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Apr 3, 2012 12:33 PM

Top Chef Canada, Season 2, Episode 4 (spoilers)

It's the offal episode. Yum!

Quickfire: The chefs have to taste proteins and identify them blindfolded. The losers: Trista and Elizabeth with 2. The top: Jonathan, Ryan, Sergio and Gabriell with 5.
Sudden death ingredient taste off: Round 1: Ryan and Gabriell are eliminated by bee pollen. Round 2: Jonathan beats Sergio with avocado oil.
Jonathan wins an advantage in the Elimination.

Elimination: Create an offal tasting menu for Chris Cosentino. Served at Parts & Labour with Chef Matty Matheson as an additional diner.
They draw knives to determine which offal they get to cook. Jonathan's advantage is to switch his ingredient with another chef. Also, he gets to switch the ingredients for two other chefs.
Jonathan switches his lamb liver with Trevor's veal sweetbreads. He also switches David's tripe with Gabriell's duck liver.
Bottom: Gabriell's soup with tripe, Curtis' lamb intestine sausages with couscous, Trista's pork tongue pastrami and Sergio's beef tongue poutine.
Top: Jimmy's veal brain ravioli, Elizabeth's pig ear two ways, Carl's beef heart and eggs and David's duck liver ice cream.
The winner: David and his liver ice cream.
And Sergio goes home for poutine.

Congratulations to David for his duck liver ice cream. Like the judges, I've been waiting for David to step up. He's a great chef and the most experienced of the contestants. I'm glad he finally performed as I have long expected him to.
Funny how Jonathan traded for the sweetbreads but them didn't make a dish good enough for the top 4. Great palate though.
Sergio, too bad - the idea sounded great. It should have been great but he failed to execute. I love beef tongue and add cheese and gravy - yummy! As a Quebecois, he should have delivered an amazing poutine!
Curtis, did you ever have those crispy pork intestines in the Chinese restaurants when you were a kid? You know, the crispy red coloured things that you loved eating until they told you they were intestines? Could you have made those with your lamb intestines?

Love Chris Cosentino! His comments and critique were so insightful. Like the TC US judging. Not the repetitive, stilted comments that we usually get on TC Canada. Did you give Mark any tips on more discerning commentary and analysis, Chris?

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  1. Happened to catch this episode and was both amused and found it to be pathetic.

    Amused that many of these chefs struggled hard with offal. Pathetic that they did.

    From the shots they showed it looked like Gabriell didn't even know how to clean tripe properly. Could have been editing for effect.

    Some of the chef's and Shereen's comments about tripe - how one would only eat it to try it - were offensive to say the least. And being partly of Iranian descent she's either totally whitewashed or just a plain moron. Maybe also editing for effect but whatever.

    This show is comical.

    4 Replies
    1. re: radiopolitic

      Pathetic is an interesting word choice... it's certainly true that more than a few of us did a poor job with our product but I've dealt with about half the offal options they had in the challenge at once time or another and I've certainly eaten my fair share (though I've never warmed up to quite a few of them, especially pancreas and lung). Also they actually thought Sergio's tongue was cooked fine, they merely hated the rest of the dish.

      As for working with offal, let's face it, you learn how to deal with the basic ones at school (liver, sweetbreads, maybe kidney) and if you didn't go to school you may learn it on the job. Beyond that you're pretty much on your own unless you worked at an offal-centric place like St. John's.

      Actually, Gabe admitted as much in the confessionals that he had never dealt with tripe before... so he was pretty much screwed from the get go... though in retrospect if I were him I would've scrubbed that tripe with an abrasive pad and a lot of blanching) before I dared to start cooking it, it had a really bad colour to it.

      1. re: Blueicus

        I was thinking the same thing. Some people like comment "how could he not know how to cook tripe?!" I imagine it's easier said than done, especially if you work in a restaurant that doesn't serve the item.

      2. re: radiopolitic

        about the judges' comments re: tripe... They caught me off guard at first also, but when I re-listened I got the impression that what they were trying to say is that if someone is ordering a tripe dish, that they want to try it, ie; have it in all its glory - and that the dish should therefore feature it prominently. It shouldn't be hidden away in the corner of the plate.

        1. re: marcopolo

          That's what I heard as well. They were saying that if you order tripe, you are ordering it because you want tripe. You aren't ordering tripe to have it hidden.

      3. Ugh, I wasn't looking forward to watching this episode on TV but on the other hand I'm not going to shy away from it just because I made an idiot of myself in front of Cosentino.

        To answer your question, the intestine that is used in chinese cooking is the large intestine. The intestine I was given is the small intestine, which has much thinner walls and really is primarily used for sausage casing. At first I too thought I was getting the large intestine but when I actually saw the product the only viable thing to do was to make sausages; there wasn't enough bulk to the offal to do anything else with it.

        Now to analyzing how I screwed it up: I think ultimately the main reason I did so poorly was that I simply didn't want to make sausages. In my demented mindset there was no elegant way to reconcile making sausages and incorporating it into a tasting menu that featured it as a main element so ultimately I just decided to go in that north african direction. From that starting point I had the strange idea to add more and more elements to it (and they were hot, mind you) until it was basically impossible to plate 8 dishes in a timely manner by one person before anything got overcooked or cold. Mark was right, I must've hit my head on something hard earlier that day (metaphorically at least).

        Honestly, I would've preferred to have gotten the tripe over the intestine, at least then I could make a dish that would be more my style. Apart from street meat and breakfast sausage I just don't eat fresh sausages that often.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Blueicus

          I'm glad you survived to cook another day!

          1. re: chefhound

            It was not a fun day, that's for sure. I pretty much knew I'd be on the bottom about four minutes before I had to present my dish. I started to strategize ways to defend my dish at judge's table immediately after I presented it.

          2. re: Blueicus

            It was a completely, totally challenging cooking day I'm sure, as it certainly seemed that way from this side of the TV.

            Your points about offal are taken well. Those of us who don't eat offal regularly aka North Americans in general whose culture does not include these foods don't really understand how difficult it can be to cook with these ingredients.

            Very glad you survived to cook another day.

            1. re: Blueicus

              Blueicus, I'm really appreciating the behind the scenes commentary!

              1. re: Blueicus

                Also some other observations: At this point in the game I felt there were at least half a dozen chefs I had to look out for, it was a tight competition and I felt everybody had the potential to win. I also really loved Jimmy's dish, I personally thought he should've won. Hauling and packing all your prep and plates and utensils from site to site is both irritating and exhausting; I felt like a caterer. I felt the chasm between the easiest and hardest ingredients was immense, in some ways similar to the baby shower quickfire.

                1. re: Blueicus

                  Good point: whoever had the more mainstream ingredients (ie, duck liver, sweetbreads) had a head start.

                  1. re: piccola

                    To be fair though a chef such as Connie would've done better with my ingredient and Sergio's dish had correctly cooled beef tongue, merely poorly cooked poutine

                    Every contestant eventually faces a challenge they're uncomfortable with, the key is to be able to rough them out and put on a decent show

                    1. re: Blueicus

                      Absolutely. I guess it just goes to show you can never be totally prepared for every ingredient/challenge.

              2. I'd love to do the blind taste test. I've seen in on Hell's Kitchen before and I'm always amazed at the foods they can't identify. Having said that, I bet the meat test was super hard and the oil test even harder.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cellophane_star

                  Blind tasting is a really difficult.

                  At a restaurant we were served a "wine" in a black glass and it was impossible to know what it was, and it was Sake instead of grape wine; once the sommelier told us what is was, all the puzzle pieces came into place.

                2. I find Top Chef Canada to be a poorly produced show. For a country that has a lot of good chefs -- this show does not seem to be drawing the best of the best. I understand that Food TV Canada does not have much cash, but this is not up to par. I believe that a Canadian TV network could make a fantastic show - in fact I would like to see a well financed Masterchef Canada show because of the diversity that Canada has - should produce a fantastic show. I have watched Masterchef Australia and it is one of the better cooking competitions - around 70+ shows in a 3 month period - with Masterclasses interspersed. I expect more from Canada.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: cacruden

                    Well, to be fair, Masterchef is an entirely different show - this is supposed to be like Top Chef, which features professional chefs (as opposed to home cooks).

                    The production quality is low -- and McEwan is by far the worst judge in the franchise -- but I think the Canadian challenges are actually better than they were in the last season of the U.S. Top Chef. At least here, you get to see them cook, with fewer and less far-fetched gimmicks.

                    1. re: piccola

                      I just find the selection of competitors to also to be quite low and lacking in diversity that is a fact of life in larger cities. In addition to the poor production quality which sometimes translates into not showing the people in the best light.

                      1. re: cacruden

                        I think the selection is just fine, and I love the premise of the show. I have no issue with the production quality, and I'm going to keep on watching! GO Blueicus!

                        1. re: freia

                          I'm definitely still watching. I find the overall creativity level is up there.