Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live Blogging Top Chef Season 6: Episode 9

I've emerged from midterm hell, and I'm all caught up on Top Chef and excited to watch tonight! The night starts off with a bang as Jen shows off her rockin' bikini body and threatens to compete in the quickfire in nothing else. The guest judge tonight is Rick Moonen, seafood master and advocate of sustainable cuisine. Padma introduces the quickfire as the first ever Top Chef "tag-team cook-off." Jen and Michael get to pick teams, and Jen selects Kevin, Mike, and Laurine, while Michael has his brother Bryan, Eli, and Robin. Each chef cooks individually for ten minutes while his or her teammates are blindfolded, meaning each chef has to build off the previous chef's work without any communication. Jen's team follows her vision until Kevin, who opts not to poach the sablefish as preparation had suggested he do. Michael's team is also mostly cohesive, and both dishes seem to end without much issue.

Michael's team conjured up a pan-seared New York strip with a miso glaze and avocado mousse, while Jen's team served up their sablefish with seared mushrooms, which garners them the win in the quickfire. Padma then introduces the elimination challenge, everyone's favorite restaurant wars, and the teams from the quickfire will remain intact. Each team will take over one of the two floors of Moonen's Las Vegas restaurant RMC Food, where, thankfully, they won't be responsible for any decor. They do, however, have to carry on Moonen's vision of sustainable seafood and pay attention to service and front-of-house operations. Because this is a high stakes quickfire, Jen's team has the choice if they want to keep the $10,000 that they won or "let it ride" and go for $10,000 each if their team wins. They seem confident and go for it. A little confident, are we, Jen and co?

Jen's team takes the risky choice not to serve dessert as a course, as none of the team members feel confident enough to to take it on. Bryan, on the other hand, is plenty confident, as usual, and he volunteers himself to whip up the dessert. The teams seem to be getting along amazingly well at this point, and I, for one, am thankful that Mike and Robin have been separated, so we don't have to watch anymore of their pathetic bickering. Robin does take issue when Laurine hears her idea for creating sparkling water, inexplicably thinking that such a perk will win her team the challenge. Michael's team settles on Revolt (with a backwards "E" in an attempt to be alternative) for their restaurant name, while Jen's team chooses Mission, neither of which seem to have any relationship with the cuisine that they will be serving. Upon arriving at RMC Foods, Jen's team chooses the upstairs, upscale environment, while Brian's team takes the more casual downstairs area. How will this affect their food, knowing the stubborness of these chefs, probably not at all. Jen's team's menu balances seafood and meat, including lamb, pork, arctic char, and a bouillabaisse. Brian's team also features a diverse menu of beef, chicken, more arctic char (this season's scallops, perhaps?), and a duo of desserts from Robin and Michael. Laurine and Michael take over duties at the front of the house, and as customers stream in, Jen's team in particular seems far from ready for the imminent chaos.

Thankfully, the diners at Revolt seem just as confused by the restaurant's name as I do, and Tom, in particular, calls it "terrible." Padma and her cronies start at Revolt where they love the chicken/salad dish but cast the arctic char off as one dimensional. Princess Padma grows impatient with the wait for the main course, which can be largely attributed to Voltaggio bro drama. Like the first course, the entrees are a mixed bag, with the cod earning raves and the beef getting just a lukewarm reception. Robin incites more drama before dessert service, blowing up at Michael as he meddles with her pastry; she just can't keep her thoughts to herself. To her credit, Robin hits a homerun with her pear pastry, and Bryan's chocolate ganache is equally well-received. Overall, despite a questionable name, Revolt aces nearly every aspect of their dinner. Mission, however, gets off to a rocky start, with the char needing more salt and the asparagus leaving the judges totally bored. Laurine seems totally overwhelmed at the front of the house, resulting in another unacceptably long wait. This team seems headed for a definite loss with the entrees as both the cod and the bouillabaisse fail miserably, and things only get marginally better with the meat course, as the lamb falls flat and the sausage/pork belly duo earns mild praise. Revolt will almost surely win this edition of restaurant wars, and at this point, I'd hedge my bets on a Laurine knife-packing tonight.

At least Mission knows that they messed up, with Mike telling the other team, "If we win, you guys must have done a horrible job." I think that's a compliment? Maybe? Padma delivers the unsurprising news that Revolt takes the win, with Tom calling it the top restaurant wars project in Top Chef history. Based on the judges' effusive praise, I'd have to agree with him, as they barely took a misstep. Michael grabs another win, and he looks disappointed when Rick Moonen presents him with an autographed copy of his book. Thankfully, Padma throws in $10,000, which Michael graciously decides to share with the other members of team Revolt. Bryan acts like a big baby, however, complaining that the judges are rewarding his brother's unprofessional behavior. Here's a thought, Bryan, just cook better food than your brother, because he's kicking your but tonight. At judges' table, the panel comes down even harder than at the meal, delivering some pretty harsh criticism for Jen, in particular. Elimination is definitely between Jen and Laurine tonight, which will bring the female chef quota down to two. As I said before, look for Laurine to go, only because of Jen's series of awesome performances until her disaster tonight.

Tom rehashes the judges' conversation, and Padma delivers the verdict to Laurine that everyone expected. Come on editors, you've gotta make this a little more suspenseful, unless it really was this one-sided... Next week, Natalie Portman makes an appearance and the calls something disgusting, and that's just in the previews! I'll be back next week as it all goes down.

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