Chef Tell: This Show is No Picnic

Categories: Screen Bites
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After two episodes with chefs deucing out thanks to shitty dessert offerings, it came as no shock -- to me or any sane person watching Top Chef -- that last night's Quickfire Challenge would be for sweet teeth. But somehow the cheftestants were surprised. 

My first instinct was to desire any chef who got all bunged up and said, "Pastry challenge?! WTF! We cook savory things, waaaah! " be eliminated immediately for being irritating and ignorant of the machinations of reality TV, not to mention the rudimentary basics of cooking. My second reaction was that guest Quickfire judge and head pastry chef of Jean Georges (and the future co-host, with Gail Simmons, of Top Chef: Just Desserts), Johnny Iuzzini, looked like casual non-bloated Elvis with Eric Idle's smile. Weird. It sort of overshadowed my initial hate for the assholes who acted like they shouldn't be able to make a pie.

I can make a fucking pie. You could make a pie, people.

But! Turns out I was sorta wrong and not absolutely everyone can make a pie. Well, lemme rephrase: Only a few of the squintillion chefs left on this bazillion-week show made good, mmm-inducing, not disgusting pies. 

During the prep time, my eyes started glazing over. Pie, blah, blah, curry, tapioca, blah, blah, pie. Sounded like a bunch of crap. People making up for their usual lack of planning and measuring (ie., savory improv) with things like starchy balls of tapioca and distracting -- not complimentary -- spices. Celery and banana cream pie? Yup. It happened. I didn't even give a rat's ass at that point who won, there were too many people describing unpleasant pie. Too many people even saying the word "pie." My grandmother's pie recipes turned over in their recipe box. Gimme a damned cherry pie and make it good, not gross, K? 

Then we started noticing that all the contestants actually resemble past chefs. Vaguely hot brunette recalls that chick that hooked up with Hosea. There's the older teacher lady that looks like the half-sister of Robyn the cancer survivor. There's the northeastern dude-brah that can be matched in any season. The guy that seems like he might have anger management issues who looks slightly like Richard the Fauxhawk. Just watch. You'll see it. Sadly, there'll never be another CJ -- my all-time Top Chef crush.

Kenny FTW with the reinvented bananas Foster thingy. Wahoo. 

Padma gave the Elimination Challenge: Serve one entree and two sides using a grill for a picnic at Mount Vernon for Capitol Hill interns. Creepy bald dude made the expected "I've never taken advantage of an intern" comment. Wait, what? Yeah, he did.
They took their $400 to Whole Foods to load up on grillin' stuffs from pork to the controversial Chilean sea bass

They prepped in the kitchen where creepy bald dude and vaguely hot brunette got in a fight over the non-existant labeling of an oven. He almost called her a name, but he was either edited or Colicchio-ed. VHB cited the honoring of "prison rules" to Tom when he came in and questioned the whole altercation. In case you were wondering, Tom informed us all that he's never been to prison. He also, clearly, thought the argument was bullshit.

Brash bandana-wearer had a minor breakdown and started talking and cheering herself on. VHB was also freaked, running around headless-chicken style, and possibly recreating the ups from her days bingeing on coke and pills (she said it, for real).

They all wound up on the grounds of Mount Vernon with Weber grills and -- for the most part -- impossibly fake smiles plastered on their grill-ignorant faces. Li'l dude (and probably four others) watched once-cocky Kenny start his fire and followed suit. It was kinda sweet, that copy-catting, until you realized that LD calls himself a frigging chef and should know how to start a grill. Thank God none of them had a need to start my grandmother's gas oven. That piece of greatness required at least three matches and a master's degree to get lit.

And through the sea of patriotically clad interns sauntered the judges. [Where, like, seriously where, is Eric Ripert? Two episodes and no Ripert? It's just rude. I'll still be pissed he wasn't on it by the time you read this, promise.] Jonathan Waxman, of Top Chef Masters fame, had the honors of filling (not really, of course, but you know what I mean) Ripert's shoes for the Elimination Challenge.

They went around to the tables and sampled a pantload of food. There's no way I could eat that much in direct sunlight. The whole scene looked so hot and unfortunate, kinda like a school field day held at high noon with no games save an eating contest of heavy foods. I just kept wishing Gail was wearing a more breathable fabric and hoping Tom had used enough sunscreen on his head. I also became totally creeped out when a duck flew over and shat on one chef's table. Perhaps it was included as comic relief, but all I could think about were bottles of Purell and sterilizing all utensils within a five-foot range of the impromptu pate.

These are the thoughts I have. Producers, please set scenes and edit accordingly.

Dallas' (and Beaumont's) Tiffany Derry only got a couple of super quick talking heads before her critique, which included the comment that her wild sockeye salmon with tamarind glaze was bland. Waxman went so far to say, "To have a glaze that has no flavor is..a little...sad." And then she was essentially forgotten from the episode. I thought she'd be nailed for really only having one side dish -- Israeli couscous -- but perhaps there was something I missed.

Before heading out, the chefs all tried each others dishes and VHB's ribs were a favorite. Brash bandana knew she was in the bottom and even said she hadn't tasted a dish that was as bad as hers. So when she was called in with the bottom four, it was no shock. You know, kinda like the dessert challenge was no shock...but different.

Tom called her Italian sausage sliders a veritable insult to Italians. He even rolled his eyes at her apology before Waxman said she'd given up. And she was sent packing knives. I will say she was gracious and respectful upon her exit.

Li'l Dude (fine, his name is Arnold) won with a lamb kofta skewered with lemongrass. If someone handed one to me now, I'd gladly eat it...you know, instead of these Target One Spot animal cookies [do not buy them] I can't seem to stop shoving in my facehole.

Next week: Team challenge. Two eliminations. Eric Ripert. Seafood challenge. Eric Ripert waving his disapproving finger. Love.



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