Thursday, November 10, 2011

No Exit: The Top Chef Texas recap

All reality shows are a social experiment to a certain extent. But this whole, “we’ll put you together in an isolation chamber as you await an unknown fate” was particularly brutal, wasn’t it? 

And at first, Edward, aka “FlopJaw” made light:
“We’re like prisoners in a room starting to bond,” he said. 

But, almost inevitably, by the end of their detainment, he had changed his tune: “If they leave me here in the stew room long enough, I’m going to kill the 5 other people to get that jacket.”

They will be watching this video in sociology classes for decades to come.

Meanwhile, back at the other, less “Hell is other people”-ish end of the competition, we get to meet the final group of would-be cheftestants.
(Oh, and also new judge, Hugh “The Eyebrows” Acheson. Somewhere, Rod Serling is rolling in his grave, thinking, “Bitch stole my look.”)

There’s the totally adorable Chaz Brown, who notes that he used to have a picture of Padma in his middle school locker. (Thus proving, once and for all, that Padma does not wield Heidi Klum-levels of power on Top Chef. Can you imagine Klum ever letting such a reference to her age get past editing?)

“I still think she’s the most beautiful woman in the world,” he says.
Later, while everyone is boasting of various James Beards nominations and the like, Chaz says: “Nominated by mom as one of her two favorite sons.”
(Spoiler alert: Why couldn’t you plate your damn dish, darling Chaz? Why? Why?)

There’s also some girl named Kim Colicchio, but Tom insists that just because his daughter is in the competition he will not play favorites. (Just kidding, she spells her name: C-A-L-I-C-H-I-O).

And drawing yet again from the this close to greatness file, we have John Baltazar, who is in no way affiliated with famed Balthazar Restaurant in New York. Bummer.

So this group’s challenge is to pick one of several ingredients on the table and make a signature dish. There is one catch though—next to each ingredient is a cloche. 

“Do not touch the cloche,” Tom says. (This is Top Chef’s version of “Do not release the Kraken.”)

Time for the big reveal: Under each cloche is a designated time: 20 minutes, 40 minutes, and one hour.
Oxtail and octopus take longer to cook, so they get an hour. Mushrooms and trout take less time, so they get 20 minutes. Etc.   

(The common denominator here, of course, is: There is NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!! But hey, you want to cook in a slow, leisurely fashion, there are a few restaurants in Baltimore I could hook you up with.)

So the first three are up:
Paul, representin’ for Food Truckers across America, makes a grilled trout and is be-coated.

Then there’s Kim, who makes greasy pan seared lamb and is dunzo.

Then there’s Andrew, who serves his roasted mushrooms and poached egg on a messy plate and is on the dreaded BUBBLE.

He skulks back into the Lord of the Flies waiting chamber.

“What are you in for?” LooseJaw asks him.
“Manslaughtering mushrooms,” Andrew says. (Okay, he didn’t say that, but it would’ve been funny.)

(And yes, I know it’s mean that I keep making fun of Edward’s jaw when it’s probably some sort of medical condition and he obviously can’t help it anyway. Edward, if I ever go on a reality TV show that you happen to blog about, you have my permission to call me “The Shnoz.”)

Next group:

The old French guy (duck with arugula).
Some other chick (short ribs).
Not!Balthazar (brussels sprouts)
My one-day TV boyfriend Chaz (risotto)

Old French guy is on the bubble. (“Merci beacoup for that opportunity,” he says. Because he’s French.)

Short rib girl fell short and is out.

If he hurries, Not!Balthazar might be able to hop on a plane and get an 8 pm reservation at Balthazar, because he’s out.

As for Chaz, well, Houston we have a problem: You see, he never got his risotto on the plates. He’s serving the judges. . .nothing. (Talk about a diet plate! Ba-dum-dum!)

Tom and Hugh look at Padma beseechingly. You can see that Tom is trying to decide if they should all just hover around Chaz’s risotto, trough style.

Padma will have none of it: “Chaz, please Pack your knives and go,” she says firmly.

“It kinda feels like she’s breaking up with me,” Chaz says. “I want my CDs back, we have to split up our friends. . . You cut me deep Padma.”

Awwww. Goodbye TV boyfriend I will have long forgotten about by next week’s episode. It was real.

Final group:

We have Beverly, who has Stuart Smiley-style note in her pocket: “I can, I must, I will.” (She so has her life coach on speed dial.) She makes octopus.

Then we have Ashley, who has no idea how to use a pressure cooker so, naturally, decides to cook her oxtail in a pressure cooker. (It’s the Curse of Carla’s Sous Vide all over again, people!)

Then there’s Lindsay, who is one of these hyper efficient, doesn’t-suffer-fools types who scare the shit out of me. She actually helps Ashley open her pressure cooker (“run it under cold water”) which is nice, but does it in such an impatient, annoyed, “can the real competition please start soon so I can get away from these plebes?” sort of way, it seems slightly less than gracious.

So. . .
Ashley obviously couldn’t handle the pressure [cooker] and is out.

Lindsay’s braised veal is magical and marvelous and better than your faves and she’s IN.

Beverly’s motivational pep talk to herself apparently worked, because her Korean-style octopus was delish. Coat for her!

Now back to Satan’s anteroom, where LooseLips is asking Molly where she works:
“I cook on the Allure of the Seas for the Royal Caribbean,” she says.
“Oh, a cruise ship,” he says. Then he gives a villainous laugh. Nice.

There are 6 contestants on the bubble and only 2 chef coats.
You do the math. (Feel free to use a calculator.)

“You have 45 minutes to make one dish that shows us why you should be here,” says Tom.

Meanwhile, some of the contestants tell us more about themselves: 

Apparently, when she was 15, Grayson was asked by her mother what she wanted to do with her life.
“What do you mean, Mom? I’m 15, all I want to do is drink,” Grayson replied. 
At which point, her mother immediately checked her into rehab and she hasn’t been seen or heard from since. . .or, she let her get a job at restaurant, so she could booze it up to her 15-year-old liver’s content.

The very funny Janine tells us the very unfunny story of her partner breaking up with her a few weeks after their commitment ceremony because she didn’t like her VOWS. (Duuude.)
“A post it note would’ve been more touching than that,” she says.

Reverse Lockjaw has the confidence of a man with a much firmer jaw. 

“As long as I keep my nerves steady, there’s no way I can screw this up,” he says.

Cue the scene, moments later, where he cuts himself with a knife and his hand is positively gushing with blood. 

We’ve seen cuts on Top Chef before, but nothing like this. It’s almost a cartoon level of blood. Aron Ralston would be watching this and thinking: I could not survive that. 

As the medic is trying to save his gruesome, dangling appendage, FlopJaw just keeps on cooking. He’s an animal. Eventually they just shove his hand in a hefty bag and call it a day.

The sad thing is, everyone on the bubble cooked well. . .But not well enough.

Frenchie’s scallop tartare was grey-grey, so he’s done.
Molly’s shrimp was overcooked, so she’s “cruisin’” on outta here. 

FlopJaw’s dish was bloody delicious, so he’s IN!

Andrew, who’s from Austin and soooo wanted to represent for his home state, is out.

So it comes down to Grayson vs. Janine and I am bumming, because I like them both.
Grayson (bacon wrapped shrimp with polenta), despite her ABC Afterschool Special teen alcoholism problem, is pretty adorable. And if you recall, she’s on the bubble through no fault of her own. She was victimized by “Stone. Chef Tyler Stone” and his disappearing tenderloin last week.

Then there’s Janine (seared scallop), who is that rare contestant I laugh with, not at.

And Grayson is IN!  (And as of now, my favorite. We’ve been through a lot together.)

We have our final 16. .  .except my DVR cut off and there’s some sort of online competition to determine if Janine or Andrew make the show?

Okay, I just looked over at Bravo’s site: It’s called Last Chance Kitchen and it’s for ALL the eliminated chefs, not just Andrew and Janine. They’ll compete head to head every week and the last person standing will get to compete in the final of show. Kewl.

(Not to belabor the point, but it was kind of unfair to pit Janine against Andrew, right? Why couldn't they go up against one of the garden variety rejects, like greasy lamb girl or overcooked pork boy? Instead, they have to go up against each other, a one seed against a one seed, if you will. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I've already watched the video and I know the results. . .Sigh.)


Donna said...

I loved the commentary because I watched the show last night and you hit all the high and low points perfectly. I am so glad you picked up on the jaw. It was driving me nuts. I really like him, but I'm going to focus on the jaw when they show him.

Now to watch the video and I'm bummed. I want them both.


evap said...

So glad Top Chef is back and maxthegirl is blogging it! The main reason to watch as far as I'm concerned.

Did anybody else notice that when Edward was back at the house, there was no sign of a bandage or a cut on his hand? What's up with that?

maxthegirl said...

Oooh, I didn't notice that. Good sleuthing, evap. Let the conspiracy theories begin!

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