“I’m not actually in this episode at all!”
Oh hai, ‘Gasmii! How’s it goin’? Did you do like I did last night and watch True Blood followed by Breaking Bad, only to check the “FNS: who went home this week?” status update from Food Network on Facebook on your phone during a commercial? No? You watched the whole thing live and hate my guts for de-prioritizing Food Network Star? Oh, oops! Sorry!
Last week, we sent Robot Whitney packing. She wasn’t charismatic enough, though she could certainly cook. But, remember, culinary skill does not a TV star make. These bitches want someone with pizazz! Susie Mexican’s got pizazz, but is she too scattered? Is Vin Diesel Vegas trying too hard? Does Mediocre MaryBeth annoy you, too, with her almost-condescending mommy-speak? Maybe Comedian Jeff will make us laugh via sandwich. Whatever. Just pick somebody.
Ray Romano joins Mediocre MB in the bathroom in the morning at the Flatotel. I want to pick at the bags under MB’s eyes, but then I recall seeing them under my own eyes this morning and promptly shut my yap. Jeff drapes his carb belly in a black t-shirt. Vic embraces his new/old last name (Moe, remember from last week?). MB looks pensively out the window at a rain-spattered NYC.
Well, enough of that. Time to do a camera challenge, assholes!
I’m really sorry, I love you, Susie, but…
No wait! No camera challenge this week, because it’s all Iron Chef America, all the time! The contestants arrive at the Food Network studios to see Bobby Flat and Michael Symon standing intimidatingly in their Iron Chef jackets. Alton “Science-blinded” Brown stands by, ready to commentate. Alton explains that there will be two ICA battles today, and while two chefs duke it out, the other two will run color commentary. So, that’ll be the camera challenge this week. Don’t forget the Iron Chef format–one main ingredient, one hour to cook. (And in this instance, a three-dish requirement.)
“We are so excited to be Iron Chefs!”
“Slow your roll, assholes.”
Since Comedian Jeff won last week, he gets to choose his opponent, and he picks Susie Mexican. He says it’s because she was grinning and nodding. I guess he got charmed by boobs or something, because it wasn’t a wise decision. Susie can COOK. He should have picked MaryBeth.
Then Alton announces that the contestants won’t have to cook alone. No, they brought back the last four eliminated contestants–Robot Whitney, Jyll, Penny, and Frat Boy Chris. Oh boy. I don’t know what it is, but Penny actually looks better! Like, the eye makeup is lightened up and she looks pretty and a LOT younger. Weird.
Four heartbroken people who couldn’t cook THAT well are here to help you!
Comedian Jeff ALSO gets to choose his sous chef of these four, leaving the other three contestants to a random grab-bag choice. He picks Whitney. Not a surprise. Vin picks a name out of the bucket, getting Jyll. They’ve worked together successfully before, so that’s fine. Nothing to say there.
So, now someone has to get Penny and someone has to get Frat Boy Chris. Did Orchid teach anyone her patented “Get Chris to Focus” technique? What was it called? Operation Chill? Blue Force? Chill Zone? Crap, I have to go reread one of my recaps to find it. (Just found it: “Code Blue”.)
Mediocre MaryBeth chooses Penny, of course. I mean, not that it’s on purpose–of COURSE it would go that way totally randomly, right? MB overdoes the “isn’t this a surprise?” laughter, and Penny laughs too. And it seems genuine. Is she a changed woman?!
This also means that Susie Mexican now has a Frat Boy Chris-sized anchor weighing her down for this challenge. She does NOT like him. Remember when she was huffing and puffing because he was spazzily chopping something and knocking stuff over on her station? Yeah, awesome.
Anyway, getting to it. Mediocre MB and Vin Diesel Moe Vegas go first, getting rack of lamb as their main ingredient. So, one hour to create three dishes with rack of lamb, with Penny and Jyll as sous chefs. GO.
Vin’s ideas are, so far, to do a lamb carpaccio (googling to learn exactly what that is, as it’s the second time today I’ve seen carpaccio. I’m guessing it’s something with very thinly sliced meat. And Wikipedia says….? That’s what it is! Raw meat, served very thinly sliced, sometimes pounded into submission.) and a lamb-burger patty melt. No idea what his third idea is.
MB checks out the supply cart and sees pears and sweet potatoes, which she deems as fall and winter produce, respectively. Respectfully, I eat that shit year-round, so that seasonal idea is a fail for me. Oh, so she decides to do some “Sunday Suppers for the Seasons” theme, doing lamb chops three ways. Squinchy Bob turns to Giada to ask, “is she doing all lamb chops?” “Yeah,” Giada confirms, and not with glee, lemme tell ya.
But wait, Giada! She’s going to ALSO cook the lamb chops three different ways! Grilled, roasted, and pan-seared! See, all better now!
Jyll’s putting a crust on some lamb loins, and then Vin has to decide how to carpaccio them. Pound them out, or just thinly slice? He went with the latter.
Wow, this is a boring recap. I’m sorry. They’re just cooking, there’s not much else to say! And y’all know I write as I watch, I don’t watch and then write, right? Not that it’d make a difference. Iron Chef is supposed to be exciting, assholes!
Don’t forget the Thunderdome Reporter tasks of the two contestants who aren’t cooking. Susie Mexican is watching over Vin and Jyll, taking on the “Fu-quee-San” role today. She helps Alton to understand the lamb carpaccio decision, and they conclude that it’s no longer carpaccio if it’s only just thinly sliced. Ah, Wikipedia, maybe you should do more research. It’s not enough that it’s thin pieces of raw meat—it apparently needs to be pounded!)
“What’s that thingie you’re putting on the plate?”
MaryBeth says she’s shooting for a good umami in her dishes. I know, you learned all about umami in second grade like I did, right? (<–sarcasm, I only learned about it about a year or two ago.) Ya know, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour? And umami? No? Okay, well, umami is that kinda hard to define sense of taste that detects the right balance of fat and savory and heft on your tongue. Google it yourself—I obviously can’t trust Wikipedia today. (Spare me the Wiki lecture—these are JOKES, people! Just barely, but they ARE jokes! I’m tryin’!)
Comedian Jeff is commentating on the MB/Penny side of the world, making uncomfortable umami jokes that are just this side of being “soulful,” ifyaknowwhatI’msayin’. Well, actually, that’s Alton’s fault for creating innuendo that was barely there. Comedian Jeff brings it back to PG with a joke about his high school band name, making Alton break out in laughter.
“My high school band was called the Soulful Blowjobs!”
“Hahahaha, that is pretty funny, Jeff! You tell funny jokes! It makes us laugh, hahaha!”
Alton tries to get the same level of banter going with Susie Mexican, who’s just reporting about ingredients and shit. The judges ding her for defaulting to the giggles when she gets stumped.
Oh good, MaryBeth isn’t just cooking up a whole shit-ton of lamb chops the same way with different heating techniques and different side dishes. She’s cutting up the grilled lamb to put on top of some isreali couscous and winter fruit and whatever. At least it’ll be a little different.
Now that MB’s dish choice isn’t so much of a problem, let’s focus on Penny. She’s done a fine job of cutting up the lamb chops, but now she’s supposed to be dicing onions and mincing garlic, and she’s kinda standing there with a simpleton’s smile. Even Bobby Flat and Michael Symon notice. MB’s frustrated, to say the least.
“I’m a simpleton.”
(And now we know which way it was going to go with Penny, between the “Penny was always a good person all along, here’s the hero edit!” edit and the “Penny really was that irritating and slow and annoying” edit.)
Susie doesn’t improve her game at all with Alton, choking on words when trying to describe the difference between regular asparagus and white asparagus. She’s going for the word “fibrous.” (I have a joke here about her education level and culinary school and the dead dad, but it feels too mean. Like, less snark and more asshole, so I’ll leave it at that.)
Comedian Jeff’s not so skeered by Alton, coming up with a charming response to Alton’s further questioning about umami. Giada’s lady-boner gets big.
Meanwhile, Penny is slowly and deliberately cutting sweet potato into slices. Uneven slices, cut like a chimp given a chef’s knife. The judges all look uncomfortable. They even go so far as to call Alton over to alert him to Penny’s dilly-dallying. Alton heads over to check on Penny, asking her if she’s always so “leisurely.” “In Kitchen Stadium, leisurely usually means losing.” Penny makes a “so what!” face. Okay, it’s not the simpleton edit, it’s the bitch edit!
“What’s that? Moving slowly means things don’t get done and Mediocre MaryBeth goes home? I had NO IDEA.”
Vin’s triple-frying his fries, which Alton deems “burned.” They do look dark. MB’s plating her shit herself because Penny sucks so bad. Vin makes some comment about plating food too soon, which I’m sure comes up later. All this “drama” and nothing interesting to talk about. Sorry!
Oh wait, I missed something. MaryBeth is sitting with the judges to taste Vin’s food? Oh, was that who the secret judge was going to be, the other contestant? Interesting. Anyway, she really wants to impress the judges with how she talks about food. Okay, I think they’re already impressed with that, though, so it’s time to start worrying about cooking. It’s like me and triathlons. I’m good at biking, and I enjoy it because I’m good at it, so I do a lot of biking. What I really should worry about is the run. I’m not good at it, and I dislike it, so I should do it more. MB should do more cooking to get better. Got it?
Vin’s first dish is the lamb not-carpaccio. MB is so eager to sound awesome that she shits all over Vin’s dish. Lots of different ways of saying what she didn’t like about it. Bobby Flat looks irritated and asks, “Did you like it?” She says she did. Well, hmmpffh. Bobby and Michael go on to compliment the dish pretty highly. Uh oh, MB, don’t shoot yourself in the foot! You gotta balance being a competitor and being tactful!
Vin’s next dish, the lamb-burger, is lauded with high compliments. The fries, not so much. MB learns from her mistake and simply speaks kindly of the dish.
Vin’s final dish is a lamb loin with some mint jelly/Gran Marnier sauce that Michael Symon worries will be too sweet. And he’s right, it’s terrible. Bobby’s like, “There’s no room for mint jelly in Kitchen Stadium.” And Vin is right—“then why was there mint jelly over there??!” I have had BAD experiences with mint jelly on overcooked lamb, so my palate cringes right along with them.
Also, that white asparagus looks like a tiny severed weiner to me. Having three on the plate would make more sense.
Now it’s Mediocre MB’s time to present, with Vin sitting by to judge. Her first dish is the grilled lamb sliced over isreali couscous salad. It’s apparently a little underseasoned, but they like the thought that went into it.
Her second dish is some lamb pan-seared over some pears or something. Vin speaks first, to say it was overcooked. Squinchy Bob agrees. (That’s the second time Vin’s spoken and another judge has concurred. Ouch, Food Writer MB!)
The “Umami Explosion” dish that Jeff and Alton were bantering about has arrived. Vin likes it, but it’s overcooked (again). Bobby says that Vin was being too gentle—it’s REALLY overcooked. Giada makes a stinky-face as she tries to cut her meat. Ouch again. Giada sums it up for MB: the secret ingredient was lamb, and MB did poorly with it. But they loved all her stories.
Yeah, that looks like it’s covered in SOMETHING, all right.
Ugh, okay, next Iron Chef battle. Susie Mexican vs. Comedian Jeff, secret ingredient—lobster! Already, Comedian Jeff’s worried about making his sandwich thing work around lobster. What, you can make a lobster roll, then you can make a lobster cake (like a crabcake), and then you can make a lobster salad. There, done. Give me the title, please. I actually think Susie Mexican might have a tougher job here—how many times do YOU see lobster on the menu at a Mexican restaurant. Well, if she’s meant to elevate the cuisine, she’ll have her work cut out for her.
Getting right to it, Susie tells Frat Boy Chris to tear apart the lobsters and get all that meat out. She’s going to do a ceviche (yum), then a lobster stew over a potato cake, and then some fancy enchilada. I’m worried for her, trusting Chris to do the right thing with the main ingredient. Like, she’s focusing on all the accoutrements, and Frat Boy could easily overcook the lobster or cook the tails that were meant for the ceviche, etc. Ya know? But I guess the seasoning and prep is what makes it HERS. Oh, and she mentions cumin, which I LOVE, but I can see it easily overpowering the subtle flavor of the lobster. Foreshadowing?
Over at Comedian Jeff’s station, he’s plotting to do a lobster roll (natch). That’s fine, except he wants to put walnuts in it, and I shake my head. No thanks, lobster rolls are one of those dishes you just leave alone. A classic, not to be effed with. Meanwhile, Whitney’s throwing these enormous lobsters into an enormous pot, but it’s not a big enough pot—I can see them sitting atop the waterline, probably screaming for help. I love lobster and I’ve cooked it myself from a live sea-faring being many times, but you HAVE to do it right. Whitney shouldn’t take out her frustrations for losing the competition on the stupid lobsters!
Oh, the other dishes? A lobster BLT with avocado instead of mayo. And a baja-style lobster taco. Okay, I’m sold. I fucking love baja style fish tacos, and with lobster in there, I just might die. I think they’re making a bisque to go along with one of the sandwiches, too.
Mediocre MB is over on Comedian Jeff’s side for the commentating. She notes that Whitney’s pulling the roe out from the lobsters to use for the bisque. Alton asks more about the bisque and MB resorts to her “that’s a spicy meat-a-ball” hand gesture she always uses. You know, the one that also resembles a gentle ball-sack fondling? That one.
Vin’s over with Susie Mexican, reporting on her cooking goings-on. Alton asks about the ingredients Susie’s got laid out, trying to trip up Vin about the “harissa paste.” Sigh, Wiki, I need you. Help. Okay, ready? Harissa is a hot chili sauce that’s used primarily in North African cooking, consisting usually of peppers and garlic, coriander, etc. Sometimes cumin or other spices, depending on the region. Ah. Sadly, Vin has no Wiki to consult, so he fumbles the answer to Alton at first, then figures, “if I can’t answer it academically, I’ll answer it comically.” “It’s pepper paste, and it’s in this tube! It’s devil’s toothpaste, Alton!” The judges laugh hysterically.
Meanwhile, on Comedian Jeff’s side, there’s no avocado. MB gets to make a joke about it, Alton picks on Jeff for it, and that’s about that. He’ll use mayo instead. Oh, this show needs to get better.
Susie Mexican’s worried that her lobster won’t have enough time in the lime juice to get properly ceviched. Which concerns ME because I’ve made salmon ceviche before with bigger hunks of fish marinating for far less time, and it’s delicious. I guess you can eat salmon more raw? I dunno. I want to make some lobster ceviche, though, I’ll tell you what!
Alton trips up Mediocre MB with a question about salt. You probably won’t forget this answer ever in your life, either, that all salt is sea salt. All salt comes from a sea. Got it? Capiche? Carpaccio?
Comedian Jeff is mixing up slaw for one of his dishes, realizes he’s using mayo in all his dishes. Store-bought mayo. No time to make his own now, oh well. Meanwhile, Susie knows she doesn’t have time to cook pasta (?) so she’s going to roll her enchiladas in swiss chard. (??)
Time to eat and judge. Susie sits while Comedian Jeff presents his dishes. She likes the lobster roll. So do the judges. They agree that he’s the Sandwich King. So, who else thinks Comedian Jeff’s going to win this whole thing? I don’t know how I feel about it, but I feel like it’s an inevitable conclusion at this point.
Next up is his lobster taco. Bobby thought it was too doughy, the fried lobster. Susie Mexican didn’t say a thing about it, not that we saw. Susie Judgeypants got a wet spot in her panties about Jeff reinterpreting “sandwich” to mean “taco.” I roll my eyes.
Finally, his BLT that was supposed to be a BLAT. They love it. Apparently, the mayo was kinda bland, so Giada told Jeff to always put lemon in his mayo. Jeff agrees. MAN, this is a boring episode.
Susie Mexican’s time to shine! And shine, she does. Her ceviche is a total hit, to the point where Jeff’s nervously itching his ear. Her enchilada’s also a winner, elevating plain ol’ Mexican cuisine. (I love all her fresh ingredients. No wonder she’s a private chef in Aspen!!) Finally, her stew and potato cake are served and…she kills it again! Go, Susie! Jeff’s definitely nervous now.
Okay, finally, time for the final judging stuff. It’s going to be the usual stuff, you know. “MB can talk well about food, but she isn’t as strong a chef. And she loses her balance too easily when flustered.” “Susie is adorable and can cook your pants off, but she’s sometimes too giggly and unfocused.” “Vin’s got charisma, maybe, and can kinda cook, and we’re keeping him around for the finale because of the edgy tattoos.” “Comedian Jeff makes lots of good sandwiches and is well-spoken, so he is already our winner, but we’re going through the motions so we get lots of money for ad space.”
(Let’s see how right I was!)
Well? We’re waiting…
Mediocre MB: was handicapped by Penny; talks well about food; was the best judge as deemed by the other judges; was too easily stumped by Alton; knows food but needs to learn better how to cook it
Vin Moe Vegas: made two of the most successful lamb dishes; also made the least successful lamb dish; had a rough start with Alton, but eventually figured it out; was too “soft” a judge
Comedian Jeff: really shoulda made his own mayo; charmed Alton Brown; solid POV as Sandwich King; solid judging
Susie Mexican: had a solid Iron Chef approach; master of ingredients; solid judge; needs to learn a better way to handle being stumped
So who won? Susie Mexican won the Lobster battle! And of course we know that Vin won the Rack of Lamb battle.
“We need to look dour so you shit your pants faster.”
And who’s going home? Why, it’s Mediocre MaryBeth. Well, that’s a bummer, but I think we all saw that coming, and I think we’re all pretty okay with it. She thanks the selection committee and spews some ass-kissing bullshit about believing in their mission or something. Uh, what?! Also, if you find MB’s website online, there’s a photo of her with longer hair pulled into a ponytail and she looks about 20 years younger. Oh, fine, I’ll get it for you.
So, next week is the finale! You know Vin’s not winning, so it’s between Sandwich King Jeff and Susie Mexican! They do a final camera challenge, and then Feeyeti is back to help direct them in their pilot episodes, and the whole contestant gang is back to judge those pilots. Apparently, it’s no holds barred, too. Whee! It’s the finale! Come back!