Considering Robin’s Fennel Salad and Apple Crisp. (Top Chef Spoilers)


By Ezra Klein

Put aside Eli’s dickish patter.  Robin won the quickfire with the plainest looking plate of food to ever grace the show. An apple and fennel salad. And an apple crisp. If you’d given me a menu of everything cooked in Wednesday’s quickfire, this would literally be the last item I’d order. But it won.

The recipe gives some indication of why: it’s a lot more complex than the show let on.  It is, for instance, a Cardamom Ginger Crisp. The raw apple and fennel salad was dressed with a ginger vinaigrette. The amaratto caramel and the cardamom whipped cream both look pretty good. And there’s a case to be made that the spartan crunch of the raw salad and the obvious decadence of the crisp provided the sharpest angel/devil contrast of any of the entries.  But still: salad and a crisp? Shouldn’t imagination count for a bit more?


7 responses to “Considering Robin’s Fennel Salad and Apple Crisp. (Top Chef Spoilers)

  1. I don’t get why Robin got shit on for her cancer story when Ron’s “my biggest vice is that I bravely made my way on a rickety boat to live out the American dream, so I made fish” dish was both an even more self-serving interpretation of the challenge and a worse dish. I mean, at least she didn’t cook one scallop in butter and poach the other.

    There were a few obviously weak chefs going into this week: Ron, Robin, Laurine, and Ash (and maybe Ashley). Ash in particular has been at the bottom in 4 of the last 6 events… has he ever come close to winning anything? I see that Robin’s annoying, but I don’t see that she’s obviously worse than any of them when it comes to having any sort of idea how to cook well.

  2. I think the hint here is who was doing the judging. One of the contestants said she loved “simple food.”

  3. I’d say also that a salad and a crisp makes *zero* sense as a *dish*. Maybe a conceptually unified plate was not a necessary requirement for this challenge, but I thought it was supposed to be a “duo” not just two dishes on the same plate.

  4. And how disheartening is it to see Toby back? At least he hasn’t proffered a lame, inapt, extended metophor . . . yet. Penn probably intimidated him.

  5. @Chris — if you read the recipe you can see that many of the strong flavors are shared between the two components of her dish – apple, ginger, almond, citrus. Her salad and dressing are sweet so it probably paired fairly well flavor wise. Moreso than scallops cooked in completely different ways, anyway.

    My main complaint is that it doesn’t make sense to use “raw” as a descriptor for salad. Isn’t that implied unless otherwise specified?

  6. C.S. — When asked about Toby, Padma made a comment at the Television Critics Association panel a few weeks ago that after seeing himself on the show last season, he realized he looked like a jackass, and he made a conscious effort this season to cool out a bit. I’d say last night was much improved over last season.

  7. X — Well that’s heartening. Now if only Gail could be similarly influenced . . .

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