Much like I do not have the energy to stay up until 11 PM to watch Top Chef, I do not have the energy to keep recapping this beyond-mediocre season. It takes a lot of awesomeness on my part to make these episodes sound interesting, people, and I’m just not sure that the likes of Kevin “I’m sad that my hetero life mate, Kenny, got the boot for his craptastic food, and I’m going to take it out on Alex” are worth the trouble.
So, instead of the usual narrative, I present you with the Top 10 Least Annoying Things About Episode 10.
10. Wylie Dufresne and his sideburns.
9. Alex getting the boot.
8. Learning that Ed’s spy name is “Muffin Winthrop.” Tee.
7. The adorable new-to-DC way that the chefs get excited over being frisked at the entrance to a government building. Trust me, kiddos, it’s not so fun when it happens EVERY DAY, and when you have to send your precious triple venti sugar free vanilla soy latte through the X-ray machine.
6. Wylie Dufresne playfully teasing Leon Panetta about not guessing that Kelly’s dish was king pao shrimp. His exact words: “For once, I know something you don’t know.” Adorable.
5. A rare moment of honesty and humility from Angelo, who says openly that he SHOULD go home based on his performance in the challenges.
4. Tiffany’s SECOND double-win. In my mind, she is one of the only likeable contestants, and I’m glad she is doing well while managing not to be a psycho hose beast.
3. Eric Ripert!
2. Eric Ripert!!
1. Eric Ripert!!!
Everything else, from the bad CIA/spy puns, to the awkward table full of government drones, to the fact that Kelly can’t cook rice properly, to Angelo’s self-doubt, was pretty damn irritating. I guess the bottom line is, when I am more excited about the judges than about ANY of the contestants, it’s time for the show to either put up or shut up.
Ah, Restaurant Wars. The highlight of the middle of every Top Chef season. Well, highlight may be overshooting it a bit, especially this season, but it was one of the more interesting episodes thus far.
The quickfire challenge is the tag-team cook-off, and though there is no immunity, the winning team will split $10,000. Kevin, Kenny, Kelly, and Amanda are the blue team, and Ed, Angelo, Tiffany, and Alex are the red team. There is a lot of action, but I don’t remember anything about the dishes and the challenge basically boils down to the blue team looking cool and collected and together, and the red team unraveling the second that Alex gets involved. Nancy Pelosi and her Botoxed face show up to judge the challenge, and she says it’s a tough decision, but she ultimately gives the win to the blue team.
Padma announces that the chefs will be taking over a Bethesda restaurant for the elimination challenge, and that each “restaurant” has to prepare a three-course menu with two options per course. She also says that each chef must be responsible for at least one dish, and that Frank Bruni will be the guest judge, which causes some of the chefs to shake in their Crocs (though I’m not sure why, because I always thought Bruni was a fair critic). With that, half of the contestants go to Whole Foods, and the other half go to Restaurant Depot. Hey, we have a Restaurant Depot in Atlanta (I pass it every day on the way to work, actually), let’s have the next season of Top Chef here!!!
The blue team, again, looks pretty organized and calm. The red team, on the other hand, doesn’t have any shopping lists on account of their trying to figure out how to involve Alex in the challenge as little as possible. To that end, they decide that he will be the front-of-house representative. Look, I know y’all didn’t want him in the kitchen any more than was absolutely necessary, but I cannot think of a WORSE choice for FOH. He is creepy and nervous and twitchy and just not charming in the least – not exactly the best qualities for a customer service position. Kelly is going to be FOH for the blue team, so she works on a dish that can be prepared in advance.
When the teams get to the restaurant, the theme of “red team bad, blue team good” continues – Kelly is nice to the restaurant staff while conducting a detailed tasting of the menu items, and Alex is the biggest dick imaginable, demonstrating cleaning techniques to the servers and generally berating them. He all but admits on camera that his restaurant staff hates him. Gee, Sherlock, I wonder why?
The restaurants open, and EVOO (the name of the red team’s concept – and I don’t think I need to discuss how terrible it is, especially since it is pronounced “Eee-voo,” as in, rhymes with emu) is the first place the judges visit. They stand at the front, wondering if anyone will greet them; Alex is already apologizing to another table, so a server takes the judges to their seats. The first course is Angelo’s tomato confit soup and Tiffany’s crudo. The judges praise the soup, and Bruni says it makes him want to taste more of Angelo’s cooking. They feel that the crudo is overseasoned. There is apparently a long gap between the first and second courses (and Padma acts like a huge bitch about it), but when Tiffany’s black bass and Ed’s turbot arrive, everyone seems happy. The third course is Alex’s lamb chop with pea puree (seriously???) and a ribeye steak that I can’t remember who is responsible for. The judges like the lamb but seem to be a little puzzled by the steak, which doesn’t have a Mediterranean feel (frankly, neither did any of the other dishes). The judges get up and leave, and Alex is nowhere to be found.
Next up is 2121 (named for the address of the TC house), and Kelly greets the judges and tells them about their restaurant’s theme (which I didn’t really understand – something about being progressive). The first course is Kelly’s chilled corn and crab soup and Kenny’s beet salad. The judges don’t like how thin the soup is, and they feel that the corn has no flavor because it is out of season (which is in direct contradiction to Kelly’s intro, which mentioned the use of seasonal ingredients). There seems to be a lot going on with the beet salad, and the judges make a Chanel reference about taking off accessories. The second course is Amanda’s steak and Kevin’s halibut; the judges don’t like the former (though the compliment the sauce), but they think the fish is both beautiful and tasty. The last course is dessert, which is Kelly’s chocolate ganache tart and Kenny’s “cheese course” (which boils down to a hunk of fried goat cheese over a strawberry-rhubarb salad). Gail the dessert queen loves the tart, but everyone seems universally put off by the fried goat cheese. Bruni calls it a horror show. It must have been poorly executed, because the IDEA of fried goat cheese over strawberries and rhubarbs sounds really tasty to me.
In the stew room, Kevin says that his mind will be blown if the blue team doesn’t win. Which, duh, means that the blue team doesn’t win. EVOO is the winning restaurant, despite Alex’s poor service. Ed’s turbot is declared the winning dish, so he wins some wine and a trip to Napa.
When the blue team goes in front of the judges, Kenny starts out by saying how surprised he is to be the loser because of all of the communication problems he witnessed amongst the members of the red team. Gail reminds him that they don’t see (or care about) any of that, and that the blue team is on the bottom because of their food. The judges compliment Kelly on her “clumsy charisma,” but they slam her soup. They praise Kevin’s halibut, but they tell Amanda that her steak was overcooked and unappetizing. They tell Kenny that they didn’t like either of his dishes, and he decides that he’ll go ahead and continue to trash the red team. Specifically, he says that Alex didn’t conceive or cook a dish (which was part of the rules) and that he should be up for elimination. Kevin joins the anti-Alex bandwagon as well (which is the dumbest move EVER, since Kevin’s dish was the best of that bunch). This whole bit makes Kenny and Kevin look like ridiculous, whiny bitches.
The blue team goes back to the stew room, and the bitchiness continues with Kevin yelling at Alex. Ugh. In the end, Kenny is sent home, and he says he is in awe. Dude, get over yourself. You started strong, but you wound up in the middle and in the bottom because YOUR FOOD WASN’T THAT GOOD. As slimy as Alex seems, I am happy that Kenny is gone, and I look forward to further narrowing the field over the next couple of weeks.
Oh, and by the way, Tom’s blog is definitely worth a read this week, in light of the “controversy.”
Okay, I know I have been saying for weeks that this season is boring, but the dullness reached new heights last night, as I actually FELL ASLEEP in the middle of the episode. I have never fallen asleep during Top Chef before.
The quickfire challenge was judged by Marcus Samuelsson, and it charged the chefs to create a dish inspired by Ethiopian cuisine (and Chef Samuelsson gives the contestants a quick-and-dirty lesson in the flavors of the region). As he explains injera, I can’t help but gag a little – I just hate the texture of that stuff (but I will spare you my gross nickname for it). It seems like about half the chefs have some experience with Ethiopian food, while the other half have never even eaten it. Kevin, Stephen, and Alex wind up in the bottom for various sins, and Amanda, Angelo, and Tiffany come out on top. In the end, Tiffany – who had zero experience with Ethiopian food – wins the challenge and scores immunity.
Padma and Chef Samuelsson roll out a big map, and they tell the chefs that they will be cooking a dish inspired by the country they choose (and they draw knives to make their selections). They will serve their food for various ambassadors at the Meridian House (I’ve been there!), and they won’t have any cooking equipment besides sternos. Alex takes Spain, and I just know in my heart that he is going to butcher my very favorite food culture ever. Stephen picks last and ends up with Brazil, which I think is all kinds of awesome, but he doesn’t really seem to know what to do with it. The chefs all go shopping, and Kenny grumbles about being in the middle. It must be because the judges think you’re a threat, Kenny. Stephen remembers that he’s been to a Brazilian steakhouse, so that’s the direction he’s going. Tom walks through as the contestants are prepping and cooking, and Kevin says he’s worried about the Indian ambassador eating his food. Tom responds that Kevin SHOULD be worried about what Padma thinks. Tee.
This is about the point I fell asleep, so I’ll skip ahead to judgment. The top dogs are Kevin, Kelly, and Tiffany. Tiffany wins for her tamales, and she gets $10,000. DC Central Kitchen also gets a $10,000 donation, and Jose Andres gets all sappy and adorable. I heart him so much – anyone who is not following him on Twitter needs to get on the stick, because he is hilarious.
The bottom three are Stephen, Alex, and Ed. Ed’s duck was apparently too fatty and not tea-infused enough, and Jose Andres says that Alex’s Spanish-inspired dish was “a little nightmare” (only he says it in his awesome accent and it is fabulous). Nothing about Stephen’s dish was done well, but his rice especially was mealy and overcooked. Stephen goes home, and he is incredibly gracious and calm about it, which is awesome.
Next week…RESTAURANT WARS!!! It looks like Angelo bugs out quite a bit, so it should be interesting. Here’s hoping, anyway.
I had lunch here yesterday – anyone recognize it?
If it helps, here’s what I ate:
This vacation wasn’t supposed to be particularly food-focused, but we have definitely enjoyed some excellent meals. More later!
I know, I know, I’m totally behind on my recapping – but y’all should be used to that by now. I couldn’t watch the episode on Wednesday, as I was engaging in some seriously good people-watching at a local country bar, and then I zipped out of town for vacay. Guess I’d better write SOMETHING, though, lest I have to talk about two miserable episodes at a time.
I don’t really know why I bother – this season is a DUD. Every episode is more of the same – Kenny being arrogant and talking about how the other chefs have it out for him, Kelly hating on Amanda, and Alex being all weird and creepy. In this particular episode, the quickfire challenge involved food on a stick (well, a toothpick, to be more precise), which was loosely tied to Congress. I mean, could the D.C. tie-ins be any more lame? And here I thought the casino schtick from the Las Vegas season was bad. Anywho, Angelo ends up winning with some kind of Asian tuna-in-a-cucumber thingy that actually looks delicious. Someone (Kevin?) makes some ridiculous comment about how the judges must want to eat Chinese food all the time, since Angelo keeps winning. Wow, what an incredibly ignorant and offensive thing to say.
The elimination challenge involves the chefs taking over the Palm restaurant and serving a power lunch. Again, that is the best you can do in D.C.? This is getting tiresome. There are five proteins (porterhouse steak, swordfish, salmon, lobster, and lamb), so there are two chefs who will cook each one, but it’s not a head to head challenge. In the kitchen, Amanda asks to borrow some salt, and Kelly refuses, slathering her own steak with the stuff (foreshadowing). Ed can’t find his pea puree, and Alex mysteriously acquires some. Whether or not Alex stole Ed’s pea puree features heavily in the episode – but seriously, this is a reality TV show, and there are cameras all around. Couldn’t they figure out VERY quickly if he indeed stole another chefs ingredient? That’s what makes me think that nothing was stolen, Alex just LOOKS shady because that’s his personality, and the producers drummed up a bunch of needless controversy to try to make a boring-ass show a little more exciting. It ended up just making the show annoying, in my opinion. Moving on…
The dishes: Kelly’s porterhouse is way oversalted (shock), and Amanda took hers off the bone with good results. Andrea’s swordfish is way too sweet (she made a vanilla sauce of some kind), and TIffany’s (with a raisin tapenade) is tasty but a little overcooked. Stephen’s salmon is a little messy, and Alex’s salmon with pea puree is a clear favorite. Angelo’s lobster is chewy, but he has immunity, so it doesn’t matter. Ed’s lobster gets good reviews at the table. Kenny’s lamb seems to be pretty middle-of-the-road, and Kevin’s seems to be inconsistently cooked. Alex, Tiffany, and Ed wind up in the winner’s circle, which makes Tiffany cry because she knew she overcooked the fish and had already prepared herself to be in the bottom. Ed compares the lobsters to Volkswagens – tee. Alex gets lots of praise for his pea puree, and he ends up winning the challenge. This provokes lots of dirty looks from his competitors, but again, I maintain that this is creative editing at its best.
Kelly, Andrea, and Kevin are in the bottom. Kelly, obviously, is there for her oversalting – which makes Amanda secretly (or not so secretly, I guess, since she interviewed to the camera) happy. Andrea defended herself by saying that she doesn’t cook or eat swordfish because she doesn’t like it – and that’s when I knew she was going home. LAME excuse, lady. Kevin was taken to task for overcooking his lamb. Sure enough, Andrea is sent packing, so she can go back to Miami and whine some more about how Michelle Bernstein has it out for her.
Next week involves some kind of embassy challenge – should be interesting, but it probably won’t be. Sigh.
Remember a couple of episodes ago, when Kenny and Tamesha each won $10,000 for cooking baby food? Good times, right? Well, the duo are together again in the most recent episode, which, by and large, was more interesting than the previous ones – but still, I find myself hating nearly every contestant and every challenge. We’ll see if this week marked the beginning of an upswing.
The chefs arrive at the Hinckley Hilton for their quickfire challenge, and they are greeted by Padma and Michelle Bernstein. Shit, does that woman have a contract with Bravo or something? I was beyond irritated to see her smirky little face – mostly because, come ON, there are TONS of amazing and award-winning chefs who call D.C. home, and yet the Top Chef brass chooses instead to fly “Michy” up from Florida. The irritation factor only increased when Andrea started whining about how she and Bernstein are rivals and there’s been some sort of competition or bad blood between them ever since they started their careers in Miami. Many fans have asked why Bernstein would be judging in light of such a conflict of interest, but my personal line of thinking is that Andrea is full of shit and that the rivalry is all in her head. But, either way, bah – annoying.
Anywho, the quickfire challenge involves some unusual proteins. SOME. In other words, some of the chefs are cooking with duck nuts and rattlesnake, while others get foie gras and ostrich (not exactly exotic, if you ask me). They draw knives and the commence the bitching about their respective ingredients. Amanda does an admirable job of sawing through her emu eggs (she’s scrappy, that one), and then Padma comes in and tells the chefs to take over the protein on their left. Aw, snap. Alex has to give up his foie and pick up the ostrich – poor, poor baby. Kelly gets the emu egg and decides to make one big frickin’ omelet. Andrea ends up with wild boar, which she says she’s not scared of because it’s like a steak. Um. Hi, Andrea? Boar means PIG, you dolt. And just look at the damn shape of the cut – I’m not a chef, and I knew right away that it was something like a shoulder that you’d have to cook low and slow in order to tenderize it. Padma and Chef Bernstein rove around the room, and sure enough, the latter has something negative to say about Andrea’s dish – but I think it was because she cooked a boar chop like a steak (which made it chewy, natch) and NOT because Bernstein is secretly plotting against her. Kelly’s emu omelet wins the day, and shockingly few testicle jokes were aired.
The elimination challenge is a Cold War challenge (oy, more politico puns), in which the chefs will prepare cold entrees and be – gasp – judged by their peers. Each team will select a winning and losing dish from the other team; the two winners will be considered for the overall challenge victory, and the two losers will be up for elimination. Kelly gets to sit out the challenge and try everyone’s food (some prize). The chefs go hang out on the U.S.S. Sequoia for a while, and there is much talk about strategery and game-playing, thanks to Angelo loudly giving advice to his teammates. The chefs whirl through Whole Foods, and it seems like a lot of people are doing cold seafood dishes. Then, during prep time, Amanda runs into some problems with equipment and runs around like a loony bird, and Tamesha calmly and quietly interviews that she would strangle her in a heartbeat. Damn, girl. And here I though the former cokehead was the crazy one.
Team One is Amanda (chicken galantine), Kevin (some sort of surf and turf), Kenny (lamb two ways), Alex (lamb with beets and tzaziki), and Ed (salmon on pumpernickel and cucumber vichysoisse). I don’t know if it was just editing, but the other contestants were SUPER harsh. I mean, I don’t remember one positive thing they said, though they must have said SOMETHING positive about Kevin’s dish because they declared it the winner. Everyone but Andrea says that Kenny’s dish is the loser – Andrea rightly calls Amanda out on the cartilage in the galantine, which Alex knew was in there (he tasted it) but didn’t tell Amanda. Kind of a dick move, but no surprise coming from these fine specimens.
Team Two is Tiffany (seared Ahi tuna), Angelo (some kind of Asian salmon, shocker), Andrea (trio of tartares), Stephen (chilled Asian beef), and Tamesha (scallops with a rhubarb jus). The other chefs seem to be more fair this time around, and they universally like Tiffany’s tuna. There are some positive and negative comments about most of the dishes, but they unanimously dislike Tamesha’s scallops – the texture of the scallop itself wasn’t pleasant, and the long pepper makes the sauce way too overpowering. Tiffany wins and Tamesha loses, and everyone packs it up and heads to the stew room, where Andrea tells Amanda about her cartilage (little late). Kevin ends up winning (and the prize is a Hawaiian vacation), which will hopefully give him a bit of confidence and positivity.
Tamesha and Kenny are called to judges’ table, and Tamesha says she is surprised to be there. Michelle Bernstein says something weird about the texture of the scallop being like a tongue on top of you tongue. Helpful, Michelle, really. When Padma asks Kenny why he thinks he’s on the bottom, he replies that the other chefs think of him as a threat. WRONG ANSWER, DUDE. Now you served a lousy dish, AND you look like a pompous ass. Bernstein takes him to task for the comment, saying that there was way too much going on with it (and by the way, Kenny, STOP doing duos and trios and “X ingredient served six ways”). After deliberations, Tamesha is sent home, and she naturally thinks it was BS. I really didn’t care which of the two of them got the boot, since they seemed equally talented and full of themselves.
Next week, the chefs take over the Palm. Again, I say – SERIOUSLY??? IN ALL OF DC, THE FUCKING PALM IS THE BEST YOU CAN DO????? That’s probably what I’m the most upset about in terms of this season – that the awesomeness of the city’s food scene is nowhere to be found. Grrrr.
Alright, kiddies. My Wednesday night swim practices are over, which means that I can finally watch Top Chef at its regularly scheduled time, AND that I don’t have to avoid teh internets for days until I can cozy up with my DVR. So why did it take me so long to post a recap of the latest episode? Because I am having a really hard time getting excited about this season. The chefs? Meh. The challenges? Meh. The guest judges? Meh. The most impressive thing about Season 7 so far is Padma’s post-pregnancy boobage.
Anywho, this past week’s episode highlights some odd alliances among the chefs. Angelo and Tamesha are up each other’s butts, as are Ed and Tiffany. We’ll see how that plays out – particularly with the first pairing, which I’m sure is strategic in some form or fashion. The quickfire involved Maryland blue crabs – yum. Patrick O’Connell, from the Inn at Little Washington, is the guest judge. Everyone seems to do either a crab soup or a crab salad – yawn. Tim screws the pooch, which is extra painful/hilarious because he’s from Baltimore. Ed ends up winning immunity for his Thai-inspired dish, which prompts Tim to lament that he should have “put some soy sauce in there.” Only he pronounces soy “suey.” Horrifying.
The elimination challenge involves the chefs working as one big team to prepare a meal (outdoors) for 40 people. They won’t know anything about their cooking equipment or ingredients until they get there. When they get back to the house, they try to divide responsibility – and when I say “try,” I actually mean “scream and holler and do everything but whip their dicks out and measure them against each other.” Angelo and Kenny are the main aggressors, though Tim stands near them and tries to get in on the testosterone-fest. At the end of the “discussion,” they decide to pair up with their partners from the last challenge. This makes Tiffany/Tim and Ed/Alex somewhat unhappy.
The actual cooking is kind of a blur – I remember Tim changing his mind about what to do with the vegetables, Kevin’s cauliflower couscous toppling onto the ground (and someone actually suggesting that he scoop it up and serve it), and Andrea stressing about how to get a good sear on her pork loin. Oh, and I also remember that Eric Ripert looks adorable in his scarf.
The favorite dishes are Kenny and Kevin (curried eggplant and broccoli couscous) and Kelly and Andrea (five-spice pork loin and roasted beets and apples). Kelly goes the extra mile and makes a dessert (strawberry rhubarb crisp with basil whipped cream – YUM), which goes over very well. Kenny’s eggplant ends up winning the day – and does anyone else notice that they are SUPER inconsistent with the prizes this year? One week they hand out trips to Europe, and the next week, bupkis.
The bottom three are Amanda, Steven, and Tim. Amanda’s minestrone wasn’t really minestrone (according to Eric Ripert, anyway), and the vegetables were chopped and cooked inconsistently. Steven’s salad was overdressed and poorly presented. Tim’s vegetables were bland. The judges decide to finally send Tim home, and he mumbles some nonsense as he departs. Blah.
Remember when my recaps were actually interesting? Yeah, it’s because last season was actually GOOD. This season is wearing on my patience – hopefully next week’s “judge your peers” episode will turn things around.
I am so glad I waited until Thursday night to watch this week’s Top Chef – it kept me blissfully insulated from the LeBron James media circus. Because, truthfully, I know (and care) as much about basketball as Lynne knows about cooking pasta. Ooooh, burn!
This episode was really weird. I hated the baby food challenge – yeah, it’s fan-freaking-tastic that Tom and Padma have procreated (though not together), but I’m not sure that pureeing is a great sign of chefly talent. Also, I couldn’t decide which was more disturbing – Kenny’s pimping of the dead wife story, or Alex’s uncomfortable sex references (though I did find his comment about practicing making babies, not baby food, somewhat amusing). In the end, Tamesha and Kenny each win $10,000, but no one has immunity for the elimination challenge.
Which brings me to my next beef. What the frack kind of nonsense was the elimination challenge? Holy confusing, Batman. I mean, the idea of a round robin-esque cook-off was kind of cool, but it didn’t sit right with me that the “losers” of the breakfast and lunch rounds were the ones that ended up winning the challenge and getting trips to Italy and Spain. Oh, well, at least I got to stare at Eric Ripert and Bryan Voltaggio for a while.
The breakfast round is a flurry of eggy activity, and Amanda and Stephen (with a poached egg concoction) and Tiffany and Tim (with a crab cake Benedict) are declared safe. The remaining chefs are annoyed that they have to cook lunch, particularly since, as Kelly notes, they didn’t receive any feedback about why the judges didn’t enjoy their breakfasts. A fair point, I suppose. Anywho, the funniest part is that Kelly and Andrea serve overcooked fish (I’m sorry, feesh) to Eric Ripert, and he and Padma have an adorable exchange about sending a dish back at Le Bernardin. Tee. Angelo and Tamesha are safe, with their beef carpaccio and kimchee vinaigrette, and Ed and Alex are safe as well (their seared scallops looked yummy, though I’m not sure what gnudi is – it looks like gnocchi to me).
The chefs cooking dinner are even more pissed than they were about cooking lunch, which I’m sure does wonders for their concentration and overall state of mind. Everyone stews about how the judges wronged them. Two teams make short ribs (Kelly/Andrea and Kenny/Kevin), and they each think their version is the best. Arnold and Lynne make homemade squid ink pasta and mussels, but they clash about when to start cooking the noodles. Arnold becomes increasingly anxious about not having enough time, and Lynne is a miserable bitch and repeats about 6 times that she’s made homemade pasta tons of times before (which is a death knell if I ever heard one).
Sure enough, Lynne undercooks the pasta, and the judges are not pleased. Kelly and Andrea have the winning short rib, and they each get a trip to Europe (if I had been safe in the breakfast round, I would be raising all kind of hell). Kevin and Kenny defend their dish to the death, and Lynne is a miserable bitch and keeps dodging questions by saying that she was happy with the flavor of the dish. In the end, Arnold and Lynne are sent home because of execution errors and the fact that, apparently, black pasta is just too scary for Hilton’s guests. Bummer, as Arnold was the contestant I hated the least at this stage in the game.
Note how I phrased that. I didn’t say I liked Arnold – I said I hated him the least. That is how I feel about this season of chefs, ladies and gentlemen – they are constantly battling to be the best of a cadre of bad options. At this point, I guess I’m going to have to root for Alex, because at least that skinny booger TRIES to be funny and light-hearted.
Ya know, this group of chefs is starting to piss me off. “I’m not a pastry chef!” “I don’t know how to use a grill!” Seriously??? I may not have gone to culinary school, but I know how to bake a pie and I’ve made some pretty darn good picnic food in my day. I suppose this episode confirms that there is a BIG difference between a good chef and a good cook.
The quickfire challenge – make a pie from scratch – seems simple enough, but very few of the contestants get it right. My favorite line of the night comes from Gail, who, when Ed describes how he was inspired by his grandmother when he made a banana cream pie with celery spuma, asks quippily, “How does it compare to your grandma’s celery spuma?” Tee. And, by the way, what kind of a word is “spuma”? It just sounds dirty to me. Johnny Iuzzini gets second-best-line honors when he says to Amanda, “My grandmother wasn’t a pastry chef, but she can still make an apple pie.” Aw, snap.
Anywho, Kenny wins the quickfire (finally!) with his bananas foster pie with Chinese five spice. Then they are told they will be cooking for Hill interns for their elimination challenge, which is a picnic at Mt. Vernon. Shopping at Whole Foods involves a story about Amanda’s coke-laden past, which maybe is good for context when she later yells at Alex about an oven and cites “prison rules” as her reason for being a bitch. Back at the house, Amanda is the focus once again, which means she’s either going to win or go home.
When the chefs get to Mt. Vernon, hilarity ensues. The little Gaysian doesn’t know how to use a charcoal grill, so he watches and copies Kenny’s every move. Tim makes some kind of vaguely sexist (but totally expected) remark about women not knowing how to grill and men cooking meat and drinking beer. There are a LOT of dishes, and most of them seem to be “meh.” The guest judge is Jonathan Waxman, though, so that counts for something. Oh, and a goose craps on Tim’s table. And Angelo actually compliments Amanda’s food – wow, maybe I don’t have to punch him in the face after all!
At judging, we learn that Angelo, Amanda, Ed, and Arnold have the best dishes. Arnold wins for his lamb meatball with gazpacho – and he is oh so happy about it (I believe there’s even a little victory dance)! If he would stop popping his collar, he would have my full endorsement. Tim, Steven, Tracey, and Kevin are the bottom four, and it is abundantly clear (to me, anyway) that it’s either going to be Steven or Tracey. In the end, though, Tracey’s fennel-heavy, improperly cooked sausage sliders were the worst of the worst, so she gets to come back to Atlanta early.
Even though I didn’t particularly care for Tracey, I’m bummed that our only Atlanta chef got booted so early. I guess I got spoiled by the Richard Blais and Kevin Gillespie seasons.
Whatever will happen next week when the current contestants tangle with the previous ones? Stay tuned…
Due to my recent travel and some DVR snafus, I just last night watched the first two episodes of Season 7 of Top Chef. If you want recaps, I highly suggest visiting John Kessler and Jordan Baker – they are my go-to sources for witty, snarktastic TC commentary. I’ll start recapping next week, but for now, here are some knee-jerk reactions…
* Padma’s boobs are frickin’ enormous. Gail must be upset to have been dethroned as the bustiest judge.
* I love that this season is in D.C., as I have mad love for my previous city of residence, but the “beauty shots” of all the monuments are going to get old. There is more to Washington than the Mall, people!
* “Hail to the chef”? “Bipartisandwich”? Are the puns going to be this terrible for the whole season???
* Props to the chefs for completing a challenge on the roof of the Newseum. The views are spectacular, but it is windy as all hell up there.
* I do not like Angelo. Within the first 5 minutes, he was name-dropping like whoa. It only got worse from there.
* Kenny really likes the word “irrelevant.”
* Can I please have that rowhouse when y’all are done with it?
* Sam Kass is hot. I wish he was a contestant instead of Angelo.
* I am really sad that the hippie from Michigan screwed the pooch and got sent home first. I think he would have made things interesting (with soundbites if not cooking). But, as usual, dessert is the kiss of death, and these chefs should know that if they have EVER watched Top Chef before.
* Speaking of which, didn’t Hector try to deep-fry a steak last season? Seriously, people, watch the reruns and figure out the major no-nos.
* I know that alcohol cooks off in most instances. But sherry-braised chicken? For a school lunch? At the expense, literally, of a good dessert? I think Amanda should have gotten the boot.
* If middle school cafeterias served lunches like Kelly’s team’s, I would happily go back to the sixth grade.
* I am so glad that Eric Ripert is a more permanent fixture. I hope the contestants cook lots of “feesh” for him to critique.
* Did I mention that Padma’s boobs are HUGE???
As usual, there are way too many contestants at this point for me to pick my favorites. There was a fair amount of whining and cattiness and general bitchery going on, so I imagine it will be easier to pick out who I do NOT like. Time will tell…