Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Top Chef Episode 7

Last week on The Cheap Bravo Version of Thanksgiving Dinner:
There were five winners in the Quickfire. The five losers had to cook a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner. They collectively failed, but Carlos failed worse. Staying in the middle didn't work for Josie and it also didn't work for Carlos. Who's the next taker for this strategy? Anyone?

This week on Sand is Not a Garnish:
This was an excellent episode. I have watched it twice already, while I worked on my homework and made duct tape shoes. Yes, I am strange. I go through excessively strange phases, too. Anyway, there were some main points that I wanted to make sure I highlighted in this recap, but unfortunately, I did not write them down.

We start off with Elia being confident and doing yoga. Betty really wants there to be three women left at the end of the day and even more specifically, a woman winner. This does not even count as foreshadowing because if I remember correctly, Betty has said something of this sort before. Then, we are lucky enough to see Frank sitting on a bed almost entirely nude. Ewww, my eyes. Somewhere in there, Sam says something about how great he is.

At the Quickfire, Padma and guest judge Raphael Lunetta meet the chefs at Redondo Beach Farmer's Market. The challenge is for the chefs to make a dish in thirty minutes without cooking anything. They can shop in the Farmer's Market for great products to use in their dish.

Back at the kitchen, everybody is working intensely. Betty whizzes around the room as usual and adds and obligatory "whee!" as she slides past the camera. Michael is trying to assemble his dish, which involves stacking, and Frank is next to him "humping some serious gorilla." Here's my new revelation: I kind of am starting to like both Michael and Marcel. It's rather shocking. I like Betty sometimes and not others. I like Ilan the most out of the top three guys, but neither he nor Sam or Cliff really have developed TV personalities on this show. And I hate Frank. He's really annoying.

I don't remember what anybody made, except for Marcel, who made watermelon steak. Ilan says it best when he says the guest judge liked it only because Marcel called it a steak when it was really "just a hunk of watermelon." So true, but in its own way, really funny. This guest judge obviously bases a lot of his culinary decisions on presentation, because his choices for bottom three were all presentation-related. This either means all of the dishes tasted great or he just doesn't care how they taste. He put Mia in the bottom three because she bought a beautiful heirloom tomato and didn't use it, or something. I do believe she used tomato in her dish, though, so maybe she didn't want to go on tomato overdrive.

So then Padma tells them that their Elimination Challenge also involves limitations, like their Quickfire did. They will have to cook a breakfast for champs and serve it to hungry athletes after their morning workout. They won't know what limitations they'll be faced with until right before they have to begin cooking.

They get money to go shopping and everybody gets eggs. This is probably a good idea since eggs are a staple in breakfast cooking. Michael walks around aimlessly, then spots a roasted chicken, which he decides to use in his breakfast taco. He tells Marcel, "because it's already cooked," and Marcel responds by punching him in the gut, which is hilarious to me for some reason. I guess I like the idea of people who are constantly made fun of being friends with each other.

The next morning, the chefs are up at 3:30. That's 3:30 AM. Earlier than the time when I will be going to sleep tonight. Ridiculous. Marcel does a jig in the kitchen about how he's not going to get eliminated and the cameraman thinks it's important to show us his footwork. Hahaha. Marcel is so not like Stephen from last season. Marcel is more misunderstand and Stephen was misunderstanding.

Hot damn it's taken forever for me to do these things. It's like I have finals but then I'm not working that hard most of the time. Although today I was working on a fabulous surprise for my 5 returning readers. Haha.. it's actually more than that but how would I know for sure? (Leave me comments. Please? Haha.) I love all of the new visitors, but what I really want is to be good enough to get more returning visitors. So let me know what I suck at.

Here's a hint at what I'm working on.. So I really like making montages and am working on one for Top Model. I would say it's more of a clip episode produced by me rather than a montage, but it's a compilation of the best Cycle 7 moments. By best, I mean for example, that lame pose that AJ does in the intro where she's trying to be all hardcore but still model-y, and what happened was it just came out looking lame and hilarious. Anyway, look out for that. Judging by what my schedule is for the next few days, it will be finished really soon. (I do stuff like that when I really really should be doing work or studying.)

Anyway, what is this, my personal blog? So the chefs ride to their location and are all excited when they see it's the beach. Then they see that all they have to cook on is firepits. Excellent. As a quick sidenote, this entire episode was awesome. I loved it. Good challenge, no excessively annoying arguments, etc.

The judges are all there except for the guest judge, who is apparently a former champion surfer. He's out surfing, or actually, probably still sleeping. Nobody can tell if he's out there or not. And you know how they woke up at 3:30 AM? I'm wondering what happened between then and now. Was it a long ride to the beach? Because it does not look any earlier than 6:00. Anyway, so Padma is wearing a furry coat over what I assume is a bikini top, but I couldn't really tell. The first time I watched, I thought for sure she was just topless. Her hair is long and there's that ugly jacket. Anyway, as we all know, Padma is ridiculous.

So the chefs start cooking. They soon find out that it's difficult to cook on the beach because once food touches the sand, it's over. There's no getting the taste of sand out of that food ever. Mia spills her salt. Frank drops some strawberries. And Frank, by the way? Is an idiot. He thought of the idea to do a breakfast quiche. I guess I'm biased because I hate quiche, but honestly, knowing you have restrictions to deal with, why would you choose to do a quiche? Aren't those things really fussy to cook? Don't they need an oven? Stupid. So he has to scratch that idea, but he doesn't really figure it out right away.

Meanwhile, Michael has forgotten his eggs. Surprisingly, instead of calling him a moron, I actually felt kinda bad for him. Probably because he's so useless sometimes, he just can't help it. The people around him who seem to hear his dilemma are Frank, Betty, Sam, and Cliff. At least, that's what we're shown. Frank smirks and calls Michael his idiot little brother. The karma fairy sits next to Michael glaring daggers into Frank. Or that was just me. I hate Frank. He's so obnoxious.

So Betty feels really bad and this is what I like about Betty. She's fighting for this as much as anybody, so it's not like she's trying to help other people all the time. She's just one of those people who will help someone else as long as it doesn't affect her performance. And giving up a couple eggs didn't seem like a problem. Her generosity then led to Sam and Cliff wanting to look like stand-up guys themselves and they offered up some eggs too. I won't give nearly as much credit to Sam and Cliff because I'm not sure if they would have offered up eggs if Betty hadn't done so first. I'm not saying they wouldn't have. It's just they didn't make the first move here.

Anyway, it's not about sharing on this show, but it's nice that Betty didn't want to just leave Michael out to crash and burn. For all that she's said on this episode alone about wanting to stay out of the bottom, I'm glad she didn't ignore Michael to give herself a better chance of staying above him. It's just a nice thing. I'm done talking about it.

So chefs in trouble this week seem to be Sam and Cliff and Frank. It's surprising that Sam and Cliff are having problems. Sam wanted to make green eggs and ham and is surprised that when he mixes his eggs with basil, they turn grey instead of green. It's strange that he didn't consider that might happen. I probably would have warned him that mixing something with green food doesn't mean it'll turn green. But I guess he probably doesn't randomly try to turn things colors all the time.

Cliff's problem is actually a little strange. He doesn't seem like the type that would accidentally end up with a really bad presentation. He basically makes what I make at home.. a scrambled egg with some stuff mixed in, scooped into a bowl. Except when I make it, I'm in my pajamas watching The Price is Right. It just doesn't look gourmet at all.

So a bunch of surfers start trying their dishes. Mia's crab cakes are a huge hit. Tom thinks it's the fact that they're at the beach and she's serving crab. I think it's just because crab cakes taste amazing. Tom kinda made it out like Mia lucked out. No. Crab cakes would win anywhere.

Elia has some dish with a gazillion different flavors. She has the sweet, the salty, all together. Gail makes some big speech about the fact that she's apprehensive, but then shuts up and tastes it and really likes the flavor.

The guest judge is impressed by Betty's plating. He had criticized her Quickfire dish for being a little messy. This is an important point because I think this really shows how much she listens. A lot of people half-listen, but I think in this case, Betty really made an effort. It's nice that it paid off.

So it turns out our three ladies are in the top. Mia was the surfers' favorite, but some of the judges thought her plating wasn't the best that it could be. They really like Betty's plating and when asked how she came up with the idea, she gave a great explanation about wanting to preserve the delicate eggs. That type of shit rolls really well with those judges. I have a feeling plating based on practicality seems really smart to them.

The winner is Elia for the second time in a row. I really would have liked to have Mia take that one because she did what they were told to do the best. She made a dish targeted at hungry athletes and she marketed it well, too. Anyway, not a big issue. There's no prize this round.

The bottom three are Sam, Cliff, and Frank. Frank says he should have gone to individual omelettes and wasn't able to change strategies quickly enough. Sam says the challenge was really tough and he took some risks that didn't fly. He also mentions that Elia used frozen waffles and her risk paid off. It's an interesting comment because he was so specific. I have a feeling Sam is the type to be a little standoffish when criticized and will quickly point fingers when it comes to it. I don't think he should have mentioned Elia specifically. That was a little bit of a cheap attempt at questioning the judges' decision.

Cliff comes off either ultra-confident or extremely cocky. He says there's no way he's leaving today. It's interesting what works on each show. Something like that would not work on many other shows out there, but for some reason, Tom seems to like overconfidence on this show.

Basically, Frank is cut because he kinda has to be. Sam and Cliff have been two of the top chefs in this competition. Frank once made some 'shroom dish. Hmmm. Tough choice. Bye Frank.

Next week on Top Chef:
They're working in teams and Cliff is bossy, which Mia doesn't like. Somebody throws Mia under the bus and she tells them to kiss her ass. I really wish I had that Whitney Houston clip. Damn. Another missed opportunity.

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