Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Top Chef 4/16/08--"Tailgating" summary

Previously on Top Chef: Ming Tsai was there, but no one stepped up to the challenge, really. The Quickfire tested people’s palates, and showed us that even a chef sometimes can’t tell the difference between real crab and fake “krab”. Then everyone had to make appetizers based on the four elements and Lisa won for using bacon, which isn’t so related to Fire, but bacon is great nonetheless. Then Zoi couldn’t season her dish properly so she was sent home. I don’t agree that Spike threw her under the bus; the judges were quite aware of her problems. So Jen and Spike and Antonia and Dale and Lisa shouted at each other. I’m sure that’s over and done with and they’re all going to be adults about it now. Click for more.

Spike complains that people want him to go home, so he decides that since he is such a threat, that must be why people hate him. His shirtlessness is counteracted by the asshat he’s wearing (and being). Jen is tearful about how Zoi is gone and it sounds like she‘s been crying for a while. Ryan gloats that he is on the outside of all of the tension about Zoi. Lisa begins the day by saying she doesn’t like the tension between her and Dale. However, when Dale apologizes, he says that he‘s sorry he spoke to her that way, but her negativity “to [him]” is really hard to deal with. So now she thinks he can piss off. I thought he gave a good apology, but it’s obvious that when Lisa said she didn’t like the tension, she didn’t include her own contribution and just meant “I don’t like that Dale was a jerk to me”.

For the Quickfire there is a row of pitchers of beer. Nikki thinks this will be fun. Heh. Koren Grieveson is the guest judge today. Padma tells us this episode is about simple pleasures. Everyone gets to taste 3 of the 16 beers on the counter and pick one, then take 30 minutes to make something. Stephanie is pleased, but Dale doesn’t pair beers. Mark chugs his tastings. Jen says her fauxhawk is like a shark fin so it‘s appropriate that she got “Land Shark“ beer. Shush. Richard says about 15 seconds worth of big words that boil down to “I’m making a simple sandwich”. Dale is trying to grind up pretzels in a food processor but it’s not working. Jen says she’s more fired up than everyone because she’s doing it for Zoi. Look, I’m sorry, but if I have to hear from Jen about Zoi, every time she gives an interview, it’s going to get old quick. And I know the editors have as much to do with that as Jen does.

Richard: Grilled tuna sandwich with pickled vegetables. He doesn’t mention the beer, and I must be honest, I don’t drink beer that much and have no idea about it. So I have no idea what any of these beers are or taste like, really. No reaction from the judges. Andrew: rainbow trout with raspberry gastrique and peaches. Koren wants acid. Dale: roasted pork tenderloin with miso caramel sauce and a pretzel crust. He tells us this is a totally new dish. Antonia: miso glazed cod with Napa cabbage. Nikki: citrus marinated fried shrimp with Asian coleslaw. Stephanie: steamed mussels with cilantro vinaigrette and grilled bread. Mark: juniper spiced lamb rack with honey and beer sauce. Ryan: a lot of big words. And no chyron. Espaulette, with crepinette and lamb? I don’t have any idea what he is talking about. I think a crepinette is a sausage patty. Spike: charcuterie plate and clams tapas. Koren doesn’t like it so Spike, of course, decides “she doesn’t get it”. Lisa: bacon cheeseburger with chips. More heat needed. Jen: shrimp and scallop beignets with fennel, avocado, and pepper purees. Those sound good. I would consider trying to make them, but I have purchased the Top Chef Cookbook and seriously? You can’t make any of that stuff. Everything takes like an hour at least. It’s not for normal people. That being said, I do enjoy an episode by episode grid of who won, who lost, guest judges, and on each recipe it says what challenge it was for.

Bad: Nikki, too much breading and not enough seasoning. Spike didn’t unite his components. Dale wasn’t moist enough. Lisa smirks, not at the joke but at Dale being in the bottom. You can’t be the bigger person that way, you know. Good: Richard, bold flavors, Stephanie, great taste, Jen, balance. Pretty much the top three all taste good. Jen wins. Spike is kind of a bitch about it, but not as much as Lisa. He seems to be more like, “she won, yay lesbians.”

Elimination challenge: everyone gets to go to the Bears game. Woo! Tailgating! Mark starts talking about rugby, and I would imagine that rugby fans enjoy a good BBQ as much as these people do. The fans will vote for the dishes they like, and that’s how they’ll decide the top and bottom three. Jen is apparently going to dedicate this whole season to Zoi. She never talked this much about Zoi when Zoi was actually around. Spike didn’t keep her from seasoning her mushrooms, OK? Jeez.

When everyone gets to the store Spike runs straight to the meat counter and claims all the chicken wings. Oo, he beat you. So now people are scrambling to find something else. Richard is too refined for tailgating so he’s making a “pate melt”. Oh you heard me. At least he admits it’s more of him being a wiseass. Nikki is making sausages and peppers. Yum. Mark complains that he wanted to do shrimp on the barbie, but other people have shrimp so he’s readjusted. Ryan says he’s a metrosexual. The sound in that clip is weird; more echoy than the interview. Is that from his audition tape? Anyway, he’s going to do something Californian, and it’s obvious he never goes to football games, because I am positive that Niners fans and Raiders fans eat the exact same food Bears fans do. He jokes that they can charge Mark for his food and says, “Is that OK baby?” And now they have their arms around each other with their heads together. (Kmanpat: “It‘s OK with me!”)

Everyone cooks. Andrew says everyone likes bacon. Stephanie has a high opinion of Bears fans and thinks they like something a cut above. Spike is throwing things around and going all out because that’s who he is. Jen is making chicken skewers with tzatziki, I think. Ryan is making bread salad, chicken thighs, poached pears, and chili spiked cocoa? Huh? Richard scoffs at Ryan’s many courses as if he isn’t just mad he didn’t think of it first. He reminds us that they’re cooking for the masses, which normally would get him in trouble for dumbing it down, but because the fans are going to vote I think it’s valid. Lisa has flank steak so she is “beating [her] meat.” Yeah. Mark curses at the blender.

Tom appears to harass people. He manages to talk to Jen with no mention of Zoi. Antonia is picturing big men who like to drink beer. I think she is picturing Tom. Ryan says his food is light. I don’t look for “light” at a tailgate, but it’s been so long since I tailgated I’ve forgotten what I had. They are running out of room in the fridges and the coolers, and it’s so bad they’re putting duct tape on the doors so nothing falls out.

Everyone goes home and since they have a free night they’re all kicking back and relaxing. It’s not a team challenge so for some reason most people are more relaxed. Spike and Mark discuss the tub and their bubble bath (they still have shorts on) and Mark has a lot of tattoos. Hmm. Various people roll their eyes and are amused, but refuse to join in. Mark asks if they’ve never seen two boys sharing a bath before, and Antonia says “Only in West Hollywood” and compares it to a cheap porno. The sound guys oblige with porno music. I mean…what I assume is porno music. Because I wouldn’t know. Kmanpat? I’m sure he’d have a great comment here but his eyes are glazed over.

Out at Soldier Field there are many loud rowdy Bears fans. Everyone got a choice of grills, and Mark tells us he was the only one with the “testicular fortitude” to use a charcoal grill instead of gas. Hee. Padma brings over Gail, Paul Kahan, and Tom. They’ve given the judges personalized jerseys. Ha, Gail has to wear a football jersey. We’re reminded the fans get to judge and they’ll pick out the top and bottom. Stephanie has bacon, potato, and pear salad with her pork tenderloin, and a rosemary vinaigrette. Yum. The pork is cooked well. Dale all of a sudden gets ex-Bears players around him demanding ribs. He recognizes them too, which is really cool. Gale Sayers, Richard Dent, and William “The Refrigerator” Perry! Awesome! I even know who William Perry is. Dale fanboys for a little bit but the Bears are like, “Yeah, OK, food time.” Everyone loves his food: baby back ribs marinated in tandoori (spices I assume, you can‘t marinate “in tandoori“ because that‘s an oven, Bravo) and also potato salad with raisins and mango. Spike is schmoozing. He’s bugging people about winning Super Bowls, which is pretty stupid and obnoxious. Spicy wings and jicama pineapple slaw. They like the spice. Antonia does not recognize famous people. She has a grilled jerk chicken sandwich with pickled onion, banana, and pineapple. The pineapple and banana are on the side but Tom discovers if you put them on the sandwich it’s even better. They like her. Oh God, you have to have “touchdown” and “fumble” as scoring choices? Ryan is making random people help him, and Stephanie disapproves, but the fans are voting so it’s not so stupid to entertain everyone. Chefs have to talk to people sometimes, you know, and sell their food. Ryan starts talking about all his food: bread salad with sherry vinaigrette, marinated chicken, white wine poached pears, hot cocoa with brandy. It’s hard to eat. Oops. Andrew has found a helmet to wear, of course. He’s drunk or something, all ADD spazzing and speaking in falsetto to make fun of Gail, but Gail is giggling. He’s serving glazed shrimp and potato parsnip puree, bacon, and apple chutney. His head gets stuck in the helmet. Hee. I think Gail has a crush. Lee Anne’s blog calls him “Spazz McGee“, which is super entertaining since I have a friend with that last name who is a total spazz. Nikki tells someone to come back for seconds, since the initial portions are small. Lisa serves skirt steak and corn cake with salsa verde. Jen has chicken skewers marinated with harissa and quinoa tabouli. Richard (using the royal “we”, ugh) has pork and veal pate burgers and curry mayo and “pickled cucumbers“. Pickled cucumbers…wouldn‘t those be…oh what‘s the word…PICKLES?!?!? He is doing well, sadly. Mark is stressed. He’s flailing with the grill and he drops a spoon. Stephanie snobs that she always cooks clean. You know, at first I liked Stephanie but she’s so superior today. Mark‘s food: chicken and scallion skewers with soy and onion glaze, and New Zealand corn chowder. I don‘t think the scallions are on the skewers themselves, they look like a slaw. Tom says he’s a mess and some fan doesn’t like it. Nikki describes her food as “man” food. When the judges show up, she’s almost out of food. Way to plan. She’s out of peppers, but not sausage or shrimp. It’s supposed to be sausage with peppers and onions, grilled shrimp with spicy sauce, and hot cider. She’s all worried about it, and the judges are annoyed that she didn’t make the sausage herself. Richard and Lisa and Dale are named as great. Actually they praise a lot of people. Afterwards there is shenanigans and horseplay.

Back at the kitchen Padma comes to get Antonia, Dale, and Stephanie as the winners. Antonia says that having the fans in charge changes your thinking. Tom tells Stephanie that the pork could have been seasoned a little better but everything else was tasty. Gail was “hesitant“ about the rosemary. Does she have an issue with that like with her eggs? Antonia didn’t put her pineapple in the sandwich because she wanted it to be more than a sandwich. Uh, that’s the point. They love Dale’s food too. The judges get to pick the winner, which is Dale. He gets a “Top Chef” Bears jersey and the grill he used during the challenge. Cool.

Mark, Nikki, and Ryan get called out. Loser gong! Nikki knows she’s there because she ran out of food, but the fans didn’t like her food either. She didn’t know about the timing to make her own sausage so she didn’t want to make it. Tom calls her on that, since Richard made sausage patties and he had enough time. Nothing on the buns meant that the whole thing was dry. Also her shrimp didn’t relate to anything, when she could have mixed them with the sausage. Ryan had a totally random dessert because he wanted a “total dining experience“ which is always a phrase that grates me the wrong way. They like the dessert idea but not a poached pear, specifically. He wanted to cook like he’d want to eat. Gail says she didn’t get as much chicken as she wanted. He goes on and on about how the fans talked to him and were sweet, and he starts to talk about “California flair” but Tom cuts him off because that’s not what the challenge was about. Mark put a heavy sauce on his food which means that you couldn’t taste the charcoal grill flavor. Apparently he was also double dipping his tasting spoon and making a mess. They bug him for having a dirty apron, and I’m sorry but what the hell is an apron for but for getting dirty?

Nikki should have made her own sausage, and put in some more effort. Ryan should have made a sandwich, which would have been appropriate, but he didn’t want to do a tailgate. “Appropriate” is thrown around a lot as they talk about Ryan. Nikki backstage complains that Ryan won’t shut up. He’s bitching to Richard that he didn’t run out of anything. Mark’s corn chowder was gritty and his slaw wasn’t exciting. And he’s unsanitary.

Ryan first looks like he might cry when they yell at him, but then he looks confused when they continue. Nikki just nods, and Mark looks spacy as always. Ryan goes home. Bye, eye candy. He goes to shake all the judges’ hands, a move which annoys me. He says he cooked “too big” so they couldn’t handle it. Whatever. Ryan announces to everyone that this show teaches you that you’re not the greatest, except he just got done telling us he made “Ryan Scott tailgating” and if they didn’t like it then that‘s their problem. He “cooks with [his] heart”. Also he says his name a bunch of times. I guess the show didn’t shrink his ego like it should have.

Next week: pastry and dessert, comedy club and improvising. Lots of jokes that are actually kind of funny. Plenty of double entendres.


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