Top Chef
Food On The Fly

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Nuke it Up A Notch

Here comes the awesomeness. Stephen greets the ladies and tells them that today he's doing a banana leaf-wrapped tamale with a mole rojo sauce. To us, Dave rolls his eyes over Stephen's fusion tamale, saying -- and I quote -- "bleh, bleh, bleh." Stephen starts his babble, "This is a banana leaf. Tamale is usually wrapped in a cornhusk. The dish first arose and was refined most in a region called Oaxaca, which is basically the culinary capital, the equivalent to say, Florence, you know, Tuscany, Rome, in Italy. In Paris, uh, Lyon... " Bravo makes an edit to show us that Stephen has been babbling for awhile. The ladies look confused. Tiffani shruggingly tells us, "There is an element of condescension when he explains his dish." Stephen asks his audience if they are familiar with plantains. Seriously? Some of the women look at each other, all, "Um, yeah." Stephen also kneaded squash blossom leaves into the dough. Gail Simmons puts on an exaggerated look of disbelief as Stephen chunters away. He goes on, "I finished it with shiso leaves, which is Japanese mint. I don't know if you can, kind of, process all that." In the background, Colicchio is making hand motions at Gail and Katie Leebot which indicates he thinks Stephen did much too much. The ladies' comments are that the dish is too dry and it's not warm enough.

Harold presents his Thai Coconut Seafood Soup. It has lobster, shrimp, and a pea shoot biscuit. It's beautiful. Harold jokes with the ladies that he's a microwave novice and that he had his manual out the night before, boning up on his nuking skillz. He tells the ladies he was hoping they might give him some pointers. Just don't get the idea that you can make toast in it. Harold confesses to us that he is not feeling good about this challenge. Outside, the ladies seem to love his dish.

Tiffani sings out, "Good afternoon, ladies!" God, she's shrill. She presents her miso-mirin glazed sea bass. In parenthesis, it says "escolar," which is the fish we heard Tiffani talking about earlier. The thing is, escolar and sea bass are not the same fish. The food industry loves to pass any firm white fish off as sea bass because there's such a high demand for it, but most of the time you aren't getting real sea bass and that's because real sea bass has been severely over fished and there are major restrictions placed on it. G. Bruce Knecht has an awesome book out on the subject called Hooked. He's doing for sea bass what Orlean did for orchids. Anyway. Tiffani begins her oddly uncharacteristic banter, "So one thing I enjoyed doing as a young lady [see what I mean?] was trying to date and impress people at the same time without a lot of resources in terms of money or time. Here and there I've been known to buy a meal at a store and then take the meal from the frozen package and essentially replating it on the plate, taking every ounce of credit for what I was doing." Why, Sandra Lee, when did you become a redhead? One of the Jr. Leaguers laughs to her table that she does the same thing. Tiffani then invites the women to "pull a Tiffani" and replate her meal as they chose. The women seem to like it.

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