Monday, November 27, 2006

Top Chef Episode 6

Last week on The Best Episode Ever:
The theme was leftovers. There was leftover parts of animals that most people don't use. There was leftover food and produce at Social Restaurant. There was leftover contestants that aren't good enough named Marisa and Josie. It was a great episode.

This week on Elia's Better When She's Crazy:
I watched this episode twice; once when it was already fifteen minutes in and once again from the top up until the point that I had started before. The first time around, I was really confused because I couldn't figure out how Ilan, Sam, and Cliff ended up on the same team. Then I couldn't figure out why they weren't cooking anything. It all cleared up by the end of the show, though.

So there's a bunch of talk in the women's living area about how quiet it is without Josie around to throw tantrums. Except they said it in a much more endearing way than I did. Nobody really says anything about Marisa, which is fitting because nobody cared then and still nobody cares now. Haha.

Also, everybody hates Marcel, except for Elia still. This is how I see it.. I never liked the guy. I called him Wolverine for awhile, but that's too long to type out. Here's the thing though.. too many people are projecting what they felt about Stephen from last season onto Marcel. He is in no way as obnoxious as Stephen. Probably mainly because Marcel isn't good at anything. Stephen would win challenges and then smirk and smarm about how exquisite his food was. Marcel isn't as irritating for me.. mostly just funny because he's this small dude that everybody hates. He's annoying, but not offensive. I just find his interactions with people such as Betty and Frank to be hilarious. Anyway, moving on..

The overly animated Padma Lakshmi appears and announces that this week's Quickfire involves making a dish using at least three canned goods in fifteen minutes. There's a lot of running around and freaking out because I bet ten of those fifteen minutes would be taken up by opening cans and heating food. Mia smartly makes a salad, which gives her more preparation time. Since Marisa is gone, I can't rip on her food, but I will say her dish probably would've sucked. Haha. I really didn't like her.

So Tom Colicchio is the guest judge for this Quickfire. That has to make one wonder. Something had to be going on. The chefs seem more nervous than curious, though. After tasting all of the food, Tom asks several people to switch where they're standing and we're left with Sam, Ilan, Cliff, Mia, and Frank on one side and Betty, Elia, Marcel, Michael, and Carlos on the other side. Anytime there's any sort of grouping involved, if Sam, Ilan, and Cliff are all in one group, it means tough luck for whoever's in the other group.

Tom announces that the winner is Sam. Everybody is excited and Mia confessionals about how she really wish she would have won. Then, thank you Captain Obvious Editors, Tom says Mia has also won. And so has Cliff, Ilan, and Frank. They're all excited and the other five are either confused, disappointed, or livid (Elia).

The five winners are told that their only task for this round will be to donate some canned goods to the local food bank. The five losers will have to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner with a twist. This is spelling disaster in my mind. Meanwhile, Elia is furious about the result of the Quickfire. She said she tasted Cliff's dish and had to spit it back out. I don't know what she thinks happened.. that some sort of Top Chef politics came into play? Anyway, at this point, she couldn't care less.

Then we have the losers trying to come up with a menu. I liked Betty a lot at the beginning and she's started to get on my nerves as the weeks have gone on and she's gotten worse. Betty decides that since Josie is gone, she will take over the role of being extremely loud and bossy. She wants everything on the menu her way and there's a lot of yabbering and finally Carlos decides that whoever has the pepper mill will be the only one who can talk. Of course Betty grabs the pepper mill and starts yapping again. Michael at one point suggests a turkey, chicken, duck (?) lasagna, but everybody says no. There's bickering and yelling and finally they have some sort of menu set out.

While the losers go shopping, the winners go to the food bank. Mia tells us that her family was once homeless when she was young and so she really understands the importance of giving to the food bank and it means a lot for her to be able to do this. And you know what? That's awesome. I hate that someone has to tell a story like that for me to believe that they actually care and understand the meaning of the service they're giving, but it's come to that. I'm glad Mia got to do this and have the day off. She's cool.

Meanwhile, four losers have gone to that Oats-something grocery store and one livid, couldn't-care-less Elia has gone to the hardware store or something.

So for some reason, the five losers have to cook at the lofts that they are staying at. There's a kitchen in both the men's loft and the women's loft. The women have their kitchen space pretty clean and tidy while Frank has put his toiletries in the men's kitchen space and there's other assorted nasties as well. Michael and Marcel are in the men's loft and they move all of the junk so they can work. This involves moving Frank's toiletries. It's pretty quiet and serious in the men's loft. They begin working.

Meanwhile, in the women's loft, Elia still couldn't care less. Although she's making a mushroom soup for the meal, she's mixing a bowl of melted chocolate for some reason. She proceeds to smear chocolate all over her face and throws some at Betty. Pretty soon, it's obvious there's no work to be done anytime soon. It's kinda funny. I like Elia crazy. When she's serious, there's some dry humor to her, but when she's crazy, she's much funnier.

At some point, the five winners (or shall I say the four winners and Frank) come back and find that in the men's loft, crap that doesn't belong in the kitchen has been moved from the kitchen to somewhere else. Apparently this is an issue and Michael and Marcel should've just worked around the crap. There's a bit of condescending talk going around, which I hate. Just because you won the Quickfire does not make you the best person ever, especially if four other people also won. Frank, if you left you toiletries in the kitchen, why wouldn't they move it if they had to, you know, use the kitchen? Frank wags his finger at Marcel about how he wants to beat him to a pulp so his mother won't recognize him.

Now, at this point, I am on Marcel's side, which is an unfortunate place to be, but it's true. First of all, I hate it when people are inconsiderate of others and just leave their crap wherever they want (like that bulimic chick from Top Model Cycle 3.. Cassie). I hate it when they then proceed to blow a fuse when people move their crap so that the living space can be functional. If you put your stuff where it belonged in the first place, nobody would have needed to move it. Idiot. It's like do it once and do it right. It's a waste of time to have to do something twice when you could have done it once.

Anyway, Tom comes into the loft to make sure Betty isn't adding special sauce to her dish that will give her an unfair advantage. Elia asks him what he liked about Cliff's dish and Tom explains and Elia realizes there were no Top Chef politics going on and she and Tom must have different palates. If I remember correctly, in the first challenge, Elia disagreed with everybody on which dishes were the best and which were the worst. That is evidence enough to me that she has a different palate than others. Anyway, Elia decides to become focused now that she knows Tom was judging honestly.

So there's a lot of cooking and not much paying attention (on my part) and then we have the judges, the five winners, and guest judges Anthony Bourdain at a table sitting all cozy and family style. The losers have to serve to the winners. That's funny. Almost as funny as whatever the winners were laughing at during the entire time we are shown of them before the food arrives. Anthony Bourdain wants to smash the hopes and dreams of the future top chefs. Just my type of guy.

Michael brings out the first of many unnecessary courses. This one seems to be kinda tasty, though. It's a canape.. an egg canape? I imagine there's turkey in it. Okay, I just rewatched that part of the show.. it is indeed a turkey and egg toast canape. Everybody comments positively.

Next is Carlos, who has made it apparent that he wants to stay in the middle. He doesn't want to stand out positively nor negatively in this game. I remember this was mentioned a few episodes ago by somebody else. Stupid idea. Remember Josie? She was comfortably in the middle until a twist of a challenge paired her up with Marisa, trainwreck central. She went from comfortably in the middle to comfortably sitting on her couch at home. Some strategy. Also, some foreshadowing. Hmmm I wonder who's going home. And, uh, Carlos? Wouldn't it be more comfortable to not have to cook this episode?

Speaking of not having to cook. I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, because this recap has been in the works for awhile and now I am back at my school-home and cannot remember what I've talked about and am not interested in going back through what I have already written. Anyway, I don't like this whole "five people get to nothing" business. I don't get why they did it. They could've spread out cooking time and had those canned goods delivered and still have more of an exciting episode going. I would have rather seen everybody cooking than just five fools who can't start a fire. I think it would have been much more exciting having the five winners on a team, not necessarily calling them winners, and the five losers on a team, and I don't care if they're called losers. That would give the "winners" an obvious advantage, except Frank probably would have found a way to screw it up and include some shrooms dish. That would have made for an interesting uphill battle. Just my opinion.

So Carlos made a salad. It's technically the first course since Michael's canape was an amuse bouche a la vending machinegate of two episodes ago. This is Carlos' excuse of a dish. Four hours and he made a salad that looks disgusting. It has stuff like pumpkin seeds, butternut squash dressing, peppers, and what looks like bacon on top. Ewww. Nobody gets it. Nobody likes it.

Next is Elia's Portobello and Button Mushroom Creme Soup. She mentions that it's her first Thanksgiving, which I don't necessarily buy, because she's been cooking long enough to have made or had a Thanksgiving meal before. Not that I care, or it matters at all. I think she's funny. Also, this sounds sooo good. I love mushrooms and a mushroom creme soup sounds so good right about now. Everybody thinks it's pretty good, but I'm sure they're thinking what I was thinking: how is this Thanksgiving with a twist? It's more of a Sunday at 1:30pm late lunch kind of dish for me. It's what you make after waking up way too late on a Sunday. I would still eat that anyday, though.

Now we have good ole Marcel, Mr. Avant Garde Gastronomy. He's made a turkey roulade with stuffing. There's also a cranberry gelee with cranberry foam. Haha, foam. This looks much more fine-dining-esque, which is what the challenge was really about. The winners at the table talk about how the turkey is too cry, there's too much cranberry, etc. Frank basically says he hates Marcel. Then Padma chimes in that she doesn't mind it. That's what they asked for, and he's the first one to really put in a twist. Anthony Bourdain doesn't like the dish per ce, but likes that Marcel has balls.

Next is Michael's second dish, a twice-baked potato with shrimp, a mashed something potato and corn, I think. Most people look either shocked or disgusted, which is funny. Anthony Bourdain says Michael's broken every cooking basic ever, with his bland white non-fine dining. He asks Tom what kind of crackhouse he's running and Tom cracks up unlike the highly edited preview we were shown of him looking worried and "sweating." Mia then says that she's enjoying the twice-baked potato more than the roulade. Which is either another jab at Marcel or the honest truth spoken from a woman of southern cuisine.

Then we have Betty's Chai Pumpkin Creme Brulee and Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Brulee. We see a little bit from prep where Marcel tries to help Betty torch her creme brulees, which have ginger on top. The ginger starts to burn, so they take it off. Which was probably a good thing because I cannot see any way the ginger would have helped. The entire dessert would have tasted strongly of burnt ginger. We then see Elia try to help with the creme brulee as well. Everybody thinks it sucks. Tom says that a custard with sugar on top doesn't mean it's a brulee. Well, I'm sure that's correct, but the way Betty made it, it does look like a creme brulee. Anthony Bourdain says the whole meal was a failure of the imagination.

Then, Michael walks in with a sixth platter, a cheese dish. He pretty much has arranged several types of cheese on a dish. Everybody agrees that they like cheese, but why are they eating it now?

At judging, everybody is frustrated. They don't like Carlos' salad because it's lame and isn't good. They liked Elia's soup even though it wasn't creative. Marcel's dish was creative and looked good. Unfortunately, it seems that it didn't taste that great. Betty's brulee was bad. Michael was ridiculous. Anthony Bourdain calls Michael the lovechild of Betty Crocker and Charles Manson.

Basically, Elia and Marcel are the two better dishes. Elia wins, which is both ironic and hilarious. Now, I don't know if this was edited, but Tom doesn't appear to mention his conversation earlier with Elia about the Quickfire results. He could have easily used it against her. Fortunately, what I like about Tom seemed to come through. He respects all of the chefs in this competition and treats them, in a way, like his peers. Unless there are major consequences to something that happens outside of the judging room, it doesn't get mentioned.

There's a lot of talk about how ridiculous Michael is, but Anthony Bourdain kinda respects him for serving dishes that were totally opposite of what they asked for. At some point, everybody is asked who should go home and Betty gets catty. First she says she doesn't want to say. Then she says Marcel should go home because she doesn't like him. Finally, she settles on Carlos because he only made a salad. All of this is a bit childish because we don't care what people's feelings are towards other chefs.. it's all about the food. I thought Betty was sticking her foot in her mouth. However, most of everybody else chooses Carlos as the worst.

There is a yelling match between Betty and Marcel while they're waiting for results, and I'm not going to go through it because it's pretty childish and catty and I'm so over it. Carlos is sent to pack up his knives and go. When he says goodbye to the rest of the crew, he tells them to "Break and egg!" Which I think is awesome. Bye, Carlos. You were slightly useless sometimes and had a horrible strategy. However, you weren't overly obnoxious, so it's too bad you're going before Frank and Michael.

Next time on Top Chef:
They have to create a mouth-watering, filling entree. But there's a catch. I'm thinking they have to catch what they cook with? Like they have to go fishing and getting lobster traps and stuff? There's a "catch"? I don't know. I'm grasping at straws. These previews are so heavily edited, who really knows.

Until next time..

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