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Top Chef: Seattle – Episode 4 – So Much Salt In My Mouth

Nothing against this episode – but it was pretty dull. I mean, that Elimination Challenge was creative. I liked the concept of putting the chefs in the position of cooking meals they served at Arnold’s. No Fonz though. But in execution…well, not so much.

I can say that the Tesar Show is going to get very tiring. We pick up this episode with the Stew Room argument between Tesar, CJ and OTV. It is nasty. Tesar uses a heinous insult against OTV – he compares him to a blogger. Hey now! That’s a low blow – not only to OTV, but well, to me! He also insults the entire state of Oklahoma. Tesar claims to hate being called the Most Hated Chef in Dallas, but boy, he sure brings it up a lot. The man is just irritating from his attitude to those damn glasses on his friggin’ forehead. He’s also very talented and is likely going to be with us for a long, long time.

I also need to make a correction to my column from last week. I was wrong – there is a Last Chance Kitchen again this season. They just delayed starting it for a couple of weeks. However, it is even worse than last year. The winner of the LCK not only returns to the competition, but does so for the Finals. The Finals!!! Even Survivor didn’t go that far with Redemption Island. How fair is that to the chefs who actually cooked well enough all season long to NOT get eliminated? Top Chef not only bulked up LCK, they also added Save a Chef – where fans vote each week among the defeated chefs. The one with the most fan support competes in the last LCK challenge. So, the Last Chance Kitchen is really the Second To Last Chance Kitchen.

Bad ideas, Top Chef. There is a reason Survivor ditched the idea after two seasons. Just watch the backlash that would happen should a chef who got ousted from the show, then LOST the LCK challenge, managed to come back because enough Bravo viewers liked them, and then won the championship. Way to seriously diminish your brand, Top Chef.

But that’s not where we are right now. We are doing Quickfire Challenges with slabs of beef, and Elimination Challenges with retro menus. We are joined by Naomi Pomeroy – who we affectionately remember from Top Chef: Masters. And we call her Beast – because that’s her restaurant, and a super cool name to have.

Quickfire Challenge – Beast tells them to cut some meat off of a slab of beef hidden behind Curtain #2. For safety sake, only two at a time will hack away at this carcass. As Tesar said, beef is beef and steak is steak. Not really sure what that means, but it feels profound. And delicious. CJ is making tartare and is actually chomping away on pieces of raw meat as he finds his cut. Less delicious. Brooke and The Wiz want to avoid failure again – good plan. Lizzie is trying to use the pressure cooker and failing, and we are serving our meats.

Eliza – Grilled Flank Steak with Cherry Cognac Reduction, Asparagus, and Potato Cake – Padma found the pairing of asparagus and cherry to be interesting. And it doesn’t appear to be in a good way.

Tesar – Braised Oxtail, Potato Gnocchi and Roasted Vegetables and Celery – Beast said the meat was very tender.

OTV – Beef Shoulder Meatballs with Creamy Polenta and Pickled Shallots – Beast likes the acidity.

Papa Smurf – Kalbi Round Steak with Tomato Cardamom Broth and Fennel Salad – Beast wanted more cardamom, but it had good flavors.

Brooke – Grilled Hanger Steak with Smoked Onion Figs and Cauliflower Puree – Beast said this is a hard cut, and it was a bit too rare.

The Wiz – Hispanic Crudo with Charred Tomato Sauce and Cilantro Radish Slaw. – Padma is not pleased with prep method.

Kish – Top Sirloin Tartare with Mustard Sabayon and Carpaccio Salad – She grabbed the first piece she found so she could start cooking.

Micah – Oxtail Polenta with Truffled Romanesco Cauliflower – Beast complements the butchering.

Real Housewife – Sirloin Medallion Wrapped in Bacon, Asiago Risotto with Marsala Sauce – Beast likes the flavor and the sauce.

The Thumb – Braised Top Round Ravioli with Marjoram and Aged Parmesan – Beast likes the flavors.

CJ – Top Round Tartare, Raw Juniper and Kohlrabi – Padma found it to be very nice.

Camba – Grilled Hanger Steak with Brown Butter, Parsley and Radish Salad – No comments.

Lizzie – Braised Foreshank with Turnips and Dill – Beast noticed the pressure cooker issues.

The bottom trio is Lizzie, Eliza and The Wiz. Tough meat, bad pairing, and under-seasoning take care of it. On the top – CJ, Tesar and OTV…the battling trio. CJ’s got perfect knife cuts, Tesar gets praised sauce and OTV had a perfect meatball. However, Tesar’s early success continues and his immune again.

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