Thursday, April 21, 2011

“It’s the best worm I’ve ever eaten.”

Tonight’s ep is accompanied by my personal variation on a dish Q’s husband first introduced me to…

MMMMMMmmmm, polenta squares with Bermuda onion, garlic and onion spinach and tomatoes with olive oil, cayenne and sea salt. All organic and all from Trader Joes, Hollah! I need TJ sponsorship up in this piece.

Before I dive in I’d like to share a revelation by CC (a frequent winner) who is not playing in the Pool this go round:
Top Chef “Masters is like an exhibition game. It's like watching the Harlem Globetrotters, which I've seen twice, it's fun but it doesn't really count.“
Brilliant analogy and quite true though I’d have to say it does count chef-wise. Some make more cheddar and others, well, let’s just say I won’t be eating at any of Unibrow’s establishments. I’d just keep thinking I was gonna find eyebrows on my fork.

When the Masters enter the Terrordome, Curtis Stone awaits wearing an outfit that looks like he’s going to watch a football game on a couch.
What happened to the suit, Stone? If you’re gonna wear a thin sweatshirt at least make it shortsleeved so we can see what we’re working with when we imagine you holding us in your arms.
Stone is by a large table with edible plants and flowers. Unibrow names a bunch of them, show off! What he can’t see, however, are the horned worms, beetles, crickets, nightcrawlers and Scorpions.
Bald John: “We’re gonna have to cook with friggin bugs.”

The QuickFire Challenge
Make a five-star dish for “some bug eaters.”

20 Minutes Starts Now!
The insects are all high in protein and vitamins AND make Colucci squirm like the squirming worms being added to oil in a frying pan right now, EW!
ChrisLyle doesn’t eat bugs or cook with bugs but he takes a South East Asian approach. Bald John now regrets sticking bugs in his brother’s mouth against his will when they were kids. Then he looks to camera and apologizes. Then Bald John’s brother appears and they hug! This was all an elaborate Maury Povichesque scheme to get Bald John to apologize to his brother who has been haunted by that moment his entire life!
I keed. I am keeder.

Naomi grew up in Oregon (where her restaurant Beast is located) and she apparently filleted nightcrawlers and threw them over her shoulder and hugged them to be photographed with cause the crawlers were no challenge for homegirl.
Suvir says killing animals is something he just doesn’t do- Whoa-
Wait a minute WHAT?! I got caught up in your lisp and eyes and didn’t realize that you’re Hindu?! You can cook what’s already dead but you don’t kill anything? That’s awesome and all but what if they make you go fishing?! I picked you to win, Jazz Patch!
Suvir makes a salad and provides a jar of horned worms and a blowtorch for them to fry the buggers themselves.

After the last beetle has been chopped (what a hideous crunching sound) Stone stands with the hosts of some TV Show I’ve never heard of (because the closest I ever got to eating a worm is reading that book “How To Eat Fried Worms” in elementary school) Mykel and Ruth from “Man, Woman, Wild” from The Discovery Channel.

The couple has “to eat all these things in the wild” and chow on all the dishes, Myke without a utensil.
After Naomi’s: “It’s the best worm I’ve ever eaten.”
Then his wife reveals: “I’ve really put some disgusting things in my mouth since I’ve been married to Myke.”
No comment.
Meanwhile Curtis seems to be eating around of the bugs but he’s coerced to try ChrisLyle’s soup that has a whole worm in it. Curtis looks a lil ill.
You gotta chop those worms up, ChrisLyle.

Least Favorites: Suvir who’s “hands can cook but can’t take a life.” Myke: “All good.” And ChrisLyle’s soup ‘cause the whole worms needed to be chopped. “…the skin is plastic-y.” Ugh.
Favorites: Unibrow’s fried tempura crickets and Sweet Mary Sue’s sun-choke salad with beetle vinaigrette.
The winner of immunity and 5k? Unibrow who calls himself “the Phoenix of this competition.”
Burn off your Unibrow then!

The Elimination Challenge
Work as a group to create a 10 Course tasting meal to raise money for the charities they support.
Each chef is responsible for one dish and the fundraiser will be attended by fans who paid $100 a plate. [Nice touch, Bravo!] The winning chef gets an extra 5k.
They have 3 Hours to Cook and must use what’s in the kitchen.
Curtis: “And there will be some curve balls thrown your way.”
Time Starts Now!

The Masters race to the fridges and Naomi immediately writes everything down to make sure they don’t end up with six pastas and two soups. Alex understands her take-charge attitude but thinks she likes to hear herself talk. (He beat cancer, Naomi, he’ll beat you!) Meanwhile she asks Bald John if he can do a hot app then: “Do it! Start it!”
She yells out everyone’s dish to reconfirm: “If you can’t hear me get closer!”
Now I understand why everyone’s seated at your restaurant at the same time.
Coooontrol freeeak!

Chef Tio works on pudding, apparently baking was the start of her culinary career; Alex- salmon; ChrisLyle- shrimp. He runs to the sink but there’s no water.
There’s NO WATER?!
Mary Sue: “Wait, what’s the curve ball?!”
The curve ball is made of mud, Sweet Mary Sue. If you can strain it perhaps you’ll have water for your ceviche.
Ironically, ChrisLyle is competing for the charity
(Suddenly I feel like an ass for letting the water run and get warm before I washed dishes earlier. Sorry less fortunate, indigenous peoples.)

Floyd: “Oh God.”
Hey, Floyd is making fish! He can’t wash his hands? He’s gonna contaminate everything. You’re gonna give everyone salmonella, Bravo! How’s that gonna look on Page Six in The Post?!
Naomi yells to melt ice, Hugh says there’s water in the circulator (but is it clean?!)
Naomi: “The dining rooms aren’t set up at all.”
Unibrow: “Are we in charge of the dining room?”
Tio: “We’re in charge of getting a party together, that’s what we’re in charge of.”
Unibrow: “Oh motherf**ker.”
Suvir: (in the kitchen) “They’re just being too dramatic.”

Poolers, it’s time for A Slice Of Zen with Suvir:

“Chef’s don’t understand why I have the Zen quality of being very calm even in the face of the worst challenge. I believe it’s because I never trained in the kitchen. A kitchen for me is very therapeutic, it’s calming. And it’s magic.”
OmmmmmmmmOhhey-Curtis Stone is back with another baseball: service will start 30 minutes earlier. Still Zen, Suvir?
Unibrow (bucking to be just as annoying as Naomi): “Everybody simplify your dishes!”

You know what’s brilliant about this show? These Chefs can’t really have a major freak out because, much like John Rich said to Meatloaf and Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice when Meat wanted to pound Busey’s face in, ‘we’re here for charity.’
So you can’t really complain that there’s no water (esp when your charity is about providing water) or that service is starting earlier (even though you’re making a risotto and you planned an elaborate garnish) or that there are no waiters- EXSQUEEZE ME?!

Fortunately, Naomi has already started planning tables and Unibrow has stepped up to help but Alex sweats even more than he usually does when he learns he’s gonna have to bus plates. Sweet Mary Sue asks if she can assemble her dish at a certain table, Naomi says she doesn’t think that’s Unibrow’s vision.

Sweet Mary Sue don’t look so sweet.
Naomi: “…everyone needs to be finished with their course and everyone needs to chip in with service!” She doesn’t think they should be cooking while service is going on.
Tough Traci: “It’s not possible.” She adds a ‘pfft’ under her breath.

Look at this woman. Look into her eyes.

There is death there.
Not only is she NOT going to be bossed around, I think her charity is actually a group of assassins from Russia who are working on a death ray and they've already implanted said ray in Traci’s eyeballs.

But wait! The fans and critics are here! Holy Crap!
Unibrow calls for the first courses to be plated and says if they’d like to pour the wine while they’re at the table that would be a good thing. Sweet Mary Sue snaps at Chef Tio as she plates her ceviche that she’s made for twenty-five years.

In the dining room, Baby-faced Alan Sytsma, Editor of Grub Street (ooooh, let’s see how Grub Street covers its own!) sits with Curtis, Restaurant Girl, Danyelle Freeman, (whom I must say, has a pretty blahhy-designed website for a foodie) and The Barber from Mayberry, James Oseland.
Turns out Baby-face used to be The Barber’s intern back in the day (translation: love interest! Smiley faces, ACTIVATE.)

In the kitchen, Naomi and Unibrow quickly talk about how to serve. Unibrow: “You really need to be raring to go as soon as you see that ticket….”
OMG these two are gonna be poisoned immediately. But at least it will be by Masters and thus, a good meal going down before their stomachs explode.

Tough Traci actually helps plate and serve (I didn’t think she would) and so does Unibrow in between bossing everyone around. First up, Sweet Mary Sue taps a glass and tells the room about her tuna ceviche with Peruvian Aji Amarillo (chile) on plantain chips. (Shoutout to Trader Bro’s Plantain Chips- I have now decided I spend so much money there I’m gonna get them to sponsor me by hook or crook CUT TO- me being an intern (translation: a TJ cashier’s love interest!)) The critics didn’t think Sweet Mary Sue’s app had much flavor but the diners like it.

Suvir’s Chaat (snack) salad of chickpeas & yogurt with baby spinach is intended to educate the palate. It’s gorgeous and delicious but The Barber thinks Suvir is a little too inside his comfort zone. In the kitchen, Mary Sue tries it and asks what else is in it. Suvir smiles and says he’s not telling because she’ll copy him and walks away (kitten cute!)

ChisLyle tells Chef Tio to stop “Stop!” as she’s picking up his plates to serve. (How come Tio is getting scorched? Are all waitstaff yelled at like this? No wonder they spit in our food!) His shrimp Alhinho (named after, I believe, the late Portuguese football player) with pickled carrot, red beets and vanilla oil is pretty and cooked perfectly but a little too salty. Meanwhile the diners/fans are pleased as punch. (I’m assuming punch is pleasing. Though Hawaiian Punch is hurty.)

Naomi speaks very nicely to Suvir, Tio and Floyd who plate and serve her celery velouté with salsa verde & lemon oil & pepper. Suvir thinks it’s a little too simple. Restaurant Girl is surprised by the depth, Curtis says it’s a rich soup considering there are more courses. A diner remarks that he wanted to “live in this.” Then he pours the velouté over his head and wears the bowl like a hat.

Bald John’s risotto, according to him is “plain beautiful and just doesn’t need anything else.” It has roasted shiitake & prosciutto with pine nuts and smoked paprika. Grub Street isn’t sure about the nuts and The Barber says Bald John hasn’t challenged himself. Curtis says the diners are choosing and asks if you’d pay $100 for the dish. They all say ‘No.’
Ow! But one diner says she wanted more.

Floyd’s rice flaked sole with roasted cauliflower, apple & sun-dried ginger broth (God that sounds good) is “loud and bold and sweet and sharp” according to The Barber. I believe that’s how he likes his clothes (first two adjectives) and his men (second two.) Restaurant Girl thinks the broth is a little assertive.

As Alex plates his dish and Unibrow admires it and calls him a “badass,” Naomi whisks two plates out and serves them.
An unidentified chef snitch: “Hugh, Naomi is serving!”
Unibrow: “No!” When Naomi returns: “Are you directing or am I attending?!”
(Uni doesn’t want to give up control but really he should just help out and chill because he’s friggin immune and Naomi has killed more animals than him.) The tension is palpable. Floyd doesn’t want to get in the middle. Someone asks if a dish is ready to go out. Unibrow: “Talk to Naomi, this is a quasi-team competition and I’m meeting up with a lot of resistance so you MF your own damn table.”
Then he whispers to Suvir that Naomi is a little assertive and “…it’s not always for the power of good...”
Don’t involve Suvir in your manipulations. Jazz Patch is Switzerland! Ommmmmmmmm…

Alex’s roasted salmon, gazpacho vegetables with roasted chili & tomatillo sauce was met with mixed reviews. His issue: “some people like salmon cooked correctly and some people like it cooked their way.” Ha ha, that’s an interesting way of saying your way of cooking salmon is right. Meanwhile everyone gets a different take: medium, raw, all over the gd place.

Tough Traci’s roasted rib eye & slow-cooked broccoli with red wine sauce & fried shallots is the only meat course and heralded by The Barber and Curtis. Restaurant Girl finds it musty and Grub Street says the puree looks swampy and tastes flat. The Barber: (using his hands) “…you guys are young you’ve just been brainwashed by all this non-cooking of vegetables! What Traci has given us here is bold, cooked vegetables!”
Yeah, yell at the young kids watching movies on their iPhones and sucking up the DVR space with America’s Next Dance Crew! Grub Street shakes his head.

Unibrow announces his “buttermilk strawberry panna cotta with black pepper topped with frozen blackberry seedlings and champagne berry soup underneath garnished with chili thread with fresh mint” as he walks around the room. Then he turns and says “Enjoy” with his back to everyone (similar to how he leaves his prostitutes after he underpays them.)
Curtis says he’s a real showman. The Barber calls him Liberace (Liberace would never show us his back unless it was because of an intricate sequin design on his feathered cape!)
The Barber calls the dish impressive, esp for 2.5 hours.
In the kitchen, Uni continues to talk about how great his dish was. I want Punchy Dale from TC All Stars to come back for one ep and Punch his brows off.

Tio’s chocolate “puddin’” with fleur de sel & ginger cake donut looked good but, I must say, sorta pedestrian. A bowl of brown pudding with a bloated Munchkin in it?
In the kitchen, Suvir says his understanding of pudding isn’t the plastic wrap American pudding and that’s what he tastes. He hopes the judges don’t bash her for that. The Critic’s review: tasteless and chalky. BASHED! Meal over.

At the Critic’s Table, Naomi and Suvir are called…
they have…
the most votes!
Naomi received 43% - $1,800 goes to her charity.
Suvir’s dish received 40% - $1,700 goes to his charity, The Agricultural Stewardship Association.
The Critic’s favorite receives an additional 10k and that is…Naomi! (Ooooooo Unibrow gonna be mayad!)
Her charity is Seed Savers Exchange that catalogs and distributes heirloom seeds to protect biodiversity.
OMG They’re the anti-Monstanto, HOOOORAY!

Now the bad news,
Mary Sue (Sweet Mary Sue again?!), Chef Tio and Bald John have the least successful dishes.
Mary Sue says she liked her ceviche and was walking the line between having it be assertive and the first dish and not wanting to blow everyone out. Restaurant Girl says the pickled onions took over. (So much for the “I’ve been making ceviche for 25 years defense.”)
Grub Street asks why Bald John’s risotto was so plain. He says risotto is unchanged and not experimented with (pardon?) and chefs respect the dish because it stands on its own.
WTH, Bald John- do you have some sort of risotto agenda? Also, are you not watching any reality TV? This is not how you do it. (Sing like Montell Jordan: “This is not how you doooo it!”)

Chef Tio admits she doesn’t necessarily love the pastry kitchen (then why’d you make a dessert?) but didn’t think the light panna cotta was enough to end their meal.
Restaurant Girl: “I just couldn’t get with the chocolate puddin’ underneath.” Yeah. Terribly dirty in so many ways (I couldn’t use it for the title of this post though, it would have tipped the proverbial chef’s hand.)
Now, I’d like to acknowledge, right here and now, that it’s kinda gross that we’ve become a nation of ‘pausers.’ Anyone can look bad when they’re paused. There’s no getting around it. Esp if they have some sort of facial thing gone janky. (Hopefully it’s not a stroke situation.) That said:

Yep, Restaurant Girl is a side-o'-the-mouth-raised-lip-talker.

She says the puddin wasn’t chocolately enough then, suddenly, Barber: “You know what Celina? Get out of Dessertville!”
Um, do you want to lend Celina your cell phone so she can call Remax to sell her one-bedroom in Dessertville? Jesus, stop yelling, Barber.
After the chefs left he went on to say her puddin wasn’t emphatically flavored (I don’t even know where to begin on that one); that Mary Sue and the other chefs needed to be making an impression from “beginning to middle to end” with an added hand gesture on each word, and that Bald John’s risotto was a “MissssTAKE!”
Are we watching Days Of Our Lives? Honestly, I think someone is auditioning for Days.

In the end, their least favorite dish was Bald John’s?!?
But they Tio’s puddin was gritty?! Really?!
Bald John: “My egg is scrambled right now. It’s sobering…”
He heads back to the kitchen flanked by the ladies and hugs everyone goodbye.

He says it was a challenging freak show. Then, as he walks out: “I’ll miss you guys.”
He spins around suddenly, “I LOVE you guys. I do!”
Bald John, we barely knew ye.
I hope your brother has forgiven you for putting bugs in his mouth.
And that you discover the intricacies of risottos. And find love.

I think you need that most of all.

Next week- Suvir and Unibrow get into a tiff? AwwwwSNAP!
Until then, we are all still in the running to be the Top Chef Masters Pool Winners...


KAT Mary Sue and Naomi

LOGUE Tough Traci and Suvir


Q Mary Sue and Floyd

BROWNIE Tough Traci

LB Mary Sue and Alex


NIKKI M. Hugh and Suvir

STRIPES Mary Sue and Tough Traci

GBAG Suvir

ELLIE Mary Sue and ChrisLyle (George)

DOWD Tough Traci

KRISTEN K. Tough Traci and ChrisLyle

LUCY Tough Traci and ChrisLyle

JET Tough Traci

JENNA Mary Sue and Floyd

LB2 ChrisLyle

BERTSCH Tough Traci and Floyd

FRANBANAN Mary Sue and ChrisLyle

DAISY Floyd and ChrisLyle

ME Naomi and Suvir


  1. I liked Bald John and kinda surprised he went so early! but WTH is right! Jody Adams once made a risotto with red wine, blue cheese, figs and radicchio. (ok so it wasn't on TC Masters, but still, I though it was OK to dress up that dish!) take that plain risotto!

    Also, TJs should totally sponsor. You keep those Plantains in demand!

  2. BALD JOHN! I had a mortal lock on this thing! Shocking.

  3. Totally! I don't know what kind of game those Critic's are playing. Perhaps the winning chef has a restaurant that The Barber and Restaurant Girl are invested in? A reverse osmosis Next Great American Restaurant scam?
    Either way poops! Shoulda been Tio.