Thursday, May 01, 2008

Top Chef Chicago Episode Eight

This week we are treated to scenes of grooming before the cheftestants head out to the Top Chef kitchen to hear their fate from Padma.

We also see Lisa looking particularly girly as she takes a smoke break.

This week, Padma introduces Big Gay Art Smith as the guest judge. His claim to fame is being Oprah's personal chef. He's fat, and she's fat again, so Art apparently has put Twinkies and regular Mountain Dew back on her menu. This man is allowed to write cookbooks, people!

The Quickfire Challenge is a particularly difficult one: create a fabulous entree in fifteen minutes, using Uncle Ben's products. I grew up eating Uncle Ben's rice and can't imagine ever making that crap taste good.

It was amusing watching the chefs race around the kitchen to get from their workstations to the fancy microwave ovens at one end of the room.

Apparently Mark, Stephanie, and Lisa couldn't do much with Uncle Ben, as they were guilty of creating Art's least-favorite dishes. Dale, Richard, and Antonia fared better, with Antonia getting the win and immunity for her hot and cold rice and salad dish.

A pretty dish, with little visible rice. Big Gay Art likes meat, so that may have been what won it for her.

The Elimination Challenge involved creating a complete healthy dinner for a family of four with a budget of $10. The real challenge here is to find inexpensive food at Whole Foods, Home of High Prices. You know, folks on a budget prefer shopping at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam's Club. Why couldn't Bravo have sprung for a field trip? Wouldn't it have been cute watching Andrew push Spike around in a shopping cart while they buy cases of tuna fish and 8-lb packages of ground beef?

At Whole Foods, most of the chefs opt for the cheapest protein they can buy - chicken. Not Dale though - he buys turkey bratwurst. Now that's a man who understands Chicago! Unlike some Polish-sausage haters from last week....

After shopping, the cheftestants head back to their house where we see Mark getting melancholy with his digideroo... (We are spared the next scene where he takes it into the bathtub.)

...Whole Foods purchases meet the Glad Family of Products...

...and Antonia calls her daughter and tells her a rather puerile knock knock joke that mercifully, the child doesn't get. "Grow up, mommy."

The next day, we see the chefs herded into a huge industrial kitchen at the Washburn Culinary Institute where they will be preparing their meals with the assistance of rugrats from Common Threads, an organization whose mission is to educate children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking. In other words, turn of the television and eat at the dining room table. Funny, when I was a kid, that was the norm. But I'm old.

Antonia says if she gets to work with a little girl, she'll cry the whole time and think of her daughter. Oh, the joy of scatological humor!!

Spike's kid cut himself on a vegetable peeler in the first few seconds, but he's a real trouper and almost immediately gets back to his carrots.

Tom has an extended Sniff 'n' Sneer this week - he comes into the kitchen and never leaves. He makes it sound like he's there to keep an eye on Mark, as if New Zealanders can't be trusted with small humans.

Since he's in there being annoying anyway, Tom amuses himself by interrogating the kids about how they're helping the cheftestants. Richard's kid comes off as pretty smart, and Dale's admits his favorite part of cooking is eating. They must have carefully screened the kids for this show, because none of them comes off as particularly obnoxious or annoying.

Rather than join the judges in the dining room full of kids chewing with their mouths open and farting at the table, Tom has his tasting in the kitchen full of chefs chewing with their mouths open and farting.

Meanwhile, in the dining room, we see that more kids from Common Threads are the tasters for this episode. Padma, Gail, and Big Gay Art enter, waving. The kids wave back.

Art enjoys Spikes Puttanesca.

Gail's not so fond of Lisa's dish.

Richard had a disturbingly swell time working with the children.

While waiting for the judges to finish chowing down, we see the chefs taking a breather in the kitchen. Soon enough Padma tells them to get themselves to the Glad Family of Products Commemorative Storage Room to wait for the verdict.

Andrew, Antonia, and Nikki came out on top. And I thought for sure this had to be Nikki's week to be eliminated, but she foiled me yet again. Andrew's use of fruit (heh) in his dish impressed Big Gay Art (heh again). But Antonia won for her Asian-style pasta with edamame, bok choy, and chicken.

The bottom was Stephanie, Mark, and Lisa. "Tom doesn't like me," claimed Mark. "How do I make this guy happy?" Apparently by playing the digideroo. Lisa was defensive about her dish of bland edamame and black beans, leading Art to remark, "If you're going to be a great chef, you need to take criticism." Hell, if you're going to be a lousy chef, you need to take MORE criticism. Padma "detested" Stephanie's dish. Oooohh...them's fighting words. Good thing Steph is so mellow.

And the loser is...::::drumroll:::::

It was deemed that Mark didn't spend his money wisely - not enough vegetables in his curry, and no protein at all. Plus it wasn't attractive (yet another dish resembling the contents of a baby's diaper). And did they also catch him tasting and stirring with the same spoon again? I know I did!

Sorry Mark. At least they're not deporting you.


David Dust said...

Nikki squeaked by with a good story! Maybe next week...

Excellent recap my dear, as always.

Click here for DavidDust's Top Chef recap.


Unknown said...

Excellent inclusion of Zoidberg. "Hooray! I'm helping!"

John said...

Hilarious photo of Gail with that water. Lisa has become the new Spike - "I am obnoxious, hear me complain and not take criticism!" I am still olding out for a group competition where Spike and Lisa are sent home.