Susie Fogelson: Hey, Tushie, do you think it's a good idea to run the finale of the Celebrity Cook-Off opposite the Super Bowl?
Bob Tushman: Super Bowl? What's that?
Susie Fogelson: You know, that game where large men in tight shiny pants chase each other around a big field?
Bob Tushman: Is that the game with penetration in the backfield? Oh yeah! I like the Super Bowl! Hmmm...guess it's a bad idea to try to compete with men in shiny pants, huh?
Thus, in the infinite wisdom of the Food Network brass, both the fifth and sixth episodes of Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off had to be aired back-to-back this weekend. Ack! That's two hours of note-taking and trying not to fall asleep in front of the television for me. It was difficult, but I managed to struggle through with the aid of a big bowl of ice cream and a couple of cookies. The three shots of Bailey's were a bit counter-productive, however.
So. Despite going through 60 minutes of hell for you, the reader, I'm going to spare you a long, drawn-out recap. Rather than being twice as long as usual, I'm making it only half-again as long as usual. Because I'm nice that way.
Anyhoo...there are four celebrities left, two on Guy's Team (Coolio and FatOne) and two on Rachael's Team (LDP and Taylor). For the first challenge of the evening, the team-mates are competing against each other because only one person from each team can compete in the finale "next week." The task at hand: to make a three item menu for a dinner party for ten people, comprising "dear friends" of Rachael and Guy. In other words, people whom they've begged to come in off the street. Each celebrity must create a meaty main course, a starchy dish, and a vegetable, all in two hours.
During the cooking, it looks like FatOne has really bitten off more than he can chew, since he's not all that familiar with any of the three dishes he's making. He's really sweating it.
Coolio is his usual hyper self, for some reason shouting "Shaka Zulu!" every ten minutes. It gets quite annoying after
Cooking ensues and for a minute there it looks like LDP is going to lose it over a bottle of wine that doesn't meet his flavor expectations, but he gets it together and finishes all of his dishes in time.
Rach's special guests include Grub Street writer Josh Ozersky and a handful of her sycophants. Taylor serves her meal first; while the polenta is good, her veal is salty and tough. She couldn't make the broccoli rabe work, so she threw together a caprese salad at the last minute; Ozersky seemed to think it was a fine idea. LDP then serves the meal of his life, with everything praised, except for slightly salty kale. Ozersky likes the lasagna so much he wants to eat it out of a trough.
Ok, now let's pretend it's "next week." The Finale episode opens up with sexay scenes of Coolio and LDP getting ready for their big day.
Their restaurants will be judged by the diners who will write Zagat-style reviews, and the winner will be announced by none other than the Zagats themselves.
Taylor takes her job seriously. It's almost as if she's run a restaurant before. FatOne seems a bit befuddled, especially with the orange tablecloths and stuff.
Soon the very brief 4 hours of prep and cooking time is up and guests start to arrive. Coolio and LDP act all intimidated by the fact that the Zagats are around. They're just two fat-asses who like to eat. That's like being intimidated by...me.
The judges eat at Chez Cooly's first, where they hate the decor. Coolio's menu includes the "east El Segundo oyster" (oyster po' boy bruschetta), "King Cool-ocado" (fried avocado stuffed with crab), cherry bbq short ribs with asparagus and polenta, "finger-lickin' chicken" in creamy sauce with potatoes, lemon pudding cake, and a sweet potato cheesecake. Service is a bit slow because the short ribs are undercooked and require some time in the deep fryer to achieve tenderness. The guests don't seem to mind that much because: 1) they're eating for free; 2) FatOne is keeping them happy with lots and lots of wine. Overall, the food is pretty good, and the judges like both apps and entrees, but aren't entirely thrilled with the cheesecake.
Then they head to Blessings, where they love absolutely everything. LDP's menu includes an "off-white" salad with butter-and-prosecco-poached pears, "Two Crabby" (crab claw bloody Mary and a crab-filled arancino), Cio-Filipino with prosciutto-wrapped cod, and "LDP's Asian Surf and Turf" (skirt steak with lobster mash). Desserts are a version of his lemon-curd-filled puff pastries, only using cream puffs this time, and "German Wedding," an amalgamation of German Chocolate Cake and Black Forest Cake.
A bit later, after service, the Zagats read Zagat Guide-style reviews for the two restaurants. The celeb with the highest Zagat rating gets the $50,000 for his charity. If LDP wins, the money goes to Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry, and if Coolio wins, the money goes to Music Saves Lives.
And the winner is....
LDP, with a Zagat rating of 28 out of 30! Coolio ends up with 23 out of 30, which is still pretty good, but second place. Luckily the Food Network is generous and awards his charity $10,000 just for putting up with him.
Posted on Minxeats.com.