Top Chef Recap: Episode 12 – Cursed is the Cheesemaker


I hope all you haters are happy with this fully-clothed Padma picture. For those of you who are fans of the previous photo gallery, here’s a very NSFW link.

Moving on, Tony Bourdain says this was the best Top Chef episode of the year, and I’m inclined to agree, because if I didn’t, I think he would yell at me. Seriously though, there were some awesome dishes from every cheftestant, except of course for that Jamaican cheesemaker, who set a Top Chef record by serving raw fish and raw chicken in the same episode.

The episode started at Le Cirque, where Sirlio Maccione stepped in to guest judge the cheftestants’ attempts to replicate a classic Le Cirque dish, halibut wrapped in thin strands of potato (I’m sure there is a much fancier description). They all did surprisingly well, except of course, for the aforementioned Sara, who forgot to cook hers. Maccione turned out to be the most honest judge yet, admitting that he wanted to award the quickfire to Casey just because he’d like to bone her, but instead Hung took the prize.

For the final elimination challenge, a whole bunch of fancy-pants chefs came in to judge what each cheftestant could do with the supposed most important ingredients ever: a chicken, potatoes and onions. Of course, they also got to head out to the yuppie paradise of the Union Square Greenmarket and buy all kinds of trendy leafy stuff to throw in there.

It one again came down to Hung vs. Casey, and the show is making a point to emphasize that Hung is amazingly talented technically, but maybe not the most inspired and creative chef, and vice-versa for Casey.

Hung’s sous vide butter poached chicken wins, even though they thought his pommes dauphin were too doughy. (NB: I am unfamiliar with these pommes dauphin as I don’t regularly eat at places like Le Cirque, but they look amazing, so look for my attempt at them soon).

Casey, meanwhile, has to settle for second, because she made Coq au Vin even though she didn’t have an old rooster. Who knew you needed an old rooster for Coq au Vin?

Anyway, Brian coasted in the middle with a weird-looking shepherds pie, Dale tried to get crazy fancy and screwed up, and Sara of course can’t cook, so she finally gets sent home. Nice prediction, JoeHoya.

Next week is the “finale,” and judging by the way Bravo has dragged out this season, it will probably last seven episodes. They’ve set it up nicely for any of the contestants to win. They each have the gutsy, underdog vibe – will it be Casey, the first woman Top Chef, or hardworking immigrant Hung? Or goofy gay guy Dale? Of course, this is America, so straight white male Brian might still have a shot.

Now, none of this really matters, because the real question is, what are we going to do next month without Padma bursting into our lives once a week? Seriously, let me know if you have any ideas.

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  • Liza September 20, 2007  

    Yeah, the raw chicken AND fish was amazing, but I think it’s also curious that Dale forgot to serve his honey rosemary sauce this week, and last week he also “forgot” to make all 18
    dishes on the airplane….

  • 80 Proof September 20, 2007  

    Brian’s dish was truly a site to behold, and not in a good way (although the judges seemed to like how it tasted).

    I love how everyone gets pissed at Hung for being secretive or not helping. I mean, come on, they are only playing for 100,000 dollars and 16 rolls of Glad Wrap. What’s the big deal? Help your neighbor in need! (heavy on the sarcasm). Helping is fine, but this was to get to finale, so I don’t blame Hung. So what if he’s cocky, wouldn’t you rather your chef be?

    Casey is just a bowl of surprises. She keeps getting better and better. She’s like a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament that had some regular season injury problems, but is now playing at full speed. No one wants to face her (that’s my best Sports Guy impression).

    I don’t think Dale or SWD (straight white dude) have a chance.

  • gansie September 20, 2007  

    I’m with Liza. Dale is just too sloppy right now to go far. But, if he can be more inventive than one-fish-note Brain, than he might make it to top three.
    I’m pulling for Casey!

  • BS September 20, 2007  

    another note about Brian – he has moved away from seafood on purpose, to prove he can do other things – which he has done well, if not excellently. But when you think about who would open the best restaurant, you gotta think brian would open a great seafood place, and the fact that he can’t cook steak or chicken, or on a plane or in a club, isn’t really that relevant – so if he moves back to fish in the finale, I think he could still win.

  • gansie September 20, 2007  

    fine. i have a total fucking crush on mr. brian malarkey.

  • BS September 20, 2007  

    I’m sorry, maybe I should have said this in my post, but don’t you think Sara, being a professional cheesemaker, could have, um…made cheese a little more often?

  • JoeHoya September 20, 2007  

    Call me crazy, but I think actually making cheese takes quite a bit longer than they had for any one challenge.

    That being said, she could have definitely used cheese far more often or at least demonstrated that she knew more than how to make couscous out of any grain or starch at hand.

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