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Stadium Food Power Rankings: Week 12 Recap

Stadium Food Power Rankings: Week 12 Recap

Updates on The Daily Meal's quest to find out which NFL teams have the best stadium food

So far in The Daily Meal's Stadium Food Power Rankings, we have five wins and two losses in our predictions.

You may have heard, football and food lovers, of our Stadium Food Power Rankings series, the battle to find out which NFL teams have the best stadium food. Instead of a coin toss, we're flipping burgers. Instead of flags, we're counting health code violations. And instead of referees... well, there's us.

Each week we feature at least one marquee matchup of two NFL rivals. Prior to game day, we assess the food offerings available at each team's stadium, measure them against a select list of criteria, and decide which franchise does a better job of keeping their fans satisfied… gastronomically speaking.

So far, our results have matched up with the games' five out of seven times. Here's the breakdown:

(Win) Week 8: Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
(Win) Week 9: Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
(Win) Week 10: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
(Loss) Week 10: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
(Win) Week 11: Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Win) Week 11: Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
(Loss) Week 12: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

This week, we will feature matchups between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, and the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams. Stay tuned for who we think will take the win.

And don’t forget to give us feedback! We’re judging based on the following criteria, and we take our food matchups seriously: Unique Items/ Variety/Presentation; Cleanliness/Preparation/Health Code Violations; Allergy-Minded Options; Healthy/Organic Options; and Most Popular Items.

Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on twitter @atylersullivan.


Top Chef Canada Season 9 Episode 4 power rankings: Taking out the competition

By Dan Clapson

It's hard to believe that we're already at the halfway point of Top Chef Canada Season 9, but it is true. With that said, what challenge to better mark this moment than Restaurant Wars?

Opting for Takeout Wars to be a bit more in tune with the pandemic-related restrictions most restaurants operate under across the country, this team challenge proved very successful for one group and not so much for another. Here's the power rankings for the remaining 8 competitors.

Poor Galasa. It's unfortunate to see him go before he was able to really showcase Ethiopian cuisine in a contemporary way, but based on what unfolded this episode, it was either himself or Emily heading home.

Though his intentions sounded pure in the restaurant concept pitching challenge at the start of the episode, Mark McEwan did not seem impressed with the example dish representing his idea. Following that, the eggplant "steak" dish he served during Root's takeout service garnered the harshest critiques.

For all the gripping I do about Top Chef Canada not having an adjacent Last Chance Kitchen series, I was happy to see that the chef will have the chance to cook himself back into the competition next week.

From an oddly named restaurant concept–that appeared to lack a proper explanation compared to her fellow chefs' pitches–to a vibrant, but confusing beet creation during Takeout Wars, Emily's high did not last long after last week's win.

The combination of smoked king oyster mushrooms and roasted beets with a beet hummus and feta mostarda–I was curious to hear more about the components of this element specifically–finished with chunks of crispy bacon seemed like a bit of a hodge-podge. It all just seemed very overthought.

After four episodes, Emily still seems to lack a clear culinary identity compared to many other remaining competitors, which is not a great sign.

A team is only as strong as its captain and, unfortunately, Alex did not lead his fellow chefs to victory during Takeout Wars.

The overarching theme of his takeout concept (Root) was "plant-forward" which definitely helps narrow the scope in terms of ingredients used, but certainly not when it comes to flavour profiles. Perhaps that was the reason why the menu items his team offered appeared to lack cohesiveness, especially when compared to Kym's progressive tasting menu approach with Dashi.

Repeated soundbites from the get-go in regards to how long he had been out of the restaurant kitchen scene and how leading a team wasn’t something he has done in five years were early indicators that Takeout Wars was going to be a struggle.


NHL Eat and Drink Power Rankings

With the NBA season looking more and more unlikely (gentlemen, please compromise!), we want to make it easier for you to embrace a new sport—or remember why you love it. Whether you’re a diehard hockey fan or looking to get back into it, we’re about to prove to you that the culinary options around the league are world class. Over the next two days, we’ll be breaking down the Top 10 Food and Drink Teams in the NHL — from tailgating in North Carolina to tossing octopus in Detroit. Well, there’s more on the menu in Detroit than flying cephalopods.

10. New Jersey Devils
The Team: The Devils play in Newark, New Jersey, which is luckily easy to get to for us New Yorkers — because there’s not a good chance you’ll want to stick around before and after the game. The team’s not off to a great start either. Plus side? Tickets are on the cheap side (we found them for $20 a pop) and in recent years the Prudential Center and businesses in the downtrodden city have made a strong effort to not only support the team — but entice fans with cool events and deals.

The Food: One of those enticements? The upscale dining fare at recession-like prices. The Acela Club, which is open to all ticket-holders during games, has a buffet, à la carte dining and a wine list that could actually make fans want to put down their beer cups. Sample dishes include pork with grilled polenta and mussels with Azorean-style chorizo. The buffet, which features a carving station, antipasto bar, hot buffet items, a sauté station and dessert, runs $42 a person.

9. Washington Capitals
The Team:
The Caps have boasted one of the best squads in the East since they signed Russian hot shot Alexander Ovechkin in 2005. Ovechkin quickly became one of the brightest faces in the league, with his trademark gap toothed smile and un-ironically bad haircut — having helped carry the Caps to the playoffs for the past four years. The team plays in the Verizon Center in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC.

The Food: Nobody is suggesting that game time is a good time to try to start a diet, but the team has installed a buffet of healthier, Kosher-friendly and even gluten-free options for fans with special dietary needs. Among the interesting grub available: vegetarian sandwiches, tossed smoked turkey chop salad and hand-rolled pretzel bites. Not counting calories? Smoked brisket, pork nachos and cheesesteaks are all available. Our favorite part of this arena’s food comes in their amazing way of serving beer. Instead of concentrating on the pour, the Verizon Center has machines that fill cups from the bottom up (check out the video here).

8. Detroit Red Wings
The Team:
Tickets to Red Wings games are extremely hard to come by – and fans are known best for their rowdy traditions (we’ll get into what they do with food later). The team plays at the Joe Louis Arena, which is beloved for its old-school, grungy feel that is comparable to going to old Yankee stadium. Oh and the hockey isn’t so bad either – the team is currently in first place in its division.

The Food: One of Hockeytown, USA’s most famous traditions involves throwing perfectly good food (that is, octopus) onto the ice. The practice goes back to 1952 and it’s now considered proper etiquette for fans to throw what some may call calamari onto the ice – despite disapproval from NHL officials. As for food to eat rather than throw, locals recommend Hockeytown Cafe, which is about a mile away from the stadium and is loaded with cool Red Wings gear, deep-dish pizza and a decent beer menu. Once you’re inside the walls of the stadium, choices are pretty limited to a few chains and other standard stadium grub like Tim Hortons, Buffalo Wild Wings, Little Caesars and a sub sandwich shop.

7. New York Islanders
The Team: While the Long Island branch of the three NHL teams in the New York area had glory days in the late-󈨊s to mid-󈨞s, times have been tough recently for the Islanders, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season. The good news? They’re off to a decent start this year and have a promising young core of players. The squad plays at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Food: The team may be likely to leave Long Island once their stadium lease ends in 2015, but that doesn’t stop fans from finding a good way to make a quick trip to the stadium at bargain prices – and find beer for even cheaper. One local told us that the best way to see a game was to go to the sports bar Champs, order some pitchers and wings – the wings may never make it – but if they do or don’t, the bill is rarely over $15. Then, stumble to the arena.

After the game, ticket stubs get you $1 beers when the bar at Champs does special menus with appetizers and drinks named after current players and Islanders alumni. Once inside the arena, The Coliseum has more sweet-tooth options than many hockey arenas of its kind, including Carvel, Cupcake Gourmet and a stand actually called Sweet Tooth. For more substantial food there’s a beer garden with barbecue and wraps. The team even provides a handy map to concession stands to make it easier to pick seats based on your stomach.

6. Dallas Stars
The Team: Though they don’t play in what you would think of as a traditional hockey town, the Dallas Stars are sitting pretty in second overall. Since arriving in the Lone Star State in 1993, the squad has won seven division titles, two Western Conference crowns and one Stanley Cup. Despite their success, Dallas is still a football town and tickets to the game are pretty easy and affordable to come by (we found them for $12 on Stubhub). The team plays at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas, which is also home to the town’s NBA team. You may have read about them.

Food: For eating outside the arena, locals recommend Lockhart Steakhouse for a pregame meal — which is known best for its sauceless smoked meat. Sausage will run you $5 a pop and sides like baked beans are available for as little as $2. There’s also a branch of Tom Colicchio restaurant Craft, if you want to go more upscale. And to get fired up before the game, locals recommend Victory Tavern (more for its proximity to the stadium than for the food or beer).

Once inside the stadium there’s a kid-friendly spot at Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant, and more grownup fun at the el Jimador Tequila Bar — where the tequila cocktails are, of course, highly recommended. If that’s not enough tequila, there’s a Margarita Bar where imbibers can choose from a variety of tequilas and flavors. At Chef’s Corners, there’s smoked prime rib sandwiches and barbecue brisket nachos available. For a quicker bite, High Steaks offers steak sandwiches and steak salad on the go and Edge of Texas has build-your-own nachos, super chicken burritos and churros.


SoFi Stadium partners with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to make food at venue

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, owners of Animal, Son of a Gun and the Jon and Vinny’s restaurants, are working on the food lineup for SoFi Stadium, the 3.1-million-square-foot, indoor-outdoor sports and entertainment complex in Inglewood that is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

“Most stadiums, the approach is, ‘Hey, let’s go get Domino’s to pay us to put a concession stand in our stadium,‘" Shook said. “The approach here is ‘Hey, we are going to build one of the nicest kitchens we’ve been in, underground in the basement, and we’re going to produce all the food that goes to the concession stands.‘"

Shook and Dotolo are acting as culinary consultants to help with menu development and product sourcing at the stadium, which can seat 70,000 to 100,000 people, depending on the setup. They’re working with executive chef Robert Biebrich and vice president of culinary innovation Gretchen Beaumarchais of Legends, the hospitality company that will operate the stadium’s culinary program. Legends also handles the concessions at Angel Stadium and a number of other venues around the country.

The James Beard award-winning chefs are used to cooking for a crowd. Dotolo and Shook operate a successful catering and events company called Caramelized Productions, and they also partnered with Delta Air Lines in 2019 to create dishes for select Delta One flights.

While they wouldn’t discuss specific stadium menu items just yet, they did share that they worked with the Legends team to create four concepts for the 42 concession stands. The idea is to offer re-imagined versions of stadium classics. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers and chicken tenders were all mentioned during our conversation.

“There’s going to be hot dogs, because it’s a stadium,” Shook said. “We tasted probably 50 different hot dogs.”

A michelada-spiced sausage and grasshopper ice cream are among the innovative offerings that will make their debut at MLB ballparks this season.

Shook said they narrowed down the choices to the top 10 and then made some calls to ensure that producers could handle the volume needed for a stadium of this size. He and Dotolo then tested buns, toppings and all the other components of the menu items.

Scaling items made it almost impossible to use select producers. But some were able to make it work.

“We were able to bring in DiNapoli tomatoes, the ones we use at Jon and Vinny’s,” Dotolo said.

The concession stands will feature glass windows that offer a view into their kitchens. They are also strategically placed to offer views of the field and the videoboard, a screen with 70,000 square feet of digital LED that will show whatever event is happening at the time.

“For a chef, it’s easy to get weird and funky,” Shook said. “One of the things we really try to keep in mind is out of the fans that come there, not everyone is going to be a chef. What are the items they are going to be looking for?”

Dotolo and Shook said they spent months working on R&D for menu items.

“One of the items that we were super stickler on was the chicken finger,” Shook said.

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Jenn Harris is a columnist for the Food section and host of “The Bucket List” fried chicken show. She has a BA in literary journalism from UC Irvine and an MA in journalism from USC. Follow her @Jenn_Harris_.

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Class 2A blog: Week 12 Friday night recap

Normally, we’d run through the results of the top 10 teams. However, with this being the final week of the season, who cares about rankings? What’s important is playoff seeding. On Friday, there were a number of key games that decided how the final region standings would shake out.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

For the official GHSA 2A bracket, go here.

We’ll start in Region 6, where the South Atlanta Hornets needed a win over Columbia to capture their first region title in program history and got it with a 12-0 shutout. The Hornets will host Chattooga next week in the opening round.

In Region 5, there was a possibility for a four-way tie for first place if the Callaway Cavaliers beat the Heard County Braves and the Bremen Blue Devils beat the Haralson County Rebels — and that’s exactly what happened. With those four teams tied with a 2-2 region record, the tiebreaker went to the Cavs.

Kevin Eckleberry has a writeup on the Cavs’ win for The LaGrange Daily News.

In Region 2, the Toombs County needed to beat East Laurens to lock up the No. 3 seed. They won 62-0.

In Region 4, the Westside Patriots needed to beat Oglethorpe County to lock down the No. 3 seed and avoid a three-way tie with Laney and Oglethorpe County for third place. The Patriots won 34-0.

In Region 8, the Elbert County Blue Devils needed a win over Banks County to lock up the No. 2 seed and avoid a three-way tie with Union County and Banks County. The Blue Devils won 36-6.

Be sure to check back on Tuesday when I release my annual playoff predictions. Also, for next week’s episode of The Class 2A Blogcast, I’ll talk to media members who cover teams from each of the eight regions to get their insights on how the playoffs will take shape. This is all must-consume content for fans of 2A!

Follow the AJC’s Class 2A coverage on Twitter. Listen and subscribe to The Class 2A Blogcast on Apple, Spotify or iHeartRadio among other platforms.


Top Chef Canada Season 9 Episode 2 power rankings: Basket cases

By Dan Clapson

From vegan diner dish mishaps to picnic fails, this was a pretty rough episode for many of the competitors on Top Chef Canada. It's odd to see more negative reviews than positive, especially this early on in a season, but that's exactly what happened this week when the chefs were tasked with creating plant-based comfort foods in the TCC Kitchen and then bespoke picnic baskets that were to be served in an outdoor setting.

Here are the power rankings for the remaining 10 chefs of Top Chef Canada Season 9.

With minimal screen time on episode one, there wasn't much opportunity to get to know Jae-Anthony Dougan. This week though, he exuded a fun, animated personality for the entirety of the episode, so it felt too soon to bid the Ottawa-raised, Montreal-dwelling chef adieu.

Jae-Anthony seemed to do well enough with his indulgent-looking vegan "burger" during the Quickfire–that drew decent reviews from Eden and guest judges Suzanne Barr and George Stroumboulopoulos–but things really fell apart when it came to the picnic portion of the show. A bison tartare that did not allow his designated ingredient (apple) to shine as the star proved a disappointment for the entire judging panel for being unbalanced as well as a dish that was not ideal to serve at a picnic.

We'll definitely make a point of popping by Tropikàl Restobar to try the chef's Caribbean-inspired fare the next time we're in Montreal. Au revoir, Jae-Anthony!

The young Kelowna-based chef got off to a rough start this episode during the Quickfire where she presented two large cubes of tofu on toast, a dish that was drawing some very loose inspiration from a hot turkey sandwich.

Group challenges often result in flaws when it comes to the judges deliberating who they should send home. In this case, Siobhan Detkavich's team as a whole offered the best overall picnic basket experience in this episode, making Erica, Josh and herself safe from elimination.

However, the cake component of Siobhan's dessert went awry while being prepared in the TCC Kitchen. It was somewhat salvaged before being presented to the judges and their special guests, but it appeared to be salvaged under the advisement of Josh, still looked a mess regardless, and garnered next-to-no positive feedback.

Sigh, another not-so-great week for Vancouver's Andrea Alridge. The chef first received lacklustre feedback for her reuben-flavoured falafels in the Quickfire–though more-so for not properly interpreting the challenge, not the dish's quality–followed by what was arguably the biggest picnic fail in the Elimination Challenge.

Even the chef admitted that her foie gras pate with apple gel was an ambitious undertaking with the time frame provided, which eventually resulted in her dish not setting properly before it was served to the judges. The biggest mistake, though, was Andrea's oversight when considering the integrity of her dish, assuming it would retain during transport and still retain itself while sitting in the hot sun.

That was clearly not the case!

Like Siobhan, the Winnipeg chef is certainly lucky that competitors were judged as teams and not individually at the end of this episode as her creation of five-spice duck breast and vegetable salad garnered a large amount of negative critiques at the Top Chef Canada picnic. Sound bites earlier on in the episode implied that Emily Butcher would have some struggles with making corn the star of the picnic dish, so it wasn't a huge surprise when this happened.

Looking back to the first half of the episode, the chef really seemed to miss the mark when trying to create a vegan version of a tuna melt. It felt like her creativity got the best of her.

Galasa Aden clearly dominated the vegan diner-themed Quickfire Challenge with his mushroom meatloaf and caramelized onion puree–and was granted immunity from elimination as a result–but things did not go as successfully when it came to his elevated apple crumble in the "apple" picnic basket.

The judges seemed to neither enjoy the separate parts of Galasa's dessert nor the sum of said parts. From "sandy" to "uncooked", plenty of descriptors were thrown around that sounded much less than appetizing.

A good start and poor finish for the Rocky Mountains-based chef.

Putting Aicia Colacci in the number five spot this week might feel high considering the judges' response to her corn quiche-frittata hybrid creation, but hear me out. We did not see Aicia's (or Alex's) dish during the Quickfire, which means it was likely good enough, but not great.

In the Elimination, being on team "corn" alongside a successful dish and poorly executed one, it seems like the Montreal chef fell somewhere in the middle. yet again. I'm curious to see if Aicia will break away from the pack in next week's episode and if she does, will it be ahead or behind?

To never judge a book by its cover is a lesson many viewers learnt in episode two when it comes to Calgary's Alex Edmonson.

Labelled somewhat of an "Instagram chef" in commentary at Judges' Table, the private chef wasn't painted in the best light in the Season 9 premiere. Alex came back fighting this week and dominated the picnic challenge with his trout rillettes with corn bavarois and corn chips that proved both perfectly portable and delicious.

This is another reason why it would have made more sense to judge the chefs individually with this Elimination Challenge as Alex seemed to have one of the best dishes out of all of the picnic baskets.

Much like Alex being simply safe, seeing Kym Nguyen stuck in the bottom this week with their under-performing teammates after receiving rave reviews from the judges and special guests for their tuna tataki and apple salsa dish felt wrong.

If this was a challenge like Restaurant Wars where the chefs have to actually work together to make a cohesive menu and help execute table service then of course=, judge them as teams. Unless it was left out in the editing, symmetry between dishes when it came to the three different chef teams did not appear to be a requirement.

Television production, am I right!?

Moving on, or rather looking back to earlier in the episode, Kym made a supremely clever dish when challenged to create a vegan western omelette, drawing inspiration from a Vietnamese classic, banh xeo. Very impressive!

As viewers, we weren't privy to the reactions to Erica Karbelnik's plant-based interpretation of a club sandwich during the Quickfire as it didn't get the screen time, but we can assume they were good enough. From there, things just go from good to great for the Toronto chef.

It's rare to win an Elimination Challenge on any Top Chef series with a salad, but Erica Karbelnik managed to do just that with her thoughtful pumpkin creation. Using a melon baller to make small rounds of pumpkin was an especially brilliant thing to do to the ingredient before roasting it. As well, the judges seemed genuinely obsessed with her truffle honey vinaigrette which she made with a pumpkin seed oil to no doubt further showcase her assigned ingredient.

Will the Karbelniks be unstoppable this season? Plenty of signs are pointing to yes after yet another exceptional showing throughout episode two.

Though it didn't fully make sense to me that Josh was praised for a dish that looked nothing like Salisbury steak while Andrea was scolded for her dish's lack of reuben resemblance, I don't doubt that his elegant cauliflower dish in the Quickfire was full of flavour. Moving onto the picnic, it's hard to argue that the chef's pumpkin "tenders" (a play on chicken fingers) was not the most unique dish presented to the judges this episode. Showstopper!


Your LAFC stadium food guide: Bludso’s, Beer Belly and Seoul Sausage

You’re watching the Los Angeles Football Club take on the Seattle Sounders during the home opener at the new Banc of California stadium on Sunday. It’s halftime, and you’re hungry. We’re pretty sure Postmates doesn’t deliver to sports stadiums (Postmates, do you deliver to sports stadiums?). While stadiums in Los Angeles aren’t exactly known for their culinary offerings, the team behind the new downtown L.A. stadium is attempting to give visitors options beyond nachos and hot dogs.

Stadium general manager Chris McConnaughey and stadium executive chef Matt Eland attempted to make the food program as locally-focused as possible by giving some of the city’s most popular restaurants a presence at the stadium. That includes Bludso’s BBQ, Kevin Bludso’s Texas-style barbecue restaurant Chica’s tacos, the downtown L.A. taqueria Seoul Sausage Company, brothers Yong and Ted Kim’s Korean-inspired street food restaurant and Beer Belly, the Koreatown restaurant known for its duck fat fries and Instagram-worthy grilled cheese sandwiches.

9:10 AM, Apr. 27, 2018 An earlier version of this story said chef Chris Oh owns Seoul Sausage. He is no longer with the company.

“We will provide a genuine reflection of Los Angeles’ vibrant food character and you’ll get to experience what Angelenos really love about our city and our region,” said McConnaughey in a statement to The Times. “Our offering encompasses the real, local Los Angeles food scene, along with excellent traditional global cuisines, healthy options and upgrades to the traditional fanfare,” said McConnaughey.

At the Bludso’s booth, you can order a brisket sandwich, pulled pork sandwich, rib tip plate and sides of mac and cheese and coleslaw. At Chica’s Tacos: a selection of barbacoa, chicken, pork and veggie tacos. Seoul Sausage will serve up galbi pork sausage, sweet and spicy chicken sausage, veggie sausage and a version of In-N-Out’s Animal-style fries called Animal Fries. And you’ll find Beer Belly’s famous duck fat fries, along with cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches at their stand.

Will the game be more fun if you cheer on the LAFC with a brisket sandwich in hand? Probably.

If you’ve got a suite upstairs, Eland has a rotating menu that uses ingredients from local purveyors such as Santa Monica Seafood, Larder Breads and produce from local farmers markets. The chef is also behind a house-cured pastrami program and desserts from an in-house pastry team served on a rolling pastry cart. Yes, #rollingpastrycart might be a thing now.

Some of the other food options at the stadium include French bread-style pizza at the Crest porchetta sandwiches and rotisserie half chickens at L.A. Rotisserie beer-braised short rib and cheddar sandwiches at the Press and pita chips topped with chicken shawarma at the Roost.

And if you’re someone who simply enjoys a stadium hot dog, you can find that too.


Falcons plummet in Week 7 Power Rankings

After a 23-7 loss to the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons fell once again in NFL Power Rankings.

The Falcons look to stop their three-game losing streak when they travel to East Rutherford, NJ on Sunday to face the New York Jets at 1 p.m.

Here’s what NFL analysts are saying about the Falcons after Week 7:

Reasoning: “The Falcons had a 72 percent chance to win the NFC South after their 3-0 start, but those odds have fallen drastically after losing three straight. Atlanta's division chances could hinge on the stretch run. The Falcons play five of their last six games against division foes,” ESPN’s rationale read.

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Dallas Cowboys
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Los Angeles Rams
  8. Minnesota Vikings
  9. Houston Texans
  10. Oakland Raiders

Reasoning: "The offense will be fine. That's what we heard about the Falcons all offseason. With Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones in place, what difference would it make to go from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian in the offensive coordinator role? Not much. Who needs 12.4 points per game, anyway? That's how many fewer points per game these Falcons are scoring under Sarkisian this year," NFL.com's Elliot Harrions wrote. "The entire stable of skill players were nonfactors against the Patriots, lost in the fog of making up for 28-3. Or they were just lost in a fog. With two other teams in the NFC South falling this past weekend, it's not panic time."

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Los Angeles Rams
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. New England Patriots
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. Minnesota Vikings
  8. New Orleans Saints
  9. Buffalo Bills
  10. Washington Redskins

Reasoning: “The offense just isn't good right now. It's easy to point the finger at Steve Sarkisian, but it's more than that,” CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco wrote.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Los Angeles Rams
  6. Seattle Seahawks
  7. New Orleans Saints
  8. Minnesota Vikings
  9. Miami Dolphins
  10. Buffalo Bills

Reasoning: “The Falcons have the talent on offense to take over games. Because of the loss of coordinator Kyle Shanahan, however, the offense isn't nearly as explosive,” Bleacher Report’s Chris Simms wrote in part. “The run game isn't as consistent, and it's been tough to find big plays in the pass game.”

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. New England Patriots
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Minnesota Vikings
  6. Los Angeles Rams
  7. New Orleans Saints
  8. Carolina Panthers
  9. Washington Redskins
  10. Buffalo Bills

Reasoning: “Yes, they need to get Julio Jones more involved. But new memo to OC Steve Sarkisian, allotting Tevin Coleman fewer than 10 touches is nearly as dumb,” USA Today’s rationale read.


Top Chef Canada Season 9 Episode 4 recap: Portable problems

By Dan Clapson

There is no time for idle chitchat in the holding room as this episode starts rather abruptly in the TCC Kitchen. The chefs are lined up and Eden gets right to the point of the episode.

“Every chef dreams of creating and executing their own restaurant concept, but this year it’s happening a little bit differently,” she says.

This is it. It is time for everyone’s favourite episode format of a Top Chef Canada season: Restaurant Wars–or in the case of a season taped during a pandemic, Takeout Wars.

Takeout Wars - Part 1

"There’s no other way to really battle,” says Andrea, laughing.

The chef de cuisine of CinCin is absolutely right. The country was in the middle of a pandemic while this season filmed and now I'd like to think that we're at the tail end of these hellish times.

Standing beside Eden are judges Janet Zuaccarini and Mark McEwan. Mark notes that since the onset of the pandemic, “restaurant-quality” takeout has become the norm.

I would like to think that a restaurant’s takeout dishes were always of quality, but what the head judge likely means to say is that restaurants in general have gotten much better with their takeout programs. Many restaurant operators have streamlined their menus to create offerings that transport well or can be eaten in outdoor settings. This is definitely one small silver lining of the pandemic.

Janet and Mark are the judges for this Takeout Wars-related Quickfire where the chef competitors must present their ideas for a pop-up takeout concept while simultaneously serving a dish that exemplifies their proposal. The chefs have 35 minutes to get the job done.

Mark is a longtime, successful Toronto restaurateur and has made a great foray into the world of higher-end grocers. Janet owns many award-winning concepts in Toronto as well as L.A. In this Dragon’s Den-type challenge, I’d be hoping for her approval above all else.

She knows who and what to invest in to find success. If you don’t believe me, see the long lineups (during “normal” times) to get into Felix in Venice Beach, L.A. for details.

The competitors get to cooking and conceiving. Josh is doing something “light and fresh” with seafood while Andrea is looking to produce some elevated comfort food. Aicia, no surprise, is opting for an Italian concept focused on seasonality while Erica leans into brunch.

As the executive chef of the restaurant inside of the Elmwood Spa in Toronto, Erica is likely no stranger to brunch and I applaud her for (surely) liking the early mornings that would go along with it. Certainly not for me.

Alex is doing a “plant-focused”–not plant-based–concept because he says it is both of the times and that it generally travels well. The downside is that he hasn’t run a kitchen in 5 years, so he’s not sure he’s up to the task for leading a full-on takeout service.

Kym explains that they have spent much of the pandemic conjuring up dishes for their restaurant, Pidgin, in Vancouver and sounds ready for what’s to come. They are opting for an Asian fusion concept that boasts bold, fresh flavours.

Moving onto Galasa, he recognizes that he has been in the middle of the pack for the competition thus far. He is hoping that an idea centred around contemporary Ethiopean food will be just what the judges are looking for.

This portion of the episode is exciting because we finally get to see Aicia make some fresh pasta. She says it is one of her best skills and she uses it to create a ricotta cavatelli with summer squash, parm rind and basil.

Janet seems to enjoy Aicia’s presentation and, most importantly, plate of pasta, though she calls the idea for an Italian restaurant “ubiquitous”. This is hard to disagree with and also one hell of a great descriptor.

Galasa pitches next, explaining that his takeout concept would be named after the African tribe his parents are from. He makes a whole wheat injera with doro wat (Ethiopean chicken stew) and frisee.

The judges do not seem to love the dish and wish for a more robust flavour. It’s hard to know without tasting, but at this moment I wish Galasa had served his Quickfire dish from episode one in this challenge.

An “infinite paradise” is the inspiration for Emily takeout operation and to embody that, she serves a karaage-marinated chicken thigh with a mango and grilled cabbage slaw. The dish itself seems like bit of a mish-mash and the chef seems to struggle when trying to explain the connection between the food and the name.

Kym follows and explains that Dashi is a concept that will offer pan-Asian fare that is clean and balanced. This will not be like “typical” Chinese take away. They are serving a plate of koji orange radishes with a hondashi emulsion and it garners much positive feedback.

When pressed with clarifications on the potential operation, they also answer quickly and soundly.

Josh’s idea is titled “Bin” and focuses on fresh seafood dishes that are delivered fully prepared or partially, allowing customers to finish the dishes themselves if they desire. Somewhere between a takeout dinner and a meal kit.

“I want you to impress your Tinder date without taking time away from the Netflix and chill,” he says.

His dish is a seared tuna caesar with lemon dressing, grilled romaine and frisee. Though the judges seem enthralled with his description and dish, a seafood-centric idea is not the most consumer friendly according to Mark.

To me, this is the most creative idea of the bunch.

Alex provides an overview of Root, a plant-focused concept that still offers some meat dishes. He plans to keep the vegetables the star of the plate while offering meat in his side dishes.

The judges are intrigued and love his dish of cauliflower two ways. Janet seems especially impressed by the depth of umami found in his shitake xo sauce.

Erica choosing to do a brunch takeout concept seems like a miss for this challenge and it’s the first time we see the chef really falter. Though she has a charming story behind the business name– a childhood nickname her grandma gave her, which I do not want to attempt to spell–brunch seems like a hard sell to two restaurant emperors looking for a successful model.

Regardless, her upscale Middle Eastern-style brunch–truly the best type of brunch and where are my Cafe Medina fans at?–manifests as French toast with stewed plums, rose water, whipped goat ricotta and toasted pistachios.

It looks heavenly and a far cry from the French toast that was presented in last week’s Elimination Challenge. which Erica did not cook.

Andrea’s pitch yields a lukewarm response, though the name is kind of cool (Revival) and her miso-glazed sablefish with dashi, quinoa, carrots, bok choy and scallion oil appears enticing enough.

It’s time for Mark and Janet to select the best pitches of the morning. Janet announces that she is placing her faith in Kym’s concept Dashi because Pan-Asian cuisine generally travels well and she enjoys Kym’s twist on the culinary genre.

Mark backs Alex (Root) and remarks that a vegetarian program with minor meat elements is interesting. I’m curious to see how this menu comes together as the idea surrounding it feels more broad stroke.

Eden mentions that the decision for who picks their first team member was decided by either a coin flip, arm wrestle or by drawing knives off camera (not verbatim) and Kym gets to go first.

They pick Josh and Alex immediately opts for his Calgary pal Galasa.

The real question now is: will Kym pick Erica?

They do not and I am assuming everyone watching at home is as shook as I am. This seems like an intense challenge to slip up the Karbelniks!

Kym selects Andrea and Alex quickly snatches up Erica.

Erica is not pleased and in a diary session says that she feels “backstabbed”.

“It’s a competition, it is not about choosing friends,” says Kym. When you’re competing for $100,000, this is very fair.

Their final selection is Aicia and, sadly, Emily is picked last.

It goes without saying, but it is usually not a great sign to be selected last during a team challenge-themed week like Restaurant Wars.

With the teams decided, Eden goes on to say that the judges’ takeout dinner will take place at Janet’s house with special guest judges Nuit and Jeff Regular, co-owners of Toronto’s Kiin and Pai. The team that serves the most delicious takeout dinner will also get a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Interac.

Will Kym get to add more money to their Top Chef Canada piggy bank?

Takeout Wars - Part 2

Team Root sits down to chat amongst themselves and help Alex bring an idyllic menu to life. While the chefs talk back and forth, Alex’s diary sessions continue to reinforce how unsure he is about leading a team in this challenge. At this point, it feels like the writing's on the wall for Root.

Erica is making corn arancini, Galasa is getting creative with eggplant, Emily focuses on beets and Alex will create a dessert with chocolate and avocados.

“30 avocados, all ripe!” Alex says to Erica as she inputs the online grocery order.

In what world does one wind up with 30 perfectly ripe avocados? In what world?

On the other end of the spectrum, Kym says they are comfortable working with this size of time. Aicia is assigned to making dumplings. Andrea to braised meats, Josh to fish.

The team also decides to tackle the dessert course together.

Andrea says she can really learn something working with Kym and seems eager to help see Dashi through to the end in the best way possible. It sounds like a fairly ambitious menu and takeout wars will only make things more difficult.

Things move swiftly from menu planning and ingredient ordering to full-on prepping in the TCC Kitchen.

We find out more about Galasa’s eggplant-centric dish that he is making for the Root menu. He is preparing eggplant steaks with chermoula and marinated quinoa.

He appears to be applying as many culinary applications as possible to the eggplant. It is first cured then dried in the oven. Next, he grills it and finally, braising it. It’s meant to look like a steak and taste like a steak.

It isn’t unusual for plant-based dishes to require multiple techniques applied to one vegetable to alter its structure in hopes of becoming more “meaty”, so this doesn’t seem too out of sorts.

Kym is prepping their dish and explains that they are using their own scallop salt–made of scallop skirts, MSG and salt–that they brought with them from Vancouver.

Aicia is making Chinese dumplings, which are not normally in her wheelhouse, but she is clever and channels a Sardinian type of pasta dough that is soft and elastic like dumpling dough. She is forming each dumpling beautifully.

Janet and Mark pop into the kitchen and chat with their respective teams to boost morale and provide some advice.

“If it doesn’t taste great, make it taste great,” says McEwan. The Mark McEwan equivalent of RuPaul’s famous saying: Good luck. and don’t fuck it up.

An unexpected addition to the Takeout Wars challenge is that the teams also have to take their own food photos. This does not appear to have any bearing on the judging, but it is a fun little scene to watch.

I do think this element of the challenge reflects the expectations of chefs in today’s world. Most have to be able to do their own food photography to some extent.

After what I’m presuming was a night off, the two teams head to their respective restaurants where they will finish prepping and executive their dinner services.

Team Dashi is setting up at Gusto 501 while Andrea asks Josh if he will be in the doghouse if their team wins Takeout Wars.

I live for Andrea’s commentary each episode. Despite the pressures that a barrage of challenges continues to present, she always seems to be having a good time.

Dinner at Janet Zuccarini's home

We cut to Janet’s home where she welcomes Eden, Mijune, Mark, Nuit and Jeff. Eden happily holds a bouquet of flowers for the gracious host while Mijune hands a bottle of wine to Janet.

A wine with a twist off top for Janet Zuccarini? I don’t think so. I smell a future episode sponsor in this exchange.

After sitting down, the group analyzes the Dashi menu. Janet seems very excited about the set menu and how it reads. Once the food arrives, they unbox each dish one by one.

Everything about Kym’s dish of kombu-cured salmon and tuna tartare seems impressive. From the ingredients she’s incorporated to the presentation in the takeout container and the judges can’t say enough glowing things about how it tastes.

“This is a wow for me,” Janet gushes.

They also love Aicia’s dumplings, especially the bright fermented mushroom broth and the dumpling handiwork. Josh’s curry is deemed not bold enough–though I’d argue that a typical Japanese curry isn’t overly intense–but doesn’t seem like a total wash.

Andrea’s furikake rice, a side dish for the curry, is apparently undercooked, but her braised and grilled pork belly with Asian pear kimchi and tea egg appears to be the sleeper hit of the menu.

The “team effort” mango panna cotta with coconut and lime tapioca pearls leaves the table divisive. Some love it, others wish it was more sweet.

I’d say that comes down to personal sweet tooth preferences more than anything.

Root is cooking out of one of Mark’s restaurants, Fabrica.

“My fire is lit,” says Erica adamantly. She seems beyond feisty in her diary sessions this episode.

The corn arancini and huitlacoche aioli starts the Root takeout dinner experience off right. Being an expert in Italian cuisine, Janet seems in awe of this unconventional spin on arancini. Guest judge Nuit calls it a “gem”.

I would just like to take this moment to say that Nuit Regular is one of the most lovely chefs in the Canadian restaurant industry and it is so wonderful to see her on this show. She also lends her talents to Wall of Chefs, so make a point of watching her on that series too. There is great diversity to be found on its judging panel.

Saying Emily’s plate of beet hummus, shaved and cooked beets (I think?), king oyster mushrooms, feta mostarda and orange segments looks vibrant is an understatement, but it also sounds really busy.

To make things a touch more confusing there are also teeny chunks of guanciale in the dressing of this salad-type creation.

The judges do not seem to enjoy the dish and knock it further for its menu description not mentioning the cured pork.

Erica also made Root’s side dish of vadouvan carrots with cardamom yogurt and hazelnuts. It’s praised as tasty, but similar to Emily’s dish, it loses marks for the hazelnuts not being noted on the menu.

Allergies, people. Allergies!

Root’s dinner ends with Alex’s well-composed chocolate avocado pecan tart with candied pecans and a parsnip date caramel.

“As far as delivering a plant-based dessert, this is a 10/10,” says Janet. She is clearly competing with Andrea for my imaginary award for best commentary this episode.

Judges' Table

Erica looks like she’s vibrating when Eden walks into the room and asks for the chefs of Dashi to come to Judges' Table.

“If we’re bottom, I am honestly shocked,” she says.

Well, she is about to be shocked because Kym, Andrea, Aicia and Josh are informed that they had the winning dinner experience of Takeout Wars. The four have a nice little group hug before the judges rain praise on the four for their creativity, cohesiveness and teamwork.

It's nice to see Aicia get a little bit of the positive limelight and it feels like Andrea has begun to hit her stride in this competition. Though Josh had the weaker dish of the team, he seemed to be an integral part of the dinner service when it came to calling orders.

The winning team heads back to the holding room and Erica is not pleased. She almost seems like she is in disbelief while standing in front of the judges and hearing that Root did not measure up in today's challenge.

Though, much like Kym in episode two, Erica is showered with compliments–for both the corn arancini starter and her vadouvan carrot side dish–while Emily, Galasa and Alex receive the brunt of critiques. While Erica seems satisfied with the praise despite the overall loss, the other three chefs look worried.

At this point, I feel like it is a toss up between Galasa or Emily going home. Though Alex was the team leader, his dessert received plenty of accolades so it would seem like an odd choice to bid him adieu.

“This is not the end of Galasa and I know Canada is going to see me soon," says the chef.

Until next time. but wait a second. The episode five teaser comes on and we quickly realize that “soon” means next week as Galasa is back in the TCC Kitchen for what I assume will be a Quickfire Challenge, of sorts.

The just-eliminated chef will cook against Siobhan and Jae-Anthony to get back into the competition. It’s not quite Last Chance Kitchen, but I’ll take it!

Kitchen Scraps

I think Galasa has more to give, so here's to hoping he winds up back in the competition after the cook off at the beginning of episode five. I also think Jae-Anthony has more to give too, so I'm curious to see what happens.

Why isn't Stéphane part of the cook off next week? Did he already hop on a plane back to Nova Scotia before the producers made the decision to have the eliminated chefs compete again? I have questions!

Last, but not least, I don't think I've ever seen a chef on Top Chef Canada as visibly upset as Erica during Judges' Table this week. She was not havin' it and because of that, you can tell she wants really wants to come out on top.


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