This week on Top Chef, I’m forced to reconsider all my previous assumptions as Nikki almost wins and Yoda almost goes home. Oy.
Due to popular demand, I hereby dub thee FLEASA
It’s morning in the Top Chef house, and Yoda tells us that it’s starting to sink in for her that people are actually being eliminated and going home. Thanks for joining us, babe. Antonia, meanwhile, is all piss and vinegar, saying that she’s done fucking around and is in this to win it. In direct contrast, Mutton’s all positive about his success so far and merely hopes it continues. I just hope I never have to watch his moobs jiggle again.
Time for the Quick Fire. The guest judge is Oprah’s personal chef, Art Smith. Glad to see she lets him off his leash once in a while to roam free. He’s also the chef and owner of Table 52, and a big fan of healthy and simple dishes. The one thing you learn about working for Oprah is that you don’t fuck around with the most influential woman in the world. When she wants to be fed, you feed her no matter how short the timeframe. Accordingly, this week’s QF is to make a gourmet meal in only 15 minutes, using 90-second microwaveable rice as a crutch.
Scar yells go, and all hell breaks loose. People are running full speed, shouting “behind”, which if you’ve ever worked in a kitchen or waited tables you know is a necessity to keep yourself from being clubbed in the head as you duck around someone. I once saw someone get hit in the face with a sizzling fajita skillet for failing to shout “behind”. I don’t know which was worse — the scar left on that girl’s face or the lingering smell of scorched flesh.
OMG is that water?! RUUUUUUN!
Anyway, everyone manages to gather their ingredients without setting Evangelass (my readers are the best!) on fire or at least getting in a quick stab wound. Very disappointing. Dale’s making fried rice because he thinks it’s a quick, easy Asian dish. But not quite so healthy. Yoda is throwing together a whole slew of ingredients into a seafood pancake, having no idea how the thing is going to turn out. Evangelass is going Greek with stuffed peppers and tomatoes, whereas Antonia is making a rice salad that she swears is better than it sounds. Shouldn’t be too difficult.
Richard’s freaking out a bit, since his style is more methodical than this challenge allows. It takes time to think up those witty puns, dammit. That doesn’t stop him from criticizing the other contestants, of course, as he comments that some people are so focused on the time element that they’re failing to do a taste test, which is just flirting with disaster. Not Mutton, though. I’m sure he’s already dipped a licked spoon, fork, finger, and other various appendages into his dish. LOL, okay I swear I paused my TiVo to type that, hit play, and then seconds later we see Mutton stick a spoon in his mouth and then right back in the bowl. Too perfect.
Scar calls time, and she and Art begin evaluations with Antonia. Her rice salad actually looks decent, but that may be because I’m eyeing the steak she’s serving with it. Mmm, meat. Art says he likes her combination of hot and cold before moving on to Nikki’s veggie fried rice. It looks like the same fried rice I pay $6.99 for down the street. Which is some fucking awesome fried rice, but I don’t think they’re going on Top Chef anytime soon. Art calls is a comfort food, which is so a euphemism for “Make’s Oprah’s ass fat… next!”
No, really, I’ve asked her myself. Not gay.
Richard’s gone with tuna steak and tomatoes over rice, which Art absolutely adores. Turning to Yoda’s seafood pancakes, Art calls them clever, but doesn’t really comment on the texture or taste. Don’t think that’s going to good enough to finally break into the top three, doll. What is probably good enough is Evangelass’s stuffed veggies, which Art heavily praises. Fleasa’s made a heap of rice and veggies with shrimp, and Art compliments her for being smart enough to use lime as an acid, rather than just over-salting.
Dale’s up next with his pineapple fried rice and grilled scallops, which gets a fair reception and look amazing to me. Mutton, meanwhile, is coming late to the miso party we saw earlier in the season, and is offering spitty miso-glazed turkey over rice. Yeah, that’s one party he should have skipped as Art and Scar complain about the lack of sauce and the dryness of the meat — so dry that Scar can’t even tell what kind of meat it is! Oh, Scar, you minx, pretending you’re not used to old, dried-up meat. Bringing up the rear is Twitch (whom I don’t hate, to answer a reader’s question… his jerky awkwardness just makes me uncomfortable, and Evangelass brings out his douchey side), with a wild rice crusted fish with almonds. It looks awesome and is totally something I would eat. Art seems impressed with the creativity, but believes Twitch needed more than 15 minutes to get it right.
The results are in, and Art picks Mutton, Yoda (ouch!), and Fleasa as his bottom three. In the top are Dale and Richard (aka double trouble), as well as Antonia — who wins immunity. Antonia’s such a wild card… she swings from the very best to the very worst, depending on the week. Not only does she annoy me as a person, but I think I’d rather see someone stick around who gets consistent B+’s than someone who fluctuates from A’s to D’s. What about you?
Whaddya think Jeff… club her in the knees?
Sounds good, Tonya.
Once the QF results are over, it’s time to announce the Elimination Challenge. As cofounder of Common Threads, a charity group dedicated to the nutrition and general well-being of children, Art strongly believes that the family sitting around the table to eat dinner together is very important. As a result, this week’s EC is to create a healthy meal for a family of four using only $10. It also has to be something the family really could cook at home on their own. Everyone’s understandably freaked out, especially Twitch, who sees his lobster dreams go down the drain.
At Whole Foods, Dale shoves Richard out of the way as they race into the store. Those two are perfect for one another.. Everyone heads straight for the chicken, given that it’s easy, healthy and cheap. Which is why I have the equivalent of Chicken Little’s entire family in my freezer as we speak. Seeing this, Dale decides that he wants to separate himself from the pack, as well as show he can doing something other than Asian food, and goes for turkey brats. Meanwhile, Yoda’s struggling because she grew up on gourmet foods hand-fed to her by a legion of servants, evidently. She doesn’t know dick about cooking healthy or on a budget, and has no idea what to do. So she wanders around, throwing a little bit of everything in her basket. I hope this is all misdirection, because seeing her eliminated would be a huge upset.
As a single mom (shocker no one wanted to stick around with her ass), Antonia thinks she has an advantage for she’s used to cooking nutritious meals on a budget. She decides to go with a pasta stir-fry dish, while Mutton’s leaning towards a vegetarian curry. At the check-out counter, everyone’s struggling to stay within budget, and is forced to run back and forth to trade out for cheaper or smaller items. Some of them even resort to shredding down their produce right there, trying to shave off a few pennies at a time. Wow, I hope they did their shopping at some random time on a weekday, because I would have gone homicidal waiting in line behind these ass clowns. Don’t think I’m above beating someone with a stalk of broccoli. I also hope the producers reimbursed Whole Foods for the food the contestants destroyed to fall within their budget. Can you imagine if someone tried to do that in real life? You know, I think I really only need have a can of soup…. ::splash::
My weekly reaction to my grocery bill these days…
Back at their house, Antonia calls her daughter (who sounds adorable) to tell terrible knock-knock jokes about poo. Great thing to teach your child. In the morning, the contestants all head out to begin the challenge — only to be interrupted by Scar and Art, who announce that each contestant will have a child helper. As Antonia bawls, thinking about her daughter, Richard smiles creepily at the kids until they start nervously contemplating screaming “stranger danger!” The kids have already been paired up with a contestant — anyone else wish we could have seen the kids pick who they wanted to work with, playground style? Who do you think would have been first and last chosen? — so the teams split off to start cooking.
Fleasa’s paired with a little boy, which she’s excited about since her girlfriend has a son and she’s used to cooking with him. Evidently her girlfriend’s son has a knife fetish, and Fleasa is surprisingly smart enough to realize that’s a bad idea. Richard’s going overboard with the niceties with his kid, and is determined to buck the stereotype that kids don’t like beets. Why not just throw in some brussels sprouts and spinach while you’re at it? Meanwhile, Antonia gives us a frightening look at her parenting skills as she turns over a knife to her tyke. Good thing she’s not dating Fleasa’s woman. But Evangelass beats her to the punch — drawing his kid’s blood first with a carrot peeler. But don’t worry — Evangelass tells him it’s good luck to cut yourself. If years later that kid’s slicing at his thigh before finals, we’ll know who to blame.
Mutton’s kid looks terrified — or maybe she simply can’t understand him — as he tries to describe what curry tastes like. Even Mutton now realizes that curry + children maybe wasn’t the brightest idea he’s ever had. Things seem to be going smoothly for Nikki and Dale (who reveals he’s 5’5″… no wonder he became a chef. It was either that or never get laid), as neither one of their kids are bleeding or look like they want to cry yet. Twitch is also getting along well with his helper, and reveals to us that he used to be over 200 pounds. And now we finally know why he first became addicted to crack. Say what you will about it, but you’ll drop 80 pounds in a jiffy. Seriously, though — good for him.
Hey buddy, stay focused. This isn’t the time for a snack.
Daddy Tom is in the house to see how everyone is doing. He stops by Richard first, who’s in the middle of taking a big taste of his dish, and then drops the spoon back in the pot as both DT and his kid watch with oh-no-he-didnt! faces. Instead of talking to Richard, Daddy Tom mostly talks to the little girl, who does a pretty great job answering his questions about their chicken and beans dish. Going over to Dale next, he finds out from Dale’s adorable kid that the best part about cooking is getting to eat it. I concur, little man. After briefly checking in with Nikki, Daddy Tom moseys on over to Mutton to see how the curry is coming along. Despite DT’s best efforts, Mutton’s girl remains mute. She’s a charmer, that one.
Daddy Tom then takes a moment to share with us his observations. He seems to approve of Twitch’s dish so far as he grimaces, watching his kid banging meat with a pan. He’s the least of your child-endangerment concerns, DT. Daddy Tom also is impressed by the way Evangelass managed to stretch his $10 to cover three different dishes — pasta, soup (oh boy, anyone else seeing a pattern here?) and an apple dessert. As for criticism, DT and I both think Yoda’s peanut-tomato sauce sounds a little gross. Dude, I’m really getting worried she’s going home… especially when she comments that her couscous may not only taste terrible, but may be overcooked as well.
Service begins, and Richard is up first. The guests this time are all the other kids in the Common Threads program deemed too unattractive or bland to win a spot as a sous chef. We also have Scar, Gail and Art as the judges, as Daddy Tom remains in the kitchen to eat and observe. Richard’s dish is roasted chicken with black beans and a salad, which both the kids and the judges seem to like with the exception of the skin on the chicken. Fleasa’s up next with roasted chicken with edamame and a peanut butter/apple dessert, which gets only mediocre reviews at best. While they like the dessert, the judges wish Fleasa had used more fresh veggies, and find the chicken bland. As Fleasa describes the dish, we see Gail’s been doing a little doodling on her tablecloth. While I half-expected naughty pictures of Daddy Tom, it’s just boring old flowers. Although there does appear to be a “Padma + someone” in a heart that Gail may or may not be intentionally covering with her hands…
Wow. If this is what you think being pleasant looks like, stick with the death glare.
Dale’s next to serve his turkey bratwurst and veggie dish. The kids seem a little suspicious at first, but wind up liking the dish while the judges feel that it may not be universal for the range of tastes you’ll find in a family. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism. When I have kids, they’ll eat what I serve or starve. My parents let me get away with that picky bullshit when I was a kid, and to this day I still eat like I’m 10 and have a fear of tomatoes and any tomato-based product. It’s a crippling disease (I nearly hyperventilated once when ketchup splattered on me while waiting tables) and I won’t stand for it. Eat the damn bratwurst and like it.
Evangelass’s spaghetti is immediately a hit with the kids and the judges as well. The only problem he may have is that he didn’t have time to finish baking his apples for his dessert, and elected to serve them half-baked (how fitting!) anyway. We’ll see how it plays out, but that seems like an unnecessary risk to me, since he already has two finished dishes whereas most contestants just made one. Next it’s Nikki with a one-pot recipe of roasted chicken, mixed veggies and salad. She’s extremely confident in the dish, as well she should be because everyone loves both its taste and simplicity. Holy shit, you guys, Nikki’s looking like a sure thing for the top group! If she wins and Yoda’s eliminated, my entire outlook on life may be shattered.
Mutton’s turn arrives, and even though Gail gives the kid her perkiest hello (she’s a twit but I love the woman), all we still have is the sullen stare. This kid so should have been paired with Fleasa. Wait– wait– she talks! Mutton’s kid describes their vegetable curry dish in the same tone of voice she’d use to describe when Spot got ran over by a car and dragged 100 feet. Turns out she didn’t really have much to be excited about as the judges deem the dish too sweet and lacking sufficient protein. QF winner Antonia is next, presenting a chicken and vegetable stir-fry that looks awesome and is loved by the judges — perhaps even beating out Evangelass’s spaghetti. You know this means next week she’ll be in the bottom group.
Okay, that totally says “Padma + Art.” He’s what, like 55? Seems about right.
Twitch is offering chicken paillard (which is a fancy way of saying pounded thin and cooked quickly), along with a fruity salad, all of which are praised by judges and kids alike. Which brings us to Yoda, who’s finishing up plating her couscous with peanut-tomato sauce in the kitchen. Daddy Tom comes over to ask Yoda’s kid if she likes the dish, and receives a nervous giggle and an obligatory yes in response. Ruh-roh. In addition to the couscous, she’s also serving an apple-granola dessert. Unsurprisingly, the judges are not impressed, and Gail says Yoda’s failure at this challenge is a tell-tale sign of a restaurant chef who doesn’t go home much. Ouch, bashing your food and your personal life at the same time. That sucks.
After the last dish is served, Daddy Tom comes out to join the other judges and rehash the successes and failures. Nikki and Antonia are considered among the strongest, and Fleasa and Yoda are mentioned as some of the weakest. As everyone packs up for the Judges’ Table, Richard has a TMI moment as he tells us he wants to go home and make some babies.
Umm, don’t call me, I’ll call you.
As the contestants chat about how much fun it was to work with the kids and how Richard’s biological clock is ticking way too loudly, Scar arrives and calls out Twitch, Nikki and Antonia as the top three chefs. At Judges’ Table, the judges speak to Nikki first. They loved the fact she made a one-pot dish that was also well seasoned and contained every child’s nightmare — brussels sprouts. Turning to Twitch, they compliment the way he integrated fruit so successfully into the dish. As for Antonia, they thought her stir-fry was delicious and a perfect balance between kid-friendly and adult-tasty. So who wins? Antonia! As I heave a sigh of relief it wasn’t Nikki just for the stake of my mental stability, I do think she was somewhat robbed. Given the concept of the challenge — cheap, healthy, and easy — I think a one-pot dish is the perfect meal.
This week the bottom three chefs are Fleasa, Yoda and Mutton — who ironically were also the bottom three at the Quick Fire. So they double-sucked. They decide to grill Yoda first. She admits that her dish may have been too complicated, but Daddy Tom’s main problem is the nasty peanut-tomato-lemon juice sauce she made. But that isn’t the only problem — Art says the portion size was too large (I don’t see the gun to your head forcing you to eat it all), and that the couscous wasn’t cooked right. DT also questions whether she used her entire budget, which isn’t a good sign given how scant it was in the first place. Switching their attention to Mutton, Scar asks Mutton why he thinks he’s in the bottom — and he answers it’s because Daddy Tom doesn’t like him. Luckily, DT laughs it off and tells him to stop making shitty food and he’ll like him well enough. Specifically, the judges tell Mutton the curry was too sweet and not nutritious enough — which a defensive Mutton takes exception to. Finally, the judges turn to Fleasa. Daddy Tom tells her the black beans and edamame were unseasoned and undercooked, and after sitting through Fleasa’s rant about following the challenge’s guidelines, he stands by his opinion. Did you really think you were going to change his mind? Scar then shoos them out for deliberations.
Richard thinks he can find someone willing to procreate with him?! ROTFLMAO!!!
Once alone, Art immediately attacks Fleasa’s bad attitude. Oh, honey, if you thought this was bad you should have seen her last week. I half expected her to start muttering wiccan hexes under her breath. But at least someone’s finally calling her dirty ass out on that. In the back, Fleasa insists to the other contestants that she’s going home, even though she thought the dish was actually over-seasoned, not under. Well you know what they say about cigarettes enhancing your taste buds… The judges also found Mutton’s dish sloppy, and that he failed to properly utilize his budget. But the judges are most surprised by Yoda’s crash and burn — with Scar going as far as calling the dish “disgusting.” That’s a word that’s rarely — if ever — been used by the judges to describe a dish on this show, and if Yoda squeaks through this elimination, it’s just on previous good will alone. And maybe the Force.
The bottom three are called back in for the results. Daddy Tom lets a few puns fly while talking about the concept of the challenge before rehashing why all three of them screwed up. As much as I never would have thought this before this episode, I think Yoda’s going home! … Oh, and thank God! Mutton is told to pack his knives and get the fuck out. Now if eliminations are supposed to be solely based on that individual challenge performance, this was a total bullshit decision. Yoda clearly was the worst of the three. And I actually would have sent home Fleasa before Mutton too, for the combination of bad food and even worse attitude. But alas, Mutton it is. Even if it’s not fair, I am glad Yoda was spared.
So what did you think? Did Yoda get special treatment in not being eliminated? Between Fleasa and Mutton, was Mutton the right choice to go home? And doesn’t next week look awesome?!