It really was quite remarkable.
The four contestants are no strangers to reality cooking competitions: Art Smith and Chris Cosentino are currently hating on each other on the fourth season of Top Chef Masters; Ilan Hall was the winner of Top Chef season 2; Jill Davie made a valiant attempt at being the Food Network's Next Iron Chef (but failed). Rather than competing for money for themselves or for a charity, the four are vying for the title of "Best Chef in History." How is that possible? It's really not. For one thing, there were probably far better chefs in the long history of cuisine than Art Smith and Jill Davie.
Anyhoo...the four intrepid travelers enter a giant set at the center of which is a huge blue Tardis. I mean...old-fashioned refrigerator which serves as their time machine. A Re-Tardis, if you will. The super-annoying Brooke Peterson, supposed "lifestyle expert" and otherwise loud/shrill blond, plays the role of Curtis Stone. She tells the chefs they will be traveling through time to cook, and the chefs pretend to get excited. Art Smith wants to end up in the court of Marie Antoinette because he wants to wear tights and a powdered wig, and Ilan Hall wants to roll out matzoh balls for Jesus at the Last Supper. He'd probably put bacon in them.
Peterson herds the chefs into the fridge and closes the door. Then some cheesy special effects take over and suddenly the Re-Tardis disappears...
Silvena needs a show of her own. She's a big, imposing bottle blond from Bulgaria, with a tough manner. Art Smith is immediately afraid she's going to crack his head open like a walnut between her powerful thighs. And you know he wants to get nowhere near a woman's thighs.
It's explained that in China, Peking Duck reigns supreme (at least in Peking, maybe, sorta) and that despite not having the same modern conveniences as chefs do today, Ming Dynasty cooks were masters at achieving very crisp skin. The secret is to separate the skin from the meat by inflating the bird. Silvena happily demonstrates the technique - she grabs a duck, puts it to her mouth, and blows. Art's gonads immediately get sucked into his body cavity, but Chris Cosentino is turned on.
Each chef has to make a dish of crispy duck skin, and utilize any of the rest of the duck as they please. But first they have to light a communal outdoor oven, which Cosentino handles by rubbing things together to create a spark. No lighter fluid or charcoal chimneys in 1416! The four set to cooking, and Cosentino tries out Silvena's duck inflation method.
The chefs are told that only three of them will get to travel back in the Re-Tardis, and one of them will be stuck there in China. Ilan and Chris are safe, and while we're hoping that Art Smith will be abandoned, it's Jill Davie who gets to spend her days in the past. (Eyeroll)
The beasts provided to the chefs are cod, suckling pig, venison, lamb, and peacock, and they are to use at least three of them to create their dish, which must be cooked on a rotisserie in a large fireplace. But first...they are introduced to their sous chefs.
The judges enter to check out the spread and dine. With their hands.
And then the judges quickly decide that Chris Cosentino is the Greatest Chef in History and put a tacky medal around his neck. What? I thought this was a series, and that the four of these chefs would be competing for several weeks, cooking in several different times and places, before someone was crowned a winner. But it seems this show is a one-off, which is a shame, because it was so cheesy, scripted, and awful that I really enjoyed it.
Posted on Minxeats.com.