Hello, I am Zin! And I realized something about halfway through this episode: this show is boring! I am not sure if it is because they are duplicating the Top Chef challenges, or because the Food Network people are boring, or if they are really sanitizing this to make everyone look good since the purpose seems to be to promote all the shows these people have! It is like an extended promo! And there are too many talking heads! Or maybe just because I am not that interested in baseball. But I am bored!
They gather at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. I know some people who live in San Diego, hi Bonnie and em! Even baseball parks are boring now – come on, a baseball park named after a pet store? What does baseball have to do with pets? The theme is transformation, turning ballpark food into Kitchen Stadium worthy food. They talk about transformation of ingredients a lot on Chopped, but not in the same way – there, it is more about grinding up cookies or using seafood for puree or deep frying uni. But here it is different. Make an upscale hot dog?
The people who won last week, Zakarian and Beau, get an extra minute as an advantage (that does not seem like much of an advantage to me). They have to get ingredients from various concession stands in the ball park. Beau is still limping from his turned ankle. And Zakarian is the oldest in the bunch. So they need that extra minute just to keep even! They will cook on grills and have sixty minutes to create two dishes.
Alex wants to focus and stay true to herself. And she wants to make ice cream since the ice cream machine gives you automatic extra credit! That is silly. And what, they have grills and an ice cream machine? I think there is something fishy here, like there is an entire kitchen somewhere and they really do the cooking there. I do not believe much the Food Network says. They have played too fast and too loose on too many other shows. Falkner also wants to use the ice cream machine. She likes to take classics and tweak them. Marcus wants to do four dishes even though he has been scolded before for doing too many things. Zakarian will do brunch at the ball park. Chiarello likes the idea of street food of his local San Francisco and New York. Irvine is going to make a hotburg, a combination hamburger and hot dog. He sings, “There is no other hotburg in the United States of America.” That is probably for a reason! Beau is going to deconstruct.
They present their dishes:
Alex: First: sausage and pepers, and fried onion rings. Simon says (oh, I love saying that!) she did the transformation element, the onion rings are smart. I am not sure why onion rings would be smart. They might be good, but smart? Second: Lemon sherbet with whipped cream. Michael Symon says it works. Judy thinks it is nice after greasy food. I think she just called the sausage greasy, but maybe not. I think she is right, though, sherbet or sorbet works great after something like sausage. Simon says it is ballpark perfection.
Zakarian: First, avocado one eyed susan with shrimp toast cajun style. Judy says it is nice; Michael Symon thinks the food is fantastic but does not focus on the challenge of ballpark food. Second, Gazpacho with mustard crème. Simon is glad to know someone who knows less about baseball than he does (since he is British), it is not ballpark food. Michael Symon points out it is the best food so far (which, since according to this show is not such a big deal as he is only the second chef). He thinks he made ballpark food taste like kitchen stadium. It is funny, in his intro Simon was all about taste but now he is all about ballparks. I do not think lemon sherbet has much to do with ballparks. But I have not been in a ballpark, ever. All I know is peanuts and cracker jack. And what they did on Top Chef DC which included tuna tartar.
Beau: First, deconstructed corn dog, shrimp and grits. Michael Symon says it is too rich with nothing to cut the heaviness; Judy liked the shrimp. Second, carpaccio with bleu cheese and peppers as a deconstructed cheesesteak. Simon thinks it looks undercooked rather than a carpaccio, a technique problem. Ok, I am annoyed with this Simon guy. He has not made a taste complaint yet! And I do not think carpaccio is a ballpark food!
Anne: First, brisket lettuce wrap, pickled veggies; Judy wants more spice. Second, chicken and kielbasa sloppy joes. Simon likes the crunchy roll; Michael Symon prefers a soft bun for a sloppy joe; it is good but he does not love it.
Falkner: First, a remodeled (not deconstructed) cheesesteak from grilled brisket with onion, pickled veggies, and bleu cheese ice cream. Michael Symon likes the playfulness, the heat of habanero, and the ice cream. Judy says it is genius. Second, remodeled corn dog from grilled kielbasa. Simon is indignant she just sliced some kilebasa, not really impressive. I wonder why he did not get all snippy about the kielbasa Anne used?
Chiarello: First, polpette (tilapia fishcake, which is odd since polpette are meatballs; I guess they are fish meatballs, but it is more likely he is trying to give it a fancy name) and shrimp cioppino. Michael Symon says it is SF but refined (hey, SF is plenty refined all by itself!); Judy thinks it is nice. Second, sausage and pepper with raw egg yolk in the shell. Wow, Simon found the egg unpleasant, Judy agrees. Alton says, “If you are going to serve a raw egg you need to do it better than this” and holds up the egg in shell, and white is dripping down like snot. Chiarello interviews, “Get off my back already.” Wow, testy! Though he did make it to the finals of Top Chef Masters and Alton Brown has never really done any restaurant cooking, he got a culinary degree so he could make a tv show, which is pretty impressive actually, but it is not the same as running a restaurant. Still, he is right about the egg. It is pretty disgusting.
Marcus: He has four dishes: First, shrimp tostado and fish taquitos. Micahel Symon says it tells a story, it is ball park seafood perfection. Judy thinks finger food is smart. Second, pork sandwich with fries. Simon says he has overdone it, made too many things, and maybe not today but some day it will come back and bite him. Bite me, Simon. Just because he can cook rings around these Food Network clowns is no reason to scold him!
Hughes: (I had to think, who is Hughes?) First: shrimp and pork meatball sub with corn salsa, bbq sauce, and blue cheese. Excuse me, but pork and fish in a meatball? That sounds awful. Michael Symon is not feeling shrimp but got most of it. Simon is unhappy that the bun is impossible to pick up and a knife and fork is required (he still is not talking about taste, just ancillary crap). Second, a tilapia corn dog, spicy dill sour cream. Judy loves it; Simon says the corn dog is good as anything he has had today. Finally, taste!
Irvine: First, hotburg with bleu cheese aioli. He ground hot dogs with the hamburger meat. Simon says it is successful. I do not believe him! It sounds awful. Second, deconstructed fish taco with pickled radishes and guacamole sauce. Michael Symon says the seasoning is off; Judy thinks the pickles are way too strong.
They return to the studio for judgment!
Three did well and are safe:
Hughes – wow, that is a surprise, they were pretty critical of his dish, the soft bun, the nissing shrimp! Simon says he can see his happiness in the food but he should give more thought to presentation; the deep fried tilapia was delicious. Oh, come on, like Padma said, if you deep fried her toe it would be delicious!
Falkner – Judy says she is taking risks in all the right places, the ice cream was a highlight. Michael Symon loved the whimsy but is still mad she just sliced kielbasa; if you are going to use sausage in Kitchen Stadium, you had better make it. Oh, come on, like anyone made sausage at the ball park!
Alex – Alton says the judges have nothing to say, her dishes were perfect. She looked like she had no idea what he said! It was a weird way of saying it. She is the winner!
Three did ok and are safe:
Anne – Michael Symon thinks she is playing it safe.
Beau – Judy says his dishes were not disastrous, but were not winners either.
Marcus – Simon lectures him again: “Enough already, next time you bring out more than required, we will make you pick which ones we are to taste.” Boy is he jealous! He is not even Food Network! Maybe that is why they are getting him to do the dirty work of scolding Marcus for being an overachiever.
Then we have the potential losers:
Zakarian – Judy says he cooked gorgeously and his technique was flawless but he did not follow the rules, he blew off the challenge, it was supposed to be ballpark food. Are shrimp and grits, or cioppino, ballpark food? I get what they mean, but I think they are overdoing it. But it serves him right for all the people he has Chopped for dumping pretzels on the plate!
Irvine – Michael Symon commends him for staying away from fish & chips, but the radishes overpowered his taco. That is the only complaint? That does not sound all that bad!
Chiarello – Simon loved the polpette but the raw egg was a failure.
Alton tells Zakarian he is safe, but warns him about skirting the rules. “Be careful!”
Irvine and Chiarello do the sudden death showdown. The secret ingredient is peanuts! They have thirty minutes.
Irvine thinks the challenge is giving Chiarello “a little angina” since peanuts are not Italian. So, Robert, are peanuts British? No, he is making Asian food. Chiarello is making pasta which is pretty nervy with only thirty minutes. He is an overachiever too, I guess! Angina or no.
Irvine: Peanut crusted halibut with peanut hummus and a peanut-lemongrass-ginger sauce. He calls it Asian flavors in French style food. Simon loves the peanuts three ways. Michael Symon likes the moistness of the ifsh and the flavor of the peanuts. Judy likes the use of peanuts but wants less hummus, it is very thick, she used veggies as dip, and she wanted more of the sauce.
Chiarello: peanut pesto fettucini with an heirloom tomato salad. Well, the pasta is great, but the salad is a throw-away, it seems to me! Alton asks what the peanuts do for the pesto that pine nuts do not. The answer, I think is that they are the challenge, it is not a pine nut battle! But Chiarello makes something up about how he fried them instead of roasting them to bring out the flavor. Michael Symon did not think the peanuts would come through but they did; he loves the tomato salad. Hey, tomato salad, that is something I could do! Simon complains that fifty percent of the dish does not use the ingredient. He is right! But it still has nothing to do with taste! Michael Symon thinks there was enough peanut flavor in the pesto for the whole dish.
I think they might dump Chiarello just because he was on TCM. And Irvine did use more peanuts.
Irvine is out. I am surprised! Happy, but surprised! But that is how Food Network shows are, they do not really make sense most of the time. They do a lot of chest thumping about how such a great chef is out because his hummus was a little too thick, which sounds really dirty if you are in a silly frame of mind! And I am, because this show is very boring, there are too many talking heads which mean nothing other than “I am such a good chef.” The only good talking head was Chiarello saying “Get off my back.” I think he has not been on TV for a while. The rest of them have their robotic Food Network “brand” personalities automatically kick in! I know Falkner can be interesting; she was the one who gave that crazy TC:JD guy with the “Red Hots are for my mommy” a pep talk! I hope she starts talking more!
I missed the coming attactions for next week. I hope it is more interesting!