So. Here we are. Top Chef...the repeat. Someone is seriously going home this week! Seriously! I'm watching by myself this week because my friend Travis thinks I would "shush" him. True!
It's a bit hard to get excited about a challenge repeat. I am also severely disheartened by the fact that Hung opens an envelope slipped under the door at the start of the episode to read some comments from.....Andrea Strong. Will this blogger never leave? Hmm? This ambassador of zing? Who is she and how did she ingratiate herself into the show? (and how can I do this next season? Do I need a zing makeover?)
Speaking of makeovers and bloggers that talk too much, I did give myself a makeover...again. Makeover? More like mistake-over! I was going for the curly bob -- like this . However, forgetting I had curly hair, I wound up with this. Since this child-like look was exacerbated by my wearing a white frilly dress today, I decided to look a little grown up by wearing makeup. Now I can tell you exactly what happened to Baby Jane. Honestly don't cut your own hair drunk. Or ever!
But anyway! Andrea De La Zing's comments are read aloud again, so that the chefs can take her bon mots to heart for this challenge.
Padma, at the quickfire, attempts to make it more exciting by announcing that the teams for the restaurant challenge will now have to offer two (count 'em!) options for each course. Tom says that they have someone to help one of the teams out, a consultant that will go to the team winning this week's quickfire challenge: a relay race!
Our teams (from last week) are:
CJ, Malarkey-pants, Casey and Tre: or, as Dale calls them, "The Dream Team."
Howie, Hung, Sarah and Dale: or as Dale calls them, "The Bad-News Bears."
The race is composed of four legs: shucking oysters, chopping onions, breaking down chickens (and by that I do not mean breaking down their spirits, but rather breaking down their carcasses), and separating eggs and then beating the egg whites until the bowl can be turned over and the egg whites not fall out.
Everyone on team bad news bears is grateful to have the speed demon, Hung -- even Howie acknowledges this. Howie does not annoy me this episode at all. Are the producers making him a little more appealing since they have sneaky plans to keep him in until the top three?
First off it's Howie verse Malarky for the oyster shuck. Malarks, who is a chef at a seafood restaurant, beats Howie (who actually does well against him) by five oysters. Then, it's Sarah vs. Casey on the onion cut. Sarah is ahead by a mile, cutting onions like a short-order chef at... an onion shack... and Casey deliberately and slowly cuts, and cuts. She is the Leonardo Da Vinci of onion cutting. Dale, (who really should just take over my job here) says something about needing "a speed queen."
Malarkey is staring at Casey and wishing for a "tap out rule." Even Hung, who is on the other team, is staring at Casey and voice-overs, "She's playing with, massaging the onions!" But soon Hung is distracted by his own turn, or as he says, "It's chicken time!" I actually imagine that he says this, just in his own life. E.g, "It's shower time!" "It's coffee time!" Hung is, of course, incredibly fast. Even Tom stares as chicken parts fly around the kitchen.
Hung finishes. Casey is STILL chopping onion! Dale whips ups a storm and poof! -- the challenge is finished. Bad News Bears, victorious. They cheer, they clap, they hug -- I feel like they should turn over the watercooler on the coach (or may I suggest Tre?) but they don't.
Anyway, back to our tedious challenge. Yawn.
Apparently the restaurant patron who was such a jerk last time is -- of course -- a guest this week: his name is Christopher Ciccone (Madonna's brother!!!) and he is here this week to help them make their restaurants look better, or, "fine-tune their concept and design." Dale, who I really want to be my bgb (best gay boyfriend) says that Christopher is "Definitely one of the most annoying people I've ever met in my life." But, ultimately the chefs are happy to have his help.
Cut to the house. It's work-out time! Let's get physical! Tre is on the balcony, clad in a tight tight tanktop and shorts, jumping rope. He makes some comments that have me believe that he's out there every day (but of course) and the producers have been HOLDING OUT on us. Why? I can't think of a reason so I abandon that theory.
The opposing team decides to go out on the balcony to have some brainstorming session (or to leer at Tre, along with the rest of America), clearly assuming that Tre, who has a "brain for business and a bod for sin" won't listen. But readers, Tre is a Renaissance man. He manages to spy on the other team AND do some tantalizing work-out moves, such as pushups with his legs over his head and his hands resting on WEIGHTS! Then, Tre struts around the balcony. Strut, you dish you! Work it!
This brings me to a conversation I had at work recently. My work friend commented that she doesn't see the appeal in Tre. We were in the elevator. I was aghast. "Really? You don't?" I decided that maybe she has to actually WATCH the show to see his appeal? Hear his dreamy smooth baritone? Watch his muscles gently (oh so gently... with the coiled restraint of a Tiger yawning or a Lion playing with a mouse) flex as he scrambles eggs in the morning?
But anyway! Brainstorming. The dream team is in the kitchen talking about menu: Tre cockily volunteers to do dessert, saying, "I can do bread pudding in my sleep." Casey, who has blood in her veins and is therefore attracted to Tre, tries to justify it by talking about how "they have started leaning on each other like brother and sister." (ha!)
It is the next day and Tre is in a dove-grey, silky V-neck sweater. Just saying! The teams are off to get wine. The Bad News Bears have an extra $200 bucks for wine and the help of a consultant who is, of course, Steven from season one. Steven gives them some long-winded, bombastic wine advice that is actually probably very good. Even Hung says, "He may come off as arrogant but he knows his stuff."
The restaurants, with the help of Madonna's Brother, have been redecorated. Dale likes the change but says with all the deep red it's, "kind of like valentines day threw up all over it."
Our guest judge tonight is Geoffrey Zakarian, owner/chef of Town and apparently one of the beautiful people. Ted Allen is also here, (does anyone know where Gail Simmons is? I'm seriously upset about this.) and of course we have Padma and Tom. Tom will be in the kitchens tonight, observing, which I think is an interesting twist. He'll also be eating of course, but in the kitchen. Anything to be closer to Tre!
Let's get to it, shall we? Dale is in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, which I think works but Ted Allen, clearly thinking he needs to give some snark to seem Top Cheffy-like, says "he looks like he's working at Dennys." (Haven't we already had a Denny's crack this season?) Some old chefs show up -- Joey (at one point wearing sunglasses inside) and Sarah and Camille and Leah -- for dinner, and when Dale mentions this, Hung says, "Who?" I love Hung! I'm on team Hung.
We have an assortment of dishes paraded out; the dream team actually has some losers that the judges hate. Mostly two dishes from Tre (head chef) get the most vitriol: a sugar cured salmon dish (our guest judge says it's like "a car wreck in Times Square) with pesto, and his bread pudding that is called "dry".
The Bad News Bears are beating them on the food front, which I think is due to Hung being in the kitchen (who, I really do think is technically the best) and Sarah, who is kind of snappy and mean but seems to be holding them all to very high standards. Howie is bitter when Sarah makes him redo the lamb, which did look seriously undercooked.
Tre is a much more mellow executive chef, and I think the dishes are going out a little sloppier. However, people are really liking the "table-side" service from Tre.
"HI TRE!" shouts Ted Allen, like a groupie. Later when the judges are discussing the meals, (and the fact that the Dream Team's restaurant April had some truly bad dishes) Ted Allen remarks wistfully, "...but I loved how Tre came around and poured the creme anglaise over our desserts..." which for a second I mishear and think he said, "poured the cream anglaise over our shirts." Either way, it sounds dirty and delicious.
The Dream Team loses. Sarah, Executive Chef of the Bad News Bears, wins.
The losers have to go stand before the judging panel, and there isn't any fighting at all. The judges talk about how bad the food was, and for the first time (kill me) I can kind of see Jamie Lee's point; It's kind of horrible to watch. Here they are, Chefs, getting totally reamed by people they consider culinary idols. The flip side is that sometimes they get compliments... But watching them now, all sad, it's hard.
CJ, as the head of the team (since he picked teams) and also as a sous chef, is called out for letting his exec chef send out that disastrous bread pudding. Tom says the team, "Suffered from overconfidence."
The judges talk in private, clearly trying to find a way not to send Tre home, but ultimately they can't avoid it.
Tre, please pack your knives and go.
Farewell! Farewell my love. Farewell. Now, readers, you see why I've gone on especially about Tre this week. It's not because I'm a desperate blogger with bad hair. That's incidental. It's because this is goodbye!
Farewell to flexing muscles, silky baritones, cool-cat delivery and tight (so tight!) white tanks.
Farewell to balcony workouts and charged moments with Tom.
Farewell to real culinary talent.
See you in my dreams!