This is the episode where everyone goes crazy. They've been plugging it for weeks and it's here. And it's random. And crazy! There is chair kicking, pantomime crotch grabbing and also some cooking.
Also, this week I did a little Top Chef video for a hilarious website, Videogum.
Can't tell who I am? Look for the giant white pie-face. Note to self: wear blush. Also, I'd just like to point out that someonehad to be the mean judge. And maybe, just maybe I shouldn't have had 80% of the wine I brought...although trying to enunciate while drunk actually facilitated an excellent Padma impression. Max, my usual IM buddy, is a co-judge with me.
Ming Tsai, of the restaurant Blue Ginger is our guest judge.
Ming says it's about "Good taste...one of the most important weapons in a chef's arsenal."
Spike is wearing a dumb hat.
Padma says, "It's time to find out just how truly sensitive your palettes are" and whips out a blindfold. The chefs need to identify the higher quality ingredient.
Andrew says, "If you can't taste what good food is, you SUCK!" And gnashes his teeth ferociously.
Richard, his alter ego, says "If you're in the bottom three in this challenge I think it's a big embarrassment."
Antonia wins the quickfire, and immunity for the challenge.
The chefs will, in teams of course (boo) be cooking at a charity event -- the Meals on Wheels event. They'll be doing the first course. They pick knives to be on teams for Earth, Water, Fire and Air: each team has to create a first course inspired by this element, for 80 guests.
Water: Andrew, Richard and Mark.
Air: Jen, Ryan and Nikki.
Earth: Spike, Antonia and Zoi.
Fire: Dale, Lisa and Stephanie.
There is some tension on team Fire. Dale doesn't want to be so literal about the fire theme - aka he doesn't want to just grill everything. I agree. He wants to incorporate the fire element by making something spicy. Lisa is disagreeing with everything. Dale grows weary of her negativity, but restrains himself well...for now!!!
Richard, over on team water, wants to poach a fish in a controlled water bath. Get it? Fish, in water! Fish love water! It's all so watery! I think this is a bad idea, because salmon is really fatty and I think will taste too oily if it's cooked in a sealed bag. But Richard, with no sarcasm, says, "Fish cooked in water...that's a great idea."
Over on team Stupid Hat, or Team Earth, Spike is being petulant. "I'm not enjoying this right now," he bleats, because people aren't with his idea to do a butternut squash soup. In a shot glass. So tired! In the 'confession' Spike is wearing such an insane hat that I almost lose my mind. My jaw drops. It's straw, but kind of a baseball cap but with a HUGE brim -- It actually looks like a duck bill. Or a duck costume. It's insane. It's performance art. Maybe it's genius.
Anyway, the rest of team Earth thinks that butternut squash soup isn't really using the budget and being luxurious enough, so they go for a beef carpaccio with wild mushrooms.
Team Fire goes with spicy prawns wrapped in Bacon - done by Lisa, who is making "a gooey sticky miso flavor that changes the flavor of the bacon." I happen to like bacon, so I'm not sure if I'm on board with changing the flavor, but I will settle for its mere presence.
Team Air is doing duck breast, herb salad and a shot of prosecco.
Over on Team Water, Richard is cockily saying that his "rapport with Tom" is an important factor. Except that Tom, visiting the chefs, is clearly unimpressed by what he sees as the cockiness of team Water. Richard says, "either he's got a poker face or the Richard Blaise charm has just worn off on Tom Collichio." It's choice number 2, Richard.
Tom is unimpressed by the fish. In fact, Richard's salmon has scales on it! Ming has a bunch of scales on his. This is a big mistake. Tom points out that "some things aren't good sous vide." Agreed.
People absolutely love Team Fire's spicy shrimp.
Team Air's cutesy drink gets some criticism from Tom: "I'm not a big fan of this trend of little drinks with dishes."
There is talk that the mushrooms are under seasoned on team earth. Tom says that "These are earthy ingredients and there's nothing earthy about them at all." I think mushrooms are inherently earthy, but I'm not tasting it so I'll trust Tom here.
Team Fire is the winning dish. Lisa is the winner, because of her bacon. I kind of think Dale should have won this for walking the fine line between sticking to his guns and humoring Lisa, but whatever.
The losing team is between Earth and Water. Richard is getting killed for leaving scales on the fish and for sous viding salmon.
Team Earth gets criticized for the general blandness of the dish, the only flavor standing out being Zoi's rosemary, which gets criticized. This is when Spike, he of the hideous hats, makes us all hate him. He basically lashes out at his whole team, most especially Antonia for not letting him do his beloved butternut squash soup. He insists that she refused to do it, even though she actually did say she'd make it.
Tom puts an end to this by saying, "You're not here because you chose to do carpaccio -- you're here because the carpaccio wasn't good." High Zing Alert!
After the chefs return to the holding pen, Tom says he'd like to send home Zoi AND Spike. It seems Richard is getting a pass here. I am happy he won't be sent home for one misstep, although it's happened to people who don't wear dumb hats. Aka Manuel.
Spike is being highly annoying in the holding pen: "I should listen to myself! I should be an asshole. But nooooo, I'm TOO NICE!" Um, sure.
Jen comforts Zoi: "You are someone to be reckoned with. You're an amazing chef."
And, it's Zoi who must pack her knives and go. Everyone looks upset for Jen and Zoi, who I think are the cutest! A tear wells up in this mean old blogger's eye. My roommate makes fun of me.
Spike lashes out at Antonia: "You should have taken the back seat on this one." Spike insists that Antonia refused to do soup. She points out this is untrue, and it's on tape. Agreed and agreed! Spike is the worst.
Then, there is a CRAZY FIGHT. I think what happens is that Lisa criticized Dale for defending Antonia/Zoi, at which point Dale flips out! And, if Dale WAS defending them, I like him for that. Because Spike is really being an aggressive shouter, pointing his finger and following Antonia around the room. Ugh! But, then Dale truly flips out at Lisa, grabbing his crotch and doing a little mad dance. It's crazy! See you next week!
Max and I shared a brief IM:
Max: Oh man, good ep. That ending.
me: Can we agree that we both hate Spike?
Max: He was pretty annoying this episode.
me: How much longer can he be saved by his dumb hats?
Max: And Lisa, barf. Get it together, Lisa. I am with Dale on this one.
me: I agree. i think there was a part that got cut, where dale defended zoi or something and lisa told him to shut up.
Max: It didn't get cut. Dale said "The wrong person went home."
me: well i mean, i think there was MORE.
Max: Richard lost me a bit this ep, AGAIN.
me: ah...me too
Max: That Richard Blaise charm? Shut up. Scaley Sous Vide, crying, trying to charm Tom.
me: i like that Collichio is oblivious to charm. i think this was his first misstep though, right?
Max: Cooking-wise? Yeah.
me: yeah he's had some hair missteps
Max: I gotta run. But my final thoughts: Spike is dumb.