Food

Wedding Tasting Vlog

The would have worked better for Wedding Wednesday, but I just had to talk about that Pokémon Direct!  In truth, last weekend was a bit all over the place– we definitely ate a lot, and we got some really cool adventures in as well!

See for yourself:

Top Chef Charleston Finale

Another season of Top Chef has come to a close.  As much as I complained about this veteran v. rookie format, I loved some of my old favorites get a second (or third) chance to capture the title of Top Chef!

Shirley and Brooke face off for their final four course dinner for Top Chef.  All of the previous cheftestants come back to act as sous chefs.  They get to pick two each.  Shirley has the first pick and snatches up Brooke’s obvious first pick, Casey.  Brooke goes with who I thought the first pick would be, Sheldon.  Shirley picks Katsuji, pretty much because he’s Mexican.  Brooke picks Sam, which is kind of a surprise to me but okay.  The judges bring in Brooke & Shirley’s chefs de cuisine for their third sous.

They shop, but the proteins are provided for them and they make a little list for the requests… only, Brooke forgets to add pork belly, even though she has a dish that is built around pork belly.  Shirley orders it as back up, so Brooke ends up getting to use it anyway.

They make:

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To be honest, I could tell Brooke had this on lock down.  The reception to her first three dishes was just too good.  Even though Shirley cleaned up on dessert (even Brooke’s mom knew that) and held her own on most of the other dishes, I just knew this one was going to Brooke.

You know, Brooke got beat by Kristen Kish via Last Chance Kitchen and, although Kristen was completely deserving, being that it was the first season they did LCK, it always felt a little rough to me.  For Brooke to come back and win it all via LCK really felt like the redemption she deserved.

Of course it’s hard to see Shirley lose.  She is so endearing!  She truly puts her heart on a plate, and listening to her sister teach her mother say “I’m very proud,” I felt Shirley got a little redemption too– “…not a doctor, but a chef,” she says.

It was a great season, and I can’t wait for another!

Top Chef: Ancient Mayan Tools

I’m so dumb, you guys.  I’ve been calling this episode the finale, when in fact the finale is tonight‘s episode.  I just assume this is it once they’re actually in the finale location!  We’ve seen finales with three in the past, can you blame me?  Anyway, I’m calling this penultimate episode “finale part one,” because, well, I’ve already put it out there.

Anyway, the final three relocate to the heart of the Yucatan for a habanero challenge.  They have to shop for their ingredients, which, as my fiancé notes, should be no problem– if you work in a kitchen, you speak Spanish… unless that kitchen is in Hawaii.  Sheldon seems to speak as much Spanish as I do, that is, none at all.  He ends up with a tamale instead of cheese.  Shirley used to work in a Mexican-Chinese fusion restaurant, and thus is complete in her element, but Brooke ends up taking the win again.

For the final elimination challenge, they are to create a dish like the Maya used to using traditional Mayan ingredients and traditional Mayan cooking methods only.  So, no tools and open flames.  The chefs are also shocked to see how limited the ingredients are– hey, they said only!

They cook in front of this amazing Indiana Jones-esque set and come up with the following:

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Shirley is the big winner and makes it into the [real] finale first– she’s full of joy!

“I get to cook, I get to cook!  I can’t wait to show you!”

Between Brooke & Sheldon, the choice is tougher.  What the judges really would love is Brooke’s fish on Sheldon’s dish, but they need to choose one.

It hurts, but Padma asks Sheldon to pack his knives before the real finale.  After, she & Tom both appear teary.  I was watching too!  Sheldon is so amazing, I’m truly sorry to see him go.  I do love a female finale, though!

Team Brooke or Team Shirley?!

Top Chef: Breakout and Dance

I figured I’d say my finale part 1 recap for right before the grand final tonight!

We’re in Mexico now with Shirley, Sheldon and John.  They find their way to Chivas Stadium, home of Guadalajara’s soccer team and their Quickfire Challenge.  They are joined by the winner of Last Chance Kitchen… Brooke!  I’ve got to say, I’d have been happy with either her or Casey here, but Brooke just feels right.  After being beat by Last Chance Kitchen in the finale, it’s only appropriate that she gets her chance to win again through Last Chance Kitchen.

Since Chavas means goat, they’re cooking goat.  A little morbid maybe?  Also, hard to do in 45 minutes!  Here’s what they makes:

Brooke wins the Quickfire, making her return all that much sweeter.

For the elimination challenge, it’s all about Patron!  They have to make a unique margarita to pair with a dish to serve to 100 Patron employees.  Also, they have sous chefs!  Casey, Sylva, Katsuji, and Emily walk on out.  Brooke gets to assign them since she won.  She takes Casey for herself, gives Sylva to Shirley, Emily to Sheldon, and Katsuji to John.  Yup, that last one’s trouble.

Here’s how they do:

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Sheldon was worried about his octopus, and the commercial led us to believe that we should be worried too.  Have no fear, though, Sheldon’s food is great!  The drink gets compared to a fish tank, though– too much garnish.

I was really worried about Shirley.  Sylva accidentally grabbed vanilla instead of agave nectar and, while Shirley thought it was a happy accident, the judges did not agree.

Brooke’s only criticism was that maybe her drink wasn’t that strong, but it made the pairing with her dish that much better.  She ends up taking the win!  Two wins directly after being eliminated, or three wins in a row– she’s on fire!

John’s drink is a big part of his un-doing.  He really wants to create a classic margarita, which is not the creative drink the judges asked for and with just tequila and lime, completely overpowers the food.  He is asked to pack his knives.

Tonight’s finale is actually the match-up I wanted– Shirley, Sheldon, and Brooke will face off for the title.  Who do you think will win?!

 

Top Chef: I’m Not Crying

We’re down to the final four at the start of last week’s episode– Brooke, Shirley, and Sheldon I knew would be here, but I’m as surprised as John is to see him there!  But yeah, no; he’s not crying.

The chefs find the Quickfire set up to be a little different– 4 identical sets of 2 work stations divided by a wall.  The chefs are to instruct mystery guests and make a dish that tastes and looks the same!  Now, these mystery guests are their nearest & dearest– John’s wife, Sheldon’s wife, Shirley’s husband, and Brooke’s sister.  (Fans will remember; Brooke’s husband is a chef too, so he clearly wasn’t allowed to play.)  It cracks me up that no one seems to recognize their loved one’s voice!  Sheldon picks up on it right away, but he keeps the surprise for everyone.

All four dishes are successful, but Sheldon ends up taking home the win and a prize fo $10k for him & his wife!  The chefs all get to spend some time with their loved one that evening when Padma cooks for them in their home.

The elimination challenge for the week is equally as sentimental as the Quickfire ended up being.  The chefs are to create a dish to reflect on their time in Charleston; winner gets to cook at the James Beard house!

Here are the results:

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John worries his dish may be a little simple by comparison, but his oceanside point-of-view is clear.

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You know Shirley’s going to knock it out of the park when she says she’s not made this for the judges, but for her family who inspired her.  With a request to open up a Chinese soul food restaurant in Charleston heard, I think it’s safe to say she did just that.

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Brooke takes a literal interpretation of the challenge, as that’s how she works best.  She uses ingredients and elements from dishes that have brought her success in Charleston.  Though she’s not confident, the judges do enjoy what she presents.

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Sheldon works magic melding cultures– he takes Carolina gold rice and turns it into chow fun.  And with it, he wins!

Tom says there are no losers, just one person who’s not moving on.  Sadly, and honestly surprisingly, that person is Brooke.

Let’s not forget, Brooke was beat by Last Chance Kitchen’s champion, so she’s really still in this!  Maybe.  We’ll see tonight, right?!