Watching the opening credits, all the cheftestants so full of hope in their smart little chef’s coats, I can’t help but to think to myself: Who’s going to be the Mr. or Mrs. Irrelevant of this season? The first person to take their knives and go home? The person who comes to the reunion show and sits there sheepishly, trying to add some amusing anecdote about Episode One—“remember when we all first met Padma? Heh, heh, that was cool!”— that no one really cares about? Poor sap will never have a chance.
Speaking of Padma, is it possible that her delivery of the introductory monologue has become even more monotone? I haven’t witnessed cue card reading this bad since J Lo hosted SNL.
Anyway, away we go!
Let’s get to know some of the cheftestants—and their delusions.
There’s, gasp, 51-year-old Lynne (she’s practically dead, you guys!) who states that she doesn’t “have any tattoos or crazy hair but my food tastes good.” Having watched last season, she may have been under the impression that tattoos are a show requirement.
There’s Arnold who, bless his heart, got a personal stylist and a facial for the show. He seems to under the misapprehension that he’s on Make Me a Supermodel.
There’s John—goofy, grinning, dreadlocked John—who seems to think that bathing is strictly optional for Top Chefs. (However, did anyone else notice the completely incongruous pair of penny loafers he was sporting? Dude, get a pair of Birkenstocks—pronto!)
There’s Kevin, who is deluded enough to think that anyone would want to eat at a restaurant called Rat’s (where he is executive chef.)
And there’s Angelo, who truly believes that dropping a whole lot of names—Jean Georges, Ducasse, Louis XV—is going to intimidate his competitors. (Hmmm, maybe he’s onto something there.)
The Quickfire is the mise en place challenge, always a great way to separate the re-heaters from the chefs.
A hint: If you hack open your hand while slicing potatoes, it doesn’t bode well. (I think that was Amanda?)
Anyway, turns out Kenny is like some sort of human ginsu knife. He slices, he dices. He’s Edward Scissorhands meets Daniel Boulud. He’s the Usain Bolt of mise en place. He’s . . .well, you get the point.
Angelo is truly ticked when Kenny smokes him.
The four quickest food preparers—Kenny, Angelo, Timothy Dean (Baltimore, represent!), and Arnold (did anyone else notice how blemish free he was? and those tiny pores!)—now have to take the ingredients they sliced and diced and make a dish.
Angelo starts to work and says he feels like a ninja (in the previews for next week’s show, he says he feels like a sniper. Helpful hint: I’d ease up on the sniper cracks in our nation’s capital, buddy.)
Anyway, Angelo is already starting to look like the season’s villain (76 percent of you think it’s “too early for Angelo to be so cocky”; while 24 percent of you think he’s “got game”—you’re both right!). But his roasted spice chicken with chilled onion jam wins.
Now for the Elimination Challenge: Make a dish that reflects the region you come from.
Easy enough, but they add a snag: Folks will be competing, head-to-head, in 4 groups. And the four mise en place finalists will be picking their own competitors. This is like gym class, but in reverse.
The worst gets picked first! That honor goes to Tiffany and Tracey. Ouch.
Last picked is a fellow named Ed Cotton, because of his “kick-ass” resume—and adorable name.
Off to Whole Foods they go, where John buys a pack of frozen pie crust because “the New York Times said it was good.”
Later, John who is making some sort of maple mousse because in Michigan the maple flows like bong water (or something like that), turns the oven on wrong and ends up heating the wrong part of his dish. Lookin’ good, there, Johnny boy.
Other impending disasters: Jacqueline, who decided she was going to defy 2,000 years of culinary tradition and make some sort of lowfat liver mousse. (BTW, is mousse the new foam? Discuss among yourselves.)
They go to the Cherry Blossom Festival where they prepare food for a bunch of D.C. yuppies. A nice touch? They show two men holding hands as they make their way into the party. Gay marriage is legal in D.C., bitches! Suck it!
Actually, according to this article, the whole party was staged. But whatevs. I’m not one of these reality TV viewers who needs to believe that everything is real. In fact, I believe there’s a name for those people: Morons.
New judge Eric Ripert is in the house. I’m really going to miss Toby Young . . I mean, you just don’t appreciate someone until they’re gone. Ha, ha, just kidding.
The Top Four are Kevin (Pennsylvania lamb), Alex (deconstructed borscht from Russia and California), Kenny (Trout with black bean mole from Colorado), and Angelo (arctic char with pickled shallots from Connecticut).
Hooray for Alex for making deconstructed borscht, which not only sounds delicious but would actually be an awesome band name.
But Angelo wins. . .again. He seems unstoppable at this point, but remember people, the season is young.
The Bottom 4 are Stephen (overcooked rib eye from Ohio), John (with his “as seen in the New York Times!” pie crust), Jacqueline (grainy low fat liver mousse = epic fail), and—noooooo!—Tim (Maryland rockfish with too much skin).
Turns out, Jacqueline forgot to put the fat in her mousse because she needed her recipe.
Also, turns out, Stephen, who has two 13-month-old twins at home, is constantly on the verge of tears. (awwww.)
Timothy is still in denial that he’s in the Bottom 4: But I did so well with the slicing . . . and the dicing!
But really, could anyone be going home but John?
“I just prayed that I could make it the first week or two,” he lamented.
Which is just the kind of attitude that’s going to . . . turn you into Mr. Irrelevant.