Top Chef

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Flop Sweat

The winner of the Quickfire will have their recipe inserted (retroactively?) into the cookbook, making them the only Season Four cheftestant to be included. I have a copy, and was immediately bummed that I hadn't paid enough attention to suss out a spoiler, but if you look up the winning recipe, which is on page 235, the "chef" listing just says "Watch Season 4 to find out." If you then look at the Dessert index page (224), however, it says "Richard's Banana Scallops, Banana Guacamole," so I did miss it, and I'll never be the same again. Plus, I don't get the point -- I can't tell if that was intended to be a little treasure hunt, or if someone in editorial just made a mistake.

"None of us are trained pastry chefs," reveals Antonia, although some have more experience than others (she resides in the inexperienced ree-elm). "I'm bringing one dessert to this place," says Dale, as he hacks at a coconut with a knife -- it's called halo halo, which means "mix mix" in the Philippines. It's a shaved ice dish, and Dale's kind of cute as he says, giggling, "it's the only one I know how to do, and I'm gonna bust it out." Years ago, I had a shaved ice dessert in Singapore, called an ice ka-chang, which is apparently a national delicacy, but did not jive with my Western palate. It's a pile of shaved ice hiding a center of beans and corn, drizzled with various syrups, such as rose, and dotted with brightly colored, gelatinous cubes, all topped with a scoop of ice cream. I'm gagging a little just thinking about it.

Lisa, cutting strawberries, self-righteously and sour-facedly proclaims that she swore to herself that she "would never do a pastry during this competition," which is a really stupid thing to swear, even if she does mean pastry proper and not just dessert. She's irked by the technical exactness of it all, which seems to be nagging Jen as well, as she questions to amount of something she's pouring out of a large silver bag. "If you miss an ingredient in a pasta sauce, you'll be able to taste it and you'll be able to fix it right away. If you miss baking powder in a pastry, or in a bread, you're fucked." True and, again, quite obvious.

"I'm not a pastry chef. I don't have a recipe," says Richard, halving limes and separating eggs, although at this point it could be any of them, except that Richard is going to win. He realizes that the banana he's cutting "are kind of shaped like sea scallops," and decides, because he's "very tongue in cheek, very witty" to make banana scallops. Spike, hoping to demonstrate that "this kid has balls," goes for a soufflé, even though he's got a "chocolate molten cake memorized." Wow, look at those balls. He's cooking said soufflé in pineapple halves, for a presumably rustic presentation. Jen's microplaning what looks like coconut, Mark's making small meringues with an icing tube, someone's getting artsy with sauces, Antonia's bruleeing, Spike's constructing his soufflé plate, and then time -- and hands -- are up!

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Top Chef

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