It really says something about this season that I was perfectly satisfied to wait until SUNDAY to watch the third episode. I mean, yeah, I was getting married and had lots of wedding-related activities going on, but during previous seasons, I would CUT someone if they kept me from watching. Maybe conditions will improve once a few more people pack their knives and go. Only time will tell.
Okay, blah blah blah, pre-competition chatting, nobody cares. The quickfire involves a bazillion varieties of potatoes and guest judge Mark Peel, who I think is adorable. Again, there are far too many contestants to get into each and every dish, but Atlanta’s own Eli winds up in the bottom three for his too-sweet casserole. He is joined by Ron’s bland whatever (really, I only understand a third of what comes out of his mouth, and that’s probably being generous) and Jesse’s cayenne-heavy soup. I have mixed feelings about Jesse, as she seems to have some great and tasty concepts that get bungled in the execution. There’s something warm and sincere about her, so I’d really like to see her knock one out of the park.
The stars of the quickfire are Ashley (gnocchi with mushrooms and homemade “quick” ricotta), Ash (who made an ice cream that didn’t set and was then called custard, which he and I thought was hilarious), and Jennifer (mussels in some sort of creamy potato-based sauce). Jennifer takes the win, and Mike I. calls it “favoritism.” Yes, Mike, you’re absolutely right. The judges play favorites with those who make delicious and innovative food. How DARE they??? Either he is the most gigantic asswipe to ever walk the Earth, or the folks at Bravo are taking some huge editing liberties.
The elimination challenge takes place at Nellis Air Force Base, where the chefs will be cooking for 300 airmen. Many of the contestants have family in the military, and I would have been more emotional about the whole thing if I wasn’t so EFFING pissed about Ashley’s hypocrisy (again). Sure, get all pissy and whiny about having to cater a bachelor party. But NO PROBLEMO with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” My husband was in the Air Force, and I work directly with veterans, so I definitely support the troops–but seriously, if you’re going to go on national television and propose to speak for an enormous group of people, at least be consistent. I just really dislike her, if you couldn’t tell.
The chefs pair up, and Jennifer (who has immunity) is dubbed the “executive chef.” I prefer the title of “badass bitch of the kitchen,” which I mean absolutely as a compliment, but whatever. I heart her and her kickassitude. I also feel kind of bad for Ron and Jesse, who are the last two kids left after all the kickball teams have been chosen, but I guess that’s what happens when no one can understand you and/or you keep making amateur mistakes. They arrive at the kitchen, and they are greeted with a bunch of canned food and NO pots and pans (instead, they have a bunch of big wok-like devices and enormous soup drum-looking things). Good thing they have Jennifer at the helm–or, in the pilot’s seat, as this is an Air Force group. She whips everyone into shape and makes sure that all of the teams have time to cook their dishes.
Then again, not every team needs to cook a lot. Preeti and Laurine, for example, throw together a very pitiful looking pasta salad. Other than that, I’m relatively impressed with what folks prepared, especially given the limitations of both ingredients and equipment. Mike and Mike’s braised pork belly (which is plain old slab bacon), which is served with peanut sauce in a lettuce cup, gets rave reviews from just about everyone. Kevin and Eli’s BBQ pork shoulder and potato salad is also a favorite, though it doesn’t look particularly sophisticated on the plate. Those two pairs are sent to judges’ table first, and Mike V. emerges victorious. Yay! He and his bro are really rackin’ up the wins. The best part of the episode, however, is when Mike I.’s eyes nearly bug out of his empty, brainless skull when Padma tells him that he’s coming back in the bottom three (with Preeti and Laurine). You see, he committed the TC sin of making an extra dish. Children, this is a COOKING COMPETITION. If you are not required to prepare something, but you do it anyway, it better knock Tommy-poo’s socks off. Mike I. even says something about not being gung-ho about serving his grody shrimp salad, and Padma jumps right back at him and tells him, more or less, “Duh, then you should have tossed it in the latrine, soldier.” Sadly for viewers everywhere, though, Preeti is sent home instead of the sexist asshat. Bummer. Future cheftestants, take note: making pasta salad is a bigger no-no than being a dickwad and serving undercooked shrimp.
Next week…French food! Perhaps that means the triumphant return of Mattin and his neckerchief.