Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top Chef Season 4 - Episode 13: Puerto Rico

I think my thoughts on this episode can be nicely summed up in this text I got from BW last night, "OH MY GOD! I HATE HER! WHAT A BITCH!" Seriously.

So, after a six month break, the final four arrive in Puerto Rico, having used the time off to travel (Stephanie), open a restaurant (Antonia), and do some other stuff the producers saw fit not to tell us about (Richard and Lisa). I assume they all brushed up on their knowledge of Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine, too.

For the Quickfire, the contestants have to make two fritters, each using plantains (the quintessential Puerto Rican ingredient, according to guest chef, Wilo Benet - who I thought was Tommy C. for a second). Stephanie wins the Quickfire for her inventive, yet classic fried treats. Richard torches his eyebrows on the ghetto range. Lisa forces Padma to chug her beer after serving a super-spicy tostone. The contestants all rock the jazz hands when time runs out on the challenge. Overall, not very exciting. Call me if someone sets Lisa on fire using the ghetto range.

Once the Quickfire is over, Wilo invites them to a local party, complete with rum and a pig on a spit (foreshadowing anyone?). The party looks like good times, I would have been all over that pig with a bottle of rum in my hand. delicious. The finalists have fun, but are somewhat restrained, as they are, understandably, all worried about the last challenge, set for the next day. Padma and Wilo dancing made the episode for me, though. That was too cute. I kind of wish Tom had been there to dance, as well. That would have been worth the price of watching "Top Chef" season 2.

The Elimination Challenge is to make two dishes using whatever cuts of meat the contestants want from their own, personal, whole pig (eek) and whatever ingredients their sous chefs can find at the local market. Sous chefs, you ask? Oh yeah, bitches, they brought back our old friends, Dale, Nikki, Spike, and Andrew to help. Stephanie, as the winner of the Quickfire, got to assign the sous chefs to the actual chefs - nice. She takes Dale, and gives Nikki to Antonia, Spike to Richard, and, dum dum dum...Andrew to Lisa (some of you may remember Lisa throwing Andrew under the bus during the 'Serve and Protect' challenge). Good times.

The chefs get 30 minutes to plan their menu with their sous chefs, then the sous chefs head off to the market (which was absolutely gorgeous, BTW) while the finalists butcher their pigs. Which was interesting, to say the least. Apparently Lisa has no respect for any animal, as she appeared to be beating the pig with whatever implements were available in the kitchen. Then, the finalists and sous chefs had two hours to prep and another 5 hours the next day to set up for the party at which they would be serving their food. A party for the governor. Fancy.

After the two hour prep, everyone frantically shoves their food into the minimal space they were provided and goes back to their hotel. But not before the cameras get the Doomsday shot - some of Stephanie's pork belly left out on the counter. By Dale. And his jaunty hat. Shades of Sam leaving behind Marcel's fish in the final challenge of Season 2...

The next day, Dale beats himself up for possibly sending Stephanie home. The two of them brainstorm a third dish they can make using what they have and settle on crispy pork skin with a fresh salsa-relish. Yummy! Richard torches some pigs feet (in the style of his eyebrows the day before), and Antonia sucks at making rice. WTF is up with no one being able to make rice this season? Nikki interviews that she thinks Antonia is "off" today (foreshadowing, anyone?). Once time's up, they head down to the beautiful lawn of the Governor's Mansion and set up their stations to serve food to the guests and judges. The judges go to each finalists table and try all three dishes, without really giving any indication of how they feel about the food. Padma does, however, express her love to ancient Greece by wearing lovely blue toga. The editors then splice in four different guests talking about the food, each one singing the praises of a different finalist. Of course. At this point, I had no idea who was going home. I know who I wanted to go home, though.

Judges' Table -
Richard and Stephanie (yay!) are selected as the top two. They loved how Richard restrained himself and served good, simple food. Stephanie's there because she served three great dishes and they all loved her crispy pork skin dish (way to go, Dale!). Richard wins the challenge for being better overall and, in the ultimate product placement, wins a new Toyota Corolla. WTF?

So, that leaves us with Antonia and Lisa as the bottom two. Antonia sucks because she undercooked her beans and because she inexplicably dumped all three of her dishes onto one plate, so they all blended together into one, unappetizing pile of brown and gray. Lisa's in the bottom two because her dishes just weren't that good and because no one was crowding around her table during service. Ultimately, they send Antonia home. WTF? Antonia shakes everyone's hand, except for Gail, who she seemingly disses and heads out, but not before telling Stephanie to kick everyone's ass in the final.

So, overall, good challenges, but confusing outcome. I don't know if it was shody editing or what, but it seemed like Antonia's food tasted good, it just looked poor and those F-ing beans were undercooked. All of Lisa's food, on the other hand, seemed to not taste good at all. So, why Antonia was sent home is unclear to me. If her food tasted worse than Lisa's - fair, but it seemed, to me, based on what I saw, that this wasn't the case. Whatever. She'll bring a pissy attitude to the final challenge, one sorely lacking in Richard and Stephanie, so her presence will be much appreciated. By some. Not by me. Honestly, there's no way Lisa will win and there was no way Antonia was going to win, either, so I'm not to upset overall. I am upset about Lisa's attitude, however. I get the need to be tough in a kitchen, but everyone there is supporting you, you can act a little nicer.

Notable moments:
Dale (about the black plantains) - "They look rotten. They. Look. Rotten."
Richard (about Lisa) - "You won the fucking bronze medal. Congratulations. There you go.”
Iko (about Tom C.) - Tom C. needs to wear an undershirt. I don't care how hot it is in PR. That's a necessity. Always.


Beth said...

Ha! I also for a second thought that Wilo was Tom C! I'm surprised you didn't go on a more detailed rant about Lisa's pissy pity party at the end, which, in my opinion, was clearly a blatant psychological expression of her own feelings of inadequacy and guilt over Antonia going home (but then again, how much more can we obsess about her exceedinly bad attitude?) I am so happy you included my favorite quote from the night from Richard about the bronze medal. I had to rewatch that moment, I loved it so much.

One last time:

(Though, I love you now, too, Richard, with your faux-hawk, crocs, steam trickery, and no nonsense comments about Lisa. I just love Stephanie more.)

iko said...

beth - I, to you, in addition, heart Richard, as well. And, yes, that's the exact reason I just gave up on my's over and done with. She has a sh**ty attitude. I can't say anything about it that hasn't been said before...

Dawn said...

Strong work everyone! I, too, loved Richard's comments toward Lisa! Brilliant! I hope that he throws one of his crocs at her face, or runs her over in his new car!