Hello, Gasmii! I had a surprise day off this week, so I used it to knock out the cappy a little earlier than usual. Hope it doesn’t screw up your chi too much. This week had me all atwitter, that’s for damn sure. First off, the Quickfire was the tasting challenge my love for which comes in second only to Restaurant Wars or Marcel pounding Sapphire from the bottle. Then it was a Date Night/Proposal challenge. I’m a girl. I’m single. I don’t want to be. ‘Nuff said. My heart became a pink blob of Nickelodeon Gak at the sight of the chefs making love food and some nerdy dude proposing to his girlfriend and not getting turned down.
However, I completely understand if this impressed none of you. I admit my hormones and loneliness bias me. I must remember to have some whiskey on hand the next time I recap something like this. It’s bound to tip the scales.
But back to business. The chef’s pile in for the Quickfire to find sets of headphones, blindfolds, and noseplugs at their stations. It’s time for the Tasting Challenge… but with a t_ist (finish that game of Hangman, and I’ll show you my lady apples).
The challenge is pretty basic, guess the least amount of ingredients in a round and you’re out, and whoever’s left standing is the winner… of only money. That’s right, Folks! Immunity, she has left the building. All this really means to me is that if Celina finally does manage to step out of the middle long enough to win a Quickfire, she won’t screw another, better chef out of their spot. Let the games begin!
First up is tasting, which the chefs must do with their noses plugged, headphones on, and eyes blindfolded. The eyes part is the best because one of the things they have to taste is Worcestershire sauce, and that shit gets everywhere.
Someone’s been hittin’ the sauce…
Mary Sue aptly states that her sense of taste is pretty damn useless without her sense of smell, which I believe BECAUSE IT’S SCIENCE. If there’s one thing taking shots has taught me is that plugging your nose saves your gag reflex a lot of work. So basically, since the human body cannot taste anything without being paired with a sense of smell, this leg of the challenge is pretty identical to the upcoming sense of touch leg.
Apparently Floyd is claustrophobic and faced with balance issues, so he judges that he’s going to suck rocks at this leg, and he does. He gets a grand total of none right, and is eliminated immediately. Floyd blames the disorientation and I blame the fact that the challenge was empirically stacked against humans.
The next leg is smell, and Mary Sue is feeling good about this one. She claims to be able to use her sense of smell to tell when wine’s burned off a dish and other such feats that I assume to be superhuman. I assume because my cooking has get to graduate to the level of “with wine.” True to her bravado, she gets nearly all of them right. Yahoo! Naomi misses mayonnaise, which is super embarrassing to her because man, if we knew about all the articles that had been written about her love of mayo, we’d understand how humiliated she is. I don’t know, if I were a chef that COOKED MEAT and BUTCHERED WHOLE PIGS and COOKED MEAT, I’d be embarrassed that there were articles (plural) written about me and my love of Helman’s.
Reason number 15: Mixed up priorities.
Next up? Sense of touch. The food up for fondling is blackberries, gummi bears, okra, Arborio rice and some kind of lime green cucumber. Hugh claims that raising a six and eight year old has made him very, very familiar with the makeup of the standard gummi bear. And if that weren’t hilarious enough, he looks like Stevie Wonder while he works.
My cherie amour…
Awesomely, Hugh and Mary Sue (and a dog named Boo) take it for the win as Celina and Naomi tie for last. Incidentally, the lime cucumber was “chayote,” and it could also pass for a pear with shingles. Moving on.
It’s down to the final two, and their last sense is “hearing.” I was hoping Curtis’d shout out old diner codes like, “Two cows, make’em cry!” for hamburgers with onions or “Blond and sweet with a side of lady apples!” for coffee with milk and sugar served by a topless waitress.
Alas, these two master chefs are forced to listen to Rice Krispies with milk, celery breaking, Curtis munching on potato chips, shucking an oyster, and buttering toast. Because these things are relevant features of a master chef. Commercial.
In case you missed one of the 50 heavy-handed promotions featuring a dude getting down on one knee, this week’s Elimination Challenge is all about romance. Curtis welcomes Chris, a tiny elf who’s going to propose to his girlfriend of nearly four years, Victoria, the next evening after they’ve indulged in a six-course meal highlighting the seminal moments in their relationship. Each chef will take a course, and the losing chef will go home.
Or somehow Celina will skate by once more, and a better chef will get the shaft.
The meals will be served to 21 couples who are taking part in date night, and with that Stonecoldfox heads out to let Chris give the chefs a history of his Gnomeo and Juliet love story.
In case you didn’t get that it, guy’s a fucking leprechaun.
Hughnibrow is about as cynical as cynical can get as Chris passes around pictures of him and Victoria and describes their first kiss, their love of hockey games and pretzels, etc. He remarks that this is a lot of PDA and he’s not big on PDA. When Chris talks about a “Je t’aime” bracelet that was his first gift to Victoria, Hugh admits to throwing up in his mouth. Hugh’s married, FYI…
Once Chris exits, the chef think up some pretty creative ideas to go with his anecdotes. Because Victoria likes surprises and fooled Chris into eating salmon when she told him it was chicken (which meant at some point he was happily eating pink chicken…), Floyd is going to serve shrimp with a side of watermelon that looks like sushi. Traci’s going to do dessert, Naomi’s going to do something French and Mary Sue’s going to do mussels. Chris revealed that he’d never tried shellfish before, and I think she’s morally opposed to that.
At Whole Foods, Hugh reveals that he thinks Chris and Victoria are not the most elevated of diners, so he’s gonna give them beef, broccoli and onion rings symbolizing the bracelet Chris gave Victoria.
I don’t know Hugh. When I see onion rings, I do not think of jewelry. Nooners, maybe, but not jewelry.
Naomi’s doing some kind of chicken, and Traci’s tackling pastries! Ooh, if anyone can do my French-trained chElf can. She’s doing an apple gallette and a little red velvet cake. Celina’s doing beer and pretzels because she’s Celina, and taking things literally is one of her strongest suits.
The chefs head back to the kitchen to prep, and nothing really goes wrong so we delve into the chefs romantic pasts. Hugh met his wife at age eleven, P.U. (pre-unibrow), which is totally cute. Mary Sue was with her husband for about 15 years before they got married, but the awesome part is that before Susan Feniger was LGBT proponent Susan Feniger, she was married! When they got divorced, he came highly recommended to Mary Sue, who snapped him up when he came on to help design City Restaurant. Okay, if gays and lesbians can be such amazing matchmakers, why in hell can’t they get married?
Celina got proposed to on the sixth anniversary of her husband moving in, and seems appropriately underwhelmed by it, and we hear nothing from Naomi and Traci, which confirms to me that they are single and private respectively.
Unfortunately, as the time grows to a close, Traci realizes the scale she’s been using to measure her pastry ingredients was off by three ounces. NOOOOOOO. She voices exactly what I’m thinking, which is that pastry is all about exact measurements and she’s probably just spent a lot of time making something that she’s going to end up throwing out the next day. I cross my fingers and pray that Celina does not earn another reprieve because Traci falls down the pastry rabbit hole.
Because these do not a winning dish make.
We return from commercial to find the chefs with two and half hours to prep and cook for the date night. Everyone gets to it, and things go pretty well. Aside from Mary Sue slicing off the top half of her thumb (and when I say that, I mean she had to THROW A PIECE OF IT AWAY), and chElf tossing aside her red velvet cake idea in favor of concentrating on her gallettes. P.S. Jamie? You remember how you went to the hospital last season for cutting yourself? Mary Sue said, “Darn it,” and went back to work. Cutest hardass ever.
When everyone’s almost done, Stonecoldfox steps in making like he’s gonna toss in a lame twist, when really all he does is bring Victoria and Chris’ moms so they can be witness to the proposal.
Aww, I hope they like each other. I also hope Victoria says, “Yes”…
With that, the diners start to enter and not only are we treated to another week of Gail Simmons, a fabulous hat catches my eye and I realize we’ll be treated to a week with Gael Greene! Had I known the dirty, “Almost Famous” things we’d learn about her this episode, I think I might have taken off work to watch this in real time.
The only problem with Gael is that she’s sitting with Schmoseland, so the more I hear from her, the more I hear from him. It’s a cruel, cruel balance. For instance, Schmoseland asks if Gael eats any particular foods to put her in a romantic mood, which leads me to envision him naked on a white bearskin rug, sucking on oysters suggestively. What can I say, my brain punishes me for all the cells I kill on a regular basis. However, Gael answers that she just tries not to drink too much so she stays in the romantic mood. THAT makes me think of her on her third martini snapping things at her husband like, “You’re not the man I married. You’re a waste of potential. Chauncey Maplethorpe knew how to meet potential. I should have seen that. I should have listened to Mother, but I didn’t. And here we are.” FADE TO BLACK.
Floyd’s up first with Kama Sutra black pepper shrimp with watermelon. The shrimp are Kama Sutra shrimp because they’re like, cuddling each other on the plate. It’s pretty dern cute, I have to say. It appears to be pretty spicy, but Floyd did say that he was going to do that to remain true to his roots. Hope it works for him.
Celina’s up next, and instead of doing a pretzel and beer, she did a tiny pretzel, cheese ale sauce and salad. Pointless, pointless salad. The couple loves the dish, but the judges are appropriately underwhelmed, as per usual. They love that she made the pretzel, but it’s still salad and a pretzel.
Now it’s Mary Sue’s turn, and she’s plating down the wire. All the other chefs are yelling at her to hurry, which leads her to awesomely shout, “I’m GOING!” and they all shut the heeell up. Good for her. She calmly says she doesn’t need everybody yelling at her and rushing her like she doesn’t know what t she’s doing. I’ll say. She’s put the rest of you all to shame recently, and she’s never sent out a plate empty, NAOMI.
She’s made a seafood stew with mussels and sausage that I want to take a bath in. Even Chris, who’s never tried mussels is totally game and really enjoys it. Gaels only complaint is that the croutON is a little crunchy for a romantic dinner, but overall, it’s a hit.
Naomi’s French chicken is fourth, and she’s worried it looks a little rustic to be romantic. It’s a porcini braised chicken thigh, which, frankly, is the only way I like to eat chicken – fried dark meat bathed in a mushroom sauce. I choke on saying this, but good show, Naomi. With some minor complaints about how heavy and rich the dish is, the judges seem to like it.
Hugh’s number five, and his plate, while he was “cooking down” to his guests, apparently, his plate is really complicated. He does wind up doing the onion ring “bracelets,” but nobody gets the joke, and his steak is tough. Gael comments that Schmoseland chewing and chewing his cud is NOT seductive, as if anything could be, and it looks like Hugh’s going to be joining Celina in the bottom this week. *le sigh*
It does look a little… lame.
And finally, the dish we’ve all been waiting for – the goss on Gael Greene’s affair with Elvis. I don’t know if there’s anything I’ve liked more on this show than listening to Gael Greene loftily speak about the hour she spent in Elvis Presley’s hotel room, after which he asked her to order him a fried egg sandwich from room service. I can only picture her the age she is now, so that makes it even better, my friends. Even better.
Last but not least (only in stature) is chElf and her apple gallette. She’s far less nervous and frustrated as she was yesterday when she was worried about the dough, and it looks delicious. She’s even drizzled “Je t’aime” on the plate in chocolate. Victoria is overwhelmed, but has STILL not managed to grasp that she’s getting a ring at the end of this meal. Chris must have been one hard little gnome to gnail down, because it looks like a proposal is the very, very last thing on her mind. Unfortunately, the dessert is dry, and my stomach turns into one of Celina’s pretzels at the thought of chElf getting sent home.
And now it’s time for the moment no one’s really been waiting for – the proposal. Please, everyone says “yes” on television unless they’re on Maury Povich. It is pretty sweet, though. Chris asks, Victoria answers, utterly overwhelmed, and then they bring out the moms and the moment is complete. I find myself in an odd companionship with Oseland and Naomi as we’re all drips, crying at this utterly staged romance. Whatevs, get it where you can, I say.
And on a similarly related note, did any of you know that Gael Greene writes erotic literature?
When the excitement’s over, it’s time for Critic’s Table, and the results fall where you’d expect. Naomi, Mary Sue and Floyd are on top. The judges decide that they like spicy food this week, so that’s a positive in Floyd’s corner. Mary Sue’s mussels were perfection, and Naomi’s crispy chicken skin was the star of her show, and, it seems, the whole show. It’s Naomi for the win, and for the first time in the series… SIGH… I kind of agree. I guess. Incidentally, Floyd’s tired of coming in second, so I guess he’s going to be more competitive and less jolly next week.
In the bottom, it’s Celina, Traci and Hugnibrow. Oh, man, I’m fucking nervous. Normally, I wouldn’t be, but Celina slips through the cracks like sand through a sieve, and it’s entirely possible that this judging team would keep her. Things do get a little interesting when Stonecoldfox sniffs at Hugh “cooking down” to people, and Hugh snots back that if “you’re gonna pay the bill…” On that pouty note, the chefs head back to the wine room and the critiquing begins.
THANKFULLY it seems like Celina’s number is up. All the judges agree that it was laughably literal of her to take the couple’s love of pretzels and beer and serve pretzels, beer sauce and salad. I think she actually said in the wine room at one point, “They like salad, they like pretzels, soooo?” They also liked sushi, Celina. Why didn’t you top the cheese sauce with salmon roe? Hmm? Hmmmmmm?
Traci’s dish needed more sauce, but that’s about as far as it goes with her, but Hugh pays for his “cooking down” attitude as all the critics go high and mighty claiming that food is entirely democratic and that one does not have to cook down to people unaffiliated with fine dining to ensure enjoyment. Oh, spare me. If you take someone who’s subsisted on fast food and Hot Pockets for most of their natural life, you’re not going to turn them on to bone marrow flan and mushroom marmalade. It’s called a palate, and it has to be developed. Nothing wrong with that.
(P.S. Head to Cut if you want to try the flan – I’m not making it up.)
The chefs reenter and I’m trying not to bite my nails, so I’m chewing on a pen as the requisite build-up ensues. Then it happens – Celina is out. Finally out. Utterly and totally out with $5000 for her charity, Harvesters. Man, I wish she’d had the seed charity. I’d feel a lot better about her leaving winning nothing if she wasn’t giving money to an organization that gave food to hungry children. She sweetly interviews that she’s sad to be leaving early and that she wished she could have brought home more money for her charity, but she’s loved the experience. Aww, I’m sorry I was hateful toward you, Celina. I just wish the judges had sent you packing long ago.
Aaaand next week? Hugh lips off some more and I will be there for that with bells on. That is one sassy, Canadian.