Welcome to the premiere episode recap of Celebrity Cooking Showdown, an Iron Chef-like challenge with celebrities doing the cooking instead of the pros. Nine B-list celebs will be paired with a professional chef and will compete in groups of three, with the winners from the first three nights going on to the final cook-off. The celebrities will only have 50 minutes to complete their meals, and are allowed two 2-minute “Chef’s Pass” help sessions with their chef at any time. The chef is allowed to join the celeb for the last five minutes, and the meals will be judged on both presentation and flavor. Got all that? Let’s see who’s cooking tonight...
The first of our three celebrity chefs is Cindy Margolis, one of those model slash actress types. Cindy will be paired up with master chef Wolfgang Puck, and they will be preparing the following menu:
- Appetizer - Chinois Chicken Salad
Main Course - Pan Seared Szechuan Beef
Dessert - Baked Alaska with Raspberry Sauce
Kansas City Chiefs football player Tony Gonzales is next, and he will be working with chef Cat Cora. The towering Tony and Cora have come up with this menu:
- Appetizer - Caprese Salad Tower with Mozzarella
Main Course - Penne a la Vodka with Smoked Salmon
Dessert - Affogado “Italian Sundae” with Espresso and Cream
Our third celeb for tonight’s show is Alison Sweeney, best known for playing the evil Sami on Days Of Our Lives. Alison will get help from chef Govind Armstrong, and they will be cooking:
- Appetizer - Marinated Lobster with Avocado
Main Course - Bleu Cheese Stuffed Tenderloin
Dessert - Citrus Crepes with Mascarpone Cheese
Before getting started, the pros sit down with the celebs to get a feel for how much they know and what they are capable (or incapable) of. Cindy tells Wolfgang that she does not cook, but he tells her that with a few lessons, she’ll be better in the kitchen than she is in the bedroom. Just how he knows this, I haven’t a clue. We are treated to a clip of Cindy in the kitchen, and she seems very uncomfortable, looking at some raw chicken like it was going to attack her. She doesn’t know how to use a knife or mix a salad, but Wolfgang will help her out.
Cat and Tony are shown next, shopping for kitchen gadgets. Tony is also pretty new to cooking, but seems willing to try, rating himself a 6 on a scale of one to ten. Cat shows him the finer points of pulling fresh mozzarella and tells him not to just grab it like men tend to do. Insert double entendre here. Cat also has to show Tony what a spatula is, and I wonder how some of these people feed themselves at home.
Alison and Govind are next, and Alison tells us that she’s here because she can’t turn down a challenge. No stranger to the kitchen, Alison claims to enjoy cooking but says she’s not a “fancy” cook, and is excited to learn some new techniques. Putting live lobsters in boiling water isn’t something she enjoys, however, and she asks Govind when they are opening the red wine so she can calm her nerves.
Let’s Get Fired Up
With the introductions out of the way, the celebs are on their own and prepare to get cooking. Before we start, however, our stoned-looking host Alan Thicke warns the cooks that two of their ingredients are missing, and are hidden in the pantry. Why? I have no idea why they did this. Mario Batali would probably whoop someone’s ass if they hid some of his ingredients on Iron Chef, but whatever. Finally, the clock starts and the celebrities run to their respective stations.
Alison wastes no time in dunking her lobster in the pot, while Cindy sprinkles seasoning on her chicken and Tony flounders around, looking for his lost mozzarella. He finally finds the wayward cheese and begins his first dish. Cindy doesn’t bother with a spoon and scoops ice cream with her hands for her Baked Alaska, then gingerly plops her chicken in the oil. She then realizes one of her ingredients is missing, and runs to the pantry in her not very sensible three-inch heels to retrieve the honey. Tony is still squeezing his cheese, and Alison makes a pantry run to get both of her missing ingredients. Seeing that he is missing his balsamic vinegar and hazelnut liqueur, Tony sprints to the pantry next, then proceeds to drizzle the vinegar on both the plate and the table. Cindy decimates a head of lettuce for her salad, and Alison has trouble starting her torch.
We finally hear from our two judges as they snark in the background about the tragedy of overcooked lobster as Alison has trouble getting the critter out of the pot, dropping it several times. She finally gets it into ice water and begins stuffing her tenderloin. Tony has finished his salad and is getting a shot of espresso for his dessert, while Cindy chops her chicken. Alison is the first to use one of her Chef’s Passes, and Govind runs out to help her with the tenderloin sauce. The incredibly loud audience cheers as Tony tries to make whipped cream, spraying it everywhere. At least he’s trying, I suppose. Most guys I know seem to think a frozen pizza is haute cuisine. Cindy takes out her chicken too soon and can’t seem to separate her eggs, so she calls for her first Pass and Wolfgang comes to her rescue. Tony finds himself in need of help with his sauce, and Cat comes out, using both Passes back-to-back.
The cooks are wrapping it up as Cindy flames some cognac for her beef dish to the delight of the crowd. Tony finishes up his vodka sauce, while Alison has trouble with her crepes and throws the first one away after tearing it. Cindy runs over to peek on her dessert in the freezer and Wolfgang yells to her in his thick accent to leave it alone. Tony plays to the rabid audience, throwing bits of chocolate to them as he completes his dessert. Like these people need sugar. Tony plays with Alison a bit, asking her if she needs help and they trash-talk before he goes back to his table to discover that his ice cream is rock hard and he can’t scoop it out.
The five-minute alarm sounds, and the master chefs run out to help their partners. In a rush, Alison grabs a hot pan and burns her hand while Cindy torches her Baked Alaska. Cat helps Tony plate up his dishes and bring them to the judging area, with Alison not far behind. Cindy finally gets her dishes plated and brings them to the judges just in time. It’s all over but the tasting now, and the judges weigh in with their comments:
Colin - The salad was just right. The Baked Alaska was good.
Gael - The salad was a wonderful combination of textures. The beef dish was rare, and doesn’t have the spice that it should.
Presentation - Gael gives it an 8, as does Colin.
Flavor - Gael and Colin both give it a 9, for a total score of 34.
Colin - A little salty on the salad, but not bad. The main dish had too much of a vodka flavor, it needed to cook it longer.
Gael - The cheese is tough in the salad. The dessert was good.
Presentation - Gael scores a 9 with Colin giving it a 7.
Flavor - Gael gives it a 9, Colin a 7 for a total score of 32.
Colin - Too much cheese in the main dish. The crepes were a little rubbery because of the sauce, but not bad. Likes the citrus with the mascarpone cheese.
Gael - Says it was the most difficult menu. The lobster is cooked perfectly, but there is too much cheese in the tenderloin. Won’t comment on the crepes, because she “wants to go home alive.” Har. Calls the crepes rubbery anyway.
Presentation - Gael scores it a 9, while Colin gives it an 8.
Flavor - Gael gives Alison a 6, and Colin scores it an 8. Total score of 31.
With a final score of 34, the culinary-challenged Cindy inexplicably moves on to the finals while Tony and Alison are eliminated. Join us next time as we watch three more celebs make a mess in the kitchen and see what kind of scary outfit Gael will be wearing.
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