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Top Chef Recap-"Culinary Games"

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According to Bravo, this week the final four “compete in a Top Chef twist on the Olympic Games.”  Am I the only one hoping that the luge somehow features into this challenge?

The chefs arrive in British Columbia; we see Sarah first, who has apparently contracted a mean case of Bieber-fever.  At least her bangs have.  In any case, she wants to be a nice person for the remainder of the competition, which would certainly be a change.  The other chefs arrive, and Lindsay immediately proves that she’s not concerned with being nice by testifying that it’s weird to see Bev, and that she, Sarah and Paul share a special bond because they’ve been through everything together.  Sarah then immediately proves that she didn’t mean it either, and rudely interrupts Bev as she tries to tell them about Last Chance Kitchen with a riveting cry of “Look, trees!”  Seriously, ladies, basic manners should not be beyond your grasp.

Padma and Tom meet the chefs on the top of a mountain, which looks appropriately windy and cold.  Padma announces the Culinary Games, which consist of three events.  The winner of each receives $10,000; the first challenge is for the chefs to cook a dish on a moving gondola.  When I think gondola, I assume the canals of Venice, but I imagine that Padma is speaking of the cars that hoisted the chefs up to the top of the peak.  The chefs jump into their gondolas and quickly run into problems.  Paul has motion sickness, while Sarah is too cold to open the bottles.  Bev, naturally, opens her knives upside down and has some spillage; her clumsiness really can’t be totally producer created at this point.

Paul arrives in the first gondola, disappointed in his plate.  As per his usual humility, he doesn’t blame the cold, the motion sickness, or the gondola and instead just blames himself for not delivering.  Joining Padma and Tom is a professional snowboarder who I doubt will add anything to the proceedings so I won’t bother to transcribe her name and Gail.  Oh, I hope this means Gail will be a presence for the whole episode!   The chefs arrive one by one after Paul, and the judges seem to be fairly impressed with everyone’s efforts; the winner gets $10,000 and is the first chef through to the finals.  The win goes to Lindsay…I wonder if the fact that she’s a human ice cube gave her an advantage in the chilly conditions.

The following day, the three remaining chefs arrive and meet another Olympic athlete who I, again, won’t bother to transcribe.  This time, the chefs ingredients are frozen in blocks of ice and they have to get them out,  thaw them and make a dish in one hour.  Time is called and the chefs attack the ice blocks…the judges meanwhile stand on the side and make comments about how the chefs look like serial killers with their ice picks.  The judges are more luke warm on these dishes, but ultimately Paul takes the win leaving Sarah and Bev to duke it out for the final spot in the Vancouver finale.  Sarah is concerned about going head-to-head with Bev, who she feels is a “silent horse” who “attacks like a tiger.”  Ooookay.

Sarah and Bev immediately head over to a new spot, where Padma, Gail and Tom introduce them to yet another athlete that doesn’t know anything about food.  Sarah and Bev will be competing in the Culinary Biathlon; they have to cross country ski through a course, and then shoot markers for their ingredients.  Each chef gets ten bullets, which means Sarah’s Texas upbringing will probably come in handy.  The challenge begins and the two chefs’ clumsiness and general lack of athletic ability will probably guarantee this clip appearing on the The Soup next week.  Seriously, they spend a great deal of time falling over.  The shooting starts and Sarah’s upbringing doesn’t help as Bev winds up with five ingredients to her four.

Time is up quickly, and the chefs go out to face the music.  Bev serves a slow-roasted Arctic char with onion and beet compote and a shaved fennel salad.  Sarah goes with a braised rabbit leg and heart (what’s up with Sarah serving heart?) with cherries, hazelnuts and sauerkraut.  Bev gets good reviews, though Tom feels her char was slightly over-cooked.  Sarah gets similar critiques, though Gail found her rabbit slightly tough.

Ultimately, Bev takes the fall for allowing her Arctic char to be overpowered by her other ingredients.  This makes it literally a necessity that Paul wins this season.

And some final thoughts:

-It was odd at first seeing the three women in the back while Paul drove the car.  It was like Driving Miss Bitchy, Miss Icy and Miss Goofy.  Then I realized the camera man must have been riding shotgun.

-Paul helping Bev and Sarah break the ice blocks just proves that he’s a real class act.  Paul FTW!

-“I can think of one or two she might want to take down.” Gail, telling it like it is about Bev and her fellow competitors.

-Seriously, I’m kind of sad there was no luge.