Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kim is our new Design Star,Kitchen Nightmares begin and Top Chef's Final Five get french fried

This round of Top Chef may have taken place in Manhattan but the cusine was all about France,as the Quickfire Challenge took the Final Five to Le Cirque. Padma and special guest judge Sirio Maccioni(the owner of Le Cirque) served the chefs a VIP menu item,halibut wrapped in russet potato slices,which they were,one by one, to recreate in the restaurant's kitchen with a twenty minute time limit.

Hung went first and his dish was deemed the best. He didn't win himself any pal points with the other chefs however-right after he served his plate to Padma and Sirio,he went back to the others and was all cagey about how he prepared it. Sara was so intimidated by being in the Le Cirque kitchen that she screwed up her plate big time and her fish was raw in the center. Poor Sara! Just as I was starting to really warm up to her,she falls into a bad patch.

As his QF reward,Hung was given an extra half hour to cook and to serve his dish for the Elimination challenge first. The chefs had to prepare a meal for the instructors of the French Culinary Institute(one of whom was the current head of the school,Dorothy Hamilton) using these three basic ingredients: chicken,potato and onion. They were given an hour to shop and two hours to cook(except for Hung,of course). Alot of the chefs used ramps as their onion portion and judging from reactions of the guest judges,it was pretty tasty. See,that's what I love about this show,it gives me a reason to find out more about foods that I didn't even know existed.

Hung's butter poached chicken went over like gangbusters,but his pommes dauphin was found to not be as light and airy as it should. That didn't affect him too badly at the Judges' Table but Hung blamed his potato misfire on the fact that "I had to plate all by myself"-yeah,because they were still in the middle of cooking their food,Mr. "I Had A Head Start"! So not cool there,Hung. Granted,he's not as nasty as some of the TC contestants from earlier seasons but he doesn't have to be so much of a tool. Hung's elitism is revolting as well-you could start a drinking game by counting the number of times he says"classic",I swear!

Casey came in second,with her grandmother's recipe of coq au vin that Judge Tom kept pointing out really calls for a rooster to be used as the protein,not chicken. He was right,since it's one of those dishes that's meant to make tough meat tender. It did taste good enough to overlook that,lucky for her. Brian's "peasant pie" looked gross with that ramp puree turning it into something suited for a cheesy St. Patrick's Day menu and the sausage he added to it overwhelmed the chicken(he did use dark meat,which is not always the most flavorful) but taste won out yet again. Dale made a chicken duet and forgot to add the honey sauce that would've pulled it all together.

Dale's dish put him up on the Chopping Block but Sara was the one who had to pack her knives and go. Her chicken fricasse wasn't seasoned enough and Judge Gail(glad to see her back again,it's been awhile!)found her meat to be raw in the middle. That's a big no-no with chicken. One of the first things I ever learned about cooking was to make sure that your chicken has no trace of pink in it when it's done.

So,the Final Four will be going to Aspen for the two part finale and I really don't know who to root for. Casey's competant when she wants to be,but she keeps harping on how a woman should win TC because it would be good for female chefs out there. I would rather be a winner because I have the best skills at the stove and not be a token girl cook. Speaking of skills,Hung needs to work on his people ones,seriously! A top chef should be able to work well with others. Dale is sweet but can flake out at times and Brian is like a box of chocolates;you never know what you're gonna get! Oh, well,good luck guys-you're going to need it!

Congratulations to Kim,the winner of HGTV's Design Star for 2007! Glad to see a deserving person who not only has the talent but some down to earth good naturedness as well,achieving their dream. Gives hope to plenty of folks still struggling with their goals out there. Her show on HGTV should be debuting some time in the Spring of '08 and I'll be keeping an eye out for it on my programming schedule. As for Todd,better luck next time,buddy!

Gordon Ramsey's new series,Kitchen Nightmares,hit the ground running in it's premiere episode that took place on Long Island. Just like his British version of this show,Ramsey goes out to restaurants that are facing hard times and gives a week of his time to set things right. The eating establishment that was the focus of this show is known as Peter's Restaurant,a family owned place that has little sister and owner Tina doing all of the grunt work while big brother Peter pranced around as the "manager". His managing skills consisted of showing off his fancy car and clothes,along with giving out free meals to his friends,yelling at the staff and demanding that someone bring him something to drink at the drop of a hat.

Gordon started off his evaluation by eating some of the regular dishes featured on the menu. Turns out to be a very good indicator of the state of things:

An Unappealing Appetizer

The Entree's Not Any Better

The biggest probelm in the place(besides the non functioning kitchen equipment and the horror show of a walk in fridge in the back)was Peter,who has some major anger management issues. He kept getting into screaming matches with impatient bill collectors(who kept showing up at the restaurant mainly because it was the best way to actually find him) and would take out his frustrations on the staff.

At one point,Peter got on the case of Nicole,one of the waitresses right in front of the customers for no real reason other than he was responsible for a table not getting their appetizers because he ate their food himself! Gordon really gave him a good reality check there:

For those out there who think that Ramsey's just a big bully,I insist that you watch this show atleast once. Yes,he does shout at folk but not because he wants to throw down for fun. The man truly cares about the restaurant business and wants others in the same profession to do well,which is why he holds any kitchen up to such high standards.

He also puts his money where his mouth is,by buying some brand new stoves for Peter's Restaurant and getting them installed overnight. By the end,Ramsey managed to not only turn business around for the restaurant,he even got Peter to get onboard with the program and actually become a useful team player. This is one show that I will definately be watching every week. Small business owners should,too-alot of what Ramsey said and did could apply to anywhere that serves the public directly.

Random Notes:

America's Next Top Model: ANTM started it's ninth"cycle"(still don't get the whole cycle thing on this show)by having all of the girls audition on a cruise ship that was said to be going to the "Carribean" but actually went to Puerto Rico. Nothing against Puerto Rico but since it is part of the US,I'm not the only one who gets a different mental picture when someone says "the Carribean",I'm sure.

Tyra did a wacky showgirl dance and stunt casting went into full effect as we got the so-called "plus size" model(who looked as fat as Paris Hilton is poverty stricken),a gal with Asperger's syndrome and a hunched back,and of course,the resident bitch of the bunch,Ebony. I wish that some of the more interesting girls had been selected,like Jennifer who was blind in one eye or Marvita,a Grace Jones type. It would've been fun if Spontanouise had been chosen(yes,that's her real name!)-she sounded like a junior league version of one of those Flavor of Love ladies.

The 4400: Season Four ended with a bang,as poor Danny became a Promicin Mary,Jordan Collier narrowly escaped becoming one of the Marked(thanks to Isabelle's sacrifice)and Seattle turns into an occupied zone run by the Promicin Positives. I hope that we really haven't seen the last of Isabelle(hey,if Jordan could return from the dead,why not her?)and that next season will be just as good,especially with all of those NTAC folk developing those nifty new powers. I think,however,that Maia's wrong about Jordan being a good guy:

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