Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Chef: Chicago, Episode Three: More Soggy Food!

Previously on Top Chef: We were totally scandalized to find out that Jen and Zoi are a couple. We learned that Spike is a total bad-ass. And that guy with the stupid hair wants us to ask the question, "Hey, what the fuck did that guy just do?"

So, what the fuck did that guy just do?

That Guy: "I just blew smoke into that bowl. Oh, yeah, and I also blew smoke up the judges' asses."

You can say that again.

Padma: "Welcome to Top Chef, where we make chefs create dishes that sit around for a couple hours and get soggy so we can complain about it."

Sounds like fun!

Let's check in with the chefs:

Stephanie: "We need a woman to represent"

She said it, she meant it, she's here to represent it.

Jennifer: "It isn't common to have a lesbian in the kitchen. Usually there are at least three or four."

Seriously, if you went by television cooking competitions, you would think lesbian chefs were almost as rare as gay fashion designers.

Our guest judge is Rick Bayliss. Apparently, he invented Mexican food. I wonder what Mexicans used to eat before he came along.

For the quickfire, the chefs will be creating a fine-dining taco:

Erik: "Man, why would you want to ruin a taco by doing that to it?"

Manuel is using cactus. He suddenly seems to have an accent.

Spike is keeping it real.

Richard wins with his jicama taco shell. He made three, for the two judges and himself:

Richard: "Do you mind if I eat one with you?"

Padma: "Do you mind if I call you a douchebag?"

The chefs are divided into red and blue teams and and they jump in their Highlanders.

Padma: "Welcome to the elimination challenge." How can I learn more about this?

Padma: "Why don't you go to"

Oh, right.

Padma: "As you know, Chicago is a city of neighborhoods."

Other Eric: "Unlike other cities, which are made up of random areas filled with buildings and streets."

The chefs have to cook for a block party. But first they have to break into people's houses and steal their food.

Spike isn't doing anything wrong:

Spike: "What? I'm not doing anything wrong! All I said was that I'd been to that house already. I'm not sabotaging anyone. Why are you looking at me like that? I don't feel bad about it. I didn't lie. I don't care what you all say, I didn't do anything wrong!"

uh, ok.

Spike: "Stop judging me!"

Zoi is upset about having to make pasta salad:

Zoi: "Why does the lesbian always get stuck making the pasta salad? It's so unfair!"

Seriously; what's up with that? Every time there's a party it's always "get the lesbian to make the pasta salad. Oh, and tell her to bring a box of wine, too." When is America going to learn that lesbians can make other things besides pasta salad?

The teams make corndogs, sliders, mac and cheese, paella, and a sexy lavender drink:

Tom: "What makes it sexy?"

The fact that you're drinking it, Tom. That's what makes it sexy.

Tom: "Oh, stop! You're embarrassing me!"

OK, in case anyone was wondering, Andrew is full of awsomness:

Andrew: "It's true!"

Bravo: "Which will come first: a female president or a female Top Chef?"

I have to point out that there have already been female presidents. At least a dozen countries have had female presidents.

Bravo: "Fine, smart-ass; President of the United States, then."

OK, time to serve the food:

Padma: "Not yet! We have to let the food sit around for a couple of hours first to make sure it's total crap. That's the gimmick this season, remember?"

Oh, right; I forgot.

Judges' Table:

Andy Cohen: "I'd like to thank the anonymous person who returned the apostrophe for the Judges' Table. "

The blue team is called in:

Tom: "I was very disappointed with this. It really wasn't very good. By the way, you won."

Stephanie wins again! Congratulations, Stephanie!

The red team is called in after a lot of rubbing of faces. Seriously, I hope the chefs wash their hands after all that face-rubbing.

Andrew has a complete meltdown and rants about how the Top Chef studio is his house. He's dragged out by security guards. I can't figure out what's wrong with him? Is it just too much caffeine?

So, after telling the blue team that they just barely won because they were also total crap, Tom and Padma then talk about how the red team was the obvious losing team:

Tom: "It wasn't even close. Even though it was really hard to decide which team was worse because they were both so bad."

Padma: "Yeah, I don't know why they were so surprised. I thought it was really clear that both teams were bad and that the team that was just slightly worse was obviously the losing team."

Erik is out for the soggy corndogs. He should have made something with the random food from people's pantries that would have been really good after sitting around for hours:

Erik: "Like what?"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Top Chef: Chicago: Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, Why?

So, to recap, last week Stephanie won and Nimma packed her knives and went:

Padma: "Nimma, at what point in the cooking process did you decide to murder us by sodium poisoning?"

We get scenes of the chefs getting ready at the house:

Jennifer and Zoi: "We have a huge advantage over the other chefs because we can wear each other's shoes."

For the quickfire, they go to the farmers market and they have to make a dish using only five ingredients:

Padma: "The only things not counted in the five ingredients are salt, pepper, sugar, and oil. Andrew? Are you listening? Look at me when I'm speaking to you."

Andrew: "I'm listening! Vinegar, flour, mayonnaise, and watermelon. Got it!"

Spike is enjoying the market:

Spike: "Well, you saw last week how far not having fun will get you. So I attended a concert in the park and got a shiatsu massage."

Richard is buying eucalyptus:

Padma: "Is eucalyptus edible?"

Richard: "Well, koala bears eat it."

Tom: "Do I look like a bear?"

America: "YES!"

Mark: "You Americans need to learn that the koala is not a bear. It's a marsupial."

Padma: "Whatever. Is it poisonous to humans or what?"

Richard: "In large doses, it can be fatal; but in small doses, it just causes diarrhea."

Padma: "Alright, then."

Mark left a bag at the market but he still ends up winning the quickfire and he has immunity in the elimination challenge.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs have to pick knives to divide into teams of three and determine which wild animal they get:

Padma: "Team Humpback Whale, your boat is out on Lake Michigan. Good luck! . . . Psych! Hahaha! You don't really have to catch a whale! You are so gullible!"

Padma is a laugh riot. The real challenge is to cater a party at the Chicago zoo for a couple hundred ladies wearing stupid leopard-print dresses:

Diablo Cody: "Ooh, am I invited?"

No. The chefs have to prepare menus based on the diet of the animal they were assigned:

Padma: "So, Team Humpback Whale, that means you can use krill, salt, pepper, sugar, and oil . . . again, I'm just kidding! There IS no Team Humpback Whale! Oh, I'm having so much fun!"

The chefs go shopping. Dale wants to do his own thing:

Dale: "I want to do my own thing."

I just said that. Nikki wants to buy flowers:

Nikki: "Look, I know the food is important but we need to put it all back so we can buy table decor."

Dale is not a fucking interior designer:

Dale: "I am not a fucking interior designer!"

What are you so fucking angry about?

Dale: "I wasn't accepted to design school and I don't like being reminded that I am not a fucking interior designer."

That's so sad.

Gay Dale from last season: "From one Dale to another, let me give you a hint on interior decorating: Don't use fucking scented candles. Madonna's brother hates that."

Valerie is screwing up one of the staples of the gorilla diet: blinis.

Stephanie is using my mom's banana bread recipe:

Stepahnie: "No, I'm using MY mom's recipe!"

I think it's everyone's mom's recipe:

1/2 cup Crisco or butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine Crisco, sugar, and egg yolks.
Add sifted dry ingredients.
Add mashed bananas, beaten egg whites, vanilla, and nuts.
Bake at 375 for 40 minutes in greased pans.
Grandma uses 1 big loaf pan but I use two small ones.
Grandma is a little crazy so you shouldn't listen to her.
-- Love, Mom.

I found my mom's exact recipe in a cook book several years ago; right down to using one large or two small loaf pans. True story. It was traumatizing.

Back to the show:

We spend the next thirty minutes watching Jello solidify.

Time to go to the venue:

Tom: "I'll see you all in hell. Bwahahaha! Oh, sorry, I meant to say I'll see you at the zoo."

At the zoo, a few dishes aren't working: the blinis were bad because they were prepared hours ahead of time; the crab salad was watery and the chips that were supposed to go with it were soggy and couldn't be used; and the mushrooms stuffed with blueberries were not presentable:

Nikki: "They look like turds and they're ice cold."

She recommends putting some gerbil on them:

Nikki: "I said chervil, dumb-ass."

(I don't remember hearing about chervil until last week's New Adventures of Old Christine)

Dale: "Let's put cheese on them so they look like cheese covered turds."

Nikki: "They can't be served . . . but I'll just let people have a little taste of them."

That's the same as serving them!

There are also some hits:

Mark: "Cheer up, sleepy Jean. Oh, what can it mean. To an anchovy believer and a homecoming queen."

I don't even know how to punctuate those lyrics.

They like Andrew's "glacier":

Tom: "Cute. Now give me some damn food."

The Vultures and Penguins are on top.

Andrew wins with his glacier and whatever else he made. Something with squid? Congratulations, Andrew! As usual, I have no idea what he won.

Andrew has to announce the bottom two teams. He eases the pain by saying "da bears" in a funny accent. The only reason I knew it was a sports reference was because I remember John Goodman saying it on Saturday Night Live.

So, the Gorillas and Bears are on the bottom.

Valerie is out because of the blinis. She should have known they wouldn't work.

Important announcement: The Judges Table seems to have lost its apostrophe this week. If anyone finds it laying around, please contact Andy Cohen immediately at Thank you.

[note: if you happen to be watching the Bachelor, Other Eric is blogging about it again this season at Everything Eric]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 1!

Welcome to the new season of Top Chef! To start off the season on Eric Three Thousand, Marcel Vigneron has graciously offered to perform a rap for us. Take it away, Marcel:


"F. R. E. E. that spells free
Credit Report dot com, baby!"

Thank you Marcel, that was really special!

Let's meet this season's lesbians . . . er, I mean, chefs:

Andrew swears a lot.
Antonia is a contestant on the show.
Dale is Asian.
Erik is bald.
Jennifer has a faux-hawk.
Lisa has short hair.
Manuel is another guy on the show.
Mark is from New Zealand.
Nikki has long brown hair.
Nimma is not here to have fun.
Richard also has a faux-hawk.
Ryan is kind of annoying.
Spike is also on the show.
Stephanie has brown hair.
Valerie has brown hair.
Zoi has brown hair.

OK, so far, I hate all of them. I think I can tell most of the guys apart but there are always too many women with long brown hair and I get them confused.

Padma: "Welcome to the show! These chefs are going to have to use all their skill, talent, and hairstyles to make it this season! The chefs will be competing for a feature in Food and Wine magazine, A vacation to the beautiful city of Evian, Colorado, probably some sort of car, a million dollars, and I just lied about that last one! I'd love to introduce you to our judges, but I guess those bitches Ted and Gail are just too busy with their exciting lives to join us for this challenge. Of course Tom is here. Where else would he be? Hi, Tom!"

Tom: "Hello, Padma. I'm very busy, too. Making sandwiches."

Padma: "Of course you are, dear."

The chefs meet at world-famous Numero Uno pizza in Chicago. Jennifer and Zoi have an announcement:

Jennifer and Zoi: "We wanted to tell everyone that we just met five minutes ago and we've fallen madly in love and we're getting married and we want you all to come to the wedding!"

Other Chefs: "Whatever."

For the quickfire challenge, the chefs have to do it Chicago style, which apparently means they have to make a deep dish pizza.

In the kitchen, the chefs get lockers to hold all their Marmite:

Mark: "Marmite is the best! It tastes like really salty feet!"

God, you kiwis think you're so cool with your Marmite and your "throw another shrimp on the barbie" crap.

Mark: "No, you're thinking of Australians."

Oh, right. Never mind.

Mark: "By the way, dummy, those Aussie freaks eat Vegemite, not Marmite."

So, the chefs are putting dough in the pizza pans. I've never made a deep dish pizza before, but even I know that is way too much dough!

Richard makes a very traditional peach and sweet tea pizza. Oh, by the way, he also steals Andrew's pizza pan:

Andrew: "Motherfu..."

OK, there's no need for that kind of language, Andrew. But seriously, who knew part of the challenge was going to be to fight for pizza pans? Why couldn't they just give him another stupid pan? How hard is that? Does Bravo need me to come down there and run their challenges for them?

The guest judge is everyone's favorite plastic-surgery patient, Rocco DiSpirito!

The chefs deliver their pizzas in their fleet of Toyota Highlanders.

Padma: "Oh, yeah, a Toyota Highlander. That's probably the kind of car they'll win."

They deliver the pizzas to Rocco's house:

Rocco: "Welcome to my house. You'll all be living here. Fortunately all my bedrooms are outfitted with bunk beds. Don't ask why."

Rocco smells something funky. I'm not going there.

Rocco makes half the chefs stand in the corner as punishment. The other half won the challenge and will supposedly get an advantage in the elimination challenge but really they won't.

Nimma and Dale are being unsociable:

Nimma: "I'm not here to have fun."


Nimma: "No, really. I refuse to have fun. I won't have fun until I get eliminated, which I hope won't be for a long time."

OK, good luck!

For the elimination challenge, the chefs that won the quickfire choose one of the losing chefs to compete against, making the same dish. The losing chefs get to choose the dish. So basically this gives absolutely no advantage to the winning chefs. Supposedly, the advantage is picking a chef they think they can beat but in reality picking the dish is the more important part of the challenge.

Nobody wants to pick the soufflé:

Chefs: "Ooh, soufflés are sooooo hard. Making a soufflé is like performing brain surgery. If you just look cross-eyed at a soufflé it will collapse. If I have to make a soufflé my life will be over."

For crying out loud, it's just a fucking soufflé! Quit your whining. Sure it takes a little practice but it's not that difficult. The question is why the chefs don't practice making something as basic as a soufflé before going on the show. It's the same with deserts; learn to make a few deserts before going on Top Chef. And, yes, if you don't get the ingredients right and you don't prepare the pan properly, the soufflé won't rise as much as it should but it's a myth that they collapse so easily in the oven if you make too much noise or vibrations.

Anyway, they go shopping and then they have 90 minutes to prepare their dishes:

Ryan: "Since we had 90 minutes, I decided to go out and butcher my own animals so I could make a really fresh, flavorful stock. If we'd had a little more time I would have preferred raising the animals myself so I could control their feed."

Andrew and Richard are making crab cakes. Andrew didn't buy mayonnaise at the store because he assumed (correctly, in my opinion) that mayonnaise is a basic condiment that should be stocked in the kitchen:

Andrew: "Motherfu..."

Please watch your mouth, Andrew! There could be nuns watching the show! It's not a big deal; you can make it yourself; mayonnaise is just egg yolks and oil.

Andrew: "Really? I didn't know that."


During the commercial break, Bravo asks a very important question:

Bravo: "Do Jennifer and Zoi have an advantage because they are a couple?"

Well, That depends; will they have the opportunity to form an alliance and vote other chefs out of the kitchen? That's what I thought.

At the judges' table this evening are Anthony Bourdaine, Rocco DiSpirito, Tom, and Padma.

Stephanie beats Mark with duck a l'orange.

Richard beats Andrew with crab cakes.

Nicky beats Jennifer with lasagna.

Antonia beats Nimma with shrimp scampi.

Lisa beats Spike with eggs Benedict (though the judges loved both).

Dale beats Manuel with steak au poivre.

Valerie beats Ryan with chicken piccata. (though the judges hated both)

Zoi beats Erik with a souffle.

Stephanie wins! Congratulations, Stephanie!

There were several dishes the judges hated. Ryan seemed to have trouble with the concept of chicken piccata:

Tom: "Chicken piccata is dredged in egg and flour."

Ryan: "Right. Egg and flour and breadcrumbs."

Tom: "No, it's just egg and flour."

Ryan: "I know. I dredged it in egg and flour before I added the breadcrumbs."

Tom: "NO, NO, NO! Jesus Christ! There are no fucking breadcrumbs in piccata! If you use breadcrumbs it's parmigiana! Oh, my god! I think I'm going to blow my brains out!"

Rocco: "It wasn't only his gnocchi that was dense."

Oh, Rocco, that was cold. And you're not exactly the lightest gnocchi in the pot, if you know what I'm saying.

Anyway, Nimma is out with her inedibly salty shrimp. Damn, she was one of the few women I could distinguish from the others. Oh, well, hopefully now she'll have time to have fun.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Project Runway Season Four, Season Finale Extravaganza, Part Two!

Heidi: "Welcome to the lackluster finale of a lackluster season of Project Runway!"

Oh, it wasn't that bad.

Heidi: "You know the drill: the winner will receive a subscription to Elle Magazine, a used Ford Taurus, some TRESemme products, a personal Bluefly wall to enjoy in the comfort of home, some agency that tells you what to do, and $100,000 to start a fragrance line."

So, last week we were short-changed on the home visits so that Chris could be eliminated in round one of the finale and now we're down to Rami, Jillian, and Christian, who appear to be stuffed into a one-bedroom hotel suite so that Rami has to sleep in the living room. Seriously, why are the producers such cheapskates?

Anyway, the designers are fighting like cats and dogs:

Jillian: "Does my hair look OK?"

Christian and Rami: "Yeah, it looks great!"

OH, MY GOD! We aren't interested in all this drama and backstabbing! We just want to see the clothes!

Somehow they stop tearing each other's hair out long enough to go to the workroom. Christian is very demanding:

Christian: "I need this two-square-foot area so I can do my work and maybe sleep here; I have my bed rolled up in my purse."

Rami thinks Christian and Jillian are surprised by his designs. Yeah, probably because it looks like he stole all their ideas. Just kidding (no, I'm not).

Jillian shows Tim her latest look: a striped sweater with mop-heads on the shoulders:

Rami: "Ooh, I wonder if I have time to steal that look."

Tim: "Please don't. If I have to look at another garment like that I will gauge my eyes out."

Christian tells Tim about his collection:

Christian: "I decided my collection needed more black and cream."

Tim: "Um . . . yeah . . . I don't really have a response to that. So let me just say that I think it may be over-designed."

Christian: "Should I have under-designed it?"

Tim: "No, I think you should have designed it right up to a certain point and then stopped designing it."

Christian: "Right. I see what you mean."

The model casting is difficult because, by a strange coincidence, all three designers are all looking for gorgeous, tall, thin girls who can walk really well. What are the odds of that?

The next day they go to Collier Strong for makeup and then the models show up for fittings:

Christian: "Is that too tight?"

Model: "No, it's fine."

Christian: "OK, how about now?"

Model: "Now I can't breath!"

Christian: "Perfect!"

Rami: "Christian has a lot to learn about this industry. A fashion show isn't about clothes looking good on models."

Actually, I think it is.

Rami: "Really? Well, then maybe he knows what he's doing."

Christian made all these amazing My Fair Lady hats and not-so-amazing shoes:

Daniel Vosovic: "What about purses?"

Ugh! Will you shut up about the purses?

Anyway, the shoes look like they've been tarred and feathered. And not in a good way. I do love the hats, though.

Jillian realizes her models are all different heights and will look bad on the runway.

Jillian: "Why did I cast all my models from that show Little People, Big World?"

Christian: "It's your own fault for being such a dummy because you haven't done thousands of casting calls, like I have."

Rami: "Jillian, can't you focus on the positives? Like how I have a better chance of winning because you chose bad models?"

Jillian: "You're right. Thanks, guys."

So Jillian calls some guy on the phone and says she isn't happy with her models:

Some Guy On the Phone: "Sucks to be you."

The designers do the final fittings and then Tim does one last gather round:

Tim: "I just have to tell you . . . you light up my life. You give me hope to carry on."

The next morning the designers go to Bryant Park:

Rami: "This tent is like the heart of the fashion industry and this door is the aorta and it's pumping blood through the arteries of fashion . . ."

I swear, if he doesn't stop talking about blood, I'm going to throw up.

Christian's models are so late. It's only a few minutes before the show and one of his models still isn't there. He's almost in tears when she finally wanders in:

Model: "What's going on around here? It looks like some sort of fashion show is about it start?"

Christian: "Yeah, and you're in it!"

Model: "Oh, really? Sorry."

Christian: "No worries."

Quick shots of all the huge Bravo stars in the audience. Seriously, aren't there usually some real stars at the show?

Heidi introduces the judges. Nina looks so pretty! OK, fine, Michael looks pretty, too. Victorya (oops, I mean Victoria) Beckham looks nervous, for some reason. I don't love that orange dress that's wearing her. The designers introduce their collections:

Jillian: "I was so inspired and I hope you are inspired, too. Otherwise, you can all bite me."

Rami: "My collection celebrates women. Unlike Christian, who only celebrates models."

Christian: "How is everyone fiercing today? Fierce! Well, the weather fiercecast calls for strong fierceness and a slight chance of fiercity. So I hope you're all ready to get fierced!"

Here are my impressions of the individual looks:

Jillian: I love it! Eh, it's OK. Oh, that jacket is nice. OMG, what the hell was she thinking?! That skirt is pretty but the sleeves are stupid. No, I don't get it. That's nice. That one's OK. That one's interesting. Ooh, that's pretty! Ugh, I don't like that one. That one isn't bad . . . oh, wait, it's pants . . . that's kind of cool.

Rami: I kind of like the sleeves but, otherwise, no. Boring! Yeah, that dress is pretty. I don't think so. Oy, these color choices are dreadful. That one is OK. No, I just don't love that. I kind of hate that one. Pretty. Oh, yuck! That's gorgeous! That's also very pretty!

Christian: I love it! That's nice. OK, I can't tell, is that the same one? Not very exciting. I'm so sick of the black. Wow, I don't like that at all. Love it! Kind of boring. Eh, it's OK. Oh, please. Beautiful! No, I don't get the chicken costume.

What do people think?

Jay: "I think Rami's going to win."


Kit: "Jillian's knitwear impressed me so much."

Too bad!

Padma: "Jillian's was very wearable."

If Padma would wear it, you know it must be bad.

Nick: "I love that Rami gave them woven. He said, 'You want woven? Bitch, here it is!'"

Who the hell was asking for "woven"?

On to the judging. What did they think of Jillian's?

Victoria: "Everything was done so beautifully!"

Michael: "It was feminine and modern! The knitwear was such a surprise!"

Nina: "You were innovative and took a chance!"

Heidi: "I saw so many new shapes! That is so important to me! Jillian, you're out!"

Jillian: "What?"

Heidi: "No, seriously. It isn't enough that you didn't win, we have to make sure you understand that you are a complete loser and came in third."

Will it be Christian or Rami? Rami had some beautiful pieces but his color choices were bad. Christian's were very dramatic but the black got a little monotonous.

Heidi: "Christian and Rami, you were both so good that we couldn't decide. This is a Project Runway first! We have a tie!"*

Well, that's the end of the season! Thanks for reading, everyone!

*Just kidding! Christian won! Congratulations, Christian!