Friday, January 30, 2009

What is it with Italians and Monkey Ass? "Top Chef" Season 5: Episode 10

We started the episode off with some interviews about a subject I thought we'd left long behind - the grossness of Ho-Leah and Ho-sea. Apparently they were both sad (we knew that already) and regretted their idiotic behavior (which we also already knew), but apparently the BRAVO producers wanted to milk as much mileage out of their lame hook-up as possible, so we were treated to more interviews about how the hooking was over. Fantastic. And yet, this was the best part of the episode - I didn't think anything could be worse than the horrible restaurant wars last week, but, no, leave it to BRAVO to prove me wrong.

The Quaker Oats Quickfire Challenge:
First off, I was extremely excited to go to Scarpetta after I read the review of the restaurant in the New York Times a few months ago. I still want to go, but, I have to say, I'm not entirely thrilled about it - Scott Conant was not winning me over with his winning personality on Wednesday night. I'm sure he's a very talented chef, but I'm so over the cocky, better-than-you attitude all these chefs have. I'm sure your food is wonderful, but you don't have to be an A-hole about it.

Moving on...seriously? Quaker oats? Is there anyway to make something with oats other than encrusting various food items with them? I'm going out on a limb here and saying this was worse than the diet Dr. Pepper challenge, and probably the worst sponsorship ever. I love me some Oatmeal, but come on guys, you can do better than this. Carla once again steeped up as the person who worked the sponsorship into her interviews the most, though, the producers must love her. The best line of the Quickfire went to Fabio and his "why eat vegetables when there's meat and fEEEsh?" and that was it for redeeming qualities. Jeff, once again, was over thinking things, Stefan acted like a douche hat, and Leah couldn't properly de-bone her fish. Again. Why is she there again? Mostly I was confused by Jamie's Rachael-Ray-terrorist scarf.

The Glad Press 'n' Seal Elimination Challenge:
The surprises were football/chef jacket/jerseys, personalized for each chef. Kind of cool, and, I have to admit, I was extremely excited for the football challenge/ I love football and I love eating food while watching football (really, who doesn't), so I think this challenge had potential. Unfortunately, I think it fell way short in its execution.

For the challenge, the chefs had to compete as a team against a team of former "Top Chef" contestants, the "All-Stars" by going head-to-head with an "All-Star" in an individual round. The chefs had to cook a meal representative of a football team in 20 minutes, from scratch. Please. Whatever. First of all, could they have picked a more lame group of people as the "All-Star" team? I don't understand the love for Spike/Andrew and their platonic love for each other - I just find them both annoying. As for the rest of the "All-Stars," I didn't remember who any of them were, with the exception of Nikki, but that was mostly because she was just on last season. I'm sure by season 8 of "Top Chef" I'll have no recollection of her, and my brain will be the better for it. Second of all, I didn't understand Jamie's (and the others) "intimidation" when looking at the "All-Stars." She said it was because they were on TV, but what the hell? She's on TV. I can't believe someone as confident as her would be concerned about cooking against Andrew or Miguel.

Since Stefan won the Quickfire, he got to choose his team (Dallas) and his opponent (Andrea from Season 1, yeah, I had to check to be sure she was actually on the show, too). Then each team got to pick who would cook for each of the other teams and the head-to-head matchups were determined based on their choices. The chefs then got two hours to play around with recipes and practice cooking in 20 minutes (don't even get me started). This scene was basically useless to the program, which was an inexplicable hour and fifteen minutes again (stop cutting into my enjoyment of "The Daily Show" show). The only relevant things we learned were: a) Josie used to play professional womens football, which means she can kick pretty much anyone's ass, b) that Fabio likes to refer to "monkey ass" as many times as he can, and c) that Andrew likes to pee on people he deems inferior to him (where does he find them?).

Then we had a commercial break in which I wrote this:


For the actual challenge, the teams moved to the ICE to cook head-to-head and be judged the the usual judges (for a touchdown) and a team of student tasters (for a field goal). The team with the most points would win "bragging rights" and the season 5 chefs who lost to their "All-Star" opponents would be up for elimination. On the way to the ICE, Fabio drops the "press n seal" product-placement bomb, ensuring the producers would keep him around another episode (which factors into relevance in a little bit). I'll also say that Tom looked extremely pissy during this entire challenge. Did you see him all slumped in his chair, with his arms folded, leering at the chefs as they came in? Maybe he doesn't like football? Maybe Spike put on one of the prop-helmets and rammed his head into Tom's gut?

The food:

Leah vs. Nikki: Leah gets the touchdown for her steak and Nikki gets a field goal for her chicken livers.

Hosea vs. Miguel: Both of them do salmon, but Hosea wins all ten points for his salmon roll (which I grudgingly admit looked good).

(Montage of Josie and Andrew torture some crawfish)

Carla vs. Andrew: Andrew acted like a jackass and served crawfish crudo. Carla somehow managed to make gumbo in 20 minutes and gets a touchdown for her team. (Side bar: Was Ariane not wearing pants when they cut to her?).

Stefan vs. Andrea: Stefan made a duo of meat (that's what she said) and interviewed that he was in love with Andrea. Um, dude, not to rain on your parade or anything, but aren't you married? Stefan's arrogance didn't win him anything, however, as Andrea takes all ten points and hugged Tom inappropriately. At this point, I realized that the judges had to throw their votes so Stefan wasn't the only one up for elimination, because they're clearly not sending him home, like, ever, so the rest of the competition was basically useless to watch. But I did anyway. Luckily, I didn't have to right away, as we got another commercial break, during which I wrote this:


Jamie vs. Camille: They both made cioppino (which, ironically, B. Flay had just made on "Throwdown" an hour earlier) San Fran style. Scott rambled on about how much he loved Jamie's style of cooking and the manner in which she cooked. Jamie won.

Jeff vs. Josie: Jeff won my heart all over again by dumping rum on everything he was making. Even if it was bad, at least you'd get a nice, little buzz, right? Josie inexplicably made warm ceviche (gross) and even more baffling, she won. All the points. This is when I started to cry because I knew Jeff was going home.

(this is adorable, that's why it's here)

(same for this one)

Fabio vs. Spike: Fabio ranted (hysterically) about Spike not using cheese, because, to an Italian, one must use cheese when making food for Packers fans. Fabio lost, but got enough points to pull out the win for season 5. At least they beat those douches on the "All-Star" team. And, hopefully, it was the last we'll ever have to see of those ridiculous "All-Stars."

The Glad Forceflex Judges' Table:
The top four were Leah, Carla, Hosea, and Jamie, who all appear in front of the judges wearing headbands. In the only other good part of this fiasco, Carla won two tickets to the Superbowl for her 20 minute gumbo and subsequently made an adorable touchdown signal in her post-win interview.

The three losers by default were Fabio, Jeff, and Stefan. Fabio over-cooked his venison, Jeff made some ceviche that Tom hated, and Stefan just couldn't cook as well as Andrea (which I absolutely do NOT believe). This was probably the worst group of people to be at Judges' Table ever. None of them had any business being there. Leah and Carla (sorry, I like her, too, but really) get to stay? As I said before, Stefan was clearly not going home, and Fabio is a product-placer's wet dream, so that only left Jeff to take one for the team. And boy did he ever. Tom reamed him out at Judges' Table and I'm not sure why...perhaps an extension of the pissiness from earlier? Jeff looked like he wanted to cry when Tom was done, to which I yelled toward the TV, "don't worry Jeff, I still love you - I'll comfort you." Sadly, it was clear at this point that Jeff was going home, and he did. But he got a kiss from Fabio before he left, which is really all anyone could ask for, so I guess he went out on a high note. Plus, I'm clearly going to plan a trip to Miami to stalk Jeff.

Next week: ERIC MOTHERFUCKING RIPERT!!!!!!!!!!! (Which almost makes up for the future lack of Jeff in hotness equivalents). Fresh water eel! Toby makes an enigmatic Star Wars reference!

Edited to add, there's an interview with Jeff here. Ouch to Tom.


Beth said...

It was such a sad night. Too sad. Seriously, what were the creative directors thinking? "Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's take our current contestants, the top 7, who are currently used to dealing with our crazy competitions, and pit them against a random assortment of previous chefs, most who didn't make it quite so far and who haven't dealt with competitive pressure in awhile! I'm sure lots of the current contestants will lose, and will provide us with a good, reliable group of individuals for elimination!"

You are totally right, they threw the rest of the voting after Stephan. I didn't see it right away, but it's got to be. Sigh... it's only a show, right? I will join you on your Florida trip, I love some complicated flavors!

iko said...

@Beth - I can't wait for our multiple field trips, Chicago, Miami...all to stalk various chefs. Also, Stefan will clearly win, if he doesn't I may never watch "Top Chef" again.

Beth said...

You'd think by now I could spell Stefan's name correctly.

Enjoy eating food and watching football!!

JP said...

I feel like I have to mature into a person who won't squee at him in order to interview him so maybe that'll never happen haha.

Ok, am I totally nuts but did the guy making out with the woman in the very last part of the office tonight look like Ed to you?? It's bizarre but I swear it looks like his hair.

iko said...

@Beth - just remember it as ste-FAN (as in we're not FANs of his douchey attitude).