Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Top Chef D.C. checks two contenders out,tastes are tested at Hell's Kitchen and a quick look at the Emmy nominations

It was a high stakes Quickfire challenge on Top Chef last night,as both Judge Tom and Padma each picked a winner,who would receive ten grand as their prize.

The challenge was to make an adult appropriate dish and it's baby food equivalent(Tom and Padma have new additions to their families,which explains the why of this). Tom chose Tamesha's salmon with vegetable chowder as his favorite,due partly to her use of licorice oil in both food formats.

Padma went with Kenny,for his curried chicken with mango salad and butternut squash. Awarding each of them the cash prize meant that there was no immunity for the Elimination challenge,which was to compete in teams of two in a tournament style contest-breakfast,lunch and dinner.

The winning team would have their dish added to the menu of the Hilton hotel chain and two people would be sent home. Yep,a double elimination,folks-double the drama!

In addition to a rep from the Hilton and organic chef Nora Pouillon(guess Judge Gail had a prior commitment for this episode),a trio of former TC contestants joined the eating selection commitee,Mikey Isabella,Spike and Brian Voltaggio.

When it came to the breakfast portion,amongst the winners were Tiffany and Tim,for their Creole crab cake eggs Benedict with bacon hash and asparagus. Not my idea of a great start to the morning but it paid off for these two very well.

Alex and Ed got off to a bad beginning with breakfast;they didn't get all of their food on the plates,including a mini pancake. However,lunch redeemed them and they were in the winners' circle with their sea scallops with ricotta gnudi and broccoli rabe. From what I could see,gnudi is a type of cheesy mini dumpling that goes well with fish,odd for cheese to do that.

By the dinner round,tensions were at an all-time high and I couldn't believe how mad most of the remaining chefs were at having to go the distance here. Geez,guys,maybe it would help if you truly thought of this as a challenge and not as an affront to your culinary egos,seriously.

It was a battle of the short ribs,with Kenny and Kevin's coming up short on the jus(sophisticated gravy,in my opinion)and an uneven blending of horseradish in the tempura. I think their main problem was that they over thought the dish;both of them kept constantly re-tasting and remixing the sauce until it wasn't enough of a glaze to truly compliment the meat.

Kelly and Andrea won,for their braised short ribs with plenty of jus and polenta with shittake mushrooms. In addition to their dinner item making the Hilton menu,each of them got their choice of vacations to either Spain or Italy,courtesy of the good folks at Hilton. Talk about your cherry on top of the victory sundae there!

Heading home with packed knives were Arnold and Lynne,for their pineapple red curry mussels with black squid ink pasta. Not only is squid ink pasta a hard sell to hotel clientele,it was undercooked to boot.

Arnold tried to act surprised about how the pasta turned out but he and Lynne did exchange words about that during cooking(he wanted to get it done right away,she wanted to wait until the last possible minute). Oh,well,guess what's done is done or in this case,under done.

Next time,the chefs have to get over their crabbiness as they are handed live blue crabs for their Quickfire challenge. At least they have something to legitimately take their stress out on this time.

This season of Hell's Kitchen has been shown in double doses,with what I suspect is the need to finish things up before the start of Ramsay's new summer series,Master Chef,which is set to start on July 27 in the same time slot.

The crew of hopefuls here are a rather motley bunch,with not a lot of clear front runners at this point. Holli seems to be emerging and Jay has some skills,but not everyone has a decent palate. This week,we had the blind taste test challenge and sure enough,most of the chefs hit sour and strange notes(how could you confuse coconut with potato,honestly?).

The first bad sign that this challenge wouldn't go well was when Ramsey served them up a frozen dinner that none of them could tell the difference from freshly made dishes. *Sigh* you really have to feel for poor Gordon at this point,dealing with such a pack of pitiful palate players:

The nominations for the 2010 Emmy Awards were announced today,with Mad Men garnering several of them,including Best Drama and a double nom in the Best Supporting Actress category(Elizabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks are duking it out there).

True Blood is also up for Drama but no Acting or Writing shots at the trophy for them(not cool,Mr. Sun!). Glee has 19 nominations,which should make their fan base jump for joy and beating that set of happy feet out for the most noms is the HBO miniseries,The Pacific.

Kathy Griffin is once again up for the "Schemmies" for My Life on the D-List,instead of being included in the Special Guest Star category for her stint on Law and Order:SVU. Hopefully,she won't take that too badly and with any luck,she and Betty White might make an appearance together at the prime time Emmys,since Betty is up for an award from her SNL hosting stint this year. The two of those ladies teaming up on live TV would make for some mighty interesting viewing,I dare say:


PILLARS OF THE EARTH: Appearing on the Starz channel later this month is an eight part mini series based on Ken Folliet's renowned historical novel about the power struggles involved in building a cathedral in a small English town. With the likes of Donald Sutherland,Rufus Sewell and Matthew Macfadyen in the cast,this should be a great show to watch regardless of whether or not you read the book:

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