Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Chef: New York - Episode 9

Previously on Top Chef...

Farms! Farmers! Farm Animals! So long, Mom!


-New Judge Toby Young managed to keep his groan-worthy "cleverness" to one tortured career-of-Elvis analogy and, otherwise, gave good critique and generally acquitted himself like an intelligent person who was getting paid for paying attention. He has been upgraded from a C- to a B+.

-It's Restaurant Wars week on Top Chef and that means everyone is shitting themselves and freaking out and hoping they don't screw it up because this is THE MOST IMPORTANT CHALLENGE OF THE SHOW!!! Guess what? They screw it up.


As I said... Restaurant Wars. For the uninitiated, this means: The eight remaining contestants split up into groups of four; both groups are then tasked with opening a restaurant the next day. Or as close as possible to a restaurant given it's a reality show and they're not REALLY opening anything... they're just decorating a big room, giving it a stupid name, and cooking some food. But everyone gets their collective panties in a wad over it and, thus, we have quality television.

On with it...


This was more of a means to an end, as opposed to a separate challenge, so we'll buzz through this quickly. Each chef is supposed to cook a dish that represents what their restaurant would be like. Two winners will be chosen... they will be the head chefs (or "the owners") of the Restaurant Wars restaurants; it will be their concept, they get to pick their respective teams, etc. So the cooks make their dishes. There's a lot of fish, Fabio makes a fancy cheesesteak and then gets pissed when the guest judge calls it a cheesesteak, Jeff... whom I've actually started to like, despite him being beautiful... fucks up salmon, Stefan makes three mini-dishes all with asparagus and that sound you hear is me barfing, and everything generally looks pretty boring...

And the winners are? Radhika and Leah, the two wimpiest dipshits on the show; they will be leading our teams towards Restaurant Wars glory. I can't see how this could possibly go wrong.


Okay, a couple of things you need to know as we head into this ill-fated Restaurant Wars battle:

Thing, the 1st... Citing his being difficult to work with, neither Leah and Radhika want to pick Stefan for their teams. This ultimately leads to him being picked dead last, by Leah, because she HAD to, not because she WANTED to. This will end up being hilariously ironic later on.

Thing, the 2nd... Leah and Hosea, during the overnight break between the choosing of the teams and the actual day o' the challenge, like, TOTALLY hooked-up OMG, Y'ALL!!! Well, they made out on the couch a little bit. Whatever. It was all very bald and whiny and gross. The next morning, the two of them are having nerdy panic attacks because... d'oh... they are both in relationships outside of Top Chef-land and, oh shit, those cameras that caught them smooching probably have film in them! So, needless to say, neither of them particularly have their heads in the game.

So... how did the actual challenge all break down? Like this:

Restaurant: Sunset Lounge (catering to 80s-era Miami coke dealers)
Team: Leah, Hosea, Fabio, Stefan
Concept: Vaguely Asian-y, meaning they had an egg roll.

How Badly Did They Suck: Pretty bad, but not as bad as the other team. They are the winners, despite the fact that Leah was an exploding fireball of disaster. She didn't do anything in the way of leading her team, she spent most of the day whining about how her dish sucked, and then... during service... she sent out fish that was so poorly prepared and cooked, I feel confident in saying that I, C-dog, could have done it better. And I can barely make a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Fortunately for her, she was FORCED AGAINST HER WILL to take Stefan (ugh, he's SUCH a JERK, OMG). Stefan elected himself the team's dessert maker and, wouldn't ya know it, his desserts ended up being not only the best things about their restaurant, but the best dishes of the entire challenge. I can totally see why no one wants to work with him; he's at least three miles ahead of everyone else and he makes the rest of the competition look like a bunch of fuck-ups. Which they are, mostly, but still.

Needless to say, Stefan wins the challenge. The judges tell Leah, point-blank, that Stefan... with an assist from the always-a-charmer Fabio, who handled FOH duties... basically saved her annoying ass; had this team lost, she would have been sent home.

Restaurant: Sahana (Sanskrit for "???")
Team: Radhika, Jeff, Carla, Jamie
Concept: "The old spice trade." No, I don't know what that means either. We'll just assume that, because it's Radhika running the show, and because she doesn't want people to think she ONLY cooks Indian food, that her restaurant is cooking Indian food.

How Badly Did They Suck: Bad enough to be the losing team. With them, though, it wasn't so much the food that brought them down... well, okay, Carla's dump-taking on the desserts was the final blow... but their main issue was Radhika.

She didn't do anything. Like, at all. She was "the owner," and sort of came up with the concept (sort of), but left all the cooking to Jamie and Jeff... both of whom, it should be said, did the best they could with a bad situation. And then, when it came time for service, Radhika just kind of wandered around looking exhausted and scared; the dining room was a mess, Carla's desserts were clearly a disaster from the get-go, Jamie and Jeff were busting their asses trying to get the food out and she... like I said... just didn't do ANYTHING.

At the judges table, Jeff and Jamie are told they did a good job and, hey, sorry you got stuck with a shitty team. Carla and Radhika are called on the carpet for executing two crappy desserts... soupy, lotion-y frozen yogurts and a dead-ass chocolate cake, for the record... and for being the worst leader in the history of leadership, respectively. What's awesome is that they both defended themselves totally in character... Radhika just kind of took it, saying lots of things like "yeah, I should have done..." and "I don't know why I didn't..." etc. Carla, on the other hand, wrapped herself in a long, flowing coat of crazy (as she is wont to do), going on and on about how, yes, she KNEW the desserts sucked, but it shouldn't have mattered because she was SENDING OUT THE LOVE! What? Exactly. She's like an insane version of a skunk; the more trapped and cornered she gets, the more crazy-stink she begins to spray.

So the big debate comes down to this: Which is worse, two horrible dishes or an overwhelming failure from the supposed head of the whole operation. In the end, it's Radhika that gets the knife and, in my opinion, rightly so. Carla may have sucked and been crazy, but Radhika... once again... DIDN'T DO ANYTHING. Sorry, but that's way worse.

Next week on Top Chef...

Old contestants come back to remind us of what this show was like with GOOD competitors! Fabio argues adorably! A Super Bowl-inspired football theme!


Anonymous ML said...

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy your weekly update on a show I don't watch. It's kind of like I DO watch it... you've made me WANT to watch it, despite the fact that it's a crappy show, and I would if I had cable. So great job. :)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Dude, I appreciate you saying so. Writing these things is fun, of course... I enjoy the sound of my own voice... it's way MORE fun to know that other people are getting something out of it too.

12:13 PM  
Blogger TROLL said...

Solid amusing recap. It's Sanskrit for "strength". I thought the changes to "Restaurant Wars" were welcome if over-due. Having them build tables and put up wall-paper and such in prior episodes was absurd.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Big Daddy said...

Thanks for the recap.

Watched Lost instead.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Faith Thomas said...

Absolutely the best recap of your recaps, and BTW when will we get a recap of recaps??? Also, can we not just send Jamie away for only cooking scallops????? Fabio saying they could be serving monkey ass and they would win because he was so charming- was both totally absurd and dead on correct. Go figure!

Please tell me what Leah cooked in that QF? Tempura coated rhino spit? What is a dashi? She deserves to go home, well just because, Carla is so much more entertaining... In that car crash, dead guy on the sidewalk, I didn't want to look, but I just couldn't help myself kind of way, you know?

12:00 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

TROLL... You're totally right, I was really glad they didn't focus too much on the decorating aspect of Restaurant Wars this season; that's been way annoying in the past.

Big Daddy... I need to take a weekend and just watch all of last season on ABC's website. I kinda fell out of the loop when they broke last year for the writer's strike.

Faith... Thanks, dude. I feel like they're getting better as the show progresses. I'm not going to worry about Jamie just yet; I want Leah and Hosea off my TV screen first, immediatly. Or if they're not gone, I want someone to clonk their heads together like on The Three Stooges. They are just annoying and gross. Carla, on the other hand... she's a hot mess, but wonderfully so. I think she should definitely be out of the comeptition, but should be allowed to just hang around and act crazy for our amusement.

7:58 AM  

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