Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

TC Masters stir up a salute,The Next Food Network Star and a last dance on Game of Thrones

The Final Four contenders assembled on Top Chef Masters to see what their last Quickfire challenge would be and boy,was it a doozy. A dividing wall was set up at each cooking station and the chefs had to wear blindfolds in order not to see their mystery partner,who they had to instruct verbally to make a dish identical to their own.

Their mystery partners turned out to be family members;Floyd had his sister as did Mary Sue,Naomi was teamed with her dad(who she unwittingly yelled at quite a bit but apparently he's used to it)and Traci worked with her brother Mitch.

She and Mitch made halibut with asparagus in a brown butter balsamic vinaigrette that were practically twin dishes of delight,which won the challenge for her charity yet again.

We are family was the big theme this week,as their next to last Elimination challenge offered the chefs a knife pull to see which branch of the military they would be cooking for.

Each chef had to make a buffet style dinner for their service man returning from active duty,along with their family and friends. It was nearly four hundred people in total and with no additional help,this was a lot of work for the chefs. However,they felt it was more than worth to honor the men and women in service to our country.

A member of each family met with one of the Final Four to give them a heads up on what favorite foods would ideal for the menu. The judges joined in with the families to sample each meal and at the end of the dinner,Curtis Stone announced that all of the folks there would be getting passes to Universal Studios Theme Park,very nice!

Floyd had an Army man to cook for,who wasn't a fan of the spices that he loves to add to his food which made the challenge extra tricky for Floyd. However,he did slip in a little kick with a tamarind margarita and pomegranate seeds in the spinach salad. His beef tenderloin pleased most of the diner's palates but his meal seemed to be a tad restrained,according to the judges.

He was really hoping for a win here,since he hasn't had many during this competition. After the meal,the service man whom Floyd cooked for came up to him to give him a personal thanks via a special coin. That gesture made Floyd feel that he had won a bigger victory that day.

Mary Sue was the official winner,with her tomatillo barbecue ribs and avocado corn relish. Her Marine officer emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala and even took his citizenship vows while stationed in Afghanistan.

Since this was a family who loved spices,she served up with style and a sweet disposition. The apple and cream cheese bread pudding she made for dessert was a big hit as well.

Traci's Navy man was a meatloaf fan,something that she is certainly not into at all. While the folks eating her version of it liked the fact that it wasn't coated in ketchup,James Oselund found it to be rather salty.

Personally,I prefer some sauce on my meatloaf(tomato is my one and only choice)and what Traci served up looked too dry for my taste. The overall plate appeared to be pretty basic in general to the judges,who wanted Traci to season the food with a touch of her style.

Sent off to pack her knives,Naomi did please her Air Force folk with Hawaiian food similar to what they're used to eating at home. However,as much as her ahi tuna poke and barbecued pork was appreciated,the rice salad felt out of place and some of the shrimp was undercooked.

The judges admitted that they had to split hairs at this point in the competition and Naomi's charity has won some money there,so it's all good. Next week is the finale and the heat is on in more ways than one. My best guess for the win here is Mary Sue but don't count Floyd out just yet. You never know when an underdog is ready to make his comeback.

A whole lot of shaking and slaughtering was going on during the latest episode of Game of Thrones,as Ned's plans to put a true king on the Iron Throne went horribly wrong.

His kids had to face the music right along with him,as Sansa was put on the spot to side with the Lannisters,Robb chose to mount an army and Jon Snow was distracted from his distress over the situation by encountering a couple of White Walkers.

At least one Stark was able to flee capture at King's Landing,thanks to the vigilance of her "dancing master",Syrio Forel. Ned did one thing right at least,in choosing such a man to train his tomboy daughter in the art of combat. A man who can take on a dozen armed men with only a wooden sword and still make one hell of a stand is someone to treat with respect and then some. As long as Arya remembers what to say to the god of death,she'll be alright:

The new season of The Next Food Network Star began and it turns out that Nora Dunn from Saturday Night Live is not one of the contestants. You have to admit tho,that Mary Beth certainly resembles her enough to be mistaken for her little sister or doppelganger.

After an initial first challenge where the contenders had to showcase their show concept with a breakfast dish,everyone was sent to an outdoor market to film promos. It was a team challenge,with only four takes allowed to each group and if one person messed up,the filming stopped and had to start all over again.

That did cause a few feathers to ruffle but the real tension came from the second half of that challenge,which was to cook a four course tasting menu. The team that laid on the chopping block consisted of Howie,Vic and Jyll(yes,that is how she spells her name-why,I don't know). Vic had plating issues in both rounds,the second time not really being his fault due to a mishap in the kitchen.

Jyll's cooking time was compromised by Howie,who had bragged about his "novice" status early on to the judges. Howie basically treated Jyll like his sous chef and to be fair,she kept giving in there and put her own plate in jeopardy. She tried to talk to him about it later but his whole attitude was "too bad for you!"

Well, that came back to bite him as the gnocci Howie made was a sticky mess that sent him home. It's a little too soon to pick favorites but Orchid made a nice impression on me and Penny the complete opposite. Let's see how they fare next week against judges such as Anne Burrell and Scot Conant:


ROCCO'S DINNER PARTY:Debuting after the Top Chef Masters finale next week is a new cooking competition series,where chefs get to cook for Rocco DiSpirito and friends. The prize is twenty five grand,so let the battle begin!:

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