Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Chef 3/26/08--"Block Party" summary

Previously on Top Chef: In the grand tradition of “Project Runway”, the contestants were taken on a field trip to the farmers market. Mark won the Quickfire challenge, but then everyone had a team challenge at the zoo. It looked like the contestants would have to make menus based on the foods of various animals, but no one ever held them to it. In the end Valerie made blinis ahead of time, which makes them terrible, so she went home. But apparently not enough happened last week, because the previouslies include Zoi and Jen talking about how they are dating, and also Richard wanting to make a statement. Are we starting the foreshadowing edit already?(click for more)

Oo, Spike shirtless! And Ryan! And Dale! Spike and Andrew roughhouse. (Kmanpat: “I want to play!”) Richard gets up and his hair is already in fauxhawk. Hilarious. Stephanie wants a woman to make it to the end. Zoi starts talking about female chefs and lesbians…I’ve heard this before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a misogynist, but I get it already. Andrew relates to being an entertainer. He entertains me, that‘s for sure.

Guest judge is Rick Bayless. Apparently he has introduced all of us to fine dining Mexican. Stephanie thinks, crap, Mexican food. Padma wants them to reinvent tacos for fine dining. Hee. Erik says tacos are about the street and family and to make them upscale is stupid. They have 30 minutes.

There seems to be a lot of people working together, at least being helpful. Manuel feels extra pressure, being Mexican. He’s using cactus. Spike is keeping it real with street food and ground pork. Andrew is making duck and plantains. He thinks he can win the whole thing because he has crazy ideas. Richard is using jicima as the taco shell. Ryan talks about fresh ingredients. Mark makes some comment about fine dining, since he‘s seeing a lot of street food. His eyes are all red. I don’t know what happened, but I feel the need to point out that if he was one of my students I’d send him to the principal on suspicion of being high.

Manuel has chorizo and a bunch of stuff that he pronounces with a perfect accent: picante verde, cilantro, goat cheese. Lisa: grilled skirt steak with pineapple, caramelized onions, and cabbage slaw. Rick can’t bite through the meat. (Kmanpat: *laughes his laugh which is a combination of Pee-Wee Herman and Horshack from “Welcome Back, Kotter”*) Andrew: duck breast with chili powder, plantain jam and cojita cheese. Rick loves duck tacos. Erik: chipotle braised chicken, avocado, pomegranate salsa, and guacamole. Rick tells him he has “traditional flavors”. Spike: ground pork and tomatillo sauce. He has achieved street style. Ryan has grilled squash and chickpeas instead of beans. Richard used shaved jicama for tortillas, and filled them with avocado, papaya, and cilantro. He’s made himself one, to eat with them, which is cool. Everyone else is boring, apparently.

Rick got a lot of street tacos. He didn’t like Erik’s, because his plating sucked. It actually looks odd, almost deconstructed. Erik doesn’t care and basically says that Rick is a moron. Lisa’s also isn’t very good, because the skirt steak was rare and he can’t eat it. Ryan for some reason had paper to wrap the taco in, which is not fine dining. Andrew had good refined flavors. He’s about to explode, he‘s so thrilled. Either that or he has to pee. Richard’s was simple: tasted like street food but the package was fine dining. Spike had a soul-satisfying flavor. Manuel looks pissed that he wasn‘t included in the top 3. Richard wins. Spike is insulted, even though he admitted that he kept it street food. In addition, Rick is going to steal Richard’s recipe for one of his restaurants. Congratulations! We’re taking your recipe and you get no credit!

Padma won’t tell them what the elimination challenge is, but she makes them divide themselves up into two teams, to go on a field trip. Spike doesn’t want to be on Richard’s team, because he has immunity. So if that team loses, that’s one fewer person up for elimination. The red team is Jen, Zoi, Erik, Dale, Andrew, Spike, and Ryan. Blue team is Stephanie, Nikki, Mark, Richard, Antonia, Manuel, and Lisa. Richard thinks they have similar personalities.

Commercials. Shut up, editors, and your “bromance” between Ben and Ronnie on “Make Me a Supermodel.” You know what happened? Al Lowe on TWoP has laid it out for us. Ronnie fell for Ben, then figured out it was a bad idea so he backed off, and then Ben decided he secretly wanted Ronnie or some nonsense and “pretended” to flirt with him because he liked the attention. Plus “bromance” is the stupidest word.

As they drive, they are brainstorming what their challenge might be, as they drive past different districts. They end up at some random residential neighborhood. Padma tells them this neighborhood is having their annual block party tomorrow, so they have to make it “their most memorable yet”. So…if it totally sucked, then it would still be memorable, right? In this [product placement] elimination challenge they aren’t going shopping, though. They have to go door to door, collecting from what people have bought for the party, or whatever else they have lying around. Richard is glad to have immunity because he isn’t social. Tomorrow they’ll have 3 hours to cook.

Andrew says his team sent Ryan and Jen. Mostly because Ryan’s hot. I know I’d give him food. And as much as I like Andrew if he showed up at my door and I’d never seen him before his flailing might be frightening. (Kmanpat: “Speak for yourself, I’d let him in.“) Ryan agrees that Erik might freak people out. They get some squash, vegetables, marshmallows…it looks like they’ve got gladware and they’re just taking whatever they can. They have a ton of food lying around, these people. Ryan says they got 7 bags out of the deal. I’m not sure anyone has a plan, they’re just grabbing whatever they can and they’ll sort it out later. I hope they remember that they have 70 kids coming tomorrow. Both teams grab pasta. Spike tells the other team he already went to a house, even though that house has a ton more food. Seriously, the woman’s pantry is larger than my closet. OK, OK, my old closet. A non-walk in closet. Richard says their team is going more upscale. The blue team wants to make hotdogs, and corndogs, and sliders. They’ll make upscale toppings. So…upscale vs. time-honored favorites. I think at one point Spike says “That’s what they like here.” Ryan says they’re cooking for the neighborhood, ultimately.

Day of elimination: blue team has individual dishes: paella, “slaw“ (I don‘t know what kind), BBQ pulled pork, bean salad, inside-out cookie, sexy drink, fruit cobbler, mac & cheese. Lots of stuff, but it looks pretty good. Nikki’s using Velveeta. Bleh. She doesn’t know if she can make a good sauce out of it that won’t set up or turn nasty. Velveeta isn’t that great to begin with. In the past when I’ve melted American cheese it gets gritty. Richard is making paella. He says if the food is good enough for the judges, then the other people should love it too. Everyone is so cocky today. Stephanie is frying gyoza wrappers with cinnamon and sugar for dessert. Red team: sliders, corn dogs, pork skewers, sangria, Waldorf salad, pasta salad, taco salad, and s‘mores. Andrew amuses me. “You guys smell that?” “What?” “Success!” Hee. Erik is making the corn dogs, he makes them at the restaurant. Zoi kind of got stuck with making the pasta salad, even though it‘s not her idea. She seems to be insulted, like she doesn’t wan tot win with pasta salad? I’m not sure what her objection is. Dale wants to push and not play it safe, and he‘s nervous they‘re not elegant enough. Tom comes in to investigate. The “sexy drink” has lavender and citrus and is carbonated. Tom is dubious. He does not feel lavender is sexy. Erik thinks they will do well because everyone is tasting everything and no one will object to criticisms. Ryan is making his Waldorf salad with vinegar so it’s not heavy, but Tom points out is that the mayo is what makes the salad fresh. Ryan looks confused until Jen jumps in to save his butt and explain that they roasted apples for the creamy element. Doesn’t he know anything about these dishes? He went to culinary school. That being said, creamy = fresh? Because to me, mayonnaise on a 90 degree day = bleh. Nikki and Erik worry about what transport will do to their food.

They only have 40 minutes to get ready back in the neighborhood. There’s a crowd of random people cheering and stuff. Andrew loves the cheering. Erik says the corndogs are soggy but not so soggy they can’t serve them and he wants to serve the food they took from people’s houses. The mac and cheese dried out (usually mine sets up into a blob) so she’s pouring milk and cream and stuff on it. Padma shows up with Rick, Ted, and Tom.

The blue team is serving people, while the red team is using a blowtorch to roast marshmallows. Andrew tells some kid that the sliders are full of awesomeness. Blue team: The paella has clams, oysters, sausages, and shrimp. Pulled pork and chicken with chipotle sauce, ribs with Mexican chocolate BBQ sauce. Fruit crumble with whipped cream and the fried wontons. Mac n cheese with bacon and breadcrumbs. “Cookie in a cookie”/inside out cookies: chocolate chip cookies rolled in crushed Oreos, with smiley faces made out of the cream filling. Sexy drink with the lavender. The judges take the food and leave so no one will know what they think. Red team: taco salad in a shell, with chorizo, shrimp, avocado, jalapeno, cabbage, and lime dressing. Mini sliders with bacon and provolone cheese sauce. Ted makes a point of asking if the sliders are steamed. Grilled pork skewers with pineapple and smoked red curry BBQ sauce. Dale is confident in his team‘s food. S’mores are rolled in graham crackers and chocolate. Padma drops it on Ted’s shoe. Hee. Spike says his team shmoozes better. Chicken Waldorf salad with blue cheese. Corn dog with pomegranate mustard (Erik is being referred to as “Papa Soufflé“). Dipping bar with chips and stuff, but it‘s not clear what exactly is there. Pasta salad, which is not described. Various neighbors talk about their food. The contestants hang out and goof off. Well, really, the red team is playing basketball and having beers, so for some reason Richard thinks the blue team is screwed. There’s a dunk tank. It looks like Spike is up for being dunked. Hee. Andrew trash talks but cannot connect so he says it doesn‘t matter because he did it with his mind.

Commercials. I do enjoy Macy’s commercials, but somehow the thought of Martha Stewart flirting and checking out a male model’s ass…eww eww eww! I need a shower. *shudder*

Padma summons the blue team. The red team flips out, because they can’t see how they could have lost. But they did, somehow. Apparently it was pretty close, and Tom is disappointed in everyone. No one was in charge. Nikki didn’t know how to use the Velveeta, since I guess there‘s so many chemicals it shouldn‘t have set up. The paella wasn’t really paella because paella has a crust on it. Richard knows you need that part, but he seems satisfied that it tasted OK. Tom, I think, just wanted to call him out on not knowing how to make paella, only it backfired. Stephanie made the dessert, and the drink, which the judges loved. They squeak out a win. And since the dessert was the reason they won (because the wonton was “genius”) Stephanie wins this week. Tom tells them not to get too happy because he expected a lot more from them.

Backstage Stephanie says she won, but no one really says anything to her or anything. The blue team celebrates. The red team is labeled the “weaker” team, and Ryan and Spike can’t figure out why. The corndog was soggy, but they all knew that already. Erik says that at his restaurant his corndogs are good. When he serves them 3 minutes out of the fryer. Zoi says they decided that since it was “ middle America ” they should still serve the corn dogs? She has to defend them from Tom, who jumps on her statement and asks if they dumbed down the menu because they were in “middle America“. The Waldorf salad had too much chicken, so it was soggy even though they kept everything on ice and made it in small batches. Spike talks back and says that the table has very good palates and they cooked for the neighborhood. He says he speaks for everyone in saying that they all tasted everything and they made the block party, I guess with their schmoozing. Tom shuts them down by saying that Zoi’s pasta salad was bland and oily so they must all have really poor palates. Oo. Erik tries to save her by telling the judges the pasta salad isn’t even hers. Rick thinks that their flavor suffered because when no one is in charge, no one wants to offend anyone so the overall quality of everything goes down. Andrew says they have so much camaraderie they shouldn’t get penalized? Sometimes I don’t know what he’s talking about. He smacks himself in the back of the head, for some reason. Tom reminds them that someone will go home, and Andrew says they‘d need security guards to make him leave. “This is my house.” Yeah.

So, the judges think that no one should condescend to the crowd, that everyone appreciates good food. As a person who moved to “middle America” from the West coast, who has parents who appreciate good food and wine and now has friends who only like to eat at the same 5 national chain restaurants? Sometimes the stereotypes about middle America have a basis in reality. Plus, you can’t get super weird when kids are involved. Back to the specifics. The chicken in Ryan’s dish watered everything down. Erik’s corndog was soggy and he should have known that. The pasta salad was worse than something they could have bought in a store. Backstage Zoi is pissed that she could have said to scrap the salad. Ryan tries to tell her she’s not going home, but she won’t believe him and she clarifies that she’s mad at herself because she didn’t say anything. Jen kind of freaks out that Zoi might go home. I find it interesting that the pasta salad was so unimportant that they edited out the description and yet apparently it was horrid.

In the end soggy corndogs are the kiss of death and Erik is eliminated. Sad. I think he would have been super fun. Everyone is sad to see him go. Zoi is glad to not have gone home for pasta salad, but on a personal level she’s sad about it. Erik says he still is an executive chef and he’s still good, but “it is what it is.”

Next week: Padma says if they don’t know who the guest judge is they should just leave now. I don’t know who he is. Burning plastic wrap? Soggy? Some guy disagrees with the judges and says the food is good. Aisha Tyler! Andrew for some reason is walking on his knees pretending to be a midget. I have no idea what’s going on.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Top Chef 3/19/08--"Zoo Food" summary

Previously on Top Chef: the season began, and there were approximately 8 million contestants. Well, maybe not quite that many, but it felt like there were people everywhere and I’m not sure I remember who everyone is, nor did I notice everyone, most likely. The big impressions: Andrew curses a lot, there are some lesbians, two fauxhawks (which is two fauxhawks too many), and some cute boys who don’t cook as well as they should. Stephanie won with duck a la orange. Nimma failed to season her food properly, which seems to always happen to someone, and she was the first to go home.(click for more)

The house apparently involves a workout room. Stephanie is lifting weights. Valeria says she and Stephanie worked together long ago. She was so glad to win because it means people know what she can do. Spike jokes with Mark. Oh, Mark is cute. He’s ready to go. Zoi and Jen are going to look at this like a job, keep some distance. Even though they’re trading shoes. They acknowledge it’s weird.

The Quickfire starts at a farmer’s market, which is an excellent place to start. I can’t wait for summer to go to ours here. We have one year round, but summertime is better. Valerie says that she‘s even shopped at this farmer‘s market before. They can only use 5 ingredients total. Salt, pepper, sugar, and oil do not count, so any spices do count. Winner gets immunity. Mad running! Don’t run over civilians! They have 30 minutes and $25. Everyone looks to be shopping, except Spike, who is sitting down listening to a busking musician and giving them money. Richard wants eucalyptus. Can you eat that? Mark wants lamb and he’s in a hurry and freaking out. Everyone’s hanging out, spending a nice leisurely Saturday morning at the market. He’s pissing off the sellers. Dale doesn’t want anything frozen because you can’t tell how old it is. Mark runs off and forgets his bag. Well, part of his bag with the lettuce in it. He seem pretty calm, compared to the freaking out he just did.

Padma greets them in the kitchen. Wylie Dufresne is there to judge. Cool! Also, it says something that I now recognize him on sight. Richard finally owns his molecular gastronomy. Padma reminds them they can only have 5 ingredients, and they even have a shot of the salt and the other things that don’t count, so someone must break the rules. They only have 30 minutes to cook. Richard is making “a classic dish with molecular gastronomy” which is using science to make things better. He says that he’s braising chicken legs, but I only see what look like wings, and they are so huge they must be turkey wings. I don’t see any feet. Mark is covering for not having lettuce. Spike is pissed because he didn’t get what he thought he was. He thought he was buying tenderloin but it’s just chopped up meat. Valerie is mellow in the kitchen, so she knows that here she has to jump in. I think it’s Valerie. Oh my God, Bravo, these people need name chyrons at all times. I can’t even tell the boys apart and usually those are the first names I learn. And Valerie and Antonia are like, the same person.

Richard says you can eat eucalyptus in small doses. Mostly he’s using it for aroma for his “chicken soup“ with chicken, apples, apple cider, eucalyptus, and butter. You can tell he wants more praise from Wylie, who just kind of nods and moves on. Ryan does well with lettuce (he calls it “lettuce greens“ which is…pretty redundant), radishes, potatoes, sirloin steak, and mustard. Dale’s mushrooms, shallots, radishes, eggs, & butter are good. Valerie has steak with peaches and tomatoes in a marmalade, sweet potatoes, and arugula. Spike: complains about the tenderloin tips, which he‘s set with apples, bread, apple cider, and rosemary. The judges want a sandwich. Erik: lamp chop, baby carrots, potatoes, mint, garlic. Mark: steak and turnips, with peach cream, and mushrooms. Somehow he used butter instead of the lettuce? I’m not sure. Wylie praises him for his sideburns. Andrew: lamb chops, peach chutney, onions, mint, potatoes, and he used balsamic vinegar because he thought he was able to use it and it didn’t count. He kind of shrugs about it and blames his ADD.

This week we actually get to hear more specific comments about the Quickfire. Spike could have used his beef differently. Erik’s plate wasn’t composed; all the ingredients were separated and not touching. Richard made an oily dish that could have been refined and he’s like, in tears. Ryan’s dish was moist and juicy (snicker), Valerie had lots of flavor, Mark‘s flavors played off each other. Mark wins immunity.

Now it is time to draw knives. Manuel pulls “vulture”. Vulture? Those taste nasty. (I assume, don’t email me). Dale pulls bear. Ryan and Richard pull lion. Andrew babbles that he is a lion and he even kind of roars which is adorkable. He pulls penguin which is still dope. Antonia? I don’t know who these people are! We’re picking teams so we’ll figure it out. Valeria and Antonia both are glad to be on Stephanie‘s team. Padma reassures everyone that they are not cooking weird animals, but they are catering a party at the zoo. They have base the dish around the diet of the animal. I laugh and laugh at the vulture team. Everyone goes to plan menus and read about their animals’ diets. Apparently vultures eat small fish, rabbit, and lamb, so Mark is all set. He even goes so far as to claim this is close to his own diet. Antonia and Stephanie are brainstorming but Valerie doesn’t really participate very much. They insist that putting meat in is OK even though gorillas don’t eat meat. Valerie just goes along. Ryan says that lions eat beets, apparently, along with bison, eggs, and chicken. Richard wants to use his immersion circulator. Lisa, Andrew, and Jen make a seafood menu for penguins. Done. Dale, Spike, and Nikki are planning honeycomb with some cheese. Nikki gives us the standard “as a woman I have to work twice as hard” spiel. Dale is freaking out because he has to work with people. He wants to do his own thing.

Zoi and Jen snuggle. Everyone talks about the animals and which animals they‘d be and whatnot. The best is Mark telling Dale that vultures are better than bears because while the bear is hibernating the vulture can peck his eyes out. Dale scoffs and Mark says vultures can do things without looking, as he turns his head from the pool table and sinks his shot. “Oh, did that go in?“ Hee. Team Gorilla discusses their menu: lamb and edamame lettuce cups, banana bread, crab salad on a celery root chip, and black olive blinis with mascarpone. Even though gorillas don’t eat meat. Stephanie is pretty confident, although she does admit she doesn’t know how to cater for 200 people. Antonia doesn’t know if Valerie can pull off cooking and plating blinis at the zoo.

They have $500 and 30 minutes to shop. Spike is “molesting” the produce section. (Kmanpat: “There are so many things I could say that I can’t pick one!“) Someone trips on fallen produce. Team Lion has: foam. Sigh. Bison tartare, beet salad with goat cheese foam, chicken sate, and prime rib with horseradish foam. Psshh, goat cheese foam. Nikki has her group put some food back so she can get decorations.

3 hours of cooking at the Top Chef kitchens. Dale doesn’t know about his teammates’ abilities because he hasn’t seen them cook. Nikki lets us in on the menu for Team Bear: venison loin with squash, seared salmon, stuffed mushrooms, and cheese and honeycomb on bread. Nikki is making the mushrooms and also the honey cheese bread, or whatever. Team Penguin has also divided up the dishes. Lisa is doing Thai shrimp and crab salad, Jen is making roasted zucchini, and Andrew is making squid ceviche and also some kind of a gelee/Jell-o type “glacier” thing with yuzu and mint. Richard busts out the immersion circulator to play with. Erik has no idea what Richard is doing. His interview he’s wearing his hat backwards and he has some bling so it really fits. Stephanie says they need bananas if they are Team Gorilla because no one will know what team they are otherwise. Maybe that’s because there’s meat in everything. Valerie is worried about transporting her blinis. She overcrowds the pan and she may be starting over. Tom comes through to investigate. He doesn’t do a lot except to try to stir up trouble because Mark has immunity and his teammates don’t. Their menu doesn’t sound too bad: braised chicken on a tostado chip (wouldn’t that be a tortilla chip?), Moroccan lamb meatballs, and anchovy on quinoa croquette. Andrew is “sexy” about his glacier. Spike thinks he might score points with Wylie. Dale is unhappy because the stuffed mushrooms shrunk and burnt and literally look like crap. Nikki wants to top them with chives or something, but they’re going to wait and see what happens when they get there. Stephanie is making chips for crab salad but they‘re soggy, so she wants to recook them? And somehow they have to pack for transport so she hopes they stay crispy.

I had been hoping that the stations would be around the zoo, like the lion team next to the lion enclosure and stuff. But sadly no. They have an hour to set up. Spike, like Dale, doesn’t like the mushrooms. Antonia feels “removed” from Valerie’s dish. Valerie knows they suck, but she says they didn’t think it would be such a problem and it’s too late now anyways. Stephanie’s celery chips are still soggy. They make a quick salad instead, to serve the crab on. I’m not sure how that will work.

Judges for today are Wylie, Gail and Tom. The Bear team has to pull the mushrooms off the table because they’re not hot. Team Lion seems to have made a couple of their bites in spoons. Like, a spoon with one bite in it, and for the food shots they‘ve put them into clear plastic bowls. The beet salad has yuzu and ras al hanout, and there’s tarragon coulis for the bison tartare. Mark tries to sell the anchovies but it doesn’t work a lot. Gail and Padma like them though. His headband is distracting. Team Vulture also has lamb meatballs with ricotta, pomegranate syrup and pistachio. Yum. Team Gorilla is sure to label whose dishes are whose. Tom asks about the chips and doesn’t seem to mind that they didn‘t turn out. They aren’t impressed with the crab and roasted pear salad. Stephanie freaks out. Valerie’s description of black olive blinis with fennel mascarpone, rutabaga, and beets sounds awesome but is disappointing. Wylie observes that they sound great, and then Tom pipes up with, “Sounds.“ Ouch. The lamb and edamame was great, though, and the banana bread with salted caramel and meringue. Back to the Bear table for cranberry pecan bread and honey and cheese. Cheese and honey! Yum! And salmon a la plancha with pickled vegetables. It’s a huge bite. The judges ask about the mushrooms, and Nikki tells them the mushrooms aren’t as hot as they’d like so they took them off the table, but she gets them some mushrooms anyways. Uh…why are you giving the judges the mushrooms that you don’t think are worth serving? Blueberries and mushrooms, meh. With cheese on top. Andrew gets a chance to serve his yuzu mint gelee. Interesting. Tom’s opinion? “OK, let’s have food now.” The squid ceviche has soy-balsamic tapioca pearls. Andrew is fanboying and spazzing out about Wylie. The Thai shrimp watercress salad doesn’t get mentioned. The zoo people liked that many people stayed true to their animals. The judges didn’t like the mushrooms, they liked the beets and also the squid with tapioca, and the Vulture team did well. Gorilla team sucked. Dale and Valerie think they’re in trouble.

Is Tom a gorilla, a bear, or a penguin? Oh, Bravo. Do you think we weren’t paying attention last season when we learned that the bear community idolizes Tom?

Padma calls up the Vulture team and the Penguin team as the best teams. The vulture team decided to let each team member do what they were interested in. Both the anchovies (Mark) and the meatballs (Zoi) were the best there. The penguin team’s dishes all tied together. All the judges liked the squid dish, and the “glacier” was fun, so Andrew wins this week. He’s so thrilled that he doesn’t even curse about it.

The Gorilla team and the Bear team get called out. Mushrooms, blini, and crab salad were the worst dishes that evening. The bear team tries to explain about the mushrooms, that they looked bad and then they pulled them, and the cheese overwhelmed everything. Dale says the cheese was to make them look better, but no one tasted them after the cheese got put on. Huh? How do you not taste them? Nikki says the mushrooms were a group decision. He says he wasn’t trying to blame Nikki, but she won’t own up to the dish. She did make them, but none of them tasted them. Stephanie owns up to her crab salad getting pre-mixed and pre-salted so it got watery. Valerie didn’t realize the blinis would get soggy, I guess, and she knows she should have made them onsite. There was supposed to be a cream there? Or something? Gail wanted something to tie everything together and she didn’t taste it at all. Antonia gets put on the spot: these two are competing for a job. Which one do you hire? Antonia picks Stephanie. Oo. The look Valerie gives her could kill. She says Antonia didn’t even taste her dish.

Everyone should know blinis have to be made and served right away, but even if Valerie had done that, she would have had crunchy rutabaga. And the crab salad shouldn‘t have been salted hours before. But Stephanie also made the banana bread so that may save her. Nikki made terrible mushrooms, but Dale made them worse and then no one on their team tasted anything. The whole team didn’t like the mushrooms but they all served it anyway.

Mmm, all-star water polo team.

I guess that no one cared that Team Gorilla made meat. So all that “base your menu on the diet of your animal” was just so they would have some kind of guideline. Dale, Nikki, Valerie, and Stephanie all get yelled at, but in the end Valerie is sent home. She knows she’s better than this, but she made a bad decision.

Next week: field trip to residential neighborhood? Huh? Tell me it’s stone soup! Some people fight about the challenge. Andrew says he’s not going anywhere.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Top Chef 3/12/08--"Anything You Can Cook I Can Cook Better" summary

Previously on Top Chef: There was a third season, which was less interesting than the second season, but that was mainly because no one physically attacked other contestants. Hung, who pissed off some people with his cockiness and was almost compared to Marcel, won the whole thing. And Marcel was there when they announced it, and gave him a giant hug. You heard me. It’s interesting to note that Harold from season 1 has his own restaurant, and Hung is an executive chef. But Ilan seems to have done nothing with his money. He’s buying a taco shack, for Pete’s sake. I’m just saying. (click for more)

Padma tells us there are 16 chefs and 24 challenges. If that’s a Quickfire and an elimination per episode, that makes 12 episodes. So…top 4? Huh? Our usual judges Tom, Gail, and Ted are back. And we’re winning the same prizes. With the same sponsors. In the opening sequence, where everyone is taking off or putting on their chef’s jackets, one of the small pictures shows Spike with no shirt on underneath. So that’s how that is, then.

I haven’t been to Chicago in forever. I guess because I’m too lazy to drive. Ryan learned to cook from his dad, and he says he out cooked 2 people when he was 11. Yeah. (Kmanpat: “Whatever, he’s tasty.“) Nimma in her application video talks about how her parents want her to live with them. She wants to be a good Muslim, but also an American. Her parents support her, so that’s cool that she doesn’t have to worry about that. Zoi is making head soup with pig‘s head. Mark! I am going to have to listen to his talking multiple times, to give me one run through just to listen to his lovely accent. He moved to New York with nothing and he’s working up from that.

Everyone ends up at Pizzeria Uno. Mm, deep dish pizza. There’s a good selection of pizzas laid out for everyone. Rickard likes avant-garde. He says people label what he does “molecular gastronomy” complete with air quotes so is he pretending that he does something different? Own it! Jennifer loves the history of Pizzeria Uno. Erik is vocal and he looks like a biker. He controls his kitchen. Andrew looks like CJ. (Kmanpat:”…*drool*”). It’s been like one minute and he’s been bleeped twice in his interview. Promising. Something about things oozing from him like lava? In his application video he’s made carpaccio with a hand design, which looks pretty cool. Stephanie is positive and fun. I’m not sure wearing a Yoda backpack while cooking is the best idea, but it is fun, I’ll give her that. She’s talking about being fun in the kitchen so I guess that is a setup for her and Erik to butt heads. I think people are drinking beer. Richard doesn’t want to try sizing anyone up, it’s too early, but he did notice the other fauxhawk in the room. Then Jen and Zoi announce to everyone that not only did they know each other before the show, but they’re a couple. Well. That…was not something I expected. They kept that secret from the producers too. Everything I saw said, no out contestants. It smells kind of fishy to me, I mean, not necessarily fishy like they‘re making it up (although, I wouldn‘t be super shocked) but just fishy that they hid it. Most people just look confused. Apparently they’ve been dating for three and a half years. Zoi says it’s straining on the relationship, to compete against each other. Would Bravo have cast two people that were dating? Spike’s first thought is BS, but then he thinks that they can just go home together.

Padma and Tom show up to get things started. Their first Quickfire has a Chicago twist. They all file out and end up in the Top Chef kitchens, wherever those are in Chicago. A giant pile of pizza boxes waits behind Padma. She says they were allowed to bring up to $200 of ingredients from home, which are in lockers. Each one of them must create a signature deep dish pizza. They have 90 minutes, which isn’t very much because last time I went to Pizzeria Uno, pizzas take like 45 minutes and those are simple.

Frantic cooking. Stephanie cuts herself within 30 seconds. Dale has pickled kohlrabi, and sriracha in the tomato sauce. Tasty. Valerie has never made deep dish pizza so she might be in trouble even though she is actually from Chicago. Manuel is making “classic Italian pizza” even though pizza (and especially deep dish pizza) isn’t technically Italian. Nikki is from New York and doesn’t know deep dish so she has no idea what to do with the crust. Mark is using marmite, which is salty and savory and apparently an acquired taste like Vegimite. Antonia is more traditional. Richard is making peach pizza with sweet tea sauce. Uh…yeah. Spike’s real name is “Evangelos”. Hee. He’s using good Greek flavors, yum. Lisa is making BBQ duck pizza, which might be good. She also says it’s not about having a specialty, so I guess she doesn’t have one? Andrew says that Richard used two pans, or something, and since he waited until the last minute to look for a pan, he has to use a cast iron pan. Of course when Andrew tells the story he curses a lot more. It probably will still work. Hilariously when he looks for pans, there’s a shot of a cutting board with giant oozing blobs of pizza dough, like they’ve taken over. Dale snoots that some people totally fucked up their pizza because they had no idea what they’re doing. Everyone tries to put their pizza in boxes and they all leave.

Someone has put “Top Chef Delivery” on the sides of the cars. With speed lines. Hee. They knock on the door to discover…Rocco?!?!?! I am so tired of his ass. Is he a sponsor? Is he sleeping with a producer? Padma is hanging out with a pool cue like she just happened to be over. Everyone serves at the coffee table. OK, this is going to go on for a while. Richard: “peach taleggio“ pizza with fennel sausage and sweet tea sauce. Stephanie: prosciutto, olives, arugula, melon tomato sauce. Rocco says it’s funky. Zoi: lamb sausage, broccoli pesto. Too much stuff. Dale: sausage, scallions, pickled kohlrabi, sriracha sauce. Ryan: escarole, ricotta salata, butternut squash. Let me interrupt to share my story about butternut squash. I made soup one week, and had a whole squash left over which I did not want to cut up, so I microwaved it and then looked for recipes for squash puree. And I made some macaroni and cheese, which was really good, and then I got the flu and the first day, when I was the sickest, I ate some leftover squash mac n’ cheese for lunch. And after that, even though I didn’t throw up or anything, the thought of eating the rest of it sickened me so much I had to throw it out, plus the rest of the squash I had, and I haven‘t touched squash since then. I really hope I can still have like, soup or other things with squash in them. Sorry, back to the show. Nikki: white pie with comte, ricotta, and pecorino cheeses, and mushrooms, no tomatoes. The dough is thick. Andrew: smoked marinara, prosciutto, onions, heirloom tomatoes. It’s all crust. Jennifer: grapes, bacon, fontina, rosemary. Erik: mushrooms, onions, peppers, sausage. Spike has “Pizza a la Grec”: onions, olives, feta cheese, sausage. Nimma: onions, different mushrooms, stracchino cheese. They want salt. Mark has marmite molasses, chicken, and zucchini.

If Rocco calls your name you have to go stand in the corner. They are the least favorites: Lisa, Nimma, Valerie, Manuel, Andrew, Stephanie, Nikki, and Zoi. Stephanie didn’t cook her prosciutto right and it was gamy. Nikki’s pizza was too dry. The favorites: Richard confused him but it was awesome, Mark made Rocco like the taste of marmite. Rocco says something about vegemite WHICH IS NOT THE SAME THING. I shouldn’t know more than the guest judge. Padma says the house they’re in is theirs, so now they can unpack and hang out. Andrew then delivers my favorite quote of the evening: “Padma’s all like, ‘Yo! Casa, motherf***ers!’”. Ha! I love him. Everyone explores, and the house looks pretty awesome. They have a deck and everything. Everyone kicks it and drinks. Andrew says everyone’s pretty cool but he’s awesomer than everyone. Nimma is really upset about losing. She is sitting in her room by herself; she’s not here to have fun. She’s really going to bed. I get the idea of not taking it personally, maybe, but go have some fun. Dale says you have to stay confident and remove some of the human side of things. You have to feel like you’re the best or you’ll fall short.
In the morning there’s a chalkboard waiting for the contestants. I must say Padma has continued her good fashion choices. The winning chefs all pull numbers, and they have to pick one chef from the other group to cook head to head. The loser gets to pick off a list of classics, for them to both make. Then the judges will pick one winner and one loser from each pair, and the losers will be up for elimination. This is weird. Mark doesn’t know what some of these things are. Erik picked the last number, and he knows he’ll be getting soufflé because no one’s going to take it. Richard vs. Andrew, crab cakes. Andrew is glad to kick his ass in revenge. Mark vs. Stephanie, duck a la orange. Jen vs. Nikki, lasagna. Nimma vs. Antonia, shrimp scampi. Spike vs. Lisa, eggs benedict. Manuel vs. Dale, steak au poirve. Valerie vs. Ryan, chicken piccata. So Erik and Zoi are making soufflé. They’ve both made soufflé but a long time ago. Well, at least they both suck at it.
Shopping time! Mm, Whole Foods. Mark thinks his duck is simple so it should be easy. Dale doesn’t make steak au poirve so he’s flipping it. OK then. Lisa is confident she can poach eggs. Ryan is reading off his list, which includes bread crumbs and tomatoes. Zoi is making dessert soufflé. Andrew is sneaking looks at Richard’s cart. He’s referring to Richard as his “competitor” with air quotes.

Once they get back they get right to work. Richard says he has his eye on stuff, making coleslaw, getting things started. Did he put the crab legs, shells and all, into the pan? Antonia is paying attention to the sauce. Nimma is making cauliflower custard? Interesting. Ryan is making his own stock and gnocchi. In 90 minutes. He thinks he underestimated the amount of time. Nikki is making fresh pasta no matter what. Except that it’s 45 minutes left and she needs that time to bake. Stephanie wants to use the whole duck to show off her skills. Mark has a lot of “crazy s***” going on, according to Stephanie. She seems to just be concerned about the complexity of the two dishes. Andrew is looking for mayonnaise. He asks Richard about it, and he’s like, none here. But we have egg yolks and oil. Then he busts out the jar he bought at the store. Haha! So Andrew has to make his own, with a recipe he got from Richard. That’s supposed to taste better anyways. Richard I guess feels bad and tries to pass over the mayo, but Andrew’s like, too late now! And hands it back. Don’t share, that’s Andrew’s problem if he didn‘t read the list of pantry supplies Lee Anne gave all of them. Zoi and Erik are still freaking out. They seem to be together in their lack of skills. Nimma is making flan? I guess the cauliflower thing. It’s not setting, so she scrambles it instead. She’s got a very monotone voice when she interviews. Richard has some plastic thing and he’s smoking stuff. Andrew is impressed. Richard wants people to freak out when he does stuff. Stephanie is shaking so badly she can’t sauce her plate. OH AND THEN TONY BOURDAIN WALKS IN!!!! I love him. He’s a jerk but he owns it. Why couldn’t we have had him instead of stupid Rocco?

The question of the week is, “Do Zoi and Jennifer have an advantage because they’re a couple?” I just want to know why they felt that they didn’t need to tell anyone that fact. Although, please do note that Bravo wasted no time in giving this couple their own Top Chef blog. Well, Outzonetv gave them a blog. And Lee Anne’s blog says the producers knew about it.

Aw, Rocco is back anyways. No Ted? No Gail? WTF? Stephanie and Mark are first with duck a la orange. Mark: Enoki mushrooms, squash, tangerine and soy glazed duck, and a “saketini“. The whole dish is deconstructed. Stephanie: seared duck breast with bok choy and maitake mushrooms, and the thighs in a spring roll with orange soy glaze. Yum. Rocco and everyone else is confused by the progression of Mark’s plate, because he deconstructed the dish but meant for them to eat it all together. Tony says he kept eating Stephanie’s dish long after he could stop, and as he’s talking Padma reaches over and uses her finger to get more sauce. Stephanie wins. Mark is up. Eek.

Richard and Andrew bring crab cakes. Andrew has cilantro basil pudding and orange peri-peri sauce. He talks about pancetta aioli and manages to simultaneously tell everyone he made aioli and complain about the lack of mayo in the pantry. Richard: blue crab cakes with brussel sprouts and apple coleslaw, and smoked ras al hanout (Moroccan spice blend). They uncover the dish and the smoke. Rocco likes the smoke and meatiness. Andrew has too much bread so he loses. They are back room and it’s like…a store room with a giant shelves of Glad products.

Jennifer and Nikki, come over with lasagna. Jennifer: meat sauce, autumn vegetables and mint verde sauce. Everyone nods. Nikki used sheep’s milk gouda and rolled her own pasta “because I thought that was a key element to such an easy, classic dish“. That felt like a dig at Jen. They both seem to be good, but Jennifer didn’t cook her rutabaga while Nikki‘s pasta was wonderful, so Jen loses.

Antonia and Nimma, with shrimp scampi. Antonia has lobster, parpardelle (fat wide noodles), tomatoes and squash blossoms. Tony is moaning in ecstasy. Nimma has like, two shrimp (marinated in parsley and garlic) on the plate and her cauliflower scramble. Nimma didn’t salt her dish until it hit the pan and it was really salty. Rocco would have sent it back. So unsurprisingly Nimma loses.

Spike and Lisa, with eggs benedict. Spike: bacon and mushrooms, lemongrass sabayon. Lisa: lobster, challah, spinach, bacon. Tony makes them choose on the basis of this scenario: you got drunk last night and you’re really hung over, which one would you rather eat? Hee. Plus, he has a point: eggs soak up the leftover alcohol and help your hangover. Spike loses. The hot boys are losing!

Dale and Manuel, with steak au poirve. Dale is kind of deconstructed: New York strip steak with candied green peppercorns, parsley puree and bok choy. There are little piles all over the plate. Manuel is Mexican: sirloin, mushroom ceviche, scallion, cilantro sauce. Dale took chances and they worked. Manuel’s is greasy and over sauced so he is up for elimination.

Ryan and Valerie bring over chicken piccata. Ryan has the chicken, lemon potato gnocchi and warm herb salad. With chicken jus. The judges are shaking their heads. Valerie has orange demi-glace and a potato and haricot vert salad with her chicken. Tony didn’t like either one. No one made lemon butter sauce. Ryan made it with bread crumbs, which don’t belong. Tom couldn’t identify this as piccata and Tony can‘t get past the bread crumbs so Ryan loses. Ryan is flipping out because he’s concerned that everyone in America will think he sucks. Can he even show his face anymore? (Kmanpat: “Aww, poor baby, I’ll make it better.”)

Erik did pepper jack cheese soufflé with avocado crème fraiche, black bean puree, salsa and tortilla strips on top of the soufflé. Zoi did rice pudding soufflé with candied figs and fennel with espresso. Tony would like Erik’s if he wasn’t expecting a soufflé. Neither was a good soufflé, but Zoi’s’ flavors were better so she wins. In the back room everyone is sitting in a circle not talking.

Antonia, Nikki, Richard, and Stephanie get called out. Someone curses, I guess because they know they’re not up for the win. Antonia restrained herself and had skills. Stephanie gets high praise from Tony. Nikki’s dish was great and tasty. Richard and his smoke were forward thinking. Tom is excited about this season just based on this challenge. Rocco says that Stephanie wins this week. She used the entire duck, it had great flavor, etc.

Stephanie tells everyone she won, and then sends out Ryan, Erik, Nimma, and Mark. The loser gong sounds. Ah, loser gong. I missed you. Erik used mashed potatoes as a base? For a soufflé? Rocco plays teacher, and seriously? I do this sometimes with my students, where you ask leading questions so they can figure it out for themselves. But I don’t do it with the sole purpose of making them look stupid. Erik’s soufflé rose but then piled a bunch of stuff on top of it. He knows he made nachos. Nimma liked her cauliflower, and Tom knows it was supposed to be a flan. It should have cooked up right. She tasted the shrimp before they went out and knew they were salty. Oops. Mark looks terrible and hungover all of a sudden. Tony feels his dish was silly and pretentious because his deconstruction was pointless; the ingredients were separated, but then you were supposed to recombine them to eat. He trimmed the duck, and then overcooked it. Rocco says something patronizing again. Ryan is babbling about starch…I think he vaguely remembers chicken piccata but not very well so he has no idea what it is. Tom thinks everyone should have done some research on the classics before they showed up.

Man, it’s 10:06 already. My hands hurt. P.S. thanks for the warning about the extended episode, Bravo. Tom thinks Ryan still doesn’t understand what chicken piccata is. Rocco is like, it’s not just his gnocchi that were dense. Stop trying to be Tony. You know, from Tony I would have laughed, but I dislike Rocco so much that it’s no longer funny. Nimma made baby food. Erik made a terrible dish, even without the added requirement of making a soufflé. Mark made some dish that was not duck a la orange, except that it had duck in it. Backstage everyone is talking about how much it sucks to be in front of the judges.

Commercials. Is it wrong that I find this whole situation on “Make Me a Supermodel” with Perry and Perry’s girlfriend and Britney Spears to be absolutely hilarious? Because I find it hilarious. Also, I would like to be placed on a yacht with an all-star water polo team. Oh, the weekly question. 78% of viewers said that Zoi and Jen didn’t have an advantage because they’re a couple. But Bravo circled the wrong answer. Good job.

We rehash the same things the judges said 10 minutes ago. Why is there so much insistence on knowing how to make the classics? I don’t remember that before. Nimma is out. She tells the judges that she’s not going to stop. I’d like to point out that she was the youngest contestant, at 26. She’s going to keep studying and learning more.

This season: some complaining, the zoo, tailgating, didgeridoo! Some yelling in the back room about nothing, I’m sure.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Meet the fresh meat

Well. It's time for a new season of "Top Chef". Is there anyone with talent? Anyone that will annoy the majority of viewers before he or she can say more than a sentence? And the important question: Is there any eye candy? Oh, you know it. First impressions based on Bravo bios, after the jump.

Andrew, 30, sous chef. Andrew is the one in the commercials that stands in the back, and when you only see a split-second you think that CJ is back and you're thrilled until you realize it can't be him. Apparently Bravo asked everyone for their "Favorite simple spring recipe" and his is a Thai salad. It actually sounds pretty good, even though it has mango and I don't like mango. He likes being diverse in the kitchen and mixing different cultures. I don't mean to stereotype, but I must admit that I rarely see any "ethnic" chefs that are concerned with multicultural influences and fusion in their food. He is firmly in the "food is art" school, but at the end of his video he quotes Monty Python so points for that.

Antonia, 31, executive chef at Foxtail in LA. Sadly when you Google "Foxtail restaurant" you get a gang of links for Lindsay Lohan leaving the place. She loves root beer floats with her daughter and comfort food. Lord, I sound like a dating video. These videos on the Bravo site are too much like dating videos.

Dale, 29, sous chef. I know, another Dale. This one's Asian, though. His simple recipe? I had to look up "ponzu" (citrus sauce) and "myoga" (ginger) and I only know what matsutake mushrooms are because one time they were the secret ingredient on "Iron Chef". Old school "Iron Chef". That being said, grilled mushrooms with ginger and spicy citrus? Sounds pretty good. He seems to be a perfectionist.

Erik, 38, executive chef at Circa in San Francisco. Circa is described as "New American" and the menu looks pretty good. Erik is self-taught, which is probably why his simple spring dish is actually simple: lamb with garlic. In his video he has torn the sleeves off his chef jacket. I hope he doesn't wear that on the show, he'll get in trouble like Stephen. He really likes to do fancy comfort food, which should be interesting. I like him.

Jennifer, 35, executive chef at COCO500. Her recipe involves tongue. Yeah. But the restaurant menu sounds absolutely delicious. Cipollini onions with bacon in cream sauce, topped with bread crumbs. Tasty. She's got classical training so that should be interesting. A classically trained female chef with a fauxhawk in her video. And she doesn't eat junk food! It's one thing to say that you try not to eat junk food, and another to refuse to eat it. It's like when people are all, "Oh, I don't watch TV".

Lisa, 27, chef. No job listed, because she quit. She's from Canada so my friend Oriana will like her. She really likes Asian food, but we don't get any good explanation of why. Her recipe is making me very hungry: chili rubbed lamb with strawberry-rhubarb jam, balsamic reduction, and fresh mint. It sounds so good. She's like the third person to say they love their Japanese mandolin. Essential kitchen gadget, it would seem.

Manuel, 33, executive chef at Dos Caminos. He makes authentic Mexican food, but he is classically French trained. Which is interesting because it doesn't look like he pulls the French influence in at all. He worked for a time with Mario Batali and I am waiting for a namedropping. In his video he says he likes the instant gratification of cooking, where you cook and there it is. I also like how he acknowledges how everyone is saying they love Asian food but he does not make Asian food.

Mark, 29, sous chef. Mark is from New Zealand and I am praying he still has his accent. Cute boy + New Zealand accent? Just look at Phil Keogan. He's self taught and it looks like he started in kitchens as dishwasher and moved up the ladder. Should be interesting. And I am listening to his video and OH he still has his accent. And living here has giving him a Krispy Kreme addiction.

Nikki, 35, chef and co-owner of 24 Prince. The menu looks like simple American food, but it sounds good. She's concerned with the business side of things too. She looks kind of like Courtney Cox. I don't like her. I know, there's no reason for me not to. I'm just telling you my gut reaction. Even though she knows to listen to Padma and remember the challenge.

Nimma, 26, cook. Cook? OK then. Not much here to work with. No background, no stories in her written bio. She is the youngest contestant though, which is kind of nice considering that the average age of a reality show contestant is younger. Her dad used to cook and hooked her into it. She likes cooking vs. baking because baking can be a very precise activity. She loves Italian, but she's also quick to say that she makes other styles of cuisines too. Is it not cool anymore to like European food? Or to stick to one country's food if that country is the US, Canada, or any Caucasian country? Is that like Rami's draping?

Richard, 35, chef and culinary designer. Culinary design involves architecture and interior design, but only for kitchens? And includes design of utensils and stuff as well? I can't get a good grip on it. He has a fauxhawk. If he was a food, he would be an artichoke because they're prickly but also delicious. And you want to bite it? Sorry, couldn't resist. Side note: You might see his picture and make snap judgments, but apparently this is the first season without any openly gay contestants. Plus his profile says he's married. Points for admitting you started at McDonald's. And for implying there will be immersion circulators.

Ryan, 28, chef. Oh, tasty Ryan. He does some charity work and makes Mediterranean and French food. Delicious sweet eye candy. Well, much of that is his smile. He likes the power of cooking, that you can make food with your own two hands, and make or break someone's night. Interesting. I enjoy that he will splurge on beer and pizza. That seem so unpopular, to say your favorite food is something simple and unhealthy.

Spike, 27, chef de cuisine at Mai House. Spike has an odd name, but I have to give points to someone who has worked with Thomas Keller and has classical French training, but wants to open a restaurant that servers burgers and fries. And milkshakes. Can't forget milkshakes. He's also pretty cute. He loves the social life and the whole ambiance of restaurants, not just the food. His video contains a mini-rant about sucky lemons.

Stephanie, 31. She at one point was chef/owner of Scylla, in Chicago, but her bio lists her as "traveling" and planning her next move. Her restaurant is closed, she sold it, but that's all the info I have. She loves to make seafood, so watch for that. And cheese. I think she mostly eats cheese, as opposed to cooking with it.

Valerie, 32, personal chef. Oo, pork pot stickers. Another "multicultural" cuisine person. Look, I'm all for fusion cuisine, which I think can be excellent, but sometimes I feel people are just making stuff up because they can, and then going around showing off how diverse they are. It's possible her food is good, I don't know. I guess I should give everyone the benefit of the doubt. She says she doesn't have a least favorite ingredient, but her least favorite food is beets. Because apparently in her mind beets aren't an ingredient.

Zoi, 30, chef and restaurant consultant. She's self taught and is in the "food should be simple, rustic, seasonal, and local" school of thought. Hilariously, her least favorite ingredient? Beets.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Project Runway 3/5/08--"Finale pt. 2" summary

Previously on Project Runway: Everyone worked on their Fashion Week collections, Tim had advice for everyone that everyone decided they wouldn’t listen to, entirely, and the judges stopped jerking Chris around and eliminated him. But not before they were horrified by his human hair trim. Ha. Ha, I say. (click for more)

3 days to go. Now is the time for people to freak out. Christian is freaking out. Rather than talking about how awesome he is, he’s telling people he’s scared. Finally he is not full of himself and I like him better already.

In the workroom Christian is looking sideways at Rami’s collection and being surprised and concerned. Everyone notices. Tim comes in to investigate. Jillian has a new striped top (or bodysuit?) and Tim doesn’t know if it fits her collection. She’s going to leave it in anyway. Rami says he toned down some stuff. Everyone is pretending to work but also watching Tim talk to the others. Tim loves a two piece dress of Rami‘s. Christian sounds pretty hesitant. He actually listens to Tim, which of course freaks Tim out. He says he needs to win. AND he’s praising Jillian and Rami, saying they’re creative and how can he compete with them? Wow, he really is freaking out. Tim leaves them with the news that model selection is in 30 minutes. Jillian’s never done that before. Christian demos the walk he wants.

Jillian wants some petite girls, and she thinks for too long sometimes, she says. Rami says some of the girls were terrible. Christian wants edgy girls and dark-skinned girls. And “walks for days” but doesn’t everyone want that? Everyone goes home to crash, and it looks like they moved all 3 into the same room.

2 days to go, and first thing today is makeup consultation. Collier Strong time. I’ve never gotten into the makeup segment. Except for when Jay made them look like aliens. Now is fitting time. Frantic working, and spying on other people. Rami snoots that Christian has to learn how to design for women and not models. Not so sure Rami designs for women. Whatever. One of Christian’s models complains about the shoes, which are booties with feathers. Like, think of rounded toed boots but cut at the same height as sneakers. Christian insists he traipsed around his apartment in those shoes so they can too. But they’re ugly and they look uncomfortable.

Jillian has laid out her looks, and she realizes that her group of models is all random looking (in that they don’t go together and everyone is different heights) and she wants to switch some out. Christian is like, whatever, her own fault. She’s calling around to try to switch some models.
In the morning Jillian is still complaining about the model selection, so Rami tells her to call the guy and stop whining. Well, not the last part. The guy basically tells her that it’s too damn late. Rami asks her if she could please focus on the positive, and she says, “No“. That’s totally me. When I get in that kind of mood, just go away and don’t tell me to calm down or whatever. (Kmanpat: “Totally! You can be such a bitch when--ow!”) Hair consults follow.

6 hours left. More girls are showing up, I guess they didn’t get all the fittings done yesterday. Jillian says she just has to accept her models, and love the diversity of her models. Christian is tired of staring at everything, he just wants to get it over with. Everyone packs up in moving boxes, the kind with the metal bar to hang stuff. That means they’re pretty much done, and ready to go. Tim comes in for one last gather round. Jillian, Rami, and then Christian. They have a group hug, and Tim says he’s so proud he has no words. That’s pretty damn proud. But you will note that he doesn’t cry like last season.

The day of the show they’re up at 4:15am. When they walk to the tents, it’s still pitch black outside. Everyone talks about how big this is and so forth. Once inside the tent they have another group hug. Christian says the runway is long, but that’s just because he’s short, I think. With two hours left, people are looking for girls, and they have teams of dressers that are helping sew. Christian’s girls are late and he’s so over them. Random shots of inside the tent with various Runway alumni and other Bravo celebrities. (Kmanpat: “Oo! Danny V! Yum!“) Christian completely flips out because he’s missing two girls. One shows up, but with 30 minutes to go I think one is still missing. He’s actually crying and saying how unfair it was. When she gets there we don’t get an explanation of why she was so late. All of Rami’s models have either headbands or one braid down one side of her head. Everyone talks about how big this is, how emotional, they’ve finally made it, etc.

Heidi comes out in a shiny top that could be made of safety pins. Posh Spice is the guest judge today. There is an old Asian woman behind Posh. I don’t know. Sorry, I’m looking for reality show alumni in the crowd.

Jillian says she was inspired and this is her first collection. You can see pics here. (Look, I know the formatting is messed up. The whole blog is messed up. Blogger really pisses me off sometimes.) If you want to see pictures of Chris’s and Sweet P’s collections, use the tags on the side. They’re not showing up on the front page for some reason. Nina at one point is chitchatting with Niki Taylor. The short dress with the square neckline gets applause, but not much else. And the pants that look like a dress. Other than that, nothing new comes from watching the clothes in motion, other than that all her models can walk and no one trips over the clothes.

Rami says he celebrates women. Which every designer says, at one point or another. He thanks his family and friends. Rami’s collection. There’s clapping for…I am not sure. The gold dress, the draped one that is the most Rami, gets applause and from Heidi too. And the gold striped dress? The model trips a tiny bit. The long black dress from last week, everyone loves. And those last three girls, the two gold dresses and the black dress? They are walking VERY carefully.

Christian just says, thanks for coming, like they came out just for him. Christian's collection. He would love to dress Posh. He gets a lot more applause than everyone else did. I like the way the ruffles everywhere bounce when the models walk. And the one in the feather dress didn’t trip or anything.

The producers make sure to have lots of people vote for each designer. My only comment about that is, Padma should totally hire Jillian to make her clothes for “Top Chef”. She could do better than some of the crazy stuff she’s worn in the past. Personally, I liked that in Jillian’s collection there were surprises: the wide-legged pants, the black sweater than looked like a jacket. And I like her tailored look. Rami’s was beautiful but it feels like clothes for movie stars and celebrities and nothing I would ever see around here. Christian’s clothes are worse than Rami’s in terms of wearability, but they make more of an impact. You say, “That dress is made out of feathers. No one in their right mind would wear a dress of feathers. But it’s crazy and awesome.”

The judges were all impressed, these three could fit into the rest of Fashion Week, blah blah fierce-cakes. The winning model gets a fashion spread too. I just noticed, none of the models were wearing the last showstopper looks. Jillian kept her inspiration that she used for the art challenge. Posh likes the details. Everything was feminine and modern, and Kors was surprised by the knitwear. Heidi saw something new. Nina loved that she took a chance, but then her collection looked a little disjointed. Christian talks about hard and soft effects, he’s babbling, and everyone knows he‘s nervous. Posh loved everything, it‘s her own style. Kors labels it “chic drama” and the last dress with the feathers was spectacular. But they were almost all black and it can get boring. Posh didn’t care because she loved everything. Rami discusses Joan of Arc and separates. Heidi loved it (shocking) and they loved the woven pieces. I only saw one woven piece: the green dress. They show on replay the weaving on the back of one of the blue dresses, which was impossible to see on the first run through and is nearly impossible to see now. Kors didn’t like the primary colors but the presentation was cohesive, and he showed every style and category “from soup to nuts” whatever that means. Posh knows he spent a ton of time making things. He has a strong point of view, Nina says, and he tried to show separates, but his strength is in eveningwear. She does not tell him she was bored.

Kors liked Jillian’s sweaters, they were fun, and her clothes are accessible. Posh liked the silhouettes, but she doesn’t know her signature. They discuss commercialism. Christian paced his show well, and it was stylish. It’s not accessible to the average person. It looks overworked instead of effortless. Kors says Rami puts so much thought into his work you can tell. They don’t like his colors. Seriously, I was glad to see any color at all. Everyone makes up their minds.

Jillian stepped outside her comfort zone (huh?), Rami constructed perfectly (and has an enormous…talent), Christian is a showman even though he‘s barely old enough to drink. Jillian is out. She’s really disappointed, but she wouldn’t change anything. Christian wins. He totally loses it. I guess I’m not surprised. It was obvious the judges were impressed with Jillian but they didn’t worship her the way they did Christian and Rami. And near the end they got bored with Rami. They want craziness and impact. Rami says “you’ll be wearing my clothes”. I doubt it. Back on the runway Christian is still flipping out. Posh says she’d be honored to wear his clothes. Perfect. He pretends he knew it all along. Now he’s taking a “vacay” because he needs a “breaky-break”. He’s such a freak. And I say that lovingly as a person who has many freaks for friends. And he wins a car! To drive around New York! Where no one has cars! Haha!

Casting call for next season! Heidi tells people to bring attitude! So we’ll have another season of drama. Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week for “Top Chef”!
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Project Runway Fashion Week--Christian

Time for Miss Puffy Sleeves, after the jump.

Yes, her hat is covered in feathers. Other than that, it's a plain top and the skirt is covered in ruffles. It makes an interesting silhouette.

The top has those huge shoulders, and then a little patch that's sheer, and then elbow-length gloves, basically.

Blah. I can't see any details so from here it looks pretty boring.

Classic Christian. I don't know why you can see her zipper.

I know I'm not saying a lot, but there isn't a lot I can say that I haven't already said about Christian's clothes. Although I can say that I need some color, already. I guess he made the puffy part of the sleeves sheer so that's new.

I'm not sure what woman would wear a giant ruffly coat. It's cool, though, I guess.

How can that poor girl see? I mean, huge amounts of fabric at the throat, OK, but why do you need the hat too? At least the rest of the outfit is slim and fitted. Oh, and I guess there's some color, if you count beige as a color.

This is very much like Christian's art outfit, but the jacket is actually brown and fuzzy. It's like, fleece or something. I'm not sure.

The reason her shoulders look weird is because those panels are sheer. And I still don't like the exposed zipper.

Not only are there ruffles, but there are also feathers on the blouse. Not a ton, but mostly on the shoulders and down the front. There are also a couple peeking out of the folds on the sleeves, and then more on the backs of her hands on the gloves, and also on the tops of her shoes. I think the ruffles drown out the feathers so they aren't as obvious. Also the pants have a paisley print to them.

Even though this is asymmetrical, I still like it and I think you have to have the belt or else it's really bad.

Oy. You'd think that was a leopard print on top, right? Oh no, those are more feathers. Her entire upper body is covered in feathers, along with her head. And the feathers continue down the side to the skirt, and I think the entire train might be ostrich feathers. I wonder if she can walk in it. It replaces those feathered pants he had, but Nina and Kors might label it a costume and that would cost him.

Christian's collection is certainly the most couture of the finalists' collections, but with the judging this season being what it is, I can't tell if they'll yell at him for it or not. Although he may get in trouble for having so much black.
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Project Runway Fashion Week--Jillian

Jillian's past clothes have always looked like something she would design for herself, but this collection isn't completely like that. You know the drill by now. Click for more.

This dress is pretty plain, in that there aren't a ton of details, but there's a subtle herringbone pattern and it fits perfectly. I don't know what's going on with the balaclava or hood, with a hat, though. And I like how the belt pops.

This would be a Jillian outfit. I don't know what's up with the hat, but I like the scarf and the shape of the skirt. The fringe on the scarf works because the rest of the outfit is so plain. And unexciting.

I...don't know. On the surface it reminds me of the gold dress she made for her art outfit. But then there are the sheer sleeves, and then the bodice has odd piping. It looks like eyes. Her boobs look like they have eyes, OK? The heavy necklace is kind of too heavy, and then...footless tights. With editing it would be cute, I like the length and pleating details.

First off, you guys, that's not a coat, it's a sweater. That whole top is knit, which makes it even better.

Those shoulders are awfully pointy. There's a sheer piece of fabric that makes the points and goes down to her elbows. I like the silhouette of the whole outfit. I feel like I could go buy it, but I still like it.

Those sleeves are loops of yarn or something. They almost look like dreadlocks. Very striking. This outfit is totally something Jillian would wear.

I love the seaming on the jacket, and how the side panels are satin, but why would you have holes in the sleeves? Does she has some disorder where the inside of her elbows gets hot or something? I do like the red, though.

These clothes are reminding me of Karasaun's aviator collection. All tailored with hats and boots. I'm not sure I like how short the skirt is. Not just because no one would wear a skirt that short in public, but because I think to make the proportions better it could be longer.

Why are there holes? And what is on her head?

This is basically a high waisted cocktail dress, but the full skirt is cool and the square neckline is one you don't see every day. I wonder if some socialite will watch the show and call her up.

One of the few pops of color in this whole collection. The sleeves look like the ones Rami had on his clothes. I like this one too, even though I don't have a lot to say about it.

This picture is misleading. For a long time I thought this was a dress, but it's pants. The top is trimmed like a corset, and then the pants are full and pleated. It makes you look twice and it's really interesting.

I like Jillian's collection, but the lack of color and the simplicity of some of the outfits is kind of boring. Everything fits beautifully, but I find myself wanting color. It's pretty good, though. Clicky clicky

Project Runway Fashion Week--Rami

I'm in a pretty good mood right now, so I'm going to do Rami's collection first. While I don't blame him for his beating Chris or anything, I just don't know that he's as great as the judges seem to think he is. Also there's the issue of having feedback from the judges already, but I'll talk about that at the end. Photos (from Blogging Project Runway) after the jump.

Rami likes to do asymmetrical tops. Most of the bodice is fine but the wide collar is only sewn on her left side. On her right side the pleating goes up to the neckline. I do love this color. I don't know how cutting edge this dress is, but it would sell well.

Again: this is pretty basic. It's OK, but it doesn't blow me away or anything.

So this looks like three pieces: red pants (with a shiny tuxedo stripe down the leg), the black and white blouse, and the black piece. It's like a vest, but cut under her chest, with a sash that reminds me of a kimono sash. The neckline and the way the sleeves are also remind me of a kimono, specifically the way one looks when you tie back the sleeves. The fabric I think is all one piece, so it changes from light to dark. It's draping, but not Grecian, so it's got that going for it. What you can't see is the racerback on the vest. I don't know about that.

This is his black and white dress that Nina loved so much. I could find another picture, but I think we all remember it from the last episode. Again, non-Grecian draping. I wonder if he had done some of that during the show, maybe there wouldn't have been such a backlash.

This dress has the same sleeves and collar as the first one, although on this one the fabric on the sleeves covers over where the collar would be so you only see it in the front. Other than that it's just a babydoll dress. Props for using this color on the Asian model, though, because I love this color and it looks great on my (half)Asian skin.

This top has ruffles and it reminds me of Christian's clothes. Except for the sleeves; they are cut up to the elbow and then they're bell sleeves, sort of. The skirt has cute pleats at the bottom, but it also has those panels on her hips that he likes to do. Those don't look good on everyone. There's a lot of detail here, and elsewhere, the panels almost look like quilting details.

The jacket looks cute. The blouse has a high neck and it almost reminds me of Danny V.'s orchid blouse but it's not as big. And this shot doesn't show the pants well. Oh, the pants. They don't fit right in the hip so the model looks weirdly huge. Then they taper down to the ankle, where there are buttons and what looks suspiciously like a cuff on a sleeve. Hmm, sleeves for pants, where have I seen that before?

This is the first dress that made me say, Wow. Good wow or bad wow. First let's get it out of the way that I don't like the headband things. OK, now for the dress. The bodice is woven, and it's gorgeous. The drape across the front is woven under the strips, which holds the drape in so it won't move the same way that his draped dresses do, and it keeps the bodice cleaner. I'm not a huge fan of the color or those shoes. But I bet this dress gets a lot of press.

These pants fit better than the other pants, I think. The collar looks quilted, with another plain fitted piece at her waist. I don't know about the one sleeve thing.

Oh, come on, like Rami would make a whole collection and not have a single Grecian dress. The draping is minimal, if that makes you feel better.

I cannot imagine how long this dress took to make. Every stripe is a strip of fabric. Some of them are ruffled, like on the sleeves, and some of them are either tacked down, like around her waist, or they're just stretched tight. The dress fits beautifully except right around her chest, which is weird but I don't think it's the way the strips are, I think it really doesn't fit. This is a beautiful dress, though.

This is the same dress Rami showed in the last episode, without any editing. Meaning the circles are still on her hips. But it's still a great dress.

Notice what's missing? No blue coat. I am pretty sure that the black dress that was underneath isn't here either. Nor is the yellow coat that Tim picked on when he visited Rami in LA. I'm not sure if he brought an extra look just in case, or if he made something last minute, but I'm sure we'll find out on Wednesday. But this brings up the point that people have been making, which is that not only did Rami get time to edit his collection like everyone else, but he got direct feedback from the judges before the final show. Nina and everyone hated that blue coat, so he cut it. I'm not sure that's fair to Christian and Jillian. I mean, Tim is great, but he's not choosing a winner. I hope Christian and Jillian address that, or someone does. Rami's collection is beautiful, but not particularly groundbreaking. It's almost ready to sell right now with no editing. No one ever makes it clear if they're looking for commercial appeal or avant-garde, or some combination. Obviously the judges can look for one or the other but be consistent! I've already ranted about that so I'm just going to say that it looks like Rami lightened his styling too.
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