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Top Chef: New York, Episode 10 – Are You Ready For Some Football?


Previously – Hosea and Leah sitting in a tree. The freezers didn’t work. Padma sent her food back. Radhika’s head was spinning and she was sent home – perhaps the first casualty on this show that didn’t cook anything during a challenge.

Credits – Finn sure looks smug there. I wonder if he will get taken down a peg at some point…hmm…what do you think?

Carla admits to having dodged a bullet in the last challenge, thanks to making yogurt soup and terrible cake. She tells us that she is classically trained and has let that fall by the wayside. Leah gives the old “too much alcohol” excuse for having swapped spit with Hosea with cameras all throughout the house and microphones attached to their bodies. She calls it a one-time mistake. She also realizes that she performed badly – in the challenge, not the smooching – and needs to start cooking good food. Finn and Hosea talk about a stick. I don’t know what that means either. Hosea says there is no longer any room for error with only seven chefs left.

Quickfire – Padma looking amazing in her purple outfit, and believe it or not, she will look even better later on. She introduces this week’s guest – the chef/owner of Scarpetta Restaurant in New York, Scott Conant. The restaurant – Italian for “Little Shoe” was a recent recipient of a three star review from the New York Times. I guess that is really good. Hosea thinks it is almost impossible not to be a bit intimidated.

Padma tells us that with the Super Bowl coming up – on behalf of my wife let me just say, GO STEELERS! – The Quickfire is going to be a giant Super Bowl box pool game. I remember losing one during the 1989 Super Bowl when there were only seconds left and time for one kickoff and my friend Norm said that the only way I could lose would be if the Bengals returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Guess what happened? Not bitter or anything…

Anyway, this bracket will have ingredients and food groups on either side. Chefs will write their name in a box on the grid and the corresponding ingredient and food group will be theirs for the challenge. Jamie goes first and one side gets revealed for her – fruits. Leah gets seafood. Fabio gets vegetables and he is not excited about it, not when he could have meat or fish as an option. Finn gets dairy. Hosea gets meat. Carla has nuts and grains and Jeff gets poultry.

Now Padma reveals the other side of the bracket. Fabio gets oats. Finn gets oats. Hmm. They all get oats because Quaker Oats brought this challenge to you. Carla says that she is the “oats girl” because she has much experience cooking with oats.

No more immunities anymore but the winner will get an advantage in the elimination challenge. They have 45 minutes to make a menu using their group and oats. The cooking frenzy begins and Quaker gets many plugs. Jeff is carrying a tray of about a gazillion things. Jamie says that with fruit and oats it would be tempting to make dessert – she is not. Amazingly, she is not making scallops and soup.

Hosea is making Wiener schnitzel as he has experience making that. Jeff is banging away on his food with a pan. Finn asks, “What’s going on, buddy?” Jeff remains humorless when explaining what he is making. For someone that rips off a pretty good zinger now and again, Jeff doesn’t change his vocal inflection. Ever.

Carla comments about Jeff and his methods. “Jeff can’t quiet the creative monkeys,” says Carla. Sorry, Carla – not everyone has internal voices that speak to him or her constantly. Hootie Hoo! Although having inner voices take the form of monkeys would almost make it bearable.

Leah is also banging away and Hosea finds it ironic that she struggled with fish in the last challenge and here she is trying to de-bone more fish. I don’t think Hosea can criticize Leah at all – damage control can never take away the tonsil hockey, sir.

Carla is excited about the challenge and shows off how well she knows oats by saying that you can’t soak them in cold water or else they get mushy. Fabio says that oats fry well and so he is planning on using them that way. Boy, does he. He comments that it is killing him that he has failed to win anything for some time. Jamie notices that he has used all of the oats in the world to fry his poor eggplant.

Bagging. Flipping. Plating. Someone is using a rose. Is this the Bachelor?

Finn – Diary – Banana Mousse with Quaker Oats and Oat-Almond Petit Fours – Scott asks if he could eat the rose. Finn says he can if he wants to.

Fabio – Veggies – Quaker Oat-Crusted Eggplant with Corn and Parmesan Salad. Scott kind of laughs and says this speaks for itself. Fabio confesses that he didn’t like being made fun of and didn’t want to look like an idiot.

Carla – Nuts/Grains – Pecan and Quaker Oat-Crusted Tofu with Oatmeal and Lentil Salad. Scott wants to know what she marinated it in – soy sauce, ginger, and some other thing that on three viewings, I still can’t understand.

Jamie – Fruit – Coconut and Quaker Oat-Crusted Shrimp, Nectarine Salsa and Avocado Crème Fraiche. Scott asks what is the crust – oats, coconut flour and again, something that I cannot understand. Either my hearing is going, Comcast is worse than I thought or it is time for a new TV.

Hosea – Meat – Quaker Oat-crusted Wiener schnitzel with Warm potato salad and mustard sauce. All he gets is a thank you.

Leah – Seafood – Quaker Oat-crusted Branzino and Mussels with Escarole and Bacon. When asked about her inspiration on this dish, Leah’s honest and perfect answer – “I just love bacon.”

I am sick of writing “Quaker-Oat Crusted.”

Jeff – Poultry – Quaker Oat-Crusted (sigh) Chicken Paillard, grits and Fried Zucchini. Jeff says that he made grits because he is from the South. He describes everything and tells Scott to go crazy. Jeff tells us that Scott went back for several bites so he must have liked it. Let’s find out.

Scott did not care for Leah’s. She had a good idea, but she overcooked it. He didn’t care for Fabio’s because he could taste the oats and nothing else. And Jeff, because the plate was very brown and heavy. Jeff confesses that he thinks too much and it can hurt sometimes.

Scott liked Carla’s – she did a good job. Jamie made perfect shrimp. Finn had some great textures – great enough to get him the win. His fellow chefs give him rather tepid applause. Finn has one of his more human confessionals where he says that he had better be good (five straight wins!) because he has been cooking for 25 years and this is his passion. Hosea thinks that Finn’s head has just gotten an inch bigger and that Finn is on an effing roll.


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