Thursday, July 01, 2010

Top Chef: Season 7, Episode 3

‘I could eat the a$$ out of this pig all day!’

Previously: The cheftestants went back to school and remember how you used to like the pudding at the cafeteria? Not so much when someone dumps 2 pounds of sugar, and so that means it’s goodbye to Jacqueline. And oh yeah, Arnold doesn’t like Kelly stealing all the attention.

What’s up with the music? It’s like some kind of suspense movie. Or some kind of Colonial battle scene?

Opening scenes of the townhouse, which has a string of lightbulbs in the back yard patio. They must party there every night after the shoot. Amanda is brushing her teeth on a bouncy. Not sure if that helps get her teeth any whiter, but I bet she really works out her core at the same time.

Kenny gets a card from his girlfriend, but all he can think about is Angelo. No, not in that way. He’s still jealous of Angelo and how he’s always on top and how Kenny’s always on bottom. Wait? Huh? Really, I am not talking about them as a couple. They’re rivals, according to the editors. Angelo is out in the backyard with the lightbulbs but it’s morning and he’s looking isolated and alone. I know because he says he feels isolated and alone. Recapping Top Chef is not rocket science, people!

They arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and there’s John Iuzzini. I know because he was on previous Top Chef seasons as the hunky dessert guy, who came out with this major dessert cookbook that looked like an encyclopedia. Anyway, his hair totally makes him look like Johnny Rocker, and I’m still not sure the 50s are so in right now. Oh, and Gail is there too with Padma, who introduces the fact that the two will be the host of Top Chef: Just Desserts. For some reason, that announcement prompts all the cheftestants to applaud. They’re so polite. I was at home yawning myself.

So in honor of Gail and Johnny Rocker, Padma says their quickfire challenge is to make dessert. John gives the rundown about how you have to be organized because dessert is all about precision and measurements, which is why so many cheftestants fail on desserts because they’re not allowed to look at recipes. Does anyone else see the disconnect? Anyway, it’s the pie challenge and they’re off to make a pie in two hours.

The editors continue to pit Arnold and Kelly against each other, but really, it’s mostly Arnold who’s bitching about Kelly getting under his skin. Come on, Arnold. Focus on your food, will you?

Alex is kind of weird, and is making some equally weird looking pie crust that has the shade of peanut butter. I think he said he’s making an almond crust. Ed is making a banana cream pie, which sounded yummy and delightful until he said he was going to step it up with … celery. Figs, I can see. Even zucchini. But celery? Stick it in a bloody mary, I say.

Angelo opens the oven and calls out to Tracey, and she comes to take out her pie which is way past the golden brown stage. She’s not happy with her blueberry crumble so she decided to make it again with just 30 minutes left.

Commercials. Home Depot is advertising its paint. Did you know you could spend an overnighter there waiting for them to mix your paint? I’ve experienced it first hand. Yes, I exaggerate, but not that much. Wow, Aveeno has a sunscreen that’s 100 SPF. I need that for my nose. Why is it only my nose gets burned. So frustrating. When you see me, please do not call me Rudolph.

Tasting. You know, usually I’ll “break it down” for you and list each cheftestant’s plate, but darn the editors are going by fast tonight. I think it’s because they realize they still have an ass load of cheftestants and they just want to zip through this boring cooking part and get to the drama. So I couldn’t catch everything, although I can say Kenny’s banana Fosters pie looked really well-made albeit kind of on the dark and brown side, and Kelly made an incredibly good looking chocolate tart that kind of looked like a chocolate mousse in tart form.

Some cheftestants’ pies don’t even look like pies. They just kind of look like pie filling on a plate. I really don’t think any of them actually used a recipe because I didn’t see anyone referring to a list. In fact, I didn’t see anyone busting out the measuring cups or spoons. I think for this quickfire they should have made an exception. I guess Top Chef is also a test of their memories.

You know who they haven’t featured, the two blonds Andrea and Lynne. I still don’t know what they’re all about, and Lynne always seem angry to me. She made a mango pie, which sounds oddly interesting to me because I love anything with mango but the pie doesn’t look appetizing at all.

So Gail and John talk about their least favorite slices, which included Alex’s with no texture and Tracey with a thin crust that fell apart. Ed’s pie also had too many things that didn’t tie together. The successful pies were Kelly’s chocolate tart (simple is still good) and Stephen’s, who had a surprising flavor combination. But John names Kenny’s banana fosters with five-spice as the winner because it was simple with great texture. Kenny’s all stoked that he finally won, and he has such an ego that with this one win he’s already talking about going all the way. Um, Angelo still has two wins to your one, Kenny.

Elimination challenge. Padma says they’ll be celebrating another American tradition, which is the summer picnic. They have to prepare a cookout for a group of interns at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. (Yay, I visited Mount Vernon when I was in D.C. last year and it is an amazing place with a great view of the Potomac. The Kennedys had a state party on the lawn there.)

Weird Alex makes an inappropriate comment about taking advantage of interns, and Arnold is worried about grilling because it’ll clog up his pores.

They go to Whole Foods to shop with their $400 budget. Kevin says right off that his wife is from Puerto Rico and he’s going to do meat, rice and beans, all the reasons I’m not a fan of Latin food because it typically revolves around meat, rice and beans. Tracey says she’s going to make her own sausage, and Amanda is running all around the store more than usual and mentions some kind of eating problem she had in her 20s but I couldn’t hear and really I don’t care.

Commercials. Yeah, panko! Oh, it’s a Kikkoman commercial. Yay, panko in a box!

The cheftestants are back in the kitchen and they start prepping. Arnold is working on lamb meatballs and he’s whining about having to shape all of them himself. If he could hide his sous chef in his closet to spring out at this time, I bet he would. Kenny is reminiscing about his dad and grilling. That is such the classic American father-son picture, right? I don’t know why men love fire and meat, but I have to say I love it too. Even though I don’t have a grill or backyard, I still like the idea of grilling so I put my little grill pan into action a lot during the summer.

Tracey is talking to herself and annoying everyone, especially Stephen. Then her grinder acts up and she doesn’t think she’ll be able to stuff her sausages in casing, so instead she punts and decides to make Italian sausage sliders.

Of course, there are a few people making ribs, including Amanda and Timothy. Angelo, who has an Asian fusion restaurant in Connecticut, is making a Vietnamese lettuce wrap.

I think the editors are trying to make Amanda the bitch for this season because she gets into a little ruckus with Alex because she “taped” her name on an oven but Alex placed his food in the oven, but she took it out because she taped her name first. Notwithstanding that nobody else tapes their names on the oven. Alex is really upset because he nearly calls her a bitch, but doesn’t because he doesn’t sound good with a high pitch beep on TV. All this happens as Tom comes in to do his rounds. He asks Amanda about it and she talks about prison rules, which goes into this really weird area of how she understands prison rules. She admits she’s never been to prison, but apparently she has a list of prison rules all set in her mind so if she is ever convicted of, let’s say, knocking someone on the head with a skillet, then she’d have these prison rules about claiming your property with tape. It’s hard to be in the mind of Amanda.

Back to the forced drama of Kelly and Arnold, Tom goes to talk to Arnold who’s all in a frenzy. Tom jokes that maybe he should leave and not chat, and the editors for some reason cut to Kelly busy working but looks up to take in Arnold and Tom. But that’s all. Kelly doesn’t say anything, but just looks, which I think anyone would do when Tom walks into the kitchen.

When the day is over, they’re back at the townhouse, and Tracey is asking Amanda about her ribs. Angelo asks if she steamed them, and she says no, dragging on a cigarette at the same time like she could cut you. Amanda apparently is very insecure because just Angelo asking her that question makes her think that everyone else think she’s inexperienced as a chef and that they don’t take her seriously. I don’t recall anyone actually saying that, although I know I heard Ed saying that earlier of Alex. Now that’s some drama that needs to be fleshed out more instead of this boring Amanda stuff.

It’s the next day and they arrive at what looks like a gloriously sunny Mount Vernon, unlike the overcast and cold summer day that greeted me. (Yes, did I tell you I was just there last year? Yep, saw Washington’s mausoleum and all, but no one knows for sure if his body is really in there. Creepy.)

The cheftestants get their grill going, but of course all the women (and Arnold) aren’t really sure how to get it going. The interns arrive and just layout on blankets enjoying their picnics.

They start serving their food and the judges arrive. Along with Padma in a yellow dress as bright as the sun, we have Tom, Gail and Jonathan Waxman, who was just on the show last week. They go to a group of four cheftestants at a time to try the food. Again, I would “break it down” and recap what each cheftestant made, but again the editor is just zipping by the descriptions that I couldn’t keep up. And it’s also getting late because I got distracted watching the Wimbledon highlights before Leno. I am so screwed this week with the recapping.

Basically, the judges seem to like the food from the first group, which included Arnold, Tamesha, Angelo and Alex. All I remember is Alex made a pork butt, which prompts him to deliver the quote of the night: “I could eat the ass out of this pig all day!”

In the second group, Timothy is plating his pork two ways when a goose flies over really low and drops a gift right on his tabletop. Jonathan Waxman tells him that’s good luck. I guess it is good luck that the drop didn’t land IN the food.

They try Amanda’s dry-rub baby back ribs, Kelly bison burger, and Kevin’s grilled flank steak with rice and beans. They like Amanda’s ribs but they feel like Kevin’s beans were undercooked.

Lynne, the cheftestant we don’t know much about, made a leg of lamb, but doesn’t matter because she’s going to be in the middle again. But the judges eat Tracey’s Italian sausage sliders and says it had too much fennel and Waxman thought it was too big for a slider.

The judges eat some more food and all the interns loved the food because, hey, it was free and interns eat anything! Angelo actually goes over to try Amanda’s ribs and he loves them, and actually tells others to try her ribs. That’s a pretty big compliment, and a lot of foreshadowing by the editors.

Commercials. eHarmony is advertising it’s matching services, but it’s funny how all the “real couples” they feature were matched back in 2006. What? No recent love connections? Oh, hands down the best commercial all night is Haagen Daz’s ad about getting quality products to make their ice creams. Just a really well shot ad, with a message I can get behind.

Top Chef quick clip (those are the short clips like a commercial): Tracey says she’s psychic, and she does a reading of Andrea, who we don’t know anything about, and she gets freaked out. I wonder if Tracey is so psychic whether she knows what’s going to happen in 15 minutes.

They’re all in the stew room, which looks bigger on this episode. Tracey asks if Stephen feels his fish dish came out well, and he’s all confident. So you know where that’s going. Padma arrives and asks for Arnold, Amanda, Angelo and Ed.

So the four are the top picnic food winners, and Arnold and Amanda are especially happy and giddy. Jonathan Waxman names Arnold as the winner, and he looks surprised, and hell I’m a little surprised too because he really doesn’t seem like he’s very focused on his food and instead is more focused on being on TV. Anywho, just another example of how people like to eat things on a stick.

So who’s on the bottom? Arnold sends in Tim, Stephen, Tracey and Kevin. At the judges’ table, Padma asks Stephen if he’s made his fish dish before, and he says not for a picnic. Tom says the bacon had no char on it, and the side dish of couscous was greasy. Then Gail says she didn’t care for Tim’s vegetable sides that were unevenly cooked (wow, they’re really focused on the sides on this episode). Padma says Kevin’s Puerto Rican dish is pretty safe, and Kevin says that’s how his relatives makes it. That fires up Gail who says she doesn’t want food his relatives can make but something a chef would make. Ouch.

Tracey says she isn’t surprised to be on the bottom. Apparently she is psychic. Gail says her patty was raw, and Tom says that “If that was Italian cooking, then it’s insulting to Italians. And I’m Italian and I’m insulted.” Wow, way to get personal Tom. Plus, the clip shows Tom turning his head with such disdain that I’m sad for Tracey.

So the judges deliberate some more and Jonathan Waxman adds salt to Tracey’s wound by saying that his 10-year-old son could make the sliders Tracey made because it was so crudely shaped. Tom didn’t like Kevin’s rice and beans, and I’m pretty sure he said he’s Puerto Rican and he’s insulted.

Judgment. Tom says they got to cook at Mount Vernon, an iconic landmark, but none of them created history. Stephen’s dish was more like a restaurant dish not fit for a picnic, Timothy’s pork and beans should have soul but it didn’t, Kevin had no inspiration, and Tracey delivered white bread instead of Italian bread. Padma tells Tracey to pack her knives and go, and this episode is the first one where they show Padma telling the exiting cheftestant “good luck.”

Tracey knows she didn’t do her best, so she’s taking leaving pretty well and says it was her time to go home, not because she doesn’t know how to cook, but just because she had a bad day. (They should play that Daniel Powter song about “bad day” like they did for the American Idol castoffs.) Bye Tracey. You can always get a job as a Rosie impersonator if things don’t work out in the kitchen. She had a bad day. She’s taking one down. She sings a sad song just to turn it around. La la la la lala lala la la. She had a bad day.

Next week: It’s a double elimination (good, lets get rid of some of the dead wood) and Lynne finally gets featured but it’s because she doesn’t want to be cooking on a team, but I don’t think they’re on teams as much as working in pairs. Eric Ripert is back and they’re serving him up fish but nervous about it. A whole bunch of past cheftestants come back too (I saw Spike and Richard).

And here's a video preview of next week's episode from the Bravo people...

Top Chef airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Check your local listings. Photos courtesy of the Bravo TV website.


Carolyn Jung said...

Given how many times dessert has been featured in a challenge by now, you'd have thought this year's contestants would have prepared a little better for that pie quick-fire, right? Oh well....

julieako said...

I may never watch again and just wait for your recaps!

Mary said...

I enjoyed this post immensely. I've become your latest follower. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

DavidEastBay said...

Great recap. I love your sense of humor.

My favorite moment, well two actually:

Johnny I:
"My grandmother isn't a pastry chef either. But she can make a pie."

Gail(who is rockin' it this season):
"How does this compare to your grandmother's celery spuma?"