Hello, Gasmii, and thanks for sticking with me to read this recap of what turned out to be such a disappointing episode.
You know what you did.
And it began so well…
I want to go to there…
I tend to find calorie challenges sort of boring to begin with, but usually that’s when the personalities of the most entertaining chefs step up and keep me interested. Not unlike last week when, according to the “Previously on…” a “simple” challenge brought out the worst in Naomi and Hugh. Personally, I think it brought out the worst in Hugh and the Naomi in Naomi, but that’s neither here nor there. But this week, there’s just a lot of Naomi simpering about how honored she is to cook for heavy folk and Suvir waving us all goodbye and heading straight off the fucking deep end in his battle to end America’s non-existent dependence on red meat. Pfft… And now that you’re just salivating to read my recap, let’s begin!
Stonecoldfox hops in the kitchen and dumps the chefs right on into Quickfire I want to eat the most. The chefs have all noticed the table in front of them that is positively teeeeeming with heavenly mold, and the host announces that they just need to make a masterful cheese dish to be judged by a cheese connoisseur. “Cheese connoisseur” is on the list of things I want to be when I grow up right between Gael Greene and Laura Roslin.
Traci of the Gardens quips again that of course nothing is as simple as it seems on this show, and she’s right. The chefs have 12 minutes to prepare their masterful dish, and Hugh interviews agog that it takes him longer to shave.
And I think he is a fucking liar.
Then they’re off! The chefs engage in their customary scramble, and George tells a story about his parents bringing home stinky cheese for him from Portugal as opposed to toys and… damn, that sucks. I mean, I’d take a cheese bath right now, but if you came near me with anything but Kraft American Slices before the age of ten, I’d vomit right on your shoes. Poor guy…
As Quickfires go, it’s pretty stressless. Everyone is pressed for time, but they all have a plate to serve at the end of 12 minutes and said plates all look pretty damn good. Cut to Stonecoldfox and the cheese connoisseur du jour, Norbert Wabnig.
What else are you going to do with that name?
He owns the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, and let me tell you, I’ve been there, and this man knows his mold. If you have the means, I highly suggest you check it out. I don’t have the means, but occasionally I know people who do, so you could go that route, as well. Mary Sue is very familiar with Norbert and thinks he’ll go with a French cheese dish. When asked by Curtis if he’s looking for a dish that cheese supports or a dish in which cheese is prominently featured, Norbert just says that there needs to be a balance. Hmmm…
First up is Suvir with two pekoras, mozzarella and gouda (or gowda, according to Stonecoldfox. I love accents.) with a tamarind chutney. Norbert feels the same way I do about the dish – good, but it’s deep fried cheese, and not terribly impressive. Celina continues to be most boring chef on the block with manchego on a carrot with some golden raisins and sherry. My roommate aptly observed that that’s something we could do, and thus, unmasterful. Agreed. It’s tasty, but neither judge seems to be over the moon.
Naomi managed to sear a skirt steak in 12 minutes (just how I like it, I ironically) and made a Chaumes (delicious delicious French goat cheese) toast topped with steak, apples and onions. I wish I liked her more, because that looks good, but I’m conflicted about rooting for her. Both the judges love it, even though the steak is bloody. Naomi’s uber-relieved that the steak’s temperature isn’t an issue. I think it’s odd that someone who works with meat so damn much thinks that anyone associated with cheese, French food or gourmet cooking would have a problem with rare steak, but that’s just me, I suppose…
Oh, that’s right. She has a pathological need for attention.
Mary Sue’s next with a cotija and gowda empanada and the tortillas, they are fresh. That’s right. Homemade tortilla empanadas in under 12 minutes. Woman’s a stallion. Unfortunately, all she gets for her trouble from Norbert is that her choices of cheese were “correct.” George, for whom cheese has played such an integral role in life, gets the worst review yet for his onion gratin. There’s too much onion. He protests that it is, in fact, an onion gratin, but I kind of agree in the sense that I’m not sure onion gratins should exists. I love onions as much as the next person, but unless they’re part of a deep fried blossom, they should remain a garnish.
Alex did a Rocchetta and prosciutto quesadilla (bet his tortillas weren’t homemade) topped with pickled asparagus and a fried quail egg. I kind of hate quail eggs. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re kind of anti-climactic. They pop up on all kinds of exciting gourmet menus, but you know what? They taste like eggs. And they’re smaller, so there’s less eggy deliciousness all around. There’s not enough cheese in the dish for Norbert, and Traci acutely observes that there will be no immunity for Alex this round. Next up is Floyd, and I want to kiss him for his dish. I didn’t have it till I moved to southern California, and even then it was a few years before I could wrap my mind around putting it in my mouth.
That’s corn on the cob my friends. Corn on the cob with cotija cheese, cayenne pepper and crème fraiche. Boom.
There’s another variety of this dish walked around on little food carts throughout the various predominantly Latin neighborhoods I’ve lived in, and that is also frigging amazing. If you haven’t tried either of these combinaicones, get to it right quick. You will not be sorry and your summers will never be the same. Unfortunately, Norbert has about as much experience with Mexican food as you would expect a Beverly Hills cheese shop owner named Norbert to have, so he doesn’t like how much of a kick the cayenne pepper adds. Floyd snits that someone who’s from California should know about Mexican food, and I kind of agree, though, again, if I can make it myself, I don’t know that it’s masterful.
And finally, French-trained Traci of the Gardens unleashes her creations. It is a Columbier cheese carpaccio, and I don’t even know if that’s technically possible to do with cheese, but it combines two things I love most in the world, so I don’t see how this dish couldn’t be amazing. Thankfully, neither do the judges. It’s the most animated we’ve seen Norbert since he arrived, so I’m confident Traci’s cheesy creative genius will shine through.
I mean just fucking look at this thing.
Judgement time! It works out how I expected at least. George and Floyd are in the bottom while Naomi and Traci are in the top. And Traci Takes On!! I mean, All!!! Woohoo, my little chElf sticks around for another week no matter what! Traci, Hughnibrow and Suvir are my new favorites now that John’s gone. Floyd actually has a little snit-fit when it comes in an interview because according to him, Traci just put cheese on a plate. Yeah… and you put cheese on a corn cob. And it wasn’t even your idea. Simmer down, now. Commercial!
We return to learn about the Slim-Down Elimination Challenge of this week. Stonecoldfox introduces two people from “The Biggest Loser” that I don’t know and then Sami Brady from “Days of Our Lives”!! Eeee!!!
RememberwhenSamihadsexwithLucasandAustinrightbeforeAustinandCarrie’swedding,thengotpregnantandbrokethenewsatCarrieandAustin’swedding,butitwasn’treallyAustin’sbabyitwasLucas’allalong???????????? Man, I love that show.
Anywho, Allison Sweeney as functioning adults know her, informs Curtis and the other chefs that this season of “The Biggest Loser” is going very well, and that she knows from Curtis (who is apparently the chef on “The Biggest Loser” – sorry, don’t watch it) that healthy food can actually taste very good. Damn, Sami Brady’s still a liar liar pants afire. Anywho, the challenge is to create calorie-conscious meals from the favorite dishes of “The Biggest Loser” contestants. Um, good luck? I’m sorry, but if I knew that I had to stop eating bacon cheeseburgers in order to stay healthy and survive, eating an imitation burger would just piss me off and make me miss the real thing. Here’s hoping people get really creative.
Famous last words, I know.
The other facet of the challenge is that the nine chefs will break into three teams to create a day’s worth of meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and one dessert. The entire day must not exceed 1500 calories – is that even healthy? A couple of chefs comment on the difficulty of this challenge if only because as chefs, their focus is on taste, not health, so calorie counting is a skill they’ve not developed.
The dishes are assigned, the complaints are made and now it’s time to introduce the contestants from “The Biggest Loser.” Naomi gets French toast from Rulan, an Olympic wrestler and she high-fives him and says “rad” when she finds out how much weight he’s lost.
Reason #12 Is under the impression she can use the word rad in serious conversation.
Floyd gets Jay, a man with serious FBI (Face/Body Incongruancy), an impressive rack and a love of meatball subs. Aww, meatball subs return to remind Floyd of his son who – you guessed it – had a weight problem (he conquered it, though – yahoo!).
Alex has Hannah who lurves fried chicken. Alex, heretofore fairly nervous about this challenge, is now gunning for it because he had weight problem before his cancer, and is now fully committed to helping people lose weight. And Holy Moses, this is what he used to look like.
Suvir’s contestant is Irene who’s a student and does a lot of her studying in… the bar. What? She says it like it’s obvious – “I’m a student, so of course I do lots of studying in bars and have developed quite the taste for pub food.” Maybe I’m just too danged old to get with this, but when I went to bars in college, I drank myself silly and the only thing I studied was the literature on the walls of the bathroom. Learned a lot about urban slang, I did. When asked why she hasn’t tried veggie burgers (a question ONLY a vegetarian would ask), Irene shrugs that she likes her meat. Uh, yeah. Also, is anyone else skeeved out when veggie burgers try to have the same consistency as real burgers? I don’t like food that pretends to be something else – it’s creepy. Same reason I never ate the chicken curlz at my high school cafeteria. I do, however, love Trader Joe’s Masala veggie burgers – they’re these little veggie patties that are AMAZING fried up in a little olive oil and topped with an egg.
Oh, I’ve gotten off track. Suvir promises that he will not make Irene one of those veggie burgers that look like cat food, and she seems okay with that. With a quick cut to Alex as he compliments Hannah’s ass (he calls it a “good lookin’ brownie” and I kind of love it), the contestants leave, very thankful to their chefs for what promises to be an amazing experience.
After the contestants exit, the chef break into the following teams with Top Chef’s ever creative naming devices in place: Team Red – Hughnibrow, Celina and Traci of the Gardens (roast beef and a loaded baked potato, bagel breakfast sandwich, Chinese Food buffet), Team Blue – Mary Sue, Alex and Suvir,(corned beef hash and eggs, fried chicken, bacon cheeseburger) and Team Green – Naomi, Floyd and George (French toast, meatball sub, deep dish pizza). Floyd’s very happy with his team – apparently George is very talented and when Naomi’s focused on a dish, nothing else matters. That is one helluva bright side you’ve painted for yourself, Floyd. As far as I’m concerned, Geoge keeps making shit that either doesn’t taste good or isn’t memorable, and Naomi’s “focus” is the kind of focus that doesn’t give a shit about its teammates. But good luck!
For her part, Naomi is really, REALLY emotional about this challenge. She keeps talking about what an honor it is to cook for the contestants and how much she admires them. Okay…? I mean, yes, it is an incredible achievement to completely change your lifestyle in order to be healthier, especially in a society that plies you with unhealthy choices at every turn. But Naomi’s near tears and we’re not even halfway through the episode.
I didn’t even know she was capable of tears.
Team Red is officially leader of the pack in my mind, if only because when Traci says that she’ll make spring rolls with kelp noodles, Hughnibrow suggests that she say “kelp noodles” to herself and say “really cool, interesting noodles” to the contestants. Ha! All of the teams have to pull together to create the dessert, which is blond brownies with ice cream. Oh, man. Have you ever had blond brownies, Gasmii? They’re a fat slice of chocolate chip cookie cake, and they are stupid delicious.
Next stop, Whole Foods! Cara and Brett, the trainers, are there to help with calorie counting as the chefs zoom around picking low-fat alternatives to everything. George is kind of in the shits with his attempt to find cheese for his pizza that won’t use up all his calories in a single bite. Celina’s checking out bagels as an alternative to bread in her breakfast sandwich, and she starts to interview about her charity. It’s a food bank in Kansas and it gives a week’s worth of food to hungry kids when they need it. So far, this is Celina’s most awesome moment.
Suvir wanders around saying things like “If I were chickpeas where would I be?” and Naomi’s freaking out because she’s just discovered that maple syrup has lots of calories. She grabs a box of Stevia because it has zero calories, but she’s nervous because she’s never used it before, so it could taste like crap.
Back in the kitchen, the chefs set to cooking, and luckily there are more calorie counters there to help them with portion size and whatnot. Hughnibrow quips that he got roast beef and a loaded baked potato the “size of [his] head,” so his game is portion control. He explains that it’s going to be like someone took a “shrimp gun” to his contestant’s plate. I love this man. I love this tall, unibrowed, Canadian man.
For his part, Suvir is supremely (and ironically) confident in this challenge, having spent years cooking with calories in his head. He loves using good, clean, farm fresh ingredients like the ones from the farm he shares with his partner in Upstate New York. He IS gay for any of you who still had questions. I know I did. Foreigners screw up my gaydar like nobody’s business. Especially the French. Incidentally, Suvir is playing for the Agricultural Stewardship Association, and I’m support of anything that supports farmers, so go Suvir.
I’m left to wonder what a magical naked romping ground his farm is. If Mrs. Parisi wouldn’t mind checking it out for us, I’m sure everyone here would be exceedingly grateful.
The chefs only had 90 minutes to cook, so the dishes get put together and ready to go out pretty quickly. Naomi tastes her dish and realizes that Stevia has a nastyass aftertaste. There’s nothing she can do about it at the moment, so the dishes go out.
In the Front of House, the critics are meeting the contestants and patronizingly quipping things like, “Oh, you live in New Jersey? I live in New York – it’s like an hour away!” That was Oseland, if you’re curious. I’m curious about why he thinks someone from New Jersey needs to be told how far away New York is. I’d also like to introduce a new game for us all to play, since I’m having trouble coming up with nicknames. Every week I’ll invite you to help me come up with a nickname for one of the chefs or critics on the show, and the winner will get their nickname used in further recaps and also the credit! This week is Oseland.
I’ve tried to come up with something relating to the word “odious,” but inspiration has left me. Suggest away!
The other breakfast contestants are Mary Sue with her turkey hash over roasted root vegatables and poached eggs, and Celina with her Ezekiel bread bagel sandwich and celery and leek hash browns. I’m a McDonald’s hash brown groupie fo SHO, but those sound amazing.
Naomi’s French Toast looks okay – she used spelt bread and simply egg whites for the batter, and there’s turkey bacon and scrambled eggs on the side. Rulan is over the fucking moon for it, and nobody even mentions the Stevia aftertaste, so skippity doo for Naomi. Alas, while her contestant loves the hash, no one really likes Mary Sue’s egg. Celina’s also in the shits for her sandwich – Oseland complains that it made him want salt and fat. Onto lunch!
Floyd abandons the sandwich part of the meatball sandwich in favor of buffalo meatballs, seasoned with a bunch of delicious sounding things including ginger and served with greens and faro. It is a motherfucking hit. Not so lucky is Alex, whose panko and rice crumbs fried chicken, despite being adored by his contestant, does not go over well with the judges. They object to pretty much everything on the plate, and I can’t say I blame them.
Finally Traci’s up with her China Buffet and her plate doesn’t look much better than Alex’s. She made broccoli beef, white rice, cabbage salad and won-ton soup. I guess it’s not that it looks bad, it just looks like a Lean Cuisine. Luckily, it doesn’t taste like one, though, and Moses, her contestant is inducted into the “Clean Plate Club” by Oseland. Just when I thought he couldn’t get more douchey, the man says something like “Clean Plate Club.”
We head to dinner and George is confident that his whole wheat pizza will be healthier option for his contestant, but will still satisfy her “desires.” I have decided that I like it when George says the word “desires.” I have also decided that pizza does not belong in the same corner of my brain also occupied by sex. The pizza is a massive win, with all at the table agog at how much flavor it has. Yes, Virginia, vegetables do have flavor.
Suvir comments that there are those who might not approve of his making a veggie burger for a professed meat lover, but he explains that he’s there to change the paradigm. And you know, despite his outburst to come, I can get with Suvir on this one. In my experience with weight loss, I’ve very seldom seen people stay thin and healthy eating low-fat versions of their favorite fatty foods. Why? Because spelt bread French toast doesn’t taste as good as regular French toast. Root vegetable hash doesn’t taste as good as corned beef hash. Both make me crave their counterparts. The best way to change your eating habits is to change your eating habits. Nothing is going to taste as good as comfort food, so find completely different comfort food. I had a friend who ate a lot of fast food crap and drank a lot of pop, and when she wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, she didn’t go to fast food restaurants and order the grilled chicken sandwiches and diet soda. She stopped going to fast food restaurants altogether. She cooks more now, drinks a ton of juice and tea and in general has changed the way she lives. It’s really cool to watch, and has a much better chance of continued success.
That said, Suvir’s pita pocket veggie falafel nightmare goes over like crap in a basket. Can’t say I blame the critics or Irene for that one. Especially when they had to sit through the rant that was Suvir’s introduction. Apparently red meat is a tool to kill us placed on the planet by Satan himself and is the cause of the obesity epidemic in America. Also, Hughnibrow’s dish is steak, and he has to introduce it right after Suvir called it an “enemy of the heart.”
The day Hughnibrow’s unibrow earned it’s keep.
He says that Suvir has pretty much crossed the line and I swear he channeled John McClane. It was kind of hot. After commercial, Hugh introduces his dish as a steak that isn’t quite as sinister as Suvir painted it to be, and he’s right. It’s a lean cut of beef (flank), accompanied by a few loaded fingerling potatoes, It is kind of hilariously tiny, but overall it’s a hit.
In the kitchen, Hugh confronts Suvir who nods conceding that maybe it wasn’t proper timing to rant about red meat right before Hugh served up some cow. Hugh tells Traci about it, then shouts across the kitchen at Suvir that he would never have done that. Suvir munches on a brownie and mumbles that Hugh did “plenty” and then starts raving about sinister brownies or some shit like that. It’s really weird, and I’m still not sure why Suvir gets to get mad at Hugh, but it is what it is – reunion fodder.
Time for Critics’ Table! (Oh, FYI, the desserts were obviously not notable because they don’t get introduced and we get a shot of someone munching on it, but that’s it. Weird.) All the teams came in under calories (significantly, which is awesome), but it’s the Team Blue for the win. They had the strongest dishes overall with Naomi’s French toast, Floyd’s meatballs and George’s pizza. Naomi cries some more about what an HONOR it was to cook for these people, and I continue not to get it. Thank goodness Floyd’s meatball wins the day, or she might have had some kind of nervous breakdown.
Reason #13 Her emotions are all wackadoodle.
The winners head out and the bottoms head in – Mary Sue, Suvir and Alex. I hate seeing Mary Sue in the bottom – she’s too pretty for that. Apparently her hash wasn’t hashy enough and her egg wasn’t eggy enough, so that’s why she’s here. Seriously, her egg needed to be runnier and her hash didn’t look enough like hash. Alex’s chicken (supposedly) was too dry, and his cornbread was a rock on the plate. He admits to forgetting to put applesauce in the cornbread to make it lighter, but that’s the only inch he really gives. The real star of the show is Suvir, who openly admits that he had the difficult position of needing to give Irene something she wouldn’t like in order to make a statement. The statement apparently was that meat is poison to those trying to lose weight and that we have a PANdemic of obesity in our country. Stonecoldfox respectfully argues that he’s also studied nutrition and there’s no research that paints eating meat as the real villain at fault for the EPIdemic of obesity in America.
Seriously. We may be fat, but it’s a fucking recession, and as much as I would like to eat filet mignon for dinner every night, it’s not really in my budget. Munchos Potato Crisps on the other hand… After the chef’s step out, the Critic’s hash it out, so to speak. Alex’s creamed corn gets slammed for having the consistency of baby food and for being too sweet… and obviously for tasting like fucking creamed corn. When Grubstreet Guy brings up the fact that Hannah cleaned her plate, Oseland pats his chin and mumurs that he was “perplexed by that.” Yeeesh. He refers to Suvir’s use of pita as “unamazing” and I want to slap him in the face. That’s pretty much all of import that happens there, aside from the judges wanting Mary Sue to step it up a notch.
Hey, she has a very important dinner party in Orange County this weekend. Lay off.
In the end, Suvir gets the boot, either because he’s crazy or because he openly refused to make Irene what she wanted. Hugh isn’t sorry to see him go, but I am. As nutty as he left us, I can get behind a man who goes on “Top Chef Masters” without the most competitive spirit, but instead uses the time on television to make a point and have fun. Suvir, you refreshed us all. Well, maybe not Hugh, but you can’t win’em all.