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Well, we’ve done a little more shuffling on the Fort writing staff, and I am the lucky Top Chef recapper du jour, (get it- it’s like soup du jour, which is a restaurant term, and this show is a cooking competition, so… oh never mind).
First up is a redux of last week’s “tool and douche bag” argument between Candice and Stephen, and yep- Stephen is just as smarmy and pompous as I remember, and Candice is still as clueless. We see Brian’s elimination, and I hope it serves as a reminder to chefs everywhere: do not feed children soft carrots because they will turn on you, (the children, not the carrots, although I don’t doubt the carrots turned on some of them too).
Anyhoo, the rehash of last week’s show is over, and now we’re treated to footage of Stephen in his underwear. Wow. I can’t un-see that, but I sure would if I could. Stephen’s disappointed because although his team won the elimination challenge last week, he didn’t enjoy working with people he doesn’t like, and hopes the future challenges will focus on individuals, rather than teams. I’m sure this isn’t the first time in his life Stephen has had trouble working as part of a team. I’ll bet if we check his elementary school report cards, “does not play well with others,” is a common theme.
Next we visit with Dave, who was in the bottom three last week, and knows he needs to step up in order to stay in the competition. Someone’s going to get cut, and it just might be him if he doesn’t get his act together.
Gas Station Gourmets
Tonight our ‘lil chefs are told that they will be visiting a specialty food store in San Francisco, and will each be given $20 to buy ingredients to create their gourmet dish. Along with the ingredients they purchase, each of the chefs may also use any dried herbs or spices available in the kitchen. Let me say that again- each of the chefs may also use any dried herbs or spices available in the kitchen.
I think this challenge sounds interesting. I wonder what kind of shop it will be? Hopefully something fancy like a … gas station. That’s right, our chefs must purchase ingredients found in a gas station, and make some sort of gourmet dish. Good luck. If I had to make a gourmet dish out of gas station food, I’d probably throw a Twinkie on a paper plate and call it a day. I think that’s why I’m not a contestant on Top Chef.
The gang bursts into the gas station, and Stephen makes a beeline for the cooler to check out the wine selection. Um Stephen, unless you’re looking for some Strawberry Hill Boones Farm, I think you’re gonna be out of luck.
Dave thinks he’s made for this challenge because of “college and white trash,” Andrea can barely wrap her mind around the idea of all this processed food, and then picks out possibly the most unappetizing food duo ever- beef jerky and peanut butter cups. Harold buys a can of Spam, and everyone else purchases your basic gas station junk food.
Tiffani knew what she wanted as soon as she entered the store- Krispy Kreme donuts and eggs. She tells us that she and her boyfriend make a mean Krispy Kreme bread pudding, and that’s her plan for the challenge. Hmmm, what’s going on with the other chefs? Hey look- there’s Miguel buying… Krispy Kreme donuts and eggs so that he can make a donut bread pudding. Well, that’s awkward! Tiffani calls him out and ridicules him for copying, and then tells us that she’s not scared of Miguel. Obviously she didn’t see his outfit for the fetish desert competition, because if that wasn’t scary, I don’t know what is.
The chefs pay for their assorted treats and then it’s back to the kitchen for 30 intense minutes of trash cooking.
The kitchen is pure pandemonium. Everyone is creating dishes that look absolutely horrible, with the most wretched ingredients imaginable, (well, okay, if I’m being totally honest here, the idea of a Krispy Kreme bread putting is not all that awful to me, in fact I may whip up my own this weekend). And, I’m not going to lie to you- there’s a lot of spam being used in these dishes. A lot.
The buzzer sounds all too soon for the chefs, and we’re introduced to today’s guest judge; Jefferson Hill, Executive Chef for Rotunda, located in Neiman Marcus, San Francisco. I can tell right off the bat that Jefferson is not going to be a nice cuddly judge, and I almost feel sorry for the chefs… almost, but not quite.
Now, on to the presentation of the dishes! Here’s a rundown of what they made, what they used, and what the judge though of their creations. First up…
Miguel: Pumpkin Krispy Kreme bread pudding, coconut water and Listerine breath strips. Ingredients: donuts, eggs, breath strips. Verdict: Sickly sweet.
Andrea: Pit-Stop Peanut Noodles. Ingredients: beef jerky, cup of noodles, peanut butter cups. Verdict: Too peanut butter-y.
Candice: Spicy Tortilla Gas Station Gazpacho. Ingredients: tomato soup, half and half, tortilla chips. Verdict: tastes like nacho cheese sauce.
Harold: Green Eggs and Spam. Ingredients: Spam, eggs, relish. Verdict: The plating could have been tighter, and the relish is no good for this dish.
Tiffani: Donut bread pudding. Ingredients: eggs, donuts, graham crackers. Verdict: A little dry and could have been softer.
Dave: The Trio of Gastrointestinal Distress. Ingredients: Doritos, burrito, cinnamon roll. Verdict: Creative.
Le Anne: Funion Battered Oscar Meyer Spedini. Ingredients: salami, tomato soup, cheese, Funions. Verdict: Very good.
Lisa: Scrambled Stack with Chili on top. Ingredients: hot dogs, eggs, pistachios, chili. Verdict? Pork ‘n beans with eggs.
Stephen: Hot coconut water, charred Spam with a peanut and tarragon sauce, dehydrated sweet pea crumbs, vanilla dumpling with wilted basil leaf and chili mango syrup. Ingredients: vanilla wafers, spam, dehydrated peas. Verdict: *Let me just interject here, and point out that Stephen’s dish included fresh herbs from the fridge, when all the chefs were specifically told that they could only use dried herbs and spices. It was very clear, and Harold even warned him against using the fresh basil, but I guess Stephen is above the Top Chef laws or something*. So, Verdict: Basil was a poor choice, and against the rules. Tarragon was also a bad choice, although within the rules.*Here, Stephen looks so completely shocked that Jefferson didn’t like his dish, that I kind of feel sorry for him. I mean, it’s obvious the guy thinks he is the master of culinary arts, and it’s got to be devastating for him to have his dish knocked down.*
Ultimately, Le Anne wins for her Funion Spedini, but not before Judge Jefferson humiliates Candice a little more by calling her gazpacho a disaster. So, we know that Le Anne won’t be packing her knives after the Elimination Challenge, but that leaves 8 others to crash and burn, er… do really, really well.
It’s not always easy to use a microwave.
Today’s Elimination Challenge might prove tricky for some of our chefs. They have 90 minutes to prepare a gourmet meal that can be re-heated the following day for a group of women from the local Junior League.
Harold is very anti- microwave, and tells us that he is not into promoting re-heatable, microwaveable food. He thinks people should go out to restaurants, and let someone else cook for them. All the time. Now, up to this point, I’ve really liked Harold, but these statements make me wonder what planet he is actually from.
The chefs rush out to the store, where they have $50 and 60 minutes to buy ingredients for their meals, and then it’s back to the kitchen where they will have 90 minutes to prepare their meals, and package them up for the next day’s presentation and re-heat.
Why don’t you go into the bathroom and cry about it, Dave?
It’s a mad scramble for the chefs to get everything prepared in just 90 minutes. Lisa’s not able to get her pasta chilled and seasoned, or her chicken grilled, Candice may be facing another disaster with her quiche, and Dave’s lasagna looks kind of like slop. He’s low on time, and is worried about the appearance, although he’s sure it tastes good. Harold and Steven smirk about Dave’s “magical lasagna” in the corner, and Dave tells us “I’m done with (Harold) and Stephen. They can just go make out somewhere, ‘cause I’m just over it.” He’s obviously not over it though- I think he actually might be crying, and has to be comforted by Candice.
Welcome to the Microwave Pool Party.
For tonight’s Elimination Challenge, the chefs have prepared meals and will re-heat them in Kenmore microwaves and serve them to women from the Junior League. The women will select the winner of the challenge, and the judges will send one of the chefs home.
First up is Dave with his Dual Sauced Lasagna and Colorful Vegetable Medley. He tells the ladies that his meal is about form and functionality, and seems at ease in front of his audience. The women and judges enjoy the meal, especially the purple cauliflower.
Next is Stephen with a Banana Leaf Wrapped Tamale. Stephen also seems at ease in front of his audience, but I doubt they are at ease listening to him ramble on condescendingly about his dish forever. They don’t seem to like his dish very much either, calling it “too cold.”
Harold plays up to the audience, telling the women that he doesn’t know how to use a microwave, and needs some help from them. The helpfully tell him to push start, and he nukes his Coconut Soup with Split Pea Biscuit. Now, do my eyes deceive me or is Harold actually flirting a little? Wow. It must work, because the women love his dish.
Tiffani has prepared a Mirin Glazed Sea Bass, and charms the ladies by telling them that she used to try to impress dates by buying meals from the store, re-plating them and taking all of the credit for the dish. Ha, ha, ha! Deception is so funny! I find it really interesting that Tiffani is willing to pander to the women of the Junior League, but not to underprivileged kids at the Boys and Girls Club.
I don’t know much about Le Anne’s dish, except that it was a Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry. I guess since there’s no way she can go home tonight, there’s also no way she’s getting air time for this challenge.
Candice tells the women that since she is the youngin’ of the competition, she obviously knows a lot about the microwave and what an important tool it is. Great Candice, how ‘bout you tell Harold because I think he could really use that information. Candice’s Shrimp and Spinach Quiche does not go over well with the ladies or the judges, and one of the women comments that the shrimp was overcooked.
Since she’s a mom, the judges and other contestants expect Lisa to run away with this challenge. She has prepared Two Cheese Gratin with Herbed Chicken Breast. She gets the women on her side by telling them that the Two Cheese Gratin is mac ‘n cheese to the kids when they ask, but loses them when they taste her dish and find it rubbery, too herby and not flaky enough.
Andrea has prepared a Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Potato Mash. She tells the women that food should promote good health, and that this dish especially is good for the colon. Well. How appetizing. Even after all that… talk, the ladies and judges love the meal.
Last is Miguel. He thinks he’s going to beat the system by using the convection oven feature for his Asian Meatloaf with Edamame, Mashed Potatoes and Stir-Fry. Wait, isn’t that like three meals, not one? The convection oven was a bust, because the meatloaf is cold, and Miguel is embarrassed. He says that as a chef he would never send a meal out cold. Except for this challenge, I guess.
Warning! Bad Voice-over Alert!
Is it just me or does this show absolutely have the worst voice-overs in reality TV? It’s time for the judging, so I know we’re about to be subjected to some.
The Best: The judges call in Tiffani, Harold and Andrea. Andrea is really excited, because she knows this can’t be the group of the worst. Tiffani wins the competition, but I don’t find this very interesting because the judges just keep saying nice things and complimenting the chefs! But, I perk up when they unveil…
The Losers: Tiffani, Harold and Andrea go back to the kitchen and tell the others that Tiffani won, and the judges would now like to see Stephen, Lisa and Candice. Stephen seems to be in shock, and I’m sure he thinks he’s only been summoned by the judges to tell Lisa and Candice exactly how they failed, and offer them suggestions for the future.
The judges tell each of the chefs what they did wrong. Lisa didn’t chill the pasta, over-herbed the chicken, and her meal looked like institution food, Candice’s quiche was doomed from the start and she’s really beginning to show her inexperience, and Stephen’s flavors were very confusing, and there was too much going on with his meal. It was almost inedible.
So, although judge Tom Colicchio would like to get rid of all three of them, he’s not Donald Trump and has to make due with cutting only one, and it is… Candice! Candice is sent off to pack up her knives, and she leaves amid tears and hugs, (and even hugs Stephen!).
Up next week? Our chefs become street vendors and have to taste a bunch of nasty stuff. Don’t forget to tune in!
I’m thinking of taking up a collection to buy Stephen a sense of humor and some humility. Tell me what you think at SueEllenMishke@fansofrealitytv .com