THE BLOG
08/16/2007 11:27 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Top Chef: Blah Zone

I'm underwhelmed. Should I write this hopped up on espresso tomorrow morning when I'm late for work, which will create a bit of excitement, at least on my part? Should I get right to the point and say who I loved and who I hated tonight?

The worst part? I didn't even love or hate anyone. Dale continues to amuse me and CJ is not my favorite like he used to be. Howie is Howie, which is to say, thissss close to going crazy, but I'm even used to that now! I hate to say that Jamie right, but your barbarian blogger found this ep a bit boring: No blowups, no backstabbing, and no tears. Not even any hot tubbin'! No hats from Malarkey! Tre is completely dressed!

We open up with Casey overlooking a canal. I immediately notice her lush layers, because last night I took a pair of kitchen scissors and cut of six inches off my hair. People are, as is our tradition, talking about the chef who left last time, in this case, Sarah. CJ is saying that Howie had no tact (understatment of the year!) and they it's the final straw and "Howie's done for us." You wish! He'll outlast you all! When the smoke clears, he'll be standing there with a cleaver, trash talking, I assure you.

They walk to the quickfire challenge....and....it's Daniel Boulud! I'm ashamed to find, after hearing him introduced, that I've been mispronouncing the name of his restaurants as BOULEE. The horror! I'm so gauche! And here I thought I was just poor!

The chefs are, of course, excited.

'He's a big deal" says CJ.

Hung, who I think is earnest and adorable, says "I respect him highly. I love his restaurants."

Dale, who as the fat kid from junior high can do no wrong in my book, ever, says, "Holy Shit! It's Daniel Boulud!"

I am also into this quickfire. The challenge is "to come up with your own unique take on America's best love meal...the burger!" And, because Top Chef is sickeningly about product-placement, and nothing is sacred, not even a burger because the producers HATE AMERICA, it's sponsored of course by some burger restaurant that I refuse to name, because I had tons and tons of readers (don't disabuse me of this notion) and I know my abstemious take on product whoring will make a difference. Take that!

Anyway. This challenge is dear to my heart because I LOVE burgers and red meat. 6 days out of 7 I'm a vegetarian because I'm too lazy to cook meat just for myself, but on the seventh I want a steak. In fact I just went home to my parents in the suburbs tonight and had a burger from the grill. Hmmm. The New York Times Style section just did an article on how it's cool to like red-meat or something, that men love a woman who loves a big steak,which is true of course, if you're an anemic, spindly dishwater blond type... But I bet that if you LOOK like you like steak you look like a hog, not a hedonist.

Anyway. Daniel Boulud is of course notorious for his fancy, expensive burger that has a block of fois grois in the middle. Howie says it's about 120 bucks? I thought it was 68? I went to DB Bistro Moderne once but couldn't bring myself to order it. I look it up. $27? I thought it was more? Aha, apparently there is a $100 double truffle version.

Padma also announces that the winner of the quickfire no longer has immunity. Fine by me. "No more hiding!" Says Malarkey, who is wearing a red leather top hat. Actually, he isn't. Which is a shame!

The chefs have 1/2 and hour for the quickfire. They race into the kitchen and Hung cackles hysterically. Why? Who knows?!

Many of the chefs are making seafood burgers. I love seafood! But I'd like to see some more variations on.... A BURGER OF RED MEAT. I think that would actually take some culinary fearlessness... To serve a red-meat burger to Boulud instead of cowering behind fish burgers. Casey and Howie, I think, are the only ones doing a red-meat burger. SIGH!

Hung is making a shrimp burger with tempura flakes and shitake. Daniel thinks its very juicy and it's true, it's running down his chin.

Sarah wants her burger to be a "little healthier, lighter" (wrong wrong wrong) so is serving it on lettuce (I know immediately that Daniel will be offended by this joke of a bun.) She's got a crab burger with citrus. Daniel is, indeed, horrified by the lack of bun.

Malarkey is doing a fishburger based on his fish sausage that he won a challenge with -- a scallop, shrimp and sea bass burger. Daniel says this has too much bread.

Casey is doing a sort of friend beef burger -- I applaud her for this.

Tre is doing a surf and turf ciabatta burger;

Dale is doing seared tuna with an egg on top.

Howie is using truffle butter for the extra fat (the way to Boulud's clogged, french heart -- smart move Howie.) It's a black truffle burger with taleggio cheese, that Daniel says is very good, very moist.

CJ is doing a scallop mouse and shrimp burger with tangerine, that Daniel says is "beautiful."

Ultimately Daniel feels that some of them were slightly more sandwiches than burger. His least successful were Sara's and Tre's. His favorites were CJ, Dale, and Hung. CJ wins. Howie manages to clap looking very bitter. CJ doesn't get immunity, but he gets the advantage of picking his own team for the restaurant challenge!

The team gets a raw space, 24 hours, $2500 for decorations and $700 for food. Each team will have an FOB, design, sous chef and head chef. 30 guests will show up at each restaurant.

The teams are:

CJ, Brian, Casey and Tre.

The other team is Howie, Hung, Dale and Sara.

Howie's team is leaning towards the french influence American contemporary blah blah blah bistro thing. Tre is nominated to be the exec chef, which he has no problem with, since he has the most experience. I have no problem with Tre. At all. I do have a problem with that shirt he's wearing. It's huge! Tre, wouldn't you be comfortable in something tighter? An undershirt? Chaps? Howie wants to cook. "I'm happy in the kitchen." Which is probably shorthand for "I know people hate me." Sara decides to be exec chef, which Howie says if fine by him (probably because if the food sucks the exec chef takes the fall). Howie, it pains me to say, is no fool.

The two teams go shopping. Malarkey stops Casey from making the mistake of scented candles. There is no one to stop Hung and Dale from getting scented candles, which seems insane, and the judges absolutely hate it later.

Eh, what more is there to say?

You know why? Because at the end of it all, NO ONE goes home.That's right! No one! Jamie Lee would be so happy! Boring! Blah!

To sum it up:

Tre overcooks the potatoes! Howie's risottos is gooey! Hung does a great job on his tuna! Malarkey, as the FOB, sweats alot and makes people uncomfortable! Dale has 8 years of restaurant experience! He works it like a pro and says: "You're half prostitute,half performer!" Dale, that is how I feel every day! Someone sends out an amuse bouché, an oyster with ginger and watermelon granita! No one credits Joey for something using a watermelon and he crashes through the restaurant window with an axe!

Some food blogger who I shall not even name, because no one gives ME free food, even though I blog about how HANDSOME they are, TOM, is here to give us some zingers. Fine! Her name is Andrea Strong! Zing zing! Andrea Strong insults the black tablecloths as "very billy idol...and I don't' want to eat off Billy Idol." More zing please?! Is this zing fat free? I may be a blogger but even I am suspicious by this inclusion of a blogger into the show! I would prefer to hear Tom, Padma and Daniel Boulud take about the food! Howie put cream in his risotto, which even I know not to do! Howie says, 'I'm not put off by eating a heavier item!... That's what turns me on!" Wow, stop right there!

So, there you have it.The judges send no one home. Why? Some contractual obligation for an extra show? The producers were too lazy to think up a new challenge for next time? They thought they might finally have to send Howie home, since his risotto was really bad? Who knows! Tune in next week, I guess, for... The same challenge. Huh?

Blogger out! Zing! Tom, you looked especially manly and handsome tonight. You have a sure hand, an even keel, and some real charisma. I also loved your outfit tonight. NOW EMAIL ME! Andrea Strong doesn't deserve you. Zing!