Saturday, April 22, 2006

Top Chef - Episode 7

We open with Tiffani and Miguel giving each other the cold shoulder. It's hardass Tiffani and "I'm playing the game" Miguel. Things are not pretty. The competitors walk into the quickfire challenge to see a pretty wide array of ingredients and Chef Tom in a hideous red shirt. It's even more hideous than Stephen's fat ties. The quickfire challenge is to make a sandwich for Chef Tom's casual restaurant "Wichcraft." Unlike other quickfire challenges, the winner will not get immunity in the elimination challenge, rather, their sandwich will be a featured "Wichcraft" sandwich. This reminds me of an engineer friend of mine who was asked to enter a contest to design a Disney ride. He said no, because he would go through all of that work designing the ride but then he wouldn't be paid a cent and Disney could take all of his designs. That prize doesn't sound all that to me.

Kitchen craziness. Miguel want to prove himself. Harold is designing his sandwich to fit the Wichcraft menu. Stephen's designs a brunch sandwich with an egg. Because this is Stephen his brunch sandwich is totally pretentious. Miguel thinks he has the challenge in the bag with his pitaless falafel sandwich. Chef Tom likes Dave's sandwich with the big flavors and the endless list of ingredients. Chef Tom has an impossible time trying to bite Tiffani's huge toad in the hole sandwich and has even worse luck with Lee Ann's sunchoke sandwich, trying to get a bite without pulling out all of the lettuce in one fell swoop. Miguel gets props for the flavors of his sandwich but gets slammed for assuming that Chef Tom would eat it with a knife and fork. The winner of the challenge is Harold who put some thought into how the sandwich would fit into the overall menu. While none of them lose immunity, the true loser of this challenge is Chef Tom and his loud red shirt.

For the elimination challenge, Billy Joel's Child Bride tells them that they will be going to a raw restaurant space in the city. They will split into two teams to create a dining concept for the two different rooms in the restaurant. The true challenge is staying awake during Billy Joel's Child Bride's flat delivery. The red team is Dave, Tiffani and Harold. The blue team is Lee Ann, Harold and Stephen. Lee Ann describes herself and F%&^*ED. Can't disagree with you there. Trying to sound like a hardass by squinting her eyes REALLY hard, Bill Joel's child Bride says one of them will win and one of them will join them at the judges table to be eliminated. Like we wouldn't have figured that out.

Lee Ann is so awesome, describing her teammates as The Big Thinker (Stephen) and The No Thinker (Miguel). In the cars to the restaurant each team picks their punching bag. The Red Team's is Dave. Tiffani preps Dave her upcoming smackdown of him by saying that they should all remember that nothing is personal in the challenge. What happened to the happy Tiffani who was flirting with the Junior League? The team comes up with the restaurant concept of classic American. Dave suggests beef and Tiffani totally rolls her eyes and cuts him off. Tiffani is acting totally hideous in the car by interrupting Dave every time he tries to open his mouth. In the Blue Team car, Miguel is the designated punching bag. His wine and melon dessert gets the big "no" from Lee Ann who wants to talk concept first. Stephen comes up with Spain as the restaurant concept saying it's the newest thing. Oh yeah, it's so new that tapas thing. Jaleo like opened a millisecond ago. Stephen and Lee Ann dump on Miguel's more Latin and Caribbean ideas, saying they aren't mainland Spanish enough. Then Miguel's idea for a white gazpacho with marscapone cheese and grapes gets slammed. I'd have to say that Lee Ann is totally coming off like a beeyotch here. At least hear the guy out.

Chef Tom tells them that 30 people will be coming and they will be judged on how many people choose their restaurant and how satisfied the "customers" are. The Red Team gets the very taupe, white room and the Blue Team gets the very red, Red room. The Blue Team calls their restaurant American Workshop, saying they will be doing restaurant's greatest hits. Because Dave has actually run a restaurant, they decide to put Dave in the front of the house and Tiffani and Harold concur with every idea Dave has about how the front should be set up. They decide to go with a family style seating arrangement so Dave can serve them easily. Tiffani wisely says that Dave will go downhill if he gets in a bad head space but things could be worse - they could have ended up with Stephen. Smart girl. Now get off your high horse and we'll all get along fine.

Segue to the Red Team saying that the name of their restaurant is Sabor, the Spanish word for "taste." Dear god, Stephen says something about esoteric technique that just kills me. Lee Ann says she will be in the kitchen, clearly hoping to have as little to do with Stephen as possible. Stephen rips on the other team's concept saying they will be serving slop on a plate. SO CLASSY.

The next day the teams go grocery shopping. Team Red acts as if Miguel doesn't know what he's doing. While that might be the right assessment, it's not like anyone will do better when their co-workers belittle them. Stephen keeps trying to buy more and more pretentious ingredients that eat up their budget. Miguel makes a huge mistake mistaking that a pound of fish cost $7.00 a pound instead of $17.00 a pound. Stephen bitches that Miguel's mistake would take money from his wine budget. Back in the kitchen Tiffani is playing mean mommy to Dave's blundering son. Harold is the golden child on that team. Dave decides to keep his mouth shut but if they fail Dave will rat Tiffani out. Not a good strategy but the is in keeping with Dave's crybaby personality.

Lee Ann laments that Stephen refuses to check in with the Team, looking wistfully at Team Blue and Dave consulting with his teammates. That's only because Tiffani will break him in half if he gets out of line. Lee Ann and Miguel clash with Miguel taking the Dave route of just going along with her. They get in a fight about salt. Chef Tom comes and asks Team Blue what their concept is to which Tiffani replies American classics with roast chicken and jus and tuna tartare (MISTAKE!). Lee Ann answers for Team Red that their concept is Spain. When Chef Tom asks Team Red whose ideas was it, both Lee Ann and Stephen cover their asses by saying it was a group decision.

Dave and Stephen go to the restaurant supply store to get plates, tablecloths etc. Dave rocks twelve ways to Sunday, staying within the budget and being clear about what he needs. Stephen's champagne tastes clash with the beer budget (props to Lee Ann for that assessment). Dave wisely, sends a picture of some dishware to Tiffani and Harold to make sure they are happy. The magic personality fairy has descended on Harold as he admits that he's happy Dave is buying the supplies as he has no sense of style and is happy just to be cooking. Tiffani wants to be on the front of the house but she can't do it all. Dave's seething resentment shows itself in a confessional that he will rat Tiffani out if things go badly.

Things are guaranteed to go badly for Team Red as the cost of Stephen's place settings is $1000, well above their $400 budget. Dave is back 2 hours before the restaurant's opening while Stephen is still picking out gravy boats. Stephen finally comes back and bemoans all he has to do. Billy Joel's Child Bride walks in wearing what can only be described as her Madame Butterfly outfit. A silver silk mini-kimono with black pants. This is what I call CACA - clearly Asian cultural appropriation. Even worse she introduces Jeffrey Chodorow, the evil business dude from tv show, The Restaurant. While Rocco Dispirito wasn't exactly acquitting himself on that show, Jeffrey Chodorow was insufferable. Harold goes on and on about Jeffrey's success in the restaurant business. What Harold doesn't go on and on about is Jeffrey's record of white collar crime. Miguel looks freaked out. Jeffrey describes the prize - accompanying him and a team of his chefs to the Cannes film festival. IN FRANCE. Jeffrey this is Bravo. The viewers know where the Cannes film festival is. And really, is traveling with Jeffrey Chodorow and his entourage that big of a prize? I'd sooner get my teeth pulled but different strokes for different folks. The scene ends with Billy Joel's Child Bride telling us that the winning chef will be going to Cannes while the losing chef will be getting Canned.

Scurry, scurry, scurry in the kitchen. Lee Ann realizes that "chunk" (aka Miguel) forgot to ask the fishmonger to scale the fish. Dave is happy because of the contrast between his homely and unpretentious and fully stocked restaurant to Stephen's half doned, wanna be pretentious restaurant. "customers" come in and choose the restaurant. Diners plotz over the home style of Team Red. Dave expertly explains the concept to diners, saying it's an Italian or family style feel because food is about socialization and meeting and greeting. Stephen goes on and on about what else? WINE. In an even better contrast, Dave is telling Tiffani and Harold to get the dishes ready for him to serve, while Lee Ann and Harold are stressing about their food going cold. On the floor Stephen CAN NOT SHUT UP. Lee Ann yells at Stephen that the food is COLD. Dave is on the floor SERVING and telling folks about the dishes. Team Blue is so going down. The diners love the chicken. Stephen pooh poohs the concept of having warming, welcoming food. Because what people want is an uptight dining experience. Dear god Stephen is a mess.

So in the shots of folks giving feedback on the restaurants, the editors try and fake us out with shots on ONE diner complaining about Team Red's concept. When the judges come, Stephen regales them about the wine. Unfortunately, Chef tom finds scales on his fish. Lee Ann is humiliated. All the judges talk about how condescending Stephen is. Dave is totally in his element with the judges and even gets Tiffani to serve. Evil Jeffrey Chodorow gives a non compliment that the chicken "is not fussed with, it's just there." Better unfussy than overproduced.

During customer evaluations the same cranky customer in Team Red is complaining some more while others compliment the informal and PROMPT service. Over at Team Blue, a big ol' drag queen talks about how much she likes the concept as others complain about the atrocious service.

At judging, Team Red with it's the homey American Workshop concept that's the winner. They are all relieved with their score of 26 out of 30 with the customers loving Dave. Can we see a smile Dave? But when it comes to who gets the "prize" evil Jeffrey Chodorow asks the competitors why they should go with him to Cannes. Tiffani goes first, saying that American Workshop was her concept and that while Dave rocked the front of the house, she could have done the same. Dave counters that he had integrity and where he excel was making the customers feel good. Tiffani tries to interrupt but Dave immediately puts the smackdown on her saying she had her chance to talk. She keeps trying to interrupt and that elicits the classic line from Dave, "I'm not your bitch, BITCH." Dave is sick of Tiffani's shit and he is completely losing it at judging. The try and calm things down the judges ask Harold what he thinks. Harold is an effing genius here because he takes the high road and says he should be the guy to go with Jeffrey because he was planted in the kitchen. When asked Harold shows that he should be a U.N. peace negotiator by saying that Tiffani was amazing to work with but that Dave was his choice because of his unique shillks in front of the house. WELL PLAYED HAROLD!!!! Jeffrey chooses Dave because of the fact that they won because of service.

During Team Blue's judging, the judges ream the team for their bad service. Stephen immediately goes into "I'm here to educate the customer" schtick. He digs his heels in even more saying that all of the customers TOLD him they loves the service. Billy Joel's Child Bride counters with their low evaluation score. Stephen looks shinier by the second. Gail hits the nail on the head, saying "earning is one thing, being satisfied is another." When asked about what went wrong, Lee Ann slams Miguel for playing the role of Sous Chef. Chef Tom slams Miguel for just going along with his team against his better judgment. Knowing that Miguel is CLEARLY on his way out, Lee Ann says that she hasn't been "wowed" by anything he's done this competition. She holds out an olive branch by saying she'll buy him a beer when they get back to New York, ending with a "sorry dude." Stephen fingers Miguel as the one to go as well. Miguel counters that Stephen should be the one to go.

While the judges say that there was poor planning and a completely ambitious menu, they rip Miguel on taking a back seat, not just in this competition but with the competition with Andrea. So of course the loser is Miguel. Miguel gives long, lingering hugs to Harold, Dave, and Tiffani. Bye Miguel!

Next episode, the chefs cater a wedding reception. AND TIFFANI USES CAKE MIX!!!!!! Color me surprised.


Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

I think I figured out some deep dark secret about Stephen. When you mentioned his face becoming shinier and shiner and made a reference to Mr. Limpet, it dawed on me....

Stephen's the love child of Mr. Limpet and Ed Grimley! Seriously, google a picture of Ed Grimley and see what I mean. The shiny fish skin face and that hair! I think it's gotten pointier with each episode.

My guess is he's the next to go. His pretentious attitude is gonna do him in this time.

Stef said...

I haven't seen this ep yet, so I'll read it when I catch up.

But what are your thoughts on Guy winning over Reggie??? I knew that was what was gonna happen, and I even voted for Guy, but I was kinda sad for Reggie. He's like a big walking hug.

DC Food Blog said...

I hate to say this but I was rooting for Guy. I thought Guy was more about the food and less about his personailty. I also thought that Reggie's Big Ol' Queen act was too much of an act. When he was just talking, I thought he had a great presence but on camera he just was way too HEEEYYYY GIIIIIRL!