Alternately known as the redemption of Dave and the smackdown of Stephen. Actually throughout the episode, people who were annoying the crap out of me were getting more likable (Tiffani!) while people I had a fondness for were irritating the shit out of me (Harold!). What continues to irritate the shit out of me is Billy Joel's Child Bride's monotone voice. Why oh why does she have to narrate every fricking segment?
We open with Dave voice overing about how vulnerable he feels given that he's been in the bottom three for the past three episodes. He is voiceovering to shots of him bashfullying covering up his half naked body with a t-shirt. In the first bit of redemption for Dave, I am noticing that he his face looks so much better when he smiles (going from thuggish to boyish). His boyishness and stockiness gives him a distinct resembles to J, which intrinsically makes him cute. Unfortunately we cut to Stephen who crows about winning the challenge but thinks he's SOOOO much better than his teammates, namely Candice who voiceovers how insecure and inexperienced she feels. At least you're not a huge tool who needs to lord over his pretention to the world.
We head to the next challenge where we are in CA-Rebecca's neighborhood - San Francisco's Mission district. Billy Joel's Child Bride announces that the quickfire challenge will have them making dishes using ingredients from a local market. Announcing is a relative term since this is done in a clumsy voiceover. Of particular importance in the directions is that the competitors can only use the DRIED herbs and spices in the pantry. As the Mission is incredibly diverse, the competitors are thinking ethnic food. The camera pans to a convenience store where the competitors are shocked that they will be shopping. Taking this turn of events particularly hard is Harold who snots that this isn't a REAL test of culinary ability. I guess that means America's Next Top Model isn't exactly a test of modeling skills. Especially since ANTM Season One loser, Elyse is now the Christy Turlington of Asia while Season One WINNER is desperately trying to get Peter Brady to marry her. In other words, Harold, suck it up.
The competitors scramble for ingredients. Stephen tools that he's looking for a wine pairing in the gas station convenience store. Caught in the web of Tiffiani's wrath is Miguel who poaches her idea for Krispy Kreme bread pudding. It's an idea that she came up with her BOYFRIEND. Way to represent the bi-affectionate, Tiffani!
These awful voiceovers need to stop. They show Billy Joel's Child Bride greeting the competitors but then it goes into voiceover and then back to the Child Bride. Folks are spazzing out in the kitchen with only 30 minutes to make their dish. What they come up with ranges from the barely palatable (Lee Ann's Oscar Meyer Spadini) to the utterly vile (Stephen's Dried peas, nilla, wafers, and spam). The judge today is a dead ringer for Jeb Bush, a chef at Nieman Marcus' Rotunda restaurant. During judging, Bill Joel's Child Bride asks Stephen if he understood her fairly clear direction of using only DRIED herbs. Stephen lies through his teeth and says he only heard the word herbs. The other competitors (except for Harold who is now allied with the devil) look disgusted. Unlike the other guest judges, Nieman Marcus is particularly harsh, targeting Candices gazpacho. He pronounces Lee Ann the hands down winner.
Their next challenge is to cook a meal for the East Bay Junior League that will be made ahead and reheated in the microwave. Harold REALLY starts to bug when he snots that he doesn't beleive in the challenge and he should be cooking in a restaurant kitchen with servers to serve his food. Pooor baby. I guess someone put a gun to your head to apply for a reality tv show. Chefs are scrambling. Things don't look good for Candice who is making a quiche, Lisa who somehow doesn't have the time to cool her noodles down, and poor Dave whose lasagna looks like a hot mess. Adding to Dave's indignity is Harold and Stephen standing on the sidelines making fun of him. He's visibly upset and in confessional talks about how much he hates Stephen and Harold. They all put their dishes in individual microwaveable containers and call it a night.
The next morning they head across the bay to some fancy schmancy mansion. Because they are cooking for the Junior League, Billy Joel's Child Bride is dressed up like Jackie O, looking fairly ridiculous. Before I go too far, the Junior League is a pretty damn elitist organization when there is only ONE person of color who is part of the East Bay/Oakland branch. So here comes my favorite part of the episode. The contestants are hanging out in the mansion's kitchen waiting to be called up. Stephen smarmily states that he never had a tv dinner as if it's some badge of superiority. Miguel responds fairly calmly that he's sorry Stephen never had that experience. Stephen ups the ante and runs past Wendy Pepper in the race to be Bravo's biggest douchebag by saying to Miguel "you'd eating anything." The look of disdain completely apparent on Stephen's face. With a lot more composure and class than I could muster, Miguel responds by saying he'd give anything a shot and points out that Stephen probably had dinner with his family every night, complete with a friendly, but pointed, pat on the back. Miguel continues that he didn't have that luxury growing up in a household with a single working mother who had to provide for her family. With utterly no rancor he talks about eating whatever his mother came up with when she got home, doing homework and going to bed. In all of this exchange it's clear Miguel worked pretty damned hard for everything he has and appreciates his mom's sacrifice. Stephen simply cannot comprehend that experience and can only smile his oily smile. I think I might be a little in love with Miguel after the way he handled himself. And really, I give Stephen a hard time but this is beyond the pale. WHAT KIND OF TOOL INSULTS SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY CAN WORK A HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCE AND HAS AN OPEN MIND ABOUT FOOD???
Now that I have that out of my system, onto the dishes.
Dave - He admits that his dish looks like shit but he kind of becomes the fag to the Junior League's hags. He's very engaging and personable just asks the folks to try it. His dual sauce lasagna looks pretty much like a tv dinner but the whitest ladies in Oakland eat it up.
Stephen - He's digging his own grave here. His dish is a banana leaf tamale with a rojo sauce. This guy loves the sound of his voice because he can't stop talking. He acts as if the women have never eaten a tamale before. Dude, California is over a quarter Latino, the ladies have eaten a tamale, even one that's wrapped in a banana leaf. But then he goes on an on about the region in Mexico. As he describes it, the tamale sounds more and more unappetizing. The ladies hate it, commenting the dryness of the tamales and the fact that the tamales are cold (because Stephen was talking so much).
Harold -His seafood coconut soup with the pea shoot biscuit looks bland but he wins the crowd over by bashfully admitting his lack of skill with a microwave. I think he learned from the example of Stephen about the fact that with this crowd, you shouldn't lord it over people that you don't know how to use a microwave. He asks the crowd for pointers. The ladies eat it up, literally.
Tiffiani - The redemption of Tiffani. It appears the spirit of Carole Greenwood has left her body and she's now possessed by the spirit of Sandra Lee. Tiffani is PERKY, going on about how she and her "girlfriends" take shortcuts in impressing their beaus by plating frozen dinners. She reassures the ladies it's perfectly ok to buy a meal at a store and take credit for it. She engages her audience to pull a "Tiffani" by plating up the frozen dinners themselves. And this comes out of Tiffani's mouth - "Food should be welcoming. Food should be comfortable. You should feel free to be creative with it and have fun." SERIOUSLY, WHO IS POSSESSING TIFFANI. Did Rachel Ray brainwash her during commericals?
Lee Ann - Next to the perkiness of Tiffani, Lee Ann acts drab. She matter of factly describes her dish and the ladies coo over it.
Candice - Poor Candice. She starts by saying that she's the youngest person in the competition and gives the microwave it's props. She's engaging but the judges slam her for her soggy crust and poor skills. The shrimp in the quiche tastes rubbery.
Lisa - Dear god Lisa's chicken and noddle dish looks like a big beige blob. You can totally tell Lisa doesn't beleive in her dish. The ladies just want her to get the hell out. They hate the food.
Andrea - Andrea bowls over the crowd with her talk of nutrition and bowel movements. actually, I think her quinoa pilaf and sweet potato mash would be great things for the microwave. She talks about health and beta carotene. The ladies love it. She even offers to dance for them. Blah blah blah healthy colon. The judges are surprised by how much the like her dish. When Andrea goes back to the kitchen, we get a check on who's classy and who isn't. Dave, Tiffani, and Miguel hare happy for her. Harold and Stephen look bitter.
Miguel - Last up is Miguel who decided to put his meatloaf in a convection oven first. He product whores the fact he used KC Masterpiece in his meatloaf. He completly undercooked the whole dish. The judges and the Junior League are not happy.
Judging, the judges note that people who previously sucked, rose to the challenge. Chef Tom notes that some people (STEPHEN) got too creative and didn't think about how their dish would actually taste. They note that Dave was particularly strong. The judges give kudos to Andrea for pulling out a great dish considering her previous efforts were lackluster. The three that get called up are Andrea, Harold and Tiffani. Andrea is particularly delighted. Harold gets props for flirting with the ladies and the flavor of his soup. Everyone loves the food and chef Tom notes how great it was to use the sea bass with it's high fat content which kept the fish moist. Tiffani is pronounced the winner and she revels in being the Kenmore microwave queen. My only comment is - who the hell took over Tiffani's body????
Stephen, Lisa, and Candice get called as the bottom three. I wish there was some kind of font that could indicate the flat delivery of Billy Joel's Child Bride. How can you make the phrase "you are the bottom three" sound boring? The judges slam Lisa for not cooling her pasta in preparation making it a gooey mess along with the overkill on the herbs. Candice's quiche is described as doomed from the start. Candice copps to the awfulness of her dish. Both Chef Tom and Chef Neiman pile on about the fact Stephen's dish was a mess of flavors and styles. The food writer calls it almost inedible. Chef Tom says that he wanted to send them all home. Unsurprisingly, Candice gets sent home due to her inexperience.
In the clips for next weeks show, it looks like Lee Ann and Stephen have to work together. DAMN!