Thursday, May 10, 2012

Around the World in 80 Plates 5/9/12--"London Calling" summary

Can Bravo successfully combine “Top Chef” and “Amazing Race”? Let’s hope so. Because that’s what everyone is expecting. (click for more)

Curtis Stone explains the show to us: there are teams, each week there is some type of small challenge (or “Quickfire”, if you will) and then the teams will take over a local restaurant to try to impress the locals. The losing team votes someone off. Winner gets $150,000 and an Infiniti. 

Chaz Brown, seems to be working in a Chinese restaurant. He is cocky. That should be a macro. “Chef is cocky”. He reads off of an email (I guess) that tells him he’s on the show and they’re going to London. Does Chaz look familiar? Do you remember a chef from “Top Chef: Texas” who made risotto but couldn’t get it on the plate in time and was therefore eliminated in the first episode? Thanks Hugh Acheson for that reminder! Gary Walker, who says he is like Mrs. Garrett. Sure thing. Sai Pituk, whose intro seems to be nothing but pin-up photos. She says nothing about food, just about how people want to sleep with her. Nookie Postal, who is the executive chef for the Red Sox. Awesome. His son tries to hide in his suitcase. He’s a smart ass, so I like him already. Liz Garrett, who is our self-taught chef (there has to be one, otherwise it’s not really a food reality show). She meets Nookie, who makes fun of how young she looks. Clara Moore, who is my hometown girl and has a great delicious restaurant. John Vermiglio, who works for Art Smith. Cheven Lee. Why is that his name? Because his name is Keven and apparently someone one time called him Cheven, instead of Chef Kevin. Ugh. I instinctively dislike him. Everyone arrives at Borough Market and meets Curtis and Cat Cora. She is tiny. Like Kristin Chenoweth sized.

So…they get to pick out their own teams? Really? Avery Pursell says she is at a disadvantage because she doesn’t know anyone. That seems a rash decision with far-reaching consequences. The official name of the Quickfire is called “The Course” which is supposed to let them learn about that country’s cuisine. If your team wins the Course, you get an “Exceptional Ingredient”, which is some advantage. The advantage works for the Takeover, which is when they work in the restaurant. Each team gets an envelope with the location for their first task.

The Course is a pub crawl. Three pubs, each location has a classic pub dish and drink they must order and consume. So…now I have to watch people eating? Some girl biffs it as they run off. Nookie’s team (Red team) takes a cab, while the Black team runs. Cheven runs off, possibly in the wrong direction. He interviews that he doesn’t really want to hear it if he’s wrong. They realize they’re lost. Sai then lets us know she’s been in the Army, so she takes the map and they figure out where to go. Jenna Johansen gets a generic interview as the Red team finds their first pub. They must order three plates of black pudding hash and one Pimm’s cocktail. Oo, Pimm’s. Good stuff. The black pudding comes with a fried egg and salad. It looks pretty good. Clara is worried about volume. The Black team stands in the street and argues. Avery bitches that she can read a map too. It looks like she doesn’t agree with their direction. Nick Lacasse has a random interview, and now I’ve forgotten who has been introduced already, so whatever. Red team sees them come in and laughs that they have money for a cab, so why run? True. Black team tries to both remember details about the dishes and shove food in their faces.

On to the next pub. Both teams are running now. At the next pub, they have options: three plates of steak and kidney pie, OR, drink three yards of beer. For some reason they are hesitant about the pie, because they say it will take a long time to come out of the kitchen. Someone asks for a cute British guy to hold the beer for them. Hee. Gary says since he used to work at a sorority house he has an advantage. The other team shows up and also orders beer. Avery says she wanted to taste steak and kidney pie, but now she has to do keg stands. Or something. She seems to be the complainer. Black team appears to spill beer on themselves a lot.

Nookie is lagging a little bit, but they make it. Curtis and Cat are waiting for them. The last pub says to eat fish and chips, and one pint of “Scrumpy”, which is cider. Black team shows up only three minutes later. Each person has their own plate of fish and chips, so it’s not going that quickly. Red team still wins though. Curtis tells them that the first two pubs are the pubs they’re taking over tomorrow. Each team will have 5 dishes to make: the three dishes they were supposed to eat today, and two of their own choice. Well, at least none of them had steak and kidney pie. The “Exceptional Ingredient” is that the Red team can use potatoes, while the Black team cannot. Oo. The locals will decide the winner. Losing team votes someone off the island. Everyone kind of freaks out that the judges aren’t deciding who goes home. 

OK, Curtis, we get that your show is sponsored by a credit card. Were you so desperate for money you needed to put that in the title?

Back at the hotel the teams come up with menus. Black team discusses polenta fries and Cheven wants to make dessert. As they are saying the other team wouldn’t do dessert, Jenna on the Red team is insisting they do one. Clara wants to make something vegetarian, as that is her wheelhouse.

In the morning, the teams divvy up shopping. Chaz says he is awesome at last-minute scrambles and covering of asses, such as, you have to make British food without potatoes. Someone on the Red team says they have enough lettuce for their salad. 

Sai is planning to do front of house, because her food is classic Asian. Chaz is expediting, so he can see how everyone works. Avery lets us know that she is making the steak and kidney pie, that no one has ever made or tasted before. Keven (I’m sorry, it’s hard enough to write Keven and not Kevin and the Cheven was killing me a little bit every time), anyway, Keven thinks he might be voted out because he’s so awesome. So at least one person here has seen Survivor. 

Nookie says that people are here to prove they’re the best chef, but this is about winning money. If he has to make a bad dish and be a character to win, then he’ll do it. I had to rewind that a bunch of times because “make a bad dish” was all sped up and spliced in. Nicole says she has to look out for herself. She does seem to be in her own universe, ignoring everyone else. 

Liz discovers the oven is not on. And the burners are weird too. Avery seems to be the only one who knows you have to light the burners and oven separately, with a lighter. Customers come in and they kind of sulk about the potatoes. Sai tells some guy that it’s healthier for him anyway because everyone has to lose weight, not because you need to, ha ha. Sigh. Curtis and Cat come in, with Nigella Lawson (hilariously, she just introduces herself as “Nigella” and Sai doesn’t realize who she is), and the owners of the pubs. Chaz is fully in charge of the kitchen. Keven complains he’s too loud. Liz and Avery: fish with polenta chips. Chaz and Keven: blood pudding. Almost exactly the same as the dish they had, with a fried egg and salad on the side. It’s salty, someone says, and someone else tells Sai the portions are a little too big. Avery: steak and kidney pie. It’s nice, but not really traditional. Nick: grilled halibut with creamed arugula. Tasty. Keven: bread pudding with mascarpone whip and red currants. Slightly dry. Nigella says that with some instruction, these chefs probably could handle working in a pub. Curtis announces to everyone it’s time to go to the other pub. Interesting, it’s the same crew of locals.

Commercial interlude: Chaz is the class clown. Various people are either highly entertained or really irritated. He spouts a bunch of British words in a broad accent. That’s embarrassing.

Red team is up now. Gary’s going to do front of house. Thankfully he recognizes Nigella on sight, before introductions. He babbles that they renamed the pub “British Love, American Pride”. Sigh. That is bad luck, apparently, aside from the fact that the owner is sitting right there. Clara: bubble and squeak. Some woman says it’s nice. Nookie: steak and kidney pie. He didn’t cut the kidneys very small, so there are large recognizable chunks. Oops. Nigella says this is what everyone THINKS British food is like. Not enough gravy. Jenna: fish and chips. Oooohhhhh…the chips are shoestring fries. They wrapped them in newspaper, but…shoestring fries. John: plowman’s sandwich, cheese, apple, bread. This seems to go over well. Nicole: black pudding hash. No dessert, which Nigella misses. Nigella seems to find locals that enjoyed the food here, and locals that enjoyed the food there. So of course we don’t know who is doing better. Nookie tells Clara that their two dishes were the worst. She thinks hers was worse, and Nookie immediately is pleased with himself for tricking her into admitting it. Everyone discusses who they want to vote for, and how they’re going to convince their team to vote with them, and this is why I don’t recap Survivor. It’s tedious to me.

Red team had great service, but diners didn’t like Nookie’s pie. Black team says Chaz was “vocal” when asked if there was a leader. Chaz also says he brought up dessert in the meeting, which I’m pretty sure was not the case. Black team wins, so it doesn’t matter anyway. It seems the dessert pushed them over the other team. Jenna is really irritated no one listened to her about that. Apparently Chaz was the most valuable chef. I don’t know what the point of that title is. Keven admits he should have spoken up when he got the chance, but then continues into blowhard threats about voting for Chaz when their team loses. Red team gets to go discuss before they cast votes. Cat tells them the pie and the black pudding were the least favorite, and the lack of dessert hurt them too.

Nookie admits his dish was bad, in an attempt to shove attention later onto someone else. Out of nowhere he names Clara, which appears at first like it will backfire. Diners ordered a lot of bubble and squeak, and no one said anything bad about it. Nookie insists his dish was harder, and she knows he’s throwing her under the bus. Jenna says Clara’s veg was overcooked, much as she jumped on Nookie when everyone was talking about his dish. It seems like is just willing to turn on whoever looks bad right now. Clara rightly points out her dish is not the reason they lost.

Everyone has to cast their votes in front of everyone else, which is nice. Gary: Nookie. Nicole: Clara. Clara: Nicole (huh?). Nookie: Clara. Jenna: Clara. Clara, why did you throw your vote away to Nicole?! You could have had a tie and then Jenna would be tiebreaker, and you would have had a 50/50 chance! Instead she clearly saw which way the wind was blowing and now you’re going home and who am I going to root for now? Boo. That’s the other reason I don’t recap Survivor. Now I’m agitated. Nookie pretends he’s sorry, that ass. I take back what I said before about how I liked him. She knows if she hadn’t admitted to Nookie she didn’t like her dish, she might still be around. See, and now Nookie thinks he’s going to win, even though he’s not the best chef. So this show isn’t really about food? I guess it didn’t pretend to be, but still. Now everyone is going to France. 

This season: running. A lot of running. Failing. Everyone wants to vote for the good people. No real good fights, though. I don’t know, maybe it’ll get better.

1 comment:

clara moore said...

hey - I just stumbled upon this. Thanks a whole ton for all the nice things you said. and yes, I voted for Nicole because I knew I had already shot myself in the foot and I didn't wanna stoop to Nookie's level.