Top Chef Three, Episode One: Supersize me!
Me: "Does it seem like this episode is going on forever?"
Other Eric: "Let me look ... OK, Apparently it's an hour and fifteen minutes."
Me: "Oh, good; I thought maybe this show was actually slowing the passage of time."
The chefs are in Miami. As usual, they will be competing for a subscription to Food and Wine Magazine, some bottled water, and $100,000 worth of Glad wrap. They meet up for a typical Bravo "party." The chefs seem to have missed the secret that all Bravo viewers know: Bravo's definition of "party" is getting the contestants drunk and then expecting them to perform really difficult tasks.
Padma: "Dance for me, monkeys!"
Padma introduces us to head judge and all-around grouch Tom Colicchio:
Tom: "OK, everyone, listen up! I'm not Tim Gunn! I'm not here to hold your hand and babysit you! I'm here to complain about your food! Don't piss me off!"
They are at the home of the late Gianni Versace. Wow, that place is classy!
Padma: "You have to make an amuse bouche from whatever leftovers you find in Versace's refrigerator. Let's go into the house. Oh, look, everyone; it's the lovely and talented Donatella Versace having a bologna sandwich and vodka!"
Donatella Versace: "You know, Padma, that dress is very Isaac Mizrahi ... FOR TARGET! GET OUT!!!"
Padma: "OK, everyone; change of plans: you'll be making an amuse bouche from the leftovers of the party food out in the courtyard. You know, that's a better idea anyway."
First of all, Padma is wearing a perfectly acceptable dress. Secondly, I think she finally learned how to pronounce amuse bouche. This is a vast improvement.
There are too many damn chefs! I'm too lazy to do much outside research on these shows so I always have a hard time at the beginning. I did, however, spend ten minutes this time looking at pictures of the chefs so I might remember some of their names. Bravo needs to do a better job of finding people who look really different from each other. This group of chefs just looks like a bunch of girls with long, brown hair and a bunch of bald guys. I'll try to describe them:
Camille has long, brown hair.
Clay has a goatee and is from the South. He doesn't think Southern cooking has been represented on Top Chef. He has apparently forgotten about Mia. He also thinks he has a good shot at winning because he didn't go to culinary school. He has apparently forgotten about the fact that people without professional training do not make it very far on these shows.
Casey has long, blondish hair. Hopefully she'll keep wearing that scarf so I can remember who she is.
Tre is the black guy. I think I can remember that. Thank you, Bravo.
Howie is kind of chunky and has a shaved head.
Joey is another chunky guy. I am going to get him confused with Howie. White guys all look the same to me.
Chris is really easy to recognize because he has an artificial testicle.
Sandee Birdsong is another one who will not blend in to the crowd.
Lia has long, brown hair. But it's kind of curly. She also looks really, really young, though she isn't.
There are two Saras: cheesy Sara and Asian Sara. One of them had better get eliminated quickly because I don't have the energy to keep using initials.
Sara M. is the cheese-maker, which is a fancy way of saying she's a fromagier.
Sara N. is the Asian one.
Dale is the guy with the mohawk.
Micah has long, brown hair. I think she'll be easy to remember, though, because apparently she's going to annoy the shit out of everyone.
Hung is the Asian guy. He keeps telling us that he's an asshole. I'm not buying it. A real asshole wouldn't need to work so hard to convince us.
Brian Malarkey's last name is Malarkey. That's actually funnier than Birdsong.
Micah wins the quickfire challenge and has immunity in the elimination challenge. The chefs are staying at the Fontainebleau, which everyone pronounces "fountain blue." I looked it up and apparently even the people who work there pronounce it that way. Weird.
For the elimination challenge, they will be creating "surf and turf" dishes with a bunch of fucked-up ingredients: elephant scrotum soufflé, anyone? Uh, no, thanks.
The closest thing we have to a fight is at the grocery store, where Micah is trying to calm down Clay:
Micah: "Clay, relax, honey. Do the breathing exercises I taught you. If the great spirit intends for you to find your ingredients, you'll find them. Now, let's hold hands and chant."
Joey: "If that bitch tries to tell me to calm the fuck down, I'm going to punch her right in the chakras!"
Both Hung and Sara M. are making dishes with black chicken and something called geoduck, which is apparently pronounced "gooey duck." At first I couldn't figure out how chicken and duck could be surf and turf and I also freaked out when I thought Hung was popping raw duck in his mouth. I had to watch the episode a second time to learn that geoduck is actually some sort of mussel.
OK, it's a little difficult to describe all the dishes. Just know they're weird. At least now I know how to prepare all that snake meat I'm always bringing home from Trader Joe's. Someone made kangaroo tartare. Excuse me while I go hurl ...
The guest judge is Anthony Bourdain. Here are the highlights of the judging:
Brian deep-fries the eel. Padma says it tastes like that time she got shipwrecked and was forced to eat her own toes. Anthony Bourdain says he wishes he were drunk. Sandee's and Lia's are both good. Hung's is excellent and in the top two. But Tre makes rare ostrich steak, which just doesn't sound like a good idea to me but the judges love it. He wins!
Anthony Bourdain: "Here, have some books I scribbled in while I was high. You've also won the opportunity to go out on a date with me! We'll get stinking drunk and hire some prostitutes!"
He is so cool! The bottom four chefs are Brian, Dale, Howie, and Clay. Dale's alligator wasn't cooked very well:
Nina Garcia: "I question his taste level."
Brian kind of screwed up with his eel and snake but it wasn't really that bad so I don't even know why he's there.
Howie didn't get his frog legs plated so only served half a dish. The half he served was really good, though.
Anthony Bourdain: "You forgot the first rule of being a chef: serve the food on time, no matter how shitty it is."
Howie: "If it pleases the court, I'd like to draw your attention to exhibit A: chapter three, paragraph four of Anthony Bourdain's book Ecuadorian line cooks I have known, which reads, "Ecuadorian line cooks only serve food when it's good. They also know where to get the best cocaine."
Anthony Bourdain: "I think I love you."
Clay's dish was completely inedible and he's out. Too bad; I liked him. I'm sure he's a good cook but if he wants to be a chef he should probably go to culinary school.
OK, so this episode was fun! The people are interesting and talented and the Bravo producers are concentrating on the cooking instead of trying to create conflict. Tune in next week when all that changes!