The Comical Misadventures of a Rambling Mind

If you were stranded on a desert island, which one person would you bring with you?

I think it's pretty obvious the one person I'd bring with me. Tho, I don't think he'd like the heat or the sandy beaches too much.

Ask me anything

I posted this @ 4/30/2010 07:20:00 AM.............Need a link?..........


TOP CHEF 5.11 - Strippin' (SPOILERS)

My apologies on not getting a recap out sooner... An itchy trigger finger on my remote ended up erasing last weeks Top Chef before I had a chance to sit down, rewatch it, and recap it.

From breakfast in bed to a night out on the town. The cheftestants are kept busy this morning making and delivering room service order for Padma and her sleepover mate Nigella Lawson.

Allow me a moment to talk about Nigella... She is insane. I mean, I'm sure she is clinically sane, but she has a tendency to act like a sex-crazed lunatic over food. I LOVE HER! She is like a bobblehead. Have you seen her show? She has a small O every time she whips up some dish in the kitchen that just excites her sense. Plus, I love her accent.


Padma & Nigella are waiting in bed for the chefs to bring them their spin on breakfast. Jennifer serves up Shit On A Shingle. She actually calls it that and gives it to them like that. Whether or not the dish was creative or winning, I just thought it was hilarious that she actually says that to the judges. It was kind of awesome. Jennifer has mentally checked out.

But Jennifer's shit is good... or at least better than Robin's blintzes. Bryan ended up in the bottom as well because the vanilla he used in his dish was too overpowering.

Kevin and Eli are in the top. Kevin's take on steak and eggs are a hit (as always). Eli tossed together his version of a rueben for breakfast. Now that I think about it, maybe that's why I've been craving a Ruenben lately. Damn you, Eli!

Eli ends up taking the top honor with his breakfast Rueben, Brueben if you will. His Bruenben will the only recipe from this season to go in the Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook. Brueben or not, he doesn't get immunity.

For their Elimination Challenge they take a tour of The Strip and must create a dish inspired by one of the casinos. The draw knives to determine which casino they will visit. The must create 175 portions of their casino-inspired dish.

This seems like an easy challenge, but also an easy challenge to get tripped up by. I've been to Vegas. I spent the three days walking around with a libation in my hand. I recall the fountains outside the Bellagio. I also remember a slew of porn promoters flicking strippers collector's cards, much like baseball cards. So the dish that I might create based on my experience might be biased

Jennifer pulled Excalibur. She made New York strip with a red wine reduction, beets, truffles and herbs. The idea was to be like the sword in the stone. Though I'm not sure the whole stone/meat comparison was a good idea.

Kevin drew the Mirage. He made wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with Napa cabbage and cucumber.

Brother Mike had New York New York. He cooked a boneless chicken wing confit with curry and a blue cheese disc.

Robin pulled the Bellagio. She prepared panna cotta. She also made a sugar topping that was supposed to resemble a Dale Chihuly sculpture in the casino. It didn't work out and she never used it.

Bryan drew Mandalay Bay. He made an escabeche of halibut with bouillabaisse consommé, parsley coulis and garlic chips.

Eli had Circus, Circus and made a caramel apple peanut soup with popcorn and raspberry froth.

In the top were Kevin, Brother Mike, and Bryan. The winner... Brother Mike! I'm sure he'll be happy considering he's been bitching for a while now about not winning.

In the bottom were Robin, Eli, and Jennifer. (AGAIN!) I find it intersting that the people that took the challenge a little too literally are the ones in the bottom.

The person packing it in... ROBIN!!! I can't say I'm saddened by this. She out stayed her welcome. She out lasted her entertainment value. She wasn't going to win.

I think the final few contestants have been pretty obvious from the beginning. I wouldn't have picked her to be anywhere close to the finals. So I'm not upset she's gone. But now who will be the person that the show focuses it's ire on? Eli... I'm looking at you!
I posted this @ 11/17/2009 05:15:00 PM.............Need a link?..........


TOP CHEF 5.10 - She Don't Eat Meat, But She Sure Likes The Bone (SPOILERS)

It's another day in the Top Chef Barbie Dream House. Jen is embarrassed that lost she Restaurant Wars last week. She's been on a streak in a bad way. The pressure of constant competition... The pressure of being judged on every bite... The pressure is getting to her and she's starting to crack.

The usual Robin-isms apply here yet again. I'm not even going to bother going over. I'm honestly bored with this storyline. They can send her home anytime. She's outlasted her welcome on this show. She's hanging out in the kitchen and we catch her toss out this nugget of wisdom, "Waiting for coffee is like watching water boil." Which... Correct me if I'm wrong, waiting for water to boil is essentially what she's doing. Or at least waiting for boiling hot water to to slowly leak through coffee flecks. Your Moment of Zen, brought to you by Robin.

In the Top Chef kitchens Padma is waiting with Paul Bartolotta, Italian chef, surprisingly NOT a former Top Chef Masters contestant. Their challenge is simple. They have "60 Minutes" to create a modern "tv dinner" based on a television show. The editors of TV Guide have chosen seven classic shows to use as inspiration. Knives are drawn to determine chef/show.

Kevin - Sopranos
Eli - Gilligan's Island
Jennifer - The Flintstones
Robin - Sesame Street
Bryan - M*A*S*H
Mikey - Seinfeld
Brother Mike - Cheers

Robin is scavenging food from the kitchen. If she can't find what she needs she is going chef to chef asking to borrow some of what they've grabbed from the kitchen. I can't say I wouldn't do this too, but it is a competition. If you don't get the items you want there is no rule that says you'd have to share. Though, clearly people share all the time. It's just that these folks don't want to share with Robin.

Robin never really watched Sesame Street, but she knows a little about it. Cookies for Cookie Monster. An egg to represent Big Bird. Really? I'm thinking colors... numbers... maybe a deaf food. Sesame Street is where I first learned any Spanish. If this was me cooking, I'd toss in something Mexican as a play on that.

Brother Mike has let's us in on a little family moment. When he and Bryan lived with his Mom it was very wholesome, dinner on the table by five, Donna Reed-esque. Then moving in with his father it was dinner around the TV. I can relate to that. The only time I ever got to eat dinner in front of the TV was if we have company over and we didn't have enough chairs. I opted to take my food to my room or to the living room to eat and watch TV.

Brother Mike, with Cheers, wants to do a play of food you'd find in a bar. My thinking would be to do a beer battered fish and chips sorta thing.

Jennifer is struggling. She wants to make some meat with a bone sticking out of it. Yet there is nothing like that in the fridge. She picks chicken instead. Then the interview turns weird... This is the moment that I learn a little more about Jennifer than I ever needed to know. Jennifer must have clearly been asked which character she relates to from The Flintstones. She picks Pebbles because she's cute and has a strong boyfriend in Bam Bam. She isn't sure about him carrying a club and dragging her around by her hair, but "you never know. It could be fun sometimes." WHAT!? Well, I suppose a little light S&M never hurt anyone. Bruises mean love.

Eli's amused to get Gilligan's Island, because he says it's about 20 years before his TV time. And immediately I hate him for his age. Not that it makes me old, but because it makes me think I'm old. It's Gilligan's Island! Even if you didn't watch it when it originally aired it was in syndication for decades! Don't monkey scratch your head at it like it's the giant monolith in 2001.

Jennifer has made a chicken roulade with garlic cream, pea salad & caramelized peaches. Her TV dinner tray looks very bare...

Mikey admits he's never seen Seinfeld as he presents sausage & peppers, mushrooms & cheese, and a warm fruit salad. They don't mention it in the captions for the dish, but he serves a spinach pistachio puree that looks like a pool of bright green liquid. How would you eat that? Why would you eat that?

Kevin gives braised meatballs, creamy polenta, roasted cauliflower, roasted pear. So far this seems like the most TV Dinner-ish dinner. You've got your protein, your mushy stuff, your fruit, and your veggie. Plus the meatballs are clearly Italian. Way to go, Kevin!

Eli prepares a macadamia crusted shrimp, sweet potato puree, herb salad, cherries & bananas. I can see "island" in this, but I'd think overall that this would be way to sweet of a dish.

Brother Mike presents chicken tender Parmesan with braised Swiss chard, and cherry pie. The chicken tender kinda seems like 'bar food' I suppose. But I'm not totally sold as how it's Cheer's-esque.

Robin explains her Sesame Street motif. She thinks of colors and big eyes!! She mades what looks like a hamburger patty with an egg cooked in the middle... to represent a big eye? Yum! She gives a burger with egg (I WAS RIGHT), crispy kale, carrot salad, and almond laced cookie.

Bryan has cooked meatloaf, mashed potato, asparagus & apple tarte tatin. To me, this seems almost too much like a TV dinner. Not a TV dinner that's been made by a Top Chef, but Top Chef making a TV dinner. I could go to the store right now and buy that same tv dinner. Plus I'm not getting M*A*S*H out of this. Unless you count mashed potatoes... I would be thinking Korean Asian foods and flavors.

I've got to be honest with you... Even though there were some good and bad tv dinners served, I didn't get how most of them were really inspired by the television show each chef drew.

In the bottom are the ladies... Robin and Jennifer. Jennifer's pea salad wasn't good and her chicken roulade completely missed it's target. Robin's burger was dry and overall not very special.

In the top are Bryan and Kevin. Kevin's meatball was excellent and clearly very Italian. His pears were perfectly cooked. Bryan's food was overall just plain delicious. In the end... Kevin's the winner with his Soprano's inspired meatball dinner. Can we just crown him champ and get on with it?

There is no more immunity, though I don't think Kevin needs it. Even tho he was in the bottom last week. The only choices were top or bottom. There was no middle ground to skate through. Even though he may not have won immunity a version of his meal with be featured from the Schwann's Home Service foods as a new line of Top Chef inspired meals. Seriously? The Padma Bot 5000 was clearly switched to Promote again. She's pimping the hell out of shit today. TV Guide, Schwann's, and Top Chef's new line of products. All within 15 minutes of the show being on.

For their Elimination Challenge they will be taking over Craftsteak, Chef Tom Collicchio's restaurant at the MGM Grand for one night. At first I'm thinking it will be like the last time they did something similar. They were basically running the show in his restaurant. Instead, they are just making use of his kitchen to serve dinner to a very special guest. Once at Craftsteak, Tom is there to explain they will be serving dinner to actress Natalie Portman and a few other guests. Natalie Portman walks in looking STUNNING! Seriously y'all... Mark called me and pointed out, it takes a lot to make Padma look like a slouch, but Natalie Portman did it with ease.

Eli points out that the only thing Natalie Portman is known for is her role in Star Wars 1, 2, & 3. And with that statement Eli seals the deal on Geekiest Chef Ever On Top Chef. You know he's used the Force on his lightsaber a few times, if you get my drift. Some lonely night while watching the Star Wars trilogies in his parents basement... AAAAND now I just went to that scary visual place that you need Comet for your brain to get rid of.

Natalie drops the bomb that she is a vegetarian. You can see that some of the chefs look like they've been kicked in the nuts. Cooking a vegetarian dish in a steak house? Even the steak is offended. Kevin points out the obvious that all the chefs how have to change their dishes because they thought they were going to cooking orgasmic meat dishes. Instead of giving Natalie Portman a meat-gasm they have to wow her with veggies. Veg-gasm?

Jennifer is in the weeds and she's not even started cooking. Her meat dish is now vegetarian. She calls out she wants to use morels and Robin chimes in that both her and Kevin are using the mushrooms. She opts not to use those and picks eggplants which Eli is also using. In true Top Chef fairness they flip a dried piece of fruit to determine who gets the eggplants. Eli wins. Jennifer ends up getting these mini eggplants that are so cute! Though, I can't imagine they are going to be as fulfilling to cook with. Mikey is going for something he's calling a leek scallop. I'm having a hard time understanding how that will work.

Kevin utters the sad line of "my wife and I"... and hundreds of Kevin hoyay fantasies have been crushed. THANKS TOP CHEF...

Kitchen chaos ensues! Robin is making a dish she's never made before. She is literally overwhelmed by the options of freshness. It seems pretty risky to try and make something you've never done before during an elimination challenge. Go big or go home, I guess. Robin doesn't seem like that type. Even though Eli doesn't see vegetarians as equals he has a plan to wow them with his dish. He's tired of being in the middle of the pack on the show. Mikey is having issues with his preparation. His leeks aren't cooking because the pan is warped and not getting direct contact with the flattop. Jennifer isn't happy. At all... She only cooks vegetarian if she has too. Girlfriend has got to get her shit together and FAST or she'll be going home.

Robin offers stuffed squash blossom, beet carpaccio, fresh garbanzo beans, and chermoula. Everyone seems to find it overly salty. She doesn't get garbanzo beans on all the dishes. Chef Paul shares his with Chef Tom.

Eli has made confit of eggplant, lentils, garlic puree, and radish salad. Everyone seems to be enjoying it. Personally, I've never enjoyed a salad that is strewn all over my plate that I have to chase around to eat what amounts to a half-bite. When Eli gets back to the kitchen he comments to Brother Mike that Natalie has "like 10 reeeeally hot friends." Remember what I was saying about Eli and his parents basement? Yeah... just let that one sink in for a moment.

Brother Mike cooks up an asparagus salad, Japanese tomato sashimi, and banana polenta. There is a mixed reaction to the dish, but not in a bad way. Confused. Exciting. Glad. He is compared to Picasso again. I wonder if Natalie friend who made the Picasso comment knows Ash?

Jennifer has prepared charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, tomatoes and verjus nage. Jen is adding the sauce table side. Which seems like a HORRIBLE idea... I'm nervous for her! She's clearly nervous and some of the guests end up a little 'sauced' themselves. The editors are killing me showing her go nervously and shakily from diner to diner. In the end her dish looks more like a side, rather than an entree.

Mikey has made whole roasted leeks with onion jus, baby carrot puree, and fingerling potatoes. The leeks don't look like scallops to me. Nor are they prepared well. Overall it's a sad dish.

Bryan cooks an artichoke barigoule, confit of shallot, wild asparagus, and fennel puree. Padma makes a comment about the the garlic blossoms being "like a little prick on the tip of her tongue." Padma goes on to say teh garlic blossom may be "tiny in size, but big in your mouth." Natalie can't hold back the laughter at the sound of that and the dick jokes fly. Chef Tom is red with laughter. The person looking most uncomfortable is Quickfire Judge Paul Bartolotta.

Kevin prepares a duo of mushrooms, smoked kale, candied garlic, and turnip purée. Ok... Now I clearly love me some Kevin, but this looks like a pile of wet forest floor scrapings. Kevin admits that his dish isn't as pretty as some of the other dishes. He instructs the servers on placement by using the "brown streak in the front." That alone should tell you it's not a pretty dish. You eat with your eyes first people.

I wonder how many Padma / Padme (Star Wars) jokes were made during this challenge. You know they all came from Eli. You know he was the only one who found them funny.

The is a bonus clip shown during commercials where the cheftestants are invited to chef Paul Bartolotta's restaurant for dinner. Everyone looks thrilled to be there and WHOA!! JENNIFER!! What's with the Just Had Sex Hair? Seriously, y'all... I don't know if she did this on purpose or the Vegas heat has made her loopy. But, damn! In the meanwhile Kevin is talking about being a Power Eater and makes some joke about going to a buffet after their meal and Chef Paul's restaurant. But I'm too distracted by what is clearly a seemingly drunken Jennifer's hair. It cracks me up that she's all gussied up and then after eating leans back and tosses her arms out. All that's missing is a manly belch and for her to stick her hand down the from of her pants a la Al Bundy. Alas, she does neither of these things.

At Judge's Table... Kevin, Brother Mike, and Eli. Eli is just as shocked as the rest of us. They loved the unexpectedness of Brother Mike's banana polenta. Natalie makes the comment that she loves food that makes you question, "What is going on? Who is his dealer and does he want any clients." Thus Natalie secures a place in my heart. I want to have margaritas with her.

Gail has returned as judge and comments on the beautifulness of Eli's dish. That's about the only accolades he's going to get though. They are too in love with Kevin's pile of flavorful forest droppings. Big surprise that Kevin is named the winner. As a result he wins a suite of GE appliances like the ones they've been using in the Top Chef Kitchen. "Sweet," chirps Kevin. I'm sure he'll have fun using them to cook veggies with his wife. Grr!

Brother Mike is now emerging as the villain of the show as he is shown talking down about Kevin's dish. He could've made that dish in twenty minutes he claims.

Eli announces the bad news of Jennifer, Mikey, and Robin being in the bottom. It's been a while since Mikey has been called out solely as a bottom dish. He's clearly upset, more with himself. They call him out for his lack of protein in his dish. He mentioned about how his leeks didn't cook properly because of equipment. That just seems like a bad idea to even bring up. I know he wasn't blaming Chef Tom, but it is Chef Tom's kitchen. I'd be nervous about even dancing near that topic.

Robin elaborates about her dish in only a way Robin can. She literally drones on and on. Jennifer nods off at one point. Padma has to reach over and stir Natalie from her own slumber. Finally Tom has the good sense to just shut her up and call her out on her dishes issues. Bless you, Tom!

Padma questions Jennifer about the time spent on what amounted to a side dish. Two hours to cook what essentially didn't amount to much. They also ask her why she is suddenly so nervous and falling apart. Remember in the beginning of this season why she was coming off as the self proclaimed bitch and ran her kitchens with an iron fist? That's the Jennifer I want back! That's the Jennifer I want in the finales. Not this neutered self-conscious wall flower who is tossing sauce all over judges.

Speaking of sauced judges... what the fuck is Gail wearing?

In the end... Mikey is sent packing. He is gracious yet still has a 'meh' attitude about it. He doesn't seem really upset about it. He is wishing everyone good bye at Judge's Table, and when he goes to wish Jennifer goodbye she gives him a big hug and kiss. It apparently was pretty emotional at that moment because Gail seems a little verklempt herself.

Sorry to see you go, Mike. Watching you was an up and down affair for me. I didn't care for you, but I didn't think you'd go home just yet. I pegged you as #4 or #5 in the end. See you at the reunion!

Washington Post aritcle about Mikey
I posted this @ 10/30/2009 08:52:00 AM.............Need a link?..........


TOP CHEF 5.9 - The Hostess With The Mostess (SPOILERS)

Previously on Top Chef... Everybody hates Ro-... You know what? Just go back and read my last two or three recaps. They've all been pounding in the same point to us. Robin is disliked. Strongly. And Robin is well aware of it.

I found out an interesting fact on Padma this week. I've always wondered what her cooking background was, or if she even had one. She had a short lived cooking show on that other 'network' about 'food'. Even had a few recipes listed on their website. She's written a book on food/travel. Until very recently she was married to Salman Rushdie. Yes, THAT Salman Rushdie. So she's not just a talking head.

You might remember this weeks guest judge from his shot on Top Chef Masters. I've come to the conclusion that they must've filmed both TCM and TC at the same time. Because there have been a LOT of guest judges who were on both. It would also explain why the regular Top Chef judges weren't available to judge Top Chef Masters. But I digress...

The cheftestants are asked to draw knives. As they go down the line, most of the chefs are drawing blanks. Literally. There is nothing written on their knives. It isn't until they come to Jennifer who draws a knife saying "First". Moving on down the line... a few more blanks pulled and it's down to the last two knives. Bryan and Brother Mike are left. Bryan asks his brother which knife he wants. Brother Mike snips at him to just pick a knife. Bryan pulls a blank. Brother Mike pulls "Second". What this means is that Jennifer has first choice of three other people she wants on her team. Brother Mike will choose second. It's a schoolyard style pick.

Jennifer, after some debate about whether or not to split up the Voltaggio Brothers, picks Kevin, Laurine, & Mikey. Brother Mike takes Bryan (obviously), Eli, and Robin. Robin was the last one to be picked. So I'm not sure I can say Brother Mike actually selected her. Robin's self-awareness of her order in the food chain seems to be shown a bit more. She knows where she stands with these people. Yet, she is still there and she's going to cook the best food she can. She's a brave little toaster...

Padma explains the rules to this Highstakes Quickfire. It's a relay. Each chef will have 10 minutes to cook. A whistle will blow and the next chef takes over. Each team will be preparing one dish in 40 minutes. They can not speak to each other. They can not see each other, because if you're not cooking yet, you're blindfolded. The team with the best cohesive dish after 40 minutes will win $10,000 to besplit amongst them. They're given 30 seconds to decide the order that they will be cooking.

For Jen's Team (Blue) - Jen, Laurine, Mikey, & Kevin. The idea being that Jen can whip out the mise en place quickly and get things started. Laurine and Mikey will keep things moving. Kevin and his plating skills will wrap things up.

For Brother Mike's Team (Red) - Eli will start out of relay since he can easily see what the fridge would have and make good selections. Robin is placed safely in the middle where she isn't responsible for picking anything goofy or a final product. Bryan will go third and team leader Brother Mike will plate the dish. There is some tension running between the brothers today and it's getting thick.

Jen and Eli are ready to run to their stations. The other chefs are blindfolded. Aaaaaand COOK!!!

Jen manages to set her team up pretty quick. She grabs some fish and scallops. Gets a sauce started. And has some olive oil ready to poach her fish in. Laurine comes in and takes over. She figures out the sauce pretty quickly, but the olive oil confuses her. Is it for frying? She powers through the best she can. Mikey is up to bat and he too in confused about the oil, but presumes Jen wanted them to poach something. He keeps on going with the cooking, but it isn't until Kevin comes in that you can see the dish come together. The olive oil is too hot to poach anything so he lightly fries the sablefish in butter. He doesn't use the scallops, and brings the sauce into play on the dish.

On Brother Mike's Team... Eli is quick to grab what he needs from the fridge and pantry and has set a good pace. Strip steak, veggies, avocado. Robin comes in a seems a bit confused by all ingredients, and manages to baby most of the food and not screw anything up. Bryan comes in and puts together a avocado puree (GUACAMOLE!!), and starts a whipped miso. Brother Mike swings for the fences pulling all these ingredients together.

Red Team has cooked a Pan roasted NY strip with whipped miso, avocado purée and pickled vegetables. Blue Team has prepared sablefish with sautéed mushrooms, shiitake broth and radish salad in yuzu vinaigrette. During Jen's explanation of the dish she calls the fish trout. "On national TV," she laments and gives a thumbs up.

Chef Moonen picks the Blue Team as the winners. Padma explains the Highstakes part of the challenge now. They can either take the $10,000 and split it or let it ride and if they win the Elimination Challenge they EACH get $10,000. They choose to let it ride. I can't say that I blame them. They have a strong team. While Laurine is the weakest link on the team she's no slacker. The other team has Robin. Laurine comments that it's nice to be on the winning end of things.

I do find it interesting that the only time Laurine has won has been when she's been on a team. It's not for her own individual cooking abilities, but for what she's contributed to the overall dish. Which brings me to another point. There is a very clear line between who's good and who's not this season. The Voltaggio Brother, Kevin, and Jennifer are clearly in the top. While everyone else is not. Not that they aren't good chefs, but they aren't going to win. Id on't recall past seasons being so divided.

Padma starts 'splainin the Elimination Challenge. They will be using Chef Moonen's Las Vegas restaurant as the location for Restaurant Wars. This challenge has easily become the one challenge that all chefs look forward to. It is a badge of honor to win this challenge. This is what these people do for a living. Open up restaurants and serve customers. So hopefully they will be rock stars at it.

The teams go off to their separate corners to discuss their menu. Brother Mike and Bryan are getting in to it again, this time over dessert. Bryan wants to make a dessert that he did in a previous challenge. Brother Mike turns up his nose at it. Claiming it didn't work last time and landed him in the bottom, which is true. But still... He's learned from that, hopefully, and can make it better. Also, this is your brother as well as your competitor. And for this challenge he's your teammate. Maybe a little less attitude is called for? The decide on the restaurant name Revolt... which is a horrible horrible idea. (R)obin, (E)li, (Volt)aggio is the inspiration. I immediately jump to revolting as do several others along the way. Yet no one seems to think this is a bad idea. They try to spin it as tho it's an uprising a rebellion. Yeah... Not so much.

The Blue Team is very confident going in that they are going to bang out some great food. Jen is great with her sauces. Kevin can cook a piece of meat to perfection. They're stoked. They decide to steer clear of a dessert since that is always a good way to shoot yourself in the foot. Which is an admirable idea, but in a restaurant to not have a dessert option isn't going to sit well with judges or patrons. You just know it. Hell... Make a cake. Make Jell-O for Pete's sake. I'm not a pastry chef and even I can tell you that there are some very simple desserts out there. The decide on the name Mission, based on the simple Mission-style furniture and as a comforting way of life.

Off to Whole Foods they go. Robin seems some strategy in not letting the other team see what's in the shopping cart. I don't know that I understand why. Two people could each pick an ingredient and prepare it in completely different ways. The judges aren't going to be comparing them side by side. Oh... and what was that ingredient she didn't want them to see? Sparkling water. Robin's going to win the challenge with sparkling water. *slow clap* You're next Top Chef, ladies and gentlemen.

Once at Chef Moonen's restaurant it's a two level kitchen/dining area. The Blue Team takes the upstairs restaurant while the Red Team takes the down stairs restaurant. I don't know that there was any strategy behind it, but that was the Blue Teams advantage because they won the Quickfire. Maybe someone else can explain that to me.

In the Red kitchen there is definitely a leader. Even though the brother do get into a few arguments it is what I imagine a big-time restaurant kitchen feels like. Robin is constantly being questioned on what she's doing. Which, I can understand. It may not be nice, but if you don't have confidence in one of your teammates and you don't want to lose because of something they do... I'd ask too. As Robin is plating her dish, there is an argument between her and Brother Mike. He starts to take over the plating of her dish after telling her how to plate it. There is cussing, which is called out for being unprofessional. Raised voices. Hurt feelings. It's a mess.

I can understand Brother Mike's viewpoint as a leader in the kitchen. He doesn't want to lose. He clearly doesn't trust Robin's ability. He's also being unemotional about it. Unemotional, in the hurt feelings sorta way. Robin on the other hand isunderstandable upset that someone is trying to bulldoze her. I don't see her as the competitive type tho. So instead of seeing this as Brother Mike trying to make sure they have a winning dish, and restaurant by extension, she sees it as being stifled and walked over. It's a tough call. In the end, they both need a good shot of tequila and a shag.

The Blue kitchen seems a little more frantic, but for different reasons. Kevin and Jennifer are running behind on their dishes. Prep timeactually runs out as Jennifer is working ao she decides that she'll just have to make her dishes to order. This will cost them some time as diners will have to wait longer. There doesn't seem to be a real leader in the kitchen. While everyone may be working well together, no one is really stepping up and taking the leadership mantle. I'm surprised Jennifer didn't do it. When they had to feed the troops buffet-style. Robin stepped up and really showed that she can take control and get thigns done and on time. What's happened to her? She seems to be losing her edge a bit. I'm worried for her.

Here come the judges! Red Team, Go! Eli is working the front of the house. He greets the judges and present them with the following food. Brother Mike made chicken and calamari 'pasta.' Eli, not only being host, makes a smoked arctic char. Bryan present a duo of beef. Brother Mike has also made cod and billi-bi sauce. Robin makes pear pithivier with vanilla bean ice cream. Bryan makes chocolate ganache. A nice well rounded menu and the judges seem to love everything that comes out. Eli has a good personality and is working the room without showboating.

Blue Team, Go! Laurine decides to work the front. No one had to talk her into it. I only mention it because it's sometimes a dangerous place to be. Also, most chefs want to be hands-on with the food they're presenting. Something to keep in mind. Mikey cooks asparagus and six-minute egg. Jen presents arctic char tartare, bouillabaisse consommé, and pan-seared trout. (Not sablefish? You sure this time Jen?) Kevin makes pork three ways. Laurine prepares lamb with carrot jam. As she is presenting the food to the judges she doesn't even explain what it is. Which... is 'fine' for a regular diner, but these are the judges. These are the people you're REALLY trying to impress. She seems to be falling apart and just ready to go to her secret crying place.

Just seeing Blue's dishes... Wow... It's REALLY meat heavy and there doesn't seem to be anything light. I know you don't win Top Chef with salads. Yet, still... I'm bloated just seeing it.

The judges are less impressed with Mission's menu and food. Toby is missing a dessert to wrap up the night. Padma needs more salt for Mikey's opening course. Jen's butter has separate and it's just grease now. Kevin's meat is all over the place. He's executing Laurine's lamb dish. Some are over cooked. Some are undercooked. Kevin claims that what he calls rare and what she calls rare are two different things. Seems nitpicky, but I see his point. They need to be clearer and what is what.

You can tell it's going to be a long night.

Back in the Stew Room Mikey says that if Red Team loses, then their food must've really sucked because Blue Teams food was not good. Everyone was off their game. I get the point, but the way Mikey says it really is a backhanded compliment in it's truest form. Tact, Mikey... Tact!

The Red Team is called out first... Sure enough they are the winners. They are SO winners they are called the best restaurant that Top Chef has seen in six seasons. Which is high praise considering some of the past winners. Not to mention having Robin on their team. Overall, they loved the food. Brother Mike ends up being the big winner. And what does he win!? Chef Rick Moonen's latest book! YAY?! I hate when guest chefs do that. Padma sweetens the deal be saying Brother Mike also wins the $10,000 that the Blue Team gambled. Brother Mike offers to split it amongst his team since it was a team effort. That's nice of him, but does everyone feel that way?

Back to the Stew Room Eli delivers the news and Blue Team goes before the judges. Mikey's food is called out for being ok, but not really excellent. Everyone had execution problems. Laurine was responsible for a dish, but didn't really make sure it was done right. Jennifer is embarrassed by her dish. Where's your edge, girl!? In the end because of poor service all around and a poorly planned/executed dish... Laurine goes home.

I was truly worried. I didn't dislike Laurine, but she didn't stand out for her dishes. She was on a team with Kevin and Jennifer, whom I like. Mikey was the other person, but his food was safe. Literally... I'm glad she went home instead of someone who could potentially win it all this season. Sorry Laurine. I'm sure you are going to be upset that you were out lasted by Robin. I'd hate to be anyone in the Top Chef Secret Barbie Hideaway House that has to listen to you rant about that. Good luck!

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I posted this @ 10/22/2009 08:23:00 AM.............Need a link?..........


TOP CHEF: 5.8 - The Other White Meat (SPOILERS)

This is going to be a quickie. Sorry guys. Sometimes real life gets in the way of your entertainment. My sincere apologies!

Tonight's episode is all about pairs. Pairs that go together. Pairs that clash. Let's watch together as Top Chef heavy hands it to us who gets along and who doesn't. Speaking of which...

I've been trying to come up with a nickname for Eli. He reminds me of a cross between Seymour from Little Shop Of Horrors and Chunk from The Goonies. So bear with me as I try a few out.

Hey did you know that Eli "Mushink" lives with his parents? Because we're going to see a conversation of him talking on the phone to his Mom. It's perfectly ok for him to live with his parents and not pay rent at 25. Which... I personally wouldn't question, but why bring it up as a point that he has a relationship with his parents? Well that's because it'll come up later in the episode. The gun in Act One will be used in Act Three. This 'law' of writing, is also used in reality show editing.

Also, in case this is your first episode.... Everybody hates Robin. That would make a clever title for a sitcom, or some variation of that. Somebody should look into that. The fact that Robin is compelled to narrate her every thought it shown through a voice over and reaction shots of other chefmates.

Someone has set Padma-bot 9000 to Promote and she begins to talk about Alexia snack products. I kind of wish the snack chips seemed more fun like Emerald Nuts. I still crack up at the one where the Addicted To Love girls to try turn the guy who's napping in his back yard.

But I digress...

Guest judging today is chef Charlie Palmer. It just so happens that both Bryan and Brother Mike worked for Charlie. I kinda see this as an unfair moment in the show. The Brothers are both very talented chefs. Even tho they've had their missteps in the kitchen during the show, if they win it would be easy for someone to cry foul. It just sets up a possible awkward circumstance. If they win, someone could say it was unfair... If they lose, the brothers could say it was unfair to them, via reverse discrimination. It's no-win for them this episode, I fear.

ANYWAY... Padma-bot explains that they must create a dish that pairs well with one of the flavors of snack chips. How friggin' hard would that be? I don't care how gourmet a friggin' snack chip is, it is still a snack food. This entire challenge is making me peckish. I give serious consideration to make a dish to go with the 'gourmet' Tostitos corn chips in my pantry. I'm thinking of pairing them with guacamole... I mean avocado mousse. I'M A CHEF!!!

There is a lot of scrambling as usual and Jennifer is particularly stressed because if they don't taste her food first, she's done. I don't know how this is decided, but wouldn't you know who get to go first... Not Jennifer. So she's worried her pork chops will be overcooked.

The bottom three are Ash, Robin, and Jennifer. No surprise to herself.

The top three are Bryan, Eli "Truffle Shuffle", and Kevin. The winner is... Ke-... WHA-?! Truffle Shuffle wins!? Yup... Mama's Boy Eli wins the Alexia Snack Chip challenge. I'm surprised he isn't given a years supply of the chips or something. You know he'd think it's awesome to sit around in his parents basement, playing XBox, drinking Red Bull, eating Alexia Snack Chip. I'm kinda jealous my own self.

For the Elimination Challenge, we get to the real reason Chef Charlie Palmer is there. Pigs & Pinot! The cheftestants draw knives and are each assigned a part of the pig that they'll be cooking. Jennifer draws the Wild Knife which means she can pick whatever part she wants to use. She picks the belly, which should have enough fat to keep her pork from drying out. The chefs will each be making 150 tasting portions, of their selected pig part and pairing it with a wine.

The chefs are taking to the Mandalay Bay Casino where the Wine Angels are. If you've never seen it, it's kind of cool. A large tower of wine that holds thousands of bottles. Each bottle is retrieved by 'angels' who ride a harness and pulley system that lowers and raises them around the wine tower. It's pretty impressive. Once there, they chefs are treated to a wine tasting in order to select the type of wine they'll be using.

I have always wanted to go to a wine tasting. I'm fascinated by how some people can tell a lot about the various notes and flavors a wine might have. It's totally snobby and high falootin', but I'd love to give it a go.

Each chef selects a wine that they feel will go well with their dish. Now... this is hard! I know that some of these guys are probably excellent at it, but just take a moment to think about it. First you have to analyze the flavors you're getting from the wine. Then you have to decide what you're going to make and shop accordingly. Then you have to prepare your dish to match the wine. Shit... I'm going back to cooking food to go with potato chips. Fuck this noise.

Jennifer has seemed to get her groove back. And not in the biblical way. Tho I have no proof that... oh just forget it. The brothers seems verycompetitive. Even more so than normal. I'm guessing it's because their former boss is one of the judges. No pressure, right kids?

Once the shopping necessities have been gathered from Whole Foods we follow the chefs back to the Top Chef Barbie Dream House. As they are cooking dinner, we see Robin and Eli get into a heated passive aggressive bitch fest about what seemed to be washing a cutting board. Seriously...? Eli clearly doesn't like Robin and his way of expressing this is to basically ignore her and not listen to anything she asks. Robin's way of addressing Eli comes off as overbearing mother-in-law-ish and passive aggressive. Mikey actually has the right idea by talking to her as little as possible. If you don't like her, limit your interactions with her. Granted you're in a tiny Top Chef Barbie Dream House, but I can't imagine she can be in EVERY room at the same time.

After a few snipes back and forth, Eli walks out of the kitchen with his dinner and shouts, "You're not my mother!" To which Robin replies, "I know I'm not. If I was I would've raised you better." BANG!! The Act Three gun has gone off. Ouch! Harsh! That's not really only a slap to Eli, but also to Mama Chunk. Leave her out of it.

I'm also fascinated by the way the guys are eating. Truly Frat Boy / Caveman style. Eli has taken the pan of food and silverware to a living room area and the remaining guys are hovering over it like it's a slaughtered mastodon. Picking the pan clean. Seriously... there is little need for plates when a pan and a fork will do.

The next day the chefs start prepping for their Pigs & Pinot challenge. The brothers have a few harsh words for each other. Ash feels like he is really cooking "his food" finally. Yet as he's prepping decides to switch gears completely, changing up his dish. Jennifer is feeling much better about the food she's putting out. Laurine is feeling really good that she's made a winning dish. Tho she is substituting pork for rabbit in a rillettes dish she's made before.

Once at the venue the chefs set up, and before you know it... there is a HUGE line of hungry people waiting to be served. They are truly stampeding over the hill towards the chefs. It's a bit frightening and I'm not even cooking.


Brother Mike has prepared root beer-braised pork cheek with a truffle bun and vanilla/cherry sauce.

Ash chilled pork tenderloin with cherry and corn salad.

Eli Truffle Shuffle present a braised pork belly with carrot puree and raw celery and fennel as a play on mirepoix.

Kevin has given us pork leg paté with mushroom salad and pickled cherries and a pork fat-based mayonnaise.

Brother Mike has made pork shoulder stuffed with prosciutto, dates and pine nuts and served over orange blossom yogurt.

Bryan has a braised pork spare rib served over parsnip puree with mostarda.

Jennifer cooked a pork belly braised in soy sauce with a salad made of tomatoes, black olives, apples, celery and truffles.

Laurine made pork butt rillettes on an arugula salad with a golden raisin and pearl onion chutney on top.

Robin has prepared a brined center-cut pork chop stuffed with sweet potato-apple roulade and a sour cherry-coffee demiglace.

The fact that so many chefs used fruit with the pork really says something to me. The Brady Bunch had it right. Pork chops and applesauce. There is a reason it's a classic. Pork and apples pair well. All of this reminds me of another writing 'law' I heard. There are no new stories. It's been said that the plots of most all books and movies can be boiled down 7 basic ideas for stories. It's just the rehashing and retelling of these stories that can make them familiar and enjoyable. The same can be said for food, I believe. Pork and fruit is a classic combination. But depending on how you put it together and the new spin you give to the dish... THAT's what excites the palate and the diner.

So who made the best pairing of food and wine? In the top are Bryan, Brother Mike, Jennifer and Kevin. Chef Charlie has high praise for each of the brothers. While, Toby Young compares Jennifer's dish to an exciting hairy arm pit as compared to a boring clean shaven arm pit. This cracks Chef Tom up! He turns red and busts out laughing, putting his head down on the table. I think Toby has clearly had more than a tasting portion of wine tonight. He finally explains how this is a compliment to Jennifer's dish, but really... Someone take Toby to the Promises or Betty Ford or something! Cut him off!

The winner is... KEVIN! They love Kevin's wine pairing. They can't stop talking about his dish as they're eating it. Can we just name Ginger Bear the winner, already? He wins a spot as guest chef in Charlie Palmer's event next year. Woot??

In the bottom are Robin, Laurine, and Ash. None of whom seem to really be too surprised they are there. Well, maybe Robin, because I don't know that she has a clear grasp on what she's cooking. To be fair... Ash seems a bit shocked too, but it's because when he changed his dish mid-stream he thought it was for the better. Clearly, not. Laurine is called out on what she calls a rillette, being nothing close to a rillette. Actually, one of the guest tasters who was not an official judge tonight, called her dish "cat food." Which, again, is harsh! Other than having your food spit out, that's about as bad as it gets.

As I'm sitting here watching it and conferring with Mark, we both agree that while we don't want it to be, that Ash is going home... and sure enough. Padma-bot has just enough energy reserves to chirp out his name and tell him to GTFO. Even though the other chefs would prefer it be Robin going home, they are stuck with her for a little bit longer.

Goodbye, Ash! You'll be missed. Watching him makes me think that's how I'd be if I was on the show. He was humble in his ability and high in his praise of others. He knew when something could be a big hit in someone else's food, but couldn't stop from second guessing himself with his own. He was amusing, self efficacing, and well liked be all. Jennifer is the first to give him a big ol' hug as he announces he's going home. OhMyGod did he just plant a kiss on Mikey's cheek? I thought it was Brother Mike he had the man crush on? Hrm... Oh well. Not my type. So maybe he's not how I would've been like on the show at all.

Next week... RESTAURANT WARS!!! This is always a big deal each season. The chefs all know it's coming eventually. It's kind of what they all want to at least make it to in the show. It's the equivalent to "The Tribal Merge" on Survivor... Which I am missing so that I can write this snippet of entertainment for you. So I hope you enjoy it! Tell a friend! Drop me a note! Leave a comment!!
I posted this @ 10/15/2009 07:32:00 PM.............Need a link?..........


TOP CHEF: 5.7 At Home Is Where The Heart Is (SPOILERS)

Top Chef was kind enough to give me a reprieve last week. Just when I was getting in the swing of writing these recaps. You'll forgive me? I'm rusty.

Previously on Top Chef... Everyone hates Robin. Eli really hates Robin because he claims she used her cancer to her advantage to win over the guest judge. Douche. A drunkenLaurine spouted off about Robin winning. Ron went home.

We open in the Top Chef Barbie House to Ash commenting on how could have easily gone home last week. And he's right! He didn't go to culinary school, yet here he is competing with some great competition. I personally don't think he'll win it. But I do appreciate the fact that someone without a whole lot of formal training can really make it in the culinary world. Ash has a little Chef Crush on Brother Michael.

Brother Michael would like to tell you about his family. He wants to win so he can justify the time away from them. Which is admirable... He's not taking it lightly that he's off gallivanting around while they're at home missing him.

Uh-oh! Wait... We're talking about Ash & Michael this early in the episode. This can't be good for them. Editing loves to let you feel sorry for a competitor right before they get kicked off. *bites nails*

Jennifer is not feeling well, but she doesn't want you to feel sorry for her. She's having none of your pity. She wants to kick ass. She's had to cook while sick before. Ok ... Now I'm not a the Sanitary Police. But depending on what kind of 'sick' she is... wouldn't that be kind of unhealthy to the people who eat her food? If she's all drippy andcoughy around things that other people are eating? Just a thought.... Maybe I'm over-thinking it and it's just a womanly sick. No offense. I'm just trying to be delicate here.


Tyler Florence will be the guest judge today on Iron Che-... wait... who? I had to double check the channel I was on. Dissension in the food ranks! Kevin explains who Tyler Florence is... as he dances around the subject of Tyler Florence's cooking shows on That Other Food Network... Wait? Can I say that? The other channel that is actually dedicated to food.

The challenge is sponsored And boy howdy is it about Cookster. Cookster. Cookster. Cookster. Now can I have some money for promoting the site as well? Because... Damn! Padma is getting really good at spokeswoman gig.

The challenge involves taking a pull at a slot machine and making a dish based on the three words that come up on the slot wheels. A mood... a taste/texture... a cuisine... This sounds like fun! The combinations that might come up are pretty interesting.

Oh it's also a High Stakes Quickfire!

Kevin pulls: Stressed, Hot & Spicy, Asian. Immediately, I think of my Korean step-mother and her kimchi. Oh... and Kevin doesn't cook Asian food. Ever.
Mikey I: Stressed, Umami, Asian. He explains Umami is not salty, not sweet, not sour, not spicy... It's umami. I believe the term he's looking for is savory.
Jennifer: Adventurous, Nutty, American. This sounds like the tag line for a movie. A bad movie... Starring Brenden Fraiser or Vin Diesel in a comedic role.
Eli: Stressed, Umami, Latin American.
Bryan: Adventurous, Tangy, Asian.
Robin: Stressed, Umami, Middle Eastern.
Michael: Adventurous, Crunchy, Asian. For me... that would be eating at this sushi place called Blue. The dish? Simply enough, Sushi Blue. I swear it has frosted flakes on the outside of the sushi roll. It wasn't bad.
Ash: Tired, Tart, Italian. Every time I hear tart I think of tart the personal quality. Not the flavor. Hopefully someone plays on that.
Ashley: Blue, Cheesy, Middle Eastern

Everyone who has umami is fighting for the mushrooms. Mikey has cooked all kinds of food, but not Asian. So he's a little worried. Ashley isn't too keen on her draw of Middle Eastern food. Of all the options... I'd say Middle Eastern is the one I'd hate to get. I hear Middle Eastern and I think earthy, lots of rich spices, chicken dishes, flat breads, yogurt sauces.

Robin is picking up on the clear vibe that even though she won the last Quickfire, some people see her as undeserving. Well, good. At least she's aware that people are kind of rooting against her in the house. Not that I approve, but at least she's not clueless.

Jennifer thinks that your mood and personal life she stay out of your work. She's doing what she can to live by that sentiment, even though she feels likeluke-warm death.


Mikey made a raw mushroom salad with yuzu emulsion.

Ash cooked up a "Pantry" Pasta Puttanesca. HA!! I love it! Someone DID play on the word 'tart'. Puttanesca being the pasta sauce that the 'ladies of the night' would use to lure the men into their brothels. Puttanesca also being VERY close to a swear word in Spanish if I do recall correctly. It is a delicious sauce. Very olive heavy.

Brother Michael gives yuzu curd with whipped Greek yogurt & seaweed cracker. I'm sorry, but nothing about this sounds good to me.

Eli offers up a mushroom ceviche. You know SOMEONE had to make a ceviche. The thing is... I'm not sure how a mushroom would hold up to being 'cooked' in an acidic liquid like what is typically done with seafood.

Kevin puts out a char-grilled pork with Vietnamese herb salad.

Robin gives us root vegetable hash with cumin and curry oil. I don't really think of cumin and curry as being Middle Eastern. Padma agrees... and then Robin finally agrees too. Way to stick up for your dish.

Ashley has made feta pudding with sumac dusted halibut. Ok. Feta I love... Sumac... isn't that like one of those poison things people get on their skin. Yum?

Jennifer cooked up Maine diver scallops with pistachios and salmon roe.

But who was in the bottom? Robin and her Middle Eastern 'curry'. Jennifer and her 'adventurous' salmon roe which people have been doing for years. Eli killed umami with the overwhelming citrus in the ceviche.

Winners? Mikey! Kevin! Michael! He was most particularly impressed with Kevin's dish since he'd never cooked Asian food before. Now while I'm a huge Kevin fan... I do have to wonder how Tyler would know for sure that he'd never done Asian. He could be lying. He's not, but he could be. He still wins and wins big. He has a choice. Take $15,000 or immunity? He takes the money. WOW! I would've taken immunity. The money is nice, but beingguaranteed to be one round closer to the big prize is better. I would've taken immunity. But Kevin has balls and the cooking chops to back up his confidence. Go Kevin.

Ashley admits she would've also taken the money. If you're going to win, win on your dish being good. Not because you got pushed through with help.


Why are the Jonas Brothers selling houses on Million Dollar Listing? They don't make enough money as it is? Rachel Zoe season finale? She still has a show... Good grief!

Elimination Challenge!

Padma meets the chefs at the Top Chef Barbie House and brings them outside to discuss the tough economic times. As a result people are cooking at home more. Family style dinners. The chefs will pair off by drawing knives. The knives will also tell them what secret ingredients they'll be using to create their family style dish.

The other guests for the at-home dinner party are Nancy Silverton and her crazy hair and glasses, Govin Armstrong. Takashi Yagihashi, and Tom Douglas. All chef and restaurant owners.

Jennifer voices her concerns about cooking for these guys and being nervous. The confessional is so vague it could've been recorded at anytime. Mikey talks about who he doesn't want to work with, Robin. As the Anvil Of Irony looms dangerous over his head... Robin pulls her knife. She's partnered with... Mikey! Can you hear thecartoony whistle of the falling Acme Anvil?

A majority of the Top Chef Pantry has been moved into the Top Chef Barbie House Kitchen. There are ten chefs cooking in the one kitchen. With the one stove. With the four burners.

Team Michael & Ash (Team Mash) grab a couple Macy's-provided woks and set up in another room. Michael suggest ravioli and Ash agrees, and they're off! Kevin & Jennifer are paired up and find their ingredient bag to be full of Asian condiments andbok choy. So I guess Kevin will have to draw from his extensive asian culinary background and pull another recipe out of his ginger ass, and win? Again? We'll see. Ash & Eli are going the gnocchi route. She's made gnocchi before and does it daily at her restaurant. Topping it with prawns brings some concern. Mikey & Robin are also bagged with a bagful of Asian ingredients. His plan is to take the lead and win it on his own. Let Robin do her thing and just do it by himself so she can't eff up his dish.

Jennifer is seen in a better mood. Hrm... her 'sickness' sure lasted a short period... of time...

Michael is ordering Ash around and he perfectly ok with that. Refer back a couple recaps where ash makes a crack about being "on top." Same joke applies here. Michael admires his skill and knows that one day he'll be a great chef. Robin is adding her two cents and Mikey is really just steamrolling her with his ideas. Robin doesn't want to be in charge, but wants her input. Mikey gives her little things to do and throwing out hercontributions.

Chef Tom comes in for his Sniff 'n' Sneer wearing a VERY purple shirt. I'm far from a fashionista, but dude does NOT look good in purple. As he cruises by Ash & Eli he smirks at the idea of putting prawns on gnocchi. They question him about his reaction, but he can't really give direction or correction. Just question. I think that's a shame. I think they need a TimGunn-esque person to come in an independently sample the dishes and offer tips. Did Chef Tom just use the term d-bag? Awesome! He breezes through an interview with Robin and Mikey who are clearly in a tense mood. Ash & Brother Michael are working as hard as they can when Tom comes in. Brother Michael explains his dish which sounds like a deconstructedcarbonara . I think he's stuck on the last challenge. I'm not sure about the idea honestly. The flavors sound good, but... eh.... Kevin & Jenn are doing Korean BBQ... which Mark would agree, reminds us of one of our favorite scenes from a little LisaKudrow show called The Comeback. "You see a box of puppies... I see Korean BBQ!" Ahh... Good times...

As Tom gives us a rundown of the challenge and what's going on in the Top Chef's Barbie Kitchen, he mentions that... basically... the person who fucks up the least while only having one stove/oven and a grill to use... will be the winner. Nice vote of confidence!


Ashley is cooking prawns because Eli wouldn't want to touch them with a ten foot skewer. Brother Michael blows a fuse. Literally. So now his halibut isn't searing properly. He goes on to say that once you start to cook fish you can't stop. It doesn't like that. Mikey sees that Robin is burning the tuna. Not charring... burning. Fine line. Back to Ashley, she notes that the gnocchi she handed off to Eli to cook is now WAY saltier than it was before. Sabotage on Eli's part? Hrm...

Padma is playing the hostess with the mostess. Seriously... she seems so gracious. I want to hang out with her and just travel around eating. To continue with the endorsements, Tyler Florence from that other food network... not to be confused with the Food Network (notice the capitalization)... explains what the Food Council is. I, honestly, black out at this point from overload. Just cook already!!! I'm pretty sure Judge Toby does too.


Ashley & Eli want to do a play on surf 'n' turf. Grilled spot prawns with red beet creme fraiche sauce, gnocchi & kale. Correct me if I'm wrong, but surf 'n' turf is usually a land animal and a sea animal. I'm not getting it. Half the time the issue with the chefs is that the explain it wrong and that gives the judges the wrong idea of what they were trying to make. Guest diner Tom Douglas pretty much calls out the prawns from Ashley & Eli as the biggest offense you could make against the planet. I don't know if he owns stock in prawns or what, but dude.. harsh!

Team Mash do a play on a carbonara (deconstructed, but probably over used the word last episode). Pancetta-wrapped halibut with egg yolk ravioli, asparagus & fennel salad. What I love about this dish is that the 'salad' consists of about as much greenery as two blades of grass. And it's a SALAD!!! Sell it people!!!

Kevin & Jennifer BBQ Kobe beef, with cardamom, tomato, ginger broth. Tyler loves it. He loves everything about it. The broth is excellent and really brings the dish together.

Laurine & Bryan serve a pan roasted halibut with sherry-chorizo vinagrette, yellow corn cake and avocado mousse. See? Now let's break this down. Yellow corn cake = Jiffy corn bread mix. Avocado mousse = guacamole. Cooking is easy!! It's all in how you explain it. The can't get enough of their halibut. Compared to Team Mash and their halibut.

Brother Michael is worried about his fish, as he should! Ash says it was Michael's dish, but he takes blame for not questioning him more. He let his Chef Crush get in the way. His brother, Bryan, is worried for him.

He did you know people don't like Robin. She apparently thinks out loud. She doesn't shut up. She talks all the damned time. If you don't know that people find her the fool, the editors have added jaunty music to set the mood.

At Judges table they call Kevin & Jennifer and Laurine & Bryan. Kevin & Jennifer didn't really have a team leader they just worked well together. They LOVED the broth and wanted more. InLaurine & Bryan's dish they loved the sherry-chorizo vinaigrette. I'm curious to make something like that and see how it goes. I'd love to know how they did it. Laurine credits Bryan for being the driving force behind the dish.

And the winner is... JENNIFER!!! Her first win! She's stoked! She wins a $10,000 gift card form Macy's. She went from sick to the bottom to winner in 24 hours. Not bad. I'm rooting for you to go all the way.

Back in the Stew Room, Kevin is asking about the dish that Team Mash put together. Portion size. Components. Plating. Bryan has had enough... you can tell he's worried about his brother and it comes out directed at Kevin. I don't think Kevin was being judgmental. I don't think Bryan was out of line. Kevin was curious. Bryan was stressed. The moment passes.

As they question they question Team Mash on their dish Brother Michael knows the fish was overcooked. He's no fool. He faults bad luck with the fuse being blown and the power going out. Tyler doesn't buy it and chides him for using it as an excuse. Is it? Really? Because, yes it'sunfortunate... but how many options did they really have? I think this goes back to what Chef Tom said on his walk through . The winner will be the person who fucks up the least. Maybe they didn't screw up on purpose, but they did have accidents happen. Tom doesn't think it was the right fish. Um... well that's what they had?! They couldn't go shopping. So they conceptually put together a bad dish.Padma questions Ash on if he was ok to playing sous chef to Brother Michael. Ash pays Brother Michael what I think is the biggest compliment. Also, shoots himself in the foot. "It's like asking if you mind washing paint brushes forPicaso ." He tries to back-peddle a little and say that he doesn't want to go home. He does want to prove he can be a great chef. I think he will be... but not against this crop of competitors. Sorry Ash.

Eli speaks up when asked if they were happy with the dish. Some of the prawns weren't cooked properly. Eli was unaware. The gnocchi was SUPER salty. Ashley didn't notice til it was too late. One thing I've found annoying with Ashley is that she corrects her answer as she's giving them. "Do you think ____." She answers... "Sure. Yeah. I mean yes." Which always comes off as annoyed and slightly disrespectful. Like a child who's been caught and knows she did something wrong. She knows what the answer she should give is, but can't resist displaying her rude-itude by coming off slightly pissy. Eli claims very specifically how much involvement he had in each dish. It seems like he's not going to overtly throw Ashley under the bus, but he's not going to go out taking credit for something unless he has to do it.

Ash didn't do much. Michael did the lion's share. Does Ash go for not contributing more and just following. Does Michael go for not making a better dish or leading better? Eli had his hand in everything, but what did he screw up or not screw up. Same for Ashley... She was responsible for a lot and gave direction a lot, but was it the bad leadership?

Who's going home?! It's Ashley.... Who takes it better than I would've imagined. She is gracious and obviously disappointed. I'm actually sad to see her go. In the bigger scheme of things... now who will be the villain in the finale? If it's a finale where everyone is liked and they all get along with each other, it will be boring. I'll still watch and love it. But without someone to root against... it takes something away from the person you're rooting for.

Ok.... so here is the part where I whore myself out a little. Do you like this recap? Tell a friend. Have the come read the recap. Can't see it on Facebook? A quick message or two and I can put them on a blog to be viewed by all. Comments about the episode? Leave them here. Feedback? Drop me a message! Thanks for reading guys!
I posted this @ 10/08/2009 01:41:00 PM.............Need a link?..........

TOP CHEF 5.6 - De! Constructed! D- E- Constructed!! (SPOILERS)

Everyone is the house apparently hates Robin. They hate that she is still there. They hate that other people have gone home before her. They have that she won't stop yammering. I might be inclined to stick up for the underdog, in this case, Robin. But when you're living in such conditions and you've got nothing else to focus on, but the people you're living with... I'd get a little annoyed with Robin as well. From the clips they show.. Her babbling doesn't seem to be about anything vital. Which is never endearing when you've just been sequestered with more than a dozen of your closest friends. I think the issue is everyone liked the drunken Frenchman and didn't want him to go home.

Everyone decides to mourn the loss of Mattin by wearing ascots like he did, to the Quickfire challenge. How many damned scarves did he pack? Is Robin the only person not wearing one? Wow... even if no one likes you, that's still a little sad not to at least play along. Pour a little our for your homie, will ya?!

Speaking of Quickfire... It's Padma with Chef Michelle Bernstein! Las Vegas is all about the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. This challenge is show your culinary skills by making a dish that represents a similar display. There is a lot of room for interpretation on this one. Do you go metaphorically and making something spicy hot and something light and cool? Do you make something fried with a salad? Will you need to make two different foods or will one plate with both ideas represented suffice?


Ash is doing a duo of custards, but will he have the time to pull off two different custards?! Eli wants to do scallops two ways. He wants to win this quickfire because he's the best fucking chef there. Robin wants to do a dish inspired by her battle with cancer. Did you know she had cancer? If not, you'll hear a lot about it this episode.

Brother Mike has prepared a rillettes of salmon on the angel side of things. On the devil side he's made a confit of salmon with ice cream.

Eli's made a scallop with radish top pesto for his angel dish, and a scallop with brown butter risotto for his devil dish.

Bryan makes his interpretation a little more literal. For his angel side he makes frozen coconut, lychee & vanilla. For his devil side he makes a dark chocolate mousse. I'm sure it tastes good. Visually I get it... but there is something, uh... 'racing stripes-ish' about his smear of chocolate mousse.

Ash was only able to finish one of his custards... Uh oh! Spicy asparagus custard with pink peppercorn shortbread representing his devil. The rest you have to imagine. Chef Michelle is kind enough to play along.

Robin talks about how two years ago she was diagnosed with two kinds of lymphoma. She became obsessed with raw food and eating healthy. In representation of that she give Chef Michelle and Padma an arugula, apple, and fennel salad as the angel. The devil comes in the form of cinnamon apple ginger crisp. Michelle loves the simpleness of the dish.

Laurine has made a chicken & vegetable consume for her angel dish. Her devil dish is a chicken saltimbocca.

In the Devil side of things... Ash, Bryan, and Laurine. It was clear that not finishing would put Ash there. She seems genuine in her announcement. She's not trying to be cruel or harsh. Chef Michelle doesn't think that Bryan's execution was there. As though it wasn't what he wanted. I'm going to guess it was what HE wanted... but not what SHE wanted. Just saying... Laurine's dish wasn't new or inspiring. It just was. I usually judge a dish's complexity by whether or not I think I'd be able to make it. I could make Laurine's dish. So I'm not surprised that she's in the bottom.

On the Angel side of things... Brother Mike's dish transported Chef Michelle. Where? Anyway, she loved it. She also loved the brown butterrisotto and pesto that Eli made. Robin's simple salad and apple crisp are very well received by Michelle. They take an extra long shot of the reactions of the other chefs as Michelle announces that Robin is even in the top at all! Disbelief and eye-rolling abound!

And the winner is... ROBIN!!! Now she has immunity. She made a complete turn around in less than 24 hours. She's stoked and I don't blame her. The other chefs aren't as happy as she is because now one of them has to go home and not her. Eli is a little more vocal about it... "That's a pretty great way to win a Quickfire. Just tell people you had fucking cancer. 'When I had cancer I could eat this, and when I didn't I could eat this.' Oh ok... I mean, weak."

Really!? Seriously!? Whether she did or did not specifically talk about her lymphoma in order to garner sympathy from the judges... You don't make fun of someone with cancer. It's poor form and it only ends up making you look like an ass. You may not like Robin. You may think the food she makes is simple and uninspiring and boring and just generally not good... but cancer is off limits. There is no way to sweet talk your way out of that. You just earned yourself some seriously bad karma right there, Eli.

For the Elimination Challenge they bring out one of Las Vegas' most amazing duos! SIGFRIED & ROY!??!! No... sadly, it's just Penn & Teller. They perform a Cup & Ball magic trick. It's a pretty standard magic trick, but impressive nonetheless. But then they deconstruct their magic trick and show how it's done. They redo the trick, only this time they use clear cups so you can see what's going on. But how does this translate to food?

The cheftestants will be drawing knives, each with a dish on it. Their challenge is to deconstruct the dish. To deconstruct a dish, is to take the components of the original dish and prepare them separately in such a way that when consumed, leaves the diner with the taste of the original dish.

You know when you say a word over and over and over and over again and then after a while the word seems to stop making sense anymore as a real word. I feel this is going to happen to the word deconstructed for me today.

The judges this week will be, Chef Michelle, Chef Tom, Padma as always, and returning from England Food Critic Toby Young. Or as Ashley calls him... The meanest guy in food criticism. Toby is the Simon Cowell of the show. He's harsh, but rarely wrong. He just has a colorful way of saying it.

WHOLE FOODS SHOPPING MADNESS!!! I wonder how Whole Foods deals with this show... There are clearly other shoppers in the store. But then you've got
sometimes as many as 18 time-crunched chefs running around, plus camera crew, plus sound guys, maybe a producer or a few PA's taking notes. I presume the revenue they get as a result of being heavily featured is worth it. Though, I feel sorry for the employees behind the meat counter who have to deal with these picky bastards. Even the picky bastards that I like...

Jennifer is clearly not happy about having to deconstruct anything. Her plan is to buy the ingredients and figure it out once she gets into the kitchen. Yikes! She feels like shes not going to do well. She's classically trained and this is not up her alley at all.

Mikey is making Eggs Florentine, or as he calls it... Eggs Foreign To Me. He had no idea how to make it. Oh this can't be good... Just based on name alone, I can tell you that Florentine used to mean "in the style of Florence, Italy." Since it's inception it has taken on a more specific meaning. If something is Florentine, you can pretty much guess it'll have spinach in it. So there you go Mikey... you know it has eggs and spinach. The rest is up to you!

Brother Mike is loving this challenge. He's making a deconstructed Caesar salad. A typical Caesar salad has your Romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing. Usually you can make it with oil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies, a raw egg, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. So this will be interesting to see how he can make this. Separately a lot of those dressing ingredients are too strong on their own. It's the combination that makes them delicious. I'm glad he's liking it. I'd hate to have to make that dish. Oh yeah... and he's also making his own brioche bread as croutons. "Show off," his brother Bryan complains.

Kevin is making chicken mole negro. He made a variation of this dish in the last challenge and it didn't go over so well. Now he feels like he has the chance to really prove he knows how to make mole negro.

Ron is deconstructing paella. He makes a lot of paella in his restaurant so he is pretty confident that he can put out a good deconstructed dish.

Eli is making a deconstructed sweet and sour pork. He is using a digital pressure cooker that he brought with him to the show. You can do that? The only problem is that his pressure cooker looks like it been under the pressure of an elephant for 12 hours. It's being held together by tape. Literally. Even then there are perfectly good pressure cookers to use in the Top Chef Kitchen, he chooses to use his broken one. On one hand I can see wanting to use something your comfortable with... but on the other hand... why bother? In a challenge where you'd allowed to use such modern conveniences you'd have on available to you. In a challenge where you're cooking with sticks and stones like last weeks challenge, it wouldn't matter.

Why even mention his pressure cooker... Just wait. You'll see!

Ashley is making a deconstructed pot roast. She says that they didn't eat a lot of beef growing up because they were poor. Ok... I'm sorry that Ashley's family was dirt poor. Last week she mentioned her familiarity with outhouses. Now this... Considering Ashley seemed like she was being groomed to be the villain of the season in the beginning, I wonder if they are trying to humanize her now.

Eli's pressure cooker EXPLODES!!! Sending hot steamy food all over Eli and Bryan. Bryan's ok, but I can't help but think that this was just a taste of bad juju that Eli has brought upon himself for talking about Robin's cancer fight.

Robin drew clam chowder, but she doesn't like chowder so she is going to make a rice fennel flan, instead. What?! By her own admission, she has immunity so why not play around. This just seems like a bad idea. First, it will just irritate your other contestants. Not that you're there to make friends, but you will work together in future challenges. This will not show you in a good light. Secondly, other big name chefs actually DO watch this show. What kind of an impression are you making on someday by chance, future bosses? Maybe I'm just overly critical. She just seems a little flippant.

Laurine is at her breaking point with Robin. She's already stressed trying to deconstruct fish and chips. And I can't say that I blame her... how do you deconstruct breaded fish sticks and french fries? She's having to baby sit her potato chips and Robin asks her to pull the pancetta out of the oven. Maybe the chefs help each other more than they show, but to me... that just seems lazy on Robin's part. It's your food. You deal with it. But I'm competitive. I would've probably told her to pound sand.

YAY!! It's the return of Chef Tom's Sniff 'n' Snear!! I've been seriously missing this for weeks now. Has he been unavailable?

He talks to Ash first, who is stumbling his way through an explanation of how he's going to make Sheppard's pie. Jennifer has no time to talk to Tom. She is too busy having a small mental break down. She's avoiding him. Ron, and his cow-like reflexes can't avoid Tom. He flat out asks Tom for luck and help. But, Ron? You said you made tons of paella. What could you possibly need help with? Tom finally corners Jennifer. The jaunty music is either an indication of being flustered... or an indication that Jennifer clearly has a crush on Tom and she is moist just being around him.

Back at the manse... Eli is explaining to Ron how paella is made. So giving him ideas on how to deconstruct it. Ron seems confused... Jennifer, Laurine, and Mikey are talking about Robin's win in the Quickfire and their frustration with gloating, unintentional or not. I wonder how much Robin is aware of how everyone else feels? That's got to be uncomfortable.


Brother Mike present his Caesar salad to the judges and Penn & Teller. Chicken wing, Parmesan jelly, & brioche. They really like his dish. He really seemed to embrace the challenge.

Jennifer steak, marscapone bechamel, tomato sauce, and Parmesan crisp. The LOVE her dish. She was smart in her presentation.

Laurine gives the judges halibut, zucchini relish, tomato confit & parsley chips. They felt the fish was dry, overcooked, and lacking 'chips'.

Ron serves a seafood paella with lemon & herb oil, chayote, and peas. Now I may not know much about paella, but I'm pretty sure... that deconstructed or not... this is hardly paella in any form. The rice is over cooked and not crisped. It's a "sad bowl of food."

Ash is nervous because Sheppard's pie is an English dish and Toby Young is VERY very British. He's made lamb chops, leeks, glazed carrots, pea puree, and madeira jus. Uh oh... no taters. Toby points out the lack of mashed potatoes. As well as the inconsistently prepared meat.

Kevin spent a lot of time perfecting each element of his dish, but still thinks it looks like 13 shades of brown shit. YUM? Chicken croquette, Mexican coffee fig jam, and pumpkin seed romesco. HEY I've made romesco!! The can't quit raving about Kevin's dish. Michelle is really impressed with Kevin's sauces.

Ashley slings up pot roast deconstructed and she thinks it looks a mess. It's a sear strip loin, potato puree, crispy shallots, and carrot foam. Michelle is a believer in pot roast after this dish.

Can Teller talk!? I mean... I know he can! But his lack of talking is getting tiresome.

At Judges Table... in the top are Ashely, Kevin, Jennifer, and Brother Mike. WAIT?! Brother Mike!! I knew it... Top Chef has been fucking up! I have a hard enough time keeping the brother straight. It was Brother Mike talking about hisCaesar salad as he was making it. But when it was served the titled him as Bryan. So I'm typing up this recap and confused, because I could've sworn it was Brother Mike making the dish. It wasn't until Padma called Brother Mike in front of the judges that I figured it out.

Jennifer looks truly surprised she's there as a top dish. She's clearly flustered. Again... I think it's her crush on Tom. The loved Brother Mike's dish. They were as excited to eat it as he was to make it. Ashley has made a few converts with her dish. Kevin's dish was in compete balance and made sense. They were proud of her balls to serve a simple sauce, but it worked excellently.

The winner.. KEVIN!!! And he wins a special gift from Michelle. Does she have a book? No... Calphalon Unison non-stick cookware. As my friend Jay pointed out... Wouldn't they have their own kitchen gear to use? A pointless but appreciated gift.

In the bottom are Ash, Laurine, and Ron. Ash was scared of serving it. Toby was scared to eat it. So that works out well. Ash explains that his potato parsnip puree had become gummy so he decided not to serve it. Ok, I have an issue with this... More of a conundrum really. On one hand you could make something and it might not turn out, but you serve it anyway and you get called out for it. On the other hand, you make something and it doesn't turn out so you make the decision to not serve it rather than serve the crap that it has become. Tough choice. Not only do they call it out for not being Sheppard's pie, but the call him out for his inconsistent cooking of the meat. Hrm. Not good.

Laurine found this challenge rough, and admits her fish was overcooked. They mention her lack of chips in her fish and chips. She falls into the same trap. Her chips didn't turn out and most were burned. Do you serve food that you know if crap or omit it all together. Which is the bigger offense?

Ron says he's not deconstructed much food. He also points out that his dish was the hardest to deconstruct because paella is made differently depending on where you go. He's not totally untrue, but there is still a classic seafood paella. Now whether he knows that or not is yet to be seen. But his reason for serving a pathetic bowl of food is not covered by his excuse. Tom points out that Ron seemed confused in the challenge. Which he did! But this is the same issue he's had from the very beginning. He didn't quite understand what a 'vice' was and how to interpret that into food. He didn't really seem to grasp the whole angel/devil side of things in a dish. And now not only did he not really deconstruct a dish... he couldn't properly cook fish and paella rice, which in the beginning he said he'd made lots of paella.

So who will it be?

While the cheftestants are sent back to the Stew Room to wait, Toby & Michelle whip out their whisks and duel over how to pronounce paella. Toby calls them out for trying to be pretentious for giving a 'y' sound to the double 'l'. Really? This coming from a man and country who says things like "torch" for a flashlight and schedule pronounced heavy on the 'sh'. Shut up, Toby!

Who's going home? It's Ron... I'm a little surprised, only because I'd convinced myself it was going to be Ash. Usually the people I think should go home don't. And the ones I hope stay, leave.

Sorry to see you go, Ron. I'm sure you cook great food, but your grasp of what these challenges were about was your undoing.
I posted this @ 10/08/2009 01:41:00 PM.............Need a link?..........

Top Chef 5.5 - One Fish... Two Fish... Red Fish... Spew Fish... (Spoilers)

First of all I want to think Bravo for starting and stopping Top Chef on time and not effin' up my DVR scheduled recordings too bad. None of this 62 minute or 75 minute bullplop! Now, on with the show!

Brother Mike is commenting on how 'Ector was a strong chef, but the likes of Robin are still around. Do they hate her? He thinks that Mike I, his brother Bryan and himself are the strongest chefs there. What? No Jennifer?

Mattin is lamenting about being in the bottom of the French challenge and being French. He's had a top rated restaurant in Food & Wine magazine. He believe he just needs to stick to his style.

Ashley is a twin... and her brother had a baby last night. So she calls him. She's feeling sentimental about being away from her family. Is this a play to humanize her more?

Thus concludes the Get To Know You portion of tonight's show. One of these people will be in the bottom. One of these people will be on in the top. Otherwise... Why mention their story outside of actually cooking?

Someone's in the kitchen with Padma. It's Chef Tim Love!! You might remember him from such shows as Top Chef: Masters. They're certainly getting their money's worth from having two such shows back to back.

What's their challenge? Tell them Magic Voice Over!! To reward fans, TC let us, the loyal viewer, pick the ingredient. When was this decided? The options were rattlesnake, cactus, or kangaroo. One of these things is not like the other... A small margin of 57% of the people who voted picking cactus. You can see the look of terror on most of the chef's faces as they hear this.

I like to put myself in their shoes... What could I make? I've got to be honest, I would have no clue what to do with cactus. I know it's edible, but I have no Earthly idea how to prepare it.

Just to make it a little more interesting... it's a High Stakes Quickfire, but no immunity. Just $15,000!!

Mike I says cactus is like aloe so you have to cure it to prepare it. Serve it raw/cured with raw/cured salmon. Mattin never worked with cactus before. He doesn't want to go too fancy. So he is going to marinate the cactus in tequila. Sound like a good idea to me! Laurine doesn't know how to make it the star of the dish. So she'll just use it IN the dish.

WET SPOT!!! Might I suggest that Robin invests in some non-slip shoes... before she falls and breaks her neck. Though, Top Chef has never had a person leave the show for medical reasons. Maybe this could be a first.

Ash is trying to make what ends up looking like a Taco Bell Mexican Pizza that's been made of Play-Doh. Thick! Oddly colored. Doughy. He called it a play on grilled cheese. Seriously?!

Highlights and Lowlights!!

Laurine - Cactus salsa with achiote glazed pork chop. Chef Love enjoyed it, adding that it has a nice flavor.
Brother Mike V - Avocado roll with a cactus coconut ceviche & red cactus coulis. Chef Love thought it was like two trains colliding. It didn't work.
Mike I - Cactus and tuna ceviche with pipian. He thought it was the only classically compared dish. Didn't he saw earlier he was going to use salmon?
Ron - Chipotle swordfish with cactus sauce & mango papaya crab salad. Chef Love thought the crab tasted rancid.
Ash - Cactus "grilled cheese". He thought the cactus had no flavor and the "tortilla" was thick and dry.
Mattin - Breaded cactus, halibut with tequila. Pickled cactus & red cactus puree. Chef Love thought it showcased the cactus through the tequila.

Ok... What the hell? I get it that as a chef you might have to switch up you dish on the fly. But I'm surprised they didn't mention that Mike I was switching to tuna from salmon. I'm also surprised about Ron's rancid crab. Maybe I just expect too much from this show to have non-expired food for the chefs to cook with. Lastly... Poor Ash... You could tell he had nofrickin' clue what to make or how to use cactus. It truly look like to smashed piece of Play-Doh with a couple smears of God-only-knows-what. I like a gourmet grilled cheese, but that... is no where close. And he knows it!

Mike I wins!! But no immunity... Just money!

I smell sour grapes from Brother Mike. He'd rather work with interesting flavors than take the slime out of the cactus. Um... Wouldn't interesting flavors include cactus? People do cook with it and eat it. Maybe not all the time, but still... Part of the challenge, dude. Quite whining just because you or your brother didn't win.

For their Elimination Challenge they will be preparing lunch outdoors, on a ranch, for cowboys. They will be sleeping on the ranch that night and cooking in the morning to serve at noon. They can cook whatever they want, but it must be upscale. Ash notes that they are all great cooks, but all they all great innovators.

Shopping Frenzy!!

Ashley is thinking there won't be a kitchen. So she's going for a play on a club sandwich. Laurine is also picking up on that there won't be a conventional kitchen and as a caterer she claims to be an innovator. So she should beok preparing food in odd conditions.

As they pull up to the ranch, they see that they're cooking on firepits in the ground. They have some cast iron pans, and chuck wagon-type plates and utensils. That's about it. Brother Mike says it's like a scene from a horror movie. Might I recommend Wolf Creek for such a horror movie?

Robin spent a month in the woods. She loves being in nature. Mattin loves camping because he grew up on a farm? Ashely grew up in the middle of the woods. She is reminiscing about her single parent family and being really poor. The outhouse is what makes it feel like the good ol' days. Eli doesn't believe in camping. Like he doesn't believe in Santa or two separate eyebrows... Brother Mike feels out of his element, but on teh other hand feels that a good chef should be able to produce under any conditions.

Jennifer is spraying bug spray around her tent on the ground. Ron is 'preparing' the tent he's sharing with Ash by breaking off tree branches. He puts them in front of the tent, to keep snakes away as part of a voodoo ritual. I think I'd go with Jennifer's method of pest control. Though, I'm not sure bug spray is effective against snakes or scorpions or coyote.

Speaking of animals... Mike I points out that Ash believes there are no animals in the desert. Mike I corrects him, saying there might be mountain lion, bobcats, tig-... Was Mike I about to claim there be tigers here? Ash jokingly claims he used to be an animal psychiatrist. You know... Before he started cooking and after his acting career. After he was a hoofer on Broadway? Mike I goes on to ask if there are bears out in the desert.

"Bear? Bears are sweet!" I couldn't agree with you more, Ash.

Laurine rolls her eyes and Robin mopes in asking if this was all humorous. Mike I assures her it's not humorous. Huh?! Was Mountain Man Robin asking if they were joking? Or if they thought they were being funny trying to scare the girls... and Eli? Let them have their fun Robin. Go take your gourmet s'more back to your tent.

So... Um... where the hell is their food being kept? Just in coolers? This can't be good... I mean. People get sick at picnics when they eat 'sun-dried' mayonnaise food that's been sitting out all day.

By the way, have you seen the commercials for Whip It? I love Drew Barrymore. I love Juno... I mean Ellen Page. Whip It is a story about a high school girl who gives up her baby for adoption and joins a roller derby league. It's NOT a movie about huffing as I might have accidentally believed when I first heard the name of the movie. Though, I might be confusing two movies right now. Anyway!!! It looks fun. Great soundtrack and Juno!! I mean Ellen Page...

Back in the Top Chef Deserts. Eli is re-explaining the challenge to us. They are talking a lot to him lately. He's going home soon. I'm thinking within the next two episodes. Otherwise, why bother letting us get to know him. We wouldn't miss him when he's gone if we don't know about him.

Ashley knows that cooking in an open flame is rough, because you can't control the temperature as easily. Bryan thinks he'll be ok as long as he sticks to his timeline of what he needs to do. Robin points out the chaos that is ensuing. Ron is asking for a sword to cut open his coconut. Jennifer questions who might even have a sword in their knife kit. The dopey music means this is Top Chef humor... as does Jennifer's pixilated look.

Brother Mike proclaims he isn't cooking for the ranch hands. He's just cooking good food. When people come into your restaurant they either like your food or they don't. Um... I get what he's saying, but I question the wisdom of that in a cooking competition. Laurine points out that Mattin and Ron are making ceviches and it doesn't seem like ranch food. Robin didn't want to do something obvious like pork or BBQ. So Robin is doing a hearty romaine salad and shrimp. She says even tho we may expect them to want steak and potatoes a hardy romaine salad can make them feel good too. Then you don't feel heavy and you actually want to go back to work after you eat.

Did she just seriously say that? Because while I can appreciate a salad... After you've been up since the before the crack of dawn doing what ranchers do... a salad is not what you want to see on your plate. Is she really that out of touch or is she defending what she is making?

I think people are totally missing a great opportunity on this challenge. Sure Padma said "upscale", but does that always mean you have to do some sort of seafood dish? I was thinking the point of this challenge was to make ranch food upscale. Not upscale food on a ranch. Maybe I'm wrong. Pork. Beef. Beans. Breads. Corn. Make it something bigger and better and serve it up!

Padma rings the bell, or triangle... as it would seem... Time is up!

The ranchers show up and it's... OMG!! IT'S MOTLEY CRUE!!! Oh wait, no... It's just Ashley 'calling' them a 'motley crew' of men who have been growing bears since they were 14. IT'S A HORMONE IMBALANCE! Way to be sensitive, Ashley! Maybe Jennifer orMattin could recommend a nice day spa for you to go and get your frazzled mane of locks done up real good.

Ash thinks he could be a rancher, "Looking at cows and lassoing things..." Sometimes the jokes are just too easy. But if he's going to set them up so nicely for me, it'd be a shame to just let it be. I'll give you a by on this round.


Mike I is serving a pork gryo with an apple & fennel tzatziki. I love Greek food! I would totally eat this... BUT I would not, because he called it a JI-ro. Not that I expect everyone to know it's pronounced year-o, not ji-ro. But for someone who talks about their love of Greek food all the time you'd think he'd get it right, at least. Plus, living here in Omaha, our local King Kong Greek restaurant commercials have beat the word into our skulls for years!

Laurine brings us a sauteed arctic char with tomatillo salsa, corn salsa & grilled potato. The judges like the dish. It has a lot of grill flavor. Laurine feels she needs a win to really feel like she can compete with the other chefs. She's not going to win Top Chef, y'all. She's good, but not that good. Let's just toss her a bone.

Robin puts out her grilled romaine salad with drunken prawns and spicy chicken Italian sausage. Her dish sounds good, but it's not what I would call upscale or ranch food. Did she say she went Southwest? I kept replaying it to make sure. How is that Southwest?! But what do the judges think? It's terrible and compare it to sucking on a piece of flooring. She didn't try her prawns until after she served her dish to the judges. Robin knows it's a bad dish.

Mattin is serving up ceviche three ways. Salmon with apple, spicy tuna, & cod with corn. Chef Tom graciously let's Chef Love sample first, and he tries the cod which is too fishy. (In my mind I can hear Mark watching at home screaming "Because IT'S FISH!!") Tom spits out his bite, saying it's still very raw.

Ashley was inspired by her favorite sandwich, the club sandwich. So she's making a seared halibut with avocado mousse, bacon, tomato & braised romaine. Sounds like a winner to me, though I'm questioning fish, again! The judges say this is the best dish she's made so far. Which is a total backhanded compliment.

Bryan is dishing up a roasted pork loin on corn polenta with a bed of dandelion greens & glazed rutabaga. Ok, now THIS seems like ranch food. Polenta being like corn bread. The greens and rutabaga being your veggies. And as long as you cook it right... you can't go wrong with roasted pork. The judges feel the dish is appropriate and tastes delicious!

Ron presents a coconut, mango, lime & tuna ceviche with a Haitian coconut mojito. That's a lot of island flavors. They may be too sweet or overpowering. There is something about sweet and sweat that don't go together. Now, sweet and heat do though... it's a fine line. Chef Love points out that of "all theceviches" they've had that day, it's the best one. If a judge is pointing out that there have been a LOT of ceviches... you might want to back off the ceviches. But let's not forget the cocktail... it's terrible!

Brother Mike brings us dashi with miso & mirin cured black cod and watermelon. It's hard for me to even consider this dish good or bad because I don't care for Japanese flavors. But the watermelon on a nice hot day would be nice. They like the unexpectedness of his dish.

How many ceviches did we see this episode? 4... 5... Seriously! You're not going to win Top Chef with a salad or ceviche. It's an uninspired dish. Everyone makes a ceviche! At least one or two an episode. Is that all these chefs know how to make? Plus it's not hard to make. Even if you've never made it, you probably could pretty easily. The challenge lies in what flavors you combine. Much like a salad. You can make a salad, but what dressing are you putting on it. What components are in the salad. The 'challenge' is in your selection, not in your ability to cook or prepare it.

Hey! Since we didn't hear from Kevin much this episode... but we still want to remind you he's around... Did you know that Kevin is like the King of Horseshoes? Kevin played all the time growing up with a regulation horseshoe pit in his backyard. Thanks, Kevin!

Mike I and Ashley are discussing the way the seafood smelled during prep-time. Ashley smelled something the minute she opened a cooler and hoped it wasn't her. GAH!!! TMI!!! A fishy Ashley is NOT how I wanted to spend thinking about the rest of this episode... or the WEEK!!!

The judges call in Brother Mike, Bryan, Ashley, & Laurine. Ashley was glad to be on the other side of things for a change. They felt Bryan's dish was a perfect restaurant quality dish served outside. They really appreciated Laurine's use of thre grill and what she could do with it. Brother Mike might have been throw off by the unconventional cooking conditions, but it didn't show in his dish.

But who is the winner? BRYAN!! A brother takes the win again for the third time. We're going to have a brothers finale, y'all. Can you feel it yet?

Back in the Stew Room, Ash laments that he "can't be on the bottom. " Really? I get the feeling you on the 'bottom' a lot. If you're going to set them up that easily... You'd been warned, Ash. I'm glad the editors are making my jokes easier.

Robin, Ron, and Mattin are called before the judges for having the most disappointing dishes. Looks likes Ash's bottom worries have been put to rest for now.

Robin claims she immediately thought of BBQ when she heard they'd be serving cowboys. But she didn't want to do something typical like steak. Really? Then why didn't you SERVE BBQ! BBQ isn't necessarily steak. You'reexplanation makes no sense, but I'll let Chef Tom call you on your bullshit. She's not surprised to be there.

Mattin, on the other hand, WAS surprised that he was in the bottom. "REALLY?!" Padma exclaims. Her tone startled me. I don't know if it's the heat or what the deal is, but she is tossing the snark at chefs left and right, lately. Chef Tom points out it was poorly put together and Chef Love got sick from it. Mattin is honestly clueless that he made a bad dish. I can admire him standing behind his dish, but you also have to know what you're putting out there.

They point out to Ron that if he'd just made his ceviche and not the cocktail, he probably wouldn't be in the bottom. Ron doesn't drink, but he didn't want the coconut to go to waste. So he made themojito . I admire his desire to not want to waste, but you might want to try it first. And if you don't drink... maybe you shouldn't make a cocktail.

Who's going home? It's... Mattin!!

Someone spitting out your food is a surefire sign that your ass is going home. Eating bad food is inexcusable. Not being able to eat the food at all is grounds for getting your ass booted off the show. So the Birthday Curse continues. If you're unfamiliar with the history of Top Chef... It's bad luck to have your birthday while on the show. Because you will be packing your knives soon after. This episode was no exception, seeing as how Mattin had his birthday on last weeks episode.

Au revoir, Mattin!! Please pack you ascot and get the hell out!
I posted this @ 10/08/2009 01:39:00 PM.............Need a link?..........

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Counting Sheep
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