Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef DC Episode 13

We're not in DC anymore, Toto! We're in Singapore where the final four cheftestants embark on their bid to win the title of Top Chef. We first see Ed strolling through a Singapore food market where he meets up with Kelly. Kevin and Angelo soon follow as we listen to voice overs of the chefs trash talking each other. That's soon brought to an end when Tom arrives and introduces K.F. Seetoh, a Singapore Hawker Stall Expert. Seetoh takes the four finalists on a tour of the food market to show them how the food stalls operate and the wide range of cuisine they produce.

The fun and games end when Padma arrives to announce the Quickfire Challenge: create your own version of street food with a wok as your only cooking vessel. Unlike the past final Quickfires, the winner of this one gets immunity. With only 30 minutes to cook, the chefs scramble to their cramped stations and start wokking. Kelly is inspired to make a shell fish broth of lobster and cockles with noodles, bean sprouts, and Chinese broccoli, while Ed opts for stir-fried noodles in a black pepper sauce with lobster and gai lan. Angelo starts to make chilli crab, a Singapore staple, but runs out of time and changes to chilli frogs legs with pineapple and rambutan salsa. Unfamiliar with Asian ingredients and a novice with a wok, Kevin decides to mash all his influences from the day into a seafood stew (with lobster, of course).

Seetoh tastes all the dishes and passes judgment. Angelo's flavors were robust, Kelly captured "the essence of the ocean," Kevin's flavors were sophisticated and complex, and Ed expertly captured the street food experience. In the end, Ed is declared the winner, much to the chagrin of Angelo who is beaten in a cuisine he should have nailed.

The Elimination Challenge turns out to be another team challenge with all four chefs working as one to provide a menu for 80 guests at a Food and Wine Magazine event hosted by Dana Cowin at the Tanjong Beach Club. The proteins will be provided and each chef is given $200 to purchase spices and dry goods. The catch is that each dish must be prepared "a la minute," or made to order, so the menu must be prepared with that in mind. At the Hilton Hotel, the four finalists look over the list of proteins available and formulate possible dishes. Because each dish has to be made to order, they all agree to create one dish each, although Ed has a glint in his eye.

With menus in hand, they head to the market to spend their $200. Kelly seems a bit lost as to what to get while Ed is coolly shopping. Although he has immunity and could "serve cilantro on a plate" as Angelo says, Ed wants to do well and win. After shopping, the chefs go to an unidentified kitchen to spend one hour prepping. During this time, Tom arrives and expresses his surprise that they all decided to do just one dish each. Tom strongly suggests that they all do at least two dishes, to which Ed declares that he planned to do two all along. The others are stunned at his strategery, but quickly knuckle down to come up with a second dish.

After a night of prawn fishing, the chefs go to the Tanjong Beach Club to begin their service. Everyone is unsure about how to expedite, so Ed takes charge in briefing the wait staff and organizing the kitchen. Along the way, he also messes with Angelo who is having one of his usual meltdowns. Soon, service begins and the judges arrive at Dana Cowin's table: Tom, Padma, Gail Simmons, and K.F. Seetoh. Tom orders five of everything for the table and the tasting commences.

Among the comments, Kelly's cucumber yogurt soup with bitter melon salad was good but a bit gritty and her seared prawns with red coconut curry was not spicy enough. Angelo's lamb tartare was well executed, but his spicy shrimp broth was too thick and overpowering. Kevin's clam chowder was cited for lack of heat, but his congee using tapioca and a 63-degree egg on top was perfectly cooked. Ed's sweet and sour pork with crispy rice and potato cakes was well received, but his banana fritters with red chilli paste were the huge hit of the meal.

All of these criticisms were expressed to the chefs at Judges' Table. With nothing negative to say about Ed's dishes, he was declared the winner. On the other hand, Kelly's shortcomings earned her the elimination. While everyone did well, someone had to go and Kelly felt she had learned a great deal from the experience.

Okay, next week is the big finale. Who do you think is Top Chef?


Dave said...

I picked Ed as the next Top Chef simply because he's on a roll at the right time.

MoHub said...

I think Kevin will pull a Hosea and take it away from the apparent front runners.

TopChris said...

Me of coarse.. that is why we are TopChefs... Stand By YOUR dish.

TopChris said...

That said all have been great I will say the chef who takes a minute for a breath will cleary be our next TopChef!

Cliff O'Neill said...

Still looking forward to Top Singapore Server. _That_ would be interesting.