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Every time my Aunt Kayla and Uncle Bruce show up to a family get-together, they’re fighting. It gets pretty nasty, but the barbs they trade are so hilarious, we just all roll our eyes and figure there’s someone for everyone. Well, on Valentine’s day two years ago, Uncle Bruce got home an hour late from work, and Aunt Kayla was waiting for him with a bottle of Dom Perignon. Held over her head. As he walked through the door, she called him a cheating sumbitch and crashed the bottle down on him. Hard.
They often laugh about that night, but Uncle Bruce can still only move half his face and no one invites them over anymore because it’s just awkward. Everyone can get behind name calling and public bickering as long as it amuses, but there are some lines you just don’t cross.
This week, Top Chef taught us karma’s a bitch, if you have an unflattering head don’t shave it, and sometimes its better to let sleeping monkeys lie.This is the last episode before the two-part finale, and the five remaining Chefs are feeling the pressure. Sam says he really wants to go to Hawaii, and he doesn’t need to step on anyone to get there. Instead, he’ll goad and prod everyone else into stepping on themselves and then each other.
Elia doesn’t need yoga to center herself this morning, because she has a new gay roomie/bff to giggle and wear sunglasses indoors with. Ilan has moved in with her because she was feeling lonely without Mia and Betty. He asked for spare change and talked to her like she was five until she felt better, then they linked pinkies and played with each other’s hair.
Odd pair for me, because these days I am lovin’ me some Elia and hatin’ me some Ilan. But I will suspend my inner biatch and hope Ilan has matured and grown after making a complete ass of himself two episodes in a row. My hopes crash and burn when he shuffles out of the bedroom talking like a five year old. Maybe he sensed he had become unlikeable and tried to give us a sweeter taste of himself, but the results of his little personality makeover are so irritating I had to post a clip.
Today’s Guest Judge is Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York City. Cliff wets himself over this “demi-god”, and when Chef Ripert lets out his thick French accent, I am equally intimidated. I defer to anyone with a strong French accent, as I’ve never met a French person that wasn’t smarter than me and better than me in every way. Ripert is a flirty one, but I can’t figure out who he’s giving these looks to.
Today’s Quickfire will revolve around making a savory or a sweet dish featuring this week’s sponsor, the NESTLE CHOCOLATIER BAR!! As Padma takes off her shirt and whips her hair around, she explains to us that eating is a very sensual experience, and part of this challenge is to make food that not only tastes good but is extremely sexy. You know, like the NESTLE CHOCOLATIER BAR! Mmmm, Nestle, you’ve done it again. I am soooo hot right now.
And…I’m back. Most of the Chefs did pretty well with this challenge. Guest Judge Ripert was impressed with the earthiness of Marcel’s potato cannellonis with coffee whipped cream and chocolate mousse. He is surprised that the potato went so well with chocolate. Silly Frenchie, you’ve obviously never dipped a Freedom Fry in your Frosty. On a side note: I am impressed that Marcel was able to give up his security blankey (Monkey Spit Foam), but like most addicts, he has replaced one obsession with another. Enter The Tear of a Clown. Every dish from now on will have this single drip down it’s face to remind us that monkeys have feelings too. Hear me, HATERS?
Ripert also took a liking to Cliff’s braised chicken with mole sauce and potatoes, but he didn’t understand what was sexy about it and said he expected a little more originality. Elia made two dishes for this challenge and the first one, poached chicken with chocolate sauce, bombed. She called her sauce mole, but Ripert thought it looked like a jar of chocolate syrup fell on a perfectly good piece of chicken in the fridge and ruined it. She tried to play the “Mexican Heritage” card, but Ripert counters that no Country endorses chicken sundaes, which I’ll file under “sad but true”. Her second dish, “The Kiss”, went over much better. Ripert called her ginger and chocolate creameaux with strawberry crumble “perfection”, saying she would have won if she had just ditched the bird.
He really hated Ilan’s dish. He doesn’t understand why in hell someone would try to make a chocolate ganache with chicken liver inside, and says that something like this should never be served, “for example, in a restaurant”. LOL, Ripert.
It was a close race for all but Baby Aiken-John, but in the end, flirty Ripert chooses Sam’s shrimp and banana with a trio of chocolate chipotle*, black bean, and cilantro pesto sauces. The chocolate was only used in one sauce, but balanced the whole dish and brought all the other ingredients together. He doesn’t even blush when he says he finds Sam’s banana suprising. I guess we know who the flirty looks were directed at.
The passion will intensify at the next night’s Elimination Challenge, where each Chef will prepare one course of a romantic dinner for “celebrating couples” in Santa Barbara. Oh, no. Every “real” person this show has hired has been a little too “real”, if you know what I’m saying. Picturing them all coupled up and snogging makes me lose my appetite. And…(doorbell)….it’s back.
Since Sam won the Quickfire, he gets first dibs on course order. To sweeten the deal, whichever proteins he uses can’t be used again through the entire meal. The editing gets weird here. It makes it look like Sam is within earshot of Marcel’s lobster soup brainstorm with Elia right before he announces he’ll be doing the first course, and he’ll be using lobster. Coincidence or dick move?
Marcel doesn’t smell a rat. He’s still giddy as a schoolgirl and settles on salmon with beets, but when he gets to the veggie aisle, guess who slides in right next to him to choose his own beets? The monkey is firm on this one. He’s not changing his veggies, too. If Sam wants to use beets as a weapon, Marcel will pull out his sword. And it’s on. The Monkey and The Surprising Banana go head to head in the first ever televised Beet-Off.
No one wants to do dessert, but Sam tells Elia that if she does it, the Judges will probably commend her for taking on something no one wants to do. That’s a load of crap, but Elia stupidly takes his advice. She decides to make almost the exact same “Kiss” from the Quickfire but this time shaped like a heart and with mint creameaux. Like my PawPaw always said, if it ain’t broke, break it.
Sam drones on into the camera telling us Marcel’s decision to use beets is silly, playing it off like Marcel’s stealing his idea, but that’s not how we just saw it play out on camera. Marcel’s too busy aggravating Cliff to give it another thought. He cuts in at the sink to wash his veggies, and Cliff stands behind him with an empty bowl and a pissy face. Dude, you were just doing something else while your stuff sat in the sink. Go back to that for a sec. Thankfully, Ilan keeps his nose at the grind stone and his mouth shut during all of this. I’m annoyed enough as it is.
Sam asks Marcel if he will have time to help plate his dish and Marcel says he won’t. He is also turned down by Elia, but of course he only takes issue with MC Monkey Shines. As I recall, Sam refused to help Marcel in the Deadly Sins Challenge after the monkey served for him, but who’s keeping score? The drama was silly, because as usual Sam’s dish didn’t need any help. He’s a bitch ass, but the bitch ass can cook. His lobster, scallop and beet was gorgeous and tasty. Gail called it a perfect start and enjoyed the wine Sam paired it with. One woman, who was there for her seventh (or eighth, depending on who you ask) anniversary, said she doesn’t usually like raw fish, but this was “really, really just as good”. If that’s not a winning revue I don’t know what is.
Back in the kitchen, the monkey is learning a thing or two about karma. Ilan is second course, and he’s taking up almost the entire stovetop. This leaves Marcel with one burner to cook his salmon on, and to make it worse, no one will work for him because he wouldn’t work for them. He asks Cliff for help and I crack up. As the cherry on top (virgin humor rocks), half of Marcel’s salmon slips out of the oven onto the floor. Ruh-roh.
Ilan’s fideos with clams and saffron comes out second and does pretty well. One pair just chews and smiles, while another couple calls it “unique”. Funny, that’s what I was thinking about them. Even Johnnie Cochran even gives it the old “a-ok”.
The Judges like the crunchy texture and the saltiness of the clams, and Padma is smiling ear to ear at the large portion. Things all worked out in the kitchen, too. Marcel cut his salmon in half to compensate for his spill and when it came down to the wire, Sam and Ilan helped him plate. Aw. Sam says he wanted to be a jerk to Marcel, but he’s just not that guy. Right now. Still, it’s more than the monkey probably deserved, and it warmed my heart. This is the third seafood dish in a row, which I thought would get Marcel in trouble, but it was a good plan not to choose chicken again. One very un-romantic thing when getting naked after your couple celebration is shooting from both ends after eating heart-shaped salmonella.
Daddy Tom thought the salmon lacked acidity, but Ripert thought the citrus in the wine brought what was missing. Again, wine makes it all OK. Yay, wine!
Cliff says to him, romance means “fatty and sensual”. Stop trying to make me like you, Cliff! Marcel sums up the sirloin as Cliff’s usual safe choice. He thinks Cliff will sit back and hope someone screws up badly enough that it takes the Judges’ minds off realizing his dish isn’t even relevant to the task at hand. Then he pops his gum, snaps, and sprays his hair with liquid pomade. The Judges aren’t much kinder to Cliff’s steak. They try to trade with each other to get a piece cooked to their liking. Daddy Tom doesn’t get why the lentils are pureed and calls the greens “worthless”. Ripert concurs with a single “strange”. He compares it to hotel food, and everyone agrees.
In the kitchen, Elia is losin’ it. Her chocolate hearts are proving difficult to peel off the pan, leaving her a bundle of nerves, and I secretly hope she just melts the hearts and covers her face with them. Sam comes to her rescue and breaks the hearts up, but she says she doesn’t care anymore and literally throws in her towel. Outside, she dramatizes to her new tipsy GBFF, saying this is the first time she wasn’t happy with something she sent out. Really? So you’re still stickin’ by the unseasoned, uncleaned kidney from the Offal Challenge, huh? Oh, Elia. Learn the lesson of the little train who couldn’t, Suyai. If you don’t like you, we won’t like you. Now you can like yourself and we may still not like you, but you’re on our good side so far. Don’t fuck it up now.
The guests loved her “Kiss”, but Daddy Tom was bitchy about the missing chocolate hearts, and says that he didn’t feel the romance in the dinner at all. Padma disagrees, saying the dessert in particular was very romantic. If Tom was about forty years older, she would have made out with him right there at the table. Ripert and Gail were both pretty impressed that there wasn’t one blunder. This was the time for the Chefs to prove themselves, and they had done a great job.
The Chefs agree, and celebrate by taking a video camera back to the loft and getting wasted. Elia says they should all shave their heads, and Sam says she’s bluffing. If she shaves her head he will shave his. Then Ilan says if Elia does it he will too. Elia takes the clippers and starts going, and Ilan follows through. Sam says they’re insane and there’s no way he’s giving up his little girl comb headbands. Now here’s where it gets ugly. If you everyone shaves their heads, it’s a statement of solidarity. If no one else does, you’re just two losers who got drunk and shaved their heads. Not to mention you’ve let Sam become that much more attractive than you, and he’s already kinda kickin’ your asses here. Elia looks like a little boy from Schindler’s list and Ilan looks like a pockmarked lesbian. Oy. It gets worse.
Elia (still not realizing Sam has pussied out) says it will be hilarious when they all have shaved heads and Marcel still has the bouffant. When did she turn against Marcel? Did I miss something? Has she chosen her new GBFF over her old asexual one? Cliff says they should shave Marcel’s head, which everyone laughs at. He takes that as a green light to tackle Marcel while he sleeps. He wrestles the traumatized monkey to the ground while Ilan screams for Elia to hurry with the clippers. She won’t come. Sam sits on the couch laughing while Cliff holds Marcel facedown on the carpet for what is turning out to be no reason. What happened to Cliff? He went from being the most talented, most likely winner to being an arrogant, abusive frat boy.
The clippers never arrive. Finally, Marcel untangles himself from Cliff and furiously skulks off to sleep on the bathroom floor. (sad horns)
I wish there were awkward shots of Ilan drunkenly trying to pee later, or Sam fixing his headband while Marcel cries on the tiles. As Marcel storms off, he passes by Elia, who is crumpled on the floor in fetal position. Looks like she learned a lesson today. Can’t pick the wrong fag, hag.** Your shit will go all wrong.
Wait a second. Elia still has all her hair in this shot. What the hell? I checked the TVgasm forums on this one, and they are abuzz with conspiracy. For the full scoop, check out this article. (thanks, doriangz!). Looks like they all ganged up on Marcel to shave his head first, then shaved their own to cover their asses. I have to wonder why the hell it isn’t portrayed honestly. So we wouldn’t all hate the only remaining contestants? Too late, a holes. Anyway, back to “reality”. Sam, figuring everyone else is as wishy-washy with their word as him, somberly says he didn’t think Cliff was actually gonna do it and it was an uncomfortable situation for all involved.
He tells Ilan to follow Marcel with the camera, but Marcel brings out his inner Sean Penn, attacking the camera and screaming “Get out!!!!!!!!” I wish I could have been there to throw a punch. Ilan smells like feet. I just know it. This immaturity has risen to an unacceptable level even for me, and that’s saying something. Daddy Tom is there first thing in the morning to dole out punishment. He says that by using physical aggression on another contestant, Cliff broke the rules. Is he gonna have to sleep outside in a tent? Sorry, wrong show. Is he gonna have to do a love scene with a gay model? Sorry wrong show again (but that would be awesome). “Gonna have to ask you to pack up your knives and go.”
WOOOAAAAHHHHHHH. Have to say. Wasn’t expecting this. What is this now? Two resignations and one premature ouster? Damn. If I was on this show I wouldn’t even bother to cook anything. Chances are someone will quit or get fired before anyone realizes I suck. Cliff looks at Daddy Tom like he’s gonna argue, but he (finally) takes the higher path and shuts up instead of pulling out another headlock. Poor big, strong Cliff. You made your bed, now burn in it.
As Daddy Tom addresses the rest of the Chefs, Elia makes a remorseful moustache face and Ilan imagines he has the cheekbones and chin dimple to make his shaved head work.
No one here is innocent. Sam egged the situation on, Ilan cheered and filmed it, and Elia giggled and did (crumpling on the floor in remorse after the deed is done doesn’t count) NOTHING. I have pretty much lost my respect for all of them at this point. Well, I guess I never had “respect” for them, but at least they were good for a couple of giggles. Now, they have reduced themselves into sad, dirty children I can’t love. Bump this ballad shit.
The Judges are with me. When Daddy Tom relays to them what happened, they don’t shed any tears for Cliff. He’s talented, but his top sirloin was the least favorite dish and he most likely would have been sent packing anyway. I would have liked to see Cliff chopped for sucky food instead of for going all Ike Turner on the monkey, but I’ll take what I can get. As for the rest of them, we’re pretty much stuck. Note to BRAVO: You take pride in serving up reality shows that focus on talent and skill. Please go back to that. I am already shallow and childish. You’re just making it worse.
When the Judges bring the Chefs in for answers, Ilan tries the binge-drinking defense, forcing Padma to remind them all that she was drunk when she married a ninety year old, but she still has to make out with him. Ilan concedes. Marcel gloats like he won a stuffed animal at a county fair as he listens to the Abusers get schooled. Sam nods along like he completely agrees with the Judges’ disapproval even though he pretty much instigated all of this, and Elia lets her Spockian ears do all the apologizing for her. Eventually the food has to be addressed. Padma says that even though they are a bunch of idiots, the meal overall was the best they’d prepared the entire competition. Gail agrees. She doesn’t go on a rampage about one thing. After all, she works for Food and Wine, and both of those areas were explored and exploited beautifully in this challenge. Guest Judge Ripert mentioned the lacking acidity in Marcel’s salmon, but instead of claiming the wine as his citrus supplement, Marcel says he nixed a lemon squirt last second, and that could have been a bad choice. Padma brings up Daddy Tom’s problem with the missing chocolate hearts, but Elia criticizes herself incessantly before the Judges get the chance to. If she had just done it all differently! STUPID! Ripert loved it and Daddy Tom says he expected more in five hours, but the flavors were there.
When the Judges are alone, Gail says that if Cliff was there, he probably would have been sent home, so the question is do the remaining Chefs all deserve to stay? The answers are mixed. Sam’s scallop and Ilan’s fideos were the favorites all around, but even though Gail found Marcel’s salmon “edible” (I wish the salmon was a movie, so that could be quoted on the poster), everyone else thought it was boring. There isn’t much love for Elia’s “Kiss” either. Judge Ripert says “for me I didn’t like it so much.” Hello? You just praised it a second ago. I think they are taking too long to film these segments. The Judges can’t remember what they liked and what they didn’t. Daddy Tom suggests Marcel and Elia both be sent home, but Padma sticks up for the monkey, saying she is curious to see what he will do if given the chance. Spit foam tears? You know it’s coming, people.
Tom rags on Elia for doing dessert. What would inspire her to do a fluff piece at this point in the game?
Sam and Ilan are congratulated and passed on to the final round, but Marcel and Elia are asked to pack their knives….for Hawaii!! All four will be moving on. And even though I hate them right now, I have to admit I am excited to see how much lower these fools can sink. Not to mention Beach Challenge = Padma Costuming Nightmare, and there’s nothing like a camp cocktail to heal the bruises left by this episode.
So what do you think, dear Readers? Do any of these children deserve your love? Did Cliff deserve to get axed? Will Marcel finally make a friend in Hawaii?
*Thanks for the chipotle, dredge.
**The word fag was not used to offend the gay community. “Fag hag” is a term I hold near and dear, and until someone comes up with a more socially acceptable simile, you’ll have forgive me. PS, I’m a big fag.