Thursday, May 06, 2010
TC Masters fight wedding wars,TAR's Final Three and Idol sings Sinatra
The championship rounds of Top Chef Masters started this week,with the eight chefs being divided into two teams for the Quickfire challenge. They were given tag team cooking which required them to make a complete dish one at a time without any verbal communication and to be blindfolded until their turn was up.
The team that won was made up of Marcus Samuelsson,Carmen Gonzalez,Tony Mantuano and Susur Lee. Their pan seared sea bass with prosciutto had more flair than the mussel and scallop stew served by Rick Moonen,Jody Adams,Susan Feniger and Jonathan Waxman(who wanted to go first in the challenge,since he's a bit claustrophobic and the blindfold requirement made him nervous). The winning team was given ten grand to split up for their charities and an advantage for the Elimination challenge.
The challenge was to cook for a wedding due to take place the very next day,with the winning team getting to choose either the bride's side or the groom's to make food for. They went for the bride,whose preferences were French and Asian style of cuisine;her husband-to-be was more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy.
Each team also had to make a cake,which is expected at a wedding after all and granted,they had real short notice but Susan Feniger's Egyptian semolina cake with berries and cream was a frosted flop. Not only did the uncut cake looked like something straight out of a home-ec class from hell but when sliced ,the portions were as dry as a bone.
Luckily,Jody Adams saved the day by making the bride's favorite dessert,bananas foster,that went over like gangbusters. She also took a risk by offering up a rack of lamb plate that the bride initially vetoed early on but it won her and everyone else over. Jody and her team were declared the winners and moved on to the next round. As the stand out winner for this round,Jody received another fifteen grand for her charity,Partners in Health.
The dessert table for the groom had several offerings,including a raisin pudding with butterscotch, a croque-en-bouche(a french cake made up of small pastry balls that I think the bride would've liked more)and the carrot cake that the groom had requested. Susur Lee really threw himself into that but unfortunately that didn't make up for the mushy meat that Marcus Samuelsson made or the lack of main entrees from Carmen.
Carmen wound up going home,since her running of the kitchen only allowed her to make a crab cake appetizer and a couple of side dishes(corn salsa and baby spinach with garlic and lemon). That didn't seem like much of an effort to the Judges and not enough food to rate her skills by.
I do have to give credit to Marcus for speaking up for her at the Judges' Table,pointing out that she did keep everything in check and made sure her team mates were in sync. Good sportsmanship there,buddy,especially after that "every man for himself" attitude you had the last time. Carmen's other team mates rallied around her but someone had to pack up their knives and she went about that with her head held high.
Next week,the chefs get a nifty pop culture challenge as they are assigned to whip up gourmet dishes for characters from the Simpsons,which should make for a rather entertaining meal indeed.
The Final Three teams for the finale of The Amazing Race have been determined and we're left with Team Tiara(Brent and Caite),Team Cowboy(Jet and Cord)and Team Brother Act(Dan and Jordan),who barely managed to beat out Michael and Louie,the undercover cop buddies on this last leg in Shanghai.
Congrats to all of the teams,and while I am rooting for Jet and Cord to take the big money home,I do have some advice for Dan and Jordan. Guys,your supportive sibling relationship is to be commended but your tendency to put additional pressure on yourselves when it comes down to the wire could be your ultimate undoing.
Check yourselves before you wreck yourselves,fellas. Also, getting impatient with cab drivers who obviously don't speak the same language as you is only inviting bad karma to the party:
It was Frank Sinatra week on American Idol and guest mentor Harry Connick,Jr. really went out of his way to help the contestants do well here. He not only did the standard one-on-one with them but arranged all of their music and even performed with the band on stage during their numbers. Harry Connick has always stuck me as a nice guy but apparently his generosity towards struggling artists knows no bounds.
High expectations were set for Sinatra songs,but with one glaring exemption,most of the contenders did a good job with this material. Lee gave a stand out performance of "That's Life" and Crystal did a much better rendition of "Summer Wind" than the judges were willing to give her credit for(hello,it's supposed to be a slow song,that's why she sang it that way! Most of you are music industry professionals,so you should know what it means when someone does a crooner style of song there!).
My choice for best of the night was Big Mike,who truly delivered on "The Way You Looked Tonight." I really hope he makes it to the finals-nice guys ought to finish first every once in a while:
While I wasn't that sorry to see Aaron go home(he's a nice kid but still just a kid after all),it was surprising to see Casey not even make the Bottom Two for his horrible version of "Blue Skies." I'm on the fence at times with Casey;sometimes he can wow you with incredible vocals and others he either coasts on or crashes and burns.
Even tho the voters may have been fine with his performance, we at the LRG Music Committee are presenting him with a hefty sized Sanjaya award for singing this song with a vibrato as rickety as a shopping cart with three bad wheels. Painful beyond belief to hear this,I'm surprised that Sinatra didn't rise from his grave to punch Casey out:
THOSE SKIES LOOK OVERCAST TO ME
EVEN BING BELTED IT OUT BETTER(NO PUN INTENDED,I SWEAR!)
THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR: A new season of this competition series is coming back in June,with plenty of the big names on the channel adding some spice to the proceedings. This may not be Top Chef or even Hell's Kitchen(also stirring up another season to start in June)but it's a lot of fun for foodie folks,so set up some snacks and enjoy:
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