FINALLY a challenge for my tastes! Beer, meat and football! Thanks, Bravo!
Previously on Top Chef: Lisa vs. Dale, Zoi and her ill-fated mushrooms, Spike’s paper machete hat, Jen and Spike yelling, Dale grabbing his meat and two veg, Jen kicks a chair.
Padma’s intro and credits. Is anyone else creeped out by Nikki’s eyebrows? They look like the Count’s on Sesame Street.
Dawn in Chicago. Spike is sleeping and treating us with a shot of his pit hair. Just what I like to see to open the show. He thinks there is gossip a-brewing in the house and that “a lot of people thought I should go home.” He thinks they feel threatened because he is a “talented dude, with a lot of passion.” I think it’s because he acts like a dick. But maybe he’s right, I think I would be threatened by someone who hasn’t won a challenge and who is always in the bottom three.
Spike is now shirtless in the kitchen. Wonderful. He is also still wearing that damn hat. He wants to go take a shower as Jen throws up a little in her mouth. I hope he took off the hat for that.
Jen tells us that Zoi is the love of her life and she wants to win for her. This is the first of many times that she says something like this. I will not be describing each one as it has already grown tiresome.
Ryan is doing his stretching and says things are “super tense” after the insanity of the previous evening and that Zoi’s departure “stirred the pot.” He thinks this will all work to his advantage.
Speaking of insanity, Lisa is applying lip balm as she confesses that she is happy to have won the last challenge but doesn’t care for having the issues with Dale that she now has.
I cry foul. First of all, Dale calling her on being negative? Show some sack, Dale. Do you want her to hold your hand and give you a lollipop too? And if someone “apologizes” to you by apologizing for tone or tact, it means it was not an apology. Dale overreacted to having Lisa butt heads with him about their team dish. Lisa may not be a saint, but Dale was way out of line in the last episode.
Lisa endears herself to me by not only handling him the right way, but with her TH interview, “He was turning it into being sorry for going off on me, but he still has an issue. Let him apologize, as far as I’m concerned, Dale can go f**k himself.” I think Lisa would be fun to hang out with.
The chefs leave the house as we get a close up on the 11 ball on the pool table. Get it? 11 chefs are left. Oh, never mind.
QUICKFIRE. There is lots of beer lined up and I feel like I am back at the fraternity house. Nikki thinks like this looks like fun and I wonder if she is hiding the keg in her hair. Padma is there with guest judge Koren Grieveson, the chef de cuisine from Avec in Chicago. Steph loves that place, by the way. May I add that Padma is totally rocking the striped, off one shoulder sweater? Too late, I already added it.
The challenge is to pick a beer and create a dish that goes with it. Right about now, I wish I was a judge. And not just for Padma proximity. They may taste three beers before choosing. By the way, in Padma’s blog (yes I went to the website – it is really good) she talks about getting hammered during the cocktail tasting last season. That must have been a fun set.
Steph tells us that pairing beers and food is popular now and that you don’t want each item to overpower the other. She calls it an art. If eating food and drinking beer is an art, then I should be wearing a beret and living in a sixth floor walkup studio in Soho. Dale is not a beer drinker and is thusly nervous. Andrew acts weird again and Padma has an awesome reaction shot.
Mark tastes his and says “I’ve been known to drink a beer on occasion.” Dale joins me in laughter. Frodo is definitely my favorite so far this year. Lisa also says she loves beer. Jen gets Land Shark lager and thinks it matches her hair. She is not wrong. Spike thinks all beer tastes the same. Again… shut up, Spike. I present to you exhibit A – Bud Light. Now for exhibit B – Bass Ale. Shut. Up. Spike.
Richard has a strategy, presumably one that may involve scaling fish, where he takes a buzz word from the challenge and runs with it. He has chosen “simple pleasures,” which to my untrained ears sounds like two words. “I want to show that I can not only hook up a neat machine, but when it comes down to it, a chef needs to make a good sandwich.” Let me say, I totally dug Richard in this episode and that line started it. Like Joey Tribbiani, I can always go for a good sandwich.
Right before asking Dale for some of his miso, Antonia THs that chefs tend to dumb down these challenges and she is right. Dale obliterates some poor pretzels.
Jen … Zoi. ‘Nuff said.
Plating. Frodo pops open his beer with a knife. Awesome.
Judging. Padma and Silent Koren make their rounds. Seriously, Koren looks like she would rather be sitting through a local zoning board meeting than tasting these foods. Richard says she has a good poker face. I think they need to check for a pulse.
Andrew is told he needed to add more acid to his dish. I’m happy he didn’t make tapioca caviar again. Nikki gives a disclaimer that she isn’t a beer drinker. Of course, the challenge was not to drink the beer but to taste it. I guess she’s not much of a taster either. I am starting to wonder if Nikki is good at anything other than pasta. And I can make pasta.
Steph says that whenever she goes out to drink beer she likes to have mussels. I say that sounds delicious. Steph is my other favorite so far. Frodo is told that he has good flavors – tastes like the Shire. Spike is serving clams and… no. He says the judges didn’t get it and he would be pleased with a board covered in clams and sliced salami to go with his beer. Spike has obviously never been in a bar before.
Lisa wants to keep hers simple, stupid and fun. And I knew a lot of guys who chose their girlfriends in the same manner. She has made a burger and it looks so good that I am now craving a burger. Richard would help finalize that later on. Jen was inspired to go for a French Caribbean theme and Padma raves about it.
Frodo hilariously tells us, not so much for him. “I don’t know much about American football… rugby is my passion… I didn’t come here to watch football, I came to cook.” Ryan confirms that he is not a fan. The fans of the game will decide the top and bottom three teams; they have two hours for prep. Jen agrees with me in a TH that Spike’s continued presence in the game is bulls**t.
Commercials – Step It Up and Dance is apparently acting out the Beat It video this week. Good for them.
Teams have $350 to shop and 30 minutes to do so. Spike goes and hoards all of the wings like he’s building a survival shelter for fraternity guys. Quick aside – we once had a rush event where we had two guys eat 100 wings each and we went through about 600 as a group. A night that became dubbed the one that will live in chicken infamy.
Anyway, Dale can thank Spike for that later on as he is now forced to choose ribs. Rich says that tailgating does not reflect his cooking style, however he has a “pate melt” on his menu and is seen buying 25 pounds of pork. He calls this dish another case of him being a wise ass. It is this statement from Rich about his cooking style coupled with what he chose to serve that separates him from Ryan. Rich gets it, Ryan doesn’t.
Nikki likes to serve comfort foods at home and as we have seen this season, that is true. She also seems to serve them badly, so there is that. She is buying shrimp for no reason whatsoever as well.
Frodo is upset because everyone is buying shrimp. Tongue in cheek, he says, “That’s my gig… how can I throw a shrimp on the Barbie? That’s f****d up.”
Ryan asks if he looks like a sports fan. He calls himself a metrosexual and is one of those guys that think that all sports fans are supposed to look like John Goodman. I take offense to that, nothing against John Goodman. He likes good clothes and going out to dance. He is out of his comfort zone but will apparently not conform to the challenge or play to his audience and is making a “California tailgate.” And I am sure that Raiders fans will take offense to that. His lack of guy cool is punctuated by a blown fist bump with the butcher.
Steph lives in Chicago and says that the people want more than just a simple hot dog and burger. She is giving them pork. Nothing wrong with that. Spike is attacking his prep work, and he’s even annoying with that. It is hard to annoy while seasoning chicken arms. Good job. Jen was surrounded by football as a kid and oh yeah, Zoi. Word.
Ryan is making a dessert, because tailgaters always eat dessert in the mid-morning. Richard says that Ryan is making a five course meal “with dessert, a maitre d, a mint for the pillow and a glass of wine. Me, I’m doing a burger.” HA!
Lisa is hammering her skirt steak with a rolling pin. I will not make a joke from her “beating my meat” comment. That is too easy, and you deserve better. Frodo blows up the blender to foreshadow his sloppiness and to show you what I would be like on this show.
Tom visits and I always feel like this is Tom’s least favorite part of the show. Jen tells him that her brothers played football and she is at ease. Antonia expects “big, fat men that drink beer” to be there. Again. Not all football fans are like that, my dear. Dale repeats his fandom… see, look at Dale! He is not a Chris Farley look-alike. Ryan is keeping things simple and clean and doesn’t want fans to go into the game comatose. That is what the alcohol is for, Ryan.