Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Top Chef gets a little fishy,Downton Abbey's latest debut and Rachel Vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-off contenders

Happy New Year,folks and welcome back to TV Thursday where a new Top Chef is front and center. Also front and center is John Besh,back again to set up another Quickfire Challenge.

The chefs were tasked to make a French dish known as "etoufee"(which means,as Padma pointed out, to smother) using craw fish.

Unfortunately for one of the contenders(Stephanie), she was allergic to shellfish so properly forming the flavors of her dish was an extra challenge. She did ask Nicholas to taste it for her and while I don't think he would deliberately sabotage her, his plate didn't please the judges too well either.

Most of the chefs did their own thing here,especially Carlos who claimed not to understand what "smother" meant(I am so not buying that) and that didn't work out for any of them.

Shirley,however, won immunity due to going traditional and making rice for her Singapore style of chili crab etoufee with a crawfish stock.

After a lovely dinner at John Besh's home,the chefs then prepared for their next Elimination challenge. They make to make enough food to serve 200 people at an event for the Louisiana Fish Council and use two different type of fish.

The most important element of this challenge was to showcase the flavor of each fish,something that some did much better than others.

Brian was called up to the Winner's Circle this time,partly due to the fact that he was one of the few that offered up a warm fish plate(a lot of people played it safe with the cold cerviche route).

His grilled swordfish with shrimp and onion puree really hit the sweet spot for many of the LFC guests and the judges. Brian has been doing really great things for the last couple of rounds and he may turn out to be a surprise lead as the race gets down to the wire.

Nina was right next to him,having wowed the judges with her pick of wahoo(a fish familiar to her from her homeland) and tonnato,the latter being made into a sauce that complimented the marinated main protein perfectly.

 She is definitely one of my best bets for making it to the finale and while I don't want to jinx Nina, it's hard to imagine how badly she'd have to screw up to get shipped off to Last Chance Kitchen at this point.

Yet it was Stephanie who won this round,making her inability to taste her fish less of a hindrance. Nice going there!

 Granted, it did take awhile for her to set up the fried oysters with tuna and pickled mushrooms but apparently it was worth the wait.

Stuck in the Bottom Three,Nicholas was still seething over Carlos,who tried to sandbag him in the last big challenge and bugged him during this one by pestering Nick for one of his knives.

Nick finally let him have it but was pissed to find that blade after service just lying on Carlos' station all dirty and coated in fish scales.

 Dude, when you borrow something like that, you should clean it up right away and return it promptly,you don't need to be a professional chef to know that! On the other hand, Nicholas needs to keep his head in the game as the foamy champagne with his onion leek soup was a total taste turn off and did nothing for the amberjack in his dish.

Carlos,meanwhile, did a poor job of slicing up the amberjack for his ceviche(even with Nick's knife) and the shrimp was buried under the peach in the relish on the side.

I don't why he decided recently to start gas-lighting Nicholas,who is a good chef but not one of the main threats on deck in my opinion,but if they both keep this small rivalry brewing, it might boil over into something big that could end the game on both sides.

 Carrie was the one who had to pack her knives for LCK,however, since her choice to make a flounder croquette displeased the judges greatly. Judge Tom seemed to take it personally but I have noticed that for certain chefs, misusing a protein is a cardinal culinary sin.

Plus,it didn't help that oyster emulsion underneath the croquette was pretty dense. Well, at least we got a savory beginning to our new year and best of luck to the remaining chefs left.

 Speaking of savory beginnings,a new season of Rachel Vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off is set to start next Monday on Food Network.

Quite a number of D-List entertainers are on board for this competition(surprised that Kathy Griffin hasn't done this yet and I mean that in a good way),including some friendly faces such as Florence Henderson,Mrs. Brady herself. Joining her on Rachel's team is snarky magician Penn Jillette,comedienne Judy Gold and Jake Pavella,a former Bachelor lead.

On Guy's side, there's SNL alum Chris Kattan,football great Herschel Walker and a pair of pop music icons from the nineties. Never thought I'd see the day when Tiffany and Vanilla Ice team up to do anything together(other than a SyFy channel movie) and yes, during a promo for this show, you can see and hear a certain someone say "rice,rice,baby!"

Since this is all for charity, checking out this culinary cheese fest is not a bad way to spend these midwinter nights with and who knows, maybe one of them can actually cook(my best bet would be Florence Henderson):

For many of us, a new year means a new season of Downton Abbey beginning this upcoming Sunday.

 Season Five has a number of questions to answer such as "How will Mary cope with the loss of Matthew?" and "What's to become of Edith?"(that's my vested interest in this saga,as I really root for her to find the best for herself out there) and most important of all, "What does the Dowager Countess say?"

Since it has been confirmed that a fifth season of Downton will be arriving in 2015, any of the love triangles that are still ongoing or about to be started up for this go-round should have a long life as things go forth and the ratings stay high. I have to admit, having a season of DA for the long winter months makes my heart warm with delight indeed:


AMERICAN MASTERS: Believe it or not, the PBS series highlighting American artists has chosen to air the controversial documentary Salinger on January 21. Don't know whether or not if I will watch this hot mess but it would probably go down better with a little bit of MST3K help:

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