Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Chef ups the ante,TAR teams need elbow room and is Sylar back in action?

It was down to the Top Five on Top Chef and the stakes got even higher with this last round before the Finale. Padma and guest judge Gavin Kaysen had the chefs make for the Quickfire their own version of the dish that Gavin entered in the Bocuse d'Or(it's a culinary Olympics)which was a protein within a protein within a protein,or as Jen called it,turducken.

Jen didn't make a turducken but her calamari steak with scallops and salmon gave her a QF win that she badly needed. She also received an extra thirty minutes of cooking time for the Elimination challenge

For the Elimination,the chefs had to hold a mini version of the Bocuse d'Or. They each had to create a presentation platter featuring one protein(either salmon or lamb)and two garnishes,all of which required a strong showing of technique. A number of influential people in the cooking world would be at the dinner,along with the usual judges,and that included highly respected chef Thomas Keller.

The Brothers Voltaggio had a mixed showing here,with Byran's parsley crusted lamb not being cooked enough. His garnishes of crepinette with lamb shank and orzo pasta with sheep's milk gratin were stylish enough but over all,everyone agreed that he needed more time to pull the whole thing off.

Michael claimed that his salmon platter had "Mediterranean influence" but none of the judges could taste that anywhere in his dishes,especially when one of them had cauliflower in it. Also,one of the dinner guests found a bone in his fish,not of the good there,buddy! Both his offering and Byran's were good enough to take them to the finals,but they both need to step up their A-game.

Jen will be joining them,despite the fact that her salmon portions were uneven in cut and cooking results(several of the judges wound up with undercooked fish). Her other dishes like the shrimp flan turned out great,so she made it in but I hope Jen doesn't ultimately crash and burn here. She's a good chef when she mellows out and puts her mind to it.

Last but definitely not least to make the Final Four was Kevin,who was declared the winner of this challenge. He received 30 grand as a reward,plus the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or-nice! His lamb confit may have appeared simple to some(*cough*Michael V*cough)but it was well executed along with his sherry glazed beets and baked asparagus on the side. Kudos to Byran for giving Kevin some tips about sous viding the meat(something Kevin doesn't regularly do). Good sportsmanship is always appreciated.

Packing up his knives to go was Eli,whose lamb sausage had huge chunks of cold uncooked fat in it,yuck! No one at the table could eat it,which was a shame since the truffle sauce looked very inviting. Personally,I'm glad he's gone. Eli always struck me as rather obnoxious at times and not as great of a chef as he claimed to be(that peanut soup from last week spoke volumes about that).

So,the finale will soon be under way and I'm rooting for Kevin to win. He's been the most consistent chef this season in terms of style and execution,plus a really nice guy to boot. Between the Brothers Voltaggio,I would have to favor Byran over Michael-Byran is a much nicer guy and seems to have more of a genuine love for food than Michael,whose overbearing nature is a real appetite killer.

Jen's a good contender but her output has been very uneven the last few rounds. She needs to not let her emotions get the best of her as things heat up and she could have a real shot at the win here. I do wish that this season had a Thanksgiving episode;some folks may hate those holiday themes but they can be a lot of fun:

On Heroes last week,it looked as if Matt had defeated the Sylar ghost in his mind by committing suicide by cop but wouldn't you know it,Peter showed up at his hospital bedside and used his newly acquired healing powers to bring him back from the brink of the beyond.

Fake Nathan was along for the ride,giving Spirit Sylar a chance to reconnect with his body. The touch off was very brief,but soon enough our favorite foe may be fully back in action,folks:

Next week,Heroes will be having a Thanksgiving episode and while Sylar may not be on the Bennet family guest list,there will be a couple of unexpected new faces at the table and plenty of tension to season the turkey with:

As the competition narrows down on The Amazing Race,the interaction between some of the teams is getting rougher and rougher. During the last leg,Sam and Dan were determined to outrun the Globetrotters to the Pit stop and some nasty elbowing was unleashed upon Flight Time there. Not cool,fellas,not cool at all!

Also not smart,since Big Easy was this close to punching either one of them out. I'm sorry to see Matt and Gary go,they seem to have a real solid bond between them. Brian and Erika are a good team as well and I can do without Meghan and Cheyne. Sam and Dan need to check themselves,however,or all that energy focused towards beating the Globetrotters(and other teams as well) may bite them back in the end:


V: There's only one more episode to go before the show shuts down for the winter and I hope it's a real doozy. So far,the intrigue level has been subtly peaked but in order to keep the buzz going until it returns in March of 2010,V needs to toss us a nice juicy grenade of revelation before it leaves.

They've set off some tasty firecrackers this week,such as the connection between Anna and Lisa(who has plans for Erica's son Tyler that she really won't like) but a major emotional explosion will have sci-fi fans talking for weeks on end and setting up countdown clocks for next season,trust me on this:

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