I apologize in advance for the potential suckiness of this recap — my three-year-old is currently on hour 16 of what I assume (hope?) is a 24-hour stomach virus. And oh. The THINGS I have SEEN, in the past 16 hours. You guys, the THINGS.
At this point he still can’t even keep water down and we are out of clean sheets, and I’m in that hyper-aware-of-my-own-digestive-tract state where I’m not sure if I’m getting sick too or if it’s all in my head but EITHER WAY, food is not my favorite topic right now. For many reasons.
Anyway, I will do my best but this will likely be on the short side, since it’ll be written in however long the poor baby decides to sleep for. Especially since I just wasted like 10 minutes talking about barf instead of just WRITING THE DAMN RECAP.
Moving on! I was worried after last week’s Spectacular Spectacular that we’d have a return to mediocre form this week, and lo, I was right. Another inexplicably arranged challenge with annoying time constraints and surprise twists that didn’t necessarily reward/punish the best/worst dishes, but just the best and worst from each mini-team. What if one team produced two awesome plates and another team just sucked? Didn’t they learn their lesson from the infamous tennis challenge that allowed Jamie to simply not serve a crappy dish and skate through? Stop mucking with the process, show.
And don’t even get me started on the product placement. Healthy microwaveable TV dinners! Made from fresh wholesome artisan ingredients like ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN PRODUCT, DEXTROSE, POTASSIUM AND SODIUM PHOSPHATES, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, FLAVORING, HYDROLYZED [CORN AND WHEAT GLUTEN, SOY] PROTEIN, DRIED WHEY, MALTODEXTRIN, YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL FLAVORING, DISODIUM INOSINATE AND GUANYLATE, just to copy-and-paste a small handful of the 400 things listed on the average box.
IT ALL SOUNDS SO DELICIOUS I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.
First, we once again get to hear about Beverly messing up Lindsay’s halibut during Restaurant Wars, which is great, because that topic never gets old, or anything. Then Charlize stops by to thank them again for a wonderful meal and basically act like an adorable geeky fangirl and FINE, I will go see Young Adult this weekend because I just like her so much all of a sudden. HAPPY NOW, CHARLIZE?
Emeril and a surprisingly banging-hot Cat Cora are guest-judging the Quickfire, which is another mise-en-place thingie. But also a team challenge! Faaaantastic. They have 40 minutes to make fresh pasta, peel and devein shrimp (OH BEVERLY) and shuck corn. Once all three are done, they can cook with whatever time they have left.
Lindsay and Sarah are prep machines and finish with a huge lead for cooking time. They are extremely pleased with their dish. I unfairly declare them smug because I JUST DON’T LIKE THEM.
Paul does a sloppy initial job on the corn (but adorably is all “Yes, Chef. Thank you, Chef” to Cora’s criticism because he is professional, adorable), so he and Ed finish second. BUT: Paul forgets about the shrimp for their final dish. Like, forgets to even COOK it, not just put it on the plate. He claims he’s always “bad luck” when he and Ed are teammates. He’s like Ed’s own personal Black Hammer.
Grayson screws up the pasta — it’s dry and overworked, and Chris is super meticulous about the corn, so they have less than nine minutes to complete their dish. Which totally means they end up being the winners! Hooray for the underdogs who are also Anyone But Sarah Or Lindsay.
They win money. I know. Shocking.
Ugh. Here we go. The teammates are now opponents, cooking battling versions of the same dish and side, to be served to 200 people at a charity block party for the San Antonio Food Bank. Outside. In 105-degree Texas heat. And oh yeah, they’ll only have like, two hours.
Grayson eloquently sums up everybody’s feelings about the challenge through an extended series of bleeps.
But wait! There’s more! After the teams select their dish (Sarah and Lindsay: meatballs, Grayson and Chris: chicken salad sandwich, Ed and Paul: Asian barbecue), Padma throws them the Healthy Choice-sponsored twist: They must make it healthy. Low sodium, low calorie, etc.
(I can see it now, the next mystery ingredient on Iron Chef America, sponsored by Healthy Choice: ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN PRODUCT! Allez cuisine!)
Everybody shops and bitches about the challenge. I am suspicious about some of the “healthy” modifications some of the chefs are making — Ed is making short ribs (in two hours????) which are incredibly fatty, and swapping out rice for…white bread. Bwuh? Lindsay is omitting pork from her meatball but is still using veal and lamb. Ground veal is lean but high in sodium, while lamb is fatty AND high in sodium. So. Yeah. Sarah is going with ground turkey but is worried because while hers will definitely better fulfill the “healthy” part of the challenge, it’s going to be hard to compete against Lindsay’s ingredients, taste-wise.
The diners descend! And also some bees! Chris is freaked out by a small swarm of bees buzzing around some chunks of pineapple he left on his station. Hmm. I feel like there is a solution to this problem, and that it is not what Chris does, which is stand on the other side of the tent while shouting GO AWAY, SHOO at them.
Other derp-derp moments include Chris pre-making his sandwiches so the bread gets dry, Ed making his station a self-serve buffet line which confuses diners AND little kids swipe his bread. He snaps at one, all MY PRECIOUS! before catching himself and tries to not be a complete ass to him. (The kid later comes and gives Ed his vote for winner, which: Awwww.) Also the whole Ryan Scott Healthy Choice Flavor Ambassador Bullshit, which: Whatever.
Paul made his kalbi out of turkey instead of short ribs and used a ton of trendy/healthy ingredients (including agave nectar instead of sugar, OH MY OPINIONS I HAVE THEM). It’s a lettuce wrap and the judges love it, but no one mentions it appears to be…breaded and fried? Or maybe it isn’t. Bravo’s photo galleries are borked and I don’t feel like rewinding all the way back to the cooking segment. Ed’s short rib doesn’t go over too well at all, alas.
Likewise, the judges don’t seem to nitpick Lindsay’s use of lamb (since she claims she used “mostly” lean veal), or comment on the container of what looks like full-fat Fage yogurt sitting on her station (oh yeah, you know I rewound and paused that shit). Her quinoa salad looks awesome, though, and she’s the clear winner of Not-A-Team Meatball.
The less said about Chris’ sandwich and salad, the better. Sad trombone. He got himself a precocious little fangirl, though!
And now it’s time for the weirdest judging this side of Restaurant Wars. Our top three are Paul, Grayson and Lindsay. But kind of not really, given the wonky challenge parameters, since it sounds like Grayson is only there by default. Paul gets heaps of praise for doing a healthy version of a very basic, traditional Asian dish…while Grayson gets criticized for doing a healthy version of a very basic, traditional American dish. It just wasn’t exciting.
“Like a MEATBALL?” she snots back at Tom, who actually seems to get knocked of his high horse momentarily and cannot think of a merciless comeback. He smiles a little, like yeah. You got me there. BURN.
God help me, but I love her. See, ladies? It’s okay to be a bitch, just choose the proper moments to pull it out. Lay off the emotionally fragile butterfly weirdos and go toe-to-toe with Tom instead. He’s a much more worthy adversary.
(Commercial break. RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE IS RETURNING OH MY GOD I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT)
Do you need me to tell you that Paul wins? Another fifteen goddamn thousand dollars for a goddamn turkey lettuce wrap. I need to get out of this recapping business. HERE. I MADE YOU A HOT POCKET. THAT’LL BE $10,000.
Ed, Sarah and Chris are in the bottom, duh. It’s not very exciting. Chris didn’t make his sandwiches to order, and that is an insurmountable fail and we all know it. Everything was dry and once again, full of cool ideas and tricks that didn’t actually turn into good-tasting food. Sarah points out that her meatballs were healthier but it sounds like her plates just weren’t really consistent with all the flavors and ingredients. Ed didn’t really embrace the healthy part of the challenge, his short rib was trimmed of fat and thus tough, his story about replacing rice with bread is B.S.
Chris is done. Quite a few weeks later than I anticipated, for sure, but better late than never. Goodbye, Chris! You were a perfectly nice guy who will always be remembered. For your hair, mostly. But still!
Last Chance Kitchen
ZOMG BEVERLY WINS! Again! Let’s all give her a big Kermit-the-Frog style YAAAAYYYYYY!
PeeWee Herman. The chefs ride around on bicycles. I just. What? Eff you, Top Chef. Seriously.
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