It's part one of the Season 6 finale, and there are only a few things on my mind at this point in the competition. First ï¿½ remember when Preeti said she became a chef because of 9/11? That was awesome.
Second ï¿½ knowing what we know now, that Top Chef snoopage sesh from yesterday has created nothing but more confusion for me. And the last thing I need is more Top Chef confusion.
Quickfire: Our final four ï¿½ Jen, Kevin, Bryan and Mike ï¿½ show up one by one on a railroad platform at what looks like Shining Time Station, hair all different and strangely rested-looking. They're in Napa. Kevin's beard has a Facebook page. A pretty train arrives. The transcendently beautifully preggos Padma emerges alongside Top Chef Masters finalist Michael Chiarello. Does anyone else feel as though Padma should always be trailed by a Crazy 88-style entourage every time she enters or exits any type of door or vestibule?
You know what? It's the second-to-last episode of this season. I'm just going to go ahead and get this out of my system:
God that feels good. What am I supposed to do when this season is over? Read books? I'm so angry already.
So the Quickfire is that the final four cheftestants have to cook dishes for Padma and Chia on board the Napa Valley Wine Train, using grapes as a thematic ingredient. Kevin gets motion sickness easily so he's not feeling so hot about the situation, at least until he hears that the prize is a brand-new Toyota Prius. Jen reveals that she drives a 2000 Chevy Cavalier, which endears me to her even more ï¿½ I'll race you down Broad in my '98 Civic with the cracked-ass back bumper, Jen!
Chia has kind words for all of the chefs and their dishes, even threatening to steal to Jen's chicken liver/clam/cabernet grape combo for his restaurant, but Mike ends up getting the keys to the whip with a "cous cous"-stuffed grape leaf (his "dishes" always have so "quotes" around the "ingredients") with a "scallop" "skewer." "Screw him, man," says Jen. GOOD FOR YOUUUU, Mike!
Elimination: Napa Valley's fall crush season is reason for celebration, and the foursome are told to cook two dishes apiece for a crowd of 150 rich people who wear denim shirts. One dish must be all-the-way vegetarian, while the other can feature a protein ï¿½ but ALL the ingredients, S&P excepted, come from within a 50-mile radius. This stirs up some trepidation in Mike, who's used to cooking with space food sourced from the Crab Nebula, but Kevin, Jen and Bryan all seem OK with it.
"There's definitely a sibling rivalry," Mike says of competing against Bryan. Really? While we're all rattling off long-established absolute truths here, I definitely spend way too much time thinking about this show and Gail Simmons is definitely extremely into me.
Jen puts out a chevre mousse for her veg entry and a delicious-sounding roundup of braised duck legs and confit duck breast for her meaty plate; Chiarello compliments the "duckiness" of her Sonoma duck (are chefs allowed to say stuff like that?), but there's apparently too much salt in her goat cheese jawn. Mike's veggie pistou with slow-poached eggs and turnip/foie/pear soup earn dubious feedback. (His food causes Chiarello to utter the phrase "finish in my mouth," which made me laugh because I am 12 years of age.) Kev's roasted root-veg dish (above) is a huge hit, as is Bryan's goat cheese ravioli, and it's a battle of the short ribs for their meat courses: B's comes fig-glazed and flavorful, while K's ropy ï¿½ sorry, "toothsome" ï¿½ presentation with polenta is slightly less well-received.
The judges have quibbles for each of the chefs, but when it comes time for elimination, it's our girl Jen who's sent packing. Not to sound like too much of a homer here, but I think this is a perfect example of how utterly stupid it is for the judges to claim that they view the chefs' efforts on an episode-by-episode basis. If that were really true, Mike would've been axed, only because the stringent locavore parameters of the Elimination threw him off his game a bit ï¿½ he stated himself that he missed his "tricks," and it showed in the mixed-bag reactions to his food. Jen's veg dish apparently had too much salt, but her duck was a smash across the board ï¿½ even though they tried to twist her on-the-fly decision to confit her duck breast instead of grill it (coals weren't hot) into a shortcoming.
Next week: FINALE. OK Top Chef fans ï¿½ who's taking this? My gut says Kevin, but based on my nosiness research, the logical pick here miiiightttt be Bryan. Let's hear what you have to say.
|Courtesy of the Almond Board of California|
You'll have to wash your hands before you make me lunch,
Everyone's favorite hunky Brit adventurer and host of Discovery's Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls, has teamed up with the Almond Board of California to bring you "Man vs. Hunger," a "survival snacking action plan."
Sadly, the recipes are not for lightly toasted grubs or snake kebabs. Bear has gone the mass appeal route, prescribing apple-almond oatmeal for breakfast and tuna crunched up with toasted sliced nuts for a mid-hike snack. He's even cooked up positively elegant almond-parmesan crisps that would be lovely on a bark serving platter at your next survival-themed dinner party.
Try the two-ingredient recipe for almond-parmesan crisps after the jump; visit almondboard.com for more of Bear's recipes.
|Photo courtesy Almond Board of California|
Almond Parmesan Crisps, courtesy Bear Grylls and the Almond Board of California
Makes 8 Crisps
1/2 cup high-quality, finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 400ï¿½F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or coatï¿½ it with baking spray. Stir together Parmesan and almonds in a smallï¿½ bowl. To make crackers, form 8 small piles of cheese and almonds onï¿½ the lined sheet pan, using your fingers. Flatten each pile to create anï¿½ even thickness. Bake about 6-7 minutes, until browned on theï¿½ edges. Remove and set aside to cool until crisp, about 10ï¿½ minutes. Serve immediately, or store between paper towels in anï¿½ airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yesterday, 10 Arts by Eric Ripert announced they'd be holding two big viewing events for the last two episodes of this season of Top Chef Las Vegas ï¿½ from 7 to 11 tonight, guests can partake in final-four cheftestant Jennifer Carroll's $35 three-course prix-fixe, with the episode unfolding on flat-screen TVs in both the restaurant and bar/lounge areas. (They're also selling "Bet on Jen" buttons, with proceeds benefitting Philabundance.) Next Wednesday, Dec. 9, when it's whittled down to the final three, 10 Arts will do a $65 dinner deal that includes an autographed menu from Carroll as well as a champagne toast.
So is this is two-part celebration a giant tell of Carroll's victory on the show's sixth season, a la the big-ass party Jose Garces threw at Distrito when he became an Iron Chef? It's tempting to say yes ï¿½ but first we gotta check on the other three cheftestants to see what their plans are. Meal Ticket just put in calls to the restaurants of fellow Top Chef finalists Kevin Gillespie, Michael Voltaggio and Bryan Voltaggio to see if they had any comparable events planned.
Woodfire Grill, Gillespie's restaurant in Atlanta, informed us, in an almost regrettable tone, that there was nothing Top Chef-related scheduled for this week or next. Pasadena, California's The Dining Room, where Michael Voltaggio is chef de cuisine, will be playing the show at their bar, but there are no official parties on the books for tonight or next Wednesday. Tonight's a normal night at Volt, Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant in Frederick, Maryland ï¿½ but next week, the city of Frederick is hosting an invitation-only bash at the restaurant for the final episode.
Last year, eventual winner Hosea Rosenberg held a viewing party at a bar in Boulder, Carla Hall held a viewing party in D.C. and Stefan Richter, who didn't have a restaurant at the time, watched from home. (Check out our recap our last season's finale.)
So there y'all have it. Draw your own conclusions, Top Chef fans!
|Photo | HughE Dillon, phillychitchat.com|
For those of you who were fixated on Desperate Housewives and/or that chintzy Eagles W last night and missed the news, we're about to ruin it for you: Philly's Jose Garces is now an Iron Chef, joining the "veritable pantheon" of Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Michael Symon atop those uber-dramatic raised platforms in Kitchen Stadium. Meal Ticket was in the place at Garces' Distrito last night for a viewing party that swept up the entire two-story restaurant in a tequila-fueled whirlwind of culinary revelry. Though we'd be lying if we said that the scale of the bash didn't serve as a giant tell of Garces' victory, there was still a hint of anticipation floating in the air as our dude's "ribs and racks"-centric battle against NYC pastry supervillain Jehangir Mehta began.
The chef and his family, joined by third-place contestant Seamus Mullen, watched the action unfold in Distrito's hidden karaoke room. As soon as the Iron Chef chairman dropped Garces' name, the place erupted, and it wasn't long before the champ materialized and began working his way through the crowd, high-fiving and hugging folks like he'd just won the World Cup on PKs. He eventually made his way upstairs, only to be pinned between the luchador wrestling mask wall and the bathrooms by a throng of photo snappers, hand shakers and shrieking well-wishers. Good on ya, Jose.
Food Network tells us that Garces' first battle on Iron Chef America will air on Jan. 17 ï¿½ it'll be Philly versus Seattle this time, as our dude will take on chef Rachel Yang of that city's Joule.
There's a spirited opinion thread popping off on our Nov. 16 post on the show. Now that Garces has sealed the deal, what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks to HughE Dillon of Philly Chit Chat for the nice shot of Garces above (see HughE's recap here). After the jump, a few non-pro shots of Garces getting mobbed, and the crowd in general. (You can check out live updates from last night by peeping our Twitter or searching the "#ironchefgarces" hash tag.)
|Photos | Drew Lazor|
|Courtesy of Food Network|
After the jump, Erin Mae Szrankowski touches base with Food Network personality Guy Fieri to talk about his Guy Fieri Road Show appearance at the Merriam Theater this Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m.
So how did the idea for this traveling Road Tour originate?
As a chef, one of the greatest things to come out of my restaurant back in California was [doing] demonstrations. I would do these demonstrations and everyone would get a kick out of them, because I like to entertain, I like to laugh, all that. When I got on Food Network, I was there and doing my gig, again. But itï¿½s at such a higher level, with all the other Food Network stars doing TV promotions or big presentations and so forth. I really preferred the style of rock 'n' roll, music and so on.
I was South Beach and I was doing a big demo at the South Beach Food and Wine event ï¿½ everybody having a good time, everybody was getting wild. Bringing out the margarita machine, with everyone getting a little wilder. Rachael Ray comes on as I leave the stage. As Iï¿½m walking off, my agent from L.A. said, "What was that?" I thought I was in trouble, but she said, "Can you do that again?" I said, "Do that again? I could do that times 10." She said, "If you could do that again times 10, Iï¿½ll get you a national tour."
So the idea behind the show is everything food. Food and people, food and entertainment, food and laughter, food and music, food and Q&A, food and knowledge, food and tasting. Itï¿½s all done with the background of music going on, the rock 'n' roll being played from my big DJ. Thatï¿½s the energy of it ï¿½ letï¿½s rock 'n' roll. Letï¿½s have a good time.
There seems to be a huge music and cooking connection here. Are there certain genres of music, bands or songs that put you in the mood to cook or eat certain things?
Absolutely. One of my favorite songs is Motley Crue's ï¿½Kick Start My Heart.ï¿½ A lot of the time, I'll go into the kitchen, start getting ready, getting knives and cutting boards out. Then we'll fire the song up [surprisingly good guitar impression]. When Iï¿½m doing Southern food, itï¿½s things like Lynyrd Skynyrd. When Iï¿½m doing barbecue and I'm outdoors, it's Sammy Hagar. When I have a bunch of buddies over and weï¿½re rocking out, itï¿½s Metallica. Different food for different times ... it all depends on the energy level and depending on the punky level, how weï¿½re feeling. I got a big digital jukebox that has all of my songs ï¿½ 200,000 songs and a touch screen. And we just rock the noise.ï¿½ Itï¿½s awesome. Everyone comes over sits on the counter, watches whatï¿½s going on and hangs out.
What's up with the bartender at your show?
Yeah, we have a flair bartender named Woody who's coming all the way from Australia. Everything that I do is done at the next level. So when I found this Australian flair bartender that does this wild activity, I figured why not bring him on the tour? He has a knack of throwing cocktails way, way, way into the air and catching them, stacking martini glasses and all kinds of other wild behavior. The guy is so out of control. The only thing we have to watch out for is that he doesnï¿½t destroy the stage so I can come on there later.
How did you decide Philly was going to be a stop on your tour?
My stop in Philly is going to be gangster. One, I love Philly. Two, Philly is a great food spot. Three, people in Philly get food ï¿½ they really like and appreciate food. There are a lot of reasons why Philly was picked.
At every stop on your tour, you have a local chef prepare a dish for the audience.ï¿½ I heard that Tony Luke Jr. will be the special guest on Wednesday.
I picked Tony Luke to be the opener because I want to have a local guy who has a really good personality, really good energy. And you know Tony Luke Jr. ï¿½ come on, everyone in Philly knows Tony. So, heï¿½s gonna come and make a cheesesteak after me, called the Guy Fieri Philly Cheesesteak. Iï¿½m dying to eat it.
What kinds of stuff will you be addressing in the "lecture" part of the show?
Itï¿½s all incorporated ï¿½ [not like], "This is the lecture part and this is the cooking part." It all goes together and a lot of it has to do with how the audience gets involved. Everything from stories on the road to stories, people asking their own questions, you name it. There is no way to tell ... there will not be the same show twice.
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
I want them to tailgate before they come. I want them to bring the party to the party. Weï¿½re gonna bring out these gigantic 6-foot, 25-gallon margarita machines. We are going to have a party. Bring it, come have fun, enjoy it.
|Courtesy of Food Network|
Not to jinx our dude or anything, but if you caught last night's penultimate episode of The Next Iron Chef on Food Network, you'll agree with us that Jose Garces looks pretty good to win the title of Iron Chef over New York-based pastry supervillain chef Jehangir Mehta. (Sorry we haven't been following the series with the same vim as Top Chef ï¿½ there are only so many two of us!) We have to admit that Garces, ever the master of downplaying himself, spoke with the slight lilt of a champion when we talked to him back in September, and now we've learned that he's throwing a restaurant-wide viewing party at Distrito for the finale airing this Sunday. Interesting.
More on the Garces/Mehta matchup soon.
|Photo | Drew Lazor|
Stink Fisher, who owns Collingswood's The Pop Shop with wife Connie, is also an actor, and he's appeared in everything from The Sopranos and Tony Luke's The Nail to football flicks like Invincible and The Longest Yard. Sharp-eyed Jen A. Miller caught our dude last night on 30 Rock. He was one of the talking heads on Sports Shouting, an Around the Horn-style show that always beats TGS in ratings, much to Liz Lemon's chagrin. Check out extremely low-tech screenshot above (that's Stink on the top right).
If you mention 30 Rock at The Pop Shop today, you'll get a free soda or iced tea.
Connie tells Meal Ticket that her hubby has quite a few projects coming up, including an appearance on the new USA show White Collar and a part in Peter Jackson's locally shot The Lovely Bones.
Welcome back, Top Chef! I was getting tired of watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion show (parts one and two) On Demand over and over while I waited out your return.
Quickfire: There are more than 67,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas, but there's only one that features the transcendently beautiful Padma and her wingwoman Nigella Lawson wearing bathrobes and lounging in bed like two oversexed debutantes just back from an Upper East Side sex toy party. They direct the remaining six ï¿½ Kevin, Mike, Bryan, Eli, Jen C and Robin ï¿½ to a kitchen "deep in the catacombs" of the Venetian and tell them they need to whip up and then deliver a breakfast-in-bed dish in 30 minutes.
Jen, whose 10 Arts is in the Ritz-Carlton here in PHL, is wholly comfortable with room service, so she rocks out shit on a shingle. Nigella makes a face. Eli does a reuben-inspired eggs benedict with 1000 Island hollandaise, which sounds like it would kill you in the tastiest way possible. Mike does some Cuban shit and acts real serious about it. Robin does wack blintzes, Kev puts together a delicious-sounding coffee-dusted steak and eggs plate and Bryan does something with egg and crab that also elicits Nigellaface. Eli takes it home, earning a page in the Top Chef Quickfire cookbook. Nigella says the tang of his sauerkraut "slapped the jet lag out of me," which, disappointingly enough, was probably the most sexual comment the notoriously randy British TV cook dropped on this episode. So for the Elimination, the chefs had to ... wait, what's that, Nigella?
Yes, I would love some cherries, thank you. So this week's Elimination challenge involved the cheftestants heading to the ... wait, I'm sorry?
Pasta? Why not? I really appreciate you feeding me and all, Nigella, but I have to get back to
Dessert already? How'd you eat that pasta so fast? You're too kind. But seriously, we're getting off topic. The Elimination had ...
Christ, who invited you, Giada? You're getting tomato everywhere. Sorry, I meant POMODOROOOOO. NOW CLEAN IT UP.
Elimination: Each of the cheftestants draws a random Vegas casino from which to cull inspiration for a dish to serve 175 guests. Jen C visits the Excalibur, where she meals out on a Cornish game hen at the Tournament of Kings and watches wizards and knights doing medieval magical shit; she goes with a NY strip dish meant to ape the sword in the stone. Bryan gets Manadalay Bay and decides on a sustainable seafood dish. Robin's inspired by the vibrant, colorful Chihuly sculpture on the ceiling of the Bellagio, so she does a ... panna cotta. Kevin's sockeye salmon dish comes to him after a visit to the Mirage. Eli gets Circus Circus and makes the troubling decision to put peanut, caramel apple and raspberry frothy elements into a soup. Mike, who draws New York New York, does a slightly trippy buffalo wing-inspired plate. "Firefighters, it's something they eat," he explains of his thematic inspiration. There's probably some truth to that, but I would've just gone with the fact that Buffalo is located in New York.
At the top: Kevin, who's praised for the tomato broth element on his plate; and the Voltaggio bros, who seem to be fostering more and more unspoken disdain for each other as we get closer to the finale. Toby calls Mike's food "effeminate," to which the chef replies that he's a "strong believer in putting your personality on your plate." Haha, you just said you're a girl. She He wins, though, taking home a big-ass bottle of wine and probably an off-camera reacharound from Nigella, since she's so
Oh, you're still here? If that's the case, then yes, I would like a Bellini.
At the bottom: Jen C, who Tom criticizes for her apparent "lack of knowledge of medieval cooking" (you tend to stay away from the Ren Faire, huh Jen? GOOD); Eli, whose Barnum and Bailey soup was deemed a textural failure; and Robin, whose panna cotta, according to Nigella, lacked "the quiver of a 17th-century courtesan's thigh," which is apparently an imperative on the bizarre sex planet Nigella lives on. Robin also screwed up the hardened sugar meant to represent the Chihuly glass, so she's sent home. Seems about right.
Next week: Thomas Keller and Mike dissing the shit out of Kevin.
- barstool scientist
- Brew Revue
- Chef Salad
- Dirty Dishes
- Don't Front
- Eat This Immediately
- Field Trip
- Food and Art
- Food and Holidays
- Food and Movies
- Food and Music
- Food and Politics
- Food and Sports
- Food and Web
- Food Blogs
- Food Books
- Food Events
- Food News
- Food TV
- Happy Hour Hopper
- In Print
- Meal Ticket
- Menu Time
- Not So Quickfire
- Notes from the Weekend
- On Wheels
- Patio Drinking
- Philly Beer Week 2010
- Private Chef POV
- Product Placement
- Snack Time
- Stiff Drank
- Ticket Stubs
- Top Chef
- Weekly Candy
- Weird Regional Foods
- We're Here to Help
- Where'd We Eat?
- Drew Lazor's Ill-Advised Rant Factory
- Ill-Advised Ranting
- The Week Without Meat
- Philly Beer Week 2009
- Real Big
- Where'd I Eat Last Night?
- Top Chef Masters
- The Good Word
- Next Iron Chef
- Arterial Terrorism
- Food and Radio