Last week’s episode focused on the masses and the need for widely appealing comfort food at TGIF Restaurants — deep fried something with an annoyingly cutesy name. The challenge saw the ouster of ultra salty, kiddie-hating, nearly translucent Emily. Tears were shed for the sunshine of the bunch, leaving the rest of the chefs missing her pleasant disposition and knock-knock jokes. Yeah, sure…
Good thing Emily got the boot last week, because I’m afraid what would have happened if she had to cook at Fat Camp, uh, I mean Camp Glucose, to feed even more of those pesky kids — those metabolically challenged children — as they like to say over at Fat Ca— shoot, uh, not again, I mean Camp Glucose. One would assume that this week would focus on the gourmet side of the culinary arts, since last week the chefs whipped up some ice cream and hearty, comfort dishes for TGIF… but the reality gods — or just some highly paid suits — threw another twist our way bringing sugary sweet Betty’s persona to a whole new level and making diabetes cool again (or maybe for the first time)… onto the show!
Top Chef opens with the usual scene: groggy, half-dressed chefs, some naaaasty feet, Betty doing squats?? Wait, that’s a new one… ah, but then we see Michael. Poor guy isn’t feeling well – maybe he’s coming down with something, or maybe he caught what Mia had a couple of episodes back… oh wait, it’s Michael. His not feeling well = one big a** hangover.
I love when people pretend that they’ve just come down with something, conveniently following a night of 10 rum and cokes, 2 woo woo shots, 1 mind eraser and three karaoke songs, one being a crowd-moving rendition of the Spice Girls’ classic “If you want to be my lover…” five Dominos pizza slices at 4 AM… but yeah, you probably caught the stomach bug that’s going around. Hope you feel better!
Now get ready: button up your smocks and throw your hair in a net, it’s Quickfire Challenge Time! This week’s guest judge, Suzanne Goin, explains: this is a challenge where attention to detail (hahem, Michael, that’s directed to you buddy, attention to detail=no beer) is needed to make an amuse bouche. Upon hearing this, my ears perked and eyes widened. Niiice, Bravo, very risqué. How are the chefs going to pull this off? Half of them look like they haven’t gotten laid in months! Other than edible undies, what can they do for this challenge? I hope the chefs are wearing their creative, yet comfortable, work shoes today. Woohhhooo, I cannot wait for the judges’ table.
Oh … wait… amuse bouche means to literally amuse your palette. Oooooooooh. I guess this is Bravo, not Skinamax. All excitement isn’t lost in translation though, the chefs have to amuse their palettes with something out of the…the dreadful machine of common-folk where a combination of letters and numbers release sugary fake goodness loaded with artificial coloring and flavor… the VENDING MACHINE!
These are my favorite challenges because I love seeing the chefs getting SO pissed off and sinking to my level of cooking. How many times I have come home, ravenously hungry after a long day of sitting at my desk, ready for dinner, only to find a fun-size snicker bar, 2 slices of that yellow cheese food and 4 saltines? Now that’s what I call a meal!
I love seeing the chefs mope around, complaining because they can’t show off their “real” skills, but mostly, I love seeing what they do with it – these guys turn out some high-class stuff! It’s pretty amazing what they create… I have no idea what it takes to make a kick ass leg of lamb in a reduced brandy wine sauce with broccoli rabe and shallots, but I do know that it takes SKILL to make a delicious meal out of pretzels, fake cheese, and yogurt.
The chefs are given a roll of quarters and their shopping begins! Marcel is upset once he finds that there are no oysters in the vending machines. Yup, imagine that… no shellfish in a freakin’ machine. What is Marcel to do?? Marcel looks with amazement at this machine. How does it work he wonders…
And what? No beer? How is Michael supposed to stop shaking long enough to slice his snickers and cheetos? Michael’s pissed! He said it’s because he had to go last at the vending machines, but we all know it’s the lack of alcohol that’s setting off his rage.
Wait, Marissa just got a chicken Caesar salad… I didn’t know they had the Cadillac of vending machines; maybe Marcel will get his oysters. What falls out next, J-12 a New York Strip Steak?
They seemed to breeze by each chef at a faster pace than usual. Most chefs made an unbelievable dish from their limited resources. By Most, I mean everyone but Michael. He ate a Snickers bar, left a bite, and dug a hole for a Cheeto… a very phallic dish, maybe the whole amuse bouche thing misled him too.
Amuse your bouche
Not surprisingly, Michael and Mia are in the bottom two. Mia made a dessert and there was nothing sexy about it, so she just really F’d up. Michael just wanted the day to end so he could grab a drink… who can blame the guy?
Frank, Carlos, and Ilan are the top three, with the winner being… Carlos!
Carlos is safe for the Elimination Challenge, which turns out to be a team challenge. Everyone pulling knives are hoping that they’re not on Carlos’ team. I’m making my prediction for the final two right here and now: Ilan and Cliff. Come on boys, come through for me! I’m already 1 for 1 on my prediction that Marcel would be the big a-hole of the season, and he has not failed me. Don’t fail me now!
For the team challenge, I am hoping, HOPING that Betty and Marcel are together and Josie and Michael (they clashed when members of Team Vietnam). I wonder if there’s a producer under the table rigging knives for optimum tension and catty fights, I hope so! Please, please, pretty please, Marcel and Betty pick the same color, puh-lease! YES! Betty and Marcel are teammates! Not Josie and Michael though, oh well, 1 for 2… and I’d much rather have this match-up. No complaints here.
With this all-hate team match-up, we have Marcel calling Betty his “arch-nemesis.” Marcel – you can only have an arch-nemesis if 1) you are a superhero or supervillian; or 2) you’re a super cool guy… and unless you can boil water with your hands or slice onions with your laser vision, you my sir, are neither! Maybe he fits into supervillian because, seriously, how can you hate the sweetest person on the show? Consider me in Camp Betty.
The four teams: Black (how appropriate, as in the teammates’ feelings for each other, consists of Betty, Marcel and Frank); Red (Marisa, Mia and Michael); White (Josie, Ilan and Elia); Orange (Carlos, Cliff and Sam); have to make an entrée, side dish and dessert that does not exceed 500 calories for kids at Camp Glucose. Whoa, now if that camp name doesn’t illicit excitement from youths across the nation, I don’t know what would?? They do have cross camp promotions with Camp Dictionary and Math Club Safari across the lake. Woohoo. Sign me up!
Back to the challenge: I can’t imagine that a bunch of kids, holed up eating carrot sticks could be critical judges… well, even food-LOVING kids can be picky I guess. The teams go shopping and Sam says that because he suffers from diabetes, he has an advantage because he is always mindful of sugar content and of what he eats. Score one for diabetes! Sam’s team will definitely have the edge.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now have the much-anticipated bout between top chef contenders, Betty and Marcel…ding, ding, ding! Round 1 goes to… Betty. Although it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as I was hoping, Marcel didn’t disappoint with his lunacy. He wanted to find some nice asparagus and proscuitto for the kids… does he have a short-term memory? Did he not learn anything from the ice cream challenge? Don’t make kids try adult food with funny names and weird coloring. No avocado and bacon ice cream and no asparagus and proscuitto for the hungry kids! Betty put him in his place and his idea was squashed immediately. Phew. Thank goodness for my sweet Betty.
I’ll get you next time my sweet, next time…moowhoohaHA!
In the kitchen, each team has a nutritionist who counts calories to ensure they are within the 500 limit. This is when I realized that Josie must go. Now. We haven’t seen too much of her yet this season, but I can tell you that I have heard ENOUGH of her laugh. I can’t take it. She either has to pack her knifes or zip it. Man, it drives me nuts.
Over at the Black Team, they are making a kid-favorite: pizza. Good choice, however, Betty is having some problems with her cookies. All the egg whites aren’t making her cookies firm enough or something like that. They look like cookie turds on a baking sheet. Then Marisa, condescending as ever, chimes in that pastry making is a “science” and that molecular structure, blah, blah, blah… why didn’t Marisa and Marcel go to MIT to study the molecular biology and gastroanatomy and dietology of nutritional science? Oh yeah, because they’re full of crap, that’s why.
The Red Teams’ menu sounds good: chicken and chocolate cake…these kids are going to freak for chocolate cake. Michael says he has a “little bit to prove” in this challenge. Little bit? That’s like Britney Spears saying she just needs to tweak her image a smidge and chew a little less gum. Good luck Michael, I’m rooting for you! He’s got to stay – he’s making this second season so freakin’ good.
The White team has the least calories with chicken parmesan, lasagna, and fruit pie, while the Orange team provides the least exciting menu with turkey meatballs, corn and smoothies. Carlos chimes in that the kids have to “learn how to eat smoothies”. I want to see that lesson because I, like the children, only know how to drink smoothies… maybe I’m missing something there. Show me the way Carlos!
No one’s fighting. Not even Marcel and Betty. Could this crop really be professional? Come on… are these passive-aggressive chefs just wait for the judges’ table? That’s no way to play in a reality competition. As the chefs head to their make-shift home for the evening, Betty’s cookies aren’t faring too well. There’s always tomorrow…
Day Two was all about the honor system. Is that phrase allowed in reality tv?? I don’t know if any other show has used it… very foreign concept, we’ll see how well it’s implemented. Just as the producers desired, squeeze bottles of olive oil were somehow emptying and then Otto busted through the door with a case of lychees! He was forcing the chefs to use his high-caloric lychees in their dishes! No, Otto, no! Marissa then sunk to the corner, sobbing, “No lychees, puhleease, Otto, no more lycheeeeeeeeeeeees, I have integrity…” Ok, no Otto and no lychees. I just missed using the word “lychee”… and “Otto”… especially in the same sentence.
Betty was remaking her failed cookies and miraculously, they came out perfectly the second time around. Could it be our sweet Betty is bending the rules? Not sweet, sweet Betty. Marcel must have poured in sugar and egg yolks while she went to feed the homeless family on the corner.
Although, off-camera accusations were flying around, no one spoke up or accused anyone in the kitchen about adding calories to their already counted meals. Off to Fat Camp!
Over at Camp Glucose, we see all the camp has to offer: a murky pond, a couple of nets… no Doritos, no ice cream, awesome! The teams present their menus in an attempt to woo the kids and their votes. I don’t know why they just don’t tell the kids that their meal tastes exactly like cotton candy and they’re really cool. Why not? Take the cue from big tobacco firms — kids are impressionable and will believe anything, just tell them your food will make them cool!
Josie scared the kids, Michael unsuccessfully tried to get the wave going – these kids want to eat, Mike, they don’t want to do the freakin’ wave. Now I have a face to the a-hole that starts the wave at every Red Sox game I’m at… I always wonder who starts that annoying tradition. Be warned, there are red-faced Michaels everywhere, eight beers deep, starting the wave in stadiums nationwide.
Most of the kids pick the Black Team and their pizza, that’s a shocker. However, Sam, the “hot diabetic”, gains style points from all the giggling girls! Score another for diabetes… Sam is working it! Let’s face it, anything’s going to taste good to these kids after a week of Slim Fast shakes and stryofoam cookies.
But wait, even the eager kids are dissing the fruit smoothies – whoa, they must be bad. Not good for the Orange Team – I guess Captain Diabetic hotness turned them on, but couldn’t turn their taste buds off. Overall, the kids seem pleased. The judges question the kids on their favorite dish, favorite dessert and who they think the hottest chef is, giggle giggle.
Hmmm, mmm, shake it Captain!
After dinner, the kids got to play a little soccer with the wannabe top chefs. There, Marcel tries to make up for the wedgies he used to get in gym class by showing off his true athletic ability. You know, the ability to accurately kick a soccer ball in someone’s face. Nice one Marcel. Stop trying to show off — especially in a chef coat and over-moussed hair – you just look like a clumsy hobbit.
After the titillating soccer match, we head to the Judges’ Table. Padma nearly cures the obesity epidemic that is plaguing the nation by revealing that it’s EASY to make things taste good with fatty ingredients, but it’s hard to make healthy things taste good. OOhhh! If we could only make healthy food taste like big-macs…what a svelte nation we would be…
The standout dishes are the pizza (black team) and cheesecake (white team). The judges agree that pizza was just a smart idea. Maybe kids should start having pizza party birthdays and families should get pizza delivered on nights when mom doesn’t feel like cooking?? The Black Team wins the challenge because of Frank’s brilliant pizza plan. That means our beloved Betty wins, even while working along side the dreaded Marcel.
Onto the losers: the Orange and Red Teams are called to the Table. Duh, duh, duh…
Rev up the engine, stretch out those arms, because someone’s going under the bus! Mia & crew were told that their chicken had no flavor. Michael insists he wants to be there, defending his crazy behavior — Mia stands up for him. How lovely.
Captain Diabetes & crew are criticized for their crappy smoothie… and then, we have it, it’s coming… not another scandal…no, please…don’t go there Sam…ugh, he went there, and in the worst way too. The “you’re not hearing it from me, but you’re hearing it from me” routine.
Sam reveals that on Day 2, there were squeeze bottles of olive oil all along the line and people were squeezing it EVERYWHERE! At each other, up their noses – Marisa even deep-conditioned her hair — Marcel and Betty brought it to the ring and oil wrestled – oh, wait, I think he means in their dishes. We may never know because Sam stopped short of naming names. WHAT? Why bring it up then? oh wait, someone else is willing to step in and name names in order to save her little butt… Mia!
Mia tells the judges that Betty used sugar, not splenda in her cookies! At this, Padma’s eyes bulged so far out of their sockets; I could have sworn that Mia accused Betty of putting crack in the fat kids’ food. What’s up Mia, why are you messing with sweet Betty?? She won — you’re supposed to blame your own team and their shortcomings at this stage of the show.
Chef Colicchio was stumped! What are the Judges to do? More cheating?!? What has Top Chef come to – a lying, lychee-stealing, fryolater tampering, olive oil squirting disaster!? Thank god there’s a voice of reason in all of this in the form of Chef Colicchio… he calls out all the chefs who tattled at the last second, wondering why they don’t speak up when/if they see someone cheating… oh, he’ll show ‘em – the chefs are getting a special visit by the Man, and he is P-I-S-S-E-D.
Colicchio busts into the waiting area and he gives him a piece of his mind! Betty breaks down and admits that she did add sugar on the second day, but only because they had extra calories to work with and she didn’t think she was breaking the rules. Of course she wasn’t knowingly breaking the rules — this is BETTY we’re talking about. The sweetest chef on earth, with the sweetest name to boot — and what am I hearing, Marcel is even sticking up for her too??? Marcel could be seeking redemption and may even be entering my good graces…
What is happening at Top Chef? This is Bizzaro Top Chef. Chef Colicchio is still visibly confused – put your foot down, stop this nonsense Chef! And this he does…by telling them that what?
He tells them that they’re all staying… that’ll show them! They’re all on Top Chef Probation. I don’t know what that is, but I’m hoping that they have to slice loads of onions in a very small, unventilated room next week.
You’re all GROUNDED!
And with this, the chefs are back at home, going over the happenings of the day. Marisa accuses Mia of being “hypnocritical”. Yes, look at me closely, you are getting sleepy… very sleepy… at the count of ten, you will wake up and say one thing, but do the exact opposite…SNAP… pretty cool trick!
What do you think? Come on chefs, grow some balls and stop tattle-taling at the final hour! Should they have sent someone home? Do you think Betty knowingly cheated?