Straight Up Yummy

Straight Up Yummy's Senior Editor explains why this week's episode was a treat for a NYC foodie like herself.

Hello, my little eggheads. I can tell from your comments that you're all still pretty revved up about last week's elimination, but, well, I don't know what else to say on that topic.

I have a lot to say about this week's episode, however, which I thought was one of the most relatable and relevant episodes we've ever done, at least for a self-proclaimed NYC foodie like myself. Before we get to my reasons for thinking so, let's start with the rousing Quickfire Relay, a Top Chef classic.

As Eric Ripert says in his vlog this week, I too was slightly confused by the change to this season's race until the first team got to start cooking. That being said, I get confused easily. Like, I never understand the rules of The Challenge on MTV. Anyway, usually, each team goes head-to-head to see who can finish one task at a time first. This time, each team had to do a bunch of tasks at a time, and the time in which they finished their mise en place determined how long they would get to cook a dish made from those ingredients. Although Angelo's team finished first, their dish was on the bottom. Who didn't see that one coming? I think Marcel's team's dish could've gone either way. The didn't finish early, but they were smart about making a carpaccio and almost got the win. Too bad Richard's team's dish was better -- they had me at "Artichoke cooked three ways." This reminded me of a dish Bryan Voltaggio made his season, on which I'm totally blanking (I think it was his Bocuse d'Or dish, though) where Tom commented on the fact that although the dish looked simple, the amount of technique that went into it was incredible. So, kudos to the team!OK, now I can sink my teeth into the Elimination. See, one might say the best episode of Top Chef: Miami, was the chefs' trip to New York, starting with a Quickfire at Le Cirque, and then a legendary challenge at the FCI. The skill level at that point was high, and the chefs were in (arguably, of course) their most esteemed company that episode. But the thing is, no New Yorkers I know goes to Le Cirque on a regular basis (or at least I don't.) I'd like to think that place is reserved for special occasions. And some could certainly argue that this week's restaurants are expensive and fall in the same category, but as someone who spends the majority of her paycheck on food, well, it's different. Marea, Townhouse, Ma Peche, and wd~50 are foodie havens ... all the time. All the chefs, especially Quickfire guest judge David Chang are foodie gods in New York, and so this episode actually felt the most New York to me so far. Now, I don't want to sound too much like Stephen, offering unwanted commentary, and the truth is, I only offer food advice if asked (usually), but I can still remember my tasting menu at wd~50, which I did almost two and a half years ago. Not only can I remember it, but I still have the menu, which arrives at the table in an envelope (or it did -- not sure what they do now.) It has actually been sitting on my work desk this whole time. (Please excuse my appearance -- this is the morning after the Bravo Holiday Party.)



I remember my favorite course being the "Eggs benedict." It was so whimsical and delicious, which makes total sense, knowing, as Dale Talde did, that Wylie is an egghead. Although I have yet to make it to Marea or Townhouse, I have been to David Chang's Ssam Bar and frequest his Milk Bar more than I care to mention, and can't wait to finally make it to Ma Peche. (Plans to dine there have always fallen through.) So, this week's episode was comfortable and personal. We'll start at Marea: Poor Stephen. The guy is a sweetheart, and although I'm sad for him, I think he knew as well as we did it was his time to go. I'm going to assume he actually got farther than he thought he might, considering he's never really in the kitchen anymore. It was nice to read in Bourdain's blog that Stephen's technique is still in tact, cooking a perfect salmon, albeit a losing one. Although Stephen came off as a bit pretentious the last couple episodes, I think his heart was in the right place, sharing his knowledge of Marea with Tre. It's so funny -- what annoyed Tre is exactly what always drives my sister nuts -- when people say, "Try this, you'll like it." Well, they might not. And although I can say with almost complete certainty that my sister is surely less adventurous with her food than Tre, it is equally as annoying for them. This is all moot of course since Tre's dish won his group.

On to Ma Peche, where Fabio certainly seemed to be the most out of his element. On the flip side, Angelo was totally in his element. And while the judges seemed wowed by his use of white chocolate with fish, and I don't want to take anything away from that, we've seen it before. Richard Blais and Dale Talde. Season 4. Salmon. 'Member?!

Over at David Burke's Townhouse, Dale Levitski seemed to be the front-runner, but his lack of editing was his downfall this time, and he went home. I kinda knew Antonia would win her heat -- if you will -- because her "peas and carrots" premise just sounded so inspired. Her peas cooked perfectly this time.

And finally over at wd~50, I really, really wanted Marcel to win this, but I knew it wasn't meant to be. Dale cooked what he knew, but did get inspired by Wylie Dufresne's aesthetic. I would have loved to have tried that egg dumpling -- maybe it will end up on the Buddakan menu one day. I was worried for Tiffani, but I didn't feel like it was her time to go home yet, and for some reason I think the judges felt good about her recognizing what she did wrong, and how she would correct it next time.

Can we go back to Marcel for one sec? I know most of you don't understand why I like him, and if this episode didn't change your mind, nothing will, but he is just so passionate about cooking, and it's such a pleasure to watch. As opposed to some of the other chefs who complain about everything, I cracked up when he said how much fun he was having during the Relay Race challenge. He just loves being in a kitchen, loves the challenges, and loves the competition, and I think it's so refreshing. So, no matter what you might think of him, he loves what he does. And I love that.

I've already peeped next week's episode, and it's kind of awesome, but first, tell me what you think about this week's! And, as always, Happy Noshing!

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