Friday, March 24, 2006

Top Chef - Episode 3

I'd like to take this moment to talk about the opening credits, if only to say that even in voice-over Billy Joel's Child Bride sounds like she's trying to run for student council treasurer. The anamatronic Abe Lincoln in Disneyland's Hall of President's has more life than this girl. Two other things to say about credits, Miguel looks slightly cross eyed, making him look like he has Down Syndrome, which he clearly does not; and the huge knot is Stephen tie makes him look like Fred Flinstone dressed him. You have to be tall with a slender neck to pull that off. Stephen is neither so the tie looks ridiculous on him. One other thing, I love how hard Harold is trying to be sexy in the opening credits taking off his chef's jacket and putting over his shoulder.

We open to Brian talking about Andrea's ass, and Dave, struggling to get along with Brian. Oooh! Foreshadowing! Cut to a shot of Candice doing yoga and Brian mentioned there's still some nice ass left in the competition. This makes me wish Tiffani would pound his ass.

So we cut to the kitchen where everyone smelling something nasty. This pisses me off, because unless the food is actually rotten, a trained chef should never characterize their food as nasty. It's so five-year-old. Oooh foreshadowing. I would assume that these chefs would know that stuff that have strong odors are often delicious and therefore, would keep an open mind. Billy Joel's Child Bride introduces guest judge Laurent to the group and boy does she bug. Laurent is awesome and is the head chef of Aqua, one of the most famous restaurants in the Bay area. The contestants remove the lids to their pots to show the secret ingredient for the quickfire challenge is octopus. Everyone does their grossed out look but seriously, it's OCTOPUS. That isn't nasty. I'm sure this group of people have had to cook with intestines and organs, so octopus shouldn't be shocking. Billy Joel's Child Bride states that the hardest part of being a chef is making something nasty looking taste wonderful which once again, is par for the course. Any raw meat kind of looks disgusting. It's FLESH.

People get to work. Tiffani talks about octopus coming from the Mediterranean and that she will go with Mediterranean flavors. In judging, it appears several of her colleagues went the same route. Stephen uses just the tentacles in his pretentious plating while Cynthia gets brownie points for putting a cork in the water to tenderize the octopus. The child Bride is amazed by this, but then again she's probably amazed by rainbows, fluffy clouds and ponies. Brain only uses one tentacle as a garnish in his stew, showing that he didn't know how to use octopus. Dave gets burned because he completely forgot to season his dish. Tiffani wins the challenge for her emphasis on the Mediterranean flavors. As long as it isn't Stephen.

So the next challenge is cooking monkfish for a group of 8 to 11 year olds. They get broken up into two teams with Cynthia, Candice, Miguel, Stephen, and Lisa on the Red team, otherwise known as Team Annoying, and Lee Ann, Tiffiani, Dave, Harold, and Brian on the Blue team, which I will now name Team Harmony. Tiffani bitches that she doesn't want to cook for kids because of their plebian tastes. Well, Tiffani, at some point in your career, a child may come into your restaurant. Suck it up.

Over at Team Harmony, Brian keeps suggesting things that Dave swats down while at Team Annoying, Lisa, who actually has children gives Stephen the smackdown. He keeps suggesting stupid ideas like cantaloupe soup. Team Annoying settles on making monkfish corndogs while Team Harmony chooses cereal coated monfish, both are essentially fish sticks. Cynthia hears her dying father takes a turn for the worse and she wisely leaves the competition.

Stephen justifies my nickname for his team by constantly ripping on Candice's lack of experience especially her use of cookie cutter shapes for kids, saying that it's CHILDISH. Um, who are they cooking for in this challenge? Candice warms the cockles of my heart by calling him a douchebag. Stephen, gets into it even more with Candice harping on her lack of experience. Both Miguel and Lisa put a stop to the insanity while Team Harmony looks on in horror. Stephen voice overs that Candice "can't stand the heat in the ktichen" but guess what, she's STILL HERE so obviously she's doing something right.

The next day, Andrea comes back to replace Cynthia. Stephen decides to marginalize the returning Andrea along with Candice, calling her a "workhorse." Harold notes that Brian's carrots are soft. Ooh foreshadowing. Tom, the judge comes in and wonders whether kids will like the yogurt that Team Annoying is serving. Have you ever been to a supermarket dairy aisle, Tom? He them asks the teams who is their leader. Team Annoying tags Lisa while Team Harmony demurrs that noone is the leader until some person yell's "Dave!"

At the Boys and Girls Club, there's some fake chaos by children. You can totally tell that someone told these kids to start yelling. Stephen shows what a total tool his is by criticizing everyone and then knocking a tray off the table. Team Harmony is harmonious.

OH MY GOD. Billy Joel's Child Bride calls the kids in and then does something that pisses me off. She asks the kids if they like things like pizza and hamburgers. She then asks if they like fish, saying the word fish as if it were toxic waste. This is a pretty diverse group of kids in SAN FRANCISCO, they probably don't just live on chicken fingers. At Brainfood, where I volunteer, whe asked our students what their favorite dishes were adn they mentioned fresh pasta, oven baked sweet potato fries, and stir fry. J notes that the kids Capri Suns have duct tape on them. She then shows the whole monkfish, saying how icky it is, way to lead the witness. Eagle eyed J notices that the Asian kids are totally not grossed out. Team Harmony's menu is oven-baked monkfish with a cereal coating, homemade appleasauce, homemade tater tots (I want the recipe for THAT) and the aforementioned overcooked carrots. Team Annoying's menu consists of the Monkey Dogs and vanilla yogurt with fruit skewers.

Shots of kids eating and Stephen trying to entertain the kids by showing off his extensive knowledge. Team Annoying treats the meal like a pep rally, rallying the kids to vote for them while Brian from Team Harmony does the same. Unfortunately his teammates, especially Tiffani thinks they should be above such common antics. If being a chef were only about cooking then Rocco Dispirito probably wouldn't own three restaurants. So shut up Tiffani.

The judges ask the kids who they liked more. First table by table, but then as the full group they ask the kids to raise their hands. It's a 24 to 13 vote in favor of Team Annoying.

Onto the judging. Before I start, I am surprised how bad the voice overs are in judging. You would think the same people who have to make Heidi Klum sound intelligible would be able to disguise the voice overs better. Anyway, you can totally tell Tiffani is twelve kinds of defensive because she's leaning back in her chair with her arms crossed. She looks like she would cut you if you crossed her. The judges start in on Team Harmony saying how much the kids didn't like Team Harmony's meal. Harold tries to justify the meal by saying theirs was more nutritous. He gets smacked down by The Child Bride who says the other team served yogurt and fruit. Tiffani snots that this wasn't a challenge that tested the skills of a real chef which gets the response from the brunette food reviewer that says it was about the customer. Did Tiffani go to the Carole Greenwood school of customer service? Because she is twelve kinds of snotty. She says (and this is a direct quote), "children in this country eat crap and nothing but crap and if it doesn't come with a toy, they're not interested in it." I'm sure half the granola cruncher parents of the bay area are ready to corner Tiffani in a dark alley for that statement alone. Oh Tiffani, you won't have immunity for the rest of the season and you just put a huge target on your back. The other point I have to make is - Tiffani, you are on a reailty show. Don't talk about not compromising your integrity who you've put yourself on display in the most public way possible. The judges give her a fairly gentle smackdown given that she's being an enormous ass. And the thing is, I agree with her to some extent. I certainly get annoyed when kids demand nothing but chicken fingers and hot dogs, but the world is in shades of gray and catering to a customer is the nature of the restaurant industry. The judges slam Brian for his mushy carrots, saying that the very kids who Tiffani derided were pretty clear they didn't like overcooked carrots. Brian deflects the blame by tagging Dave as the leader. Meanwhile, Lee Ann tries to stay above the fray by saying how well they worked together, while Harold tries to take the blame for their defeat. In the end, Brian's mushy carrots doom him and he's sent packing.


ScottE. said...

Awesome! I actually jotted notes about the show, so I could comment...and outside of the comment was...WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THOSE voiceovers during judging...HORRIBLE!

Stephen IS a douchebag! I love that he was called on it, but he needs to be called out more. And by other 'leaders' and the judges.

Brunette said...

Excellent review! And I was *totally* thinking of Carole Greenwood during Tiffani's rants. She needs to learn that the restaurant business is "service-oriented."

And I totally agree re: the voice overs.

Dancer in DC said...

Because it needs to be said one more time...

Shut up, Tiffani.

Jon said...

I CAN'T become addicted to the show, so I don't watch. Instead, I think I prefer reading your roundups, with just the right amount of interwoven snarky commentary, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Watching old reruns on bravo. Miguel, He CLEARLY does have Down Syndrome! His thumbs (short and stumpy, not proportioned well), eyelids (missing a fold), and tongue (large and forward, almost too big for his mouth) and of course his speech...all classic indicators of someone with down syndrome. What a success story, he has gone further in his career of choice than most will ever do!