Archive for the 'Top Chef' Category

Top Chef – Season 3 Finale part 2

If I root for someone on a Bravo! reality show, they will inevitably lose. If there is one contestant – only one – that I do not want to win… they will inevitably win. It happened with season 2 of Top Chef, season 3 of Project Runway and now this. It was a toss up and Tom Colicchio got his way. I knew the result as soon as he said that the panel had made the right choice. He makes up his mind and that is it. No one can convince him of anything different. Meh. Although Hung seemed to tone down his trash talking on this last episode, he needs to just lose a little bit of that cockiness. When you’re good, you don’t need to put your peers down and dismiss constructive criticism. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Ilan, but yeesh. Tone it down! I was sad to see Casey falter on the last challenge and even more disappointed with her excuses at judges table, but I still think that she must be very good. She seems to have the right ideas and a flair for sauces. You go, Casey! Even if your glasses do make you look like Jeffrey from Project Runway.

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Thank god you didn’t get a neck tattoo!

I said last season that I wasn’t going to watch anymore… Seriously, I need to stop watching Bravo programming. Thanks, Bravo, for all the gay. Someone please let me know if it gets better, will ya? And someone program some better speech software in the Padma robot. She could barely function on live TV!

Private Practice, Top Chef, and Life

Last night was all about the television. First up was Private Practice, the much talked-about spin off of Grey’s Anatomy. Meh. I love Kate Walsh and her lovely mouth and eyes and… everything else. I also like Amy Brenneman and Taye Diggs. The show was like a bad episode of Grey’s. Salespeople calling a therapist to the store for a troubled woman and she has a psychological breakthrough? And who didn’t see the emergency surgery c-section coming the moment Addison’s buddy said “Everything but c-sections” about the birthing room. Please. I’ll watch again because I like the cast, but I have little patience and a lot of tv on my schedule, so please, Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes… make it work!

So next I flipped over to Top Chef. It’s the first part of the finale. The finalists seem genuinely friendly to each other and I have to say that the lack of contestant on contestant assaults is refreshing! I am rooting for Casey and have been since she seemed like a sweet girl back when Lia left. I prejudged her and got it wrong. She’s my girl now and I want a female Top Chef! Actually, “Anyone but Hung” is my mantra. He says he’s cooking only for the judges and poo on the cowboys (maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit) and then gives a line at judging table. His arrogance and superiority complex are a real turn off for me. He’s good, but he needs to try a little humble pie. I loved it when the judges told him that he was technically the best chef left. He got a huge grin on his face until Tom repeated, “Technically,” to let him know that that doesn’t mean he is the best chef overall. I love deflated Hung. The judges think he lacks “soul” in his food, but they keep telling Casey that her food has soul and heart and all that razzmatazz. What the heck does that mean, anyway? As a non-foodie I think it’s bunk, but what do I know? As long as it gives Casey an edge, I’m happy. Oh, by the way, they are having three finalists this season, which I love because I think Casey would have been eliminated too. I love the comradery between the chefs this season. I just wish Hung wasn’t such a dick.

I recorded Life on my computer. Haven’t watched it yet, but I am looking forward to watching it. Again, I am a fan of the cast. Captain Winters from Band of Brothers is the lead and Carmen from the L Word is the partner. Good actor + good actor/eye candy will get me to watch every time. I hate the networks for scheduling all the good shows on two nights. All that plus The War on PBS. I am running out of hard drive space and time to watch and listen to all my entertainment!

Top Chef – Family Favorites

Thirteen chefs remain. We’re whittling it down to a reasonable amount of chefs! We are starting to see what (just about) all of the chefs are doing now and it starts to get harder to hide in the middle.

We see a little note that Sandee wrote before leaving. Everyone misses her because they didn’t have time to get mad at her. Lia explains that everyone is starting to feel tense now because the newness is wearing off and people who they’ve gotten to know are being eliminated. It sure didn’t take them long to make a mess of their apartment! Bras hanging on doors, clutter everywhere, and random laundry cart hanging out in the apartment… Joey and Howie explain that they’ve moved on from their little tiff. This shouldn’t last too long…We see Micah working out (in her jeans) and explaining that she’s inconsistent. You can say that again. Wait, now the apartment looks clean while they’re walking out… Maybe just their bedrooms and the kitchen is messy. Weird.

Quickfire Challenge. Chef Alfred Portale is guest judge. He looks like a South Park character. He’s well known for his plating techniques. The chefs are looking at a giant aquarium full of seafood. Hung is, as usual, excited and expects to win. Everyone explains that they’re good at seafood. Ho hum. That’s all they cook on this show anymore, with occasional turf thrown in with the surf. hungrun.jpg The chefs have 30 seconds each to “catch” the shellfish with a flimsy goldfish net. They pick the chefs in some sort of arbitrary order. Hung literally runs to the aquarium and “aggressively” fishes for his shellfish. Sara N half-jokingly says, “Jesus, Hung. Save some for the rest of us.” Padma seems a little afraid of Hung and it’s kind of funny. I have read that plenty of people don’t really care for Padma, but I’ll say it again: I like her. She cracks me up. Anyway, somehow Hung managed to kill a crawfish, which ends up belly up on the floor, and he says, “I don’t need it,” and walks back to his spot. Lia tells him not to leave it on the floor. I am liking Lia! Way to speak up! Hung replies, “What do you want me to do?” My guess would be clean up after yourself, you damn slob. Oh, yep. That’s exactly what she says. Conduct yourself like a professional. That boy has too much testosterone. Everyone else gets their shellfish without too much trouble. Tre’s got flimsy net problems and only gets 18 pieces of product. I guess that’s not a lot… The chefs have 30 minutes to prepare their dishes. This is a tough challenge because the chefs have to shuck it, clean it, devein it, and cook it. That does seem like a pretty short amount of time. Dale comments that he doesn’t really have time to “dick around with a conch.” Are they really allowed to say that without bleepage? liaknife.jpgMaybe it seemed worse because I misheard “conch” listening the first time through. Micah starts beating her shellfish with a pot and scissors, in an earnest attempt to break the shell. Meanwhile, Lia shows us how not to chop carrots. She’s lucky she didn’t lose a finger! Howie has beads of sweat dripping from his nose while he bends over to prepare his dish. Gross. But Howie’s got a plan: ceviche. Brian says the less you do with seafood the better because the seafood is already phenomenal. I like Brian too. Hung thinks his monkey could do a simple dish and everyone but him is doing simple. Boy has a monkey.

The judge has generally good things to say about the food. He says to Micah that “sky juice” is an acquired taste. Camille likes to flavor with tea. The judge doesn’t like that and kind of shakes his head. The judge doesn’t like the proportion of bread on Hung’s plate. Hung can’t handle the truth: “Chef Alfred Portale, master chef of the world, thinks that the croutons are too big. Obviously he didn’t understand the concept.” The bottom three are Micah (poor execution), Camille (tea!?), and Tre (proportions of shellfish in the dish were out of whack). Favorites are Howie (intelligent and well presented), Brian (simple flavors – I’m looking at you, Hung), CJ (well integrated flavors) and the winner is Brian, who needed to save face and win, since he works at a seafood restaurant.

Elimination challenge. Padma and the guest judge roll out plates of food that looks deeeeelish! I love comfort food and I want some of those delicious tots! Meanwhile, all the judges are cringing at the food. They don’t know good food when they see it. The challenge is to take traditional American family favorite foods and update them and make them lower in cholesterol. The chefs each get to pick a plate in the reverse order which they fished in the quickfire. The challenge resonates with Howie because there is heart disease in his family and his father passed away from a heart attack when he was young. micahugh.jpgHung’s traditional family food is steamed fish, rice, and a lot of vegetables and all the dishes on display look disgusting to him. Micah is from South Africa and isn’t familiar with the six dishes which are left when she goes to pick. She chooses meatloaf and continues to poopoo American food. Grr. Sarah M tries to figure out what’s in chicken a la king and decides to choose it. Hung gets stuck with fried chicken. Heh. They find out they are serving the food to two generations of members of the Miami Elk Club Lodge. Sounds like blue hairs! Padma agrees and says they’ll need to work some magic to convince them that healthy food can be tasty too. We non-foodies are the unwashed masses you know. Well, and I guess that is true… I prefer the tasty goodness of unhealthy food. I make a face similar to Micah’s when I eat “upscale” food, so I guess we’re even.

hungrun1.jpgShopping. Everyone piles out of the Rav4’s and walks into the Fresh Market like civilized human beings. Everyone except for Hung, who runs around everyone. That boy runs all day long like he’s hopped up on pep pills. CJ gets judgmental about other people’s ingredients and their fat content. “I hope the judges see that.” Brian, who has won immunity, decides to update stuffed cabbage by stuffing it with lobster, which is high in cholesterol. Sara M wastes half her time trying to explain which chicken she wants: “Right beside it. Right – no,no. Right beside the one you just – no. The one you just touched? The farthest one? Underneath that. Right beside that. Right. Thank you.” Lia is using store-bought sausages and flavoring them with Guinness. We can tell by a disapproving look that CJ thinks this is a problem. Dale is making pierogies (which I LOVE!) as an update to chicken and dumplings, so he buys some rotisserie chicken for filling and instant mashed potatoes. fuzzbuds.jpgHe feels like he would be under a big time crunch if he prepared these from scratch. Yeah. Pierogies are super time consuming to prepare, or so I’ve heard from my Polish friends. CJ is seething now. He thinks it’s bull***t that Dale bought these prepared ingredients. It’s obviously not against the rules because Dale is being very upfront about it. We get a nice taste of what happens when a contestant buys a product which is not made by a sponsor. I giggled when I saw the name fuzzed out. I looked and looked to see if I could find what brand that is, but no joy. Lia says she’s frustrated by being in the middle since she hasn’t been called out for the top or bottom yet. Just wait a little bit, Lia.

Day of elimination. At the Elks Lodge, the Elks are playing horseshoes and not swimming in the beautiful pool. Blue hairs. Chef Tom walks around the kitchen to check on the chefs. tomglare.jpgWhen Dale explains that he used the instant mashed potatoes, Tom gives him a look. Should we worry!? Tom is surprised that everyone is taking a very literal approach to the challenge rather than reinventing or reinterpreting them.

During a tease for a commercial, we hear Padma echoing Tom, quite literally. Tom: “They’re undercooked.” Padma: “They’re undercooked.” Tom:”This is terrible.” Padma:”It’s terrible.” Hee! Sara M skewered her chicken a la king. Wha? I suppose that’s chicken, but not so much a la king. To make matters worse, the oven was turned down to cool down. Hung says in his interview that when his chicken was done, they were done, and he turned it off, but he feels like Sara should have checked the oven to make sure it was still on. When she asks him directly, Hung says he didn’t turn down anything. Hrm. Sara starts to get nervous because her chicken is not thoroughly cooked.

CJ’s having problems with his tuna casserole. It’s super green and pretty watery but he can’t add fat to fix it. The judges don’t like it. It’s mushy, tastes like health food. Sara M serves up her salmonella a la king with couscous. It doesn’t remind the judges of chicken a la king at all. Lia serves up chicken sausage and lentils as her updated version of franks and beans. Padma busts her for not having made the sausage herself. She didn’t have a whole lot of food to prepare, like Dale did. Tom thinks Lia did this to play it safe, not to win. CJ tries Lia’s dish in the kitchen and tells her that her lentils are underdone and the judges agree with that and wonder what Lia did with her time. Dale serves up his pierogi and everyone loves it. Hung serves up his version of fried chicken with mac and cheese: skinless chicken marinated in yogurt with a chip of skin and spices with pasta and vegetables. Sounds gross – especially the skin chip. Ew. Tom just kind of looks at the dish and blinks at him. Heh. tomblink.jpgPeople seem to feel okay about the taste. Sara N’s version of fish and chips is a hit. Micah gets the bumbling music while she makes a meatloaf that looks like… I won’t say. She put mustard in there! Do people eat mustard on meatloaf? It looks like she made meatloaf, stuck mashed potatoes on top and used a cookie cutter to make it cylindrical. Tom looks frightened by the meat pillar. It’s crunchy and terrible. Brian serves up his cholesterol stuffed cabbage. The judges look ticked because he basically blew off one of the requirements of the challenge. Camille made tacos. Not really updated. They’re spicy. Casey made rib eye sloppy joes with apricot compote. I keep hearing compote and had to look up what that is because it reminds me of compost. Yuck if it was that, but it’s not. It actually sounds pretty good: “Common preparation of a compote is a cooked dish of fresh or dried fruits, simmered whole or in pieces in a sugar syrup.” People like it. Joey made a vegetable lasagna. His dish gets a nod from Ted Allen. Tre made chicken cordon bleu. Padma sounds disappointed but says it’s “not bad” which is actually bad. Howie’s updated pork chops and applesauce gets good reviews all around.

Judges’ table. Overall, the judges were underwhelmed. The judges call only Dale and Howie to the table as the favorites in this challenge. They shake each other’s hands. I like when people get along! Padma teases Howie a bit and tells him he can smile… It’s kind of sweet. He smiles and mentions that it’s sweeter to be there after having been in the bottom the previous two weeks. The judges ask Dale about the boxed mashed potatoes and he explains that he did and he stands by that decision. Tom says no one even picked up on it. Too bad we don’t know what brand is so tasty… Ultimately, the judges decide that Howie’s dish was the best. Howie wants to keep the positive momentum going. For the least favorite dishes, the judges ask for Micah, CJ, Lia (be careful what you wish for!), Sarah M, and Brian (who has immunity). Tom lectures Brian about his choice to ignore the low cholesterol aspect of the challenge. He understands that Brian has a background in seafood and works in a seafood restaurant, but says that at some point he’s going to have to make a meat dish. Tom dismisses him, but what I don’t get is, why did Ilan get away with making a Spanish dish every damn week? On to the other four. Micah scored the lowest with the Elks. There’s really nothing good to say about it, even by Micah. Sara likes what she did, but the judges don’t like that it bore no resemblance to chicken a la king. CJ’s dish had a lot of flavor, but it was all pea and the color was so green that it was frightening. Tom thought the flavors were muddy, but he liked the flax seed crispy thing on top. Lia explains that her sausage and lentil dish was something that she wanted people to be able to come home from work and make. Tom thinks she didn’t do enough in the alloted time. Lia says she didn’t really understand how complex frank and beans really are. Seriously? They all laugh with (at?) her. Tom thinks she was coasting, not trying to win with this dish.

At this point, I was scared that they were going to send Sara M or Lia home, but the judges explain that there was nothing wrong per se with Lia’s dish, they just want to see more effort. CJ’s dish was a miss, but he understood the concept and took a risk, so he would be safe. So then I just worried about Sara M. Ted Allen to the rescue. While they all pile on Sara M, Ted reminds them that Micah’s dish was nasty. The judges made the right decision to send Micah home because her dish was unimaginative and the flavors were off.

Micah says she’s relieved and glad to go, but gets weepy in her interview. She gets to go home to see her daughter… or does she? Don’t contestants have to hang around anyway? Micah thinks things will get really cutthroat and she’s glad to go before things get ugly. Next week the chefs will be in teams… here’s the part where it gets ugly.

Celine Dion says: Don’t start fighting! If I have to stop this car, you’re in big trouble!

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Rav4: 7, GE Monogram:1, Fresh Market:3, Guinness:3, Evian:5

Top Chef – Sunny Delights

Gosh, is this only the second episode of the season? There is still so much whittling that needs to be done that the face time for the contestants is all over the place. Fourteen contestants left.

We start out with everyone getting ready for the day. Yay! They’re all still getting along! And I’m not sure which chef this is, but she was wearing this monstrosity last week too… I guess it *is* a nightgown and not a bed sheet. Well, I hope it’s at least comfortable. I’d worry about the tie coming undone and choking me, but I guess I am an active sleeper sometimes…

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Quickfire: The chefs walk into a table full of citrus, citrus and more citrus. Welcome to Miami. Apparently the guest judge, Norman Van Aken, is “one of the Godfathers of South Florida cuisine.” While the chefs listen to the quickfire directions, the camera gets a shot of the chefs lined up in the kitchen. That dude is literally head and shoulders above the rest!! tall.jpgIs everyone else on this show just super short or is that guy seven and a half feet tall!? The quickfire challenge is to create a delicious dish incorporating citrus fruit in 30 minutes. Micah explains that this challenge should be easy, but she has a mental block. She had more ideas about preparing gooey duck than she does about making a dish with these ingredients which she uses every day. Tre and Hung are both feeling like the front runners in the competition.

Last week, the chefs did the quickfire outside of the Top Chef kitchen and the elimination challenge was done with only half of the chefs in the kitchen at a time. Now, with the fourteen remaining chefs all working in the kitchen, things are a little more congested. They show plenty of shots of people rushing around the kitchen and running into each other. Sandee complains, “These torches suck!” Must not be a sponsor, or that wouldn’t have made the cut, right? Although… I think Hung was complaining about a stove burner not working too.

Sara N makes her first real appearance. She was barely even noticeable last week. This week, they were showing a her so much that I thought she must be a goner! She complains that her plans for the quickfire are not really working out because her shrimp needed preparation which she hadn’t counted on. The judge turns out to be kind of a hard ass. He tries CJ’s (giant dude) dish and asks him if he made the decision to leave seeds in. Next is Casey (Celine Dion), whose play on smores was not focused enough on the citrus. Sandee (fauxhawk) makes a trio. Please let this not be a neverending parade of trios and duos again. Judge doesn’t like the mojito or the fact that something needs to be removed from it to drink it. Micah makes avocado “soup” but it looks like slightly watery guacamole. Judge asks simply, “Soup?” and Micah replies that it turned out like pudding. I’ll say… Padma eats it on what looks like a chip. Lia makes crab salad and Padma bites into some shell and says she doesn’t think that’s a crouton. Judge says it sounds like shell. Dale’s citrus salad looks like slop on a plate to me. Judge says he would have like a little olive oil to “go against that sunshine.” Sara N says she wasn’t expecting the judge to be so critical in his critiques. He was a little on the snotty side. Sara N was nervous and it showed. She took her awkward pill and stumbled all over herself trying to explain her dish. Judge was a butt to her.

Hung says that looking around the kitchen, he saw some “slummy dishes” so being such a humble guy, he’s sure he’s got this thing wrapped up. Judge likes it too. Tre’s is also good, along with Howie, and Brian. The judge likes Joey’s drink, although we don’t hear comments about the food. We don’t hear how Sara D or the bed sheet girl did. God, have they covered the bed sheet girl at all? Bottom three are Sara N (no focus), Sandee (garnish in the way), and Micah (unremarkable). Top three are CJ (complex, but coordinated – even with the seeds), Hung (distinct and well coordinated), and Tre (well thought out and plated). Hung wins and I can’t believe his giant head doesn’t explode from all the swelling. It was disappointing to see all women in the bottom three and all men in the top three. Joey is pissed. He thought he did a tremendous job on his dish and expected to be in the top three. His lips get all pursed when he’s pissed.

Time for the elimination challenge. It’s time for a champagne barbecue, brought to you by Kingsford Charcoal and probably a little bit by Moet too. Time to create an upscale barbecue dish for a “sexy and sophisticated crowd” at the event. Tre feels like this challenge is right up his alley since he’s from Texas. Howie feels like he’s got something to prove here. How about putting all the food on the plate? Everyone goes shopping and it’s kind of funny. Casey tries to do math and asks CJ his opinion on how many slices he thinks she can get out of something. He’s going with the same protein so he decides not to help. Casey replies “I’m doing other s***, I don’t need you! Tch. Outta my way.” Heh. Micah sees that everyone has gone to the meat section to start, so she tools around the produce section to start. She’s in a really foul mood because she misses her daughter. Isn’t this, like, day two for them as far as filming goes? Sara N decides to try her hand at math. She orders 20 pounds of rib eye. At $10 a pound, that’s her entire budget. Luckily, Hung points this out to her… that was nice of Hung. I almost thought he might be a nice boy under all that big talk.

treeyebrows.jpgTwo hours of prep time. Hung runs around the kitchen. CJ is making some weird mound with a pineapple underneath. Brian is making a seafood sausage. What’s with Brian making the food that is long and tubular? Tre is making barbecue salmon. He’s a serious competitor and if you’re not careful, he’ll raise his eyebrows at you! I like Tre so far and it’s fun to do screen captures of his interviews and rock between pictures. His face is very expressive. During the prep, there is lots of chopping and slicing. I love watching chefs do this. So quick, easy, and accurate. I’ll never know how they do it. Sandee thinks that, since she’s from the south, everyone expects her to do barbecue chicken (we’ll leave that to Joey), but she decides to go with a lobster pancetta with vanilla bean butter bacon sauce. Um. Sounds like too many flavors to me. I’ll stick to my Hot Fries, thank you very much. She says a lot of people are going the barbecue route, but she wants to go a little bit more upscale. Well, she’s getting one of the requirements of the challenge… Micah is still going on about feeling like crap and it sounds like there has been a little gossiping among the other chefs about it. Casey says, “we’re not sure if it is that she really misses her daughter or if she is upset about the quickfire.” Hung rips on her too, saying that Micah’s using her daughter as an excuse for being upset. Sara N is working with scotch bonnets and didn’t know how hot they were. Apparently, they are the same species as the habanero… but shouldn’t she know that before cooking with it? The peppers start to burn her fingers while she’s cutting them. They run out of time before Sara N is done with some of the stuff that needed to pickle overnight. She’s afraid her food will be inedible.

Elimination day: Time to go out and barbecue in the heat. Sarah N has never started a barbecue before. Micah can’t remember how much charcoal to use and how long it burns. Isn’t there info on the bags? Sara D can’t figure out how to f***ing work the lighter. Heh. Child proof. Some people are putting a lot of lighter fluid on their charcoal. I can’t believe that their food doesn’t end up tasting like lighter fluid. CJ is stooping over his prep table and says to Lia, “It’s like the only time I wish I was 5’3. No offense, hon.” Well, when you call her “hon” I don’t see how the little lady could be offended.

Chef Tom comes around for the sniff n’ sneer. Hung says all the right things. Tre, making conversation, says that he could do this in his sleep and Tom takes that as Tre saying he was coasting through. Joey is making barbecue chicken and Tom asks him if this is gourmet enough. Joey says no, but you’re supposed to have fun at a barbecue. Wrong answer, Joey – why do people have a hard time figuring out that they have to listen to the entire challenge, not just bits and pieces? Tom explains what Sandee is doing as putting lipstick on a pig. Well, that can’t be good. I can’t understand what it is that Sandee is doing, but apparently it doesn’t utilize the barbecue. Something about poaching blah blah blah. I can’t cook, people! Howie is cooking pork and he started too early.

yummy.jpgGuests arrive: Obligatory shot of some gays. Oh, Bravo!, you sure know how to include the gays. Camille is not feeling confident about her dish. Wait. Who the heck is Camille!? I think she’s the bed sheet chick. I have no earthly idea what she’s worked on in the first episode or the earlier part of this episode. She’s kind of cute too… more Camille please! She’s making swordfish and must not have run into any problems because we don’t see her for the rest of the episode again. Micah: more fun with math! “You know, 60 people. That’s not 10, that’s not 15, that’s 60 people.” Sara N has made Vietnamese barbecue and Padma says it’s yummy. With her mouth full. Love that Padma. Everyone loves Brian’s seafood sausage and he’s good at selling it too. CJ criticizes Sandee’s dish because braising poaching blah blah not technically barbecuing blah. Howie realizes that his pork is drying out, but hopes to coast through. Joey says if people said the same things about Howie’s dish in New York, he’d be going home. Shut up, Not Gourmet Boy. Hung made a watermelon champagne and Joey and his stupid sideways baseball cap heard this and didn’t like it. Joey says Hung is a “Kiss ass. That’s why he moved to Vegas, because he couldn’t hang in New York.” Thank god this competition is in Miami, because if it was in New York, Joey would never shut up. In his interview, Hung tries to think quickly to come up with an excuse about where he came up with the idea for the drink. Don’t play poker, dude. You’re a bad liar. Joey makes some comment about getting Hung some knee pads because he’s a kiss ass. How about making some decent food so you don’t have to worry about it?

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Casey feels the same way I do about Joey. Everything is always someone else’s fault when it comes to Joey.

Judges table: Tom says that across the table everything was very good. They knock Hung for having a simple dish. Tre’s dish was too salty for Padma but too bland for the others, plus it was lacking acidity. This isn’t the first time that Padma’s thoughts about a dish have been the complete opposite from everyone else’s opinion. Weird. Sandee’s food wasn’t really barbecue. Top three: Sara N, Brian, and Micah. Glad to see it’s 66% chick. Sara gets light headed when Padma announces that they are the top three. She’s very, very honored and surprised, but it’s Brian who wins with his seafood sausage. All three have come from the bottom to stand here in the top and you can see clearly that they are happy to have turned things around, at least for now. Bottom three: Howie, Joey, Sandee, and Tre. Er, that’s four. How are they doing this now? Sometimes two at the top, sometimes three. So far, it’s bottom four. Is that the new format? Tre knows there was an issue with salt on some portions. Joey chose barbecue chicken because his family used to have it when he was growing up. Obviously, not high end then, no? Gail says the chicken was super hot and hard to pick up, Joey replies that he likes to serve his proteins super hot. Guest judge Norm points out that guests were eating without utensils. Joey stares at him kind of slack jawed before saying he failed and he’ll try better next time. Sandee is totally shocked that she is there. There was so much butter and the dates were so strong that no one could taste the lobster, plus it didn’t feel like barbecue. Howie knew what was wrong with his dish and explains that he hasn’t cooked to his potential yet. When asked whose dishes he tasted, Joey replies Tre’s and Sandee’s but he thinks that Howie should go home because of the first elimination challenge and hearing that Howie’s pork was dry. Howie shoots back that Joey’s been doing a lot of complaining and basically says he’s bound to fail. Competition brings out the animal in Joey and that animal is icky. Joey and Howie argue back and forth while they wait for the judges’ decision. Joey offers to go home now. Oh, if someone would take him up on that offer.

Ultimately, the bigger sin was no barbecue at all rather than not upscale enough, so Sandee is sent packing. Oh, fauxhawk, we hardly knew ye. They’re kicking all the southern people out! It seems like people really liked Sandee and they were sad to see her go. It was kind of sweet because everyone gave her a little ovation when she left. Hopefully she’ll continue to do well where she works now.

Product placement logo shots – GE Monogram oven: 1, Rav 4 count:3, Fresh Market2, Kingsford:8, Moet:3. Next week looks like there’s some hot tubbing going on, some Howie sweat, followed by some terrible food, and finally – Ted Allen!

Top Chef – First Impressions

Well, it’s that time again. Against my better judgment, I watched Top Chef. We’ll see if it is the show or if it was just last year’s cast that made the show so unenjoyable. It looks like Kenmore didn’t like that the chefs went to chow.com and bashed their appliances… it’s now called the Top Chef Kitchen rather than the Kenmore Kitchen. One less tired product placement, yay! It looks like Glad has taken over as the big sponsor. Plenty of shots of the chefs riding around in the Toyota Rav4s too. Rav4 count: 7 , Continental Airlines:1, Moet champagne:7, GE Monogram:1, Fresh Market:1 First impressions: Sara… one of two. What’s up with her shirt sleeves? I like that she introduced herself as a fromagier, and then said, “that’s a fancy way to say a cheese maker.” Seems down to earth. Clay… Mr. Southern Man. No culinary school, thinks he’s the dark horse. Mia made it pretty far last year with her southern cooking, but the judges like sophisticated stuff. All I can think of when I hear his name is Clay Gayken. joey.jpgJoey tries to set himself up as a teddy bear, saying that he’ll give the money to his mother if he wins. Whatever. He comes off as a bully to me. And what’s up with the collar being up like that? Is that coming back into style now, because it just looks like you’re trying to hide a hickey when you do that, IMO. He moves his head around in a funny way too. He seems like an odd man. He’s like a caricature of a little New Yorker pizza maker or hot dog vendor… no? Next up, dude with the mohawk. At first, I thought he’d be the attitude, but he seems sensitive and possibly gay. Every so often, I think I see him swish. Although, later he says, “Fantastic!” instead of “Fabulous!” He’s throwing me off! Is his name Dale or Dell? I think it’s Dale, but Tom keeps calling him Dell. Tre seems pretty serious and determined. I like him, although I’ll never understand tattoos on the forearms. More power to ya, bud. What I like? He enjoys people’s reactions to eating something good. It goes something like this. treeat.jpgtrewow.jpg Next up, Sara, two of two. Heck, I think the initial intro is the only time they even really touch on her. They go to Gianni Versace’s old mansion. Creepy considering its history, especially when they show the front steps. Hung. Introduces himself as a CPA. Certified Professional A-hole. Nice and classy. Micah walks in like a celebrity in disguise, but she seems nice. Kind of a hippy. More mohawks… or… I guess maybe fauxhawks. Really, when does one become the other and why do people wear them? Lots of lesbians sporting a fauxhawk these days and it’s especially odd when older lesbians do it, Sandee. It’s the new mullet. Lia seems like a nice sweet Midwestern girl. She’s living in Brooklyn right now. Hey Joey, you can live in New York and not be obnoxious! Check it out. Next up is CJ, from Orange County. Dude’s tall! And… he tells us he has a false testicle. I’m glad you’re in remission dude, but you could spare us some of the details! They aren’t even done with the introductions before giving the cheftestants an unexpected quickfire challenge while they’re all dressed up and unprepared. Sneaky. Tom wastes no time in reminding the chefs that he is not their mentor, he is head judge of the show. Get over yourself dude. amuse.jpgQuickfire: make an amuse bouche from the leftovers of the hors dourves they’ve been munching on for a half hour. It’s quite a spread of food, but they only get ten minutes, they have to use plastic utensils to prepare the food, and the food should tell the judges “who you really are”. Mad scramble. Lots of people using oysters. Clay basically made a fruit cup out of an apple. Wha? I didn’t go to culinary school either, but what the heck? In watching this show only one season, you should know that an amuse bouche is a small taste of food, one bite, to whet your appetite. Micah wins with this pretty little dish. I love the pretty little food shots. Those people know how to light and shoot food to make it look nice. And it does seem to reflect her personality. I don’t know why. I guess it’s a little like those commercials where the food matches the outfit they’re wearing. Micah looks a little like her Tuscan Sushi Revisited, but she just needs a furrier hat… Padma dismisses them after the challenge. They get the night off and now they can go promote the hotel where they are staying. The editors throw in a little crazy Padma look in at the end of the quickfire. Eek!

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So they all go back to the hotel and bond. Nice digs there. Would someone please tell me, is this chick wearing a bedsheet or is that some sort of nightgown?

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We continue on with the introductions now. Howie. He gives the standard I’m-not-here-to-make-friends bit. He seems like he’s from New York. Hung gets in on that action and gives the same spiel in his interview. Oop! Looks like Top Chef has gone with GE ovens this time. We move on to the elimination challenge. There is the knife block and they’re walking in to see a table full of “proteins” but all I can see is slimy looking food and a boar’s head. Gross. Clay look scared. Sara One of Two looks relaxed… just another day in the kitchen. Micah has her hair pulled back and looks completely different. Where’d my hippy go? Time to create a surf and turf dish using exotic ingredients. There are only two portions of each gross ingredient and they’ll draw knives to see in which order they get to choose what to take. People start taking the easier ingredients first. Tre decides to take risks, Brian takes a snake and an eel, Sara One of Two takes geoduck. What the heck is that? They pronounce it “gooey duck” but I want to say “gee oh duck.” No? Anyway, it looks… well… wrong. Hung says it is shellfish. It is a fish or fowl?

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While shopping, Joey works himself into a tizzy because Micah is trying to help calm down Clay who’s running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Says Joey, “I hope she don’t tell me what to do. I’ll tell her to f*** herself.” Insert odd head bobbing. You’re a sweet boy, Joey. The chefs are split into two groups so there is more room in the kitchen, I guess. Howie talks about taking time out to make sure everything is prepped so he can put out the best food possible. Cue the wasting precious time music. Sandee injects her frog legs with some cajun spices. Clay’s sweating it up. Lia says her food isn’t going to be beautiful and Tom encourages her to take the time to make it beautiful. She looks at the clock and agrees. She’s kind of cute in a girl next door sort of way. Time starts to run out and everyone starts to hurry. Howie runs out of time and starts pacing around. With no other options, he takes what he has and all the chefs line up to take their food out to present to the judges. They like most of what they eat. They are quick to poo poo Clay’s dish. Group two is up. Hung is full throttle. Brian the eel boy is butchering his stuff. Sara One of Two is laid back. She seems to know a lot. We meet Camille, who likes simple food done right. She’s making kangaroo. Gross! Tre and Tom talk about Tre not wanting to lose. Tre tries some of Hung’s stuff and it rolls his socks up and down. So Hung can cook, but he doesn’t have to be such a jerk! Time starts to run down and people start running around. Brian runs out of time and didn’t get to do everything he wanted. The judges like Tre’s dish and they like Hung’s as well. Dale’s alligator is “super tough” and Brian’s dish would be good if Anthony Bourdain was drunk. What does that mean? How is eel and rattlesnake bar food? Judges table. They think that, on average, the performances were very good. They like Sara One of Two, Hung and Tre. The only “tiny criticism” of Hung is that his plate didn’t have any contrasting color. It looked pretty beige, but Bourdain called it “pretty flawless.” They give good comments about Tre’s dish too. They only call out Hung and Tre to come to see the judges. Tre says he knew Hung would be in the finals with him after he had tasted his food. It’s nice to see one chef complement another rather than knocking the other guy to try to build himself up (Ilan, I’m looking at you). Hung defends the beigeness, but we know how that goes, don’t we? Despite saying his dish was a bit conservative, they select Tre as the winner and he gets a stack of Bourdain’s books and a night on the town in New York with Bourdain. If you’ve ever read “Kitchen Confidential” you know… that man can drink. Good luck to you, Tre. They ask them to send in Howie, Brian, Clay, and Dale. Is it odd that they had two at the winner’s table and four at the loser’s? floods.jpg Oh, Dale, you can’t be gay with that outfit. Brian explains that he made his dishes far too complicated for the time alloted. They criticize him for frying the food. Padma gets a little attitude and says “anything will hold up well against frying. You could fry my toe and batter it well and it would taste good.” Ouch. Dale’s food was chewy and he gives some excuse, but the judges call him on trying to play it safe. Howie tries to explain why he ran out of time, but explains that he was trying to make sure that everything was perfect and kisses up to Bourdain. Someone finally gets away with not serving something and giving the excuse that it wasn’t ready to be served. The judges have long said, “If it’s not right don’t serve it” and by golly, they meant it, although they did give him a hard time and rightly so. His risotto was good enough to keep him there. I think the judges knew that Howie was talented enough to move on, so they let him slide on this one. I think that was the right call… because now we come to Clay. Clay doesn’t know why he’s been called to the judge’s table. He stands behind his dish but says in the same breath, “It could have been better, obviously.” He par-cooked his food for no good reason. celine.jpgceline1.jpgThe judges beat the man down, pile on and then tell him to pack his knives and go. You know the food is bad if you get kicked off instead of the guy that didn’t complete the challenge. Inedible, “Economy class of Air Cambodia,” lack of fundamentals. Eh, I’m not sorry to see Clay go. He was a little annoying. When they show clips of what’s to come on the rest of the season, you get a feel for who stays for a while. Looks like Sandee isn’t going to last too long and Joey is. There’s some chick who looks like Celine Dion. Plenty of the people who they introduced. Not so much of the handful that they didn’t really cover. Plenty of yelling and crying going on… and some issue with big Joey. It should be interesting and/or painful. Here’s to hoping less pain and more interesting.

Top Chef – Finale pt. 2

Finally, the train wreck that is Top Chef season 2 is over. I didn’t really care for either of the two finalists, but Ilan is just a turd and I didn’t want him to win.

The show opened with Marcel and Ilan hanging out on the beach in Hawaii together, kind of getting along. It was kind of nice! Then Ilan asserted his heterosexuality by saying that he wishes he could be walking along the beach with a beautiful woman instead. Insert an eyeroll here. Marcel stabbed his finger on a sea urchin and was advised to urinate on his hand to lessen the infection and Ilan says, “Marcel, would you mind if I peed on your hand?” Marcel declines, does the duty, and then Ilan says, “In the end I didn’t pee on Marcel, but I would have loved to pee on Marcel.” Didn’t know he was into water sports. The first thing Marcel says after he gets poked is “I hope my finger doesn’t fall off” and they edit in a shot of Ilan doing his best indifferent or even that-would-be-fine-with-me look on his face with a little head tilt and shrug. Dick. At this point, in watching the show, I almost turned it off.

Finally, they get to the final challenge: cook the best meal of their lives for the judges. Imagine that: Ilan draws the “number one” knife. They bring out the last six chefs to have been eliminated, sans Cliff who was disqualified. God, I never wanted to see Betty’s smarmy face on my tv again. Mike, the slacker; Mia, who threw herself in front of the knife to save Elia (who is dead to me); Ugly Betty; Frank; Elia; and Sam, who should have won Top Chef. They each get to choose which of the two finalists they’d like to cook for. It’s fairly even, so I can only assume that the sous chefs were coached that they couldn’t all choose Ilan, since everyone clearly hates Marcel. When they are told they will choose, Ugly Betty covers her mouth and does this little snicker, as if no one would choose Ilan. Bitch.

The finalists choose two of the sous chefs to cook for them. Choosing Ilan are Stoner Mike, Ugly Betty, and Elia. Choosing Marcel are Mia, Frank, and Sam. Mike was pretty straightfoward and just chose Ilan. Betty adores Ilan, and hates Marcel, so she chooses Ilan. Mia decides to “mix things up a little” and chooses Marcel. An adult! Yay! Frank chooses Marcel so he can “learn him how to talk to people not at people.” How about learning how to talk first? It’s “teach”, you moron. Insert shot of Betty smiling at anyone who is picking on Marcel. Sam, to make it fun, chooses Marcel. He says he can help and maybe he’ll learn something from Marcel with the chemical thing because he knows that Ilan will go to Spanish cuisine. Because that’s what Ilan always does. Unexpected and mature, Sam! Marcel is cooking second, so he gets to choose first and he chooses Sam. Ilan chooses Elia. Sam tells Marcel to pick Mike. Betty lets loose a hate filled giggle at Mike’s proposed fate. DON’T DO IT, MARCEL!! Ugh. He chooses Mike. Should have picked Mia. She wanted to work for you! Ilan has last pick and Betty gives an exaggerated wink to Ilan and he chooses her and she kisses his butt with that fake smile glued on her face. Mia and Frank get to hang out at the pool while the rest of them work. Not too bad of a gig, if you ask me.

The teams go to a farmer’s market to shop for fresh ingredients with an unlimited budget! Four hours to prep in the main kitchen today, transport the ingredients to their respective restaurants where they are serving the food tomorrow, and one hour to cook tomorrow.

Ilan brought a jar of baby eels (from Spain, natch) with him for the trip and wants to use those. Betty nudges Ilan a little and asks if he is doing all Spanish again or if he’s going to add any elements of the island and Ilan responds, “The ingredients are from the Island, I think that’s as far as we need to go.” Uh, that’s because Ilan can’t make a successful dish that doesn’t contain saffron. Ilan’s menu: “Surprise” angulas appetizer (the surprise is the jarred baby eels), Pan seared moi with gazpacho, squab & shrimp with foie gras, and short rib. For dessert, he is sure that he wants to use fried bay leaves. Why? Because he knows how to make them. They serve them already at the restaurant where he worked. Lame. They build a dessert around the bay leaves: tangelo soup and cherry sorbet.

Marcel doesn’t have a pre-conceived notion of what to make, so he chooses his food based on the food that is available. Mike grunts a bunch while Marcel lists off his ideas.

Time for the four hours of prep. The teams are both getting along, Mike offers some praise for Marcel’s leadership in the kitchen. Maybe they’ve all decided to be mature! Marcel’s attempting a new technique to make a pretty tear drop of vinaigrette for a salad. Chef Tom comes in to monitor the kitchen and see how things are going. He questions whether or not the tear drops will hold up in the humidity. Marcel decides to bank on positive thinking. Marcel’s Menu: Uni (sea urchin) in meyer lemon gelee, salad with yuzu vinaigrette, kampachi with hearts of palm, and seared beef. For dessert, blini with kona coffee caviar. Marcel is checking over the pull cart with the dry items. He says the boys worked on packing the refrigerated items.

Ilan cooks first. Why do they make them room together? Ilan voices over that he can’t wait to beat the [bleep] out of Marcel. I’m sure he means cooking-wise. Ilan walks out the door and says he’ll see Marcel later. Marcel turns, looks and nods his head rather than wishing him luck. Mildly snarky. What the hell is Ilan wearing!? He’s doing his pantry interview wearing a huge blingy chain and these gigantic red suspender-looking things. Wha? Those suspenders look about three inches wide and fire engine red… Good teamwork on the chick team. Betty accidentally calls Ilan Marcel in the kitchen and it’s a big joke… because we’re in high school. Baby eels? Look gross to me. Ilan calls them beautiful, but they look pretty gray and icky to me. Then again, I’m not a foodie. I’ll eat Goldfish and have grape flavored water for dinner.

The chefs are not all that impressed with the first course. Second course is enjoyed. All around. Great compliments. Third course, Betty’s throwing the shrimp around and the heads start falling off when she plates them. She freaks out but the others help. Unnecessary drama, since the judges don’t even mention it. All is well with the third course and everyone loves the surf and turf. What the heck is “squab”? Oh. Ew. It’s pigeon veal. God, how do people come up with this stuff!? Next course, ribs with spanish twist. Yawn. They look overdone and dry to me… wait, maybe that was Betty. There’s a pile of some red sauce on top (romesco sauce) but it just doesn’t look tasty to me. Despite my opinion, the judges think it’s okay. Some like it more than others. Sorbet time. The judges love the colors and taste. It’s a good palate cleanser and perfect end to the meaty, rich meal. Ilan feels good about the meal, Ilan says he feels like even if he didn’t win he feels like he’s won. Judges say complimentary things to Ilan. Ilan then decides that, even though he feels good about his meal, he needs to knock Marcel. Dude, let the food speak for itself if you’re so good! “Blah, blah, I love food more and have greater passion.” What an egocentric person.

Marcel cooks. They get five minutes to pack things up and pull the cart over to the restaurant. Marcel is shown in the walk-in getting some stuff that hadn’t been packed. Oops! Marcel sees some other stuff that hadn’t been packed. Then they show Mike looking shifty while watching the whole thing. Insert eye roll. Sam, in his pantry interview, says “In my opinion, a line cook is only as good as his chef. There was no leadership” Hm. Mike had said that Marcel was displaying good leadership qualities in his interview two commercial breaks ago… Anyway, cut to shot of the dark walk-in containing two trays of the kampachi fish that didn’t make it onto the cart. 20 minutes to service. Marcel is looking for orchids. He asks Mike if he pulled them. Mike, head down, unconcerned, “Nope.” Sam, tells him it’s alright, he doesn’t need them. Marcel notices that the amount of milk that Mike brought was wrong. Mike thought “quarts” sounded like “cups”. Marcel is running nervously around the kitchen. Service begins. Marcel is a dork and apparently lacks social skills, but I love the way that he plates food. It’s pretty. First course is well liked by the judges. Marcel has problems with the humidity and can’t get that vinaigrette tear drop to work. So he has to put out a salad. Pretty, but salads just won’t win it for you. Just ask Carlos. He shouldn’t have done a dish just to display a “wow” factor. Go for taste, dude. And make sure you cook! Chef Tom likes his food to have hit some heat at some point. Third course. Marcel realizes that the fish didn’t make the trip to the kitchen with them. Mike, around his mouthful of chew, says in his pantry interview, “Man, I’m not playing for 100 grand. You are. You tell me where the fish is.” ‘Kay. Should have chosen someone who wanted to cook for you, Marcel. Shot of cold, dark, lonely kampachi with the title “Hilton Main Kitchen” in case you missed that it was left behind. Made me giggle a little. Sam settles Marcel down a little and tosses out an idea. Marcel and Sam discuss how they can make a dish without the fish. Sam calls that day in the kitchen a disaster and he’s right. I think Sam did do his best to help Marcel win. They use all the ingredients of the fish dish minus the fish and serve that. They serve this to the judges and Marcel spills the beans that he had to adapt this since the fish was left behind. The judges wonder why he even mentioned it because they love the flavors. “It’s dancing on my tongue.” “A totally different level” But really, two vegetarian dishes in a row? If he hadn’t mentioned it, I’m sure that someone would have dinged him for that. Next course, the meat looked a little tough when someone was cutting through it. But they like it. Looked pretty. Dessert is cute. Chocolate mousse in a pastry cup type thing with little coffee caviar on top. Look like Dayquil gel caps to me, but cute! Dinner is complete and it’s not clear yet who’s won. Unless you read the article that Food & Wine magazine accidentally posted on their website on Monday. Oops, they revealed the winner by posting the feature.

Finally, the judging. Tom notes that Ilan was a little safe and Marcel tried new dishes and put himself out there a little more. Gail agrees. Everyone agrees that the first course, head to head, would go to Marcel. Second course goes to Ilan. Salad? Tsk, Marcel. Ilan’s was very good anyway. Third course is a toss up. Both were great. Fourth course. Sounds like Marcel’s was liked a bit more. Dessert. Everyone loves Ilan’s. Everyone loves Marcels. Sounds like a tie.

They bring out the sous chefs to get their opinions. Betty explains that Ilan was great to work with and for. He knew what he was doing. Well of course he did! I knew what he was doing. Spanish!!! Tom asks Elia if she liked the food. She nods and says, “Yeah. It was spanish. Authentic. Food. Good.” Was that a sentence? Faint praise, if you ask me. She mentions that he played it “wise” by using things that he knows. When asked if she thinks Ilan deserves to win, she says she thinks he “deserves to win over Marcel. Totally.” She’s still bitter about having been eliminated last night. Elia mentions that if you just compare the food, Ilan deserves to win. The judges call her on rooting for Ilan by mentioning that she doesn’t know how it compares to Marcel’s food. She changes the story and says Marcel doesn’t know how to run a keetchen and then asks if Marcel’s food was good. Gail replies that some of it was amazing. Elia gets a crappy look on her face. Mike tries not to laugh. Mike explains that the first four hours of prep went well but the next day was lacking direction and leadership. Betty giggles. Chef Hubert asks Sam what his involvement was with the cooking and Sam says, when they realized the fish was missing he “put that dish together for him on the fly.” He says the sea bean was his idea when asked by Chef Hubert and the chef tells him it was a great touch. The sous chefs leave with smiles on their faces.

The final two come out. Ilan has a smug grin on his face. Ilan says he came up with his menu on the spot. Padma calls bullshit. “Really.” “Well, I brought a few things from home, but it was really developed and inspired by what we saw at the market.” And his former employer. Tom asks him if they should award him the title if he’s so focused on one cuisine. Ilan says that throughout the competition he’s stepped outside of that. But when he has, he’s usually done poorly. The only times he has done well was when the dishes were saturated in saffron. Tom asks him what’s the major difference between him and Marcel. Ilan prefaces by turning to Marcel and saying, “Don’t take any offence, and you will, but…” Okay, when you preface a statement with that what do you expect? Jesus. Why did I watch this show? Ilan’s answer, “I feel that I have a greater passion, I’m a bit more forgiving and I think I’m a bit more gentle with the people I work with… and I respect people.” Unless it’s Marcel and then you egg people on to haze them while you record with a video camera. Marcel feels the major difference between them is that, while he’s attempted some of the techniques displayed in the dinner before, there was no dish, as a whole, that he’s ever created before and the majority of the menu was of his own inspiration. Tom asks which part wasn’t and Marcel explains that Sam and he decided to redo the fish dish once he realized that they didn’t have the fish. Marcel says he put too much faith in his coworkers and that’s the reason that the fish was left behind. If I remember correctly, he was in the walk-in double checking, so take a little responsibility, brah. Marcel thinks that Sam displayed somewhat of a lack of motivation. I disagree and would have said that about Mike, based on what I saw. But Marcel explains that Sam went to bat for him after having lost the night before even though they’d had their disagreements in the past.

Judges deliberate. Tough decision. They think one is more ready and the other needs a little more time in the bottle. Thank the gods, this is almost over. Padma tries not to cry while explaining, again, the winner’s spoils. The winner is revealed to be Ilan, who the judges believe to be the best chef right now. Marcel shakes his hand. The judges come over to hug Ilan. Ilan’s voice goes up about an octave because he’s so excited. It sounds kind of gay. Marcel is bitter in his pantry interview. “I thought it was gonna take a lot more than [bleep]ing saffron and paprika to beat me but apparently not. It’s extremely disappointing.” Marcel thinks the food he cooks is more complex and takes a little more skill. Everyone hugs Ilan.

Top Chef – Finale

As was so perfectly put on a forum I read: “What a great season. FOR ME TO POOP ON.”

I hate Ilan. Sam redeemed himself a little bit. Glad the ordeal is over and I have Wednesday nights back. I hope I never have to see Betty’s face again. And why why why did Marcel pick Mike? I need to go to bed.


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