Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Top Chef 10/30/13--"Lea Michele's Halloween Bash" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: no Quickfire, just an Elimination challenge that involved teams and also Vietnamese food. Also a bus around town so people could eat Vietnamese for the first time (Carlos) or brag about how much they knew about Vietnam (Travis). Travis is pretty much an arrogant jerk for the whole episode, up to and including saying guest judge Eddie Huang doesn’t know anything about Vietnamese food because he’s from Taiwan. Did we mention Travis is white? Yes. Justin noticed all Travis’s team’s problems but did absolutely nothing, preferring to let them hang themselves which is a strategy I approve of. Anyhow, Shirley won because she made shrimp with a ton of butter, which is what the fishermen told her to do. It looked like Travis might go home but instead Janine’s poorly cooked shrimp did her in. (click for more)

Then on Last Chance Kitchen, all five eliminated contestants returned to make whatever they want in 30 minutes. Janine won so she gets to continue. Jason lost and sulked some more but everyone else took it pretty well. That’s pretty much it.

Sara claims she and Travis have spent their lives studying “Asian” cuisine. That’s a pretty wide subject, you know. She seems embarrassed that she screwed up so badly and someone else went home. Travis does not express any guilt.

In the morning, Michael sharpens his knives while Travis gets this week’s phone call home. He claims he is “melancholy”. Who says things like that? He claims to not be out to his dad yet, but his mom pointed out that he should probably do that before the show airs and his dad can see him talking how he only dates Asian men. He’s very introspective, and I don’t think a reality show is the place to deal with coming out to your parents. Hopefully that all turned out OK.

All the stuff in the kitchen is wrapped in tin foil. Oh yes, I remember this Quickfire. Gail is back too. Some poor interns not only wrapped all the food but all the pots and utensils and everything. Padma says something about moms and then Padma’s mom and Gail’s mom come out! Aww! There will two teams (blah) and they’ll have 30 minutes to make three dishes. Moms will have 5 minutes to shop for ingredients and grab equipment. They must use everything. Winners will split $10,000.

The moms just walk around and take whatever. I can’t tell if they’re even trying to figure out what they’re grabbing. Various chefs talk about their moms. Shirley says if her mom was doing this it would be a disaster. Hee.

This is such a waste of foil. The teams sort ingredients and split up the dishes. They’re lucky they get three dishes. No one seems to be making super crazy stuff yet. Michael gushes about cooking en papillote. Carrie decides to make sabayon but there is no whisk in the pile of crap there. Stephanie got lamb but somehow also got stuck with cheese. Nina has beans and cherries. Sara is trying to cook the lamb up to the absolute last second, which freaks out her team. They’re telling her to put the lamb down and she’s saying it’s fine. It does get plated though.

Team Simmons: lamb and fonduta with sharp cheddar and roasted mushrooms. Fonduta is Italian fondue, I guess. Red snapper papillote with rice pilaf. With sake. Compressed buratta with pickled apples and balsamic sabayon. Interesting.

Team Lakshmi: clams poached in fish sauce with coconut cream. Snapper and branzino papillote with mustard vinaigrette. Soup with beans, carrots, chiles and okra with cherry chutney. I think they put cheese in the soup.

Justin brags that they totally won. Team Lakshmi (NOT Justin’s team) gets praise for the clams, but the fish dish had too many things happening. Same with the soup. Justin’s team, Team Simmons, had very flavorful fish, and well-cooked lamb. But the rest of the stuff in the lamb dish didn’t come together. The sabayon turned out despite the lack of whisk. Gail says the winner is Team Lakshmi, which you could have guessed from Justin’s overconfident bragging.

Today is one of those days where Bravo has counted out when this episode will air, and so we are pretending it’s actually fall instead of the middle of the summertime. At least they can plan and schedule properly (*coughPROJECTRUNWAY). So we have a Halloween theme today. Lea Michele (who is apparently a Top Chef super fan) comes out. Stephanie tries to say she and Lea can hang out and it won’t be creepy at all but she can’t stop laughing. They will be cooking for her costume party. Teams of two, each team will make two dishes. Then why can’t they just work alone? Whatever. They get paired up with whoever is next to them. Michael ends up paired with Nina, which is good for him because she’s been winning and he…has not been winning. But Nina doesn’t like him. So I guess this is the official drama team. Lea is vegan (…sigh) but when she needs a break she eats cheese. Not really a sweets person. Check. No beets, yes on Italian, any kind of cheese. She says cheese a gang of times. Spice, I think, and yes on Mexican. Someone asks if she likes Mexican men, which 1. Ew, and 2. When did they film this? Because I think Cory was still alive so why are you saying that? Also 3. Why in the hell did the editors leave that in!?

Shopping. Everyone runs for cheese. Louis has only been to Halloween parties because “random girls” asked him. Michael is making arancini eyeballs. Nina rolls her eyes at how lame he is, but Lea asked for cheese and Italian. I would think that’s a pretty good idea.

2 hours to cook in the kitchen before going to the party. Carlos is thinking Dia de los Muertos which is probably good too. They’re also supposed to be making “spooky” dishes, I guess. Nicholas is having trouble with that so he and Patty are making fall-themed dishes. Patty is also making arancini. Shirley says in China they have a “ghost holiday” but it’s in July.

Tom Time! Justin has decided to make pasta with beets so it will be red, even though Lea specifically said she didn’t like beets. Uh huh. They are ALSO making arancini. When Tom gets around to Michael he lets him know three teams are making arancini, and when Michael says then they’ll be judged on whose arancini are the best Tom is like, duh, that’s what I’m saying. As Nina describes her pesto, Michael says to Tom “Nina’s my ace in the hole”. She looks pissed. Jerk.

Nina and Nicholas are both making gnocchi. So there are two teams, Nina/Michael and Nicholas/Patty, who are both making gnocchi and arancini. That’s so weird. Generally there isn’t so much overlap. Nicholas then changes his dish to make a cannoli. Probably a good idea. Patty says she trusts him. Bene and Brian are making two salads. They waste time coming up with a dumb slogan about spa cuisine and talking about how you can indulge with healthy food. It’s a party. It’s already vegetarian, just calm down. Nina and Michael argue about dumb things. She tells him not to fuck it up, because his arancini has to be the best. He says she should do what she does best, which is “fly, sweetheart”. That might not go over well.

At home, suddenly “the neighbors” were talking about the abandoned nursing home behind the house that is haunted. How convenient! Of course they all go over there because they’re dumb and walk around shining flashlights on their own faces instead of on the ground. Unfortunately the ground doesn’t open up and swallow them.

Party time. Louis is calm and Shirley loves working with someone so calm. Then she giggles about his dimples which is cute. Nina and Michael are avoiding each other as much as possible. He calls her “boo boo”, which is now the second stupid nickname (that we’ve heard) that he’s calling a female colleague. I’m sure he’ll say it’s just how he is, but that shit is annoying. In addition to opening yourself to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Travis reveals his last Halloween costume was “Slutty Santa”, thus perpetuating the stereotype of how gay men dress for Halloween.

When the judges come in, Tom is wearing a tweed-y coat, and a bow tie, and a straw boater. I can’t figure out what he is supposed to be. Is he trying to be James Oseland? Padma just has on a pink dress and a giant feather headdress. Lea is in black, don’t know what she is either. Hugh is the only one who actually is wearing a definite costume, which is a red coat with a blue sash just like Prince William at his wedding. Oh, Lea has cat ears. Eh.

Carrie and Stephanie: “Doomed Shrooms”, mushrooms with black garlic and radicchio. And “Freaky Leeky”, ash coated vegetables with fontina fonduta. They like both dishes. Sara jokes with some guests that Justin killed someone to get blood for the pasta. Hee. Patty and Nick: butternut squash cannoli with ricotta salata, and lemon arancini with smoked mozzarella. Not scary.

Stupid Andy Cohen is here, wearing flip flops with his suit because in order to perpetuate this charade everyone is pretending it’s October when it’s not. Apparently Andy decided foot comfort was worth more than wearing real shoes to pretend it’s the fall. Brian and Bene did a “spooky spa”. Crispy quinoa salad with mushroom espuma, and heirloom tomato salad with wilted kale. OK, foam does not give a “cobweb effect” but you keep on thinking that. The quinoa is heavy and the tomatoes are not really marinated enough.

Oh, Padma says she is “a voodoo priestess”. While that is kind of offensive, I’m pretty sure I just spied someone in blackface. Nina and Michael: “Candy Corn”, ricotta gnocchetti with kale pesto, and “Bloody Eye”, yellow arancini with saffron and tomato jam. The gnocchi is perfect, but the tomato jam is sweet. Travis and Carlos: vegetable ceviche (pineapples, kale and peaches), and goat cheese fondue with fried zucchini. Travis says they are celebrating “Day los Muertes” so maybe he is just an idiot about all cultures that are not his own. They were both spicy but since he was serving Padma no one cares.

Louis and Shirley: “Severed Thumb”, braised quinoa and onions with potato puree, and “Worm Salad”, hand cut noodles and fresh daikon radish. The “thumb” is a little greasy but it’s appropriately spooky. Justin and Sara: “Blood Pasta”, beet pasta with green tomatoes, and “Evil Eye”, arancini with Moroccan tomato chutney. Lea interrupts him to say she said yesterday she doesn’t like beets. Tom and Lea laugh about how everyone thought “arancini = eyeball”. Lea arrives to find Carlos has made a bowl of cheese. Essentially. She is thrilled. Padma says she won’t be eating arancini for a while.

Commercial interlude: features that fucker Andy Cohen so forget it. Wait, apparently Tom is dressed as Jay Gatsby. I think that’s what she said. I prefer my previous answer of James Oseland.

In the Stew Room Nina tells Michael she felt like he slacked off because he expected her to carry him. Michael says no, he thought she needed him in the beginning. What? Idiot. The video shows that Patty’s arancini was the best, and they also liked Nick’s dish. They liked Justin’s theme even though he used beets. Carlos had lots of cheese and good spice. Nina’s dish was good, but Michael sucked. Lea pretends that she should have fixed Michael’s dish, which I am sure he would never have listened to her. Nina prepares to go home, but I don’t remember them saying it was a double elimination. Did they? Brian and Bene made one heavy dish and one cop-out dish.

Padma collects Nick, Patty, Carlos, and Travis as the winners. Carlos’s cheese sauce was the perfect consistency. Lea says she would eat Travis’s ceviche every day. Hugh says they worked well together, and instead of just thanking him Travis opens his big mouth and says how he grew up in Colorado in a neighborhood that was 60% Latino and you just learn those flavors. He always sounds so jerky. Patty listened to Lea so she’s thrilled about that. Nick had a technical dish. The winners are Carlos and Travis. Did I really miss the part where one team wins and one team loses? I’m sorry, I really need to pay attention better apparently.

Michael, Nina, Brian, and Bene get called out. In the Stew Room, Shirley asks if they named two winners and what that might mean for elimination. They all talk about the possibility of double elimination so maybe I’m not insane and they didn’t say anything about it before. Brian was confident in their spa cuisine, but Lea says she wanted the opposite of spa cuisine. Bene didn’t stand out. Lea wanted some vegetarian cuisine that was creative. Michael’s arancini was dry and the sauce was too sweet. Nina says she tasted his food as they went, but that she didn’t taste the final product. Padma yells at her about it, but this is dumb. When the number of dishes served is the same as the number of people, we all know each person is making one dish to be judged on. I think Michael just sucked so bad they need to say something negative to Nina since they have to call in the whole team. Like he would have listened to her anyway.

They sort of slam Nina for concentrating on her own dish but not trying to fix Michael’s dish, which was only vaguely creepy in terms of the theme. But at least he had cheese, unlike Bene and Brian who made lame salads.

Michael gets sent home. Good. Tom says you can’t think you can put crap together and win. On his way out Michael waves at the judges and there’s a shot of Tom sort of waving while simultaneously trying to avoid eye contact. It’s pretty hilarious. Michael is disappointed but claims he represented New Orleans well. Sure.

Next week: cooking in John Besh’s restaurant, a whole shelf of cream cheese, Travis bitching about time checks.

Last Chance Kitchen: by the time Michael gets here he has regained all his cockiness. He is impressed he’s facing Janine, but can’t resist saying she’s a “pretty” monster. Also the peanut gallery is back, which I enjoy. Tom says his arancini were terrible, and that risotto kills many people on this show. So of course this is their job today. 40 minutes to make risotto. Michael seems to be sauntering. Is he really calm? Or an idiot? Janine cooks some dried mushrooms which earns her the admiration of the peanut gallery. Michael can’t find butter, but Janine only has one stick so she has no idea what he’s talking about. Whipped cream is not the same. Everyone just seems to be giving Michael crap because they can. I would too. Michael has half his time done but he doesn’t seem to have started cooking the rice yet. The gallery says watching him cook is funny. Tom tells him how to make butter which is too bad. Michael tries to get some last minute advice out of Tom, who quickly bails. Michael: pine nut and thyme risotto with parmesan crisp. He babbles a lot. Janine: mushroom risotto with mascarpone and rosemary. Janine had good flavor but maybe a little too much acid. Michael had mushy rice. Janine wins, yay! Bye Michael. Tom has to remind him to take his knives. He still insists it was good food.

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