of what happens later, Padma says that in the band’s rider they mention their love of bacon and chocolate bananas and that there are 18 members of the team that are vegetarian or vegan. Hosea reveals that there are obviously tons of vegans in Boulder, CO. All I know about Boulder comes from The Stand and Mork & Mindy.

They have to drive to the band’s venue to cook. That would be in Rochester, NY. Wow. That is a major drive from NYC. If I recall correctly, that is about a 6-7 hour drive. They are met by a roadie who sends them to the kitchen. It is outdoors and full of microwaves and toaster ovens. There is only one burner per team. Ouch.

Finn and Jamie are already clashing about his domination of the burner. Jeff is organizing everyone again. Alex is very worried about The Nanny cooking the turkey since she has basically stunk up the joint so far. I would just like to see them cook a turkey in a toaster oven. Richard is making s’mores. He clearly has confused a rock show in Rochester with a Boy Scouts camping trip. Or so he has heard, of course.

Fabio keeps up his trash talk of Americans. Whatever. Did Italy just change governments again? Leah’s team has decided for some unknown reason to call themselves Team Sexy Pants. Leah claims it is because they are all super sexy, and well, no. She’s the closest, although Radhika is kind of cute (and MIA this episode). For even stranger reasons, the team of rejects has called themselves Team Cougar because The Nanny is hot. And I don’t see it.

As they shop it is clear that in addition to Swanson’s sponsoring of this episode that Butterball has gotten a piece of the action too. Also, Alex is making something with mac and cheese and bacon. Game over. We have a winner.

Commercials. I stayed off watching the commercials because of time, but I notice that Dan Radcliffe is on Inside the Actor’s Studio. Really? For his two non-Harry Potter films and dropping trou on stage? Was Billy Boyd unavailable? What about Hayden Christensen?

Eugene has built a grill out of a chafing dish. Now would be the time for the MacGyver reference, Carla. Team Cougar is making Butterball turkey (sigh), stuffing, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, pork roast, mac & cheese, pumpkin parfait, peach cobbler, and banana s’mores. Richard admits that dessert is to Top Chef what India is to the Amazing Race. Ok, those are my words, same sentiment though. It is dangerous for your game life.

Team Sexy Pants is making Butterball turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, side salads, pumpkin tiramisu, and fruit crisp. Based on menus alone, the Cougars seem better. Execution is a different story. I will also add that unlike most Americans, I can’t stand sweet potatoes or pumpkin. My wife says I just won’t eat orange food. She clearly hasn’t seen me inhale a creamsicle.


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