Thursday, July 26, 2007

NFNS - Finale

Hosting the LIVE broadcast is Marc Summers. I wish that Food Network had a sense of humor and would drop 50 gallons of green slime on the winner. The final starts with a trip down memory lane and past contestants. Wow, Vivien? Patrick? Nikki? I finally get to someone I remember with Tommy and noone can forget Colombe and her incompetence. Adrien's point of view was Southwestern style healthy comfort food. Whuh? That doesn't even make sense. Name a dish that covers that. Paul and his damn party food and Michael just sounds like he wants people to enjoy eating. That makes me sad he's not in the final. JAG's point of view was Latino Caribe cuisine. Amy gives the first of a zillion chi-chis. God that bugs. Rory and her blue collar bistro crap.

Then we also get Bob and Suzy, and all the past judges. A particular highlight was Giada telling them it was a soul searching journey. That's hilarious considering she flopped out of the gate and was given chance after chance until she became a very competent and accomplished Food Network host. And oh the challenges. The stupid, inane Top Chef style challenges with ridiculous parameters. Only occasionally interrupted by a challenge that related to hosting a Food Network show. The first challenge where Colombe's team blew chunks and Patrick and Vivien left. And then the Bon Appetit challenge where Rory's ribs won and Nikki left. Aaaaand another BS challenge where they have to sell their food at a New Jersey Nets game. Colombe gets the hook on that one. The Fort Dix challenge where Amy starts with all the fancy schmancy and oh the tears. THE TEARS! The lovable Michael gets the boot. The next episode is the on camera challenge of woe where noone does well and Amy goes on and on about missing her family and not wanting to be there. Adrien and his lack of cooking gets kicked out. And the redemption of Amy with the Iron chef challenge. It seemed that Amy sucked all of competence from the other contestants. Eveyone else sucked but Paul sucked harder with his "plummy!" Finally the Rachael Ray challenge where everyone bugs but somehow Rory lands on Top and Amy gets kicked off. BUUUUT JAG's lies catch up with him and he "resigns."

We then go to the live studio with Marc and the two finalists. Both of them are gracious but they have some serious fashion mistakes. Amy is wearing a lovely little black dress spoiled by some bizarre crocheted neckline. Rory is wearing a lovely kimono style top with crazy ass culottes that make her normally thin legs looks stumpy. I wish Rory would pull her hair back in a ponytail because she looked great on the Iron Chef challenge. After commercial, they get asked about how their lives have changed because of NFNS. Amy talks about getting accosted in a grocery store. Rory gets asked about her town rooting for her. Rory responds with a heartwarming story of how the town of Vega didn't have the Food Network on their cable provider. Through much begging from the residents of Vega, the cable provider put the Food Network on the cable listing - channel 99. I'd like to bring up this little tidbit that New Jersey Rory came to Vega because she was on ANOTHER reality show called Popularity Contest, where out of towners have to live and suck up to the residents of Vega for $100,000. she came in second. Ooooh! BUUUUURN!

In her segment, we see Rory's boyfriend Klay and her life in Vega, Texas. She hangs out with cowboys and decided to pack up all her stuff and move to Vega. Scenes of Rory grilling. But then we see Rory with designer sunglasses talking on her cellphone. At the opening of her restaurant, Boot Hill, she serves, chicken won tons (and ode to JAG?), steak, bacon wrapped shrimp (ok enough with the bacon wrapping), and her rustic bruschetta. Rory is happy that the trays come back empty. There's some old guy who says he was too macho to watch Food Network but then Rory was on it and then it was acceptable.

Back in the studio Rory is asked what she learned on the show. She says she learned patience. In the audience are her divorced parents and their respective spouses, her sibling, and her boyfriend. Amy's asked whether it's easier to raised cattle or children, Amy says cattle. Another segment on Rory talking about how important traveling is for her, courtesy of Hilton.

Back in the studio, Marc points out that this will be the first time a woman will win NFNS. Marc asks Amy about her role as a Mom of the contestants. Then we get her segment. She's a third generation San Diegan and the whole thing is refreshingly normal. She's driving her kids around. She takes them to the beach. She and her kids love the kids and did she name her son "INDIANA?????" She's so relxaxed at the beach. We get a gander at Amy's house which is located on the same property as her parents. It appears the whole family lives on that property and Amy calls it a compound. If she wasn't so relaxed and normal in this segment I would totally bristle upon hearing the word compound. She makes a beautiful salad with spinach and avocado. I love Amy a little bit more because she's one who who makes things and shows her family members how she does it. I have many happy memories of showing my cousins how to make creme anglaise to go over an apple tart. I also love how she treats INDIANA in the kitchen. He's helpful and she's really responsive to him. She also admits she's never grilled before NFNS. Amy's mother and father credit her with being the social director of the family. Then a little confessional of her much younger sister who seems a little stoned. Absent form the segment is her French husband.

In the studio, Amy talks about her sibling's food pickiness. In the audience are Amy's mother, sisters, and aunt. And NO HUSBAND? Any inside scoop? The ousted contestants come out in the order they were ousted. Niiki is wearing a hideous denim smock that makes her look huge, and she is not a huge person. Amy talks about her love of traveling, courtesy of Hilton.

In the reunion show, Paul congratulates the two finalists. Ok it's time for the living together segment. Tommy jokes about his snoring. I kind of love him now. Then there's that bit about Amy talking in her sleep. And another bit about Paul, Michael, and Adrien being shirtless all the time. Paul is a lot more ripped than Adrien, which is saying a lot. Marc Summers ribs Michael about the shirtless thing and Michael says "when you're 50 and fit, you want to show it off." Adrien gets asked about Tommy's snoring and responds by saying that Tommy provided earplugs.

We review the wedding challenge and Paul and Nikki not mentioning the chicken stock in polenta issue. Nikki responds by making Paul the fall guy. Then there the rehashing of Colombe's duplicity in the NBA challenge and AMy reading Colombe the riot act. Colombe does the it's a competition" excuse. A review of meatloafgate at Fort Dix. JAG and Paul really laugh that off. Paul and JAG really like each other. That's really great. Marc asks JAG about his stuff and JAg gives a "it ain't over" answer. JAG says working with Paul was the most fun for him. Rory says that her toughest challenge was the Iron Chef one where she bombed. Amy chimes in that it was a tough challenge.

Another segment on the contestants being goofy and the mess ups happening with the contestants and the judges. Paula tells Giada she has green in her teeth. Much dancing by Tommy. In the studio Tommy is asked to dance and finally does it when Adrien pulls him up. Then there's Nikki spilling her dessert in front of Bobby Flay. Nikki says that Paul made her do it.

After commerical, we get the segment on the judging. Many confessionals about the evaluations being a pressure cooker. And there's the jack russell terrier comment from Bob. And a cavalcade of the crying and Amy's "I don't want to be here" comment. In the studio, Bob, Suzy and Bobby Flay come out. Bobby humbly says that he would have ended up seventh because he wouldn't have done well in the commentary and wedding cake challenge. Bobby says that they are lucky because they can watch the Food Network and study it. Bob kisses some contestant ass. Patrick says that his wife gave birth after he returned. The contestants get to question the judges. Colombe asks what was the hardest challenge for the judges. Bob just says it was hard being a judge. Paul says the jack russell association is angry at Bob. And also asks Suzy for advice. Suzy responds by saying he needs to beef up his culinary expertise.

Another segment on the oustings. Much hugging. Adrien and Tommy have a HoYay moment when they are hugging and Adriens says that Tommy is the greatest person ever. Ever. Ever. Still hugging. Even more crying. Paul and JAG hugging and being kind of aawesome to each other. AAAWWW. My heart isn't made of stone.

Finally it's time for the decision. Emeril comes out and brandishes the keys to the big ol' car. And then the wizened President of the Food Network comes out and congratulates the Amy and Rory. Bobby Flay presents Emeril with the Golden Envelope. Emeril and Bobby open the envelope together's AMY! Thank god for that. Rory looks devastated and Suzy then Adrien are trying to comfort her. The entire cast of the Food Network are tryng to comfort Rory. It's kind of ridiculous. Well there it is. Thank you to the Food Network editors for making me love Amy in the last three episodes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NFNS - The Big Lie before the finale

So after that previous episode of Amy rising to the top in the most confident way possible and JAG, Rory and Paul falling all over themselves to suck hard, we get this episode with even more drama. Rory blearily opens her eyes and voice overs how bad she wants it. She recounts the ups and downs of her journey on the Food Network while Amy says she just wants to win. That's wasn't what you were saying two episodes ago. BABY! She realizes her biggest selling point is her Mom persona. JAG says he's gone through so much, from being beat up as a kid, to being a Marine, to being a chef. Boy is that ironic.

Bobby Flay joins them in the carriage house. He introduces the contestants to two PR folks form the Food Network. They give advice to the contestants to be positive (translation: don't talk smack about the other contestants) and plug the show. JAG says he's just focused on the food. They go to an XM radio station where they will be interviewed by some dudes named Ron and Fez. Rory's heard of these two and says they are sarcastic and quick witted and will grill their asses. I'd like to note she is wearing the tackiest vest combo that screams more about her Jersey roots than her Texas ones.

First up is Amy, who is pretty composed. She is given the task of coming up with a dish using crap and a microwave. Amy cannot stop talking about the damn French food while she makes a bagel with baloney and American cheese. She says the first of a zillion "fancy schmancys" this episode. She does hold her own, French talk nothwithstanding. She gets to sit a control booth to hear the rest of the contestants.

JAG is up next and is fairly focused at first. He avoids trash talking the ladies. He comes up with a donut with apple and orange for his load o' crap challenge. Then Fez and Ron trap JAG into saying that the Food Network ignores Latinos which really is the truth but the truth has nothing to do with the Food Network. Rory is the last one and really is dumb as a box of rocks. Rory says that Amy is easier to beat because JAG has a huge culture backing him up. Because Latinos love liars who can't pronounce the word Chipotle. Rory makes a huge plate of crap in the microwave. The radio hosts hate it.

The second test is to do a spread and interview with Star Magazine. JAG is interviewed first. The interviewer tries to get the trash talking going and JAG artfully dodges the question. In a voiceover, JAG says he doesn't want to the interviewer to dig too deep and reveal any crazy things about his life (LIKE THE TRUTH - J calls out to the tv). I will give him, that he's good in the interview. He eats up all of the photo stuff. Rory gets interviewed and says that she will bring a bolder female personality. She's pretty bland in the interview except in the photo shoot where she's all gums and boobs. In her interview Amy whines about being away from her family. And seriously she needs to shut it because noone put a gun to her head. Amy does answer the balance of life question by mentioning her Mom being a working Mom. She seemed fine in the photo shoot.

In judging Carrie and Lisa the pr people liked Amy the best, thought JAG was competent and Rory messed up the radio interview. The Star magazine interviewer says that Rory was the best interviewee and JAG was evasive (HMMMM....), and Amy was poised.

The next challenge is to do a cooking demonstration in front of a live audience on the Rachael Ray show. I do love that Bobby (who has been twelve kinds of classy up to this point) chokes on the sentence "it doesn't get any bigger than Rachael Ray." The contestants are excited. The contestants have 5 minutes to demonstrate their signature dish. They will be judged on their performance, engaging RR and promoting NFNS. Rachael stops by to give encouragement and advice. She tells them to storytell and put out their style and point of view. She's really focused and competent, much like her persona in the first year of her cooking show.

Amy - She seriously cannot stop with the French talk. God shut up about France already. She talks about her Gourmet Next Door concept and being all busy Mom. She is making eggs baked in a ramekin with sauteed tomatoes and peppers. Fancy Schmancy count goes up to four. She treat Rachael like an annoyance. As much as Rachael annoys me she's doing yeoman's work to keep things going and make the demonstration informational. You can tell the audience is being forced to clap. I don't know why Amy's French talk annoys me but it does. Rachael is just trying to stay out of the way. Fancy Schmancy count: Seven. To her credit she isn't manic or crazy.

Rory - Poor Rachael, Rory also is treating Rachael like an annoyance, as Rachael is saving her ass. Sadly Rachel gets even more shrill and crazy and the segment goes on. Rory makes a steak with grilled asparagus. She starts by talking about her whole real food for real people crap. I hate that. Who are you defining as real? Am I less real because I get my veggies in a CSA and live in a blue state? I'd like to point out that the person who lives in a big ass house in the Hamptons and is surrounded by rich divorcees and gay men, has the most approachable food in the Food Network. So shut it Rory. Whose father bankrolled her restaurant career. The only tip she gives is to put a cedar plank when grilled the steak. I will say that she does give some concrete tips. She makes roasted potatoes slathered in butter and RR goes nuts. When the dish is completely plated she throws like a cup of herb butter on top of her steak. It looks like a coronary.

JAG - He makes Emeril look like he's on Xanax. Even more than Amy, his cooking ingredients and techniques are esoteric. Not only that he is screaming the whole time. He starts by calling his annato flavored oil EVOO-RED. His screaming makes RR scream louder. He contradicts himself by saying the annato seed is a poor man's saffron but then uses LOBSTER. He sautees the lobster with cilantro and tomatoes. RR cant stop saying NIIIIIICE. It looks like he's totally ovecooked the lobster. In a seriously big of ridiculousness, he whips out some culantro (not a typo) and says anyone can find it in the supermarket. RR calls him out on that and says you can substitute cilantro. He adds brocolinni as as a side dish, making the dish messier. He is constantly calling Rachael "honey." Finally, he goes over the top by saying that the Italians say that it is taboo to put parmesan on seafood, BUUUUUT he's not Italians so he will. And that is so crazy since most seafood would be overpowered by the taste of parmesan. He seriously doesn't know what he is doing. His dish is a mess and his over the top demeanor is really irritating.

On Rachael Ray's talk show Bob, Suzy, and Bobby lie like dogs saying how great all of the contestants are. Rachael likes them all but thought JAG had the most energy. At judging, the judges criticize Rory's inconsistency and her trash talking. Amy is praised for her XM performance but is told she is snobby on Rachael Ray. Amy tries to backtrack from the snooty French girl. JAG is criticized for his honesty on the XM interview about Food Network being liy white. The judges LOVE JAG's crazy act on the Rachael Ray show. Suzy criticizes JAG for not revealing more of his past. JAG says he wants to focus on who he is now. So ironic!!!Sadly the chronically incompetent Rory is called up first. And in a complete surprise, JAG is asked to stay. Amy is gracious and supportive in defeat.

BUT IT'S NOT OVER!!!! The screen goes blank and says that JAG mislead the Food Network about his military experience and graduating from culinary school. HE DIDN'T! He also did not step up to the plate to set the record straight in a press interview.

So JAG walks down the halls of the Food Network to meet with Bob and Suzy. He's complain about the huge responsibility of being a Food Network Star and the press going into his personal life. DUM DUM DUM!!! In a clearly stage performance JAG comes clean to Bob and Suzy and steps down from the competition. Bob and Suzy clearly don't look surprised or shocked. Clearly a set up and additional videos of the talk on the Food Network website show JAG blaming the press about his lies.

Rory is called in to the studio and is told that JAG stepped down and she has a new competitor - AMY!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Goodbye John Edwards, Who's Next?

After hearing John Edwards say he is personally against gay marriage during the You Tube debate on CNN.

Dear Edwards Campaign,

I am sad to say that I am unsubscribing from the Edwards list given Mr. Edwards lack of courage on the issue of gay marriage. To still maintain that my relationship is somehow different, less than, or worthy of anything but full and equal standing with his own is offensive. I am glad to hear Edwards would not act on his personal feelings as President, but, sir, you are an educated man and one who has had plenty of opportunity to grow beyond the discriminatory and oppressive beliefs you may have been raised with. I expect better. Maybe I will not find it, but I do.

I wish Mr. Edwards all the best, but I will be actively organizing to ensure that he is not our nominee.

I do hope Mr. Edwards, who I know to be bright and capable, is able to get over his irrational religious beliefs and stand tall with gay and lesbian Americans who support his sound economic and educational policies.

Quite sad for this bow to oppression. I understand you may think this is being realistic, perhaps, but can't we do better?


For those who might ask, I'll united behind the Democratic nominee, this answer really jabbed me in the neck. This discrimination tears at families, endorses a religious state where there should not be one, and encourages a society invested in fear of difference. We have to do better.

It's a Good Thing I'm Not Getting Paid to Do This

So I know I have two episodes of NFNS to recap and a To Chef as well but you see, there's this book that came out, and I've been reading it like a mofo. I'm done but exhausted. It was a great read and that's all I'll say.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Top Chef - The One With the Bad Desserts

Here's so ALLEGED antics I'd like to relay to you, my audience. It appears that I need to amend my nickname for Padma from Salman Rushdie's Trophy Wife to Salman Rushie's Trophy Ex-Wife. OOOOOORRRRR Tom Colicchio's Hot Tamale. So for the rest of this episode I am so looking for alleged romantic glances between SRTEx-W nd Chef Tom. It could explain how Tom' shirt keeps getting unbuttoned lower and lower.

Anyway, open with Casey talking about that she's in it to win it. And Howie who likes being the underdog. At the kitchen, Dale is happy because the kitchen is filled with cocktails and his last job was mixology and food pairing. This makes Casey nervous. With all this screen time she's destined to win or crash and burn. The quickfire is to pair an appetizer with a Bombay sapphire gin cocktail. Bombay Sapphire mixologist, Jaime Walker, is on hand for the judging. He talks about hte pair is about balance and a marrying of flavors. And he also says that these days top restaurants don't jsut have sommeiliers but also master mixologists. Which I say bring that on because I love me some cocktails (no really I do).

The contesants draw knives to see what cocktails they will be pairing with their appetizers. All of thise cocktails taste great. On a related note, this January I discovered the joys of a good gin and tonic. I always thought gin tasted like lighter fluid but I had a sip of a friend's gin and tonic and I LOVED it. The chefs love the cocktails and are drinking them under the pretense of making sure they taste them thoroughly. Joey especially likes his. Casey is befuddled with her strawberry balsamic ricky and has no idea what defines a ricky. I think it's lime juice as a gin ricky (also very good) is a essentially a mojito with gin instead of rum. I christen Casey's cocktail a gin lucy for the addition of the red strawberry. Casey says she'll make French toast as her appetizer. Hung, on the other hand thinks hard alcohol is unrefined and doesn't go with his food. Bite me Hung, I spent an entire Italian meal sipping on limoncello. F4 with product placed stoves.

Ther's much tasting by Jaime and like those sitcoms in the 60's where people have double martinis at lunch, I wonder how Jaime is able to stand up with all the sipping he's doing. At the end, Joey's scallops and risotto and Hung's salmon and cream. Hung is all snotty aobut the criticism in his voice-over. Jaime's top three are Dale's foie gras, Casey's French toast, and Tre's halibut. Surprisingly, Casey's french toast is the winner. Ok fine, but can there be a Top Chef season where we go one episode without scallops, foie gras, Colorado lamb or lobster?

For the elimination challenge, they divide themselves into teams of three to make a tasting menu. Each team makes a trio of dishes using the same ingredient. Lia is anxious about the first team challenge of the season. They will have to make their dishes for some guy named Barton G and his Chaine De Rotisseurs. Pluh-EASE! Hey Scott, can we make up some secret society called the Decolletage De Saute? SRTEx-W emphasizes that the Chaine has VERY REFINED PALATES!

The chefs initially draw for teams. Dale is unhappy about being with Howie and Casey who has immunity. Hung is unhappy with being the last course. Dale switches team to create Team Pineapple with Sarah M and Camille. Casey is in a team withmortal enemies Howie and Joey which will be subsequently named Team Tuna. Hung is match with Lia and Brian who want Scallops but will be Team Shrimp. Finally, the remainders are Team Beef. Already, Howie is completely not seeing any value with working as a team. I think this would spell his doom in the later rounds as the chef's ability or lack thereof to get along with other chefs has been a key factor in being Top Chef. It's kind of like Survivor in that sense.

At the Top Chef hotel, Casey is trying to put her ideas out there but Howie is wanting to shut her down because she has immunity. Howie and Joey are really awful as they then ding her for NOT participating. You can't have it both ways.

The next day, the chef's go shopping with only $150 per course. Seriously Bravo, that is totally absurd. Team Shrimp notice that the scallops are totally frozen and decide to go with shrimp. Then Team Tuna sees that duck is really expensive and goes with tuna. Dale talks a lot about pineapple being his idea.

At Barton G's, Team Shrimp is the first course and seem to have their ideas well thought through. Team Tuna is completely disconnected to each other. Casey is concerned about the lack of soy for her tartare. She's trying to deal but Howie and Joey are really nasty. Team Beef seems to be thoughtful as well.

Chef Tom comes for his sniff and sneer (TM Televisionwithoutpity). He asks Team Dessert on their pastry experience. Joey is really defensive about Tom criticism of Team Tuna. He acts as if Tom is singling him out but Tom criticizes EVERYONE. Get over it. Wow Joey is being a baby. In confessional, Casey thinks Joey's histrionics are a waste of time. WORD. And in the second year in a row, the gelatin dessert falls apart. As Keckler from Televisionwithoutpity points out, the enzymes of the pineapple would prevent the gelatin from setting.

Wow, this group of foodies is so pretentious they have sashes with medals and chains. Can I get a medal for EATING? Actually, I would settle for a tasteful emerald bumblebee pin. Another thing is that it looks like a sash is the ONLY thing of skanky looking woman is wearing. Let's just say we know exactly how much she spends on her implants. Sadly, none of the editing shows any longing, lustful looks between SRTEx-W and Chef Tom. Maybe they're playing footsie underneath the table.

Team Shrimp is first up - Brian does a shrimp ceiviche with citrus and caviar. Lai does an olive oil poached shrimp with cucmber and poblano lime. Hung does sauteed shrimp with corn pudding and a corn/shrimp foam. The judges like all the dishes. They think Brians is a bit salty and don't like hung's foam.

Team Tuna is next - Howie is STILL bitching. But Caset seems literally out to lunch when it comes to serving. Casey does a really boring tuna tartare. Howie does a tuna with blood orange marmalade. Finally Joey does a confit tuna with cherry tomatoes and bacon. They don't like the marmalade and Casey's tartare.

Team Beef - They seem get along and come up with a beautiful presentation. CJ does a filey carpaccio with a sherry sauce with a cigar tuille. Sarah N. does a butter braised beef with asparagus and carrots. Tre finish their dish up with a beef on top of a risotto cake. They like both boy's dishes but someone compare's Sarah's to something you get at Denny's. And that would be a compliment for me because I loves me some Denny's grand slam breakfast.

Team Dessert - Looks like ass. Sarah does a pineapple semifreddo. Dale does a pineapple tart. Camille does a pineapple upside down cake. The diners hate it. Chef Tom just can't eat all of it because it's so dreadful. Dale gives himself a backslap for taking a risk.

At judging, they bitch about the pineapple course. Everyone does like the shrimp course with the exception of the foam. Everyone does like Brians dish. Ted is happy with the shrimp course calling it poetic. SFTEx-W calls Team Shrimp in trying to fake them out but at this point everyone knows the first called up are the winners. Many compliments on the dishes. Hung calls it "corns." Lia is pronounced the winner. She's dead in the next episode given the track record of this show. Her "prize" is to slave over a hot stove for some pretentious friends of Barton G.

Team Tuna and Team Dessert are called up. Team Dessert is criticized for even thinking of dessert, along with the fact the dessrt tasted bad. The chefs defend their risk taking. Particularly Ted, snarks on the Camille's pineapple upside down cake. Team Tuna is reamed for the lack of cohesion. Casey is targeted for her tartare but the judges wonder why the other two didn't even taste each others' dishes. Casey cops to letting her team down and snuggles under the judges "guilt blanket."

WHile the judges are deliberating Casey shows some class and apologizes to her team. Yeah, yeah, yeah the judges bitch about Team Tuna but seriously, the edit is so fricking obvious, it's clear one of the Team Pineapple ladies will be getting the boot. In the end, Camille gets kicked out. Thanks Bravo for spending so much time on her that we care she gets eliminated.

This is the achilles heel of competitive reality shows on Bravo. The judging is totally inconsistent. Dale, as the ringleader should have been flat on his ass out as the ringleader, but he's are of the white guy trio of inevitability. Dale, Brian and CJ may get some lumps but they always seem to rise to the top in the next episode. Nevertheless everyone is sad about Camille leaving.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

NFNS - Iron Chef

Wow. After weeks of bitching, I finally get a satisfying episode of NFNS. An on-camera challenge that actually combines the food, camera presence, and expertise into one. And a totally justified winner. Sadly, the loser was not so justified.

We open with Paul stating the obvious, which is the final four being a stepping stone to the final two. Well so is the final ten and final nine. Amy says she wants to win for her family. Rory says she needs to be herself. JAG says he needs to simplify his food so that when he gets his own show he can "JAG it up." I have to words for you JAG. Ingrid. Hoffman.

They all head to the Institute of Culinary Education. Paul whines about possibly having to TEACH something because he has no formal training. Well neither does Amy but she brings the information ad nauseum. They soon find out that this is an Iron Chef challenge. JAG is thrilled. He thinks he has this challenge in the bag and reveals that Bobby Flay is his idol. Both Bobby Flay and Cat Cora are there for judging. Cat tells everyone they will be judged by taste, presentation, and originality. Bobby adds that they need to make the recipe accessible to the home cook. So in a confessional, JAG says the first of the twelve million simples that he will say throughout this competition. He needs to make his recipes simple. Sadly, the word edible does seem to be in his brain that day. Alton also says that they competitors not cooking will have to give floor commentary to show their extensive (NOT!) knowledge. JAG still thinks he has this one in the bag.

Alton also says that they will choose sous-chefs to help them in their challenge. The sous chefs are folks who've been previously voted out this season. Paul chooses first and chooses Michael. Amy chooses Tommy. An interesting choice since i think his cooking is pretty heavy and unrefined. But I will give Amy this, from the first episode, she's chosen good partners. Rory chooses Adrien and JAG is stuck with Colombe.

The first to face off are Rory and Paul. The secret ingredient is striped sea bass and Alton does all of the faux-Japanese samurai yelling that is de riguer for Iron Chef. Paul is freaked out by it and makes me wonder if he ever watches the food network. Paul and Rory get their sous chefs to butcher the fish so they can focus on coming up with a menu. Rory seems to work well with Adrien. He focuses on skinning the fish and she starts on sauces. JAG presents the menu. Paul thinks about his culinary point of view as party food on a budget. This dooms him right there because the Food Network already has Dan and Steve. Amy is REALLY competent. She seems knowledgeable and even personable which is the real challenge for her. JAG gets dinged for not knowing how to tell the difference between wild or farmed sea bass. JAG gets even stupider when he confessionalizes that he's not interested in competing with Alton Brown on food knowledge. It's not trying to show up Alton, it's about showing how much you know. Amy reports that Paul will be using Panko to bread his fish and says that panko is a Japanese breadcrumb. Alton asks about how they make panko and Amy wins the competition by going over and READING the ingredients from the panko bag. Way to think on your feet. I will say that she never seems flustered. She schoolmarm tendencies make her shine here. Much F4.

Bumper to commercial JAG is fratty. Bumper from commercial, Amy is endearing goofy. Amy is asking great questions abut the ceviche. JAG is giggling and jumping up and down for no reason. He covers by talking about Rorys sauce. Amy is really shining on the reporting. Paul has a neat station whereas Rory's is a mess. Both feel confident about their dishes.

Rory - She makes pan-seared sea bass with sugar grilled asparagus. Her point of view is the backyard bistro - basic ingredients with elegant presentation. The judges love the dish. The next is jalepeno-bacon sea bass fritters. It sounds wonderful Another home run. Te final dish is a striped bass napolen with sweet potato. Cat says it's a bad move to bake the sea bass. They think it's too dry and tough. Two out of three isn't bad.

Paul - His first dish is a tropical ceviche. Following his party theme is to make it for a pool party. The judges like th presentation but want more seasoning. Both Cat and Bobby give ideas on getting more flavor. His baked sea bass with blackberry and chive is deemed tasteless. In a weirdly non-arrogant way, Bobby says that if Paul came to his kitchen, he would send him home with a spice rack. Paul's final dish is fried sea bass with caramelized onions. The judges like the flavor but don't like the burned onions.

Wow they are totally pimping the Simply Delicioso show with INGRID HOFFMAN! I wonder if Giada is fuming because there's another woman on the food network bringing the rack.

Amy vs. JAG. Amy doesn't think her chances are good because JAG worships Iron Chef and cooks quickly. The secret ingredient is chicken. JAG is whining that you can't prepare chicken simply which is beyond stupid. I'm coming up with my menu right now. That includes a Chinese-poached chicken with a ginger soy sauce and pan-fried rice noodle, a Thai ground chicken salad, and a Vietnamese caramel braised chicken thigh. None has more than five ingredients. All are easy to make. And THAT menu came off the top of my untrained head. So zip it JAG. This guy works my last nerve. And JAG says simple three more times. Simple count is up to seven now. JAG seems to be spending a lot of time thinking about his menu. Colombe to her credit tries to DO something while JAG is thinking. He brushes her off. I WISH this were like Top CHef and they would also get judges on kitchen management. Oh my god am I bringing the Amy love right now. She works incredibly well with Tommy and already has him butchering. JAG put Colombe to work peeling potatoes. Rory starts off ok listing JAG's menu. Paul also starts off ok asking Amy about her menu. When asked by Alton what about Amy's stew is Morrocan, Paul completely flounders. He's really clueless and trying to be cute about it. It's truly annoying. And seriously, even I could give that answer. Which is the spices and chickpeas and couscous. Rory also blows it by saying there's no difference between chilies and peppers. Alton reprimands her for that fun unfact, pointing out that chilies and peppers are botanically very different. Rory says her approach is to be sarcastic with Alton when she doesn't know anything.

Any brings the love even more by talkign about her dish and remembering to explain the term duxelle. She is so on right now. Paul blows it yet again when Alton asks him about where the can of plum tomatoes are from and Paul replies, "plummy." Alton pushes him further to READ the can and Paul cannot promounce "San Marzano." This is totally humiliating. I hate how he totally blows off any need to have actual knowledge. JAG's chicken is smoking up the whole room to the point where the fire alarm goes off. Everyone is coughing. Cat is giving huge thumbs down. JAG thinks it's a big joke. Paul blows it some more on the bumper back from commercial. Amy is singing Tommy's praises. Rory shows a sliver of competence by talking aobut JAG's dishes but Alton dings her on ignoring the bacon in his dish. Rory responds by saying she couldn't get a word in edgewise with all of Alton's talking. What is with Rory and Paul? They are so completely assholeish about this. The judges give her the daggers of death. In the plating, Colombe looks miserable as JAG sous chef.

Amy - Says that she is happy with the dishes she AND TOMMY put together. She's the only chef to acknowledge that she had assistance. Her fish dish is a casbah chicken lollipop, a spiced chicken wing that was pushed up to look like a lollipop. The judges are lukewarm. She does put out her point of view which is the gourmet next door. Her next dish is a chicken roulade with a mushroom filling and fried fingerling potatoes. The judges are over the moon with this one. Her final dish is a moroccan chicken stew and once again the judges think it's a winner. The chicken is perfectly cooked. Amy gives Tommy a big hug.

JAG - JAG says that his approach is Latino fusion. He says simple three mor times (simple count up to 10). His first dish is a grilled chicken and goat cheese won ton with balsamic vinegar. The judges hate the vingar in the dish and think it's overpowering. JAG says he's not used to someone dogging his food. Did this guy actually go to culimary school? Oh wait. He LIED about that didn't he! His second dish is his Latin chicken soup with white bean and cilantro. Three more simples - 13! JAG is at a complete loss when Bobby asks him what was Latin about his dish. Suzy is pissed that there's a charred piece of skin in her soup. JAG is SAAAAAD! His last dish is a grilled chicken with saffron cream and potatoes. Four more simples. Cat doesn't love the dish. And what I am liking aobut both Bobby and Cat is that they clearly want the chefs to do well. JAG just seems to wilt. Noone likes the dish. JAG whines that he COULD have come up with awesome recipes but he was wanting to cater to us neanderthal home cooks. Which seriously, I think of Scotte who makes gorgeous, flavorful (from what I HEARD!) food with what comes from the grocery store.s It's not an either or thing JAG. More of JAg's whining. WAAAAAAAH!!! He has daddy issues.

After commercial, JAG is bawling like a baby in his bed. Literally!!!! Paul is trying to comfort him. At judging, the judges like Rory's food. They ask Rory about her style and she goes back to the real food for real people. As a raging liberal who lives in a blue state. Shut it about the real people crap. We're all real people. With the exception of Ann Coulter who is a Republican fembot. The judges like Paul's point of view but think his food needs flavor. Both are ripped apart (and rightly so) for treating the commentary part as a joke. Paul responds by saying his weak point is teaching. And what are you doing with a food show. Rory asks a zillion rhetorical questions as if she's Donald Rumsfeld. Do I think there are problems in Iraq? Yes. Do I think Democrats love the troops? No. Do I think i screwed up this week's challenge? Yes. Amy gets another pound of love from the judges. JAG on the other hand spews out more stuff about dumbing down his style for the home cook He's so fricking condescending. I kind of hate him. Then he turns on the waterworks and I hate him a bit more.

Amy is the obvious winner. Then Rory. The judges make Paul and JAG beg for their life. And surprisingly, JAG and his condescension gets to stay. Paul has to go. I'm not at all sad about that and only wished that could have kicked out JAG as well.

Next episode - FINALE!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Top Chef laziness and randomness

Ok. The balloon has totally deflated on Top Chef for me. It just seems so, pre-ordained. Sarah N continues to be dumb. Hung continues to be jerky. CJ, the guy with the Mohawk and Brian seemed to be consistently on top. And my favorite, Tre, is on the downslide. Everyone else just feels like cannon fodder. What are your thoughts?

So we're well into our CSA and are now getting squash by the truckload and TOMATOES! Yay!!!! We are also picking flowers like there's no tomorrow (the sunflowers are now in bloom). It's frickin Martha Stewart at the DCfoodblog abode. One thing I am struggling with is the end of the week crush of vegetables that haven't been used. I am now having these standby dishes that use up end-of-the-week veggies. Here's what I've been making:

Stir fries
Vegetable pancakes (nothing tastes better than shredded veggies)
Breads (sweet zuchinni and carrot, savory squash bread)

And finally:

Sambussas! For those of you who may not live in a city with Ethiopian restaurants, sambussas are essentially overstuffed won tons with either a collard green filling, lentil filling, or potato filling. With the bounty of vegetables, I've grated things like squash and carrots, along with the huge number of greens that have been finely chopped for my sambussa filling. Think of this as a guideline not a recipe. This is really for throwing what you have in.

4 cups of shredded squash, carrots, zucchini etc.
2 cups of finely shredded greens (kale, collard, swiss chard)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 jalepeno peppers with the seeds and ribs removed from at least one of them (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons cooking oil (not olive)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup of bac-os (I cannot sing the praises enough. This is for vegetarians to get the smoking flavor of ham in their greens)
1 teaspoon honey
1 package won ton skins
1 egg (for egg wash)

Saute the onion and peppers in 2 tablespoons of regular cooking oil in a large pot until the onions are translucent. Add the shredded veggies, soy sauce, bac-os and honey and stir. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let the veggie mixture cook down for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture cool. Put a heaping teaspoon into a won ton skin. Brush edges with egg wash and seal to make a triangle. Fry until golden brown. These freeze beautifully!

BTW, Stef, Scotte and Jason, would you all want to see Butter, A Love Story that's playing as part of the Capitol Fringe Festival? Could they not have written a play more suited to us?

"What happens when you combine the evil genius of Paula Deen and the overblown vocals of Patti LuPone? You get Sandy Patti, TV's hottest new chef. Join her for this delicious take on TV cooking shows with comic songs sure to leave you with belly laughs and buttery dreams!"

It's playing:
Saturday, July 21 @ Noon
Sunday, July 22 @ 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 24 @ 9:15pm
Thursday, July 26 @ 8:00pm
Saturday, July 28 @ 8:30pm

Saturday, July 07, 2007

NFNS - The Wrath of Alton

So in this episode, Alton Brown is really mean and the Food Network is really dumb and the contestants are dumber. I do find it mystifying that the show spends next to no time (maybe an episode worth if we're lucky) on on-camera skills, yet somehow expects people to come up with scripts, memorise them, hit your talking points, and be a friendly, knowledgeable, on-camera presence in the space of 24 hours. AAAAAND come up with a recipe using an ingredient that you hate. What happened to season 1 where folks had challenges JUST on following a teleprompter. Not only that, the casting for this season is completely whack. How am I supposed to want to watch anyone's series when the NFNS has established them as a) incompetent, b) annoying? And finally, is this a way to promote your existing stars? It's sad that BOBBY FLAY is the most humane and instructive. Giada seems to be bringing the bitchface and cleavage in equal proportions and, damn, Alton just plain mean. The editors needed to put in footage of him giving advice to the contestants, as opposed to just ripping on them in judging.

With those lovely feelings, here the recap. We spend no time in the apartment and move directly to the kitchen where a bearded, raggedy Alton Brown comes out. He introduces bullshit challenge #1 which focuses on working with the camera or as Alton puts it, "the big stack of glass." They choose components of their dish from three sacks of rice. Amy gets a veal cutlet, oyster mushrooms and popcorn. Paul gets calamari, fennel, and persimmon. JAG gets shrimp, snow peas, and cornflakes. Adrien gets flounder, japanese eggplant and peanut butter. Rory gets Minute steak, red radish, and dried prunes. They need to come up with a dish and a demonstration that lasts 3 minutes. Seriously, this challenge would have happened three episodes ago in season 1. Ah the F4. Noone looks too flustered. That will change once the demos happen.

Rory - She's not too annoying, she starts with the premise of having an empty pantry with only her challenge items. She says the prunes should be used like raisins in a salad. She gets cut off but manages to get her dish plated.

JAG -He refers to himself as "the JAG." Dear god. He uses the cornflakes as a crunchy factor in a tempura. He's actually fairly competent as well.

Paul - Already with the nervous energy. Starts in with his Dad catching fresh calamari. then he talks about making fried calamari healthy. BOO! It's FRIED! More on the fishing story but it seems like there isn't much instruction. MORE of that DAMN STORY!

Adrien - FINALLY they acknowledge that he has his own local cooking show. But according to the Televisionwithoutpity boards, he doesn't cook on on the show, he hosts while REAL cooks do the cooking. He's feeling confident. His story is about comfort food. Rather than do any actual cooking, he justs refers to the ingredients and mimes the cooking. WHUH? It's his death knell.

Amy - She's totally nervous and getting the loser edit. She's giving herself the loser edit because her presentation is so measured. Hi. I'm. Amy. Finley. Her story is to make a simple dish with a wow factor. Popcorn encrusted veal? Yuck.

Afterwards, Alton gives the contestants feedback. Rory needs to cook more. JAG needs to explain his terms. Paul is too much story. Amy tells, not shows. She's deflated. Adrien didn't cook. BURRRN!

After commercial, the contestants get covered plates. Underneath the plates are ingredients they hate. Amy hates bok choy because it's bland. JAG hates tofu because it's high protein gunk. Paul, who wins over my heart, hates lima beans because they are pasty and dry. WOOOOORD!!!!! Rory hates goat cheese because it smells like male billy goats. Where did she get THAT experience? Adrien hates baby corn because he thinks it tastes like baby corn. He obviously didn't have Cafe Atlantico's grilled baby corn. So they have to develop a recipe, design a 5-minute demonstration and write a script with 4 talking points. Six episode's in and they get sprung with THAT? WTF?

Ok. Shopping for food is my F5. F5 all around. Sadly, JAG decides to do a Carribean pad thai with banana peppers. Before hitting the kitchen, they kvell over their well-appointed set. That night they all work on their scripts. Everyone is seriously stressed. I do like the camaraderie among the contestants. Knowing that this is essentially a job interview, the contestants are aware that backstabbing doesn't get you the job. Oh, Amy gets the "I miss my family edit." Everyone is trying to convince her to stay.

The next day the contestants F4, except for JAG who doesn't have his banana peppers and immediately cries sabotage. The others sensibly blow him off. Amy is sad, sad, sad. Then she cuts her finger and is drenched in blood. Quickly they move into the presentations. I'd have to say, Alton is really getting off on the stern taskmaster role. I think it would be hard to understand being in the contestants' position since he came from a tv background and then went to culinary skills. He came to the Food Network with the chops.

Paul - The lima bean goes on an adventure. Then it's about his mom stretching her budget. Then it's about him not liking lima beans. Then it's about his catering. He finally gets to the cooking and he's fairly good. And then about him mom. I like the idea of the parmesan crisp. But really he's all over the place. And then he makes a silly joke about the oven being hot (it's not). The judges don't like his lack of focus.

Amy - Whine whine whine. She's blanking out. Hi. I'm. Amy. Finley. She promptly forgets her script and talks about her sister Diane. Wow she is two seconds away from crying. It's painful to watch. The judges hate the recipe and say she had no personality. Bob says that she better hope someone else does worse than she does. Not to worry about that one.

JAG - Makes his pad thai with something like 20 ingredients. He can't spend time on any one technique or ingredient. Sofrito? Scallops? Whuh? The other contestants are watching and criticizing. Wow, and JAG totally shoots himself in the foot by pronouncing his dish, "not half bad." He promptly spits out the tofu in disgust. GROSS! They hate the complex dish.

Rory - Her theme is out of the city and into the panhandle. Wow, her eyes are bugging out. It's scary. She does a lot of talking without actually cooking. She mentions rennet, the enzyme in an animal's stomach. This is grossing everyone out. I think the recipe is simple but there wasn't much cooking. She actually finishes ahead of schedule which is totally bad.

Adrien - More on the cooking show. He has a good personality but doesn't do much demonstrating. He refers to the baby corn as baby corns. It bugs. Alton is pissed about Adrien not showing how the corn is grilled and then his referring to pan frying his nuts as roasting them. Adrien gets totally flustered getting the pasta out of the boiling water. It's all going downhill. Then he adds an egg and says the egg is for flavor. The egg isn't cooking like it should and so Adrien is now serving a dish with a raw egg. Alton is freaking out about the egg, screaming "the eggs is for EMULSIFYING!" He can't even watch the end.

Backstage, Amy is all about going home. And Alton wants to kick them all out and start over. You made your bed Food Network. At judging, the judges like the performances in the first challenge and HAAAATE the second challenge. Everyone except for Adrien admits to struggling with the challenge. JAG gets his ass kicked because his recipe wasn't geared for a home cook. He also gets reamed (rightly so) for his banana pepper freak out. Rory gets criticized for her point of view, or lack thereof. And then Rory says her point of view is all the food in America. Paul is criticized for starting stories and not finishing them along the lack of a clear point of view. Adrien is knocked down three pegs with his lack of cooking and his misstated food facts. And then there's Amy. Same criticism as everyone else. She was the worst elements of everyone. And here comes THE INCIDENT. Being told she's a big ol' loser, she tries to save face by saying she didn't want to win anyway and wants to go back to her family. Even I would give her the bitchface on that one. But it gets better. After the commercial, the judges push her on her statement on wanting to go home. She gives the half assed answer of "if they had a decision to make between me and these other people, I would send me home." They push her harder and Amy, sensing they might like her, say no she doesn't want to send her home. I'd send her home because she's being a big baby.

In the end Paul is called the winner just because he did marginally better from the first challenge to the second. Amy, the whiner is called next. The judges say they chose her against her wishes. Amy says she wants to stay but really, does baby want her bottle? Amy and Paul hug in releif. Rory is safe and it's down to JAG and Adrien. And once again, it's clear these people like each other. That is a really huge plus about NFNS. JAG gets to stay and no hard feelings all around. Group hugs!

The final four go over their points of view. Amy- Gourmet next door (good luck on that one. Sara Moulton's on PBS). Paul - Dan and Steve part 2. JAG - that Ingrid Hoffman latino show Part 2. Rory - Real food for real people.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movie review - Ratatouille

So what if Pixar made a movie for foodies? Good news! THEY DID!!!! And even better, it was made by Brad Bird, the genius behind the Iron Giant and the Incredibles. The marrieds and I went to see Ratatouille on the 4th.

Pixar movies have always worked on several levels without resorting to the wink-wink, nudge-nudge, pop-culture humor that so many CGI "family" films resort to these days. But Ratatouille works on another level, it pleases the foodie/food lover/chowhound. Along with the thrill ride antics, the subtle wit, loveable characters, Bird also gives some serious food porn and a realistic portrayal of the inner workings of a high-end restaurant. The food action is some of the best I've seen since Eat Drink Man Woman. I also loved that people who worked in Gusteau's kitchen were a diverse group of immigrants reflective of a restaurant kitchen.

As a science major, I'm as unsqueamish is the get when it comes to rats. Considering I did brain surgery on the little suckers for my senior year neuroscience club, they don't frighten me in the least. Nevertheless, the film wasn't pretty unflinching about the fact that thousands of rats in a kitchen and when they all scurried out of the kitchen as once, I got the willies.

Still, the rat in question was totally adorable and the plot and ending were surprisingly realistic given the premise of a rat who can cook.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I made the Italian style panzanella.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

NFNS - Fort Dix

I'd haveto say NFNS swing wildly from an actual audition for the Food Network to Top Chef territory. This as Top Chef territory with another catering under stupid conditions style challenge.

Whoah. There's a lot of beefcake in the NFNS house. Paul, Adrian, and Michael are getting up at 5:00 am, shirtless. Michael is remarkably good shape for 50 years old. They head to Jersey and Michael and Paul are resolving to do better. The contestants arrive at Fort Dix army base. JAG thinks he has an edge since he's been in the armed services. In a Fort Dix hangar, JAG is seeing all of the gear and getting flashback to his military days. Surprisingly, he's feeling uncomfortable. But maybe it's because he mislead the Food Network about his experience in the military. Giada arrives with two guests from the Army. Surprisingly, Giada wearing a scoop neck sweater that shows no cleavage. Maybe she's sending a hint to Rory. The challenge is to reinvent a MRE - Meal Ready to Eat. All of the basic MRE ingredients look like dog food. It's a pretty ridiculous challenge that not even Tof Chef would do. There are reconcstituted beef patties and pork ribs. They have to make a three-course meal out of that garbage.

Our first F4 of the episode. Amy is feeling out of her element. JAG is feeling confident, except when HE sets a dishtowel on fire.

MRE Challenge
Amy - Shut up about being the gourmet next door. Noone wants to watch a show with a big French know-it-all. She throws minestorne soup, cheese sauce, and chicken breast together for a "mexican Mac and Cheese." Huh? She also serve some truly vile looking toasts with a shrimp salad on top. She also serves a vile blend of lemon poppyseed pound cake mashed with pineapple and condensed milk, Giada and the officers are not happy.

Adrien - Adrien makespork rib chopped up with pineapple. And corn chowder with shrimp and tabasco. He just serves the cookie as is. It looks pedestrian but the soup is way to spicy.

JAG - Using the rib packet meal, JAG makes a stew with white beans and carrots. He makes it a "chipoltay" stew.

Paul - He puts together chiekcn and the sweet potatoes and a dijon cherry glaze. His dessert is a caramelized pineapple layered with the lemon poppyseed pound cake and sprinkled with M&M, He envisions the Army folks would throw the M&Ms at each other. Giada likely.

Rory - Rory explains her dish with the circular argument that what brings the soldiers right home is somethign that reminds them of home. She makes a beef stew and a cobbler.

Michael - Chops up the meat patty with mac and cheese and a crumbled pretzel topping. He also makes smokey BBQ stew and bread with BBQ sauce. He calls the MRE an MRI.

In the end, the loser of the challenge is Adrien who did nothing to his dish and JAG who was least successful in his presentation of the dish. Paul wins for both presentation and actual food. JAG is pissed about losing and makes a stupid analogy of Rambo being put in Vietnam and forced ot bake a cake. I wish that were the last reference to Vietnam in the episode.

At the next challenge, Paula Deen joins Giada for the home cooking challenge. She's perky and radiant and while some folks thinks she was corny in the episode, I thought she was fairly genuine and warm. Anyway, for the challenge, the Food Netowrk polled the soldiers at Fort Dix on what home cooked foods they missed the most. The top three were lasagna, meatloaf, and pot pies. For the challenge they need to prepare the entree with two sides. THe remaining six break up into teams with Paul choosing since he was the first challenge winner. The teams are: Paul and JAG - meatloaf; Amy and Rory - lasagna; Michael and Adrien - pot pie. He sets up the challenge to help the girls. The teams also have three minutes to present their dish to the 75 soldiers.

F4 with a lot of huge pots, pans and mixing bowls. Adrien's lack of cooking skills really shows and he defers to Michael. JAG seems be fairly competent and Paul is turning up the gay. Surprisingly, Amy and Rory go off like gangbusters. Amy is a-twitter because there's no brown sugar and she has to change her chocolate chip cookie to a shortbread. Paula comes along and tells her to chill the hell out. Michael and Adrien decide to use fried potato chips as a crust for the pot pie. JAG and Paul are seasoning their meat (DIRTY!) and SINGING. This is hilarious. The ladies haveare hard time draining the pasta from the giant pot. And then come THE INCIDENT. THey find that their oven is on cool down as opposed to heat so the oven doesn't work. Paul is surprisingly calm but JAG is losing it calling sabotage. JAG in his anger, comes up with the solution of deep frying the meatloaf, This sounds iffy to me and Paul. What I do like about Paul is that he is going along with the plan and NOT undercutting JAG. Michael and Adrien make a dessert of peaches and cherries and cool whip, They are frozen and Adrien asks Michael if they should run them under cold water. Michael says no. F4 to get everything on the trays.

Then it's time for the presentations.

Amy and Rory - They do a silly military routine complete with cadenced yelling. Rory turns up the Southern accent. I actually thought they did well, if not a little over-rehearsed. THey highlight their different styles but focus on the home cooking aspect. They make garlic bread, salad, and shortbread with chocolate chips. Amy notes that Rory is stcked. Not that we ever forgot.

Michael and Adrien - It starts off badly with Adrien trying to shake Michael's hand and Michael ignoring him. THey thank the soldiers profusedly. Along with the potato pot pie, there is a tomato salad and the vile looking cherry and peaches. In a completely cringeworthy moment, Michael goes on and on about Vietnam. I seriously don't get what he's trying to do.

JAG and Paul - In a smart move, JAG does most of the talking. THey make meatloaf, flambeeing vegetables and some really bland looking steamed vegetables. Paul seems to be firing on all cylinders because he is definitely turning down the gay. JAG won't let go of the oven incident.

The judges like the meatloaf, except for Paula. Paula likes the sweet potatoes. They hate the steam vegetables, especialyl Giada who is bringing the bitchface. They also are slamming the frozen peaches and the lasagna. THe only thing they like fro mthe ladies is the shortbread. Back in the kitche, JAG is STILL pissed about the ovens. Everyone is trying to calm him down.

At judging, it's cryfest 2007. JAG tears up at the memories of his military experience. Giada tells him to deal with his demons. Paul gets props for being best in show. He is told to be consistent. The judges like the potato chip crust. The jduges HATE the rapport between the two. What they really hate is the talk of Vietnam. Susie called it disingenuous. Michael can't elucidate his culinary point of view. In what is totally emblematic of where the Foodnetwork is, they admonish Adrien to be more of a jackass. That explains a WHOOOOLLE lot. Amy and Rory get dinged for their lasagna but get props for their presentation. The judges push Amy to be less rigid. Rory is told by Giana that being a star is a soul searching quest. This sets off the waters in Amy. She feel uncomfortable about the public/private challenge. This sets off Michael. And then sets off Rory.

Post waterworks, the lovable Michael is sent home for really flubbing it that day. Sadly, were left with NOONE I think is a particularly strong host. It should be renamed the Next Food Network Bleh.