Top Chef: Masters 5 Finale – 50 Shades Of Trout

Another Top Chef ends as another one begins. Masters closes its fifth season one week before the flagship embarks on its 11th season. To be honest, this was a decent season of Masters, but it kind of went down with a bit of a whimper at the end. It was an ok finale, but was mostly pretty slow. It began with the Top 3 eating. Yep. Stone made them a nice meal and they sat and chatted. We get a glimpse of some of their obstacles – Doug and his skydiving choice in Ep 1 (remember that), Bot and his Season 6 defeat in the Finals against his brother, and Jen getting eliminated and storming back. They enjoy a nice meal of spot prawn, ravioli and a lemon crème dessert. Snore.

The Final ELIMINATION CHALLENGE – is to construct a meal representing the course of their career. For a random reason, we are having a wedding theme – Old=early inspiration. New=current inspiration. Borrowed=someone who influenced. Sous=dish made by sous chefs to symbolize relationship. That was the challenge in the final Sous battle which Graeme won.
$10K for the charity which is more than Bot’s won during the season. Paul was worst – and no help in first day of prep. Doug wants to beat him. That would be illegal.

We get a glimpse into menu planning. Bot made Chicken Chesapeake for his eventual wife at age 18. Bot married well, judging by the photos. Jen’s got this new paella gnocchi which sounds amazing. Doug does the smart thing and calls ahead to Whole Foods to get his order in since he has no sous chef for prep. He also chooses a rather simple menu – again, a smart move given his disadvantage. Bot is borrowing a beef dish from former boss Charlie Palmer. He later adds one of his brother’s dishes – but I thought a smart move would be to make the dish that Michael beat him with on Season 6. But Bot never asked me.

Meanwhile, Jen is bossing around Superman’s dad. Don’t mess with Kryptonians, Jen! She is also making a dish from her former boss Wolfgang Puck. It’s a duck dish. Somehow, Jen, Superman’s dad, the judges and the production team manage to resist calling it Puck’s Duck. I am not going to let that opportunity slip by.

Doug manages to get to the kitchen first – wow. Jen continues to tempt fate by clashing with Jor-El. And prep is really boring. The next day, Doug asks Paul if he read any pastry books on the day off. Snerk. Amazingly, we see a clip from Season 6 Finale pitting the Voltaggio boys against each other…and Doug as a judge!

Speaking of judges – the gang is all here for the end.

First course
Bot – Reinterprets first dish for his wife
Doug – Remembers being a Cornell U. barback – his first job
Jen – Remembers her Stepdad Stan’s potato pancakes

Critics reaction:
Bot – Gail felt the love. Goldman loved the crab and the rough quinoa texture.
Doug – Dr. Sweater worried about the minimalist nature, but it was filled to the brim with complexity. Ruth felt 7 years old again.
Jen – Ruth thought the apples transformed it.

Second Course
Doug – He made ocean trout from Japan days
Bot – He made Black cod – a tricky fish
Jen – The gnocchi

Critics’ reactions:
Bot – Grubstreet’s Hadley Tomachi said he did the best job with an amazing puree. Goldman thought it was a perfect black cod.
Doug – Lesley called it 50 Shades of Sea Trout. Um, fish with bondage? Master Sweater said the noodles were dry but fantastic
Jen – Ruth is not dreaming about it, but Senor Sweater loved the crisp exterior

Third Course
Bot – He made two things – the Palmer stuff and Michael’s seaweed potatoes
Doug – Went with his old job at the Four Seasons and inspired by NYT review. Ruth’s. Way to kiss up to the critics, Doug. Let’s see if that pays off.
Jen – Puck’s Duck

Critics’ reactions
Bot – Goldman felt it was more Palmer, less Bot. He did love the potatoes. Grub didn’t like Volt’s flavor in his mouth. Ewww.
Doug – Gail said it was grey and overcooked.
Jen – Lam thought it was very 1992, but loved it. Goldman said it was pure Puck. Not pure Jen.

Last Course
All three had to do their take on the desserts created by Graeme, Paul and Jor-El.
Bot –
Doug –
Jen –

Bot – Goldman said it looked like Superman’s lair. Jor-El must have helped. Sweaterman liked Graeme’s original more, Bot’s version was more refined but not as tasty.
Doug – Sweater said it was soupy. Gail liked the flavors.
Jen – Grub felt too much was going on.

Lord Sweater, Ruth, Gail and Stone judge the end.. Doug gets praise, but not overwhelming praise. Padawan Sweater and Stone each give Jen much praise – but her literal translation of Jor-El’s dessert was a ding. The huge praise from Ruth and King Sweater on Bot’s first two dishes made it seem very likely for him to win. The King said the cod was the best cooked fish he ever had! Gail’s comments about him being weighed down under all the Palmer meat must have held more sway than I thought. Doug’s was overall solid, Bot’s factory churned technique was a strength, and Jen’s warmth was felt.

Winner – Doug. A bit surprised by that. Poor Bot. I thought Bot had it. There are many happy puppies now. And Doug jumped out of the plane in the final scene. Nice touch.

That’s a wrap on Masters Part Five. Next up – Top Chef: New Orleans with Tom, Padma, Emeril and the gang.

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The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Sept. 29 – Salon Farewell

It has been a huge season for The Real Housewives of New Jersey with lots of twists, turns and family feuds. We finally get to see the fights and arguments put to rest … I hope!

This week sees the end of the Pash 2 party; of course Joe Gorga confronts Penny’s husband John about all the negative tweets about his wife Melissa. John tells him he got all the info from his sister Teresa. Joe decides to take on John in a fight, although the cameras seem to drop to the ground so we don’t quite catch it – what would a season finale be without some sort of punch up!

After the fight, Caroline goes bonkers and starts screaming at Kim D and says she is to blame for all of this. Caroline’s kids have to drag her out and tell her to calm down. Jacqueline also has her turn and screams at John and Penny and confronts them about the tweets about her son. What is with all these middle aged people having fights over twitter? Seriously, this is so high school!

Kim D pleads innocence, Teresa pleads innocence and Penny and John plead innocence. So who did the crime if everyone is innocent? Everyone is confused about who Penny and John actually are and why they are getting involved in everyone else’s business.

Later in the show Jacqueline visits Teresa and Teresa confides in her and admits she was hanging around the wrong people and could have done more to defend Melissa instead of going along with the negative things people were saying about her sister in-law. Jacqueline tells Teresa she should open up and tell her brother what she is telling her – after all this is all her brother and Melissa have ever wanted!

BLK Water invites everyone for a tasting of their new flavors. During this event Teresa chats to her brother and tells him what she told Jacqueline; they both cry and embrace each other. Joe also admits his fault in all of it. This actually seems really genuine – they both have admitted fault, and I really hope they can stay on the right track.

It looks like this season finale has everyone back on track. The show ends with a big BBQ at Teresa and Joe’s holiday home at the Jersey Shore. Just when we think it’s going to be all smooth sailing, the show actually ends with the news of Teresa and Joe being accused and indicted on thirty-nine counts. This means they both could face jail time! Wow, I guess we will have to wait and see what happens next season. Will you be watching?

The Voice, Sept. 24 – Leading Up to An Exciting Battle Round

One thing that sets The Voice apart that I really love is that they don’t play bad auditions. They don’t set anyone up to be made fun of. Everyone who appears in the auditions has a legitimate chance to be on the show, even if they don’t always make it. In many ways that makes it a more enjoyable show to watch.

Auditioner: Jacquie Lee, 16, Colts Neck, NJ. She’s not from a musical family, but they do eat a lot. She started singing at 11 years old and now sings for charities at children’s hospitals and also plays sports.

Song: Back to Black
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina

Me: She is one-hundred percent fantabulous. I can’t believe all four didn’t turn around.
Cee Lo: He likes her boots and wonders if they make them for dudes.
Adam: He points out that New Jersey is closer to where Christina is from than Blake.
Blake: He specializes in 16-year-old girls winning the show.
Christina: She gets that Jacquie looks up to Blake, but she herself was a 16-year-old coming up in the business.
Coach: Christina

Auditioner: Barry Black, 27, Las Vegas, but originally from American Samoa. His parents moved to the States when he was young. He initially worked with his dad in he family’s hotel business, but left to do what he loved – music. He taught himself to play the guitar and now has a band.

Song: What You Won’t Do for Love
Chairs Turned: Blake, Adam

Me: He does a unique mouth horn as well as sing.
Adam: He is looking for the horn, and thought the bow tie must have been a horn or something. He turned around to see the source of the horn.
Blake: He turned around because Barry was a great artist, not because he was curious about his horn noise.
Christina: She loves both coaches, but is cheering for Blake to become Barry’s coach.
Cee Lo: He asks if Blake isn’t from the Southern part of Samoa.
Coach: Adam

Auditioner: Mike Unser, 19, Pleasant Hill, OH. He’s alternative rock and pop-punk. His childhood was rough as the child of divorced parents. He didn’t get along with his stepdad. As time has gone by, he’s grown close with him. Mike works with a youth group at the church, playing music for them.

Song: Dirty Little Secret
Chairs Turned: None

Me: He has a great look for this, but his voice is lacking just slightly.
Adam: After Mike compliments him on his beard, Adam says it makes none of them turning around even more awkward.
Cee Lo: He compares Mike to a young Willem Dafoe and the lead singer of Blink 182.
Christina: Christina thinks he would have been great for Cee Lo’s team.
Coach: None.

Auditioner: Destinee Quinn, 20, Surprise, AZ. Her style is county, and she plays where ever she can, including a biker bar. It’s a lot of work to pull out different genres of songs to keep them interested. She won Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding Contest and got to perform with him.

Song: Cowboy Take Me Away
Chairs Turned: Christina, Cee Lo

Me: I’m not convinced she’s a country singer. I think her days with Alice Cooper and the biker bar have stuck with her.
Christina: She tells “Angel of God” that it was Destiny for her to push her button first.
Adam: She should take it as a compliment that Christina and Cee Lo didn’t show emotion when they turned their chairs, as they didn’t want to tip off the other two.
Cee Lo: She is a pleasant surprise, and of course there’s a voice, as that’s what made him feel something in the first place.
Blake: Hearing she is 20, it makes more sense to him, and he wishes he had hit his button.
Coach: Christina

Auditioner: Cole Vosbury, 22, Shreveport, LA. His dad played professionally and tried to keep his son out of the music business but saw there was no way to keep him out. His grandmother is also a musician and toured with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Her claim to fame is as the only girl who turned down Elvis Presley.

Song: Movin’ On Up (Jeffersons Theme)
Chairs Turned: Cee Lo

Me: This song is so unexpected, especially from this guy. He shows promise just in that choice.
Adam: He likes his beard.
Cee Lo: Cole has a great balance of country and soul, and Cee Lo figures Cole has to be a badass for picking that song.
Coach: Cee Lo

Auditioner: Holly Henry, 19, Minneapolis. She lives at home with her mom who is an art teacher and her father who is a musician. She went to college but couldn’t afford it, so now works as a waitress in a pancake house. She pays several instruments and writes a lot of music.

Song: The Scientist
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo, Adam

Me: She has a very unique sound, very soft.
Adam: A lot of voices stay small and never have that range or dynamic, but when she hit the high notes, he realized she could sing
Cee Lo: Her voice deserves to be acknowledged by all four coaches up there.
Christina: She knew she had to get in there and “save this girl,” meaning from the other coaches.
Blake: He nearly broke his hand hitting the button for her.
Coach: Blake

Auditioner: Sammy C., 16, Newport Beach CA. This hip hop artist started singing in 5th grade and never realized then it would be what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. When he was 2, he was diagnosed with alopecia. Music helps save him from the other kids bullying him.

Song: Where Is the Love?
Chairs Turned: None

Me: I’m surprised no one turns, as Sammy is a lot of fun.
Cee Lo: He was confused as he thought it was a duo singing, hearing the emcee and the singer.
Blake: He kind of regrets not hitting his button.
Christina: Sammy is still molding his craft and getting to know who he is as an artist.
Adam: If he can dedicate himself as passionately to the craft of singing, as much as he did when he was rapping, then they’d have something.
Coach: None

Auditioner: Austin Jenckes, 25, Duvall, WA. He started playing guitar when he was 9, playing along with his dad. He does’t make enough money playing music, so he has a side job being a scooter tour guide. His dad took his own life when Austin was 16, not knowing how much his family loved him. Austin’s purpose in music is to share those feelings he has after he passed away. His dad taught him to play guitar with the one he’s using today and also taught him to play his audition song.

Song: Simple Man
Chairs Turned: Blake, Cee Lo

Me: Austin and this song fit together really well. He’d fit in well with Adam or Cee Lo.
Adam: That last note when he went way up is when the coaches said, “Okey dokey!”
Blake Adam’s right, because there are many that have a raspy sound, limiting their range, but the power was even stronger when he went up for that note.
Cee Lo: He sounded really comfortable and confident.
Christina: She loves his story.
Coach: Blake

Auditioner: E.G. Daly, 51, Hollywood. She’s a voiceover actor and is the voice of Tommy on Rugrats and also acted in Valley Girls and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. She always kept doing her music, even when acting, but left music to become a mom. Now she wants to show her kids you’re never too old to chase your dreams.

Song: Breathe
Chairs Turned: Blake, Cee Lo

Me: I can remember her singing in Better Off Dead and always thought she was great. She also did a great guest stint as Phoebe’s ex singing partner on Friends.
Blake: It’s not that often a singer comes along with that much rasp and can still hit all the notes.
Cee Lo: There’s a quality in her voice that reminded him of Rod Stewart.
Christina: She knows E.G. looks familiar and is excited to hear she’s Dottie and Tommy.
Coach: Blake

Auditioner: Jonny Gray, 29, Austin, TX. He’s a full-time musician, but he’d love to be a musician on a bigger scale. He’s the child of a single parent, and it was his uncle who taught him to play at 10 years old. He got a lot better when he joined the service at 18.He was deployed into the Middle East right away and was security forces. He’d like to work with Adam, as his music took his mind off being away at war.

Song: All These Things That I Have Done
Chairs Turned: Cee Lo, Adam

Me: He has a very interesting Bob Dylan feel to him.
Cee Lo: He can hear Stevie Nicks and Eddie Vedder and can really appreciate that quality of his voice.
Adam: He heard something really different, but Jonny had a look he didn’t expect.
Blake: What he was hearing was so energetic, he was sure he was doing high kicks.
Christina: He’s so versatile, and she’s looking to gain him in a steal in the Battle Round.
Coach: Cee Lo

Auditioner: Tessanne Chin, 28, Kingston, Jamaica. She thinks people think of the beach when they hear about Jamaica and reggae, but there are amazing soul singers there. She grew up in a multiracial home with a father who is of Chinese and Cherokee descent, and a mom who is of English and black descent. She moved to England as a pre-teen, and rock music had an effect on her, an escape. She got to sing backup for Jimmy Cliff.

Song: Try
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo, Adam

Me: She has a voice that deserves to not just be a backup singer.
Cee Lo: “You sung that song like a grown woman.”
Blake: She is so far ahead of the game already.
Adam: It would have been the mistake of a lifetime to not turn around for her.
Christina: What she gets from her is so much passion and so much heart.
Coach: Adam

The vocalists are very good this season. I hear each auditioner and think there is no way they’re going to be voted off in the next round. But obviously some of them will be. I can’t wait for the battle round.

The Amazing Race, Sept. 29 – Looking for Quasimodo

Another season of The Amazing Race is ahead of us. We have the same cast as we usually do, as far as fighting exes, a dating couple, a married couple, childhood friends, performers, athletes, etc. It’s clear from the following cast who will be the frontrunners throughout the Race.


Chester and Ephraim: Former NFL teammates from Houston. They both went to San Diego State, and Ephraim shopped at a store where Chester was employed as a bagger. Ephraim convinced him to play football for the college, then ended up on the same NFL team with him.

Rowan and Shane: Theater performers from Charlotte. They make their living performing in a play called, “The Queen of Bingo.” The most important thing for them next to winning is to have fun.

Tim and Marie: Exes from Morristown, NJ. They dated five years ago and don’t get along, but continue to hang out. The minute they get on each other’s nerves it’s unbearable, according to her. They’re already arguing about why they don’t get along, so this is going to be interesting.

Leo and Jamal: Cousins from Southern California. They are known as the “Afghanimals.” To whom they are known as this isn’t clear. Perhaps it’s just themselves. The reason is quite obvious. Their parents left Afghanistan to give them a successful life in America, but they feel they are just as American as our next door neighbors.

Ally and Ashley: NHL ice crew teammates from Long Beach, California. They like to be bright and stand out, like “sparkly things.” They skate on the ice during timeouts. These blondes aren’t looking for love on the ice, and when Ally starts to explain why, she realizes she forgot she has a boyfriend.

Nicole and Travis: Married ER physicians from Atlanta. They work together as a team both at home and work, and at work can’t have a down day, so he thinks this makes them the formidable couple of the race.

Hoskote and Naina: Father and daughter from Laguna Niguel, CA. He admits to still having the Indian mentality and would love for his daughter to have an arranged marriage. She doesn’t want this and says what she wants and thinks she can be what she wants realizing it doesn’t jive with what he wants. The arranged marriage gives her the heebie jeebies, but he promises not to link her up with Quasimodo.

Tim and Danny: Oil plant workers from Cordell, Oklahoma. They’ve lived in the state their whole lives, so they’re small town for the most part. Danny says they work seventy to ninety hours a week and live paycheck to paycheck taking care of their families. They realize the rare one out of eleven chance they have to win a million dollars.

Brandon and Adam: Childhood friends from Chico, California. They bonded instantly, both being nerdy outcasts. They realize they are off kilter, and some people get their self humor and some don’t. They get naked at the drop of a hat and believe they are dead sexy.

Nicky and Kim: Major League Baseball wives from the Midwest. They are the husbands of David DeJesus and Chris Getz. They’ve been friends for four years and say baseball doesn’t define them. They have their own personalities and bring much to the table.

Jason and Amy:Dating and from New England. They have a compatible competitiveness and drive and always want to be first at everything they do. He owns a snow and ice management company, and she graduated high school at 16, college in three years, then completed two Masters in two years.

First Clue: Starting from the Old Wild West, the teams will choose a Ford C-Max E-Nergi hybrid and make a call to the other side of the world to receive their first clue. They hear from Javier they are to drive themselves to the Los Angeles International Airport. There are only seats for seven teams on the first flight via American Airlines to Iquique, Chile. When they land, they must travel by taxi to Alto Hospicio and look for the Zona de Parapentes and Javier to get their next clue. Leo and Jamal leave in first place and arrive in the same place.

First Flight: Leo and Jamal, Chester and Ephraim, Rowan and Shane, Tim and Marie, Ally and Ashley, Nicky and Kim, Nicole and Travis.

Second Flight, 2-1/2 Hours Behind: Brandon and Adam, Jason and Amy, Hoskote and Naina, Tim and Danny. They end up four hours behind because of a layover in Santiago.

Second Clue – Roadblock: Order of Arrival: Travis and Nicole, Chester and Ephraim, Ally and Ashley, Leo and Jamal, Nicky and Kim, Rowan and Shane, Tim and Marie, Brandon and Adam, Jason and Amy, Hoskote and Naina, and Tim and Danny. One team member must follow their paragliding partner over rugged cliffs. Once they are reunited on the beach, they will get their next clue. Team members following: Nicole, Ephraim, Ashley, Jamal, Shane, Nicky, Marie, Adam, Amy, Naina, Danny

Ashley, Jamal, Nicky, and Marie get stuck, because they let their taxis go. Jamal calls and orders two for himself and Ashley, but Marie steals his. This isn’t a good way for her to start the Race, by making enemies with frontrunners.

Order of Finish: Rowan and Shane, Nicole and Travis, Chester and Ephraim, Tim and Marie, Leo and Jamal, Nicky and Kim, Ally and Ashley, Jason and Amy, Tim and Danny, Brandon and Adam, Hoskote and Naina.

Third Clue: Make your way to Muelle Prat to search for the next clue.

Fourth Clue: Roadblock: Order of Arrival: Travis and Nicole, Leo and Jamal, Rowan and Shane, Tim and Marie, Chester and Ephraim, Nicky and Kim, Ally and Ashley, Tim and Danny, Brandon and Adam, Jason and Amy, Hoskote and Naina. One teammate from each team will need to choose a rowboat and search Iquique’s harbor to collect a total of five fish from any of the the fishing boats. They will receive the next clue when they hand them to the fish monger. Participating: Travis, Leo, Rowan, Tim, Chester, Kim, Ally, Tim, Brandon, Jason, and Hoskote.

Order of Finish: Nicole and Travis, Tim and Marie, Rowan and Shane, Chester and Ephraim, Nicky and Kim, Ally and Ashley, Leo and Jamal, Jason and Amy, Tim and Danny, Brandon and Adam, Hoskote and Naina.

Leo and Jamal don’t read the clue correctly, as the person who does this Roadblock is supposed to be different than the person who did the first Roadblock. Leo tries to call Jamal back in to switch places with him. Hoskote and Naima also don’t read the clue correctly. She rereads the clue while out on the boat and comes back in to switch places with her dad. They were already in last place, so this isn’t good.

Fifth Clue: Make your way on foot to the Teatro Municipal De Iquique, the pit stop for this first leg of the race. The winner of this first leg will receive an Express Pass for themselves, and one for another team that they must hand over before the end of the fifth leg.

Nicole and Travis take a taxi to the pit stop instead of traveling on foot and incur an thirty minute penalty, losing their first place finish to Tim and Marie. If Jamal shares that she stole his cab, and that’s why they’re in first place, and one of the reasons he and Jamal are in seventh place, it could get interesting as teams start to form alliances.

Pit Stop: Order of Arrival: Tim and Marie, Nicole and Travis, Rowan and Shane, Chester and Ephraim, Nicky and Kim, Ally and Ashley, Leo and Jamal, Jason and Amy, Tim and Danny, Brandon and Adam, Hoskote and Naina.

Teams to Get Lost: Tim and Danny on the way to LAX.

Sound Bites: Tim: I didn’t know they made people’s voices as shrill as yours. Marie: I didn’t know they made people as dumb as you.

Rowan: Sally Field, The Flying Nun, ain’t got nothin’ on me, Baby.”

Naina cries realizing they will be eliminated. She’s proud of her dad for being out there and for being her biggest supporter. She is very devastated, as what she wanted to show her dad was cut short. She thinks he has a way to go as far as his “lightning grip” on her and his expectations. It’s still not settled as far as who gets to choose her future husband. Hoskote says in the end, “Father knows best.” At least she can be assured that it won’t be Quasimoto.

Next Week: Teams have to break up huge boulders and strip down to their swim trunks and bikinis, not necessarily together.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water – Ep 2 – National Lampoon’s Horrible Vacation

No, Chevy Chase has not found a job after he managed to piss off everyone at Community, the title this week comes from the gay Russell Hantz (according to Aras). Colton is rough to watch – and he often has more stinkers than good lines – but occasionally he manages to squeeze off a good one. And kudos to Aras, who wasn’t ever funny during Exile Island for giving us both the mental image of a gay Russell Hantz, and the mental image of Russell’s head exploding upon being remotely considered gay. No, this line was all about Colton showing that, no, he managed to learn nothing from the last time. He cannot play a different game. He is Russell Hantz – except not successful at Survivor.

Colton decided that his tribe is too nice for his own enjoyment. So he set out to sow discord. He would spread lies about everyone to everyone else. Later, when Kat – who actually was trying to work with him – was talking to him about this and something Tina said, Colton threw a fit and confronted Tina and Kat in night vision with this bit of drama. Tina’s had enough. So the next day she ropes in a five-person alliance with Aras, Gervase, Monica and Tyson. Colton was bitching about too many massage lines and not enough game play…well, you got yourself some game play. Now, he, Kat, and both Lauras are on the outs with this tribe.

Meanwhile, the family team decides that Rachel and her gorgeous eyes will be the next target of the “Five Guys” alliance. Ironic, to have an alliance on a show featuring starvation to share the name with the greasiest, most awesome burger chain in the land. It was clear that a woman would be next, but the selection of Rachel is interesting. Vytas came up with the concept – and it is an interesting one. Vote out someone on your own tribe with the hopes that a strong loved one on the other side will Pull a Rupert and take their place. In the case of Five Guys, you vote out one of your women and you put Tina, Laura or Tyson on the spot. Which is more beneficial to you? Clearly, the chance of Tyson making a dumb mistake is intriguing. It’s not like the guy ever voted himself out of the game before, right?

On RI, Marissa joins Rupert and Candice and fills them in on how much she hates the frowny face votes. Awww L – and about how she got voted out because of Gervase’s taunting. Candice rightfully points out that while Gervase was the excuse, it was her comments to Culpy at the very beginning that got her voted out. She embarrassed him in front of everyone, and he didn’t forget. Good for you, Dr. Candice. Just for that, I’ll root for you in the duel.

Er, the Truel. Because a duel implies two people. Truel is a made up word, for a made up thing. Interesting to see many of the people begin to cry immediately as both tribes filter in to watch the Truel. That’s a good change on RI from the first two times it was used. Candice winks at John to make him realize that she’s fine, while Marissa stares down her old tribe and calls them out for what they did. Gervase sees this as a sign that perhaps he should mend his taunting ways. And when I say that, I mean he did the exact opposite. He vows to rub it in even more going forward. He also chooses not to Pull A Rupert and switch.

The challenge is to use a long grabber thingy that you often see in dollar stores and grab a spool. You move it along a series of wires and stack at the end of the wires on a platform. You do this 10 times without spilling it all and you complete the challenge. First two survive, winner earns an immunity idol clue to be given to anyone they want. Last place, and you’re out. Rupert drops his first one instantly. However, he recovers and he and Candice take the lead and are tied after stacking eight. As Candice places her ninth, Rupert poorly stacks his and the whole thing goes over. The cut away is of Laura looking sad, and Gervase laughing next to her. Laughing! Next to the dude’s wife! This man is in desperate need of tact lessons.

So, Candice finishes, and basically drops the mike. Marissa is on her last one as Rupert is only just getting back to half a stack, and she finishes. Holy crap – Rupert is gone! I only had two episodes to deal with his act! So, Rupert becomes the only person to get eliminated pre-finals – other than for injury, breakdown, or family emergency – without receiving a single vote. Actually, there were two. Paschal and the Purple Rock. Rupert’s insanely bad strategy backfires – stunningly – and he’s the first to go. He’s the anti-Boston Rob. The other four-timer had his worst performance the first time out, before dominating two seasons, winning one of them, and only bowing out early the other time because Tyson’s an idiot. Rupert? Bad strategy each time, or lack of any strategy at all. He will always go down as an all-time fan favorite, but not here. If we can just ditch Colton, and maybe Culpy, early on…well, this could get to be fun.

The Voice, Sept. 23 – We’re Gettin’ the Gang Back Together

The gang is back together on The Voice After just one season with Shakira and Usher, they’re out and Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green are back in. I have to adit, I missed Cee Lo, but didn’t really miss Christina. I liked Usher, but didn’t really care too much for Shakira. Is it too much to ask to keep Usher and replace Shakira with Cee Lo?

Judges Performance: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo, and Adam. I Love Rock ‘n Roll

Auditioner: Kat Robichaud, 29, Raleigh, NC. She loves 70s Glam Rock like Queen and David Bowie, but grew up listening to musicals. Her dad recently passed way, and he loved TheVoice. She wants to make him proud and misses the stage from her days with her band.

Song: I’ve Got the Music in Me
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo

Me: She has a great rocker sound and some Beetlejuice pants.
Adam: He refers to her as “Raspy McRasperson” and notes she was not what he was expecting.
Cee Lo: She reminds him of the greats and set him on fire.
Christina: She doesn’t even have to look at Kat to know she was having an amazing time up there.
Blake: He knows he may seem like an unlikely coach for her.
Coach: Cee Lo

Auditioner: Caroline Pennell, 17, Saddle River, NJ. She’s always been a little shy and anxious, so singing has always been private and special to her. She realized she could sing at camp during a rock star weekend.

Song: Anything Could Happen
Chairs Turned: Blake and Cee Lo

Me: Her shyness matches her unique sound.
Adam: He thinks she has an engaging voice.
Cee Lo: He believes he and Caroline are cut from the same cloth.
Christina: She liked the little giggle Caroline leet out when the chairs turned.
Blake: Caroline needs to start believing she is a badass vocalist.
Coach: Cee Lo

Auditioner: Donna Allen, 54. She is a trailblazer being the the oldest in the competition, the first black homecoming queen in Key West, and the first black Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader. She was also a background singer for Gloria Estefan, but stopped touring to spend time with her son.

Song: You are So Beautiful
Chairs Turned: Adam, Christina

Me: A gorgeous seasoned voice with lots of emotion.
Christina: Donna is so beautiful to her. She connected with the richness in the tone right away.
Blake: He didn’t hit his button because he thinks Donna belongs on Christina’s team.
Cee Lo: He really enjoyed it, but it’s not what he’s looking for at the moment.
Adam: He is surprised all four chairs didn’t turn around and felt like they were at the end of the season.
Coach: Adam

Auditioner: Jake Worthington, 17, LaPorte, TX. He likes to go four-wheeling and fishing. If not that, they’re swimming and chilling out. His buddies talked him into trying out. He’s never performed for this many people.

Song: Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Chairs Turned: None

Me: I am definitely surprised that no chairs turned, especially Blake.
Blake: There were a couple times where it seemed like Jake was running out of wind. Yet he thinks he “screwed the pooch” to not hit hit button.
Christina: She thought it was fun but wasn’t sure if it was her thing for her team.
Adam: It might be one of the hardest to execute melodies ever.
Coach: None

Auditioner: Matthew Schuler, 20, Yardley, PA. He’s a college sophomore, plays rugby, and works in a bagel shop. Both of his parents are pastors, and they hold church services in their basement after losing their church. His dad works three jobs just to provide a comfortable life or them.

Song: Cough Syrup
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo, Adam

Me: While it sounds trite, this guy has the whole package.
Blake: He watches the auditions with his wife, and he knows she’ll love Matthew. It would be helping him out if Matthew picked him.
Cee Lo: Matthew’s voice is beautiful. Cee Lo wants to know if he wants to be a member of a team or an owner of himself.
Adam: The best part was seeing the joy and passion with which he sings. Adam knows they can win this thing together.
Christina: She understands the guys want a male coach, but she wants to be the first female coach to win this thing.
Coach: Christina

Auditioner: Nick Hawk, 26, Dallas, TX. He thinks he’s a male version of a mixture between Amy Winehouse and Jessie J. Music is a way for him to express himself. He’s done twenty-five musicals in the past seven years. He moved back home to help the family after his stepdad left the family, partly because his brother has epilepsy. He bartends and instructs dance to make money to help out.

Song: Hit ’em Up Style
Chairs Turned: Cee Lo, Adam

Me: His voice is a little nasally for me, but he has some great energy.
Adam: Adam thinks Nick is a phenomenal singer and wasn’t out of breath and hit the timing of the song. Nick calls him “handsome” and ends up hitting on him.
Cee Lo: Beyoncé mastered that style of song, and it takes a lot of breath control, charisma and calculation. Nick’s name has a ring to it.
Coach: Adam

Auditioner: Matthew Brea, 15, Atlanta, GA. His parents moved here from Haiti to provide a better life for their family. Matthew’s dad used to be part of an a cappella group. Singing helped him heal when his little brother passed away at the age of 2, and he sang How Great Thou Art at his funeral. He knows his little brother is with him during every performance.

Song: I Want You Back
Chairs Turned: None

Me: I am shocked no one turned around.
Cee Lo: He’s shocked to find Matthew is 15, as he thought it was someone 40 years old. He tells him not to give up and even goes to find him backstage afterwards and tells him about singing at his mom’s funeral. It’s all for some greater purpose.
Christina: It took guts to get up there, and she asks him for a hug.
Blake: He knows Matthew wanted this to be the moment.
Adam: He wants a promise from Matthew that he will come back.

Auditioner: Shelbie Z, 21, Jasper, AL. She’s a full-time stylist and part-time pageant coach. She participated in over one-hundred and won forty-five of them. She stopped doing pageants at 10 years old because kids were making fun of her for being a big girl. Music means more to her than anything else.

Song: Here for the Party
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo

Me: She’s terrific and belongs with Blake.
Blake: He wants to be the first to welcome Shelbie to Team Blake.
Cee Lo: She’s adorable in her little cowboy boots. Adam sees them as a sign of death, knowing where they’re going.
Christina: She’s a powerhouse. Christina pushed her button even though she knew she’d be out if Blake pushed his button.
Coach: Blake

Auditioner: Josh Logan, 33. He started getting into music around 8 years old when his mom started doing DJ and karaoke stuff, and she’d let him get up onstage. When he was 16, he got his girlfriend pregnant and didn’t handle it well at first. He started working to support his son and his son’s mother. He isn’t with his son’s mother anymore, but recognizes her as a good mom.

Song: Too Close
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Adam

Me: He has a very clear voice, but you wouldn’t expect him to.
Adam: Josh sounded a lot like the “dude” who sings the song.
Christina: She happens to love the song. It was like he was yearning for the need in the song.
Blake: Josh’s runs reminded him of Christina, and he has a man crush on him.
Coach: Christina

Auditioner: Delvin Choice, 24, Greenville, SC. He doesn’t think the show has had anything like him – a tall, sexy glass of water. He wants to share the joy and laughter in everything he does. He’s been working at Starbucks for about a year. They call him the singing barista.

Song: Closer
Chairs Turned: None

Me: He has too much vibrato.
Cee Lo: He did notice Delvin has a strong voice. He thinks he has a badass hairstyle.
Adam: He wants him to come back.
Coach: None

Auditioner: James Wolpert, 22, Lancaster County, PA. He loves tech and gadgetry and stuff. He uses computers to do both music and art. He pursued Art at Carnegie Melon. He wanted that degree but fell in love with singing, so put college on hold.He can’t picture doing anything else but currently works at the Apple Store.

Song: Love Interruption
Chairs Turned: Blake, Christina, Cee Lo, Adam

Me: In a way he sounds like the last auditioner, but has a little more grit to him.
Blake: To have that much character in his voice is amazing. He’s the complete vocalist, yet he was surprised to not see a long-haired guy.
Christina: She’s excited to hear he’s from Pittsburgh, as she grew up there.
Cee Lo: No one loves James more than Cee Lo. He likes that he was confident and didn’t need them to turn around.
Adam: He predicts he can win he show.
Coach: Adam

By the end o the two hours, I don’t mind that Christina is back. She’s not bothering me. However, I’m still just as glad to have Cee Lo back. I don’t get the tattoo on his head though. It reminds me of the one Mike Tyson has on his face.

The Real Housewives of Miami, Sept. 23 – “La La Land”

This week we see Joanna, Lisa and Lea head to Los Angeles for a ladies getaway. We get to peak into the lavish home, or should I say mansion, that is Joanna’s home away from home. At this house you will find Joanna’s mother and her five dogs plus all the animals she fosters through her charity.

Alexia is back in action with her role as the editor of the magazine that she and her husband own. Her son Peter also has started working there as the behind-the-scenes photographer. Alexia has a lot on her plate with her son Frankie’s recovery and her eldest son’s anger issues. This week we see this play out as Peter decides to chase down a taxi and kick their back door in because he gave them the finger. Peter goes from 0 to 100 in seconds; Alexia is quick to try and calm the situation and also lie to the police that arrive at the scene. She tells them that the taxi driver is lying when clearly everything is on camera and Peter even admits to doing it!

Joanna takes the ladies to see her wedding venue, and of course it is as glamorous as she is! The venue is absolutely amazing with spectacular views. Lea gets all emotional and tells Joanna that she is proud of her as she has literally come from nothing and built herself an empire.

Joanna isn’t the only one looking at wedding venues this week! Adriana also goes to meet her planners at the venue of her wedding. Her venue is just as beautiful, she discloses to her planners her idea of having the guests change into 1920s outfits after the ceremony. I’m not really sure what the point is of that but to each their own I guess!

This week Joanna finally asks Lisa to be her bridesmaid, but there’s a catch! She has to choose who she wants to be bridesmaids for, as Joanna says she can’t be a bridesmaid for both her and Adriana. Lisa seems quite offended, as she shouldn’t have anyone telling her who she can and can’t be friends with. Who does Joanna think she is?

This season seems like it’s going to be jam packed with weddings tied in with absolute mayhem! I’m sure Joanna and Adriana are going to try and outdo each other when it comes to their wedding days. Who do you think will have the better wedding?

Dancing with the Stars, Sept. 23 – First Quick Elimination

Everybody is talking about about Bill Nye after the first week of performances on Dancing with the Stars, so despite him having the lowest score last week, and doomed to repeat the same feat this week, I think he is probably safe this week. Everyone is also talking about Jack Osbourne and Valerie Harper, so they are probably safe as well. Look for other low scorers to go home this week. And remember: There is no results show this week. It’s being worked into the end of the show tonight.

Partners: Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy. He thinks the samba is showcasing a new side to Elizabeth. She wants to let go and feel the freedom and the expression.

Dance Style: Samba
Song: Straight to Memphis

Me: She definitely has the expression down. She has good lines but needs to hold them.
Len: It was so close. It’s only week two, yet she was impressive with her energy and the way she came out.
Bruno: She was moving fast and had great accuracy considering it’s only week 2. There were a few missed steps, but Val takes responsibility.
Carrie: “You are in your element!” Elizabeth is a strong, sensuous dancer in control of her body.

Last Week’s Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24 This Week’s Score: 8, 9, 8 = 25

Partners: Christina Milian and Mark Ballas. She is worried knowing the song is going to be moving super fast. It’s also in character and “super fierce.” Mark really pushes her, but she doesn’t mind a bit.

Dance Style: Paso Doble
Song: Applause

Me: Again she shows some great emotion.
Bruno: She’s a fussy intriguing little monster. He loves a paso with little quirks.
Carrie: It was insane and night and day from last week.
Len: It was a paso doble with a little bit of a contemporary twist. Christina was focused and fierce.

Last Week’s Score: 7, 7, 8 = 22 This Week’s Score: 9, 8, 8 = 25

Partners: Bill Engvall and Emma Slater. He feels deflated after last week. The comments were great, but they didn’t coordinate with the scores he received. He’s determined to make the judges into believers this week.

Dance Style: Jive
Song: Crocodile Rock

Me: He’s better than I expected him to be at this. Much better.
Carrie: It was the most entertaining routine so far this season. The footwork was a little funky though.
Len: A lot of basic recognizable steps. From a difference he would have thought Bill was Derek.
Bruno: He definitely hit the performance value big time and threw in everything but the kitchen sink.

Last Week’s Score: 6, 6, 6 = 18 This Week’s Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21

Partners: Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke. He complains about getting the worst of the lot in the Osbourne family being fat, having MS, heart problems, etc. Just before Mama Sharon walks in, Jack feels like he’s making a porno as he and Cheryl work on their moves.

Dance Style: Rumba
Song: Mad World

Me: Once again, he really surprises.
Len: He saw great control, style, fluidity, and great lines.
Bruno: He has a hard time believing Jack went all smooth, sensuous, and romantic.
Carrie: When she watches him dance it feels like she’s being transported to another time.

Last Week’s Score: 8, 8, 7 = 23 This Week’s Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24

Partners: Keshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess. He knows he just has to get better. He relates it to being down in the first quarter. His peers at ESPN poke a little fun at him, but he does feel their support. Sharna wants him to be in his element on the dance floor just as he is on ESPN.

Dance Style: Samba
Song: Get Up Offa That Thing

Me: He has a few missed steps, but he brings some great ‘tude to the dance.
Bruno: One thing is or sure, he went for it all the way. Some of the things he did might not even be legal.
Carrie: She felt the confidence go way up this week, and he wasn’t lacking in any hip action.
Len: Keshawn was working his assets. For him it was better than last week.

Last Week’s Score: 6, 5, 6 = 17 This Week’s Score: 6, 6, 6 = 18

Partners: Nicole Polizzi and Sasha Farber. He says the story in the song is that he made a mistake, and she asks if he killed someone or went to jail, and when she hears no, she figures he must have cheated on her with multiple women. Despite the story, she is still going to feel awkward to touch him so sensually.

Dance Style: Rumba
Song: Just Give Me a Reason

Me: She just needs to relax a bit more and make it a little bit smoother..
Carrie: She made pretty pictures, but there wasn’t a lot of fluidity. She wanted more emotions. The lift police make a return.
Len: He thought it was very pretty, neat, and clear, and that was the problem because it became a little too placed.
Bruno: She needs to learn how to act and sustain a character throughout, as well as work on the fluidity.

Last Week’s Score: 8, 8, 7 = 23 This Week’s Score 6, 7, 7 = 20

Partners: Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani. Tony knows she’s hard on herself and figures it’s because of her ordeal she went through this summer by leaving Scientology. She thinks they are waiting for her to fail so they an tell the parishioners that this is what happens when you leave the church.

Dance Style: Samba
Song: Maria

Me: She really throws everything into this. She could be really good if she continues.
Len: She has lovely hands and was working her hips.
Bruno: He asks who the sassy Latin beauty is. He wants her to believe in herself.
Carrie: Leah unleashed her samba goddess.

Last week’s Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21 This Week’s Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24

Partners: Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein. Last week’s performance ended up going viral. This week, Bill and Tyne are taking the negative comments from last week and using that to drive them. He’s warns that no one should mess with him, as he’s doing the paso doble.

Dance Style: Paso doble
Song: Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Me: Surprisingly, he does great character work.
Bruno: He definitely stepped it up a gear. There was some paso doble there he could find as well.
Carrie: She loves that he makes fun of himself a bit, with her new favorite move being hitting himself in the head.
Len: Judging is not an exact science, and he feels he slightly underrated Bill last week. This week he liked his commitment and fun.

Last Week’s Score: 5, 4, 5 = 14 This Week’s Score: 6, 5, 6 = 17

Partners: Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff. He wants to pay homage to High School Musical with this number and plans to emulate the jump he did on the movie poster that he has come known for.

Dance Style: Jive
Song: Kiss You

Me: He has some great footwork and moves great to the music.
Carrie: She begs Corbin and Karina to do it again. She loves her athleticism and his musicality is spot on.
Len: Corbin can dance and might not have gotten a home run, but he at least made it to third base.
Bruno: It was a performance of dazzling brilliance. The way he managed to keep the beat was almost like HD 3D.

Last Week’s Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24 This Week’s Score: 9, 8, 9 = 26

Partners: Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus. Her knee is giving her trouble, leading to her stumbling and falling during rehearsal. It has nothing to do with her illness. He wants her to rest, but she says she’s 74 and has terminal cancer, so he should throw in anything he has.

Dance Style: Paso Doble
Song: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Me: Valerie seems to stumble a little walking down the stairs, but recovers well. The dance is too much for her, though.
Len: He liked that she started on her own and came out with total commitment. But she didn’t seem 100% comfortable.
Bruno: He loved the way she captured the grandeur of the great lady of Spain. He could see her working on her shoulders.
Carrie: It is so challenging for her to judge her and take into consideration her courage, but she knows she’s not here for that. She felt Valerie forgot some of the routine in the middle.

Last Week’s Score: 7, 7, 7 = 21 This Week’s Score: 6, 6, 7 = 19

Partners: Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd. They talk about undressing each other during the dance. He fears the camera cutting to his mom who will just be upset saying she she raised him so much better than this.

Dance Style: Rumba
Song: Underneath Your Clothes

Me: Adding dry ice to the floor is a great way to hide your footwork.
Bruno: He doesn’t think there is a lady in the country who doesn’t feel very restless and fidgety. Brant has to work at arressing the floow with his feet more.
Carrie: The chemistry the two of them has is incredible, but he can move and has beautiful accents.
Len: They are a terrific-looking couple and have great presence on the floor. He could see his pigeon toe feet the through smoke.

Last Week’s Score: 7, 8, 7 = 22 This Week’s Score: 8, 7, 8 = 23

Partners: Amber Riley and Derek Hough. She’s worried after last week that everyone will have big expectations of her. She’s also worried about her breasts during the dance, as he wonders if she thinks they’ll be knocking him out. She doesn’t want anyone to think “she can move for her size.” She wants them to say she can dance.

Dance Style: Jive
Song: Reet Petite

Me: She can dance.
Carrie: She definitely set the bar last week and continues to wow, but she was a little flat-footed this week.
Len: She has great speed and is a bundle of joy to watch, but she needs to work on her footwork.
Bruno: Talent and performance flows out of her like raging torrent, but she does need to work on her footwork.

Last Week’s Score: 9, 9, 9, = 27 This Week’s Score: 8, 8, 8 = 24

With a combined score of last week and this week, the following couples are safe: Corbin and Karina, Leah and Tony, Bill Nye and Tyne, Christina and Mark, Amber and Derek, Valerie and Tristan, Nicole and Sasha, Jack and Cheryl, Brant and Peta, and Elizabeth and Val. Keyshawn and Sharna and Bill Engvall and Emma are the remaining two. One of these couples will be going home.

The couple going home tonight after just two weeks are Keyshawn and Sharna. For him the best part of the show was the experience. He’s never even bobbed his head in the car, so this was something amazing to him. It doesn’t even matter if they won or lost.

Thisi elimination did come as a surprise. I would have thought Keyshawn would have lasted longer. Bill Engvall needs to be on notice. He needs to have high scores every week, as he isn’t as popular with the voting audience as Bill Nye and Valerie. No one wants to give the woman with terminal cancer a low score, so she’ll probably last for awhle.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Sept. 22 – Hair We Go Again

The housewives were back again this week with the usual controversy and mayhem as Melissa and Joe continue to discuss Penny and Teresa. These people really love the drama, but this is becoming really old really fast!

Jacqueline and Teresa continue to rekindle their friendship as they head to Kim D’s store for some retail therapy. I really wonder why these ladies support this woman, as it seems she is the stirrer of the pot. Get a clue, Ladies!

Kim D decides to hold a grand opening for her new store/salon, Pash 2, and – surprise, surprise – she lets the ladies know that she has invited Penny and her husband.

This week we also see Melissa continue her quest to break into the music industry. Melissa and Joe head to Orlando to meet Johnny the music executive, and he has news for Melissa. Johnny has scored Melissa an interview on 106.7, although the catch is that she has to perform live! EEEEKK … perform live? We all know Melissa may be a performer, but when it comes to singing live, well, let’s just say she is known for her lip syncing! Melissa takes the plunge and agrees to perform live in front of the radio hosts and a small audience. To my surprise she seemed to do quite well, and of course she made Joe a very proud husband.

Just when we think things couldn’t get any worse, the plot thickens! Jacqueline and Chris disclose that Penny’s husband has tweeted that their son Nick actually doesn’t have Autism. Who does this guy think he is? And why would he say these things? What some people will do to get a little limelight! Jacqueline can’t believe someone would say this and decides she will confront Penny and her husband at the Pash 2 party.

The Pash party seems to be going off without a hitch until Penny shows up. Jacqueline flocks to her immediately to find the answers to her husband’s nasty tweets. Penny explains that her husband never said anything about her son and that her husband will be attending the party a little later.

Next in line to confront Penny are Melissa and Teresa. Melissa demands the truth, and Penny informs everyone that Teresa is the mastermind behind the mission to take down Melissa.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey season finale is next week, and it looks like Joe Gorga takes on Penny’s husband in a typical New Jersey fist fight. Who do you think will win?

Top Chef Masters Season 5 Ep 9 – Teacher Teacher, Can You Teach Me?

That’s right, I’m quoting .38 Special. Sue me.

We have our Final Four – Doug calls this the hardest thing he has ever done. And from such an accomplished chef, it pretty much tells you how difficult this show is for these chefs. And at this point – we only have nitpicks separating them all.

Let’s get into it – why don’t we?

Final QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE – Making a great burger. Doug is confident with is Top 25 burger ranking in Food and Wine Magazine. Jen rightfully points out the important detail of meat vs. bun ratio. Burke also boasts about his best in NYC burger. He also thinks he got screwed in the ketchup challenge by Lemony Snicket. And that’s a really odd sentence. It sounded like Doug said he had a shrimp burger in McDonalds in the Far East, but that just cannot be correct. Bot is going old school – in his final attempt to EVER win a Quickfire. Doug’s shrimp burger ain’t working, it’s rubbery. Ah, maybe it was McDonalds!

Sang is the judge. And I wonder if anyone bailed at the last minute because, what would have happened if he didn’t lose last week? Unless it was just always going to be the fifth place finisher. The alternative is that they bumped someone to add in Sang because they liked his humor. If so, then expect to see Sang hosting Top Chef: Condiments any day soon. We flash back to TCM Season 1 and Sang joining Spike and others judging burgers. And here he is again.

Burke – it looks like a totem pole, says Sang. He normally doesn’t like seafood burgers, but this one is juicy and “not off-putting.”
Jen – She put in ketchup and he cringed. However, there was much flavor and her sriraccha ketchup won him over.
Bot – Sang felt the meat was very meatloafy.
Doug – He can’t really taste the shrimp

Quickfire Dishes:

Sang jokes that he didn’t actually have any delicious burgers. He puts Bot and Doug on the bottom, and Jen and Burke on the top. Jen gets another win – five grand for women and the season lead over Sang for total cash won.

The Sous Chefs had to cook a dish conceived for them by their Masters. Bot’s sous Graeme and his SpikeHawk win the challenge and earn Bot immunity and a spot in the Finals. However, he will go all out in the ELIMINATION CHALLENGE because they are paying tribute to four special LA Unified School District teachers.

Emily Crush – a special ed teacher who inspired one particular special needs student.
Carlos Lauchu- who teaches the AP test to middle schoolers and gets them to pass.
Stacey Joy – a lifelong teacher of fifth grade in South LA who always makes do with no resources.
And Jeffrey Austin- a history and government teacher who tries to teach kids to be strong citizens. They each get assigned a teacher and must cook a special dish for them. The pairings are Doug/Emily, Bot/Carlos, Jen/Stacey, Burke/Jeffrey. Jen is inspired because like Stacey, they each have known their passion since childhood. Burke is going for 60 souffles and Doug thinks that gives him titanium balls for taking on such a challenge upon a challenge. Bot feels inspired because like Carlos he tries to enlighten people with new ideas and flavor profiles.

Added bonus – the teachers had no idea they were the guests of honor. The challenge is judged by Dr. Sweater, Gail, Stone and Alan Richman from GQ. I still say Adam Richman would be much more fun. At least there would be a lot more food.

Doug gets Burke to help him plate and presents roses to Emily, and one to the kid, Camille. He made a super fancy dish for her. Lt. Sweater found it luxurious and felt like a celebration. Gail said it was beautiful, and Stone felt it was a bit rich on rich on rich.

Bot says Carlos inspired him because he teaches kids to change minds and do things differently. Richman felt the texture was so perfect, and Gail felt it was scary how Bot made this relatable.

Jen’s meat is rare. Bot and Doug both know it. She tried to take a simple dish and elevate it, like Stacey does with her classroom. Big Mama Sweater thought the granola on top was good, but the lamb was undercooked. Gail was ok with the undercooked meat, but not all of the imperfections. However, Stacey was overwhelmed. Her mom was a lamb chop aficionado, and she hasn’t touched a bite since losing her in 2010. Damn.

Jeffrey may have expected tacos and bacon as a dish representing him, Burke made soufflé because while Jeffrey mentors and inspires, so did Burke’s profs in culinary school and he still remembers the day he learned how to make this delicate dessert. Captain Sweater found little springiness. Stone admired the chance taken, and Jeffrey really appreciated the challenge and the risk taken on his behalf.

Elimination Dishes:

Clearly, Doug and Bot were the winners, and Jen and Burke fighting for survival. Bot wins his first challenge of the season – he overwhelmed them all. It came down to Jen’s undercooked meat and Burke’s risky but unfulfilling dessert. As always, dessert kills on Top Chef and Burke’s gruffness takes a fourth place finish. He had kind words for the chefs on the way out – tantamount to him saying, “kids today” – but still, he respects these guys and knows they are the future. He can now go back to romancing Colombian ex-strippers.

So it is Jen/Bot/Doug in the Finals. Bot becomes the second person in Top Chef history to make the Finals in two different seasons – the first to do so on two different versions of Top Chef. Blais won his second time around – will Bot do the same?

We get 15 minutes of sous challenge on TV this time – but since I decided early on not to include the goings on in these columns, not starting now. I’ll just say that Graeme’s dish won, and he gets 10K, while Paul loses and puts Doug in the hole for the Finals. One hour of non-sous cooking for Doug. Sang will be happy.

Quickfire Hits
• Stone calls out that it is 60 seconds to Burger Time and I flashed back to one of my most addictive video game that I used to play with my mom.
• Doug, upon seeing Sang judging his subpar burger – “He has a great palate…I have no chance. He’s an idiot, but for a number of different reasons.”
• Emily staged a friggin royal wedding to make that little girl happy. A staged wedding!!
• Can we talk about Punk Rock Jen? Which, incidentally, is the newest hot toy for girls this Christmas.
• Has anyone ever combined he words “elevated” and “porridge” before Jen in this episode?
• Listen Carlos, the woman who felt that something robust equals “you in a bowl” – she is not just your “friend.” Who are we fooling?
• Stone to the chefs after the emotional meal – “Go on, get back and clean the kitchen.” HA!
• Extra – High School Gail photos. Watch what happens.

Next Week The Finale – the sous prep a meal to be included in the final menu and the Final Three gets their own sous to pitch in for the win.

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