Sunday, July 3, 2011

Top Chef Canada episode 12: Go Home Gallagher

We have reached a milestone in the Top Chef series because this Monday we will crowning Canada’s First Top Chef. 

Episode 12 of Top Chef saw smilin’ Dustin Gallagher go home. The Judges thought his angel hair pasta was a bit clumpy, his fish overcooked nut it was his fruit platter (dessert) that seemed to be the final nail in his coffin. The Judges thought that a plate of fruit was a poor choice at this stage in the competition. 

Gallagher's Fruit Plate

As you may have noticed during any of the Top Chef series there is always a problem with the Chefs and the desserts. Chefs auditioning for the next season take note, practice your desserts. Dustin Gallagher did win an elimination challenge in a previous episode with a dessert when he served up his girlfriend's strawberry shortcake, she is also his pastry Chef.  We wonder if perhaps Gallagher had used up his bag of dessert tricks. On the other hand this was a family style service so the idea of a fruit platter for sharing does have some logic. Perhaps some cheese, jellies and bread would have added to the experience.
Gallagher's winning shortcake is currently a featured item on the menu at Milestones. Unfortunately, or is it fortunately, there are no Milestones in Quebec but as part of our ongoing Top Chef coverage we did sacrifice ourselves with a trip to Ontario where we sampled a few of the dishes featured on the show.

You're about to get warned: do not order the croquettes
The Top Chef Canada menu items at Milestones have been designed for preparation in their kitchen where massed produced food items and profit margins seem to be the key ingredients in determining how a dish is made. When we ordered DeSousa's pork croquettes the waiter inquired if we have ever tried them because they were really “not good.” In describing the dish the waiter said, "freezer burned meat." Despite our killjoy of a waiter we ventured on thinking how bad can it really be and that we did come all this way to not eat the Top Chef dishes. All we can say is that the in general the food is bad at Milestones so you can only imagine what something must taste like if the staff says it is no good. The taste of the croquettes was like eating dried up old meat but they were not the worst item on the plate. Each croquette sits in an onion ring. The batter on the onion rings was dry and hard. I have heard of crispy batter but we do not think that they be crunchy and snap like a twig. Did we mention flavourless? The onion rings also had this quality. We suppose the bacon ninja could use these rings as some sort of throwing weapon in the Top Chef Kitchen. In all seriousness, if this is how Milestones choses to present the Top Chef Canada dishes they might consider featuring the losing dishes as a more authentic experience. We also had the spinach artichoke dip (not a Top Chef menu item) that tasted like paste (glue).

Pork Croquettes: Note the shape of the onion things... er rings
We also tried Dustin Gallagher's strawberry shortcake, our waiter informed us that this was a good dish choice. The dish was more whipped cream than anything else. A bit of strawberry compote, a pastry that was more crunchy than anything like cake and also a tiny bit of lemon curd that is the the twist on this traditional dish. The strawberry shortcake is nothing more than a big mound of whipped cream with a few other bites floating around. With strawberry shortcake you should think strawberries not whipped cream but once-again why trouble yourself with things like costly fresh ingredients that require lengthy preparation?
Not enough strawberries were harmed in the making of this dish
We stayed away from Francois' dish mainly because the main courses seem grossly over priced at Milestones. We noticed a neighbouring table that had ordered the Steak Frites that goes for close to $28 bucks. The dish consisted of a steak about the size of your palm and a massive pile of frozen French fries. Are they for real in charging these rates for Frozen fries? To put things in perspective we looked up the menu at Au Pied de Cochon that also offers a Steak Frites. The dish costs less at Au Pied de Cochon ($23) and instead of beef you have the choice of venison or bison. The French fries are also fresh cut with a larger portion of meat. All this to say we do not mind paying for good quality food but a $30 plate of frozen French fries and small steak is beyond ridiculous. Since they use frozen fries at Milestones the profit margin for this dish must be legendary in the annals of restauration dishes.
Getting back to Top Chef Canada. The final three are Rob Rossi, Connie DeSousa and Dale MacKay. We predicted some time ago that Dale was going to be the winner and we are going to stick with our pick mainly because he recently opened his own restaurant. Watch the judges face, especially the guest Chefs and Mark McEwan, when they taste Dale's food. Last week Chef Rossi announced he was leaving his current post at Mercatto and the Toronto press got excited predicting this was a spoiler that the Chef takes the Top Chef title. We would not be surprised if this is the outcome only because, as we pointed out months ago with the selection of the Chefs, the series is very Toronto-centric.

In terms of other predictions it looks like they are bringing back some of the eliminated challengers to assist the Chefs in the kitchen. Once again we think the Chefs will be from Toronto. It also looks like the final takes place in Niagara wine country and will be somewhere like the Inniskillin vineyard.

Next Week: Meet Canada's Top Chef