Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top Chef: New York - Episode 5

Previously on Top Chef...

Breakfast bites! A heartbreaking challenge of staggering shark-jumping! Kathy Lee Gifford spits! Mom wins! The anonymous Latino loses!


-I'm going to once again attempt to keep this as brief as humanly possible. The fact that I'm dead tired and the tiniest bit hungover will, I'm sure, help to keep the word count down. (my brain wants to pack it's knives and go) Update: I was sadly unable to keep this post short. Fail.

-Hillbilly Deluxe (Melissa) wears, through most of the episode, a too-large, green, trucker hat turned backwards and cocked at a jaunty angle. Every time she was on camera, it was like I was getting misted in the eyeballs with bleach. There are unfortunate fashion choices and then there are fashion choices that should get you thrown in jail. Just sayin'.

-I would seriously rather have my balls pan-friend and served to hungry party guests with a light dipping sauce than watch one of those The Housewives of... shows that Bravo keeps trying to shove down our throat. If I wanted to watch old whores argue, I'd go hang out at Port Authority after midnight.


After last week's harrowing dip into the murky, Emeril-fouled pool of celebrity chefdom, I was quite frankly fucking scared about the direction Top Chef was headed this season. That challenge, as I said, was bullshit times a zillion; a pandering offense to all the die-hards that have watched this show primarily for it's integrity lo these many seasons. Turning on the TV tonight, I was a little nervous as to what we were going to see...

Fortunately, my old-lady worrying was all for naught. Tonight's episode was MUCH better... not that that was a high bar to clear or anything, but still. It wasn't a definitive episode... no new ground was broken... but it at least felt like an episode of Top Chef. It was once again the show we know and love. We'll just go ahead and consider last week a fluke and never speak of it again, m'kay?

Now... on to tonight.

Starting off, there's a whole bunch of choppily edited bits thrown together to convey a single message... everyone thinks Stefan (the Swedish Chef) is an asshole, horrible bully, raper of babies, taunter of the retarded, etc. Bravo has officially bestowed upon him The Villain Edit, meaning they're trying their hardest to make him look like this season's bad guy. Except... I don't know... maybe it's just me, but he actually doesn't seem all that evil. A little terse, maybe... he's definitely a bit of a know-it-all... and, of course, he's European, which in the rules of TV means he's just awful (unless he's charmingly European like Italian stallion Fabio). But evil? The villain? Nope... sorry. The other contestants don't like him because he's CLEARLY better than they are and Bravo is using their panicky, snide comments to create his nefariousness out of whole cloth.
Not that this is surprising... Bravo does this with one contestant every year... but that doesn't make it any less annoying. Particularly in this case, where it's even less justified than normal.
I actually really dug the QC this week; it's a twist on a Top Chef staple, the palate-checking, name-that-ingredient-by-taste-alone competition, and it went down like this:

The chefs paired off and were placed, two at a time, in front of a pan full of sauce. They're given fifteen seconds to taste said sauce, then... Name That Tune-style... they had to declare how many ingredients they could name. The winner of a coin toss got to declare first; "I can name five ingredients." The other person could call their bluff ("okay, name five ingredients) OR they could raise them, ("I can name six ingredients"). If the person tasked with naming ingredients was able to do so correctly, they won. If not, the other person won. The winner moved on to the next round, the loser... well, didn't.
So they did this for three rounds... the sauces, for those of you keeping score at home, were a shrimp and lobster bouillabaisse, a Thai green curry, and, for the final round, a Mexican mole sauce. The contestants in the final round... the three with the golden palates.... were Crazypants Carla (who kept doing this weird, throat-vibration thing every time she tasted the sauces; it was creepy), Stefan (boo! hiss!), and Hosea (who's still on the show, apparently). Carla knocked herself out of the challenge on the first try by claiming that the mole had peanut butter in it... I guess her crazy is only containable for two rounds... so that left Stefan and Hosea to battle it out. They trade ingredients for a minute but, ultimately, in a surprise move, Hosea wins out, vanquishing Grendal back to his swampy cave. Thus, Hosea has immunity.
The big challenge this week is to create dishes for judge Gail Simmons's bridal shower.
A word about judge Gail: Babe.
And, if I may be a rank, sexist pig for a moment... lovely cleavage from her this week. Bravo, it should have it's own show.
Now, because this is Top Chef, we can't have the contestants just cook food without their being a slightly douchey, arbitrary rule to trip everyone up. This week, it's a doozy... since Gail is getting married, the contestants are divided up by the Knife Block of Choosing into teams of three, each team representing one quarter of the phrase, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue."

What? Exactly. Let's break it down.
Team Old
Hosea, Stefan, and Hunky Jeff
They decide to do a "trio of heirloom tomatoes," because heirloom tomatoes are non-hybrid fruits, meaning they're directly related to the generations of tomatoes before them and, thus, old. Or something. It seemed to make sense to everyone and, honestly, I can't think of any other way they could have gone with the concept of old food. Were it me, I'd have just served them rotten meat in protest of the dumbass "twist, " but then again I'm not that creative.
Anyway, they end up with a spicy gazpacho (yum), a tomato terrine (which looked like a bruise), and a tomato sorbet (which sounds gross but was apparently fantastic).
Team New
Carla, Eugene, Daniel
Otherwise known as Team Crashing, Burning Disaster. They decided to do a "new" kind of sushi; a roll that was completely cooked, consisting of tempura shrimp and steak with a peach-miso BBQ sauce. That, in and of itself, sounds like a bit of a mess and probably would have lost them the competition anyway, HOWEVER, they decided they didn't want to take any chances... Team New wanted to make sure they seriously fucked themselves over. So, almost at the last minute, they decided to make the dish a roll-your-own-sushi experiment in interactive dining and boneheadedness. The cherry on the sundae? After presenting the plate of ingredients to the party, they... um... kinda sorta forgot to mention the point of the dish. So the guests at the bridal shower essentially just had a plate of random, unconnected ingredients to paw at. Which might have been okay, had all of said ingredients not sucked out loud.
We'll get back to these jokers in a minute.
Team Borrowed
Radhika, Jamie (the ACTUAL villain of this season), and Ariane
They're tenuous adherence to the "borrowed" theme is them... sorry for the quotes abuse... "borrowing" their dishes from Radhika's culture; i.e. they're making Indian food. Once again, Radhika complains that the judges are only going to think she can cook Indian food; seeing as how she's cooked Indian food for every challenge thus far, I'm not sure exactly why it's only an issue with her sometimes. I guess she just wanted more camera time this week.
Anyhoo, they make a lamb dish with pureed carrots (blech) and some other crap. I'm not familiar enough with Indian food to tell you what it was, exactly, but... other than the baby food-looking carrots... it looked tasty enough. Oh, and during the cooking process, there was some drama with the lamb possibly not being cooked right; Ariane was in charge of said protein and Jamie, because she's a bitch, bitched at her about it not being done correctly. This is important later.
Team Blue
Leah, Fabio, Hillbilly Deluxe and her stupid hat
Haha, surprise bitches! There are no blue foods! Any food you THINK is blue... blueberries, blue corn tortillas... are actually purple. Anyway, enjoy the challenge!!!
They end up going with a Chilean sea bass (because it's from the ocean, which is blue) and some sort of green vegetable paired with yellow corn (because green + yellow = blue in the light spectrum, which I thought was clever). The plate itself looked like the very definition of bland... very grey and beige... and, apparently, it didn't taste much better.
So, all the teams serve their courses... Gail's bridal party consists of a bunch of women all trying to out make-up each other... Colicchio is forced to sample his dishes in the kitchen because BOYS AREN'T ALLOWED AT BRIDAL SHOWERS or something, which was funny because we got lots of shots of him hunched over a low table, sadly eating by himself all lonely-like. I don't know, I found it amusing.
Anyway... judgement.
Team Old and Team Borrowed were the favorites. Jamie makes a big deal about how she wants this win so bad and she deserves it and blah, blah, hateful. The winner ends up being her teammate, Ariane, for her lamb... that's two in a row for Mom... and her winning leads to the evening's most priceless quote...
From Jamie, who is just awful: "I can't believe I lost... because everyone on my team agreed that I should have been the winner." Did they, Jamie? DID THEY? I'm sorry, you made baby food carrots with a pre-made spice mix in them. Why, exactly, should you have taken home the gold??? Funny... I don't remember seeing the other two members of your team wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at an unfeeling God when your "rightful victory" was bestowed upon another...
Ugh, whatever... she needs to go. Or get hit by a bus. I don't care which.
The losers...
Team New, because their dish was a complete and utter train wreck.
Team Blue, because of the blandness and there were some mushiness issues as well.
The person getting sent home, though, was CLEARLY going to be someone from Team New... they were just so fucked, it was unreal. All three get called on the carpet for putting out such a pile o' poo, but in the end, it's the roll-your-own concept's mastermind... and I use that word loosely... Daniel, our representative from Strong Island, NY, who gets the axe.
His silly beard will not be missed.
Next week on Top Chef...
MARTHA STEWART IS COMING!!! Oh, and it's "Christmas!" Sigh...


Blogger jason quinones said...

all i know is the pic of that chef bugs me. i could see him thinking in the morning...

"gee...i really like my chops but i wanna keep the integrity of my bitchin' goatee in tact!! what do i do...what do i do?? OK! i leave a tiny pube trail that unites both!"

and watching old bags argue at port authority smells less foul than just watching those retarded housewife shows. admittedly, it's an occasional guilty pleasure.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Bill From Gainesville said...

The shallowness and absolute lack of substance of those housewives is actually kind of like when you drive by a horrible accident. You just HAVE to look.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Midwesterner in NYC said...


For example: Palm Tree's Cove

It's open to invited readers only!!!

3:54 PM  

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