The Comical Misadventures of a Rambling Mind

TOP CHEF 5.6 - De! Constructed! D- E- Constructed!! (SPOILERS)

Everyone is the house apparently hates Robin. They hate that she is still there. They hate that other people have gone home before her. They have that she won't stop yammering. I might be inclined to stick up for the underdog, in this case, Robin. But when you're living in such conditions and you've got nothing else to focus on, but the people you're living with... I'd get a little annoyed with Robin as well. From the clips they show.. Her babbling doesn't seem to be about anything vital. Which is never endearing when you've just been sequestered with more than a dozen of your closest friends. I think the issue is everyone liked the drunken Frenchman and didn't want him to go home.

Everyone decides to mourn the loss of Mattin by wearing ascots like he did, to the Quickfire challenge. How many damned scarves did he pack? Is Robin the only person not wearing one? Wow... even if no one likes you, that's still a little sad not to at least play along. Pour a little our for your homie, will ya?!

Speaking of Quickfire... It's Padma with Chef Michelle Bernstein! Las Vegas is all about the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. This challenge is show your culinary skills by making a dish that represents a similar display. There is a lot of room for interpretation on this one. Do you go metaphorically and making something spicy hot and something light and cool? Do you make something fried with a salad? Will you need to make two different foods or will one plate with both ideas represented suffice?


Ash is doing a duo of custards, but will he have the time to pull off two different custards?! Eli wants to do scallops two ways. He wants to win this quickfire because he's the best fucking chef there. Robin wants to do a dish inspired by her battle with cancer. Did you know she had cancer? If not, you'll hear a lot about it this episode.

Brother Mike has prepared a rillettes of salmon on the angel side of things. On the devil side he's made a confit of salmon with ice cream.

Eli's made a scallop with radish top pesto for his angel dish, and a scallop with brown butter risotto for his devil dish.

Bryan makes his interpretation a little more literal. For his angel side he makes frozen coconut, lychee & vanilla. For his devil side he makes a dark chocolate mousse. I'm sure it tastes good. Visually I get it... but there is something, uh... 'racing stripes-ish' about his smear of chocolate mousse.

Ash was only able to finish one of his custards... Uh oh! Spicy asparagus custard with pink peppercorn shortbread representing his devil. The rest you have to imagine. Chef Michelle is kind enough to play along.

Robin talks about how two years ago she was diagnosed with two kinds of lymphoma. She became obsessed with raw food and eating healthy. In representation of that she give Chef Michelle and Padma an arugula, apple, and fennel salad as the angel. The devil comes in the form of cinnamon apple ginger crisp. Michelle loves the simpleness of the dish.

Laurine has made a chicken & vegetable consume for her angel dish. Her devil dish is a chicken saltimbocca.

In the Devil side of things... Ash, Bryan, and Laurine. It was clear that not finishing would put Ash there. She seems genuine in her announcement. She's not trying to be cruel or harsh. Chef Michelle doesn't think that Bryan's execution was there. As though it wasn't what he wanted. I'm going to guess it was what HE wanted... but not what SHE wanted. Just saying... Laurine's dish wasn't new or inspiring. It just was. I usually judge a dish's complexity by whether or not I think I'd be able to make it. I could make Laurine's dish. So I'm not surprised that she's in the bottom.

On the Angel side of things... Brother Mike's dish transported Chef Michelle. Where? Anyway, she loved it. She also loved the brown butterrisotto and pesto that Eli made. Robin's simple salad and apple crisp are very well received by Michelle. They take an extra long shot of the reactions of the other chefs as Michelle announces that Robin is even in the top at all! Disbelief and eye-rolling abound!

And the winner is... ROBIN!!! Now she has immunity. She made a complete turn around in less than 24 hours. She's stoked and I don't blame her. The other chefs aren't as happy as she is because now one of them has to go home and not her. Eli is a little more vocal about it... "That's a pretty great way to win a Quickfire. Just tell people you had fucking cancer. 'When I had cancer I could eat this, and when I didn't I could eat this.' Oh ok... I mean, weak."

Really!? Seriously!? Whether she did or did not specifically talk about her lymphoma in order to garner sympathy from the judges... You don't make fun of someone with cancer. It's poor form and it only ends up making you look like an ass. You may not like Robin. You may think the food she makes is simple and uninspiring and boring and just generally not good... but cancer is off limits. There is no way to sweet talk your way out of that. You just earned yourself some seriously bad karma right there, Eli.

For the Elimination Challenge they bring out one of Las Vegas' most amazing duos! SIGFRIED & ROY!??!! No... sadly, it's just Penn & Teller. They perform a Cup & Ball magic trick. It's a pretty standard magic trick, but impressive nonetheless. But then they deconstruct their magic trick and show how it's done. They redo the trick, only this time they use clear cups so you can see what's going on. But how does this translate to food?

The cheftestants will be drawing knives, each with a dish on it. Their challenge is to deconstruct the dish. To deconstruct a dish, is to take the components of the original dish and prepare them separately in such a way that when consumed, leaves the diner with the taste of the original dish.

You know when you say a word over and over and over and over again and then after a while the word seems to stop making sense anymore as a real word. I feel this is going to happen to the word deconstructed for me today.

The judges this week will be, Chef Michelle, Chef Tom, Padma as always, and returning from England Food Critic Toby Young. Or as Ashley calls him... The meanest guy in food criticism. Toby is the Simon Cowell of the show. He's harsh, but rarely wrong. He just has a colorful way of saying it.

WHOLE FOODS SHOPPING MADNESS!!! I wonder how Whole Foods deals with this show... There are clearly other shoppers in the store. But then you've got
sometimes as many as 18 time-crunched chefs running around, plus camera crew, plus sound guys, maybe a producer or a few PA's taking notes. I presume the revenue they get as a result of being heavily featured is worth it. Though, I feel sorry for the employees behind the meat counter who have to deal with these picky bastards. Even the picky bastards that I like...

Jennifer is clearly not happy about having to deconstruct anything. Her plan is to buy the ingredients and figure it out once she gets into the kitchen. Yikes! She feels like shes not going to do well. She's classically trained and this is not up her alley at all.

Mikey is making Eggs Florentine, or as he calls it... Eggs Foreign To Me. He had no idea how to make it. Oh this can't be good... Just based on name alone, I can tell you that Florentine used to mean "in the style of Florence, Italy." Since it's inception it has taken on a more specific meaning. If something is Florentine, you can pretty much guess it'll have spinach in it. So there you go Mikey... you know it has eggs and spinach. The rest is up to you!

Brother Mike is loving this challenge. He's making a deconstructed Caesar salad. A typical Caesar salad has your Romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing. Usually you can make it with oil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies, a raw egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. So this will be interesting to see how he can make this. Separately a lot of those dressing ingredients are too strong on their own. It's the combination that makes them delicious. I'm glad he's liking it. I'd hate to have to make that dish. Oh yeah... and he's also making his own brioche bread as croutons. "Show off," his brother Bryan complains.

Kevin is making chicken mole negro. He made a variation of this dish in the last challenge and it didn't go over so well. Now he feels like he has the chance to really prove he knows how to make mole negro.

Ron is deconstructing paella. He makes a lot of paella in his restaurant so he is pretty confident that he can put out a good deconstructed dish.

Eli is making a deconstructed sweet and sour pork. He is using a digital pressure cooker that he brought with him to the show. You can do that? The only problem is that his pressure cooker looks like it been under the pressure of an elephant for 12 hours. It's being held together by tape. Literally. Even then there are perfectly good pressure cookers to use in the Top Chef Kitchen, he chooses to use his broken one. On one hand I can see wanting to use something your comfortable with... but on the other hand... why bother? In a challenge where you'd allowed to use such modern conveniences you'd have on available to you. In a challenge where you're cooking with sticks and stones like last weeks challenge, it wouldn't matter.

Why even mention his pressure cooker... Just wait. You'll see!

Ashley is making a deconstructed pot roast. She says that they didn't eat a lot of beef growing up because they were poor. Ok... I'm sorry that Ashley's family was dirt poor. Last week she mentioned her familiarity with outhouses. Now this... Considering Ashley seemed like she was being groomed to be the villain of the season in the beginning, I wonder if they are trying to humanize her now.

Eli's pressure cooker EXPLODES!!! Sending hot steamy food all over Eli and Bryan. Bryan's ok, but I can't help but think that this was just a taste of bad juju that Eli has brought upon himself for talking about Robin's cancer fight.

Robin drew clam chowder, but she doesn't like chowder so she is going to make a rice fennel flan, instead. What?! By her own admission, she has immunity so why not play around. This just seems like a bad idea. First, it will just irritate your other contestants. Not that you're there to make friends, but you will work together in future challenges. This will not show you in a good light. Secondly, other big name chefs actually DO watch this show. What kind of an impression are you making on someday by chance, future bosses? Maybe I'm just overly critical. She just seems a little flippant.

Laurine is at her breaking point with Robin. She's already stressed trying to deconstruct fish and chips. And I can't say that I blame her... how do you deconstruct breaded fish sticks and french fries? She's having to baby sit her potato chips and Robin asks her to pull the pancetta out of the oven. Maybe the chefs help each other more than they show, but to me... that just seems lazy on Robin's part. It's your food. You deal with it. But I'm competitive. I would've probably told her to pound sand.

YAY!! It's the return of Chef Tom's Sniff 'n' Snear!! I've been seriously missing this for weeks now. Has he been unavailable?

He talks to Ash first, who is stumbling his way through an explanation of how he's going to make Sheppard's pie. Jennifer has no time to talk to Tom. She is too busy having a small mental break down. She's avoiding him. Ron, and his cow-like reflexes can't avoid Tom. He flat out asks Tom for luck and help. But, Ron? You said you made tons of paella. What could you possibly need help with? Tom finally corners Jennifer. The jaunty music is either an indication of being flustered... or an indication that Jennifer clearly has a crush on Tom and she is moist just being around him.

Back at the manse... Eli is explaining to Ron how paella is made. So giving him ideas on how to deconstruct it. Ron seems confused... Jennifer, Laurine, and Mikey are talking about Robin's win in the Quickfire and their frustration with gloating, unintentional or not. I wonder how much Robin is aware of how everyone else feels? That's got to be uncomfortable.


Brother Mike present his Caesar salad to the judges and Penn & Teller. Chicken wing, Parmesan jelly, & brioche. They really like his dish. He really seemed to embrace the challenge.

Jennifer steak, marscapone bechamel, tomato sauce, and Parmesan crisp. The LOVE her dish. She was smart in her presentation.

Laurine gives the judges halibut, zucchini relish, tomato confit & parsley chips. They felt the fish was dry, overcooked, and lacking 'chips'.

Ron serves a seafood paella with lemon & herb oil, chayote, and peas. Now I may not know much about paella, but I'm pretty sure... that deconstructed or not... this is hardly paella in any form. The rice is over cooked and not crisped. It's a "sad bowl of food."

Ash is nervous because Sheppard's pie is an English dish and Toby Young is VERY very British. He's made lamb chops, leeks, glazed carrots, pea puree, and madeira jus. Uh oh... no taters. Toby points out the lack of mashed potatoes. As well as the inconsistently prepared meat.

Kevin spent a lot of time perfecting each element of his dish, but still thinks it looks like 13 shades of brown shit. YUM? Chicken croquette, Mexican coffee fig jam, and pumpkin seed romesco. HEY I've made romesco!! The can't quit raving about Kevin's dish. Michelle is really impressed with Kevin's sauces.

Ashley slings up pot roast deconstructed and she thinks it looks a mess. It's a sear strip loin, potato puree, crispy shallots, and carrot foam. Michelle is a believer in pot roast after this dish.

Can Teller talk!? I mean... I know he can! But his lack of talking is getting tiresome.

At Judges Table... in the top are Ashely, Kevin, Jennifer, and Brother Mike. WAIT?! Brother Mike!! I knew it... Top Chef has been fucking up! I have a hard enough time keeping the brother straight. It was Brother Mike talking about hisCaesar salad as he was making it. But when it was served the titled him as Bryan. So I'm typing up this recap and confused, because I could've sworn it was Brother Mike making the dish. It wasn't until Padma called Brother Mike in front of the judges that I figured it out.

Jennifer looks truly surprised she's there as a top dish. She's clearly flustered. Again... I think it's her crush on Tom. The loved Brother Mike's dish. They were as excited to eat it as he was to make it. Ashley has made a few converts with her dish. Kevin's dish was in compete balance and made sense. They were proud of her balls to serve a simple sauce, but it worked excellently.

The winner.. KEVIN!!! And he wins a special gift from Michelle. Does she have a book? No... Calphalon Unison non-stick cookware. As my friend Jay pointed out... Wouldn't they have their own kitchen gear to use? A pointless but appreciated gift.

In the bottom are Ash, Laurine, and Ron. Ash was scared of serving it. Toby was scared to eat it. So that works out well. Ash explains that his potato parsnip puree had become gummy so he decided not to serve it. Ok, I have an issue with this... More of a conundrum really. On one hand you could make something and it might not turn out, but you serve it anyway and you get called out for it. On the other hand, you make something and it doesn't turn out so you make the decision to not serve it rather than serve the crap that it has become. Tough choice. Not only do they call it out for not being Sheppard's pie, but the call him out for his inconsistent cooking of the meat. Hrm. Not good.

Laurine found this challenge rough, and admits her fish was overcooked. They mention her lack of chips in her fish and chips. She falls into the same trap. Her chips didn't turn out and most were burned. Do you serve food that you know if crap or omit it all together. Which is the bigger offense?

Ron says he's not deconstructed much food. He also points out that his dish was the hardest to deconstruct because paella is made differently depending on where you go. He's not totally untrue, but there is still a classic seafood paella. Now whether he knows that or not is yet to be seen. But his reason for serving a pathetic bowl of food is not covered by his excuse. Tom points out that Ron seemed confused in the challenge. Which he did! But this is the same issue he's had from the very beginning. He didn't quite understand what a 'vice' was and how to interpret that into food. He didn't really seem to grasp the whole angel/devil side of things in a dish. And now not only did he not really deconstruct a dish... he couldn't properly cook fish and paella rice, which in the beginning he said he'd made lots of paella.

So who will it be?

While the cheftestants are sent back to the Stew Room to wait, Toby & Michelle whip out their whisks and duel over how to pronounce paella. Toby calls them out for trying to be pretentious for giving a 'y' sound to the double 'l'. Really? This coming from a man and country who says things like "torch" for a flashlight and schedule pronounced heavy on the 'sh'. Shut up, Toby!

Who's going home? It's Ron... I'm a little surprised, only because I'd convinced myself it was going to be Ash. Usually the people I think should go home don't. And the ones I hope stay, leave.

Sorry to see you go, Ron. I'm sure you cook great food, but your grasp of what these challenges were about was your undoing.
I posted this @ 10/08/2009 01:41:00 PM.............Need a link?..........

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