Hey, Gasmii! So last week, well, more like two weeks ago, our intrepid chef’s had to work in an unrealistically small kitchen and under ridiculous time constraints and last minute challenges to create amazing food. No, this was not the Christina Hendrick’s party. It was the fast food challenge, and George Mendes who appeared mediocre in everything, but, well, appearance, was sent home. In an unrelated note, I caught the plague sometime around Sunday morning, and have just regained my ability to formulate sentences beyond everyday greetings.
My sincerest apologies for this being so late. I blame my general lack of exercise and love of red meat. You should blame them, too.
I’m sure this man does.
Anywho, let’s get on with it! The chef’s enter the kitchen and Stonecoldfox (who is looking even stone colder due to my brain’s significant lack of oxygen and nutrients over the past few days) announces that this week’s Quickfire will involve ingredients the chef’s will actually look forward to using – you know, things that aren’t bugs.
Rather, things that are fungi and backfat…
The chefs, namely Floyd are excited but leery, knowing the show as well as they do, they also know there must be a twist. And surprise, surprise, there is. While the chefs are allowed to simply “take their diners to heaven” creating whatever they like. But they’ve got to do it in seven minutes. The challenge was inspired by the “Quickest Quickfire of all Time” challenge from All Stars, in which Colicchio set the bar at eight minutes and 37 seconds. Apparently inherent bias is not the only reason Tom will not be appearing on “Top Chef Masters” anytime soon. The judges think this group of intrepid cooks can do their best in seven minutes. They certainly try…
Everyone scrambles around in a flurry amidst Mary Sue admitting that she can cook an egg in seven minutes, but not much else, and Celina informing us that it takes two minutes to heat up a pan, much less cook anything in it. Celina also informs us that she’s won exactly jack nada for her charity up til now, so she’d really like to win this Quickfire – especially since it doesn’t look likely that she’ll win any elimination challenges anytime soon.
I think of shellfish like food presents.
Naomi’s doing a seared fois gras with lady apples. She says something about how this challenge is simply about highlighting the flavors of each ingredient quickly and letting them stand on their own. I’d go into more detail, but I’m still giggling over “lady apples.” Your task for this week’s comments since you’ve probably already discussed the episode to death? What could lady apples be a euphemism for???
Finally, time’s up, and everyone’s managed to get something on their plate. Everyone also appears to be impressed that Naomi fried up some fois gras, which worries me a little. When she has immunity, I have nothing to hope for…
Stonecoldfox is about to bring in the judges, but then – twist! The chefs are told that they will be judging each other’s dishes because an episode in which master chefs are going to be cooking on tiny stoves in a moving vehicle isn’t enough packaged drama. ChElf calls it like she sees it and comments that this kind of crap is going to sow the seeds of animosity between the chefs. I can’t tell if she’s trying to be delicate about how lame this challenge is on the part of the producers, or if she really is that naïve about the intentions of reality television.
I like her, so I’m going with the former.
Hughnibrow’s up first with his Tuna Two Ways – he’s got sushi topped with caviar and poached tuna with celery. ChElf continues to stick with all things carpaccio considering it’s worked so well for her in the past, but this time she goes with beef carpaccio and tosses on some truffles for the win. In any case, I tend to think tossing truffles on something is sort of a cop-out. It’s like using a magic, universal, tasty-goody potion on a dish – it’s going to taste good to 99% of the population. However, after Traci’s description, I can’t really help myself. I want to eat the shit out of that plate, so the magic may just do its job.
Naomi’s dish is really popular, and I’m convinced is just because everyone wanted to say, “oh, I sure do love those LADY APPLES,” or, “man, them LADY APPLES is mighty tasty!” Just because they apparently did it off camera makes it no less enjoyable to me. Celina does a diver scallop crudo which is about as underwhelming and bland as she is, and then Mary Sue does a scallop dish that blows Celina’s out of the water in that it uses the correct amount of salt. Alex does a blood orange shrimp ceviche, which is a massive hit, and finally there’s Floyd who also does well with a roast prawn (including head!) in blood orange sauce.
And how for the good part – passing judgment on each other! Hugh’s up first, and not only do chElf and Floyd give him last place for underseasoning and bitter caviar, Hugh gives it to himself in an adorable moment of self-deprecation. ChElf gets a bunch of ones, including from Naomi “Traci’s my Competition” Pomeroy herself, but also eats humble pie with Hughnibrow, giving herself a three. Celina is soundly on the bottom with sevens and sixes (ouch), and Mary Sue is soundly in the middle. Hughibrow actually gives Mary Sue a five, calling her food more “unrefined” than the other contestants and admits he’s surprised that she’s gotten as far as she has in the competition.
I’m surprised whenever you show an emotion other than anger or consternation. Just goes to show people can defy your expectations.
Alex is another dish that gets a wide variety of scores – Celina gives him a one, Traci a two, but a number of other chefs (including him) give him fives and sixes, and Floyd, despite his positive reviews initially, gets nothing over a three – which was from himself.
In the end, Celina’s on the bottom, which hurts especially considering it’s her peers that are judging her. I’ll say. I hope she doesn’t read these recaps… The top two are chElf and Naomi, and I think we all know who I’m rooting for…
Suck it, Pomeroy.
Naomi lamely interviews that as much as she would have liked to have won the Quickfire, Traci has been cooking for over 20 years, so… yeah. Shut up, Naomi. They’re still doing immunity so chElf will be sticking around for at least the next week, and NOW is it time to meet Adam Levine????
Stonecoldfox cuts right to the chase after Traci wins and after she’s confusedly picked her team for a challenge that hasn’t been introduced yet. It’s her, Mary Sue, Hughnibrow and Naomi. One of these things is not like the other… Remaining are Floyd, Alex and Celina. After some lameass transition about how chef’s like to think of themselves as rock stars, Curtis explains that the chefs will be cooking for one of the biggest bands on the planet, Maroon 5, as they return home from tour to their hometown of Los Angeles. Did anyone else look askance at the “one of the biggest bands on the planet” title? My musical taste is generally out of touch almost on purpose, but that seems a little like Maroon 5 belongs to a label that’s owned by NBC Universal…
Anywho! The teams are tasked with preparing a meal that features the favorite foods of the band members which are as follows:
- Adam Levine: Japanese food or steak
- Person to the right of Adam Levine: vegetarian food, specifically spanikopita
- Person back right of Adam Levine: from Nebraska, likes corn
- Person back left of Adam Levine: Thanksgiving food
- Person left of Adam Levine: good vegan food/Mexican food
As the video shuts off, Stonecoldfox announces that this challenge is all about time management – the chefs will menu plan on the way to Whole Foods and prep on the way to the Roosevelt Hotel . Wha..? On the way, you say? Yup, in RVs.
This challenge has jack shit to do with time management.
What are the specs of the El Monte RVs? Three burner stoves, tiny ovens and full size bed in back for the afterparty! It immediately becomes clear to Celina that cooking with three chefs on her team as opposed to four chefs on the other team has turned into quite the silver lining.
The chefs get on the way to Whole Foods and start planning their menus. There’s a moment of tension when chElf and Naomi get into over who’s doing the “spice thing.” I honestly didn’t catch what happened, even though I was listening with rapt attention to see if maybe Traci would finally eviscerate Naomi the way I know she wants to. It was weird. The menu looks good, though – Mary Sue’s making a vegan/Mexican salad that involves fried avocado (duh, winning.), Naomi’s doing the Thanksgiving business, Hughnibrow’s taking on the corn soup and spanikopita and I’m not sure what chElf is doing. I’m sure it’ll be awesome, though. She has that reputation.
Over on the B-String bus, it looks like Celina is doing the exact same meal as Hughnibrow, while Floyd is doing steak, and Alex will bring up the rear with Thanksgiving. It’s pretty disjointed as Floyd points out, but there’s not much they can do about that except blame Maroon 5 for not having one single cohesive taste pattern.
You’d think they’d have better harmony. Zing!
At Whole Foods, everyone is rushing around even more because they are still under the impression that time management is the most important thing about this challenge and not the fact that some of them will be prepping on a cutting board set up over a toilet seat or holding a match under their food to give it a sear. Alex’s cart gets stuck on the magic cart escalator, and causes a panic that is hilariously disproportionate to the actual problem. But his team manages to get on their way before Traci’s team, so no worries.
Once the teams get on the RVs, it becomes clear just how secondary time management is at the moment. There’s no real water to wash vegetables with, every time the RV takes an especially sharp turn (which is a lot), shit falls all over the place. Luckily, it seems like everyone gets everything done that they need to on the ride over, so we’ll actually have a real competition this week. The RVs pull up to the Roosevelt Valet area, and the chefs start cooking.
In a move that makes me think I can predict the future, Floyd actually does make stock on the toilet. Those RVs had better be brand new. Over on Traci’s team, Hughnibrow complains that the stove doesn’t have much heat, nor does it have much room for large pots. He’s concerned that the way he’s making the soup (throwing everything into a pot and cooking the crap out of it) isn’t going to pan out well.
Hmm… I’m starting to understand my lack of success with soup…
Floyd’s team seems to be coming apart at the seams, but Alex is there to back them all up. He takes on Floyd’s mashed potatoes and a few other dishes that he hasn’t mentioned beforehand (like overcooked pasta salad…).
At service time, it’s Floyd, Celina and Alex up first. Floyd falls all over himself in front of the band explaining that he likes Maroon 5, his kids like Maroon 5, his wife likes Maroon 5, his family has Maroon 5 listening parties once a week with no one but themselves and their vast collection of Maroon 5 memorabilia – they like Maroon 5. I wish he’d made better food for them, then… Floyd made a winter salad (for the vegetarian… clever) and steak seasoned with soy and rice wine vinegar for Adam. The judges pronounce the steak bland and the salad amateur. Adam agrees, though he liked the steak more than the judges did.
Celina’s silky corn soup is beloved by all, and not just for its sexy name, but Lame Schmoseland has to let us all know that he was in Greece recently and her spanikopita just doesn’t measure up. Yeah? Well your prig-faced superiority is nothing compared to that of the French, so maybe work on that.
Apparently Alex decided to make his own menu in the time between planning the meal on the RV and walking into Whole Foods – he’s done a vegan enchilada, a vegan pasta dish, some coconut tapioca and breaded turkey cutlets. The enchiladas look like this:
and are only received well by Curtis, who thinks it’s pretty brilliant that Alex has made an enchilada with no cheese. I think it would have been brilliant had it not looked like a giant baby turd. In other news, the pasta was underwhelming, and just like what the band gets on the road when they request a vegan meal at a concert venue. The tapioca is undercooked and weird, though the band really likes it. However, the gravy on the turkey cutlets is a massive, MASSIVE hit, and the fact that he’s managed to cook four dishes compared to his teammates’ two, so that may cut him some slack.
Though not much, by the looks of things…
The first team finishes, and in walks team number Awesome, with Margaritas in their pocket! Seriously – Traci had this brilliant idea to make margaritas and serve them along with the meal, because who doesn’t like margaritas? I hope everyone starts pairing dishes with cocktails from now on and getting the judges tanked.
Mary-Sue starts with chips, salsa and guacamole, and her chopped salad which has become a vegan tostada. Despite its transformation and Adam’s pronouncement that the fried avocado rolled in seeds looks like a baby turd rolled in birdseed, everyone loves the taste. I think that says a lot given that the aforementioned imagery is on its way to ruining Mexican food for me for a good long time.
Hugh’s made corn soup and spanikopita, but all anyone can taste in Hugh’s corn soup is the vanilla, and not in a good way. But his spanikopita is a hit, so he and Celina will be yinning and yanging all the way to the Critic’s table.
As I expected, Traci wound up doing a Japanese style steak with a side of daikon radish, and she can do no wrong. It’s apparently exactly what Adam meant when he said “steak and Japanese food.” I’m glad she cracked his code…
Finally, Naomi’s up, and as much as I hate to say it, her food looks pretty delicious – breaded turkey cutlets, mushroom mashed potatoes and cherry-cranberry chutney. Oh, and a vegan apple crisp. I also have a fetish for Thanksgiving food and mushrooms, so I’m biased.
Tell me I’m not nuts.
THANKFULLY, the judges wholeheartedly disagree with me, Schmoseland pleasing me for the first time in weeks by calling Naomi’s food “flaccid,” and tickling the shit out the band with his vocabulary. We’ll never know what they thought of the vegan apple crisp because the judging’s over at that point. The band compliments the chefs and the critics head off to critique.
We return from commercial to see what I have just now learned to be the “Black Team” called back to the Critic’s Table – and Yahoo! It was Traci’s team! Curtis, Danyelle, Gail and Lames are all compliments every chef, despite ripping apart Hugh’s soup and Traci’s… meal just minutes before. I don’t have time to care, though, because Traci wins!!!
I said a BOOM CHICKA BOOM!
Traci is over the moon that she’s one and that she’s raking in a lot of money for her charity. She’s also starting to get a little titillated at the prospect of becoming the first woman to win “Top Chef Masters,” and I am right there with her. If it’s Naomi, I’m gonna barf, though.
Team Black heads back to send in… oh, Team Red (I really have to start paying more attention to detail) with comforting pats on the back and concerned smiles. The bottom three line up in front of the critics and await their medicine. The first hit goes to the entire team for unevenly spreading the workload. Alex sort of shoots himself in the foot by touting the lack of his success not to the inordinate number of dishes he prepared, but to the execution of said dishes. Ouch. The enchilada deservedly gets the most negative reviews, and Alex really doesn’t have anything to say in its defense. I mean, of the food this evening that reminded me of baby turds, that was by far number one on the list.
As for Floyd, the winter salad could have been taken out of a bag, and the steak was bland. Celina’s spanikopita was indistinctive and oddly paired with cous cous. She inexplicably claims that she wanted it to be “traditional.” Cous cous isn’t Greek. That is all. The chef’s return to the tour bus, and the critics proceed to talk about how Team Red’s food was the worst, most thoughtlessly arranged, and ugliest food they’ve eaten on the show. Jesus, by the time they invite the contestants back in, I’m beginning to think that they’re going to throw us for a loop and send the entire team home.
Alas, they don’t, and alas, despite his superhuman effort and the fact that this is Celina’s THIRD time in the bottom, Alex is sent home. I don’t get it, Man. Celina is by far one of the least noteworthy chefs I’ve ever seen on Top Chef period, and I’m annoyed that we’re condemned to another week of her.
But I’m super-duper excited that it’s blind tasting week next week (or tonight… considering that’s when the episode will air).
Remember, Folks – lady apples. Think about it.