On this week’s episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” they’re featuring a unique fast food joint. Come to Farmer Boys 2.0, at which you can be served gourmet dishes in fast food containers, most of which are totally impractical to eat, and none of which go together to form a cohesive menu. But the restaurant DOES feature eight “master” chefs at the “top of their game” making utter asses of themselves in an attempt to run short-order kitchen. Huzzah!
Oh, wait, wrong show! Uh-oh…
Hey Gasmii! As I write this, an angry Indian child sits next to me whining the same Hindi phrase over and over again. I don’t know what it means, but I gather he’s pissed. I sure am. I’ve been at the Dulles airport since 6:15pm, EST. My flight was scheduled to leave at 8:55pm. My mother has a phobia about D.C. traffic, so we leave for most journeys roughly 90 minutes in advance. Everything was going smoothly until it came time for the plane to do literally the only job it has (fly without crashing), it failed, and we returned to the gate to deplane so the mechanics could run some tests. My dreams of returning home to a beachfront bar for some VERY NECESSARY post-flight margaritas are getting dashed before my eyes. Currently, we will be waiting one hour and 15 minutes for any word on what MIGHT be wrong with the plane, and it’s not even certain we’ll be leaving this evening.
I’m letting you all know this in advance because I want you to understand that I don’t have the power to be nice this evening.
I just took a picture of this lady’s tubesock/wedge sandal combo and am now sharing it with the unforgiving world. She’s totally sweet, and I couldn’t give a frak if I tried.
So let’s get down to business! Last week was the weight-loss competition, and Suvir was sent home because he made a complete ass out of himself acting like red meat was anywhere near as bad for humanity as Diet Coke. That was for you, Colicchio. Also, Hughnibrow got pissed off in his customary adorable way for the second episode in a row, and I’m even happier that John Sedlar Rivera bailed.
This week’s opening Quickfire finds the chefs staring all furrowed brow and scrunchy lipped at a table filled with food and pricetags. “Price is Right” challenge??? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let Bob Barker walk through the guest judge door!!!!
Pfft, no such luck. Stonecoldfox announces that the chefs must create one appetizer the cost of which may not exceed one dollar. They’re working with things like bacon costing .54 a strip, so it’s doable, but really hard. Also, kind of pointless. The big tagline is “Where can you go to get a five-star meal for a dollar? The answer: right here.” Soooo, nowhere, for the audience. I like Quickfires like the cheesestore one that actually have some kind of relevance to current fare. There are crazy cheese experimentalists out there, but I guarantee you there are no five-star chefs desperately looking for ways to make their food as dirt cheap as possible . Oh well, let’s see how they do…
Sidenote: Does this make anyone else want to dance?
The chefs have 20 minutes to prepare for the hosts of Dinner Party Download on NPR. Everyone runs around and counts costs the way they counted calories for the last challenge, so the most stimulating moment of this Quickfire is the moment in which we find out that Floyd could have been a fucking Bollywood star when he was younger.
Celina makes carrot soup including one lime and one shrimp, Naomi makes a bread salad, and Alex does something with calamari, four almonds and a cherry tomato (I’m not joking around about the counts). Mary Sue does a salad that involves bacon, but she doesn’t taste the dish because she doesn’t want to waste food. That type of challenge actually is kind of interesting. Especially since it’s her downfall. When it comes time to judge the dishes, teenagers masquerading as food experts of some kind pronounce her salad, “too salty,” and she realizes that she had probably been working with bacon that was saltier than she expected. Blast.
In other news, Celina’s carrot soup is “surprisingly flavorful,” Naomi’s bread salad is a hit, as is Hugh’s Lyonnaise salad. Alex’s spiced squid with garlic and almonds goes over much better than George’s underwhelming squid, tomato and cucumber salad. I say the devil take you both. Unless it’s deep fried in something tasty, I have a hard time with squid starring in salad. It’s like fish pasta…
Traci or chElf as she will heretofore be referred, does a chicken paillard with asparagus, lemon and brown butter, and Floyd debuts a shrimp fricassee. And then… Naomi. Fucking. Wins. UGH! Part of me doesn’t even want to watch the episode now that there’s no chance of her going home. She is the only person I want to see lose, at this point, and that includes Celina the Staid.
You peddle your bread someplace else, Missy!
During the Quickfire, there was a lot of talk among the chefs and even the judges about what a neat concept Dollar Gourmet could be. Hughnibrow even goes so far as to suggest that a “Dollar Store” type restaurant concept would be really interesting, and the judges, including Stonecoldfox himself agree that given how delicious $1 dishes can be, fast food really should taste better. The seeds of revolution and Elimination Challenge are sown…
While we’ve all been aware since the first season promos that this will be the fast food challenge, the chefs are kept in the dark. Stonecoldfox announces to them that they must create a dish and a side to serve 100 people who won’t have utensils. I’m not sure what the point of keeping the chefs in the dark about the fast foodie nature of this challenge is, but all they’re told in addition to that is that they’re going on a “road trip.” Once again, it’s a challenge that looks simple but surely won’t be, and I think the twist is simply that they’ll be working in a fast food environment.
And I’m right!
The chefs arrive at Farmer Boys, a fast food restaurant touting “America’s Best Burger” like every other burger joint in LA, but also a healthy helping of other Cracker Barrell-y, Max and Erma’s-esque fare. It looks like a place where you can get fried chicken and hamburgers to order, but I’m surprised that in it’s 30 years of being a California staple, I haven’t heard of it. I consider myself a sort of fast food connoisseur… Anywho, the requisite Whole Foods trip results in a bunch of hemming and hawing over how hard it is to make food that can be eaten without utensils. Everybody’s got all these great ideas that are just useless (useless!) because they can’t be eaten with hands alone. Hugh makes a joke about how one CAN eat slaw with no fork, but only in private. So, with hands, alone. That was hilarious, but rest of it was whiny bullshit. Literally one person comes up with SANDWICH.
You’re overthinking it, Ladies. I promise.
And since everyone was so awesome in coming up with interesting nicknames for Oseland last week, I think it’d be fun to come up with delicious food we can eat with our hands. We’ll create a database of sorts for other contestants to reference when they inevitably come up against this sort of challenge. I’ll start us off:
- Spring rolls
- Tuna Sandwiches
- Ice cream bars
Have at it!
George even buys a baguette, and I have hope until he reveals his grand master pork loin skewer plan. Eeesh. All of this becomes much, MUCH funnier when the chefs realize that the reason they weren’t allowed to have utensils was that they were all set to cook in a fast food restaurant. The chefs who made more “gourmet” options are shitting the proverbial bricks at the moment. Stonecoldfox stands outside, completely pleased at the lameass wool he and the producers have pulled over the chef’s eyes. I both love and hate challenges like this. Yes, the reality television whore in me slips into a pleasurecoma of stupidity when professionals run around like rats in a cage, but the chef groupie in me really doesn’t want to see these amazing people subjected to challenges whose difficulty is simply the element of surprise. *poof* No water! *poof* Tiny kitchen! *poof* You made a salmon dish for a fast food restaurant! Yes, these things are hilarious, and I wait for them every week, but I’d also like to see this show regularly create challenges that challenge the chefs to cook, not deal with random disasters. It’s just enough of a challenge for these chefs to elevate some fast food and cook in a time condensed environment. No substitutions necessary.
The basics are as follows – the chefs will split into two teams of four, each taking a turn at back of house (expediting, cooking, etc.) and front of house (cashier, drive-thru, service). Stonecoldfox feels the need to explain the concept of fast food to the chefs and America, and even goes so far as to describe the service as a la minute – service in which the diner expects their food within five-seven minutes. You know, FAST.
I love me some Fox, but my hand was pumping a big, fat imaginary dick the whole time he was talking.
First up in the back are Mary Sue, Alex (salmon taco), Celina (pork, garbanzo bean and lamb wrap), and Hughnibrow. Everyone starts prepping and George is cock-of-the-walking all over the place, talking about how he’s not going to change his dish in the slightest, and this’ll probably be the first time the Farmer Boys kitchen will have seen lamb. If George had feathers, he’d be one giant afro right now.
Mary Sue has some limited experience in fast food (doughnut shop, pizza joint), so she’s semi-confident that she can get her food out quickly so long as she gets all of prep done ahead of time. She’s a little frazzled, but I just think it makes her look frigging adorable, so bring it on!
When the prep’s over, the teams split up, and Naomi heads to the drive-thru, Floyd to the register, along with Traci, and George starts expediting. It’s about this time I notice a PA in the background throwing a few handfuls of manure at a floor fan. What I don’t understand about this whole thing is how quickly the wheels come off the wagon. There’s a typical lunch rush, but George isn’t clear about what food he needs, what sides, whether or not food is to-go, and all the other chefs can think to do is wig the fuck out. Alex is yelling for things, Naomi is yelling for things, mostly all at George, who arrogantly interviews that they’re some of the best chefs in the nation, and working in a fast food environment is not what they’re used to. Seriously? You know what some of the best chefs in the nation do? They run restaurants. And since they’re the best chefs in the nation, those restaurants are crowded. The best chefs in the nation can run a fucking line, which involves getting in twenty orders at once for myriad different dishes and combinations and for George Mendouche to snit that he’s not comfortable in a “fast food environment” makes me wonder if it takes 20 or 30 minutes to get a salad at his place.
I prefer a “timely” food environment.
Hughnibrow takes the right attitude, when, disappointed in the fact that no food is coming out of the kitchen, comments that he feels like a celebrated architect who can’t even make a house out of Legos. Exactly.
So, right. Nothing’s coming out, and then the critics arrive. And (drumroll please…) LAME SCHMOSELAND ctually thinks he can pull this off.
Oh, the whimsy! I feel so delightfully provential . Allan – let’s Cube Dance!!
In a move that I hope doesn’t get her disqualified for some kind of lame rule-breaking, Traci abandons front of house to help back in the kitchen. Why? Because she is chElf. And she makes it happen. She and Mary Sue clash a little bit which makes me cry inside. ChElf describes her as “whirling dervish” (which I would be PROUD to be called – they are awesome) after Mary Sue gripes about chElf using a corner of the flattop to help. Luckily, Mary Sue seems to be the only person who has her shit under control in the slightest.
James and Sytsma, his gap-toothed protégé natter on about how slow the food is coming out, under the impression that they are so very droll, while Danielle and Curtis head to the drive-thru. They do this at the exact moment Naomi takes off her headset to run food. They sit there for a few minutes, until finally they start honking and Naomi realizes that just because she stops paying attention to her job, doesn’t mean it disappears. I’ll bet that concept is a daily struggle for Naomi.
She does use her patented, “I’m Naomi and I Cut up Pigs” attitude to get the food out to the judges, so finally we can see some of the food that hasn’t been going out. But not before some more pitter-patter between Sytsma and Schmoseland as they toast their fountain drinks and giggle at how the smallfolk live.
“When I was your intern did you ever think we’d end up here?” “Oh, heavens no! There’s a natty little joint in the East Village… Oh – you meant the show, didn’t you! Haha, no, of course not.”
First on the block is Hugh, with a pork bahn mi (sandwich) and a watermelon and feta salad. Overall Danielle judges it tasty, but a little messy. I think it looks fantastic, but to me, big bread+big meat=big good time, so I’m a little biased. The West Coast confuses me with its tiny tacos masquerading as streetmeat. If I can fit half of it into my mouth in one bite, it’s not happening. Shit needs to last me at least three blocks.
Next up is Mary Sue, who’s done a skirt steak quesadilla, paired with quinoa fritters in a sweet pepper garlic mayo. OMG, just seeing those things takes me back to the hundreds, literally HUNDREDS of times I have held a tray and uttered the words, “quinoa fritter?” only to be met by blank stares. Thank goodness said superfood is so much more popular now. I got tired of explaining to people that it wasn’ t a fucking carb.
P.S. I can attest to the fact that they are as delicious as the judges pronounce them to be. It’s like I’m on the show!
Dr. Oz describes them as a “tasty mouthful,” and I throw up in my mouth a little, and how’s this for contrast? We cut immediately to Curtis and Danielle outside in the car, and Danielle squees that they’re like a healthy hushpuppy. Stonecoldfox growls that she’s a healthy hushpuppy and my hair stands on end (in the good way). You listening, Curtis? Because I’ll be your hushpuppy. I’ll be any kind of deep fried puppy you want.
Alex’s fish taco is pronounce more of a burrito by Danielle, and Oseland calls it “weirdly petite.” He’s not wrong. It’s also a weird fish to put into a taco, but his butternut squash fritters are tasty, so good and bad there. Now it’s time for Celina’s “wrap.” It’s in quotes because it’s not so much a wrap as a tostada with lamb and chickpeas. It also must not taste very good considering the only thing the judges have to say about it is that it’s hard to eat without utensils. With that, the first shift is over, and it’s time for the shiftchange. Curtis and Danielle head inside and Schmoseland and Sytsma hop in the Lexus. Schmose also drives, and I’m pretty surprised he knows how. (Gay+NYC Resident)xReality TV=State ID card. You KNOW The Cohen ain’t drivin’ shit these days.
These hands were made for pointin’, not steerin’.
Mary Sue heads to the drive-thru window, Alex starts running food, Hugh hits up the register and Celina expedites. The service isn’t any better this time around, and it blows my mind that none of these chefs get that what you need in a fast food restaurant is a system. The system is a system that never changes and never breaks. Everybody does just the job they are assigned to, and there is no independent thought. It’s communism at its best, and I’m just flabbergasted that obviously none of these chefs has a clue why McDonald’s is so damn successful. Look to the Kroc.
Schmose and Sytsma whine about how they have to wait another four minutes for food they’re looking down on anyway, then giggle about how they’re making “bad time. George taking part in the slow-food movement isn’t helping and neither is Celina’s expediting. Finally the food gets out to the judges, and George goes down in flames immediately. Schmose refers to his pork/chorizo/CLAM skewer as the ugliest food he’s ever seen (I just think it’s paella on a stick), and the taste doesn’t go over well with anyone. I will say that the judges keep saying George should have adjusted his dish, and I kind of don’t get it. It’s meat on a stick. That’s plenty fast food to me, at least when compared to something called a bahn mi.
I mean, doesn’t the ugliness contribute to the fast-foodie nature of the thing? Ever looked at the inside of a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza? Don’t, if you want to eat it again.
ChElf rocks it out as usual with an fist pounding delicious chicken chili verde burrito, with a side of jicama sticks and tortilla chips. The fact that no one goes apeshit over the genius substitution of jicama for fries makes my brow furrow.
Floyd’s dish is a Bombay street food called a Chicken Frankie, which appears to be some kind of chicken gyro with a side of daikon and grape slaw. Basically the only thing that anyone says of note about it is that it’s a real wrap and Celina’s wasn’t.
Finally, Naomi. Naomi and her damn delicious looking ribeye steak sandwich. The judges find it underwhelming, and find it slightly awkward to eat the accompanying Caesar salad with their hands.
One man’s awkward is another recapper’s hilarity.
With that, the great a la minute experiment comes to an end, and it’s time to head to Critic’s table. Alex, George and Celina are in the bottom three, and rightfully so. Celina’s wrap was inedible (literally, impossible to eat with no silverware) and bland, George’s side was hard to eat and he’s accused of creating food that wasn’t “fast food.” Again, I must object – MEAT ON A STICK IS FAST FOOD. Alex gets what amounts to a mediocre review and admits that he was very thrown off by the time constraints in this particular challenge and dropped the ball. The bottom three head back to send in Floyd, chElf and Mary Sue (yahoo!), and sit down to await their fate.
There are smiles all around as the judges go over how delectable chElf’s burrito was, how perfectly cooked Floyd’s chicken was, and how they’d all like to walk around with quinoa fritters in their mouths for the foreseeable future. In the end, the more balls the judges have in their mouths, the happier they seem to be because MARY SUE WINS FOR THE SECOND TIME!!! EEEE!!!
It’s because her coat’s the prettiest.
And now for the ugly part. Schmoseland astutely comments that fast food is about direct intense flavors (of salt), and that none of the dishes in the bottom achieved that goal. Alex’s salmon taco wasn’t a great piece of salmon in the first place, nor were the accompanying flavors distinct. Celina’s wrap that wasn’t was too hard to eat and kind of bland to boot, and George’s meat stick that was too refined for Farmer Boys, was too ugly and needed more flavor.
In the end, George didn’t adapt to the fast food environment enough even though his food was edible without tools, and served in its elements, like most fast food. But, he’s been kind of a dick lately, not to mention the fact that he’s wowed me never on this show, so I’m not sorry to see him go. He interviews some B.S. about being totally fine going out on his own terms standing by his food, but Suvir did that last week and was way, WAY more entertaining about it.
Hope the door doesn’t hit your sulky ass on the way out.
All right, Folks, it is 11:53pm PST, and I am three hours away from landing. My original ETA was 11:30, so forgive me for packing it in, ordering a Funkin Margarita from Virgin America’s magic in-flight video service and paying $8 to watch Secratariat. Please send your thanks to this supreme airline for having power outlets beneath their seats so I could finish the recap BEFORE drinking myself silly.
Next week there’s a REALLY quick Quickfire and some tourbus cooking for Maroon 5. So yeah, more and more realistic with every week!
AND SHOUTOUT TO B-SIDE!! AngryJealousExcited….