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Top Chef: Texas/Vancouver – Ep15 – Top Chef Laff-a-Lympics

Challenge: Event #1 – Peak to Peak: Create a Dish While Riding a Moving Gondola – Each chef boards a ski gondola – shaky ski gondolas. The fastest shay ski gondolas in the world. They must prepare a dish using small burners. With the jostling, the food cooks unevenly, and at that altitude, water boils at a different rate. In addition, they must stop and add another ingredient at an ingredient station. Because, what else would you really do at an ingredient station?

Qui-Gon is out of his element. Really? For what chef is this challenge their element? Sarah has trouble actually opening everything. Beverly goes for a cold, tartare dish, which I think was a good idea. Let’s see how that goes. Qui-Gon adds wasabi at the Ingredient Station, Sarah takes prune juice, and both Lindsay and Beverly choose horseradish. Qui-Gon is forced to cut his lamb loin off the rack because it cooks poorly, and Lindsay doesn’t make enough salmon, so she slices the portions in half. The judges are Tom, Padma, Gail and the hottest snowboarder ever, Gretchen Bleiler.

Beverly – Salmon Tartare, Anchovy Horseradish Crème Fraiche and Crispy Capers – Gretchen loved the crunch, but thought the cold dish on a cold day was a bad idea. Tom liked the coldness, and found the flavors to be great. Gail was very impressed by the knife skills, considering the challenge.

Lindsay of the Corn – Seared Salmon over Red Quinoa “Risotto” with Chorizo – Tom said the salmon was perfect, and Gretchen loved the combination.

Lindsay of the Corn is now Lindsay of the Final Three. Tom said none of the dishes were bad, but Qui-Gon came in last, and sarah next to last. I truly hope Beverly didn’t lose this challenge because the snowboarder wanted a hot meal. This is now two weeks in a row that Lindsay of the Corn showed emotion – I must say, I never saw her coming as a Final Three chef back at the start.

Qui-Gon – Seared Lamb Loin with Curried Mushrooms, Fresh Juniper and Cinnamon Gastrique – The front runner is not happy with his dish. Tom likes the combination of flavors, but not the underseasoned meat. Gail felt the meat was unevenly cooked, but loved the shrooms. Gretchen loved the wasabi.

Sarah – Chorizo Sausage with Gooseberry Sauce and Pickled Mushrooms – Tom couldn’t taste the prune, but the dish was nice. Padma thought the gooseberry acidity was the key.

Challenge: Event #2 – Ice Blocks: Create a Dish Using Ingredients Frozen in Ice – Judging this one is Tom, Padma, Gail and Skeleton Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery. And, if you don’t know skeleton – it is frontal luge. In other words, insanity.

The food is literally frozen in ice blocks – like a Jim-Dwight prank if The Office was set in Winnipeg. It is a very unfair challenge, as I previously mentioned. Now if only they gave them a hammer to go with the chisel, it may have been interesting. The judges go with a Psycho and a Basic Instinct joke – so there was that. Qui-Gon even helps the ladies with the ice or else he would have won by default. He even teases Sarah for being more of a Chicago girl now because she likes the cold. Oh, Texas rivalries! Even if Qui-Gon does help by giving Sarah some crab (actual crab, get your minds out of the gutter!) and Beverly some red wine. What a nice guy!

Beverly – Seared Scallop with Red Wine Reduction, Butter Couscous , Peas and Corn – She uses ice shards to help the cooking process. Smart. Gail is impressed by the sear on the scallop, but the sauce is heavy. Padma said that many have failed to make couscous right, she managed to pull it off.

Qui-Gon – Brown Butter Poached King Crab and Mango Chutney – Gail loved the mango/crab combination, but the mango was a bit frozen. Jon found it do be exceptional.

Sarah – Pea and Spinach Soup with Turmeric, Almonds and King Crab. Tom said the flavor was very good, especially the spinach. Gail thought there was too much almond flavor.

Qui-Gon gets the easy win and the second slot in the Final Three. And the cash. This sets up the payoff to the weeks-long editing drama – Sarah vs. Beverly for the final slot.

Challenge: Event #3: Culinary Biathlon – Ski and Shoot, Create a Dish with Ingredients Won – That’s right, skiing and shooting in a cooking challenge. They have to cross country ski for no reason, other than it’s the first part of the biathalon challenge. Awesomely, the two chefs competing may actually be the two most ill-equipped phyiscally to do the challenge. Both really struggle – and fall. Often. Bev does much better and has a head start on Sarah as they reach the shooting part.

This wasn’t too bad – they got 10 bullets to hit the markers for each ingredient. If they wanted one, they hd to shoot it. Bev has never shot a gun, but nails the Arctic Char on the first shot. She later struggles a bit, but manages to hit four times, including fennel with her last shot, something sarah wanted. The Texas girl missed her first four shots, bevure nailing four of her last six.

Beverly – Arctic Char with Onion and Beet Compote, Celery Root Truffle Puree and Fennel Salad – She slow roasted the fish, another risky Bev move. Tom said the celery root in the sauce turned out to be a great idea, and he was skeptical. Gail liked the fish flavor combo.

Sarah – Braised Rabbit Leg and Heart, Cherries, Cabbage Puree and Hazelnut Sauce – Tom said that making her own sauerkraut was risky. But guest judge Cammi Granato – Olympic hockey champ – sad the flavor was there and she wanted another bite. Gail thought the rabbit was a bit tough.

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