Top Chef: – Ep 13 – Love, Exciting And New…

Bye bye Seattle! We join the chefs right after Josie’s departure, as Brooke takes deep breaths to recover from her narrow survival. OTV continues his image rehabilitation by telling her and Lizzie that they were way better chefs than Josie and deserved to be there. Padma and Tom interrupt the scene – prompting an adorable, “oh hi” from Brooke – and tell the chefs that Washington State is going to be no more. We are heading to the 49th state. The home of Rob Morrow and Janine Turner.
The site of weird Russell Crowe hockey movies. The place where Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house. Seward’s Folly. The great state of Alaska. Wheeeee!

The best part is that the chefs are taking a cruise up north. Admission…I REALLY want to take a cruise to Alaska. That sounds incredibly awesome. This is a Celebrity Cruise – which is less awesome. I can’t think of something less interesting than taking a cruise with D-level celebrities. I don’t want to share a table with a Big Brother runner-up, a Real Housewife of New Jersey and the wacky neighbor from According to Jim. Of course, when discussing cruise ships, I show my age by instantly going to The Love Boat for references. Love. Exciting and new. Come aboard. We’re expecting you.

All of the action takes place on the boat this week, much to Brooke’s chagrin. It seems she has an irrational fear of boats. I am guessing she watched Titanic too many times when she was a teenager. She wants to overcome this fear because her kid has started to express the same fear. Kids are great that way – they don’t listen to the wise crap you try to relay, but they pick up on your phobias. Or in the case of my kid, piggyback on your illnesses. I am dealing with a foot injury right now that has put my doggie in a brace. The other day, my boy saw my brace and after about three beats told me about how his ankle was hurting.

But enough about me, we have old photos of Stefan the Thumb to look at! We also have more bizarre stories of his upbringing. It seems his mom dropped him off at an Army base from time to time – you know, the dreaded Finnish Army – and would say, “have a good effing time, pick you up in eight months.” Someone needs to write The Stefan Movie. Hire the dude that played Charlotte’s husband in Sex And The City to play him. Not that I ever watched that show, of course.

My favorite part of the episode was the dinner the chefs enjoyed together at the on ship fancy restaurant, Q’sine. Cute. This was the kind of acid trip restaurant I could see Chris “Glasses” Jones from last season develop. Bizarro little tapas served in funky dishes and other plating vessels. By the way, Plating Vessels has one hell of a debut album. This restaurant looked like it would be tons of fun – where else are you going to get a sushi lollipop? I bet Thumb laments he never thought of that combo. Chocolate Tombstone? That’s the Plating Vessels’ first single.

But the best part was how the conversation devolved quickly into a trash talk medley between the chefs. OTV got it rolling by needling Brooke – “Keep not listening to me, Fried Chicken.” HA! First and only time in history, “Fried Chicken” has been used as a nickname and an insult at the same time. Thumb calls him “breakfast sushi.” OTV even hilariously starts to sing a version of the Hangover song, “Five best friends ever…” It was a very endearing moment for all of them – while many viewers want to see the contestants scuffle with each other, I am more interested and fascinated by the dynamic which brings them together. Think about these five – Lizzie from South Africa, Papa Smurf from Hawaii, Thumb from Finland, Brooke from Southern California and OTV from Oklahoma. They have nothing culturally in common – except for food and this show. They have only known each other for a few weeks, but they interact like the cast of St. Elmo’s Fire. It’s one of the reasons I love this form of reality television.

Project Runway 11: A new spin on design

Last week on Project Runway, the eleventh regular season began as sixteen new designers descended on New York City.  There they learned that would be competing in teams of eight.  In the real world, after all, designers do have to work together.  The first challenge was to make a design inspired by New York City itself.  Daniel from Team Keeping It Real won, while Emily from the Dream Team was sent home.

Back at Atlas Apartments, the designers discuss the challenge.  “I’m really sad Emily’s going home and it’s kind of sad that we didn’t offer her help until the last minute,” Matthew tells us.  This, of course, is the dilemma of the season:  How far should you carry a lousy designer?  Is it better to try to protect everybody or to “cull the herd,” as Cindy put it?  Doing the latter may enable a team to get rid of dead weight, but it also deprives them of wiggle room, as they will eventually run out of bad designers to toss and start losing good ones.

Speaking of poor designers, Cindy worries that her trip to the bottom will cause her teammates to see her as the weak link.    Similarly, James is also unhappy about being on the bottom– and blames his teammates’ advice.  He vows not to listen to them anymore, thus showing he has missed the point of the season.

At the runway, Heidi informs the designers they will remain in their current teams.  They will not switch teams every week.  This, naturally, begs the question as to what will happen if Team Keeping It Real (KIR) ends up dominating the challenges?  Sooner or later, the Dream Team will not have enough people to be able to compete on equal terms.  It also seems unfair that the stronger designers from the Dream Team get ousted before the weaker ones on Team Keeping It Real, just because the latter have the good luck to be on a winning team.  The obvious solution would be a team switch-up of some kind.

Heidi then sends the designers to meet with Tim, who will fill them in on the details.  Tim meets them at SPiN New York City, a ping-pong social club, which is the latest trend in NYC nightlife.  Tim and the manager, Brandon Hirsch, spell out the challenge:  Make new uniforms for the clubs’ employees.  Each team will make five uniforms, three for women and two for men.  Most of the uniforms will be for servers, but one of the men’s uniforms will be for the “ball boy,” who does things like retrieve stray balls and otherwise takes care of the ping-pong tables and equipment.

To give the designers a feel for his employees’ needs, Hirsch puts them to work serving drinks and retrieving ping-pong balls.  The designers also talk to the employees a little, who tell them things like how they need uniforms that let them bend over without embarrassing themselves.  Hirsch also tells the designers that they need to incorporate the company logo and slogan, “Balls Are Our Business,” in their designs.

Afterwards, the teams caucus.  Stanley from KIR notes that this is a client challenge, so they have to consider the likely tastes of said client, and not do anything too bizarre.  Over on the Dream Team, Matthew volunteers to make pants.  James talks about his background in menswear.

Then the designers go to Mood.  Each team will have a total budget of $500.00, or about $100.00 per outfit.  Team KIR has trouble getting going, as they can’t decide what fabrics they want to get.  Joseph wants to make something whimsical, like the cat sweaters he makes at home, but his teammates would rather he make something sporty.  (I love cats myself, but Joseph’s cat sweater looked way too cutesy for my taste.)

Over on the Dream Team, Cindy is getting irritated because Benjamin is basically shadowing her and questioning her fabric choices.  She especially dislikes this “micro-managing,” since nobody seems to be doing the same thing with James, who did just as badly and is picking out ugly fabrics.

Back at the workroom, the designers start divvying up fabric and assignments.  Kate and Patricia on Team KIR decide to work together.  James on the Dream Team decides to make a shirt with zero input from his partners– and they notice that he’s not even trying to work with the team.  Daniel advises Layana on the best way to drape pants.  He really likes her, and tells us, “If I were straight, I’d marry her.”

Cindy is working on a jacket and is apparently getting a lot of unsolicited advice from Benjamin, who she says is “micro-managing” her.  She acknowledges her lack of experience, but she still finds Benjamin annoying.  Elsewhere, some of the other designers have discovered the screen printer they are to use for making logos.

Tim comes in to make his rounds, and he starts with Team KIR.  Daniel and Layana are working together, while Stanley is making an outfit for a male server.  Amanda is using swimwear material in her look.  Kate and Patricia are working together.  Patricia is making leggings and wants to jazz them up as she fears being sent home if the leggings are too plain.  Tim advises her against this and tells her not to overdesign, as that also gets people sent home.

Over on the Dream Team, Michelle is working on a server’s dress that will have pockets.  Matt and Ben are making jeans for a ball boy, and Tim thinks they look too generic.  Michelle jokingly suggests a kilt– and Matthew thinks it’s a great idea.  Um, no.  Gender bending looks might work at some artistic venues, but probably not at a sports club.

Cindy and Ben are working on an outfit.  Cindy has made a nice jacket, while Ben has made a shirt out of some mesh-like material.  Tim notes that the two pieces don’t really go together.  In fact, a lot of the Dream Team’s looks don’t go together.  Tim then checks James and his shirt, which he calls a “construction disaster.”  It’s poorly made and Tim thinks James should scrap it and start over.  James, of course, thinks he can salvage it.  In fact, he needs to salvage it, since he doesn’t have enough material to make a new shirt.

The models then come in for their fitting.  Cindy’s jacket fits, but the accompanying shorts aren’t finished.  Later, at Atlas, the Dream Team moan about their woes and how much they apparently stink.  Samantha notes that everybody on the Dream Team is friendly with each other; they just can’t make good clothes together.

The following morning, the designers get back to work.  Tim sends in the models, who get dressed and then go to hair and make-up.

Om the runway, Heidi introduces the guest judge, Susan Sarandon.  She is both an actress and the owner of SPiN. The Deam Team is up first, and a lot of them made black and/or white garments.

Michelle is first and she was one of the exceptions, for she made a sleeveless brown dress.  Samantha and Tu  made a sleeveless “jacket,” which is what most people would probably call a “vest.”  the top underneath was also sleeveless.  They also made a skirt.

James made black cropped pants and a messy-looking, color-blocked gray and white tank top.  He then, for some reason, gave his model a skinny turquoise belt to wear.  The outfit looks more appropriate for somebody in the weightroom than waiting tables.  Ben and Cindy made a black outfit consisting of a jacket, a top, and a pair of shorts.

Matthew and Ben made a mesh black tank top with the logo on the front.  Then they lost their minds and made a kilt with the slogan positioned right around crotch level.  NO.  Unless they’re in the sex trade, nobody wants “Balls are my business” emblazoned on an employee’s crotch.

Team KIR also used a lot of black and white in their clothing.  Layana and Daniel made a short black skort with a kind of apron or pocket in the front that would let the server carry things.  They also made a white top with 3/4 length sleeves and a black vest with part of the back cut out, thus revealing the logo on the shirt.

Stanley made a T-shirt and a pair of pants with a dropped crotch.  He put the logo on the front of the shirt and the slogan on the back.  Kate and Patricia made a pair of black leggings and a gray and black tank top with a weird draped back.  Amanda made a sleeveless little black dress.

Joe and Richard made a pair of black pants and a black and white t-shirt.  Both are emblazoned with the slogan.  They also made a sort of holster for the ball boy to wear, that he would use to carry his net, and thus keep his hands free.

After the show, the judges announce that Team KIR is the winning team again, while the Dream Team lost again.  While the Dream Team wait backstage, the judges talk to Team KIR.  They start with Daniel and Layana, who had wanted a sexy but practical look.  Susan says they did a great job.  Zac says the shirt gave the look a certain formality, thus keeping it from looking too sexy.  Heidi agrees that the model looks cute and sexy, but not vulgar.  Nina calls the outfit, “charming, adorable, and practical.”

Since this look is one of the top three looks, its makers are both in contention.  The judges then ask who the winning designer should be.  Daniel gentlemanly nominates Layana, noting that he already has immunity.

Stanley and his male server outfit are up next.  Nina calls it “edgy, fun, and cool.”  Susan notes that her employees would happily wear it.  She goes on to say that “it’s practical, strong, and sexy.”  Heidi likes the pants, except for the drop crotch.  Zac admires the pockets.

Joseph and Richard made a ball boy look.  Heidi calls it “really cool and fashion-forward.”  Zac likes the graphics, while Susan considers the holster clever.

Then it’s time for the three bottom looks.  First up is James, who had made a look for a male server.  Nina calls the length of the pants “disturbing,” and said the model looked more like a pool boy than a server.  Susan says she doesn’t see anything about the outfit that would identify him as a server.  Heidi doesn’t like the “open armpits” in the shirt, and I agree.  I prefer not to see a waiter’s hairy armpits when I’m being served food, thank you very much.  Zac simply thinks the shirt looks messy.

Benjamin and Cindy made a look for a female server.  Heidi thinks it looks more like a hotel receptionist’s outfit.  Susan doesn’t think it would fit in with the environment at SPiN.  Zac agrees and Nina thinks it looks like something from a “dated catalogue.”  She adds that the shorts were terrible.

The final bottom look is the ball boy outfit made by Matthew and Benjamin.  Susan simply says that her guys wouldn’t wear a skirt.  She jokingly calls the look, “ballsy.”  Zac thinks it’s impractical.  Heidi thinks the crotch piece with the slogan is tasteless and vulgar.

The judges then have their chat, starting with the designers they disliked.  Matthew’s crotch piece was tasteless.  James’ look was boring.  Benjamin made two pieces that ended up in bottom outfits and had unsuccessfully tried to lead his team.  Cindy’s jacket was generic and dowdy.

As for the designers they did like.  Layana and Daniel had made a sporty and elegant outfit.  Most of the judges liked Stanley’s outfit, but Zac thought the dropped crotch in the pants looked sloppy.  Joe and Richard’s male server outfit was wearable and, with some tweaking, could work for female servers.

Heidi then announces the judges’ decision.  Layana is the winner and the rest of Team KIR is safe.  Samantha, Tu, Matthew, Benjamin, and Michelle are safe, leaving Cindy and James in the bottom two.  Cindy is safe, which means James is out.

Next week:  the designers have to make something for Heidi.


What’s Hot on TV Friday and Saturday – NFL Honors

While the two best teams in the NFL will meet up tomorrow in the Super Bowl, Saturday night will have the best players in the NFL recognized in NFL Honors. Catch up with your favorite shows you may have missed at TV-Links.


1. NBA Basketball. Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers. 6:00 PM CT ESPN

2. Undercover Boss. The Chief Brand Officer of Boston Market goes undercover in her own company. 7:00 PM CT CBS

3. The 44th NAACP Image Awards. Steve Harvey Hosts. 7:00 PM CT NBC

4. Last Man Standing. Vanessa is concerned with Eve inspired by her dad's patriotism and wanting to join the Junior ROTC. 7:00 PM CT ABC

5. Nikita. A rogue agent abducts his girlfriend, Michael sends Owen and Nikita into the field, and Sean comes to a decision. 7:00 PM CT CW

6. Kitchen Nightmares. Chef Gordon Ramsay lends his expertise to Levanti's in Beaver, PA. 7:00 PM CT Fox

7. Four Weddings. Chrissy's wedding includes zigzag decor, Kara has an ice luge for shots, Kristin serves hot dogs to her guests in black tie, and Emily takes a yellow taxi cab to her reception 7:00 PM CT TLC

8. Malibu Country Reba suggests Cash draw from his own experiences when he has a difficult time writing a one-act play, and Geoffrey has Lillie Mae join his improv class. 7:30 PM CT ABC

9. CSI: NY. A young pizza chef is carjacked, and the team tries find out what the perps were after. 8:00 PM CT CBS

10. Shark Tank. The inventions proposed include sandals for barefoot runners, a magnetic sound enhancer that doesn't need power, and a website that would create children's personalized soundtracks. Also, an update on “Cousins Lobster.” 8:00 PM CT ABC

11. Say Yes to the Dress. In the first half hour, Nicole has a psychic aunt help her shop for her wedding gown, DEsiree brings her grandma with, and Allyson tries to find a modern gown to match a 100-year-old veil. In the second half hour, Randy wants a polka dot gown for her carnival wedding, an opera singer shops for her gown, and Boo and Piper want a dog wedding. 8:00 PM CT TLC

12. Ghost Adventures. Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin explore some of the most haunted locations that lie beneath the earth. The guys descend deep down to investigate the spirits of an infamous secret society, a city where subterranean human trafficking and torment occurred frequently just below the street-level, and an abandoned asylum where the spirit of an old patient still lingers. 8:00 PM CT Travel Channel

13. NBA Basketball. Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves. 8:30 PM CT ESPN

14. Blue Bloods. Danny is on the case of a man covered in rat bites that gets thrown from a moving vehicle, while Frank takes care of a bigoted radio host who will be working in New York. 9:00 PM CT CBS

15. Dateline NBC. The disappearance of 18-year-old Hannah Hill investigation takes unexpected turns. 9:00 PM CT NBC

16. 20/20. Stories cover Larry Birkhead discussing letting his 6-year-old daughter model Guess jeans, celebrities' kids talking about their famous names, Sachi Parker, and riding with paparazzi tailing famous kids. 9:00 PM CT ABC

17. Merlin. Three soothsayers cast a dark curse upon Arthur in the depths of an ancient pool. 9:00 PM CT Syfy

18. Say Yes to the Dress: The Big Day. Autumn, who previously appeared on Say Yes to the DRess isn't afraid to pay for the very best on her wedding day. 9:00 PM CT TLC

19. The Dead Files. Steve DiSchiavi and Amy Allan investigate reports of terrifying paranormal encounters at a home in Forester, Michigan. Their client, Chrystal, wants to fulfill her mother’s dream of making her home a bed & breakfast, but she’s too afraid to spend a night in the house. She hears voices, sees things move, and her own daughter is too frightened to leave her bed. 9:00 PM CT TLC

20. Real Time with Bill Maher. The panelists include Alex Gibney, Sam Harris, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Jackie Kucinich, and Eva Longoria. 9:00 PM CT HBO

21. Banshee. A botched museum heist in Harrisburg has unintended consequences, as Lucas, Carrie and Job renew their partnership, at least for the moment. Later, after coercing redneck henchman Arno to offer up incriminating evidence, Lucas and Emmett arrest Proctor for Hanson’s murder, but are detoured on the way to the jail. Sugar looks for a cut; Kendall gets roughed up; Lucas and Carrie love the ones they’re with. 9:00 PM CT Cinemax

22. Late Show with David Letterman. The guests tonight are Kevin Spacey, Nick Grifin, and Emeli Sandé. 10:35 PM CT NBC


1. College Basketball. Syracuse at Pittsburgh. 11:00 AM CT ESPN

2. College Basketball. Purdue at Northwestern. 11:00 AM CT ESPN 2

3. Figure Skating. U.S. Championships: Skating Spectacular. 12:00 PM CT NBC

4. College Basketball. Duke at Florida State. 1:00 PM CT ESPN

5. College Basketball. Notre Dame at DePaul. 1:00 PM CT ESPN 2

5. PGA Tour Golf. Third Round of Waste Management Phoenix Open from TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ. 2:00 PM CT NBC

6. Figure Skating. U.S. Championships: Pairs Free Skate and Free Dance. 2:00 PM CT NBC

7. College Basketball. St. John's at Georgetown. 3:00 PM CT CBS

8. College Basketball. Tennessee at Arkansas. 3:00 PM CT ESPN

9. College Basketball. Wichita State at Northern Iowa. 3:00 PM CT ESPN 2

10. College Basketball. Kentucky at Texas A&M. 5:00 PM CT ESPN

11. College Basketball. Kansas State at Oklahoma. 5:00 PM CT ESPN 2

12. 48 Hours. The person behind the savage beating of a woman refuses to explain why. 7:00 PM CT CBS

13. American Ninja Warrior. The top finishers from preliminary rounds are shown. 7:00 PM CT NBC

14. Cops. A suspect takes off, cops confront teenagers with concealed weapons, and cops question two people suspected of drug activity. 7:00 PM CT Fox

15. Six Little McGhees: Special Delivery. In the first half hour, Mia and Cilky try to fix things before the Christening, and Ro's brother damages property belonging to a customer. In the second half hour, Mia is overwhelmed as she plans the birthday party for the toddlers. 7:00 PM CT OWN

16. College Basketball. Baylor at Iowa State. 7:00 PM CT ESPN 2

17. War of the Worlds. It's a remake of the classic movie about an attack by aliens. This features an all star cast with Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and Tim Robbins. 7:30 PM CT ABC

18. NFL Honors. Honoring the best of 2012. 8:00 PM CT CBS

19. The Makeover. Based on Pygmalion, an education consultant tries to turn a beer vendor into a congressional candidate. 8:00 PM CT Hallmark Channel

20. Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal. In the first hour, a woman finds out her husband has been having an affair with a coworker, and a man has to tell his wife that he thinks he should have been born a female. In the second hour, a woman wants wants revenge and tries to find it with another man, and a woman can't keep feeding her partner's insatiable sexual appetite. 8:00 PM CT OWN

21. 48 Hours: Hard Evidence. In the first hour, A man who vanished while working if the family business's office, with a ransom note turning up later. In the second hour, the police find out a man who isn't who he claimed he was after his girlfriend vanishes and he claims to have no knowledge of her disappearance. 8:00 PM CT TLC

22. Pit Boss. The rescue kennels are left understaffed when SEbastian travel to Florida to see his newborn nephew, and Ashley and Shorty fight over a minor-league baseball game gig. 8:00 PM CT Animal Planet

23. Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unsusual. In the first half hour, Cyndi gets competitive during bocce and paintball, then goes back to the world of wrestling. In the second half hour, Cyndi gets an award for her work with LGBT youth, lobbying, and Nancy Pelosi. 8:00 PM CT WE

24. College Basketball. Michigan at Indiana. 8:00 PM CT ESPN

25. Touchback. A man looks for counsel from his mentor when he gets an opportunity to revisit his youth and and injury that ended his once-promising football careeer. 8:00 PM CT Starz

26. Pit Bulls and Parolees. Tania and Tia help a sick dog from the streets, Chong's health gets worse as his cancer continues to grow, and Tia works on a long-distance adoption. 9:00 PM CT Animal Planet