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.

1 comment:

David Dust said...

My money is on Sam for next week...

Click here for DavidDust's Top Chef Chicago recap.