Thursday, November 17, 2011

“I … dragged the whole piece of meat in my mouth.”

First off! As already emailed, there were a couple of changes made to the list last night- I had the wrong person for Nikki’s pick (she wanted Paul, not Baby Face Bev.) And Liz Colanto emailed as soon as her plane landed from the Dominican Republic and told me she would look at the picks and hit me back (pretty dope of her.) But she wasn’t able to actually email until 10:09pm- that’s not too late, right? So I’ve added her picks to the list below (nothing happened to indicate an outcome 9 minutes in anyhoo.) btw- per Colanto: “Don’t ever go to Dreams Resort in the Dominican.” So if you’re all okay with that, I’d like to set off this ep with an app! Delicious Sam Talbot:

Now what this article did not reveal is that Sam aka Hottie McHottenspiel quit Imperial No. 9 in NYC to be the Chef in my pants. (Hm, that’s a good name for a restaurant: In My Pants. Okay, maybe not.)

This ep begins with intros, several chefs’ talk about themselves. Big Buddha says cooking saved his life and this year he was nominated for a James Beard Award. Accessory Chef Chris tells us of his love of Accessory Chef Richie. Baby Face Bev puts a piece of paper on her mirror that says: ‘Congratulations Top Chef Winner Beverly Kim!’ She will look at this every day. “If I can believe it, I can achieve it.” Hm, did I mention Chef Sam Talbot is the chef in my pants? I may say this a few more times…

They enter the TCTX Kitchen and each stand in front of a skinny box that has a little door and a screen. The kind of wooden box you’d catch something gnarly in. Pads rocks a scarf as a headband, beige pants and a white t-shirt that’s missing one sleeve and has another with an ominous shoulder pad.

Either she threw a few too many passes at football practice and had to ice that sucker or she started smoking again. She’s in front of a huge aquarium with a live snake in it, next to her is Guest Chef, Johnny Hernandez, famous for cooking wild game. He says snake meat is a tradition in Texas. (The closest I’ve ever come to reptile is watching someone eat a alligator-bite (correct me if I’m wrong about this menu item) at Dixie Kitchen that used to be on 182 Mass Avenue across from the Choice Mart that used to have an “i” in the sign that looked like a penis. DK’s jalapeno cornbread, however, was slammin. Also- stop me if I told you this before- I saw Ving Rhames there grubbing back when he had hair! (Jesus, I’m old.))

The Quickfire Challenge
Pads tells the chefs they have an hour, the winner gets immunity and 5k, and their ingredient is in the box in front of them. Big Buddha hates snakes. Chris C. power-smiles through the possibility. Dakota looks like she’s gonna cry. Pads: “When time’s up, I better see some MF snakes on some MFing plates.”
Only one of the Accessory Chefs is amused.

They open the boxes to find…

…the snakes are dead and skinned already.

Even Ty-Lor, God Of Cooking, heaves a sigh of relief. (Not very God-like.)
As they work, Sarah tells Accessory Chef Richie (they’re both from Chicago so I guess they’re Pals?) to cut the snake into sections and get it small so you can work with it. btw Richie is the ONLY chef Not Picked in this pool.
When time is called, Guest Chef’s least faves: Street Food’s BBQ snake with Asian slaw…?!? Wow- he said the snake was lost in the dish; Accessory Chef Richie’s jerk seasoned snake with pineapple (Note: Accessory Chef Chris checked in on his buddy’s dish during cooking) and Nyesha!? The snake was overcooked! (Ny-eeeesha, you made the snake that I never had, and I want to get to know you bet-ter –that one’s too easy, right Colucci? G’head and play it Brownie, I know you got it on your iPod.
Faves – Baby Face Bev rattle snake Nigiri with Thai basil jalapeno aioli; Dakota’s (really?!) beer battered tempura with warm succotash salad and zucchini corn gazpacho and Sarah’s flash-fried snake with brown butter and lemon zest.
The winner – Dako
Wow, I’m perplexed, Poolers! (So is Nyesha. This challenge uncurled her hair.)

Elimination Challenge
They draw knives to become Team Green (both Accessory Chefs, Cashew Chuy, Street Food, Coke Mouth, Grayson, Heather and Baby Face Bev) and Team Pink (Ayesha, Chris C, Big Buddha, Dakota, SadFace, Sarah, Linsday and Ty-Lor God Of Cooking.) They must cater an event for a teen client named Blanca Flores.
Coke Mouth: “Maybe she’s a Mexican rock star.” (He just wanted win a bet by using the word ‘rock’ during filming so he can use the cheddar to get two for five rocks on the corner. Werd.) Turns out it’s Blanca’s 15th birthday or Quinceañera (not a bad lil drama btw.)
They’re expected to make “elegant Mexican cuisine” according to Pads and, of course, a cake. Dreams Of Not Making Dessert, Shattered!

30 Minutes to Plan!
Green Team asks Blanca if her family likes spicy or mild. Mild. Ceviche? Yeah. Boys? -Who the hell asked that? Coke Mouth- you Creep! When Blanca says she likes goat Cashew Chuy bangs the table triumphantly- apparently his grandfather taught him how to slaughter goat and it’s very close to his heart. That or he liked holding warm, recently butchered goat hearts close to his own heart. I’m not really sure, his eagerness on this subject concerns me.

Over on Team Pink Lindsay knows Spanish- she lived in Mexico for 4 years and helped Michelle Bernstein open her restaurant down there!

Gangsta! But before they have a clear plan they, like Team Green, splits into two teams- one shops Whole Foods, the other a Mexican meat market. Ayesha asks Lindsay how much the shrimp is at WF since it’s “$8.99 a pound” at the Mexican Market. Notice Ayesha (standing with Chris C. and Ty-Lor)

…Lindsay tells her it’s $9.99 at WF and to get it there but make sure it’s really nice, she wants to make shrimp cocktail. Big Buddha is there suddenly and says “The shrimp are gonna be cooked, is that okay?” Chris C.: “What’s that?”
Big Buddha: “I’m getting cooked shrimp.”
Chris C.:

Meanwhile Heather has pastry chef experience and Dakota says it’s not against the rules to read the recipe off the back of a cake mix box.

Then Major Dramz during the 3 Hours of Prep when Lindsay and Sarah find out Big Buddha bought pre-cooked frozen shrimp. When Sarah asks why Chris C. says “That was all Keith.” (Big Buddha.) When Sarah asks why they didn’t stand up for the shrimp (cause you know shrimp are curved and can’t stand themselves) Chris C. says “We didn’t see it.”
Sarah: “Did ya’ll not go to the counter with him?” Chris C. says they did but Buddha was like “I got it, I got it.”
Really? Cause I don’t recall that at all. And the Bravo producers would have shown that. I mean, look, we all remember GOODFELLAS and Paul Sorvino slicing garlic with a razor in prison, maybe Big Buddha could have flipped those frozen shrimp into something spectacular but Lindsay is teary and says it’s baffling to her why that was done. Big Buddha says (To Camera) the chefs around him didn’t voice any concern at all.
Just so we’re clear here:

Lindsay to now bestie Sarah: “…sabotage. My only concern is I don’t have a dish now.”
Big Buddha says Lindsay is talking shit and he feels alone. WHEW! I need a Tums already!

Meanwhile it’s all light and love on Team Green where Cashew Chuy tastes everything since he’s the “resident Mexican.” Heather has pastry experience and makes the cake. Butterflies fly out of peoples asses and blue birds wash dishes with their feathers while fawns grate cheese.

In the TCTX House, the teams stay separate and plan. Big Buddha discusses cutting pineapple. Sarah: “You wanna cut it big then we can, you know, cut it big.” BB: “Well it’s a team so I’m tryna get feedback…if you wanna do it this way, I’m not opposed to that.”
(I assure you he is not an abm (angry black man) when he says this and I’d like to commend BB for it. It’s obvious because of his background he’s worked very hard to be delicate about such things. Even so, I am preeeeetty positive where this whole thing is headed.)

2 1/2 hours to finish!
Lindsay thinks the pork Big Buddha cut is too thick “for women.” Microscope time! Also- SEXIST!
BB says he has plenty and can cut it thinner. She goes right to Sarah and tells her what he’s going to do. Ayesha (not an abw…yet) senses the underlining Team Pink tension.
As the chefs set up tables, Pads enters in a lovely but simple dress as to not outshine Blanca (impossible! Her cleavage alone could slay the entire family!) and, in an awkward moment, introduces the birfday girl to Colicchio, the megaforeheaded Guest Judge she already met and Unibrow.

Pause Moment: Unibrow eyes Blanca’s curls as he dreams of strengthening his stylist-plucked hair fare back to a full-on Bert from Sesame Street brow.

Now sometime around here I get a text from CC who asks why Mark Mothersbaugh is on Top Chef- I'm still not sure which chef he's referencing- any takers? And also asks when MTV started producing this show. I kinda agree. It feels a bit set up, small and predictable. And the camera angles are getting wonky.
Get on the stick, Top Chef Producers! Don't sully the brand!

The Judges intro apps before they go to the team’s tables. Ty-Lor God Of Cooking – (Team Pink) prepared a Fire-Roasted (of course) summer fritter with avocado mousse. Unibrow calls it a hushpuppy, Colicchio announces that it’s dry, Blanca says you can’t taste the mousse. But technically since she’s 15, she thinks mousse belongs in hair or in the wild.
Accessory Chef Richie (Team Green) made tapioca chicharrón (pork rinds) with pork carnitas. Blanca says the chicharrón could have been more crispy because it was soggy in the middle. Okay you got us there, Blanca. Score one for you.
Big Buddha & Lindsay’s (Team Pink) pork tenderloin huarache with pineapple salsa is next. Pads: “The pork is really nice. I took one bite of it and I dragged the whole piece of meat in my mouth.”

Guest Judge: “We’re still struggling with execution, we’re still struggling with the presentation.” Ouch.
Street Food’s shrimp yuzu ceviche with corn salsa and yucca chips is Colicchio’s fave thus far and has a lot of flavor. Redeemed!
Then they line up to taste Team Pink’s food. Nyesha presents her ceviche (tilapia) with crispy plantain chips and spiced popcorn for texture…

...which looks suspiciously like what Snoopy made for Thanksgiving.

Colicchio says the flavor is good but the texture is mealy. (Ew, I hate that word. It makes me think of worms for some reason.)

Chris C. compliments Blanca to make up for the fact that he made choclo con chile. That’s corn. He made CORN! Yet Pads’ thinks it’s a favorite. (It’s corn.)
Ty-Lor serves Big Buddha’s enchiladas and salsa verde because Sarah is giving Big Buddha a bowl and instructing him to “do another batch” of something. Sarah: “…bring them to me and put them in the back.” Trying to be a team player after the shrimp ordeal, Big Buddha runs to the kitchen as told. Yeah, I’m getting a sour taste in my mouth too. Tastes like a railroad.
Unibrow says Big Buddha’s tortilla should be corn. Colicchio likes the flavors. Unibrow: “Like it or not, he’s made a burrito.”
Lindsay & Sarah serve Ty-Lor’s dish of carne asada with pinto beans (except Lindsay pronounces his name TyLER) and Sarah explains they didn’t make the tortillas. Then Lindsay & Sarah (apparently now rivaling the closeness of the Accessory Chefs) present their cochinita pibil (slow roasted pork) with pickled red onions and salsa. The Judges’ don’t like the store bought tortilla that falls apart as they eat it.
Team Green is next with Coke Mouth’s tomatillo gazpacho with watermelon, jicama and chicharrón (pork rinds) on a stick with dried plantains. Unibrow thought it was great with good flavor (because, as we know, he is not rife with adjectives.)
Accessory Chef Chris, still sporting sunglasses, regular glasses and a headband with Accessory Alert: the addition of a ponytail….

…presents his green chile, mushroom and Oaxaca cheese empanadas that Colicchio thought were highly seasoned.
Cashew Chuy shows off his braised goat birria (stew), cabbage, red peanut (true to his name!) salsa and handmade queso fresco. They all like the goat but thought the cabbage added nothing.
Baby Face Bev presents her beef short rib asada with piña kimchi (Korean Mexican fusion-style.) The editors did not include any comments on her dish but it looked pretty damn good.
Grayson’s pulled chicken mole with pickled red onion, crema & lime and sour cream with grilled tortillas (that they also didn’t make) is called mushy.
Time for Cake!

Dakota talks smack- she has the colors Blanca wants and the fruit. Apparently Blanca asked for something colored like ‘mall art’?

Heather’s cake is a pretty lop-sided mound that looks a bit like Mother Nature took a poop.

Blanca likes the colors of Dakota’s cake but there was a lil too much frosting. She thinks the taste of Team Green’s cake, vanilla tres leches (“classic Mexican,” a guest remarked) was great. Through it all Blanca smiles and is gracious because Bravo paid for the whole affair and it’s being televised.
Pause Moment: Notice the girl on the right who mistook “Bravo” for “Beiber.” She was pisssssed when he didn’t show up.

Blanca dances with her dad, Baby Face Bev watches and weeps openly (apparently her dad doesn't think women can do much of anything and she wants to succeed in his eyes. Ugh.) And shortly after, Colicchio announces the winner right there at the party– Team Green. No big surprise here. Big Buddha smiles but foresees being thrown under the bus. Pads asks to see the least faves: Ty-Lor, God of Cooking, Sarah, Lindsay and Big Buddha. She mentions Dakota had immunity and that was the only reason why she wasn’t there. Snap.

Unibrow chastises them for not picking a leader for their team. Sarah: “There really wasn’t a menu, TyLER was gonna do carne asada, Lindsay was gonna make shrimp cocktail….”

Colicchio: “Shrimp cocktail? I don’t remember seeing that.”
Unibrow asks who bought pre-cooked shrimp. Big Buddha raises his hand and says he looked at price and labor and made a decision. Colicchio: “Were you shopping by yourself?” Big Buddha: “No sir, I had a team with me.”
Unibrow: “I feel for ya, but if I was in that position and you brought back pre-cooked shrimp to me, I’d be yelling at you too.”

Unibrow: “Sorry.”
Sarah smiles.

Thus ruining the Hall and Oates song for me.
When asked what happened in place of the shrimp, Lindsay offered Ty’s weak fritter. Guest Judge says the term “fritter” itself is a problem. (Critter too. Lots of negative connotations there.) Ty says it was a matter of having 30 minutes to come up with another appetizer. I’d like to point out that’s more time than they usually have to do a QuickFire.
Colicchio: “Certainly that’s not the reason why it was dry.”
Ty-Lor God of Dryness: “No sir, that’s a cooking failure.”

Unibrow goes after Lindsay and Sarah’s tortillas: “they were crappy!” Then they dig in on Big Buddha’s. He said he didn’t know about a corn tortilla for enchiladas, he used flour in his region.
Guest Judge says if Buddha has used corn you could appreciate the spinach and the sauce but before he could hand out any potential compliments, Sarah jumps in: “I grew up here in Texas, I’ve lived here my whole life, I never do enchiladas with flour tortilla.”
Really. This is necessary, chick? This is gonna save you?
Tears began to form in the corner or Buddha’s eyes.
Awww maaan.
Pads: “It’s a team challenge, did you say to Keith we usually use corn tortillas?”
Sarah: “I did not. I’m not here to boss everyone around and tell them your dish sucks, your dish is great…”
REWIND to her telling Accessory Chef Richie how to cut the snake in the QuickFire though and that WASN’T a team challenge. Immunity and 5k was on the line!
Then the mountain speaks.
Big Buddha: “If she had an opinion about something then say that” (to Sarah) “you love driving the bus, hitting people. We had an army of corn tortillas.”
I recall no such army btw.
Colicchio: “So no one ever suggested to you to use corn?”
BB says no and that this was a team challenge. Sarah says Buddha wasn’t talking to anyone in the kitchen during the prep.

Also, she says if she could go back she would change it because this is the last place she wanted to be.
The Time Machine Defense? The one that should only be used in the case of war, national disasters or avoiding pregnancy? That’s all you got Sarah Smile?
And can I just go on record with something that has nothing to do with BB’s dilemma? Aren’t corn tortillas kinda gross? I find them thick and tasteless. If I DON’T notice a corn tortilla whatever was inside there must have been pretty gd good. Speaking of which, Sam Talbot is the chef in my pants.

The Judges say they all failed for chefs with the types of accolades they had. Agreed. Big Buddha had a strike pre-cooked shrimp non-withstanding. Lindsay LIVED in Mexico for four years and her flavors were off. Ty-Lor, Former God Of Cooking, made a fritter critter. Sarah used crappy tortillas and only made half a dish- the assy one- with Lindsay. But, in the end, they ask the big man to pack his knives and go.
Big Buddha says he had some tough times in his past that have caused him to dig deep but “just know that” there is light at the end of the tunnel. “I’ve been through that tunnel a few times, so good things happen to good people.”

Full Disclosure: I almost picked Big Buddha. What better story could there be than a guy who used to be in prison, found cooking, was nominated for a James Beard Award and ended up winning Top Chef Texas?
Lindsay says he made poor decisions but he’s a genuine man and it’s tough to see him go.
Yeah. Still, I sorta wanna punch her. I want to punch my own pick! (Not in the throat though cause her neck is so big it would crush my finger bones.)
Big Buddha hugged everyone. Even Lindsay, Sarah and Ty-Lor. It was a group hug but a hug nonetheless. Then he walked out with his head held high.

And so, the revised list is here:

LOGUE Grayson
TRIPP Heather and Nyesha
ELLIE Street Food and Sarah
KAT B Sarah
MAUREEN Lindsay and Nyesha
KEITH B Andrew from Austin and Heather
MERIDEN Grayson and Street Food
LB2 Chris C. and Coke Mouth
COLUCCI Accessory Chef Chris
LB Coke Mouth and Ty-Lor God Of Cooking
KRISTEN K Lindsay and Nyesha
BERTSCH Heather and Dakota
ED K Accessory Chef Chris and Street Food
BROWNIE Nyesha and Street Food
ME Grayson and Lindsay
Q Coke Mouth
GBG Sarah and Street Food
JET Street Food and Baby Face Bev
STRIPES Lindsay and Cashew Chuy
JENNA Nyesha
DAISY Nyesha and Street Food
CC SadFace and Ty-Lor God Of Cooking
NIKKI M Sarah and Street Food
FLAISHER Nyesha and Cashew Chuy
LUCY Street Food
COLANTO Chris C. and Nyesha

Don’t hate if you’re down to one so early in the game, there’s still hope.
And OH SNAP here it is right now! It's the Last Chance Kitchen!
Let's go!
Big Buddha says Lindsay and Sarah let him down. THEN they show Sarah and him getting tortillas out of a bag. Sarah: "Is that the flour?"
BB says getting into Top Chef is something he'll always savor. He goes to pack his bags and sees what he thinks is a thank you letter. It's an invitation to the Last Chance Kitchen! So that's how they find out!

Last Chance Kitchen Challenge
They each have six ingredients, ten minutes to prep and then make a dish. BB is still in shock but seems totally calm. He does clams two ways, cold and hot. Andrew from Austin (remember him!?) does one: grilled raddichio with olive oil, lemon juice, clams and pepper. He went Mediterranean (just last like last time with the pizza.) Big Buddha does a ceviche with lemon zest and then a mint sofrito steamed in champagne butter.
OMG my stomach is in knots. Stomach knots- SNOTS!
Colicchio says Andrew from Austin's dish was nice and BB's was subtle. "Little details really make the dish but he has to go with the one that was better."
Just ignore that stuff I said above, these Top Chef Producers are geniuses!
Best brand ever!
Big Buddha is back in this mutha: "The washing machine in my stomach is tumbling right now, I don't know what to expect but I'm gonna forge ahead."
Yeah! Forge!
(And get that washing machine outta your belly, you know unless it's another Kenmore tie-in.)
Until next week Poolers...

LOGUE Grayson and Big Buddha
TRIPP Heather and Nyesha
ELLIE Street Food and Sarah
KAT B Sarah and Big Buddha
MAUREEN Lindsay and Nyesha
KEITH B Heather
MERIDEN Grayson and Street Food
LB2 Chris C. and Coke Mouth
COLUCCI Accessory Chef Chris and Big Buddha
LB Coke Mouth and Ty-Lor God Of Cooking
KRISTEN K Lindsay and Nyesha
BERTSCH Heather and Dakota
ED K Accessory Chef Chris and Street Food
BROWNIE Nyesha and Street Food
ME Grayson and Lindsay
Q Coke Mouth and Big Buddha
GBG Sarah and Street Food
JET Street Food and Baby Face Bev
STRIPES Lindsay and Cashew Chuy
JENNA Nyesha and Big Buddha
DAISY Nyesha and Street Food
CC SadFace and Ty-Lor God Of Cooking
NIKKI M Sarah and Street Food
FLAISHER Nyesha and Cashew Chuy
LUCY Street Food and Big Buddha
COLANTO Chris C. and Nyesha


  1. Glad you're enjoying it! Don't forget the popcorn this Thanksgiving! xox

  2. I am so looking forward to the humiliation of Lindsay and Sarah. Villains make life so exciting!

  3. Especially when they're pushed into a giant oven- Whoops- just gave away next week's ending!

  4. Ok, you missed my favorite part, when Bev raises her hand by the meat counter and yells "my dish is the most important dish here and I need a butcher now!" Really not liking that chick. Also, I love corn tortillas and I thought it was kind of BS that the judges came down on them for not making their own. They're a lot of work! And also, thanksgiving dinner is currently going on at OMS's aunt's house and I'm in the bedroom with napping Fausto catching up on your blog. And I'm totally ok with that.

  5. I'm reading this on the train and cracking up to myself. First, love the addition of photos...are you taking them from the tv. Second, not in love with this cast. Third, I hate corn tortillas and make enchiladas all the time with flour so they can bite me!! Also why is unibrow a judge. Isn't he one of the most hated master to p chef? and lastly have you watched the next iron chef? It's so good!