Saturday, December 20, 2008

Top Chef New York, episode six: Eleven Chefs a-Choking!

Katie Lee Joel: "Welcome to our Christmas Carol! I am the ghost of Top Chef past!"

Padma: "Bitch, don't even."

We start the episode with more scenes from the bromance between Fabio and Stefan:

Fabio: "Stefan says we are a dynamite duel. I don't know what that is. Also, he has a shoe in his ass. I told him he should see a doctor."

We witness Hosea's call home to check on his father, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. He wishes he could be with his father. You know what that means. Hosea's going home. They make it so obvious.

The judge for the quickfire is Martha Fucking Stewart! Some of you may not have heard of her but, believe me, she's very famous in the culinary world! This is a big deal!

The chefs have to make a one-pot dish. The trick to a one-pot dish is to use one pot. Because if you use two pots, it will be a two-pot dish. I'll give you a moment to write that down.

Padma: "Martha, do you have any words of advice?"

Martha: "As Albert Einstein always said, 'Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gay!'"

Padma: "Martha, are you drunk?"

Martha: "Yes. Are you?"

So, most of the chefs are creating dishes with at least two separate components and, while they are technically using one pot, they are defeating the purpose of the challenge. Of course, there is a reason we don't get more stews:

Eugene: "I used corn starch to thicken my stew. I hope Martha Stewart doesn't notice that it tastes like crap."

A few minutes later:

Martha: "This tastes like crap. Did you use corn starch?"

Stefan makes a veal stew with chanterelle mushrooms:

Martha: "Oh, I love chanterelle mushrooms. I pick them every morning on my estate. I highly recommend having an estate with chanterelle mushrooms. Everyone should have one."

Martha also likes Hosea's paella. He's obviously going home.

Padma questions Jamie about whether scallops are a winter dish:

Martha: "Padma, you dumbass, scallops are absolutely associated with winter. We go diving for them off my waterfront estate in Maine in January. I highly recommend going diving for scallops off your waterfront estate in Maine in January. Everyone should do that."

Padma: "Let me get this straight; you put on a wetsuit and go diving off the coast on Maine in January?"

Martha: "Don't be ridiculous; when I say 'we' I mean the lackeys who do my bidding."

Ariane wins a signed copy of Martha's cookbook:

Martha: "I highly recommend having a signed copy of my cookbook. Everyone should have one."

Jamie just misses winning again:

Jamie: "Always the lesbian bridesmaid and never the bride at a same-sex wedding."

The Harlem Gospel Choir shows up in the kitchen and tries to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas but Bravo gets bored and stops after three days. The point is that each of the chefs has to create a dish for a charity event based on one of the lines from the song.

During the commercial break we get really unhelpful tips on leftovers:

Richard: "Take everything you have in your refrigerator, add cheese, and put it in the oven."

Yeah, that doesn't sound good. I can't believe he didn't go farther on the show.

Here is a list of the themes and what the chefs made:

Radhika - A Partridge in a Pear Tree (duck)
Carla - Two Turtle Doves (fresh New York City pigeons)
Leah - Three French Hens (three french hens)
Oops, no four! Someone lost count when they planned this episode!
Eugene - Five Golden Rings (ceviche on a pineapple ring)
Ariane - Six Geese a-Laying (deviled eggs)
Jamie - Seven Swans a-Swimming (scallops)
Melissa - Eight Maids a-Milking (something vaguely related to dairy products)
Fabio - Nine Ladies Dancing (crab)
Jeff - Ten Lords a-Leaping (leaping cheese)
Hosea - Eleven Pipers Piping (smoked pork)
Stefan - Twelve Drummers Drumming (chicken pot pie)

Stefan explains that three hours is not much time:

Stefan: "First you have to walk into the kitchen and put your shopping bags down on the counter and then look around to make sure Fabio is nearby for emotional support and then you have to take the groceries out of the bag and the next thing you know you only have ten minutes left to cook."

The chefs work late into the night and cram all their food into the refrigerators. The next morning they arrive in the kitchen to find that the door of one of the refrigerators wasn't closed. Who could have done it (Tifanniy Faison)? I guess we'll never know. Again, I have to just say it's too bad we aren't filming what goes on in the kitchen.

Anyway, without blaming anyone (Tiffani Faison), we learn that Hosea and Radhika are royally screwed because the pork and duck are spoiled. Obviously Hosea is going home.

The chefs all pitch in to help Hosea and Radhika. It's that Christmas spirit in July! It's heart-warming! Or maybe that's heartburn. I had onions at dinner.

The chefs serve the guests at an event for amfAR, or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. No, that's not right. Well, I'm sure it's a good cause, anyway. Otherwise Natasha Richardson wouldn't be there:

Natasha Richardson: "Hello, I'm Natasha Richardson and these are my breasts."

Pleased to meet you!

Everyone loves Radhika's duck.

Eugene is talking about the voyage of the Hokule'a, which is a nice story that has absolutely nothing to do with five golden rings.

Everyone hates Jamie's warm, raw scallops. Even the guy from Xanadu the Musical hates it, and that can't be good.

Fabio does not charm the judges this time. Probably because he's talking about crabs laying eggs and that's not appetising.

Arian's deviled eggs are good but the judges think deviled eggs are boring. I think it was weird that she made six different kinds, one for each of the geese that are supposedly a-laying, but who wants to eat six deviled eggs?

Hosea had the pipers piping so he passed around a bong and got everyone high and then they all loved his food! He's obviously going home.

All the ladies at the event were flirting with Hosea and Jeff. Well, there weren't a lot of straight men to choose from in that crowd.

The top four are Jeff, Stefan, Radhika, and Hosea. Obviously Hosea is going home.

Other Eric: "Stop saying that! He's obviously not going home!"

Hosea wins! Obviously, he's going home.

Other Eric: "Stop it!"

Everybody wins Michelle Bernstein's book!

Martha Stewart: "Big deal."

The bottom three are Jamie, Melissa, and Eugene.

Jamie's scallops made Padma gag and Eugene is told that his dish was too sweet:

Eugene: "That's funny because I didn't put sugar in it."

How is that funny?

The judges are really turned off by Eugene's attitude. Actually, they weren't that impressed with most of the food but they decide not to send anyone home.

Tom goes back to talk to the chefs:

Tom: "In the spirit of the holidays, I just want to tell you that you all suck."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More adventures in babysitting!

So last night I spent half an hour standing in line at Sephora behind Markie Post and let me just say that if you have to stand in line at a store with the slowest customer service on earth to buy a small tub of Dirt that costs more than caviar (For that price, there should be real dirt in there!), there are worse people to be standing behind than Markie Post. Stars: they hum along to Christmas music ... JUST LIKE US!

Anyway, after I finally escaped from the mall, I went to babysit for a friend's son. Julian's nanny was at the house and she apparently didn't know who I was. I've met her before but I guess she forgot and she was told to expect Eric and obviously she was expecting the Other Eric. So she asked Julian if he knew who I was and he nodded halfheartedly. OK, good enough. She left the baby with a total stranger.

Poor little guy was not feeling well and wouldn't eat dinner. He usually wants to play with cars but, instead, he said he wanted to go "rest." Other Eric arrived and read to him for a bit in bed and finally he started talking about some Cars short where a car is on fire and has to go to the car hospital and Mater is the car doctor, or something like that. Other Eric actually knew what he was talking about. At the end of his story, Julian toppled over and started snoring.

No dinner, no bath, he didn't pee or brush his teeth, he was still dressed in jeans and he was sound asleep. Worst babysitters ever! I thought maybe I could at least change him into his pajamas without waking him up so I started undressing him. But I think he thought his mama had come home to tuck him in because at first he was half asleep and giggling a little and then he slowly woke up and opened his eyes and then he wasn't happy anymore. He was obviously thinking, "Hey, this isn't my mama. It's just some guy trying to take my pants off." So then he commanded:

Julian: "I want to be alone."

Alright, Marlene Dietrich, I'll leave you alone! Sheesh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Chef New York episode five: Hot Night in the Hen House!

First, I'd just like to say that it is a travesty that Selma Blair was not nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on Kath & Kim. I'm serious! I could watch a half hour of nothing but Selma Blair rolling her eyes. And the opening credits to the show, set to the music of the Scissor Sisters, is the best music video I have ever seen!

Anyway, last week Alex was sent packing and Ariane won the chance to be on television. She's already been on television for the past four weeks but whatever.

We start this week with Melissa telling us she needs to do better. Duh. And we watch Ariane sweeping the floor:

Ariane: "I'm a 41 year old woman here with a bunch of younger people. I'm here to clean up after them."

We also learn that Stefan has the hots for Jamie:

Jamie: "Perhaps I was a little too subtle about the fact that I'm a LESBIAN!"

Stefan: "I don't believe there are lesbians. Just women who have not met Stefan yet."

The quickfire is a tasting challenge. Although we get this challenge every season, the producers somehow manage to get reaction shots of the chefs looking totally surprised and confused. The chefs are paired up for tongue to tongue combat:

Stefan: "That sounds sexy!"

Jamie: "Ugh."

This tasting challenge is a combination of Name That Tune and a ping-pong tournament. They have to name the ingredients in soups in three rounds that narrow the chefs down to Stefan and Hosea, with Hosea ultimately wining immunity for the elimination challenge. Congratulations, Hosea!

For the elimination challenge, Padma is hosting a bridal shower for Gail! Fun!

Gail: "My girlfriends like food. These are not girls who like their salad dressing on the side, if you know what I'm saying. Actually, what I'm saying is that I want every woman at this dinner to gain at least twenty pounds. If any of these bitches looks better than I do at my wedding there is going to be hell to pay. Padma, please use your stylist from season two. Thank you."

The theme for the dinner is "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue." Surprisingly, Ariane is not on the old team.

Ariane: "I heard that!"

Team Borrowed is Ariane, Jamie, and Radhika. They will be "borrowing" from Radhika's culture. The concept for making Indian food is Jamie's. Radhika is naturally concerned that the judges will think she can only make Indian food but she goes along with it. Ariane will be responsible for the main part of the dish, the lamb chops, but Jamie is the team leader on this one.

Team Blue is Melissa, Leah, and Fabio. Tom helpfully points out that there is no blue food so they should just give up and go home.

OK, so yes, most "blue" fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, blue corn, and blue potatoes, are really closer to purple but so what? The veins in bleu cheese look pretty blue and there are edible flowers that are blue so I'm sure they could have done something blue. Smurfs are also pretty good if you cook them the right way. But Team Blue goes for an ocean theme, instead. It makes sense. The problem is that the dish is way boring and Gail thinks Chilean sea bass is offensive.

Team New is Eugene, Danny, and Carla. Danny suggest making pickles because Gail likes pickles:

Carla: "Are pickles new?"

Excellent question, Carla. No, they are not.

So then Eugene wants to do sushi, which also is not new. But at least the concept of sushi brings to mind really fresh ingredients. And fresh is kind of like new, right? Yeah, it's a stretch. Carla is not totally on board with this and she should have spoken up but her two teammates are very excited about it so I don't blame her for going along and trying to make the best of it. A team can't have three leaders.

Team Old is Josea, Stefan, and Jeff. They go with a trio of dishes based on heirloom tomatoes. The heirloom tomato concept is good but I'm worried that it's a lot of tomato dished for one plate.

Carla: "Hootie?"


Don't ask.

The night before the dinner, Eugene has a "brainstorm" that will result in a shit storm. He decides that the "sushi" will be served with all the ingredients spread out all over the plate and the guests will be responsible for assembling their own food:

Stefan: "Those women will not want to assemble their own food."

For once, I am in total agreement with Stefan. Padma does not want to work for her food. If she could get someone to shovel food into her mouth for her, she would.

The "trio of tomato" course is pretty popular. The guests like Hosea's gazpacho and they love Jeff's savory tomato sorbet, both of which Stefan predicted would bomb.

The roll-your-own sushi dish is a disaster. Obviously. Danny accurately describes it as "sploodge" on a plate. Danny ruins Carla's salad with reconstituted mushrooms without telling her. Eugene forgets to mention to the guests what exactly they are supposed to do with the plate full of crap sitting in front of them. Danny tells them to eat the sorbet at the end of the course, when it will have melted. The dish makes Gail sad.

Fortunately, the next course makes Gail happy! Yay! Everyone loves Team Borrowed's lamb dish. Everything is perfect! Ariane almost screws up the lamb by starting it too late, leaving only a few minutes to plate the food, but all the chefs help out in an assembly-line and get it done just before the clock runs out.

Team Blue's fish course is really boring. But Fabio is charming:

Fabio: "You see, we have the greens and the yellow corn and green and yellow make blue."

uh . . . no.

Gail: "Shut up! Fabio's talking! Nobody cares if he makes sense! Plus, he said I'm pretty."

I've been saying you're pretty for years!

Gail: "Yeah, it's not the same."

Fine. Whatever. Anyway, the guests think the dish tastes good but it's mushy and boring.

Ariane wins the challenge because the lamb was so good. Jamie is pissed because she was leading the team and it was all her concept. I don't blame her.

Danny is out because his palate is completely hopeless. I think Eugene should have been out because he was clearly leading that disaster.

Gail: "Padma, thank you so much for hosting my bridal shower. I just have one question."

Padma: "Yes, Gail?"

Gail: "Where are the damn strippers?"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Top Chef New York episode four: It's Morning Again in America!

Before we get to throwing people under a bus, and we will, just a quick reminder about a Day without a Gay, which is next Wednesday, December 10th. The LGBT community and straight supporters are asked to take the day off from work, if possible, and to try to avoid spending money or otherwise contributing to the economy for that one day. That means no shopping, no Internet, and definitely no watching of Top Chef next week. OK, I'm just kidding about that last one. Of course you can watch Top Chef. Just cover your ears when Padma talks about the Glad Family of Products.

Moron: "But if I don't go to work I'll be fired and I'll lose my house."

That's an excellent point, Moron. If taking the day off will cause you to be fired or cause you financial hardship, then please go to work. For heaven's sake.

Dumbass: "But if we destroy the economy won't people hate gays even more?"

Good question, Dumbass. But one day of reduced shopping will not have a significant impact on the overall economy because we will just spend twice as much on the 9th and the 11th. The point is not to destroy the economy or put anyone out of business but simply to demonstrate that the LGBT community and its straight supporters make up a significant segment of the economy.

Finally, the Day without a Gay Website suggests you use your day off to volunteer in the community, which I think is an excellent idea. I would totally do that if I weren't so lazy.

Anyway, on to the recap! Last week Ariane made good turkey:

Ariane: "It was very annoying that everyone was questioning if I could do it."

Seriously, I don't know why there was any question. She had clearly demonstrated that she was a complete screw up. No question. But, as it turned out, she proved us all wrong.

Richard was sent packing. He wrote a very emotional twelve-page letter to Alex, from which I have excerpted the following passage:

Dear Alex, I am really going to miss being The Gay Guy on Top Chef this season. Whatever you do, don't think about your upcoming wedding. Seriously, just wipe it out of you mind. Don't let the fact that you are about to make the most important decision of your life cause you to make something stupid for the elimination challenge. Love, Richard.

For the quickfire challenge, the chefs will be making a breakfast amuse bouche. Padma introduces the guest judge:

Padma: "I don't need to tell you that this is Rocco DiSpirito, looking hotter than ever! That facelift is really holding up well, Rocco!"

Rocco: "Thanks, Padma! I'd just like to say that I love bacon."

Padma: "Well, everyone loves bacon."

Other Eric: "I hate bacon."

I'm sorry but that isn't possible. Everyone loves bacon. Padma just said so.

Other Eric: "No, I really hate it."


Most of the chefs create nice little dishes but most of them are a little bigger than bite-size. Leah is one of the few who creates a true amuse bouche:

Rocco: "That's the perfect bite!"

Leah: "Yeah, well, unlike some people, I decided to actually do the challenge."

Rocco: "Wow, what a bitch. I am so turned on right now."

Leah: "You can be my boyfriend. I'm really lonely."

Leah wins the quickfire! Congratulations, Leah!

For the elimination challenge, the chefs will have to create a dish in two and a half minutes.

Chefs: "What?!!!!!"

I said you will have to create a dish in two and a half minutes.

Chefs: "Oh, sorry, I thought you said two minutes. Two and a half minutes is no problem."

OK, so they actually have an hour to make the dish but they need to prepare a two and a half minute cooking segment demonstrating the dish, like you would do for a live television segment:

Carla: "Oh, my god. Live television is vicious. If you don't finish in time, they will cut you."

Kathey Lee: "Yeah, I will CUT you."

Will someone please get that psycho away from the knives?

Fabio is worried about his presentation because his English, she is not so good:

Fabio: "Obviously, my biggest concern is that everyone will just find me so adorable that they won't notice the food."

They are supposed to be creating dishes that the average viewer at home could and, presumably, would want to make. Some of the chefs make some bad choices, such as Eugene's decision to make sashimi, Melissa's decision to blow everyone's friggin' heads off with habanero peppers, and Alex's decision to make a dessert he won't actually be able to make.

So the chefs perform fake live television segments for Padma, Tom, Gail, and Rocco. A few chefs don't finish their dishes in time, a few finish but make bad dishes, and a few just don't make good television personalities.

Unsurprisingly, the judges love Fabio:

Tom: "I could listen to him talk all day. He's so dreamy."

He made something with tuna because that's what his momma likes, but really, nobody noticed what he was cooking:

Fabio: "See? That's what I'm saying. It's a challenge being this adorable."

Tell me about it. The judges also thought Ariane and Jeff did a good job. Ariane made a tomato, watermelon, and feta salad, which doesn't sound very exciting to me but made sense for this challenge, and Jeff made some shrimp dish rolled in something green, which I think was interesting without being too unrealistic.

Tom wakes up Fabio, Ariane, and Jeff at two in the morning to cook on the Today Show. Except that they won't actually be cooking on the Today Show. Just the dishes are on the show. Oh, right, I just realized why they couldn't appear on the show: this appearance must have been on television months ago and this way the dishes could appear anonymously. Duh. Sorry, I'm a little slow.

Psycho Kathy Lee spits out Jeff's food and then Ariane wins the challenge. Congratulations, Ariane! She wins Rocco's Favorite Things:

Rocco: "Caaaashmeeeere SWEATERS!"

She also wins a real appearance on the Today Show. I guess that would be an amazing opportunity if anyone actually watched the Today Show.

The bottom three are Melissa, Jamie, and that guy who is going home tonight.

Melissa: "I'm not saying that there is someone else who doesn't really want to be here, but I just want to point out that I do really want to be here."

Tom: "Who exactly are you not saying doesn't really want to be here?"

Melissa: "Well, I'm not saying that Alex doesn't really want to be here, that's for sure."

Padma: "Alex, I'm afraid you've been thrown under a bus. After receiving medical treatment, please get on the bus and go home."