What’s up from Portland, Oregon where I’m visiting Q! The weather has been crap but sunny as of late and life as a vegan here is wondrous! Just about every restaurant has an incredible array of drinks and entrees (not a selection of 2 side dishes, full-on, non-soy, meals) that have left me satiated and pretty portly. MF fo to drink another one of these Random Order bloodies…
Or chow Miho which is a Japanese style pub (Izakaya) and has amazing, amazing little dishes like ginger garlic rice, eggplant and kim chee and stuff like spare ribs, meatballs and Firecracker Mussels (pictured below) for Q with seven different sakes and plenty o’ beers and booze DELICIOUS! (I ordered Momokawa cloudy Organic-Yum! I already have two bottles of this at home by the way but the distillery is located in Portland!)
I’m in heaven…and I need to work out.
Oh yeah Jenna saw White Tiff (Faison) at Staples! Her BBQ joint is opening in the old Cambridge One space on Boylston Street. Apparently she did a complete reno. Here’s a sneak peak.
And The Oldies (Gbg and Stripes) ran into TC Winner and The Girl and The Goat owner, Stephanie Izard in the South End. She was with the chef from Coppa shopping at Fromaggio!
Okay, right now I’m typing from the Jupiter Hotel (a renovated motel) that is just across the way from Doug Fir a restaurant/bar and concert venue where several bands play, including Wild Flag that features that chick from Sleater Kinney who is also on IFC’s Portlandia. Apparently they’re playing the Paradise in Boston on March 31st. I could try to get one of the few tickets being released at the box office for tomorrow’s nights show here but why bother since I can hear the bass from 40 feet away? Did I mention this room comes with earplugs? Nuff said.
When the episode begins, there are eleven chefs in the TC house, four chefs on the bubble, ten about to compete, and one thing very clear: Pads will be wearing an array of lively colored frocks that will make you question your TV’s brightness and contrast.
As the final group enters she stands in between Colicchio and…yeah…let’s just go there here and now and mash the man, new Top Chef Judge and former TC contestant:
Huge “Unibrow” Acheson.
Ellie surmised him pretty well last week. “Booo! You’re a troll! That’s what you are!” Troll proof? Here’s an article Unibrow “wrote” for Grub Street.
He may be an award winning, shit-eating grin-wearing chef but he’s no writer. Here’s my version of his attempt in case you don’t feel like boring yourself:
“I ate at a restaurant. It was good. It was awesome. It was cool. I am this many years old. I have a caterpillar across my brow. At first everyone wanted me to shave it, especially my agent. I said No way Jose because I’m a gigantic sweaty sphincter surrounded by tiny chunks of sweet corn and cilantro with essence of pork shoulder. Then I got two stylists who worked for a week to pluck my brow as much as they could while still leaving juuuuust enough of a unibrow to piss you off because that’s what I do. That’s. All. I. Do!”
Like last week, the chef’s intro themselves before they’re thrown into the fire. Upon hearing of James Beard Nominees, adorable chef Chaz Brown says he was nominated by his mom as one of her favorite sons. Awww cute!
Also, Chaz kept a photo of Pads in his locker in middle school. (Man, I need to date older guys.)
10 ingredients are on the table, chefs each have to decide what they want but there’s a cloche on the tray they can’t open until after they pick or, according to Pads, it “will ruin the surprise.”
Under the cloche?
A clock that says the amount of time they have to make the dish!
The clocks range from 20 to 40 to 60 minutes and the ingredients from ox tails and mushrooms to veal and risotto. Yipe. Chef Paul is from TX, owns three street food trucks and was featured on Bourdain's show!
Awesome, let’s call him Street Food! Kim Calichio needs a nickname.
We can’t have Calichio and Colicchio (right Colucci?) Lindsay dodges the chefs when they approach. She has 60 minutes to make veal with a bone in it. Unibrow tells chef Chaz that a lot of people went down cooking risotto on TC. Thanks, Dick!
They go in groups of three according to cooking times. First up, 20 minut- OHHHH I see, REWIND- I just figured this out- the table where the panel has been sitting is actually IN the TC Kitchen. Nice intimidation factor there, everyone can see you.
Then blood bath begins.
One private chef’s Spanish style Brussels sprouts weren’t cooked OR seasoned GONE! Old French is 51 and has more experience than anyone there but the dish didn’t do it, according to Colicchio. Unibrow likes him, Pads puts him on the bubble. Chef Berni- oh who cares, she’s GONE! Street Food’s trout puts him…-IN (Colicchio’s fave of the group.) Colicchio says Calichio is-GONE! (Nickname crisis avoided!)
Andrew from Austin blew it by adding fried spinach (fried spinach?) to his messy chanterelles (which are SUPAcheap in Portland by the way- Q’s husband Stew, the pickle pimp? www.moonbrine.com Made some incredible ones that a guy hand picked off the forest floor and sold in front of a vegan shack down the street. Yep, that’s how they roll here. In rich dirt that yields buckets of chanterelles.)
Chef Chaz was able to cook his risotto in 40 minutes but couldn’t get it on the plate-GONE! (Sigh.) Ashley used a pressure cooker (she could barely get the top on and off) and made a Filipino dish she learned from her husband’s grandmother called “kare kare.” Grandmom-In-Law will give her shit until the end of time cause she’s-GONE! Beverly Kim (Baby Face Bev) has a new husband, quite a revealing wedding dress (HA-Ooogah!)
and a newborn son. She usually carries around a piece of paper that says “I Can I Must I Will.”
Apparently this helped keep her boobs in her wedding dress all night. Nice job. Baby Face never made octopus before but whipped up a Korean dish called “Nakji Bokum.” She’s in!
Lindsey from West Palm is blonde and has a football player neck. (Just the facts, Jack.)
She helped Ashley get the pressure cooker open (pour cold water over it, interesting) and her dish doesn’t have a fancy name. It’s just braised veal with creamy polenta and carrots with a warm salad and that leaves Colicchio damn near speechless. He hearts it!
That means six on the bubble and two slots left!
Coke Mouth: “If they leave me in here long enough I’m gonna kill the other five chefs.” Whoa! I guess coke will do that. He laughs in Molly’s face about her cooking on a cruise ship. Literally! “Oh, a cruise ship? Ha ha ha..”
(I think we’ve found this season’s villain!) Finally Pads enters in her Technicolor dream dress.
Qualifying Challenge - Bubble Style!
Using any ingredients in the kitchen they have 45 minutes to make one dish that shows why they should be there (prolly best case scenario when you think about it.)
Grayson admits (To Camera) that when mother sat her down at fifteen and asked her what she wanted to do with her life she wanted to say “Are you kidding? I’m fifteen, I wanna drink!”
Turns out she started working in the kitchen at fifteen. When I was fifteen I wanted to be Prince’s pregnant back up singer and the first woman to give birth to a child wearing tiny high heeled boots.)
Coke Mouth wants to show the judges great food doesn’t just come from NYC (he lives in Kentucky) and doesn’t want to do seafood like everyone else. He never does what everyone else does. Translation: He was the first one to lick a frog to see if he could get high. While opening a glass bottle with a knife (dood couldn’t use the screw top?) he cuts himself and continues to cook while the medic tapes a glove to his wrist.
He says he will cook one handed. (Apparently he knows past TC finalist and constant druggie Angelo’s drug dealer.)
Coke Mouth made a “blend of Asian and Southern fare” sweet Asian custard topped with duck and bbq sauce with candied bacon. Sounds good. Cruise Ship Molly jumbo stuffed prawn with shrimp and pudding with watermelon. Janine (cooking for the second time) makes seared scallops with baby clams bacon and corn garnished with snap peas, watermelon and lime juice.
Grayson - creamy polenta with bacon wrapped shrimp and a port wine fig sauce. (Kinda yawny, Gray.) Old French did scallops two ways- seared and tartare with fennel. Andrew - mussels with sherry, charred corn panna cotta (huh?) and charred shrimp.
The Judges are hard as rocks. Unibrow wanted Janine’s watermelon incorporated more, BAM (Emeril) thinks it was simple and well executed. Pads asks Cruise Ship Molly if she thinks the dish would earn her a TC coat.
Molly: “I sure hope so!”
Colicchio: “Your shrimp’s overcooked.”
Note to self: Do not laugh in the TC Kitchen.
Colicchio asks Grayson about the bacon wrapped shrimp, her cheeks get red. Then he says he liked it. Trickster!
After deliberation that includes Unibrow saying Old French’s dish was “I didn’t think it was a clean bouncy tartare” (really this is what we have to look forward to, Uni?) and BAM who didn't like Andrew from Austin's choice of spice: “I can still taste it on the roof of my mouth.” (I don’t even want to think about what else is on that dirty, saliva-covered roof.)
Cruise Ship Molly and Old French-GONE!
Coke Mouth- IN! He told the panel he would not disappoint them and then he did a bump off the top of Colicchio’s bald head!
Andrew from Austin, Janine and Grayson are left. Andrew should have stopped at the mussels. GONE!
Janine didn’t want to be the last one left standing next to the person who received a TC jacket…but she is. Grayson is IN!
Well, Poolers that’s it! It looks like we’re all set to---HOLD UP, WAIT A MINUTE!
Femember that little blurb I posted about the Top Chef Last Chance Kitchen? Turns out Colicchio goes to the Stew Room to tell Janine and Andrew from Austin they have one, last, chance.
Here’s the episode that’s only online.
What this means is EVERY eliminated chef COULD come back! More bang for your buck, Poolers! (And guaranteed eyeballs for this web series- kudos Bravo. Ku-fuckin-dos.)
Here’s a quick play by play of the online jammy: (Spoiler Alert!) they had to make a pizza. Andrew from Austin didn’t use cheese, choosing a rustic Mediterranean with salsa verde and capers topped with grilled calamari and arugula. Janine went with Parmesan, fig, arugula and black garlic action.
The winner was…Andrew from Austin- represent TX! Poor Janine asked if there’s a last, last, last chance kitchen. (Let’s hope not cause that would be just dumb.)
So this is how it’s gonna work, Poolers! We’re gonna ADD Andrew from Austin to the list of 16 to win the whole thing since he’s a contender and could potentially be brought back if he beats every eliminated chef to make it and potentially win. (Andrew DID say he thinks it would be cooler to come back from the Last Chance Kitchen and win the whole thing.) UNLESS he loses next Wednesday.
So there are 17 chefs! They are (in no particular order):
Andrew from Austin
Coke Mouth (Edward Lee)
Baby Face Bev (Beverly Kim)
Street Food (Paul)
Big Buddha (Keith Rhodes)
Accessory Chef Chris
Accessory Chef Richie
Ty-Lor Good Of All Cooking
So you get two for twenty! Hit me with your picks and cheddar by next Wednesday BEFORE 8pm (I moved it up so I can send out an email with picks) and we’re on!
And in case you missed the ‘coming up’: this season on Top Chef: Imagine quick cuts of San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Patti LaBelle, Charlize Theron, some chef on oxygen, some chef cut again, several crying chefs, Big Buddha upset and everyone wearing cowboy hats! Join in the dramz, won’t you?