Saturday, May 10, 2008

Top Chef: Chicago, Episode Nine: War Bride: or Downing the Ante!

Last week Mark was sent home and the other boys are taking it badly. Spike and Andrew are comforting each other by rolling around in bed. Well, everyone grieves in their own way, right?

Andrew: "Now that Mark is gone, it's going to be a little less entertaining, shall we say?"

I don't know; shall we say that?

Andrew: "We shall."

The women are talking about being women:

Women: "We're here, we're women, get used to it!"

Tom is the guest judge for the quickfire. But before we learn what the challenge is, Padma makes an announcement:

Padma: "This week we are upping the ante; no more immunity!"

Maybe I'm missing something because I don't play poker, but how exactly is that "upping the ante"?

Padma: "Because now there is no immunity!"

Yeah, but how is that raising the stakes? By taking away immunity you are actually lowering the stakes in the quickfire. There's less to win, right?

Padma: "Fine. We're 'downing' the ante. Can we just get on with this? This week we are bringing back two Top Chef favorites: the relay race and restaurant wars. Except that we won't be doing restaurant wars so we are actually only bringing back one Top Chef favorite and I don't know why I said we were bringing back two but it could be because I'm off my medication."

So the chefs split into two teams and they have to prep oranges, artichokes, monkfish, and mayonnaise.

Dale is completely freaking out that the people on his team are not used to whisking mayo by hand because they usually use an electric mixer. Meanwhile, I don't see him offering to do it.

Antonia is up against Lisa with the oranges. Lisa wins that segment. (No pun intented. Really.)

Spike is up against Andrew with the artichokes. Andrew makes up the time so both teams are even.

Dale and Richard tie on the monkfish.

Stephanie is up against Nikki making mayonnaise. Stephanie is faster and her team wins.

Dale has a total meltdown.

I just feel so bad for those poor, hideous monkfish. They gave their lives for a challenge on a cable television show. How humiliating.

Padma: "Well, it is the number one cooking show on cable."

I guess there's some comfort in that.

So, the winning team of Antonia, Andrew, Stephanie, and Richard will get absolutely no advantage in the elimination challenge, for which they will be cooking for a wedding reception.

Padma: "They get to choose whether they cook for the bride or the groom."

Like I said, they will get no advantage. Anyway, we are introduced to Corey and JP. They are getting married:

Andrew: "Oh, my God, why?"

All the chefs seem equally stunned to learn that these two people are getting married. I don't understand; they seem like they will make a lovely couple.

Padma: "The chefs are probably surprised that they have to cater the entire wedding banquet in one day."

Oh, that's probably it.

Padma: "Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that Corey and JP run their own restaurant and wedding venue so there is no way I expect you to believe that they would be willing to ruin their real wedding banquet by having you prepare it. This entire challenge is completely fake. I mean, the gay couple in the first season was totally believable; but not this."

The winning team goes with the bride. Spike and I were both shocked by that decision. Why would you want to risk getting stuck with a bridezilla?

So, the chefs will be cooking all night. Andrew has a culinary boner:

Andrew: "Working through the night is the perfect challenge for me! I haven't slept since 1994!"

The groom's team of Nikki, Dale, Lisa, and Spike will be making Italian food so Nikki is in charge:

Nikki: "No, I'm not!"

Spike and Lisa are actually being really good team players and are ready to let Nikki tell them what to do. Dale is being a pain, of course:

Dale: "Personally, I hate it when I'm at a party and I have to pick up an hors d'oeuvre with my hand and put it in my mouth and then use a napkin to wipe my hand. Who has that kind of time? I want hors d'oeuvres that can be served intravenously."

Seriously, I can understand why Nikki would not want to deal with telling Dale what to do. But she was obviously in charge so she really needed to take responsibility for things. By taking the lead and then not wanting to make any decisions, she really hurt the team.

Stephanie makes the bride's cake and Lisa makes the groom's cake:

Lisa: "I didn't want the groom's cake to look as nice as the bride's cake."

Tom: "Well, congratulations. It doesn't."

Stephanie's cake is very pretty. I'm impressed. I don't care how it tastes.

Spike: "I have to give it up for the two ladies who made cakes."

Lisa: "Who are you calling a lady?"

The two cakes remind me of the wedding on Frontier House on PBS. Did you see that? apparently, making separate bride's and groom's cakes is a tradition and the families trying to live like nineteenth-century pioneers made two cakes. And they looked a lot like the cakes we have here: the bride's cake was a lovely tiered cake and the groom's was an ugly brown brick. I really enjoyed that show. Sorry for going out on a tangent, there.

OK, so the wedding looks real. It's very convincing.

The groom's team makes bad bruschetta. Everyone blames Dale. The judges don't like Andrew's chicken. But, in general, the judges like most of the bride's food and are not impressed with much of the groom's food.

Judges' Table:

Guest judge: "Catering a wedding is hard, even for someone who is good at it, like me. I can't imagine how hard it was for people who are not as talented and amazing as I am."

The bride's team wins. They love Richard's brisket, Antonia's pizza, and were very impressed with Stephanie's wedding cake. Richard wins but he gives the win to Stephanie, which was pretty nice of him because he didn't know what the prize was going to be:

Padma: "OK, then, Stephanie, you have won a Toyota Highlander!"

Richard: "Son of a bitch!"

Just kidding. The prize is actually a $2,000 gift certificate to Crate and Barrel, which Stephanie then offers to share with Richard, who quickly accepts.

The groom's team lost:

Dale and Spike argue about who did the most work.

Tom: "Who was in charge here?"

Nikki: "Well, it definitely wasn't me, if that's what you're thinking. I had nothing to do with any of this. In fact, I'm not even here right now."

Nikki is out. See? I told you! I predicted weeks ago that, unless she ended up winning the entire thing, she would be sent home at some point. Wow, my psychic abilities are almost frightening!


Cliff O'Neill said...

Eric, great as usual!

And, yes, that poor little monkfish!

Personally, I find them so adorable. I so totally want to adopt one and take it for long walks in the park!

Oh, sorry, I meant I want to do that with Andrew.

Sorry, I'm still recovering from the "culinary boner." It's clouded my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Do you remember the episode of frontier house when oprah and gail went? It was hillarious!! Besides seeing Oprah without her makeup of course. That was frightening.
Anyway, wonderful post as usual. Your insight is always just what i'm thinking. Most of the other blogs are just dry recaps.
You Rock!!

eric3000 said...

Thanks anonymous! But you're thinking of Colonial House. Frontier House was the one set in the 19th century on the western frontier.

Maya said...

I especially like the part where they toss the monkfish in the trash after the challenge. Can we say "waste of a life"?

They could have used it for the fake wedding....

a-nony-mouse said...

culinary boner

Needs to be a Top Chef t-shirt.

eric3000 said...

I'll take a culinary boner over a culinary pants-crapping any day of the week.

Ms. Place said...

Why make the chefs work all night long? How fair is it to the bride and groom to force their guests to look at tired, disheveled people as they ladle out the food?

Some of this season's decisions about the competitions make no sense to me at all. This is one of them.

Ms. Place said...

By the way, your posts are way better than the show. So, thank god for Eric.