Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Play with Effing Honor - Top Chef Season 4 - Episode 10: "Serve and Protect"

*Note: I wrote this just before the episode started last night:
Let's see if "Top Chef" can redeem itself after the debacle that was last week's episode. Seriously, WTF were they thinking, "Wedding Wars" was horrible.

Well, apparently not. The producers follow up the worst episode of the season with the second worst episode of the season, complete with a boring Quickfire, a boring Elimination Challenge, a boring and useless guest judge, and horrible behavior at Judge's Table. Awesome.

The editors were apparently instructed to work in Andrew's "culinary boner" line during the recap of last week. Meanwhile, Stephanie plucks her eyebrows and pontificates about stepping up her game. Spike wears another hat - a skully, which actually is the least douche-y hat he's worn. I guess it was getting cold in Chi-Town at this point in the filming. I could have done without the shot of Dale's gut hanging out of his chefs coat while he was fixing his hair. Just saying. Dale, I do like you, despite your bitchiness, but the gut? Really? That's your choice for TV?? Andrew says he's going to stab someone - or make some amazing food, yeah, he's probably going home.*

The thing that really got me here was Richard saying they were up for 40 hours straight for the wedding challenge. Didn't Padma say the chefs would work for 14 hours, or overnight? I still can't believe the producers came up with that challenge and thought it was a good idea. Honestly, they're lucky none of the chefs hurt themselves. I can't even function enough to make myself coffee after being up for 12 hours straight. I can't believe they were expected to use large, dangerous pieces of kitchen equipment in that state. So ridiculous.

So, they bring back Sam Talbot as the guest chef. I guess it kind of makes sense for a "healthy" food challenge to bring back the chef-diabetic. Really, I think the producers just used it as a cover, they (erroneously) thought more people would watch if they brought back Hot!Sam. Unfortunately, the producers seem to have forgotten how much he fell out of favor after the Marcel-debacle that was Season 2. Jackass. Also, seriously, could he mumble anymore? Or be any more stoic? Between him and Padma, it was like watching a wax museum on TV. Nice to look at, but useless besides that.

So, the challenge was to make a salad, more specifically to "put the sexy back in the salad" in 45 minutes. Could the challenge be any more vague? Maybe have some kind of minor twist? Like, not being able to use lettuce? Honestly, if the chefs had watched season 2, they would know Sam likes his quick pickles and crudo, so - easy win for those in the know. The chefs get to work, all the while bitching about Dale (Lisa) and talking about how people will want to have sex after eating his salad (Spike). Not a shock on either side.

The Food:
Stephanie - a delicious sounding fall salad with mushrooms. Unfortunately, she runs out of time and leaves off her artichoke chip.
Antonia - poached egg and bacon? Sold!
Andrew - Thai fruit salad - meh.
Spike - Sensual Beef Salad - double meh. (what does the salad name even mean?)
Lisa - Sexy Banana Salad - again, what the...?
Richard - Fresh and Clean Salad, basically a ceviche. I don't know, it looked good. Apparently it didn't have enough acid.
Dale - an awesome sounding Poached Chicken Salad with some Asian ingredients.

Stoic Sam chooses Stephanie, Richard, and Lisa as the bottom three and Spike, Antonia, and Dale as the top three. Then, one douche bag chooses the other douche bag as the winner. I guess they have to stick together. It's probably written in the "Top Chef" douche bag code.** Of course, he no longer has immunity, but will receive an "advantage" in the Elimination challenge.

Elimination Challenge

Padma has the lackeys roll in a cart filled with delicious-looking fast food. The challenge is to create a gourmet boxed lunch for police academy cadets using healthy items, like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and lean protein. Sam explains he has diabetes and Padma says the spread of obesity and diabetes is a problem in America. Thus necessitating the need for healthy, easily accessible alternatives to fast food. Sidebar, if I may, I like the idea of the challenge. A lot. I'll spare you the rant about the state of nutrition knowledge in the U.S., but I absolutely think it's necessary to show people how to make healthy food for themselves and educate people about what healthy choices they can make in their everyday lives. I also think it's important for policemen and women to eat healthy, how many times do you see cop cars going through the drive through at McDonalds? But, my issue with the challenge is this. There's no follow-up. They didn't teach the cadets how to make the food themselves. They didn't offer any nutritional guidance. They didn't make this food available everyday. Again, what's the point? I think that's the theme of this whole season. They found great chefs and give them challenges with no point. What a waste.

Anyway, off to the grocery store to shop. Spike's advantage is to select one item from each "healthy" food group that only he can use and he gets a 10 minute head start with his shopping. Instead of taking time to plan his dish and actually make something good and inventive, douche decides to "play the game" and try to screw the other contestants over as much as possible by taking bread, lettuce, tomato, and chicken as his ingredients, so no one else can use them. Honestly, this part made me kind of sick to my stomach. If you're on a show about cooking, shouldn't you cook good food? That speaks for itself. Making crappy food just to screw people over will only get you so far.

The chefs return to the kitchen and have two hours to cook their food, box it up in GladWare, transport it to the academy, then instruct the cadets how to eat/reheat the food on site. The cooking was kind of boring, aside from Lisa's Ricegate drama. Honestly, I think she just turned it up herself by accident. I do that all the time. I think if someone had sabotaged her, the cameras would have caught it, don't you?

Sniff and Sneer - Again, not very eventful. Lisa poisons Tom with some hot sauce and Tom calls Spike out for blocking the other chefs needlessly. Tom nicely sums up the sniff and sneer with, "The chefs seem OK with healthy food. I think we'll see some great dishes"

Serving the food to the cadets - The cadets get to go to the tables and choose the food they think sounds the best. Spike uses another inane strategy - pretending his food is going fast by hiding the extra. Richard acts like a tool and asks people if they like burritos. He interviews that he made the burrito because he thinks "normal people" like them and would be interested to try a healthy burrito. I think he's an idiot. Although, maybe he's still recovering from "Wedding Wars" so I'll give him a pass.

The Food:
Stephanie - mushroom and meatball soup with root vegetable puree. It sounds and looks delicious and the cadets and judges really seem to like it. I'm so glad. I was getting worried about Stephanie's focus over the past few episodes, looks like she's back, bitches!
Spike - chicken salad, raw vegetables***, grapes, with a side of useless bread, lettuce, and tomato. The judges secure a place in my heart by calling his food "pedestrian." Ted thinks Spike's an idiot for using all his time to make salad and screwing the other chefs over. Tom thinks Spike's an idiot for using the lettuce and tomato ONLY as garnish (I'm kind of projecting my own feelings, here).
Dale - lemongrass bison lettuce wrap, which also sounds delicious. The judges like it, too.
Antonia - curried beef, jasmine rice. Nothing more is said about it, which means she'll be in the middle.
Andrew - salmon maki roll, about which the judges say the "flavor isn't great." Also, he didn't use a whole grain in his lunch and it doesn't seem to be very filling.
Richard - tuna burrito. The judges say it tasted good, looked bad.
Lisa - shrimp stir fry with rice. The Judges say it's very spicy and rant about the undercooked rice. Aah, Ricegate continues.

Judge's Table

The judges choose Dale and Stephanie as the winners. Iko is inexplicably excited about her two favorites being in the top two! The judges go through both dishes, saying Dale's choice of lean bison was great and that Stephanie's soup was perfectly seasoned and very hearty and delicious. Sam chooses Dale as the winner and we actually get to see his prize! A giant bottle of Merlot and a trip to Napa Valley.

The judges ask Dale to send in the losers: Spike, Lisa, and Andrew. Yeah, not really surprising. Andrew's food was not substantial enough, but, he still rambles about how he studied nutrition (again) and argues about the rules.**** Tom ends Andrew's rant by saying his sushi just didn't taste good. The judges call Spike out about screwing the other chefs over and for his use of olives AND grapes in the chicken salad (blargh). Spike douchily counters by saying the "common person" said the food was amazing. Lisa's there because her food wasn't really a stir-fry and because just about everything was improperly cooked.

And then, the drama starts. I don't really want to get into it, because it makes me ill, so I won't. Sufficed to say, Lisa calls Andrew out on not following the rules and basically says she's afraid he might punch her in the face (if he doesn't I will). Spike acts like an asshat the entire time and Andrew arrogantly talks down to the judges about nutrition and basically says he didn't follow the rules intentionally because he knows better. If you want to know more, come by my apartment and you can watch Judges Table on my TiVo. Or find someone closer to you who has TiVo. Or just watch Bravo, I'm sure they'll replay the episode ad nauseum for the next week to amp up the drama.

In the end, Andrew goes home. I think it was a fair choice, his food was bad AND he didn't follow the rules. However, I really wanted it to be Spike, after his piss-poor attitude toward the other chefs and his inability to make a good lunch. Honestly, I was kind of hoping for the trifecta elimination, because, really, all three need to go. it can't happen soon enough. At least Andrew seemed pretty chipper as he left, none of that "being dragged out by security, this is my house" from early on. I'll almost miss him in his twitchy glory.

Next week - Restaurant wars! Dale yells!

*Totally wrote that before Judge's Table! Nailed it (/Andy Bernard)!!

**Rule IV.A.1.c.xi. "Thou shalt choose another douche as the Quickfire winner, if you shalt come back as a guest judge in a subsequent season."

***My favorite thing about Spike describing his dish to Padma was when he initially said 'crudite,' then changed to 'raw vegetables,' as if she didn't know what crudite was. Actually, she may not.

****Dont' the producers realize they need to spell the rules phonetically for him?

1 comment:

Beth said...

I really enjoyed the Spike and Andrew love fest at the end, while Lisa hid awkwardly in the corner:

"You're my BFF!"
"No, you're my BFF!"
"I love you! You are the man!"
"No, I love you, you're my bro forever!"

(Followed by hugs, fist pumps, chest bumps, and other man-friend love-like bodily actions.)

I would have been a puddle of happiness had all three gone at once. I couldn't even decide which one I wanted to be kicked off more, though I think I was really honestly gunning for Lisa b/c she is upsetting me.