Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top Chef 12/16/09--Reunion summary

Just what we all wanted! A reunion show! Why can’t they let Tom run it like they used to let Tim Gunn do? Stupid Andy Cohen. (click for more)

See? The judges are already here. They could have run this thing. Everyone is here but Jesse, who “isn’t feeling well” and won’t be here. I’m not saying she is faking, that’s just what Andy said. They congratulate Michael, who says he’s going to start a restaurant. Someone left a comment on last week’s post that I shouldn’t only judge on personality and that Michael wasn’t as bad as Ilan and that he could cook. I never said he couldn’t cook. But since you didn’t read enough of the post to understand that I DO usually pick winners, 4 out of 6 times, probably you aren’t reading this now. Get your facts straight. Anyways, now we get a montage of Michael cursing and all his dishes. All the weird random stuff. So you know this means that he doesn’t win fan favorite, not that I think anyone assumed he would. Kmanpat brought up a good point, that if Michael won, Bryan would be happy for him, but the reverse is probably not true. Tom explains how they picked Michael for the win, which is that Bryan didn’t season his first two dishes and they were a little lower than Michael’s. Bryan says his restaurant has doubled its business, and Kevin also has more business, which is good. I didn’t think they would have any problems.

Andy rubs it in about Restaurant Wars, where Kevin and Jen’s team tried to double their money but failed. They stay on Restaurant Wars for a while, and show the clip of how Kevin and Laurine didn’t agree on how the lamb was cooked. After the episode, apparently, Kevin felt responsible for Laurine going home (which he partially was, probably) and he considered quitting. Tom reveals that Laurine thought Jen should have gone home and not Kevin. Everyone looks embarrassed because she never told. Gail points out that in a real restaurant, no one can see which chefs took on too many dishes and screwed up service, but they do see a front-of-house person who won’t stick around to explain the dishes.

And then Andy says they’ll reveal the winner of fan favorite tomorrow?!?! WTF is that? So then what is the point of this entire show? Jesus. Jen and Kevin are named, and Mike I. names Bryan. Montage of Jen. Now I can’t figure out who wins from the montages. Basically, Jen knows what she’s doing and takes charge of the kitchen. They nicely leave out the middle of the series where she started to fail. It was her strategy to be down on herself. Some guy from the internet asks about how everyone seems to be down on themselves. Aren’t chefs egomaniacs? Montage of cursing and how people think their food sucks. I especially like Ash’s litany of cursing, where he talks for like 30 seconds and only about 5 words are not bleeped. Then everyone says “suck”. Ashley says she’s competitive and hard on herself. Andy tries to get the judges to say this is a sign of insecurity on their part, but Toby feels people that are good in any field are always aware of where they could do better.

After commercial, we talk about cooking for the group of French chefs, and they show Mattin, who is still adorable but now that I’m watching “Chef Academy” with Emmanuel who is not only a French chef but a porn star? Sorry Mattin. Kevin won immunity that week and got to eat dinner instead of having to cook, but he wished he could have cooked instead. Andy says something about getting inside Kevin’s head at that table, since he doesn’t speak French, and then they have a montage of what the chefs really said and “What Kevin Heard” which is basically them making up stupid captions about Joel making fun of Kevin. It’s just not funny. I mean, it’s supposed to be, and it’s not like, offensive or anything. Not like the stupid bromance crap they pull out all the time. It’s just not as funny as it could be. See, because then they talk to Mattin about how he was in the bottom on that challenge, and then Andy says “You always seemed surprised when you wind up in the bottom”, and then he realizes what he said, and Mattin just grins and says “Always surprised”. (Kmanpat: “How can he be surprised? Who would let him be on top?”) Much funnier than the fake captions.

Andy starts talking about guest judges and he says “Joel” in an American way and not the French way which bugs me. Tom looks concerned. They imply that they’re going to talk about how the judges might have been intimidated by the guest judges, but instead they get a montage of the chefs talking about poor dishes. No one has any really quality soundbites. Toby says that watching the show later reminds him of how much they work, and gives him some insight as to why the food sucks sometimes.

Another viewer question: who had the best food out of all the seasons? First we need a montage of food porn shots and a discussion of everyone’s James Beard awards and Michelin stars, and how impressive they all were. So then of course the judges all say this was the best season.

Andy changes tack and calls Ash out, because he said he thought Padma didn’t like him. Andy asks everyone who thinks Padma doesn’t like them, and pretty much everyone except the final 4 raise their hands. And Laurine, she doesn’t raise her hand. Tom raises his though. Hee! She says it’s true for Tom but it’s not true for any of the constants. She just wants to know about their food and save the friendships for later. Tom pipes up that Toby hates everyone and Gail loves everyone.

Andy makes people claim that they went out too early. Mike says of his leek dish, the vegetarian in a steakhouse challenge, that he knew it was a bad dish and he thinks if he could have taken it back he’d have gone further. Tom just nods. Hector was pissed when he went out. That’s all he says though; he doesn‘t explain why he was pissed.

Another viewer asks if there were any scandalous romances. Missing Hosea and Leah? Ashley says she and Ash hooked up. Andy asks if they both switched teams for each other, and Ash claims that part was “tricky”. Hee. Oh you know that there wasn’t anything going on. They would have shown it. Montage of drinking, jumping in the pool at the bachelor/bachelorette party, drinking in the Stew Room, Mattin’s birthday (where he drank until he puked and also got naked), dragging Jen into the pool. Which I find interesting because other contestants put their hands on Jen while she is clinging to the walls, and yet in the end nothing happened with that. I mean, obviously Marcel was not happy about it, but Jen could have argued that too, probably. Things would have turned out a lot differently. Mike claims that chefs get drunk and then cook the next day all the time.

Someone asks about the sibling rivalry. Michael planned to take Bryan out earlier. Because it’s like “Survivor” in that you can control who goes home. It turns out that Ilan, Marcel, and Hung have all worked for them. Michael says Marcel is totally different from the person we see on TV, and he and Hung encouraged Michael to try out. When he auditioned, the people asked him for Bryan’s phone number. Awesome. Montage of the sibling rivalry. Basically they act like brothers. Except that Bryan says nice things about Michael sometimes. Michael claims he had guilt for beating Bryan. He has a story about how his mom offered to let him off punishment so he could watch “ALF” if he could stop harassing Bryan, and Michael said that wasn’t going to happen so he’d just go back to bed now, thanks. Andy brings out their mom, who says when asked, that she won’t admit which son she was rooting for. Tom offers that she must have been rooting for Kevin. Hee. She then says that since Michael won, Bryan gets the Corvette in the garage, instead of her giving Michael the Harley. She apologizes to Michael, and then Bryan points out that Michael won a Prius, while he gets a ‘79 Corvette. Hee.

Commercial interlude: montage of Ron laughing and entertaining everyone.

A viewer asks Eli why he lives with his parents (because the viewer also lives with his parents) and does it cramp his style with the ladies? Eli is all, “I’m glad you asked, Jeff” and says that he just moved in with them because while on the show he wouldn’t get paid, so couldn’t pay his rent. Yes, I know I said Jeff, because it’s the kind of tone you get when Jeff Probst asks people questions on “Survivor” and they are jerks like Silas and always say “Well, Jeff, blah blah blah.” Montage of Kevin and Eli being best buds. Best line? “I will f***ing cannonball the s*** out of that pool”, which is said by Kevin, and makes no sense at all. They talk about science and nerd things while everyone else looks really confused. Also once Padma came into the Stew Room and they were so engrossed about supersonic jets she had to wait for them to shut up. Kevin says it’s fun to be smart, and then says he’s going to get that on a T-shirt. He also shares about how he could have gone to MIT but he wanted to be a chef. Also he would have been the coolest person there and he wasn’t ready for that.

Mike says he got married at the end of the summer and that he’s really a nice guy. Padma feigns ignorance of his editing as a jerk. Tom claims no one understands Jersey boys. Now there is a montage of Mike talking about how he kicks ass and is the best. Andy brings up the time that he said he could cook better than a girl, which I just rolled my eyes at but apparently generated a lot of email. Mike refuses to explain himself and instead forces Jen to explain about how he’s a nice guy, which is pretty lame since he was talking about Jen.

Then Andy brings up Ashley’s insistence that she didn’t want to cook for a bachelor party when she couldn’t get married herself since she’s gay, because that generated a lot of emails too. Apparently people asked if she was upset about the military challenge too. She says she was shocked that “stating the obvious” was a big deal, and that she has no problem cooking for weddings. That’s not what she said at all. Saying it’s unfair she can’t get married is one thing, which is totally true and I am for that. But she said she didn’t want to cook for an institution she couldn’t be a part of, which isn’t “stating the obvious” and would imply she doesn’t cater weddings. She says she would never refuse a customer of any kind. Also not what she was edited to sound like.

Does Robin every stop talking? Let’s watch the montage! But Tom jumps in before they can start, to talk over Andy and point out that Robin hasn’t said a word all night, actually. But I will say that they never do that thing where they fade the talking in and out to make it seem like it goes on forever. She really does talk that much. They end the montage with Mike saying he wants to shove his clog in her mouth, and he and Eli are in tears laughing, but you’ll notice no one else thinks it’s that hilarious. She tries to say it’s been exaggerated, but Mike says it’s not. A viewer asks why no one was mature and adult, and just ask her not to talk to herself. GOOD POINT. Robin agrees. All that time, and not once did anyone ask her to be quiet? It sounds like no one even lost it and yelled at her to shut up. Mike claims Robin got under his skin, and she didn’t have any issue with him because he actually did tell her how he felt so she was fine about it. Clips of Eli and Robin’s fight, which was stupid all around. And people making fun of her. And then Eli’s cancer comment which was stupid. Etc. The best part is that this whole montage makes Robin look better because it’s edited to seem like everyone picked on her. Eli says that he regrets his comment about Robin using her cancer to win. Toby asks if he’s apologized, and he says he hasn’t because he hasn’t talked to her, but does NOT take the opportunity to do so now. Michael says he had conflicts with her in the kitchen, but he could also see how she took care of the house like a mother. She dealt it back to them too, and then Michael apologizes for anything he might have done. Finally Eli apologizes, and says he’s sorry for anything he’s done, and that he hopes she can “walk away from this and be civil, and all that”. You can’t apologize and then tell people to be civil. If she lays into you when you apologize, you just have to take it.

Andy asks if the contestants ever forget the cameras are rolling. Kevin, who is smart, you remember, is all, “I don’t know, Andy. Do we?” because of course Andy has a montage of just that. Outtakes, people making faces, Preeti failing at shucking clams, food falling and being dropped.

Some lecher asks how it was to serve Padma breakfast in bed, and she claims to have been wearing nothing under the robe but I doubt it. Kevin says it was awkward. Mattin asks if that’s the day she got pregnant. As everyone freaks out, she says she ate a lot of huevos but no. Ha! Then we congratulate Michael and we’re done! Woo! Oh, but first, everyone gets a bottle of Quickfire wine, which is a cabernet sauvignon, and is apparently $18.99 per bottle. Which sounds like something I should savor...which is not a Quickfire at all. (Kmanpat: "They should use it. 'For your Quickfire, here's some Quickfire! Make something to match our wine!"). That is totally a good idea.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top Chef 12/9/09--"Finale pt. 2" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: the final 4 showed up in Napa Valley to cook on the Wine Train and then make dishes with local ingredients. Everyone did some things very well and some things poorly, but in the end no one was shocked to see Jen go home. Michael won the Quickfire and also a car, so hopefully the car curse will not be broken. You see, the “Top Chef” car curse is a little different from the “Survivor” car curse. Not only do you not win, but in the final episode you totally choke. Richard and Carla, people. Also a lot of people were upset and said the producers fixed the outcome, citing the judges’ lack of criticism for Jen’s food and their plentiful criticism of Michael’s food. When I watched the episode it didn’t bother me because in a ranking of the final 4, Jen clearly comes in fourth. So it made sense. Also if you read Tom’s blog, he says her duck was so salty it was inedible. If you want to be mad at the producers, then blame them for leaving that out. Oh, I know, “Michael is the villain of this season so we have to make sure everyone hates him by making it look like he doesn’t deserve to be there.” Whatever. (click for more)

Kevin is super excited about being in the finale and says he has the best win record. However, he knows the brothers will bring it and he respects them. The three boys sit around the table and wonder what Jen is doing. Michael says it sucks that it wasn’t Bryan. Asshat. In interview he brings up that Bryan hasn’t won a Quickfire yet so he needs the money.

Out in the vineyards Tom and Padma greet the finalists to give them their final challenge. As always, it is a meal, 3 courses this time. But! A twist! For the first course, they will each get a box with identical ingredients. They must use each ingredient in this course. Someone’s been watching “Chopped”. The second course can be whatever they feel like. Third course MUST be a dessert. Nice. Naturally they have very important diners that the contestants would kill to impress, and so forth. And naturally they have some help: pretty much every other contestant comes out. All of them this time, not just the last 6. Interesting. Padma says that each finalist will get two sous chefs from this pool. One will help today, and one will help tomorrow. They have to draw knives, and not for who picks first. The knives have names on them. Ooo. Michael says there are some names where he might just slit his throat with the knife. Yeah, whatever, drama queen. Kevin picks Preeti (crap, now I have to look up everyone’s names again) and Ash, Bryan gets Jen (damn) and Ashley, Michael gets Jesse (who?…oh yeah) and Eli. Kevin thinks he is screwed because he doesn’t know his sous chefs that well.

They only get 15 minutes to plan at Cyrus Restaurant. Damn. They open the boxes for the first course to find Dungeness crab, Pacific rockfish, Kabucha squash, Meyer lemons, matsutake mushrooms, and anise hyssop (also called licorice mint, I think). That will be hard. 3 hours of prep begins. I think they’re raiding the restaurant walk-ins for food. Bryan says they’ll also get 3 hours of prep tomorrow. Ashley seems to be really helpful. There’s a lot of flailing, especially about the box. Kevin says there are plenty of pumpkins, and tells Preeti that as long and they have perfect cuts they’re fine. She’s taking FOREVER and only doing a small fraction of the work. He’s getting pissed, which is odd because it seems like it would take a lot for Kevin to get pissed. Bryan says it’s not the time to try new things. True. Michael insists that he does whatever he wants and that’s what makes him awesome. Bryan is not playing it safe, but playing it smart. I’m inclined to agree with Bryan. Kevin might have to change his menu because he doesn’t know if he can rely on his sous chefs.

The morning of the final challenge, Kevin is worried about his lost prep time. Bryan has a list and drawings of his final plates. Michael still has no idea about his first course. Someone knocks at the door, and Michael knows it’s probably Padma with their usual “twist”. Finally someone watches reality TV! Bryan speculates as to the nature of the twist: no sous chefs? Extra course? Less time? Kevin opens the door to find…his mom? Michael is confused, until his and Bryan’s own mom pushes past. Awesome. The brothers’ mom buttons up Bryan’s jacket for him. Hee. She interviews that best case scenario, one of her sons will lose. She futzes with Michael’s sleeves and he protests, and Bryan is like, Mom can fix your sleeves however she wants to, man. Hee. Kevin’s mom gives him a pep talk.

The contestants get into the restaurant and are stopped by Tom. Bryan is like, HERE’S the twist. Tom lets them know that in honor of their mothers there will be an extra course on the menu. This course (the new first course) will be dedicated to their mothers and be inspired by a childhood memory. Nice. They still have 3 hours. Bryan says his mom brought them up themselves, and there is a totally adorable picture of Michael and Bryan when they were little. Bryan’s first course is “tuna noodle casserole”: sardine, German butterball potato, panko bread crumbs, fennel cucumber linguini. Interesting. Actually that sounds good. Michael’s first course is “broccoli reinvented”: cream of dehydrated broccoli, spot prawn, and fried broccoli. I’m not sure what spot prawns have to do with anything, and “cream of dehydrated broccoli” sounds nasty, but I like plain broccoli so what do I know? He’s trying to reinvent foods he didn’t like as a kid. Kevin reminds us he got into MIT and went to chef’s school instead. Oh, those pictures. He looks much better with the beard. His first course is “chicken and fixings”: fried chicken skin, tomatoes, liquid squash casserole.

Everyone moves on to explaining their second course. Bryan is making sous vide rockfish, diced matsutake, and Meyer lemon jam. Michael is poaching the fish in butter, then a tomato-kombu sauce to cook the crab in, and sweet & sour salad. Kevin is cooking the fish in duck fat, roasted matsutake, and roasted crab broth. The mushrooms are kind of tough. Ash has a ton of things to do but he’s getting everything done.

Third course! Chef’s choice! Michael: fennel-scented squab, pistachio cassoulet, textures of mushrooms. I don’t know what “textures” of mushrooms are. He thinks it won’t look like what he usually does. Right. Kevin: slow cooked pork belly, roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts, caramelized ham jus. Kevin says “pork is my jam.” Bryan: venison saddle, Brussels sprouts, sunchokes, maple-glazed carrots.

Fourth course! Dessert! Destroyer of dreams! Michael: chocolate caramel coulant, with butternut squash ice cream. A coulant looks like a soufflĂ©, or possibly molten chocolate cake. Kevin: roasted banana chocolate bacon mousse with peanut bacon brittle. Hee. Bryan: sheep’s milk and white chocolate dulce de leche cheesecake, dry caramel, fig sorbet, poached pear. He’s pouring liquid nitrogen over the cheesecake. Everyone frantically plates the first course and feels confident.

The moms get to have dinner with everyone, and Padma begs forgiveness for the criticism. The brothers’ mom says she lives in Vegas and knows where to find Tom. Hee. When the finalists come out to introduce the first course, Bryan says it’s not fair. Kevin knows his mom won’t hesitate to speak her mind, and embarrass him. Padma introduces everyone, and it’s the usual assortment of bigwigs. The one name that amuses me is Donatella Arpaia, who often judges Iron Chef and was just a judge on “Next Iron Chef” so she is fully used to reality show cookery. The other restaurateurs are all men who own multiple restaurants and would be very important in gaining jobs or restaurants of their own. Everyone’s dishes look very small, but it is the first course. They look good but Michael’s fried broccoli looks brown and sad. Maybe fried broccoli looks like that all the time. Tom says Kevin’s squash is like wine, and has more flavors each time you taste it. It reminds someone of the south. His mom says it’s very much like the dish he described. Bryan’s dish was the least seasoned, but they seem to like it. Some of Michael’s shrimp are undercooked, and his mom says he didn’t just hate broccoli, he hated everything, which explains a lot. Then Padma tries to make the brothers’ mom pick her favorite. Lame. Then the mothers have to leave, which is super lame. They interview about how proud they are, and Kevin’s mom says she is excited Kevin can show the world what a Southern boy can do, and she does the finger/head snap which I have only seen on divas and gay men. Then she says he takes simple food and turns it into something FABulous. I love her.

The second course comes out. Everyone used fish as the centerpiece, but only Michael explained where the crab was. Kevin’s broth was fantastic, but the mushroom was tough. Bryan’s seasoning is still lacking. Gail thinks it’s the safest, uninspiring. Michael’s combo of squash and lemon was fantastic.

Kevin’s pork belly is a big fat slab. Oh, it looks good. It’s like the size of a graham cracker. Bryan finally seasoned his dish and they love it. The “textures of mushrooms” apparently means he pureed mushrooms and then remolded them in mushroom shapes. Donatella calls him on the gimmick and says they don’t need gimmicks at this level. Kevin’s pork belly had a great sauce but it might not have been cooked long enough.

Michael realizes that Eli overfilled his molds for his dessert, but also he overcooked them. Oops. They look like little disks of cake, on their sides, but with no sauce on them. No one’s desserts look super fantastic. Someone says they don’t like pork in their dessert. The banana wasn’t enough. Michael’s cake did turn out dry. Tom knows that you have to serve those cakes immediately. Bryan’s cheesecake was pleasant and his dessert took skill. Everyone sounds pretty confident, except for Michael, who realizes his worst dish was the last one he served.

Commercial interlude: the finalists talk about how they feel confident, except for Michael. This is what we just watched! Is this just so you can rub it in when Michael wins and defeats the car curse? Because I can tell he didn’t choke, not as bad as previous car winners.

Toby tells Bryan that his fish didn’t have enough conflicting textures. Also he thinks his dishes show restraint and aren’t particularly bold. Bryan doesn’t find this a fault. They loved his venison. Time for Kevin. Padma loved his first dish. Actually they all loved his first dish, especially the squash. Toby was disappointed by his pork belly, mainly because he was expecting more from someone with a pig tattoo. Michael nailed the matsutake mushrooms, and took some risks. His second course had a lot of layers. They call him on his cake, which he admits wasn’t that great. Padma then makes each one beg for the win. Bryan expressed his cuisine, that’s what’s the most important to him. Michael starts by saying he just doesn’t want Bryan to win. Asshat. He eventually says this is all he’s ever done and it’s his whole life. Kevin loves food and hopes he’s cooked food that’s soulful and expresses who he is.

Back in the winery’s Stew Room, Kevin forlornly says he thinks Michael might have won. Aww, Kevin! Meanwhile the judges go course by course. For the first course, Kevin obviously beat out Bryan’s under seasoned dish and Michael’s poor choice of spot prawns. I mean, Toby claims to like Bryan’s but I don’t think anyone agrees with him. Second course: Michael used his ingredients best. Gail didn’t like the tomato, but didn’t hate it as much as Kevin’s mushrooms. Toby thought the broth compensated, but Tom insists it wasn’t used properly. Bryan’s dish was one-note. Third course: Bryan’s dish was flawless. Toby, contrary as always, thinks it wasn’t as memorable as Michael’s squab. Gail thinks the mushrooms and the pistachios failed. She also thinks Kevin is capable of more. Fourth course: Michael screwed up his cake, but the flavors were bold. Kevin was disappointing again, but Bryan’s dish is one that Gail and Tom would like to eat again. Knowing that last week Jen’s duck was so salty, and they never once even hinted at it, makes me leery to guess.

MAN. There’s a reunion show. With Andy Cohen. Just what I wanted!

Tom and Padma drag out this thing FOREVER until finally Padma says Kevin’s name and I get super excited but he didn’t win. L He says it sucks that he had a bad day and it kept him from winning. Don’t go around complaining about producer conspiracy because they clearly showed that he made mistakes. He’ll be fine. Kevin, I want to come to your restaurant. And eat pork in every course. And then Michael wins. MAN. You make me doubt the car curse! He’s almost as bad as Ilan! Asshat! Jeez. Well…I’d say the track record for this show is pretty good, in terms of the winner being the person I have been rooting for. Just not this time.

Next week: Andy Cohen will make me angry and Eli probably still hates Robin.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

TAR15, Recap Leg 12, 12/6/09

Welcome to Leg 12! Last time, on Turn Your Head and Kafka For Me, teams raced around Prague only to find themselves answering telephones, hanging out in -180°C temperatures, and hauling clay figures and beer around in the night. The Globetrotters made a fatal error and quit a roadblock after all other teams had left it, faced a four hour penalty and couldn’t make it up. So they were the last team eliminated before the final leg. So, the question is: Who will win The Amazing Race 15? (click for more)

Arrival at the pit stop last episode:
1st – Meghan/Cheyne, Malibu Ken & Barbie
2nd – Sam/Dan, The Hot Boys
– (Toyouke: “"Bold game-changing moves"? Or "Bitchery which they are unwilling to own"? Because you should at least own that you are willing to play dirty. I mean, if I was going to steal cabs and reninge on alliances, I would at least explain myself by reminding everyone that RACE. Instead of pretending to be sorry.”)
3rd – Brian/Ericka, Team Yin-Yang – (Toyouke: “Has there ever been a team that never came in first but won in the end? Because I'm pretty sure that's a no.” Kmanpat: “Actually, there was one. Eric and Danielle from TAR11.” Toyouke: “No, I meant a real team. They weren’t All-Stars.”)

Strelecky Ostrov, Prague, Czech Republic

11:10 AM Meghan/Cheyne (1st)
Clue: Fly 6000 miles to your FINAL DESTINATION CITY: Las Vegas, NV, USA! Once there, take taxi to the Graceland Wedding Chapel and find Elvis to get your next clue.

Meghan and Cheyne go to a travel agent first and find a 6:40 Pm flight on British Airways, which means everyone should be on the same flight.

12:08 PM Sam/Dan (2nd) – Dan: “This is Operation Beat Meghan and Cheyne. It’s also Operation Don’t Yell at Each Other.”
3:15 PM Brian/Ericka (3rd) – and Ericka talks about her mother’s non-acceptance of Brian again.

Teams arrive at the Airport, except they don’t seem to know who is going to be there. (Toyouke: “Why don't they know the other team? What happened to eat sleep and mingle? WTF?”) They arrive in the following order:

1- Sam/Dan
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Brian/Ericka

The Amazing Red Line takes us back to the states, directly to Las Vegas, Nevada. (Toyouke: “London-Vegas is one damn long flight.”) Teams get their taxis out of the airport in the following order:

1- Brian/Ericka
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Sam/Dan

Teams race to the Graceland Wedding Chapel. When all three teams arrive, they interrupt a wedding. Elvis is singing “Amazing Grace,” which is appropriate, since it sounds like Amazing Race. (Toyouke: “Oh, everyone looks all happy and singing, but they really are DYING to get their clue.”)

Teams get their clues in the following order:

1- Sam/Dan
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Brian/Ericka

Teams are now instructed to travel to Mandalay Bay to get their next clue. Teams arrive in the following order:

1- Brian/Ericka – (Toyouke: “I know I claimed to be indifferent, but when Brian and Ericka showed up way before everyone to Mandalay Bay I cheered.”)
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Sam/Dan

And teams come to the final roadblock.

Who’s ready to climb down the mountain

In this roadblock, one team member must go to the top of the Mandalay Bay hotel and perform a face first rappel down the side of the building. If they do, the supervisor gives you your next clue.

The following team members complete the Roadblock.

1- Ericka – who disapproves of the Miss America stereotype. (Toyouke: “Girl, those weren't stereotypes about Miss America, I got those opinions from your previous uselessness that you overcame in later legs.” Auburnium0513: “I just thought of something...has Ericka done more Roadblocks than Brian? We keep saying that she's useless, but did she really do more Roadblocks or am I just crazy with a bad memory?” Kmanpat: “They were tied, 6 and 6.”)
2- Cheyne – who is horribly afraid of heights. Cheyne: “This is gnarly!” “I hear Meghan; I must be getting closer. But I’m not looking!” (Toyouke: “What is this, 1987? Is Cheyne rappelling with his eyes closed? Huh?”)
3- Sam – “Step aside, Tom Cruise!”

Teams complete the Roadblock in the following order:

1- Brian/Ericka
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Sam/Dan

Teams are then instructed to go to the Mirage and find Stage Door 2. They arrive in the following order:

1- Brian/Ericka
2- Meghan/Cheyne
3- Sam/Dan

Teams are then instructed to join the Cirque Du Soleil. (Toyouke: “OMG, you would pee your pants with excitement if you could be in a Cirque show.” Kmanpat: “You bet your sweet bippy. That would be gnarly.”) One team member gets suited up to be launched into the air by bungee cord to grab a bouquet of flowers. Once they get the whole bouquet, they give it to the Flower Child to get their next clue. Teams complete the task in the following order:

1- Meghan/Cheyne
2- Sam/Dan
3- Brian/Ericka
- who switch back and forth on who is doing the task which slows them down. (Toyouke: “Both Meghan and Dan were launched, and then they bounced a second time to get higher and get the flowers. I don't think Ericka was doing that. Not as well as those two, anyway, and especially not after she totally freaked out.”)

Teams are now instructed to take a taxi to the most famous casino in the country of Monoco and find their next clue. (Auburnium0513: “It's not in Spain! It's a country, the clue tells you so! Well, actually it's technically a principality, but a very lovely one at that.”) So, teams must first figure out that they are going to the Monte Carlo. Teams arrive in the following order:

1- Sam/Dan
2- Brian/Ericka
3- Meghan/Cheyne
–who somehow end up at the Venetian first. (Toyouke: “Ha, Venetian. Somehow, the fact that Meghan and Cheyne may lose this show because they don't know their geography is very satisfying in a karmic sort of way.” Auburnium0513: “The Venetian? Really? Between that misinformation and Sam and Dan following them, Brian and Ericka might have a prayer.”)

Teams are told to go to the High Roller Room and count poker chips until they have $1000000 in chips. When they think they have enough, they ask their dealer to count them. If they are correct, they get a special Million Dollar Poker Chip and their next clue. (Auburnium0513: “It's like the gold task all over again, but this time there's no hookah option.”)

Teams complete the task in the following order:

1- Meghan/Cheyne – (Toyouke: “And there's Meghan and Cheyne not freaking out and heading out first.”)
2- Sam/Dan – who had to recount once. (Toyouke: “And there's Sam and Dan's meltdown. Well, Dan's anyway.”)
3- Brian/Ericka – who had to recount more than once.

Teams are now told to go to the MGM Grand and make their way to the High Rollers Suite to get their next clue from Mr. Las Vegas, aka Wayne Newton. He will tell them where the finish line is.

Teams find Wayne Newton in the following order.

1- Meghan/Cheyne
2- Sam/Dan
3- Brian/Ericka

Teams get their clue from Wayne Newton and find that they must now take a taxi to Wayne Newton’s ranch, Casa De Shenandoah, the FINISH LINE of this racearoundtheworld. (Toyouke: “Ha, "my house".”) The first team to arrive will win The Amazing Race!

1- Meghan/Cheyne – (Toyouke: “Interesting. I don't think they knew they were first. Watch Meghan, she looks shocked when Phil says they're first.”)
2- Sam/Dan – Dan: “I’m never going into a casino again!”
3- Brian/Ericka

8 countries, 21 days, 25000 miles, Meghan and Cheyne, you are the Winners of The Amazing Race 15! And that ties them with Nick and Starr for most first place finishes in a race (7) as well as the team with the highest finish average ever. Eh, anticlimactic.

1st – Meghan/Cheyne
2nd – Sam/Dan
3rd – Brian/Ericka
4th – Flight Time/Big Easy
5th – Gary/Matt
6th – Maria/Tiffany
7th – Mika/Canaan
8th – Lance/Keri
9th – Zev/Justin
10th – Marcy/Ron
11th – Garrett/Jessica
12th – Eric/Lisa

Next season: I hear we’re leaving from Los Angeles again. Not like that’s a surprise or anything. I also hear that we’re getting another team of Big Brother contestants. Last time they did that, Alison and Donny in TAR4 lasted two episodes. Oh, and like, such as, Caitlin Upton, the Iraq, the Amazing Race 16!!! Until next time!
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Top Chef 12/2/09--"Finale pt. 1" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: it was a long time ago, wasn’t it? We had our final 5, and they had to make a roulade of 3 proteins for a Quickfire, in honor of the Bocuse D’Or. Michael felt a terrine would work, even though stacking meats is not the same as rolling them up inside each other. Then the Elimination challenge was a mini-Bocuse D’Or, ha, and everyone failed in some fashion. The winner was Kevin, who executed everything perfectly but was very simple in his presentation. Eli failed the most, so he finally went home, so the final 4 is Kevin, Michael, Bryan, and Jen, which you could have called from episode 1. Sigh. I mean, not that I don’t think they deserve it, because they do, but it would have been nice to have some suspense or something. (click for more)

Jen is driven through Napa and talks about how nice it is. She arrives at the train depot. Heh, train. Sorry, I feel like I should warn all of you that I have been at wine club all evening (Kmanpat: “The first rule of wine club is: you don’t talk about wine club“) so…things will be interesting. Michael shows up too and wonders if they’re taking a train. While they’re at the train depot. Kevin wants to win. I love Kevin. Bryan is last and is competing for his son. Aww. Then a train shows up, and it’s the Wine Train. You guys, my sister and I bought tickets on the Napa Valley Wine Train for my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary, and they paid for us so all four of us could go. Basically they serve you a meal as you ride the train through Napa. It was the day before I turned 21. And the waiter offered me a mimosa and my dad was like, “No no, she can’t have any, she’s not old enough.” ONE DAY. Padma is there and pregnant, and she looks better than Heidi does. I’m just saying. She is there with Michael Chiarello, whom I know people disliked on Top Chef Masters but I like him.

For the last Quickfire challenge, they must create a dish with grapes. 30 minutes an
d a full pantry, and then they’ll serve Michael and Padma on the train. Oh, because they’re cooking on the train. Heh. Those kitchens are small. Kevin says he gets motion sickness easily so this should be a grand time. Oh and one more thing: they’re playing for a car. Car curse!

Everyone runs onto the train and it starts up while they rummage through all the varieties of grapes they have there. Everyone cooks in a very small space where they have to dodge each other. Michael claims the one prep table which pisses off his brother. This cooking sequence is nothing new.

Kevin: honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil, and sea salt. And edible flowers. It looks pretty. Michael: grape leaves stuffed with “couscous” with vinegar glazed grape and scallop kabob. I’m not sure what the “couscous” is or why it’s in quotes. Bryan: roasted hen, bacon, Brussels sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa, and arugula. Jen: sautĂ©ed chicken livers, clams, cabernet grapes, wild mushrooms and tendrils.

Kevin could have used a little more grape, Michael used a lot of the grapes and vines, Bryan used concord grapes which are not native to Napa, but the bacon came through, and Jen’s dish was so good Michael’s going to steal it. The winner is Michael. Car curse, is what I’m saying. He of course is ignorant of fate and says he’s totally going to win it all.

In the morning, Kevin takes a picture of breakfast and texts it to Jen. She talks about Eric Ripert and how she wants to win. The elimination challenge for today is to cook for the Rutherford Hill Winery’s end of season crush party, for 150 people. This is also supposed to be a celebration of local ingredients, so they will only have local ingredients available to them, except for salt and pepper. Heh. Each of them will make two dishes. One must be vegetarian, and the other must feature a local protein. Kevin is feeling confident. They’ll shop at a farmers’ market and then cook this afternoon.

45 minutes at the farmers’ market and $600. Jen doesn’t know what to do. The boys seem pretty confident. Michael is making egg custard. They are cooking at Brix restaurant, with 5 hours. Michael has a ton to do, and even has a list. Jen is trying to just cook and not think about how this is the end for one of them. Bryan has short ribs that he’s braising. Michael brings up the sibling rivalry, again, some more. Car curse.

Tom time! Kevin is making grass-fed beef brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables. The vegetarian dish is a roasted beet and carrot salad with carrot top puree and San Andreas cheese. That sounds fantastic. Jen is making chevre mousse with honey mushrooms, butter braised radishes and basil. Her protein dish will be grilled duck breast, braised duck legs, squash puree, and foie gras vinaigrette. The mousse sounds interesting. Bryan is working on goat cheese ravioli, delicata squash puree and bronze fennel. His other dish is fig glazed short ribs, celeriac puree, wax beans and wild arugula. Ooo…that sounds better than Kevin’s. Last up is Michael. He is making vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg and fennel. Pistou is sort of like pesto without pine nuts. The protein dish is turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear and glazed turnip. That sounds…not like a protein dish. Tom comments on everyone without actually saying anything. Also, where have these vegetarian dishes been all season? These all sound so much more appealing than when they had to cook without meat during the whole rest of the show.

Jen says the grill is dying out so instead of feeding it she puts her duck breast in a pan to cook it. Kevin makes a comment about how his beef is going on the table even if it’s not tender. Bryan and Michael both talk about how they kind of want their brother to make it to the finale but then again not really.

Everyone sets up for the party. Michael is relieved that his eggs are done properly. Kevin says his food is well-seasoned. No one seems ready.

Padma…is wearing knee high red patent leather boots, and a black dress with a mock turtleneck and a giant keyhole cutout. Bryan’s up first, with his ravioli and short ribs. His food needs a little salt. Michael claims that having to cook with fresh ingredients will change his cooking. His turnip soup is green, with a black lump of turnip and a Rolo-shaped lump of foie gras. Tom thinks the egg in the vegetarian dish overwhelms everything else, and Padma is not excited about the egg, as she likes her eggs firmer. Gail is not please either, but as you recall, it’s hard to please Gail with eggs. They do love the turnip soup and foie gras, though. Kevin interviews that he wants to cook for the people and not just the judges. His dishes look great. His vegetarian dish has bright green and red and white. They love the polenta but the brisket is labeled “ropy”. Jen is last. She’s thrilled with her duck confit. She promises her duck is good for Padma’s baby. The goat cheese is very salty, although Tom likes the idea of the dish. They love the duck. Michael is cocky, while Kevin just thinks someone talented will be going home.

There is a wine tasting? With Terlato wines? I think this is a commercial interlude. Yes. That was pointless.

Everyone has to come to Judges’ table, which is in the cellars. Kevin’s vegetarian dish was perfect and stunning in simplicity. Tom says he knows some of Kevin’s competitors *cough*MICHAEL*cough* may have thought it was too simple but it was wonderful. Cut to a shot of Michael looking uncomfortable. Heh. Sadly Kevin’s brisket was not as tender as it should have been. He says he doesn’t know if he’d do things differently, given more time, because he wanted a contrast to the soft polenta. Hmm, good point. Bryan’s vegetarian dish was complex, but lacking seasoning, according to Padma. He got his meat tender (unlike Kevin, I guess) but the fig glaze didn’t taste figgy. That’s what Gail said. Michael cut up his vegetables very fine, and Gail tells him he might have left them bigger and rustic. Padma didn’t think her egg was done enough, and he says something about not shaking it enough? I guess he peeled all the eggs, and then put them in a spoon and tried to shake off the uncooked egg white. Tom wonders why he didn’t bother to be extra careful with the judges’ plates. They praise the foie gras a lot, except for Gail thought the turnip soup as bitter. Apparently if you ate it with the foie gras it was great, but there wasn’t enough foie gras so eventually you were left with just the soup by itself. And Michael had 5 more terrines of foie gras that he didn’t use because he thought he might run out. Jen’s goat cheese mousse had a lot of salt, and she used a type of salt that doesn’t taste salty right away, so she put too much in. She also admits that she had to cook her duck in a pan because the grill ran out of fuel.

Jen’s chevre mousse was great but just salty. Her duck dish might have been great if she had grilled it like she planned. Michael was very creative but didn’t have the right proportion of soup to foie gras. His eggs weren’t separated, and he was sloppy with that, and there was too much egg. Gail fell in love with Bryan’s ravioli, which needed seasoning. The figs got lost in his short ribs but they turned out very well. Kevin’s beets and carrots were wonderful. Tom says it’s great that Kevin was able to defend his brisket but bottom line, it needed more time to cook.

The winner this week is Bryan. Cool. Tom says for the three of them left, their dishes were very good, but they were each just missing something. Jen is sent home. I kind of thought that would happen, just because although Michael is an asshat the judges love his food, and Kevin is good. But it’s sort of sad. She made some friends and she didn’t have time to fix anything. The boys all hug each other while Jen packs up and cries in interview and then leaves the Top Chef kitchen even though they’re in Napa Valley and not Vegas.

Next week: the judges are bitches. Seriously. And someone wins.
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