Top Chef Goes Camping   »

I have no excuse for the Top Chef recap being this late this week, except perfection takes sweet time. Besides, don’t you need a fresh reminder for tomorrow’s episode? So much has happened in the past week. There was the Emmys on Sunday, which unless you are an obsessive pop culture aficioniado (or someone posessing an actual life, which I most certainly don’t have) you probably didn’t watch. Top Chef was up for two awards, both of which they lost to two programs that have been on for a really long time and proved that the Academy voters don’t actually watch reality tv.

Anyway, whatever, who even watches Survivor anymore?  Moving on to last week’s episode, they had another “high-stakes” quickfire, this time involving cactus. Every one was very confused, which was surprising in this crowd of supposed food experts. Any one who’s ever been to El Balazo on Haight knows that cactus, or nopales, are a standard of Mexican cuisine. So Mattin, San Francisco resident, should have known what to create. Jon Gosselin wannabe Mike Isabella won this challenge with his cactus and tuna ceviche.

Ceviche, or Sa-veeeech as Jen Carroll calls it, is the unofficial recipe of this gang, much like scallops were the fall-back last season. These fools love to sa-veech everything. Bryan and Michael also made sa-veeeches; Michael’s red cactus coulis was vegan and looked interesting, especially with the side of veggie chips. But I’ll eat anything in “chip” form. The most confusing was Ashley Merriman’s cactus jelly donuts, which seems like the kind of item that you would only order as a dare.

Speaking of Ashley, she sure did get the loser edit this time! Whenever they pull out that product placed phone and they mention some illness or event they are missing in exchange for C-list reality stardom, you know they are headed for elmination. Fortunately, Megan Allison’s future girlfriend remains in the running.

Instead, it was Mattin, wearer of scarves and liar about asparagus who got sent home. He made a “ceviche" that was basically a Costco party tray. Actually, a Costco party tray probably would have been a better idea. The challenge was to make food for ranchers on an open grill, why so many of them picked fish was beyond understanding. As pathetic as Mattin’s dish was, Robin should have been sent home. The minute I heard her say grilled romaine salad, I knew she was doomed. If she makes it past tomorrow’s episode, I’m expecting to watch the chefs stage a mutiny.

The winner of the episode was Bryan, who made a bunch of meat with some vegetables on the side. He’s one of the brothers who’s sibling rivalry storyline gets shoved down our throats. I want them to keep all siblings contained to the Amazing Race or Biggest Loser.

The vegetarian report on this episode is that there was no vegetarian food. Nothing, except for Mike’s cactus dish during the quickfire. The rest is meat, meat, and more meat. What veg dish would you have made for an open fire grill challenge?


Top Chef Serves Up Tofu Ceviche  »

Last night’s Top Chef was bad. The challenge was so contrived: a “battle of the sexes” in which teams were separated by gender and had to cook for a bachelor and bacholorette party. The latter would have been fine (I GUESS) had there not been several lesbian chefs complaining about having to cater a wedding-related event when they themselves could not get married. I get it, but it was irrelevant. This is a cooking show, not your platform.

To make matters worse, the challenge was to create dishes based on shots. Of alcohol. No, the wedding was not fraternity themed. I’m sure it was some producer’s idea, but how dreadful. However, vegan dearies, the bride specified that she had one vegan friend, and that she wanted that person to be able to eat.

Unfortunately, it would appear only one chef made that vegan an actual dish—Hector Santiago created a tofu ceviche (to go with a shot of tequila), which looks super-refreshing and amazing. I could see it being very comfortable on Millenium’s menu. This dish got high raves from the judges, proving they can deal with proteins that are not meat-based [ed: SHOCKING].

It’s too bad the vegan lady was not around for the Quickfire, because the winner of that challenge ended up being a vegan dish! This time it was a gazpacho made with liquid nitrogen. Laurine Wickett, the lady who made bacon donuts last week, also made a vegan asparagus lemon soup.

The other non-meat-tastic dishes were all sides: apple sorbet (also made with liquid nitrogen!), watermelon carpaccio that would have to be modified to get rid of the cheese, ginger carrot soup (minus the sour cream for “garnish”), and someone snuck some arugula in somewhere.

A dish that I would love to see veganized was the winner of the Elimination Challenge, Bryan Voltaggio’s sweet & sour macaroon [ed: actually a meringue; thanks, Bravo] with guacamole, corn nuts and corn puree. It’s meant to be a take on chips and guacamole, and looks like a unique taste sensation. Surely, one of our brilliant, enterprising, resourceful readers could create something similar? Please let us know if you do!

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