Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Top Chef 5/28/08--"High Steaks" summary

Previously on Top Chef: After making us think that we were having Wedding Wars instead of Restaurant Wars, the producers said “Ha ha! You fell for it!” and they had Restaurant Wars anyway. The teams were Stephanie, Antonia, and Richard, vs. Lisa, Dale, and Spike. The outcome was entirely predictable. Lisa blamed Dale for her poor attitude and bitched back at him whenever she had the chance. Dale ran around and cursed out waiters and Spike, and let Lisa serve nasty food. And made butterscotch scallops himself, which probably taste exactly like you are thinking. Spike chose stupid colors for the dining room and hid out there all night, so later he could be above it all and smirk off to the side while Lisa and Dale fought to be eliminated. Of those three, I liked Dale the most, so of course he was eliminated, leaving both Spike and Lisa to torment me. Awesome. (click for more)

Antonia is excited to almost be in the final 4. Stephanie notices that there are a lot of girls around. Duh. Not a lot of exciting interview clips today.

For the Quickfire everyone ends up at Allen Brothers, which is a meat purveyor. They all get safety clothing. And now they will be butchers. The weirdest part is like, a panel or shield over their abdomen? I guess to protect from knives. Haha, Spike gets a beard net. They have to cut chops from a rib eye. And French the bones. HMM SOUNDS FAMILIAR. I do believe “Hell’s Kitchen” just this season made people butcher steaks, although that show did not present them with what looks like an entire side of beef. They have 20 minutes.

The chops are dry-aged, so they’re really tough. Everyone struggles. Spike for some reason gets around this by slicing off the dry-aged part so now it’s really easy. Wasn’t the dry-aged part the point? On second viewing it looks as though he cuts off the fat, mostly. Lisa complains about making tiny mistakes and going home before making top 4. Please tell me this means she goes home. They pack up all the steaks and go back to the Top Chef kitchens. Weird.

Back in the kitchen Padma greets them with the news that there are 2 legs to the Quickfire. Rick Tramonto is the guest judge. Everyone has to make a “tomahawk” chop for Rick, medium-rare, and I hope you butchered it right! 30 minutes! Richard points out that this challenge has nothing to do with flavors, but with how well you cook the meat. Spike thinks he needs 5 minutes longer that he was given, for that size steak. He’s grilling and then finishing in the oven. Of course he has to interview about this in the most obnoxious “I’m a genius” tone possible. Richard can’t use his sous-vide (sous-vide steak, nasty) so he has to go old school. Stephanie is planning rest time. Antonia is basting with butter, which sounds pretty good.

Richard charred his steak with the torch? Huh? Lisa put hers in the pan. No flavors today, which makes my job easier. Rick doesn’t seem to be tasting anyone’s steaks, although he is testing the temperatures with his finger and inspecting everything closely. Weird. Near Spike’s station there are sample steaks. I was going to say more but everyone just explained how they cooked it and it wasn‘t exciting, except that everyone made sure to talk about the butter and rosemary and whatnot, that are now useless since no one is actually eating the steaks. I wonder what they do with those? Like, I know the crew eats the plate they use to take pictures. I hope they didn’t waste them.

Stephanie undercooked her steak and her bones weren’t clean. Richard also undercooked his steak and his cuts weren‘t consistent. Lisa, Spike, and Antonia did really well. Spike wins. Bleh. He says he’s here to play hard from now on. Apparently he wasn’t before when he was screwing people.

For the Elimination challenge, these 5 people are taking over Rick’s steakhouse tomorrow. Padma asks him if he’s sure about that. Everyone has to make an appetizer and entrée, based on what they find in the kitchen when they get there. Spike gets first dibs on proteins again. Lisa pretends she wouldn’t want that anyway, because she might get stuck with some crap she doesn‘t want. Also, this challenge could be summed up as, “Here is my restaurant. I want you to run it. Screw it up and you will wish you never heard of this cooking reality show.” Did the producers run out of ideas for challenges? Or did they hire some reject from “Hell’s Kitchen” to plan challenges?

Back home Spike brags about how butchering is in his blood, or something. Antonia humors him, but you can detect that she’s laughing at him a little bit. He wants to beat the girls. Richard has things to prove and thinks there’s no difference between going home now, and being the first one sent home.

In the morning everyone goes to Tramonto’s restaurant. The restaurant looks very posh and like I couldn’t afford to eat there. There’s a “wood burning fire oven“ (tm Antonia) in the kitchen. Spike gets to pick his proteins, so he takes the tomahawk steaks and some scallops. The scallops are frozen, though, so while people are pissed at first they decide that Spike may have screwed himself. Everyone picks out their ingredients. Stephanie is making sweetbreads for an appetizer, which she compares to Chicken McNuggets. Right. Lisa is making steak with peanut butter mashed potatoes. Um, what? Richard describes how he found some hamachi to make with crispy sweetbreads, and which is a deconstruction of some Italian dish he doesn’t describe or name. Lisa is in front of the oven, and she complains that it’s too hot, but Antonia wants to leave it open so the fire won‘t die. Lisa‘s like, what if I die? In kind of a joking way. And Antonia’s all, then I guess you don‘t go to Puerto Rico! But not joking as much. Ha. Lisa says, again, that she quit her job and she wants to make it. I do love editing. Spike’s frozen scallops are indeed sucky. He grabs a whole roll of paper towels to dry them so he can sear.

Tom time! Antonia is making a warm salad and rib eye. She tells Tom that the scallops Spike took were frozen. Stephanie is psyched about the challenge. Richard is nervous. In addition to the hamachi he’s serving beef tenderloin, with potatoes and turnips and a red wine reduction. Tom says that’s straightforward. For Richard. Richard complains that Tom told him he was “playing it safe”, which is not what he said at all. Lisa has “grilled and chilled” shrimp and then the steak has spicy apple caramel sauce or something, and then the peanut butter potatoes... Tom is obviously disturbed. And Lisa can tell, by this point. He then makes himself feel better by going to Spike and giving him a hard time about the frozen scallops. Spike says he has no problem with frozen scallops and there is the drum sound effect of “That was stupid.“ He also thinks if he can make these scallops rock then he can do anything. Tom is like, “Yeah, because that would be impossible.“ Tom calls everyone around to make an announcement: the judges will be eating with 3 VIP guests. Tom is expediter, which means that he is in charge of timing, calling out tickets, stuff like that. So Ramsay’s job, only with less cursing I’m sure. Now Spike is desperate to get the scallops to be good or at least “be pretty on the plate”. Antonia is putting her steaks on the grill now so when the tickets come in she can just chuck them in the oven. Richard gives basically the same interview Lisa did about how he wants to win and make it to the final 4. Well they can’t both be cut. Can they?

Everyone frantically works. Lisa barks at someone to get out of her way. Tom comes to introduce the VIP guests--the 3 past winners of Top Chef. Their advice is bland, except Ilan tells them not to shave anyone’s head. Heh. All the plates at the judges’ table will consist of a tasting portion, which is about 1/3 the size it should be. Apparently they didn’t expect this and it’s weird or something and will cause problems. I guess if you are serving a steak, and you need 6 steaks to be 1/3 the size of the other steaks, and you didn’t cut any portions that size, that might be a problem. Lisa is up first: grilled and chilled prawns, lemon zest, and tomato salad with crostini. They like the lemon, but not the chilled part. Richard has hamachi with crispy sweetbreads, radish, avocado, and yuzu. Rick tells everyone he would serve that in a heartbeat. Harold is pretty much scrapign his plate. Spike seared the scallops with hearts of palm and oyster mushrooms. The hearts of palm aren’t even fresh either. Everyone is like, meh. You can see as Rick chews slowly and picks at the rest of the food on the plate. Stephanie: sweetbreads with golden raisins and pine nuts, and a little bit of fennel, haricot verts, and bacon underneath. It looks good. Harold wishes the pine nuts were toasted but that’s it. It’s exactly what Spike’s dish was missing. Antonia: warm mushroom and artichoke salad, poached egg, bacon vinaigrette. Not the strongest but Gail approves of the egg which is something. You know how she is about her eggs. The rest of it was kind of bad and soggy.

Richard gets yelled at for dragging, but he says his dishes are “intricate“. Tom nags him. Richard: beef filet, potato puree, red wine, turnips, pickled Brussels sprouts. You have to eat everything together, though, and he deconstructed it. Lisa: N.Y. strip steak, spicy apple caramel sauce, peanut butter mashed potatoes. It looks normal. Somehow Rick likes the potatoes. The beef is under seasoned and tough, and Gail got a thin portion. Ha. Spike has the tomahawk chop, with sweet potato puree, Brussels sprouts, and cipollinis. The meat is great as long as you eat nothing else on the plate. And he put honey in the sweet potatoes, which seems pretty pointless. Ilan is pretty critical and he is still a famewhore because he Won’t. Shut. Up. Seriously, he’s talked at least twice as much as Hung and Harold put together. Stephanie: tenderloin with applesauce, salsify puree and wild mushrooms. They love it. Antonia likes Tom in this role of expediter. Antonia: bone-in ribeye, fennel and cipollinis, and a shallot and potato gratin. Ilan loves it but it’s rich. Pure steakhouse, say the other judges. Antonia says nobody knows what will happen. She’s probably safe then.

Back in the Stew Room everyone drinks and apparently Lisa has gotten rid of everyone she hates because she wishes everyone good luck. Padma collects all of them. Richard is up first. He tries to say he did well, but wises up and says that they should tell him how he did. The appetizer (which he’d never done before) was great but his meat was undercooked. Stephanie never looks like she’s under pressure. Until right now. They all loved the sweetbreads, but the entrée could have used more acidity. She‘s never made her dishes before either. Lisa’s shrimp was cold, and tasted congealed. She’d made her entrée before, and Rick wanted to hate it, but he didn’t. Technically, though, it could have been done better, like Tom said his portion was cooked more on one side than the other. Antonia says she made dishes based on what she likes to eat when she goes to a steakhouse. The gratin was perfect. Spike’s steak was cooked really well, but Tom is shocked he stuck with the frozen scallops. Rick tells him he should have changed his mind. Spike responds that “with all due respect” those frozen scallops should never have made it into Rick’s walk-in. Did you just call out a judge? “With all due respect” means “I’m not going to say you’re an idiot, but you totally are”. Rick is like, OK, there were frozen scallops in my walk-in, but you should take the shot that you used them. Spike shuts up, eventually. Padma kicks them out, but before Spike leaves he shakes Rick’s hand.

In the Stew Room Spike at least observes that he should have shut up. Tom likes this challenge because everyone was self-contained. The previous Top Chef winners liked something from each person. Stephanie had new dishes and they were both spot on. Richard scored on appetizer but not entrée. He looks OK because the appetizer was the best dish of the evening, appetizer or entree. Antonia is thoughtful and cooks from the heart. Spike had problems with both dishes, and he says he liked simplicity but if you go simple you have to be perfect. Tom thinks Lisa is apathetic about what she does. Padma says she has a great palate, but her technique falls by the wayside. Tom points out technique is how you make flavor. Gail thinks Spike put more work in his appetizer. For Rick and Tom, Lisa’s shrimp was the worst dish of the evening.

Everyone comes back in and they all hold hands which makes me ill. Stephanie wins. Woo! She also wins a copy of Rick’s book. Woo. But then Padma tells her that as the winner she gets a whole pile of appliances, as seen in the Top Chef Kitchen! Sweet! Richard’s appetizer was the best appetizer, and Antonia’s entrée was the best entrée, so those two make the finals as well. Does this mean that one of my two most hated contestants will go away?! Oh sweet goodness it does! Lisa has been in the bottom 5 times, and Spike 7 times. Damn. Tom bitches that they shouldn’t be shocked. He says that Lisa hasn’t shown her passion, and she doesn’t listen. Spike didn’t make everything perfectly, and the scallops were a mistake. Spike goes home. Lisa has more lives than a cat. Although, watching her make the finals and then failing there might make my bitter evil heart happy. Spike feels that he showed himself more than anyone else. Well…I am sure he didn‘t mean to show the country how scheming and annoying he was. It won’t hold him back, no one puts me down, blah blah. Lisa pretends she’ll have a clean slate in the finals. Antonia thinks it’s anyone’s game. Richard is ready to train.

Next week: Lisa has a short haircut, everyone hacks and pounds things…I am not sure what is going on. Clicky clicky

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Top Chef 5/21/08--"Restaurant Wars" summary

Previously on Top Chef: Everyone had to make healthy food, starting with salads. Actually, the salads didn’t have to be healthy but “sexy”. Yeah, I don’t know either. Season 2’s Sam came back to guest judge and provide eye candy, I guess, since he didn’t do much else. Not that I complain about eye candy. (Kmanpat: “Me either!”) After the salads came the healthy food, for some Police Academy recruits. Insert your own “Police Academy” joke here. Dale won by making bison lettuce wraps, which looked really good and probably did not seem weird to anyone on a low-carb diet. Spike, Andrew, and Lisa ended up in the bottom three for laziness, nastiness, and undercooked food, respectively. No one in the bottom was very nice to the judges. When asked if they had anything else to contribute Lisa sold out Andrew by pointing out he hadn’t used a whole grain in his dish so he hadn’t followed the rules. Lisa is very adamant about the rules, of course, since she got called out for them. Even though nothing happened. And she didn’t go home. And her partner didn’t go home. THEN she had the balls to try to apologize to Andrew, which made no sense because it’s one thing to make sure the judges know someone else broke the rules, and it’s quite another to expect him to be OK with it. In the end Andrew’s weird “sushi” didn’t impress the judges anyway so he went home. And the house and the set were terribly quiet. (click for more)

Tom comes to the Top Chef house at 5:45 am. Haha! Sadly he does not have pots and pans, but he is a bastard and turns the lights on. He says they’re going to “one of Chicago’s most famous breakfast joints” and they have to work the egg station. HA! Where is Julia!?! Everyone wants to make final 4. Oh, man, eggs are unforgiving.

Lou Mitchell’s. The hottest breakfast spot in Chicago, with a line out the door. Everyone has to work the egg station, and the one that would get hired is the winner. Tom gets to hang out and drink coffee. Spike says he used to be a short order cook but he hasn’t cooked eggs in a while. They go back to “The Hole” and they get to watch. Spike thinks the owner Helene is hard core. Antonia is first. She’s really good at repeating orders, talking like Gordon Ramsey loves to hear. Short order cooks seem pretty awesome right now, don‘t they? She seems to survive OK. Then there is a montage of everyone. Tom’s back there watching too. Stephanie flails right off the bat and breaks some yolks. Richard complains about not knowing diner lingo. Like “butterflied”, apparently. That’s the only lingo I have heard. Lisa melts a Styrofoam box. Spike screws something up. The owner shakes her head. Dale gets 4 orders at once but it looks like he fills all of them correctly.

Antonia was very calm and controlled and took direction well, and Dale was very smooth. Antonia wins! Dale looks kind of pissed. Actually, everyone is kind of pissed. Tom says he’s got a charity event and he won’t be at this challenge. That makes me immediately suspicious. Antonia gets a piece of paper with an address, and they have to use their phones to find it. Richard pretends it’s a “secret message”, even though Tom said to them, “Here is an address, go here and meet Padma.” Is his brain working today?

They end up at some loading dock, where they go in and there’s a blank space: hardwood floors, brick walls. Padma tells them that they actually are doing Restaurant Wars after all. SIGH. Lisa wants to make it “not to, but through” this challenge. Everyone gets $1500 for food, and $5000 at Pier One for everything else, and tomorrow they’ll get about 35 diners. Antonia gets to pick her team, so she picks Stephanie and Richard. Of course. Which means Spike, Dale, and Lisa get stuck with each other. Wedding Wars rematch! Dale pretends he would have picked the same people he got stuck with. At least they don’t have Nikki.

Richard has opened a restaurant before so he seems to be taking charge. Their name is “Warehouse Kitchen“. Meh. The term “gastropub” is thrown around. The other team is calling their restaurant “Mai Buddha” (eh) and Dale wins the coin toss to be in charge over Lisa. He is like, um, Asian restaurant, Asian chef. Come on. Agreed. Lisa and Spike talk while Dale listens and people talk about how they need to get along and Spike wants someone good to go home. All three of them have experience in Asian food, at least. Lisa for some reason is nervous that Dale has pissed off both her and Spike. I’m not sure why this makes her nervous. And I just realized: Spike didn’t want to be executive chef. He probably didn’t want to take the fall when they failed, the weasel.

The chefs shopping for food have to buy things like vinegar too. Dale says there are some things they need that they can’t find. That seems…odd. I mean, a place like Whole Foods should have random ethnic ingredients, wouldn’t it? Specifically the complaint is made about sticky rice and Dale finds some rice that is meant for rice pudding. Spike is like, there you go, so Dale grabs several bags. That will be important later. Over at Pier One Spike takes charge for his team, sending Lisa to get plates while he does décor. And Stephanie is going to do front-of-house for her team. Spike buys as many Buddhas as he can.

Everyone has to share the kitchen, but I think there are only 4 people in there so that’s not so bad. Spike and Stephanie set up the dining rooms. Apparently I was wrong, Antonia is in charge of Warehouse Kitchen, which Richard refers to as “a modern American gastropub“. First course is beet salad and goat cheese and ras al hanout, or linguine and clams. Second course is trout and cauliflower, or lamb leg and loin which they are calling “lamb squared“. Desert is Gorgonzola cheesecake and the banana scallops Richard made for the dessert challenge. Over at Mai Buddha the first course is shrimp laksa, which is a soup, or pork and pickled plum pot stickers. Second course: butterscotch miso scallops, or braised short ribs. Dessert: halo-halo or mango sticky rice. Antonia looks down her nose at the other team and their “Chinese” restaurant. Spike is making the short ribs, which can just sit and braise while he works in front. Antonia is making pasta, and they didn’t buy any backup so she’s freaking out.

In Tom’s place, to inspect, is Tony Bourdain, bringing his “warmer, sunnier disposition”. Woo! I love Tony Bourdain. Spike quietly freaks out because Tony has traveled and knows his Asian food. He asks about Richard’s smoke gun, which is not around. Tony also loves laksa, so no pressure, Lisa. It does my evil heart good to imagine that scene. Tony says that Warehouse is creating modest expectations, so they can exceed them easily, but taking no chances. Mai Buddha says they’re good at “Asian” food, but Asia is really big so you can‘t possibly be really good at all of it. And Tony has high expectations for laksa.

Tony lets the teams know that everyone gets an extra pair of hands. Namely, Andrew, Jen, Nikki, or Mark. Lisa’s team picks Jen for her “great attitude” (um…what?) and Antonia’s team immediately takes Nikki and tells her she needs to make pasta. Sadly the eye candy goes away. Dale’s halo-halo is somehow brown…I’m not sure what happened. But it looks nasty. Lisa says that he “claimed” he dropped a brown avocado into the mix. Her interview has a really odd emphasis on the word “claimed”, like she doesn’t believe him. He tries to drizzle some oil in but the whole thing breaks. Lisa tells us he’s on edge, right before she shrieks at Dale that he took her rice off the burner, and then she tells him to calm down. Huh? Weren’t you the one just shrieking? He tells HER to not to freak out, which makes a ton more sense, and she responds that he should “stop throwing stuff around” so she won’t come back to find her rice off the burner. And then she says she’s not going to start something with Dale, but he sets the tone and as much as she “tries to overcome” his poor attitude, if he’s in a poor mood she’ll be also. What the? Lisa’s bad mood is only caused by other people? I don’t think other people caused you to throw Andrew under the bus. Antonia and Nikki need to rinse the clams again. Antonia wants to be here tomorrow. Lisa’s smoked carcasses for the laksa taste mostly like smoke. But not heat. Spike gets a sour taste. He interviews that it sucks and she should have asked him for his recipe. Why didn’t you volunteer that? Does she even know you have one? He gloats that they can’t hold him accountable for the food. Stephanie tells the waiters to have fun. Spike loses his hat, thankfully, and he’s set up a sample table. Then he leaves them to set up the rest of the space. I am dying for him to come back to a colossal disaster but it doesn‘t happen. Lisa whines that she was “forced” to do the sticky rice, which isn’t sticky, and then Dale said to add pastry cream to make it sticky but then it’s mushy. 30 minutes left and everyone flails in a controlled manner.

Spike schmoozes. Stephanie is the first to meet the judges, including guest judge Jose Andres. Warehouse Kitchen has bright orange tablecloths with what look like gold runners. It looks kind of Asian, actually. Stephanie sends the first order in and tells them it‘s for the judges, so they will know what number table the judges are sitting at. Once the food arrives she describes the linguine and clams with sausage and horseradish crème frache. The beet salad looks good too. Tony says the linguine is better than expected. Everyone loves everything. Next up is the trout and lamb. They love the lamb presentation, which doesn‘t look weird or cool or anything but does look very appetizing. Tony thinks the lamb is wonderful, so you know it’s good. Also for some reason they love the trout skin and they are not kidding around. Dessert is Gorgonzola cheesecake and sweet potato puree and Concord grape sauce. The banana scallops are the same as before, with chocolate ice cream. The banana scallops have a brown smear of some kind, which does look unfortunate. Ted likes the cheesecake, as does Padma who expected to hate it.

Mai Buddha is decorated with silver tablecloths and purple napkins and is compared to “the back of Prince’s van”. Ted then asks if it’s Prince’s van, or the scarves hanging from Steven Tyler’s microphone. Hee! And it appears that Spike is right there which is fabulous! Lisa admits to a mistake with the laksa. The food sits in the window and Dale complains about it. But she bitches about this delivery, which isn’t that bad, except for the “f***ing a**holes“ he mutters afterwards. The spicy coconut shrimp laksa with noodles is too smoky, but the potstickers are pretty good. Spike wants the short rib portions to be bigger. Apparently the servings are too small in his mind. He’s all, I already voiced that concern twice. It looks pretty big to me. The short ribs have pickled red cabbage and apple basil salad. The scallops have a butterscotch miso sauce, and have spicy eggplant and pickled long beans. Tony (I think) calls them “Willy Wonka scallops.” Some random girl tells the camera she doesn‘t know what she‘s eating. Dale asks about the rice, and she’s all, the rice is ready, calm down. How are you going to work for anyone? Have you told him you’re ready? No? Then just say you’re ready and quit telling Dale, who is essentially your boss, to calm down. Dale tells us that Lisa is always negative and even though he doesn’t take criticism well, she takes it even worse than he does. Spike shows up with beers, I don’t know why unless he was hoping they’d start fighting, and Lisa starts to pour them. Dale tells her to finish the plates before drinking, and JEN says the exact same thing, and she’s like, we’re not drinking, relax! To Dale. Well, when you’re pouring the beer instead of plating, what the hell are we supposed to think? She’s just like my students. I want to suspend her. Actually, I wish she was on “Hell’s Kitchen” so Ramsay can lay into her. Oh, that would be sweet. Then we get this gem: “Dale’s unhappy with his choices, he’s unhappy with my mistakes, but at the same time ultimately it’s the chef’s responsibility to make sure the food is perfect, and Dale has not fulfilled his role as an executive chef.“ This tells me that Dale is probably going home, and Lisa blames him for her crappy food, when she hasn’t listened to him all night and has behaved in such a way that in most other kitchens she‘d be fired for insubordination. The halo-halo (with cantaloupe, coconut, kiwi, avocado, and candied nuts) is kind of green but not as green as it should be. Tony is bored but not annoyed as much as he is by the mango sticky rice with toasted coconut. Quote of the evening: “It’s baby vomit with wood chips”. This is why I love Tony Bourdain. Some people say they have to go out for dessert. Hee! Everyone gets comment cards. Richard and Antonia work the room. Everyone LIES and tells Spike they loved the food. He of course thinks he was the greatest.

Padma comes to get Warehouse first. Of course. Because they won, of course. Tony was impressed by everything. The beets (Richard) were smart, the pasta (Stephanie) was perfectly cooked. The gorgonzola (Stephanie) was also awesome. Stephanie wins. The guest judge says something about picking a concept, and I don’t remember seeing her come up with it but whatever. This team got along with each other and their food was good so they kind of got screwed out of screen time. She gets a “culinary tour” to Barcelona. Awesome!

Loser gong! Tony says they had “unpleasant aspects“ to their meal. Spike pretends that they all three of them picked out the design and colors for the dining room. Dale and Lisa look incredulous. Seriously, Dale is laughing into his hand. Tony said the décor announced that a greasy dumpling would be “unforgivable“, rather than a place where a greasy dumpling would be “a delight“. Dale cops to the scallops, and everyone says the butterscotch was nasty. Lisa cops to the laksa (and doesn’t blame Dale, so that’s something) and the smokiness. She says she was taught to do laksa with smoke, but apparently took it too far. Spike says he chose laksa, and his is different (and better of course, although he doesn’t say that out loud). Dale doesn’t know laksa, so he says he had to trust them, but then he gets attacked for being in charge and not knowing the menu. There looks like there would be some argument about the short ribs but as it turns out it‘s Spike‘s recipe, cooked by the other two, the way Spike told them to. But the judges naturally want to clarify, since no one would put it past this team to steal the credit for anything. The sticky rice is labeled “baby food garnished by potpourri”. Lisa blames Dale for the rice, and they have an argument about it, which ends when Lisa I guess claims that since she didn‘t actually take the rice off the shelf it‘s Dale‘s fault. This is so dumb. Jose says they aren’t a team, and accuses Spike of hiding in the front of the house. See, normally I’d label him a lucky bastard for being in the dining room while all this was happening, but since I’m pretty sure he did that on purpose so Dale and Lisa would self destruct and leave him standing he loses points. Dale tries to reason with Tony that Tony himself would wait to speak to his sous chefs until after service, but we all know that Tony would not wait to kick some ass. Lisa pretends that she responded to everything calmly and appropriately. I hope she watches this episode and calls Dale to apologize. I know I’m not going to be the only blogger tomorrow who is attacking her. Dale declares that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and there is a pause before Lisa says you’re only as good as your leader. Spike smirks and so help me God I want to smack it off his face. I try not to hate people I watch on TV for an hour a week, but week after week Spike and Lisa are unpleasant and smug and bitchy by turns and I’m tired of watching it.

Jose knows that Spike hid in the front of the house, and did his job, mostly, so he could stay out of it. Dale’s scallops were horrid, and he was not a manager. I think he tried. But Lisa had made her dishes before and she screwed both of them up. Tony can read her body language and knows Lisa has never accepted criticism from the judges. About the only thing that has gotten into her head is that everyone should follow the rules and be called on it whenever. Lisa stage whispers to Spike about how Dale sucks and she was trying to keep it under control, and Dale wants her to say it to his face. Spike for some reason tries to get him to shut up, but seriously? He could practically reach out and touch you. Who is in the wrong here? FINALLY the judges are ready. This crap needs to be over. Dale calls Lisa a bitch which I am sure people will decide is offensive or something. I know people said that the last time they had a big argument in the Stew Room and he grabbed his crotch. Sorry but I’m on Dale’s side.

Tony thinks Dale should have accounted for his dysfunctional team, Lisa’s rice pudding and laksa sucked, Spike hid from everyone and they are pretty sure he did it on purpose. Dale goes home. Of course. Because he’s the one liked the most out of those three. He knows he made bad decisions but he’s not a bad chef. He gives Spike a hug, and they bury the hatchet, I guess. He ignores Lisa, who is sitting by herself in the chairs in the Stew Room. He actually cries in his interview, which is touching somehow. Seriously, I don’t want to watch this show anymore, because the people that grate on me the most are still here and watching them be two-faced and lie and complain every week makes me mad.

Next week: there are a lot of cooking shots for some reason, and I guess the final 4 get to go to Puerto Rico because no one seems to be looking past this next challenge. And at the end all 5 of the chefs left are in front of the judges’ table HOLDING HANDS and it makes me want to throw my keyboard through the TV.
Clicky clicky

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top Chef 5/14/08--"Serve and Protect" summary

Previously on Top Chef: Rather than have Restaurant Wars, the producers thought they’d have the teams battle it out at some poor couple’s wedding. So everyone had a Quickfire relay race that caused Dale to flip out when his team lost, and then they stayed up all night cooking, and then had to work the buffet line the next day. Richard won, for leading his team and making good food. He graciously gave the win to Stephanie for making the wedding cake, which didn’t look half bad. She then graciously shared her Crate and Barrel gift certificate prize with Richard. Dale’s team had a huge menu but it was not done well. Everyone pointed fingers at each other, Dale most of all, but in the end Nikki went home. The groom wanted Italian food, but Nikki refused to take any responsibility for anything and made it very clear she didn’t want to be in charge. Spike continued to be an asshat. I’m getting pretty tired of him.

Stephanie plucks her brows in a mirror that appears to be in the hallway. She says it kind of sucks that Nikki is gone. Richard says they only got a few hours of sleep. True, the second day is worst. The first day you can pretend you just had a nap. Spike complains that Dale is a little bitch, and for some reason because Dale doesn‘t want to make friends that will haunt him, or something. Andrew says he’s the only one “still all crazy” today and he’s either going to stab someone or make great food.

The guest judge for today’s Quickfire is Sam from season 2. Antonia drools. Padma says they have to make salads and Sam wants them to be sexy. Everyone interviews about the importance of salad. They have 45 minutes to “bring salad’s sexy back”. Ugh.

Spike wants to have sex after he eats his salad? I try not to listen to him too closely because it makes me mad. Salads don’t inspire me to have sex. (Kmanpat: “They would if someone fed it to you by hand.“ Me:“…ew, now I am thinking about Spike feeding me salad.“) Richard talks about a ceviche of vegetables and fruit. Lisa is spying on other people and she thinks some people don’t deserve to be here, because their salads are simple, they have no skills, and their personalities suck ass. My head nearly explodes with the irony. Antonia is making smoked spinach salad with eggs and bacon. For some reason she mentions that Lisa is strong female competition. According to Antonia. Stephanie forgets her artichoke chip in the end.

Andrew: Thai fruit salad that includes mangoes, strawberries, and raspberries, with sriracha dressing. Yum! Spike has beef salad which he has named “Sensual Beef Salad“ (eye roll) with skirt steak, pineapple, radish, and cucumber. Eh. Sam is not impressed. I feel that is because Sam does not need “Sensual Beef Salad“ to get laid. Lisa has “sexy banana salad” with squid, lobster tail, bananas and yuzu vinaigrette. I would not order anything called “sexy” or whatever. Sam and Padma only taste banana. Stephanie has a “fall duet” with poached pear and artichokes, and pear vinaigrette, and makes the mistake of saying it’s missing stuff. Antonia: poached egg and spinach salad and wild mushrooms, bacon vinaigrette, squash blossoms, sunchokes. It looks good. Richard: “Fresh and Clean Salad”. God, that’s almost worse than the “sexy” label. It makes me think of a douche commercial. Anyways, it’s a ceviche of fruits and vegetables. Dale: poached chicken salad with nori paste, mirin, sake, and rice wine vinegar. The chicken is moist.

Sam doesn’t like Richard’s because it’s not acidic enough for ceviche, Stephanie’s pear vinaigrette was lacking and she had 45 minutes which is more than enough time to remember everything. Lisa made too much banana and it was a hodgepodge of stuff. Spike’s salad was well balanced, Antonia’s yolk was sexy…? Um, OK. Dale was unique. Lisa looks really pissed. That amuses me. Spike wins. Bleh. But I feel better when he doesn’t win immunity.

Sam and Padma then bring out two giant trays of fast food. Everyone pretends to be disgusted. You know they are eyeing the food. They talk about healthy eating, and then mention that this is a typical lunch order for the Chicago Police Academy. Their challenge is to make a healthy tasty boxed lunch instead. They must one ingredient from each of the following categories: whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Spike gets a 10 minute head start, and he also gets one ingredient from each group that only he gets to use. Stephanie knows he’s going to screw people over, which she is probably right about. Andrew is confident he can do some fancy food.

Spike’s extra 10 minutes is in the store. He is excited to be pissing people off, and is planning his menu based on the things most people will want. He admits that’s his strategy. Antonia threatens him with bodily harm if he doesn’t use his stuff. What an asshat. Andrew says Spike assumed everyone is stupid, and he picked the most dumbed down ingredients: chicken, bread, lettuce, and tomato. Everyone has to change up their menus on the fly. Andrew tells us he studied nutrition for two years. Oh, he is so cocky. I am afraid. He shoves things in people’s faces and tells them to smell the success.

There are 2 hours to cook, but Stephanie lets us in on an important detail: if the food has to be heated, they will have to leave instructions and think about reheating. Antonia is pretty confident about her curry beef, since she won the last “healthy” challenge with the family dinner. Andrew is making all raw food. With sushi. And parsnip and pine nuts for the “rice”. Why don’t you use brown rice? Stephanie doesn’t think sushi is filling, which…it is but maybe not for police academy recruits. Dale is making bison and lettuce cups. Oo, low carb. Antonia complains that he’s going to go down for only making Asian. But, he makes GOOD Asian food. Lisa is making brown rice, and leaving enough time for that. You know what? You can bake brown rice in the oven. It works really well if you don‘t spill the water all over yourself while putting the dish in the oven. She kind of flips out because Andrew’s just told her shrimp have cholesterol, and that’s not specifically in the rules (about low cholesterol). She also says how frustrating it is when there is nothing wrong with your dish except that you didn’t follow the rules. Unspoken is her obvious belief that “the rules are stupid”. And she didn’t go home for her not following the rules, nor did her partner, so whatever.

Tom comes inspecting. Stephanie is making soup. Lisa lets him taste the hot sauce and he stupidly does it. Even though she pretended to be concerned about the rules she doesn‘t ask Tom for clarification about cholesterol that we can see. Spike actually admits to Tom he screwed everyone on purpose but he promises to use everything he got at the store. Even though he wasn’t planning on it. Richard is making burritos. Outside, Tom thinks everyone seems OK and everyone is thinking.

Lisa is checking on her rice, but someone turned up the burner to high when she wasn’t looking and now it’s burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. And it takes too long to make more so she can’t fix it. Immediately she assumes someone did it on purpose. Stephanie and Dale both interview that things like that happen all the time in kitchens. Lisa is forced to put cooking liquid in the individual dishes and hope it steams on reheating.

Lisa hopes that her directions will allow her rice to finish cooking. In come the cops! Mm, men in uniform. Everyone describes their food, and I think the officers are allowed to pick whatever dish they like best. So in addition to making good food they have to sell themselves. Spike complains about having to listen to Richard ask people about burritos. Yeah, listening to Richard ask every single person that goes by “Do you like burritos?“ would bug me too. He looks normal without an asshat, does Spike. Everyone gets food and reheats it if needed in product placement microwaves. Spike for some reason is only putting two packages on the table at a time so it looks like he’s about to run out. But it doesn’t matter how fast he sells out; the recruits don‘t have any votes. Also, don’t roll your eyes at cheesy Richard and then play stupid games like that.

Stephanie: Mushroom and meatball soup with a puree of butternut squash, celery root, and apple. That is a huge container of soup. And are you supposed to put the puree in the soup? It is declared hearty and well seasoned by the judges. Spike: chicken salad with pita and raw vegetables. Pita? No mayo? Padma is bored. The tomato, bread, and lettuce are just sitting there in the dish, and he had plenty of time to do something with those ingredients. Two hours to make chicken salad? Dale: lemongrass bison lettuce wrap with a brown rice and herb salad. Tender and delicious. Antonia: curry beef and jasmine rice, and berries and figs with grape syrup. That looks good. Andrew: well, first he has to tell Ted about how he loves nutrition or whatever. Salmon roll with parsnip pine nut “rice” and nori and pickled ginger wasabi. He has a giant nametag. It’s weird food and also he didn’t use a whole grain. Not following the challenge! Richard: grilled tuna burrito with rice paper, quinoa, and lentils. It tastes better than it looks. It does look questionable; spring rolls are small but this is a huge white lumpy thing. Lisa: shrimp stir fry with brown rice and “pineapple hot sauce“, berries and yoghurt. Very spicy but the rice is still underdone. Andrew continues to be confident about his dish. Oh, Andrew.

Backstage Lisa complains about her rice, and Andrew realizes he didn’t use a whole grain. Oops. He doesn’t freak out too badly. Padma comes to get Dale and Stephanie, the winners this week. Dale’s bison felt like eating beef, so people were satisfied. Stephanie’s barley was so great, and her soup was well seasoned. Sam announces the winner as Dale. He wins a magnum bottle of Rutherford Hill, which isn’t that great, but he also gets to go visit the winery in Napa. He has an impressive win record: 5/20.

Spike, Lisa, and Andrew get called out. Andrew felt his dish was substantial, and he tells everyone like 5 times that he studied nutrition so he knows what he‘s talking about. The dish was small, and he says that you should eat that size meal every few hours. But they’ll probably get a candy bar later. He pretends that “hearty and satisfying” wasn’t in the rule sheet. Andrew, still getting grilled, wanted his food to be as healthy as possible, rather than an interpretation of something everyone would like. So, basically, screw the customers. Tom’s like, OK, how about something good then? Andrew gets pissy (well, more pissy) and sarcastic, and he says really? Because people went back for seconds. But Tom responds that they went back to get more because they were hungry. Sam calls Spike out on wasting the tomato, lettuce, and bread. He wonders what was so wrong about how he used his ingredients, and Tom straight out asks him if they were for him or just to make it harder on everyone else. Spike flat out LIES and says he wasn’t sabotaging anyone. Tom says olives, grapes, and chicken are a weird combination. Spike is pretty belligerent and basically implies that Tom is dumb: “Salty and sweet. What don‘t you understand about salty and sweet?” Tom explains, carefully, that olives are not just salty, so Spike tries a different tack and sort of shrugs that the judges have great educated palates but the common person loved it. Now you can tell Tom is getting dangerous because he very quietly says that Spike is welcome to take the common person’s word over his own. Oo. Spike eye rolls that it’s a lunchbox for God’s sake. Tom says, there are 7 people, and 4 were better than you, and Spike’s all, in your opinion, and Tom is like, too bad for you that my opinion counts. Ha! Lisa won’t even say anything about her dish, spitting that they called her out so they can tell her why she’s there. Eventually we get to the rice thing. Apparently the rice wasn’t the only thing wrong anyway, and you can tell the judges don’t buy that someone sabotaged her. They let everyone have a final comment, for some reason, and Lisa throws Andrew under the bus out of nowhere because he didn’t use a whole grain. Lisa is of course overly concerned that people go home for breaking rules. Purely to keep the world running smoothly, I am sure. After telling everyone that some people didn‘t follow the rules, she refuses to point fingers and give a name. Please. If you’re going to tattle, then you have to have the balls to give a name. Otherwise, just be quiet. Andrew fully owns up to it (and the judges already knew that he didn’t have a whole grain anyway), and the reason he didn’t use a whole grain? Apparently he lost his rule sheet early on. Lisa tries to soothe him for some reason; I think she is trying to apologize because she didn‘t know he lost his rule sheet. Andrew (rightly) tells her to shut up and no, he would not have done the same thing to her. Lisa says something about being far away from Andrew so she doesn’t get punched. Well, what the hell are you expecting? You just pointed fingers at Andrew, to make him look worse so you wouldn’t go home, and you’re going to play victim? Seriously? How can you expect that he’d accept your apology right then? You still hate Dale from like, 4 episodes ago.

Andrew is staring at Lisa and freaking Antonia out. He mentions that he said something to Lisa about shrimp and cholesterol, but she then threw him under the bus. The judges talk about Lisa’s food, that the rice isn’t an excuse and the shrimp were nasty and undercooked anyway. Lisa whines that she might get sent home for rice that someone else turned the temperature up on. Cry me a river. Spike’s chicken salad wasn’t that exciting, and he wasted his ingredients. Andrew didn’t use a whole grain, but even if he had he was very arrogant and doing whatever he felt like anyway, without any regard for the recruits. Andrew thinks Lisa should stand behind her dish and not mess with him. He tells her to live with her decisions and he hopes people see this. Lisa isn’t really saying much of anything, which is probably good.

Tom admits that this challenge wasn’t easy. He tells Andrew that he did make a healthy dish, but it was not satisfying or delicious. No mention is made of the whole grain thing. Spike’s dish was boring. Lisa didn’t really make a stir fry. Andrew goes home. Aww! (Kmanpat: “No more Spazz McGee?!!?” *sniff*) He says no bad feelings, but he won’t see these people again so he doesn‘t care, except for Spike. He calls Lisa weak. She pretends it sucks, but then says he should go home for not following the rules. She doesn’t care, don’t pretend you care. The judges don’t need your help. Spike promises him that they will “hook up” in NYC. Now it’s going to be boring. Sigh.

Next week: I think everyone has to be line cooks! Haha! And now they really are having Restaurant Wars. Flailing and producer interference, because there is no way Lisa and Dale were randomly assigned to work together AGAIN.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top Chef 5/7/08--"Wedding Wars" summary

Previously on Top Chef: For some reason Uncle Ben’s is a sponsor, and they made Padma pretend like real chefs would get anywhere near that stuff. Antonia was able to make something good in the short amount of time they left everyone for the Quickfire. Then everyone had to make meals for families with $10. I have looked online, and the Bravo website comments show that no one was able to come in under $10, not even on the winning recipe, although they are close. Antonia won that too, but the judges made sure to remind us every 5 seconds that she is a single mom so she had an advantage. Also she got shafted out of a prize. Mark went home, for making a bad curry. Lisa served poorly seasoned food but snuck by, somehow, even though the judges know her attitude at this point. Also Andrew had a culinary boner. (click for more)

Um…Andrew and Spike are in bed on top of each other. Andrew is sad that Mark is gone, because of the lack of entertainment. (Kmanpat: “He doesn‘t seem to mind that much.“) Spike tells us that he and Mark were close friends, just before he asks Andrew to move in. I guess he does need comforting. Antonia lets us know that there are 4 women and 4 men left, which is the highest proportion of women ever. Interesting.

Tom has shown up for the Quickfire, which can’t be a good sign. Also Padma is taller than him which amuses me to no end. She tells them that Quickfire winners no longer get immunity, and also they’re bringing back two all-time favorite challenges. They draw knives to divide into “forks” and “spoons”. It’s relay race time! Stephanie recaps last season’s onion fiasco with Casey. The teams must peel and supreme (that means segment) 5 oranges, clean and trim 2 artichokes (without breaking off the stems), clean a monkfish and cut 2 filets from it, and make one quart of mayo. Winning team gets an “advantage”. Stephanie apparently makes mayonnaise all the time. Nikki hasn’t made mayo in years, not by hand anyway, and Dale is really pissy about it like they’re substandard chefs. But why doesn’t he do it then? Also, I’m pretty sure most chefs don’t make mayonnaise by hand. The teams are Stephanie, Richard, Andrew, and Antonia vs. Dale, Lisa, Spike, and Nikki. Yeah, that seems fair and random.

First up are Antonia and Lisa, with the oranges. Lisa is shaking so badly it looks like she might cut herself. Even so, she’s kicking Antonia’s ass. I think that Antonia is being more careful, as if Tom might inspect and turn her down. Whatever. Lisa passes off to Spike for artichokes, when Antonia has 2 more oranges to go. Spike says he turned the artichokes quickly. Finally Antonia is done and Andrew starts tearing into the artichokes in a violent yet hot manner. He busts out a vegetable peeler, shunning the paring knife. Spike breaks one of the artichokes. Haha! I love Andrew. They pretty much are even after the artichokes. Richard vs. Dale, with monkfish. Those things are so gross looking. Both of them are pretty quick, but Dale’s filets are jacked up and Tom is smirking. Richard says you can clean monkfish forever. Both finish at the same time, so Nikki vs. Stephanie, making mayonnaise. Stephanie is kind of slow in the beginning, but you have to be slow at first. Everyone jumps up and down and cheers their team on. Stephanie manages to finish first, it looks like because Nikki had to take a break and Stephanie was just faster than she was. Dale is so pissed he’s punching lockers and screaming profanity. I’ve been that mad before, but not in front of people. Everyone looks on in disdain while Dale tries to explain that he just doesn’t like to lose. Lisa is thinking how she is stuck working with him again. I’m sure they’re thinking the same about you.

Padma asks if they’ve heard of Restaurant Wars, but then she says no, they’re not doing that this year. Everyone has been waiting for it, so they’re all confused, and then some couple comes in. Padma says they’re getting married tomorrow. Horror. Now they are having Wedding Wars. No one is pleased. At all. Neither am I; Restaurant Wars was the time where they got to do what they all are familiar with. So here’s how this will work: one team gets to serve Corey and her guests, and the other will serve JP and his guests. That is the stupidest thing ever. Also the couple owns a catering business. Of course. This is crap, catering is not the same as having a restaurant. Knowing how to cater an event is not something that I think people need to know in order to run a restaurant. Richard’s group picks the bride, because they won and they get the choice. I‘m not sure where that came from. Spike thinks they are really really stupid, because the bride has planned everything to the last detail and will be more demanding. Damn, I hate to agree with Spike. They will shop at Whole Foods, and Restaurant Depot, and they’re bringing cots in because they’re working all night. This is where Andrew says he has a culinary boner, and is an animal, and can work 14 hours nonstop without any problems. Not happening. (Kmanpat: “Well, maybe the part about the animal. Rawr.”)

JP wants Italian food, so good thing Nikki is on that team. He wants “assorted crostini” and bruschetta, and seafood. Nikki says that’s exactly how she is. Corey is from the South, and likes fried things, and Richard is from Atlanta so how convenient that the teams shook out that way! Wow! *eye roll*. I do note that Corey says she likes chicken when it’s fried. JP wants German chocolate cake, or possibly chocolate hazelnut. Corey wants cake of some kind; she doesn’t seem to be picky. Andrew doesn’t want to say they’ll win, but he’s also not complaining that they suck. He wants chicken nuggets, and Antonia bitches that it’ll get soggy and obviously he hasn’t been cooking for a long time, but whatever. Whatever? You’re not going to say anything? What a great team player. Nikki says she always does all this stuff like flatbreads, and Lisa and Spike basically decide that they want to let her be in charge and run stuff. Dale keeps harping on the same thing (he says “we need some more hors d’oeuvres“ like 4 times), and everyone then complains that they don’t like Dale because he doesn‘t work well with others. I don’t think Dale likes you either. He does point out that he doesn’t like crostini, with some kind of pantomime that I think is supposed to mean that it gets messy.

Spike sends Lisa to shop with Dale, because Nikki will “get flustered” and he doesn’t want Dale to argue with her. Maybe Dale will have a good idea. Everyone texts each other and stuff, since the teams are split up. Richard takes over, Andrew thinks because he intimidates people so they won’t challenge him. Then Richard starts talking about flowers? Or something? Stephanie opines that “boys don’t know how to pick out flowers.”

They go straight to the kitchen for their 14 hours of cooking. Wow. Lisa wants to make things good, because it’s someone’s wedding and that’s important. For appetizers they have assorted flatbreads and bruschetta, then tortellini, mixed vegetables and cheeses, filet mignon, Chilean sea bass, and orecchiette with ragu. Dale is doing proteins. Lisa is doing the chocolate hazelnut cake, which she wants to start now, in case it gets messed up.

On the bride’s team, Antonia is doing pizza, a pulled pork sandwich, and short ribs and blue cheese stuffed in phyllo for appetizers. Buffet line is crispy chicken, brisket, filet mignon, creamed spinach, and potato gratin. Dark chocolate and cream cheese lemon filling for the cake. Oo. Stephanie shuns cake mix. Richard is doing meats and sauces. That is a giant side of beef. He says wedding food usually sucks but he doesn’t want that. Then he makes a crack about beef Wellington which reminds me of “Hell’s Kitchen“. Hee.

People ask Nikki about how to make stuff, and she won’t answer. Well, she answers, but the answers are along the lines of, oh, if you want to change it, go ahead. Lisa pretends she would have spoken up and taken control in that position, even though she’s been content up until now to let Nikki run things. Dale runs around doing 3 million things, like Hung used to. Spike asks him to finish off the zucchini, which causes Dale to say he’s picking up everyone’s slack and it’s pissing him off.

Richard thinks that he started out well, but is fading. At 2am, Andrew makes a comment about being buried in spinach and then says something lewd about Popeye. Richard starts piping up about putting lemon and star anise in the spinach at the last minute, and Andrew is tired of talking to him. Richard continues to try to make suggestions but Andrew is not having it. None of it! Lisa and Nikki think Dale is half-assing his work and burning things. Spike realizes that he has to take one dish and work on that to make it good, so he takes over the sea bass. Nikki is “lingering” on the pasta, because she doesn’t want to make pasta anymore. Three times is too many, apparently. Nikki quizzes Dale about the ragu and asks him how it will be a ragu if there aren’t any tomatoes in it. She decides she does actually want to be in charge and complains that “her” philosophy is different from Dale‘s. Then she goes to Lisa and says he’s not a team player, and she’s not going down for his crap because she thinks he’ll point his finger at her as the Italian “expert”. Dale nails it and says she wants credit but no responsibility. At 5:30am everyone is dragging and/or chugging Red Bull. Andrew shuts up, he’s so tired. I hope they give them a day off.

Tom rolls in at 7:30am all cheery. Hee. I do that all the time. He jokes with Stephanie about not putting eggshells in the cake. Then he goes over to talk to the other team, and…is that the cake? It’s like, 3 rectangular layers, like, regular rectangular cake pan shapes, covered in chocolate frosting, and pistachios on one layer, and I think pink nuts or something on top. It looks like something I would bust out, and I do not have culinary training. Dale doesn’t remember what he made and Tom tells them not to dumb it down because of the sheer number of people. Tom thinks everyone is tired so that’s going to be a factor. Italian food is easier to understand and in general everyone likes it. He calls Lisa’s cake an ugly battleship. Don‘t you watch “Ace of Cakes“? That show has ruined me for cakes that are supposed to look like other things. He hopes the bride’s team has seasoned everything well; it’s a strong team but strong teams have gone down before. And the food is simple, so it has to be well seasoned and perfect. Stephanie doesn’t trust a tall cake, so she wants to put it together onsite. That’s probably a good call. Finally everyone is packing up food for transport.

I wonder how they found this couple to put their wedding on the line like this. I don’t know, I just don’t think I can put my wedding on TV. Back in the kitchen everyone is annoyed with each other and flailing. Padma makes them stop and brings in Tom, Gail, and Gale Gand as the guest judge. Haha, pastry chef!! She used to have a TV show called “Sweet Dreams“ on Food Network. It was good, all about desserts. Stephanie’s put edible flowers on the cake, which does not look professional but also looks better than Lisa’s.

Food time! The bride’s team is up first, with short ribs and blue cheese in phyllo, with an almond red wine gastrique. Yum! There’s also a pulled pork sandwich with pickle, and prosciutto and goat cheese pizza. They seem to get good reviews, although the sandwich is messy, I think. Groom’s team: Sausage pizza and flat bread. I think those are two different things on the same tray. The crostini for the bruschetta are really thick and dry, and Spike says Dale did them. Everyone complains about it but they‘re so out of it they don‘t even know who was responsible and none of them caught it last night when it could have been fixed. I think he probably was trying to keep them from being soggy. It’s too crunchy and also crumbles and gets everywhere when people try to eat it. You’ll note they served it anyways. Everyone is on buffet, and Lisa still has her stupid bandana on. Stephanie is running food, and Antonia says Andrew is in the kitchen as he is not allowed to talk to guests. Hee. Nikki looks pretty worn. Dale is in the back cooking, by himself, and thinks his team should have helped him. He does try to get Spike to help but Spike is doing something else. The creamed spinach has star anise in it. The potato gratin does not seem to be super exciting. Richard tells the bride that there is horseradish sauce and red wine syrup. To go with the filet mignon. They also have braised brisket, that they started cooking basically when they started working last night. Andrew’s chicken is an almond and basil crusted chicken breast. Tom likes everything, but the chicken has suffered from sitting out. Also it seems to be the same thing Andrew made for the last challenge.

Groom’s team. There is a vegetable and cheese selection, mostly grilled and roasted vegetables. Nikki’s pasta is butternut squash tortellini with brown butter and sage. OK, every time I’ve ordered butternut or pumpkin stuffed pasta with butter and sage, it’s arrived really salty. And I don’t usually salt my food, so I don’t know if that’s how it’s supposed to work, but maybe it is since we’re talking about 3 or 4 different restaurants. Maybe I’m just sensitive to salt. Spike’s dish is Chilean sea bass with artichokes, capers, olives, and tomatoes. Dale’s dish (one of many) is pork and beef ragu with orecchiette. That looks good. The groom’s team also has filet with fingerling potatoes and horseradish cream. I guess because that’s easy. The pasta is too sweet, but the ragu is good. The grilled veggies weren’t appetizing, didn’t look appetizing, and also were boring. Antonia says she’s getting good feedback from guests, but she doesn’t buy any of it anymore. Both cakes are cut, and Lisa’s still doesn’t look as good as Stephanie’s, although it does look better than it did in the kitchen. I don’t like the rectangle shape, and it looks like she just put stuff on there to put stuff on there. Maybe I am just biased and like round cake better. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll eat cake in any shape. Everyone is back in the kitchen looking dead and talking about their work, making vaguely foreshadowing comments.

Crap, this is an extended episode isn’t it. Ugh.

Too many shots of people yawning! The judges discuss how Richard’s team chose to cook for the bride, which would be the harder of the two choices. Spike gives it up for Lisa and Stephanie for making cake. Tom asks who chose the bride, which was Richard. He knew it was the bride’s day. Andrew starts to talk about the chicken, all proud, but Tom shuts him up and says they saw it yesterday. They also didn’t like the spinach, but Richard put the star anise in there and Andrew throws him under the bus and says he didn’t like it either. Finally they let the team know they were the winning team. Everyone gets praise for various dishes, except Andrew, and Richard wins again. Then he says he wants to give it to Stephanie, which they allow. So she also wins the $2000 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel. HAHA! You thought you’d look like such a great person because you’re so full of yourself and now you have no prize. To be fair, he seems sincere about how she took on the cake and he couldn’t have done the same. I just don’t like Richard. Stephanie offers to share.

Everyone on the groom’s team lists what they did, but then when Tom asks who was “driving the bus” Nikki immediately steps up and says she wasn’t in charge. She says that yes, she has the most experience with Italian food, and yes, they all looked for her opinion, but “in no way” is she the executive chef. Dodging everything, I see. Lisa says the groom didn’t want his cake to be as good as the bride’s, and Tom says it was uglier but it tasted better. Nikki says the groom asked for the vegetables and cheeses (which we didn’t see but he might have). Too many vegetables, the tortellini dry and the filling too sweet, the pizza dry and hard, the beef was overcooked and the horseradish sauce was flavorless. Ouch. Dale admits that he toasted the bread, at the Top Chef kitchen, and he is really defensive about it. Spike is like, dude, just say it, and so Dale starts in on how he did so much work and other people didn‘t pull their weight, and whatever, and even Tom is like, out with it already. Dale won’t point fingers, until Spike starts in on him about how it’s a team effort and it would have gotten done if he didn’t do it and his prep work was harder than Dale’s. Which I don’t think it is if he only did the fish. Spike calls him a little bitch, and Nikki finally tells them to shut it, and that she takes responsibility for her dishes. No one was talking about your dishes. And I don’t think they were refusing responsibility. Throughout the whole thing there are shots of Lisa rolling her eyes and making faces, like she’s above all of them. And then Spike is like, oh, I’m sorry I stooped to his level. Shut up, Spike. Shut up everyone, really. Gail tells him that everyone liked his sea bass, and Dale says that they should, it took him 3 hours to make it. Heh. Finally Padma kicks them out.

Spike did the fish, and did it well, but that’s not enough. He also did vegetables but they sucked. They are time consuming, though, which apparently is why he complained about his prep load. Dale did the bulk of the work, and Gail thinks he should have edited the list to save the food. Tom is disappointed in Nikki, because she didn’t step up, and because the food didn’t end up very Italian. In the Stew Room Dale complains some more about people not having a sense of urgency, and Nikki points out to him that when he complains he becomes That Guy to the judges and they don’t look any better on him for it. He doesn’t bitch back at her so it looks like he listened.

Tom says their menu was too big, and they should have trimmed it down and focused on fewer things. Everyone gets attacked except Lisa. Nikki goes home. Dale and Spike hug her and then hug each other, I guess all is forgiven. Nikki is happy to have gotten this far, and she’s going home to her restaurant, so not all is lost. I wonder if they let her sleep before her interview.
Next week: Lisa thinks people are sabotaging her on purpose, hot guest judge (my money is on Sam or Harold), cops. I have no idea. Sadly no quotes from Andrew.

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