The Comical Misadventures of a Rambling Mind

Top Chef 5.4 - The Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkey Episode (SPOILERS)

Wow the girls are dropping like flies around here. Robin wants to see the women rock a little more than they have been. Good sentiment... So do something about that! Mike I, That Guy, doesn't feel he should've been in the bottom the last challenge. Maybe, but the judges did. Just a thought...

Daniel Boulud French chef and restaurant owner will be the guest judge with Chef Tom for the Quickfire. Where's Padma? Sleeping off a hangover? They will be cooking with snails.

Jennifer hasn't used snails much at all. So she is nervous as hell. She's also questioning who the hell would even figure out snails were edible. Touche!

Ashley and her Drew Carrey glasses explain what a High Stakes Quickfire. She, too, is nervous because whoever loses this challenge will be going home.


Robin accidentally takes Ron's snails, but offers her actual snails in return. He seems cool with it, but that's just bad mojo working against Robin. Rockin' it in the kitchen doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention to your food versus someone elses food. Jesse feels she's capable of producing a great dish, but by her own admission she's been in a haze lately since she's been in Vegas.

Here are the highlights...

Jennifer - escargot with grilled ramps, brussels sprouts chanterelle mushrooms and yuzu
Jesse - "ELT", escargot, mache, and fried tomato.
Robin- "bagels & lox", poached escargot with marmalade, gooseberries, on rye crostini.
Ashely - escargot mirepoix soup & salad.
Kevin - friccassee of snails with mushrooms, brussels sprouts and a candied bacon jam.
That guy - sauted escargot with potato garlic puree, spring onion and ouzo broth.

I get that Robin and Jesse are trying to do plays on other foods. But I think this is the wrong place for that. French take their food very seriously. Maybe it's just nerves, but I can't see these are being winning dishes. I am in LOVE with the idea of bacon jam. I want to make this! I want to try this! Kevin, call me!

Kevin wins! And wins BIG... he is immune in the elimination challenge because he doesn't have to compete. Clearly, it was the bacon jam that pushed him into the lead.

Ashley, Jesse, and Robin are sent to the kitchen to COOK FOR THEIR LIIIVES. They have to make an amuse bouche. My understanding of an amuse bouche is that it's one bite. One. Bite. Not a small bowl of something like these three are making.

Jesse - tuna tartar with fried quail egg and fried bread
Ashley - caramelized foie gras and pineapple
Robin - avocado soup with shrimp

Someone is sent home NOW!! And it's Jesse... they don't really show an outpouring of emotion for her departure. No hugs or high fives. I wonder if that was editing or nerves because it's still right in the moment of the competition.

For the next challenge they draw knives. Kevin doesn't have to pick. Six of them get French sauces while the other six get popular French proteins. They will be cooking for the biggest names in French cooking. Kevin doesn't have to draw because he gets to dine with the judges and guests. Kevin is clearly stunned and almost teary about dining with French culinary royalty.

Mattin says this challenge is made for him. He feels it shouldn't be a problem. The Anvil Of Irony floats idly...

Ashley is paired up with Mattin. She offers suggestions to him as they shop. Maybe asparagus would be good, she tosses out there. He declines. In the end she submits to his Frenchness.

Ron & Robin are paired. Robin is all over the place. Ron seems annoyed, but calm around her. Jen & Brother Mike are gunning for the top spot. Bryan & That Guy want to win too. They know that Jen and Brother Mike are the team to beat in this challenge. Eli & Laurine and Ash & 'Ector round out the pairs.

That Guy wants to make be different with the sauce. So Bryan offers an eggless bearnaise sauce that he's made before. That Guy is down with idea. Bryan shows That Guy how to do it and he's off! Eli was under the impression that Robuchon didn't actually exist and that he's was a unicorn. Maybe he's been hanging with Jesse too much and he's in a haze too. Ron wants to impress the judges with his French-influenced Haitian cuisine and give them something that they might only have back in France.

Ashley is nervous and so she is letting Mattin take the lead. Personally I think she is setting him up. I don't think she is totally behind the dish they're making. So by letting Mattin take the lead she can shrug off any blame if they go down. Jennifer & Brother Mike are flying through dish! They are so in sync with what the other is doing.

The judges and such esteemed guests, Daniel Boulud, Hubert Keller (you might recognize from such shows as Top Chef: Masters), Jean Joho, Laurent Tourondel, translator Emmanuel, and finally Joel Robuchon. He's big in France! Seriously. While the other guests get titled as Chef/Owner of whatever restaurant they're known for... Robuchon get the title Chef Of The Century. This guy knows his stuff. I remember him on Iron Chef. Which may seem silly, but looking back on the reverence that some of the biggest Japanese chefs had for this guy didn't make sense. I've since learned that he IS the top dog when it comes to cooking. Kevin is like a kid in a candy store. This is like a chef's wet dream. Being able to eat and talk shop with some of the best French chefs that inspired your own career is monumental. Well, talk shop through translator Emmanuel, in the case of Robuchon. But now I'm just splitting hairs.

Ron & Robin are up first. Robin notes that their salad is wilting under the heat lamps. They are serving frog legs meuniere with lemon confit, mache & arugula salad with fried capers.

I can already tell I'm going to have to look up SO MANY things to even know what the hell they are eating. Curse you, Top Chef!!

The diners can see some originality in the dish, but it's overcooked. The meat is seasoned well, but heavy on the flour.

That Guy & Other Brother Bryan are up next. That Guy is starting to holler at Bryan as he's putting the finishing touches on the food. Seriously? You ride his coattails and you're going to tell HIM what to do? They are serving a warm cured trout with a deconstructed Bearnaise. This is the tiniest BITE of food I've ever seen. THIS is an amuse bouche.

I don't get deconstructed food. I mean, I suppose it can be clever at times. But really it just seems lazy.

The judges and guests LOVE the dish. It was very well executed. Kevin chimes in with his concern on how the deconstructed sauce might have lost some of it's flavor, but he was impressed.

Eli & Laurine bring out lobster, sauce americaine with cauliflower puree. The judges aren't in love with it. The lobster is tough and the sauce is bitter. The do say that with no classical French training they didn't do too terribly bad.

Ashley & Mattin present a seared poussin and ravioli with sauce veloute and green asparagus. Wait a minute... Didn't Mattin nix the asparagus idea at the market? Mattin does a little flourish before he leaves. He clearly doesn't want to go just yet. The judges feel that the bacon that Mattin added overpowered the dish.

Jennifer & Brother Mike are cutting it close but they serve up a rabbit chassuer with mustard noodles and shiso. The judges comment that it's not easy to cook rabbit. Chef Tom adds that for young chefs that it's very mature work.

Ash & 'Ector are up last. 'Ector is hacking at the meat. The meat is still bloody and the juices have spilled out all over the dish. Ash is having a hard time saucing. There is not enough sauce on the plates because the meat is soaking it all up. Too late to do anything about it now... Time's up! They have made Chateaubriand with sauce au poivre, with confit de pommes, and spinach. You can see it in Ash's face that he's not happy. The judges can't find the sauce. The cooking is inconsistent. The meat is not evenly done. They are not happy at all.

Gail notes that she doesn't think they could've had this kind of meal at this point in any of the other seasons. Now I've discussed this with a couple people by now... I think that's an unfair statement. They other seasons didn't have the opportunity. So while she can speculate that... It's just seems unfair to say. Plus, all shows say this is the "best" of whatever each new season. It's built in to the show. It's hard to believe it when everyone says it.

Joel Robuchon says that if anyone of them would want to come work for him, he'd be happy to have them in his kitchen. Wow! I don't know if he's serious about that, but the statement alone is heavy. I hope someone actually takes him up on that. I'd love to see That Guy go knock on Robuchon's door and get turned away or even better... ushered in the back under the cover of darkness.

Kevin comes to sit with the other chefs in the stew room. Eli wants the scoop. He wants to know what the jduges like and didn't like... Kevin is very ambivalent and tight lipped about it. I am guessing the producers didn't want him to spill the beans and ruin the surprise. That would be so hard not to do!

Padma comes in calls in the teams of Jennifer & Brother Mike and Bryan & That Guy. They are the two best dishes of the night. Everyone is STILL very tightly wound. The judges have to tell them to exhale.

That Guy takes credit for the sauce bearnaise. The judges do bring up that Bryan seemed to have been responsible for everything on the plate. They loved his technique.

Jennifer & Brother Mike are really crediting not only themselves but each other. It seems almost like these two are kind of flirting with each other while standing before the judges. Where the hell did this come from?

Bryan wins!! Considering he was responsible for that entire dish... he better have won.

He wins the opportunity to work for Joel Robuchon for a week at his Las Vegas restaurant. Kevin may have one the to win the meal with culinary big shots, but working for him for a week? WOOO!!

The judges want to see...

Ashley & Mattin. Their dish was heavy and poorly cooked. It had too much bacon. WHAT?! Is there such a thing? But I'm not a judge. The aspargus was a bad choice for the dish and the judges want to know who's idea it was. Mattin says it wasn't his. Ashley finally admits that it was her idea. She suggested it, but Mattin went along with it for the dish. Seriously, I'm wondering what the heck happened. Because he's clearly not in love with the idea at the store. Mattin seems young and somewhat inexperienced. Ashley just seems like she is over it. I don't think she is accepting her role in the dish. It WAS a team challenge this week (unlike last week). Yet, she seems almost flippant about stepping up at all. I get the impression she made this dish because she had to as part of the challenge, but wasn't whole heartedly in to the idea at all.


'Ector and Ash. The judge bring up the saucing issue. Ash explains their time crunch and that while each plate was sauced (much like I wish I was while watching this episode) it wasn't enough for the state the meat was in. He points out that the meat wasn't done in time. The meat was unevenly cooked and it appeared to have been sliced by rabid wolverines. It didn't have enough time to rest before it was cut and so it bled out onto the plates.

Ash lightens the mood back in the stew room... "The loved everything!"

Personally I think Ash is safe. Mattin over-baconed his dish. I think Ashley is in the bottom to much and her number is coming up soon. 'Ector has effed up his protein a couple times, but will this time be his last?

It's... 'Ector! He wanted to stay long and show more of his skills. Which... That's a nice sentiment, but this is week four! Show some skills from the beginning. There is no strategy on a show like that. Just do it!
I posted this @ 10/08/2009 01:36:00 PM.............Need a link?..........

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