Last Week, The Earth Stood Still

I apologize profusely that it’s Monday morning and I’m posting this. I’ve been working literally since Thursday. When I have been home, I’ve been too exhausted to write.

It’s no secret around these parts, especially to all six of you or so who regularly read this, that I invest too much of myself into reality television shows. I watch a handful obsessively, attach myself to contestants, and instantaneously dissect every episode to figure out developing story arcs and decode the foreshadowing of future performances. This year, on Top Chef, I have fallen for Steph, and I’ve fallen hard. And last week, I thought there was a possibility she could go home. My heart stopped beating and I had trouble imagining a world where she was no longer in the running to be Top Chef. For a second there, I thought that I might be a little too invested. Then I realized that, no, Steph really was that important.

Let’s rewind a little bit to the beginning of the episode. The morning starts at Casa de Chef with Lisa smoking her way through life and Steph freaking out about being in the bottom and so close to going home. Meanwhile, Antonia is fired up about her chances and done doubting herself. Mark comments on how every time someone goes home, he feels like he’s one notch closer to winning the show. Most obvious life commentary of the episode apparently goes to Mark. And I think it’s become blatantly obvious that one of these four people is going home tonight.

We head to the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge, and it’s been turned into an Uncle Ben’s commercial. This week’s guest chef is Art Smith – Oprah’s personal chef and owner of Table 52. He’s basically a giant gay who appreciates simple, healthy, and, we’ll learn later, “one pot wonders.” Apparently he also has no problem whoring himself out for Uncle Ben’s rice; clearly, he’s a class act. In order to draw attention to Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice, the chefs’ challenge is to make an entrée in fifteen minutes. I don’t know how much you know about cooking, but I’d assume since you’re reading my blog, you’re not a moron. Fifteen minutes is jack shit in a kitchen. Despite what that whore Rachael Ray wants you to think, you can’t even cook beef medium well in fifteen minutes, let alone make a cohesive and impressive entrée off the cuff in the same amount of time.

The chefs scramble to make their dishes, and a few are intelligent about it by keeping things simple and making flavor the focus. Spike, as usual, is not. He shoves his Greek heritage down our throats again by making stuffed vegetables and reminding us that he is, in fact Greek. Greek-Americans might want to get together and collectively ban him from representing them for eternity. The only other things of note is that when they are testing the food, Padma mistakes turkey for chicken. That, and Gay Chef tells someone “It’s all about the acid.” I wrote in my notes, “Fitting, since today was the death of the man who invented LSD.”

Bottom three are Steph, Mark, and Lisa, mostly because all three dishes didn’t really come together too well. That, and Lisa’s dish was unoriginal. The three who placed in the top, though, are Dale, Antonia, and Richard. Dale’s was a complete meal and quite delicious, Blaise’s meal was well balanced, and Antonia mixed hot and cold together with her rice salad topped with skirt steak, with a side of arugula, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Gay Chef falls for Antonia’s juxtaposition of hot and cold, and she wins immunity for the Elimination Challenge.

This week’s Elimination Challenge has to do with Common Threads, which is basically an organization that tries to get families to eat meals together. It’s sad that there needs to be an organization to get families to actually share meals, but it is what it is. The chefs have to make a simple, nutritious, and affordable meal for a family of four. The catch? They get ten dollars. What the fuck? At Whole Foods, almost everyone is picking chicken or turkey, which makes sense because they’re dirt cheap proteins and are simple to cook. Steph is literally coming up with her dish in Whole Foods, which barely bodes well for the chef. Everyone scramble to get in under ten bucks, and most of them can’t even get it right the first time. When they get home, Antonia discusses being a single mom and how this challenge was invented for her; if she can’t win this, she doesn’t deserve to be here. In other news, her daughter is adorable and her poop joke was hilarious.

When the chefs get to kitchen the next day, they find out that their dishes will have to be simple, since they all get a child as a sous chef. After eight episodes, Lisa the Greasa (lame, I know) finally outs herself as lesbionic. We have a new lez around, but since she’s entirely unlikable, as opposed to Queen Elezabeth, we’ll call her Lezzie Borden. In more unsurprising news, Spike is an asshole and gets his kid cut within two seconds of starting the dish. Sorry, but if I have a seven year old in the kitchen with me, I would either not let him peel, or teach him how to hold the vegetable and to peel away from his body. To further highlight the waste of space that is Spike, the editors make it obvious that even after the kid has cut himself, he peels the carrots the same way.

Here are the final dishes the chefs presented and the judges’ commentary.

Blaise brought out beets, jicama, and beans over arugula. Simple, but a little bland and not enough protein. Strangely enough, everyone loves it, even the kids. Lisa uses chicken and edamame over black beans with peanut butter, and apples on toast for dessert. Sounds gross, and the judges hate the chicken for being bland and gross. Dale uses a turkey bratwurst with potatoes, onions, apples, and cabbage. One of the judges complains that the taste is too specific and wouldn’t fly with a lot of kids. Spike calls his dish pasta puttanesca, but really he’s just sucking up to the kids by making spaghetti. He gets by on it. Funnily enough, I used to live in Italy, and I didn’t recognize the name, so I looked it up. Pasta alla puttanesca, which didn’t even really exist until the 60’s, is based on using whatever is available at the market, as opposed to a strict recipe of the same ingredients. Translated, it means “Pasta the way a whore would make it.” I find this quite fitting for Spike, it’s just a shame he had to make this for kids.

Speaking of whores, Nikki made a roasted chicken with mixed veggies and a tomato slash cucumber salad. Gay Chef is bowled over by her one pot wonder. Mark makes a vegetable curry with cinnamon rice and cucumber salad. Padma and the judges freak out over the sugar content and note that there isn’t enough protein in the dish. Antonia makes a chicken and vegetable stir fry over whole wheat noodles. The judges are in love with the flavor, the simplicity, the price, and the concept. Andrew makes a chicken paillard with a fennel, apple, and orange salad. The judges love this almost as much as the stir fry, especially since it gets kids to like fennel. Steph brings a couscous dish with eggplant, zucchini, chicken, peanut butter, and tomato. Needless to say, it’s a trainwreck, and the judges hate it.

The top chefs are called quickly – Andrew, Nikki, and Antonia. Nikki balanced out her dish well and Gay Chef fawned over how accessible her one pot wonder was. Andrew got his fruit to interact with the savory part of his dish and expanded the repertoire of his kids. Antonia made a delicate and flavorful dish and didn’t have to dumb it down. She wins in what seems like a landslide.

Now we get to the part where my heart stopped beating in my chest. Steph as in the bottom three. Joined by Mark and Lisa, Miss Perfection made a dish that was overly complicated, made a bizarre combination of peanut butter and tomato, and was served in a portion size that was too large. In Mark’s dish, the nutrition wasn’t there, with too high of a sugar content and no protein involved. He makes a colossal error at this point, whining in front of the judges that he doesn’t think that Tom likes him. This isn’t something one would say in front of the judges. To be honest, one shouldn’t say it in front of the other chefs, either; it’s a bit of a bitch move. As for Lezzie Borden’s dish, it was bland and overcooked, and missing way too much flavor.

For about a minute or two, I legitimately thought that Steph had a good chance of being cut. My world started to crumble around me, and I couldn’t imagine having a reason to wake up in the morning. While I felt that Mark would go home and Lisa should go home, there was still a demon gnawing at my heart at the thought of Steph leaving. Literally, at the end of my notes for last week, I wrote, “If Steph has gone home, I would most likely kill myself.” Fortunately for everyone involved, the socially retarded Mark is sent packing instead, and I felt my extremities rushing back to life as blood was once again circulating.

Next week – it seems as though they’re cooking for 14 hours straight.   Sounds pretty fucking horrific to me.  Then the chefs try to one up each other one the drama scale – NIkki is tired, dehydrated, dizzy, but Lisa is so tired, she’ll need therapy.  Unfortunately, Andrew felt the need to tell us that he has a culinary boner.  Was that really necessary?  And the best thing ever – WEDDING WARS. This will clearly lead to the Best. Dishes. Ever.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Last Week, The Earth Stood Still

  1. If it’s any consolation, a spy for Chicagoist who lives in the neighborhood the Chef House is in says that “the curly haired girl and the guy with the beard” make it far, so I’m assuming Steph is safe for awhile.

    If Andrew would stop being such an attention whore, I might be okay with that news. I want Blaise and Steph in the finals, is that too much to ask?

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