Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Chef: Bocuse d'Or

"The Bocuse d’Or (the Concours mondial de la cuisine, World Cuisine Contest) is a biennial world chef championship. Named for the chef Paul Bocuse, the event takes place during two days near the end of January in Lyon, France at the SIRHA International Hotel, Catering and Food Trade Exhibition, and is one of the world's most prestigious cooking competitions."

Last night the chef contestants of Top Chef: Las Vegas participated in their own Bocuse d'Or. The quick fire challenge, create a dish with a protein inside of a protein inside of a protein. Awesome. Guest judge, Gavin Kaysen. Awesome. Jennifer combines calamari, scallops and salmon for a much needed win. As soon as Padme said, "welcome back," I knew Jennifer had bagged the last quick fire challenge in Las Vegas, her reward was 30 extra minutes time in the elimination challenge. Kudos also were in order for Eli who, for the second week in a row, made a dish that looked and sounded good, to me anyways. Too bad for him the competition isn't Top Chef: Brunch!

The elimination challenge, Top Chef's own version of the Bocuse d'Or. Each contestant made a platter with protein and two garnishes. The protein choices are lamb and salmon. The stakes? Nothing much, a place in the final four in Napa Valley, 30,000 dollars for the best taste, creativity, and execution, and oh yeah, a chance to compete for a spot on the 2011 American Bocuse d'Or team! Wow. Talk about cooking under pressure. Here's a breakdown of what was served by the contestants:

Kevin: He prepared poached lamb loin, sherry-glazed beet and asparagus in sunchoke cream. Kevin was dogged a little by the judges for being over simplistic but once again his flavors were good enough for him to win the elimination challenge. He really beat himself up over the ordeal but it was clear based on the comments by the judges about the other entries that he was going to win.

Bryan: He presents crusted lamb loin, lamb shank crepinette and orzo au gratin. He under cooks the lamb, the kiss of death this season.

Jennifer: Her dish is salmon and caviar, shrimp flan and truffle, celery root and shiitake. I believe the judges had problems with her vision and the salmon was not cut properly where one judge had an under cooked portion.

Michael: Mr. Arrogant prepares salmon with cauliflower chickpea tart and zucchini tzatziki. It was discussed that he was the only one of the chef contestants that had ever competed in a similar event. He was slammed pretty hard by the judges for a lack of vision and for a bone that was found in one of the judge's salmon! Michael also described his presentation as Mediterranean influenced. Bad call. I thought for sure Michael would be exiting the competition but somehow he survived.

Eli: He makes his final appearance in Top Chef by presenting sausage wrapped lamb loin, carrot puree and tomato-piquillo canape. Once again under cooked lamb is the straw that broke the camel's back. Adios d-bag.

Some final thoughts on the last Las Vegas episode:

Gavin Kaysen is incredibly cute! Too bad he looks like a hobbit when standing next to Padme.

I actually felt bad for Eli for a moment when he was eliminated. Very emotional, not just for him but for Jennifer and Kevin. Then I remembered what a turd he's been. You do have to give him credit, though, for making it as far as he did in the competition.

With Eli gone, my new villain is Michael. He really dumps on Kevin about his simple approach to foods and pops off saying something like, "he makes food that I prepare on my weekends off." His whining about not winning challenges in previous episodes has also soured me. "It's hard to be humble when you're perfect in ever way!"

Kevin rebounds after a poor performance in the quick fire challenge. I'll take simple, prepared well, and good tasting food over more technically challenging, under cooked food any day.

Jennifer also rebounded in a big way. She won the quick fire challenge even though she said she's never cooked a ballotine (or is it a ballotine technique?). I also believe she probably finished in the top three of the elimination challenge.

I think the final four is fantastic! I truly believe that all four contestants we are left with are the best of the whole competition. I hope Michael is the next to go but who can say. I'm still sticking by Kevin to win it all. On to Napa.

I want to give a big thank you to Dealing in Subterfuges for the fantastic recap on her blog. Without referencing this site there is no way I could remember specifically what everyone prepared!


TROLL Y2K said...

A very talented Final Four indeed.
Nicely written recap. Kevin was smart to focus on execution and flavor.

Dave said...

I modified a portion of my recap. I thought the winner of the elimination challenge would secure a spot on the American Bocuse d'Or team when in fact they would just qualify to compete for a spot. I guess I misunderstood what was said during that portion of the show. Oops.