Thursday, April 10, 2008

She Made Bacon and Gets to Go to Italy - "Top Chef" Season 4, Episode 5

Well, overall, not such an interesting episode. More catering? Boring. No real drama (until the end, I'll get to that)? Boring. The palate challenge? Already been done. Zoi (spoiler alert) going home - AWSE!

I *heart* Ming Tsai, all the way from "East Meets West" on Food Network, you know, before it sucked, and I absolutely adore his food. I want to go eat at his restaurant so, so badly, and just order everything and roll around in it. And, probably eat it, too, preferably before I roll around in it. That said, he didn't really look that hot. His face was kind of bloated and don't even get me started on his hair. I think he's an attractive man, but, come ON "Top Chef," did you spend too much money on Padma's ridiculous wardrobe last season, you can't afford make-up people for your guest chefs?

While I think it's kind of lame that they redid a Quickfire Challenge from last season, I actually do like the blindfolded palate test. Ming is completely right, you need to have a highly trained palate to be able to make good food. I think it's something chefs really struggle with. it's impossible to taste every kind of food in the world, especially more than once for some things. It's relatively easy to cover up bad ingredients and I think, as a result, people (chefs included) never get a sense of what a good quality product tastes like. I know I have a horrible palate, after years of cooking and culinary school, I still can barely season things properly. I don't know that I'd be able to distinguish the good and the bad caviar. And I would be incredibly embarrassed. And that is why I am not on "Top Chef." But this isn't about me, let's move on with the episode, shall we?

The Quickfire was rather uneventful, although I was surprised Stephanie did as poorly as she did. I can definitely see nerves would play a huge roll, so I'm willing to cut her some slack. Antonia winning, clearly she has a good palate, still don't think she's a TOP chef, though. It's always nice to see someone new get immunity, though, so the other, stronger candidates have to really cook during the elimination challenge. I have to be honest, though, I was really distracted by Padma's voiceovers for the entire Quickfire. Why were they at a completely different volume than the rest of the show? Like, at least try to get the volume right, editors...come on. It was actually jarring to my poor, sensitive ears, why is Padma yelling at me?

Elimination Challenge:
Ming, won my heart even more, by directly relating the Quickfire Challenge to the Elimination Challenge, telling the chefs that he wanted simple, clean dishes, which comes directly from the palate. Strong work, Ming! Most guest chefs have no clue how the challenges relate to one another. Oh, that's right, it's probably because they don't relate to one another. Just developed to bring as much ridiculously staged drama as possible. Also, I may have missed it, but what do Earth, Air, Water, and Fire have to do with Meals on Wheels?*

The teams were all fine and the actual cooking was uneventful, with the exception of three things, in my opinion.

1. I did kind of take issue with Antonia refusing to go along with her team's idea about the soup. If you have immunity, you should shut the eff up and do whatever your team wants. They're the ones who will go home if the food sucks. It doesn't matter if you think the idea is crappy, suck it up, act like a sous chef, and power-through. The worst part about it? I actually agreed with Spike (WTF was up with his hat?? Seriously? That's how you want to look on TV?) on this point, when he interviewed that Antonia should have taken a backseat, I was like, wow, I can't believe I agree with that douche hat.
2. Lisa dropping the F-bomb every other word? Comedy Gold. Doubled because of Dale's bitchiness about it. The only way Dale's bitchiness would have been better is if he'd been stuck on the team with the lesbian couple. Three lesbians on one team? Made of win.
3. Richard kissing Tom's ass during the sniff and sneer, and Tom having no part of it was hands down the laugh-out-loud moment of the show. Tom looked so confused at first, then broke out his trusty smirk. Richard looked so defeated that his "charm" was having no effect on Tom. Maybe Tom doesn't like your faux hawk, Richard. Maybe he saw the salmon being cooked sous vide and vomited in his mouth a little bit. Maybe he wishes you'd shut the eff up and spent more time taking the scales off the fish.

Overall, the whole cooking section was pretty uneventful - I still think there are too many people to get a sense of how good they are. All we know so far: Dale is bitchy, Lisa makes Asian food, Stephanie wins a lot but has a crappy palate, there are some lesbians (mostly because Bravo keeps shoving it down our throats - TWSS), Andrew is on crack (not so much this episode), Spike is a douche bag, Antonia has immunity, Ryan has cute dimples, but may have an IQ of 85, Richard is a molecular gastronomist who has stupid hair, and there are some other people flying under the radar, most have douche-y hair and all annoy me.

Plating and Serving:
The shrimp and bacon go over well (yum), the Earth and Water dishes kind of suck. Spike interviews with a new douche-y hat. The sous vide salmon looked horrible, very mushy. In retrospect, maybe Richard was trying to add some drama and texture by leaving the crunchy scales on the fish. The rest of it didn't seem to fit, either. The salad? How does that relate to water? The parsnip puree with vanilla? Again, water? The Earth team's dish seemed weird, too. Rosemary with raw beef? Underseasoned food overall? I don't know. How are some of these people on the show? I mean, I'm not like, "whatever guys, I could do so much better," but, I'd at least salt my food.

Judge's Table:
Again, really, really distracted by Ming's horrible hair. It looks like he styled it with the unrendered duck fat from Team Air's duck breasts. Team Fire definitely deserved to win, although I don't know that Lisa deserved the trip more than the rest of them. Dale was so bitchy when she won...his face was priceless. He probably won't let that go for the rest of the season. I wish there was some way they all could have won, I really think it was a good team effort, everyone contributed equally, from conceptualizing the dish, all the way through the cooking.

Team Water was clearly in the bottom. Scales on the mushy fish? They should just send the whole team home for that. I loved when Tom asked what the parsnip was supposed to do. Um, I think it's supposed to be eaten, right? What would he like it to do? A dance? Administer Prozac to Andrew? Wash Ming's hair?

Team Earth**, also clearly in the bottom. Underseaonsed food is a rookie mistake and nothing these chefs should be doing. Again, they should have sent the whole team home. In fact, I got really excited when Tom said he wanted to send Zoi AND Spike home. That would have been awse! The double elimination is always so unexpected and drama-filled.

As far as the actual knifing, Zoi definitely deserved to go home, but Spike should be thanking his lucky stars here. Two weeks in a row he deserved to go home, too, yet was inexplicably saved by the judges. They must really see something we're not getting at home...maybe his charisma doesn't transfer through the TV. Or, maybe they just want to see what stupid hat he'll come up with next. As for the drama after Zoi left, I won't say much about it, except that I think the producers edited two completely different fights together. I don't even know if they occurred on the same day. It was so choppy and random. I felt bad for Jenn after Zoi left, that has to suck, and it probably wasn't so nice for no one to be sympathetic about it (at least from what the choppy editing showed us), but she had to know it would happen. Zoi was clearly out of her league, although I'm sure she's a pretty decent cook, regardless. The Dale-Lisa fight came out of no where and Antonia-Spike, whatever. Antonia's right, she's on tape saying (piss-i-ly) that she would make soup. At any rate, I wish they'd just show the food and the cooking, not all the drama...I guess some people like it, but I'd rather see them cooking than throwing chairs and drinking excessively. But that's just me.

Next Week:
Dale and Lisa fight. Dude, whatever, Lisa could take you down, Dale, watch it. They cater (again) a Football game and prove they know nothing about sports. Spike and New Zealand guy have a man-love moment in a bubble bath. Nikki's food gets tossed in the garbage - it's about time. Bitch is going home.

*Thanks, Beth, for informing me that "The Elements" was the actual theme of teh event. That makes much more sense now. I'm glad one person's paying attention...
**Yeah, I realized I want to add here, it was total BS when the judges said a soup would have been perfect or whatever. There is NO EFFING WAY they would have won with soup. I can hear the comments now:
Tom: "It takes three people to make a soup? You spent two and half hours making soup? This is "Top Chef" not "Top Soup Maker."
Padma: "The soup was delicious."
Gail: "I was overwhelmed by the rosemary in your earthy soup. I don't think soup is a complex enough dish for these, highly refined, palates."
Ming: "No self-respecting chef would take two and a half hours to make a soup and serve it to a group of diners expecting a highly refined first course. None of you are as good as I am. Now someone get me more gel."

Also, remember to watch new episodes of "30 Rock" and "The Office" tonight!


Beth said...

Nikki sooo sailed under the radar this episode. Totally going home next week - except if they make it LOOK like she's going home, then she's probably not. Maybe Spike and/or Andrew will do something stupid at the football field (like imitate famous chefs attempting to play football) and get sent home.

I wanted those shrimp so badly. As for the salmon - that wouldn't have come within 10 feet of my mouth.

I totally agree that the fight at the end was obviously edited and spliced together. And Jenn kicking the chair was probably totally NOT dramatic in real time, but seemed to be after all the other random moments of people fighting, etc.

Shall we add Ming Tsai to our culinary tour? Between San Fran, Greece, and Boston, I have to say that Boston is so totally do-able. And when there, we must eat at Orinoco Kitchen, too. MUST.

iko said...

Yes! We should go to MA, eat at Blue Ginger, then wander around Boston to burn calories - o to the aquarium? And, I completely agree - Nikki has been flying under the radar from the beginning...I meant to add a rant about that, I guess I forgot. She'll go home next week, though, you heard it here first!

Beth said...

Oh - as for the elements and Meals on Wheels, they just said that the 4 elements were the "theme" for the banquet. Kind of like a prom theme I assumed. Some random idea chosen to help guide which decorations to pick out at the party store.

David Dust said...

I was SO happy when Richard's Asskissery didn't work with Chef Tom!

Click here for DavidDust's Top Chef recap.