Top Chef
Wedding Bell Blues

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The Cake Mix Controversy

Presenting first, Stephen still hasn't let Sabor go as he presents his Tangerine-Ponzu Prawn Escabeche. Prominent in Catalan cuisine, "escabeche" is Spanish for a pickled item or a pickling medium, like a spicy -- usually vinegar-based -- marinade. The Scotti proclaim the canapé, "Very tasty" as Stephen goes on to explain his Japanese-influenced menu. Lee Anne snickers off to the side. After Stephen finishes explaining about his lobster poached in ghee (clarified butter of Indian and Pakistani origin), the Katie Leebot wonders if Stephen will be able to stay within his budget. "Most definitely," Stephen nods. The Scotti aren't sure, "Lobster and veal... ?" Moving on to Tiffani, the Scotti sample her Thai-Braised Prawn Spring Rolls as Tiffani explains her "Evening in Shanghai" menu. The Scotti like her canapé. Tiffani elaborates on her plan for the wedding cake presentation, "One of the things that exists in Asian culture is the recognition of love and luck. And to do a hundred little boxes of love and luck -- a hundred little individual cakes." The Scotti move on to Harold. Harold joshes the Scotti up by saying he apologizes for his "humble presentation" because he failed art class in high school. Harold presents his canapé of Cabbage-Wrapped Poached Prawns. As Harold explains his menu, which includes a papaya salad and braised beef short ribs, Tiffani tells us, "I saw some stuff on Harold's menu that I thought, flavor-wise, would work but that I thought was a bit too conceptually 'out there' for a roomful of a hundred people coming from all different cultures, and backgrounds, and palates." But isn't a roomful of wide-ranging people more likely to respond to a diverse menu, being that they themselves are also diverse? Tiffani makes an awful lot of assumptions on this show.

Continuing down the line, Dave repeats Harold's assertion that he's not an artist as he presents his cold Poached-Prawn Bruschetta. The prawns were poached in lemon, lime, and tangerine juice and then piled on top of stacked egg roll wrappers. Off to the side, Stephen and Harold appear to be snickering over Dave's usual high-energy presentation. Stephen tells us that he thinks Dave is, "very wild and exciting and, I think, kind of a wildcard." Hmm, he thinks Dave is 'wild and exciting.' Interesting. Let's remember that for the finale. Dave natters on, "We're going to a vanilla or white sponge cake, keeping it clean! And white! And classic! Just a real simple clean, white cake -- YUM!" The Scotti proceed to Lee Anne who tells them, "As you can see, I'm the only real Asian in the room." The Scotti laugh, but the other cheftestants don't look so happy. What, they really thought they could do Asian better than Lee Anne? Actually, I'll bet Tiffani did. "Could I do Asian cuisine just as good, if not better, than a real Asian person? Yes. Would the Asian culture accept me as a culinary equal? Of course." Lee Anne's canapé is Crispy Prawn Toasts. The prawns are bound in a scallop mousse with water chestnuts and scallions. Lee Anne explains her menu, and one course, called "Lovers' Nests," is a bowl of sautéed scallops and vegetables in a potato nest. She'd be folding cranes all night, so the bowl could be served with a few good luck cranes perched on the side for decoration. Her fellow cheftestants are hating her for roping them into that sort of deal. Lee Anne also wants to do a riff on Peking Duck, but using beef instead. Dave tells us that when he heard all the other pitches, it became clear that the chefs don't have as much catering experience as he does and are being unrealistic about what could be achieved. For the wedding cake, Lee Anne describes a vision of a ginger-scented genoise with a passion fruit filling. Wow, that sounds amazing. The Scotti deliberate and announce they have a very clear winner, Lee Anne. Lee Anne is excited but acknowledges, "It was sort of a back-handed challenge because yes, you win the Quickfire, but now you're responsible for cooking for these guys' wedding."

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