Tonight’s masters: Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill and Tompolobampo, Chicago), Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill, Napa), Wilo Benet (Pikayo, Puerto Rico) and Ludo Lefebvre (Ludo Bites, floating restaurant).

Bayless and Pawlcyn can cook their asses off. (I love her cookbook, even though every ingredient list is 17 pages long. His books aren’t too shabby either.)  Lefebvre seems like an ass, so maybe tonight will be a little less sedate.  I’ll be pulling for Pawlcyn.

See you in 3!

9:59:  That was a subpar episode of So You Think You Can Dance.  I think the costume department is out to sabotage some of these kids.  Does the Paso Doble typically require the woman to dress like Princess Leia in the Jabba the Hut/Gold Bikini scene?  Maybe it does.  I was just under another impression, is all.

10:01: Wilo is Puerto Rico’s first celebrity chef, which must be why I’ve never heard of him.  Apparently, he was a judge in a past season, who knew?

Okay, yes, Ludo is French.  But he does, in fact, speak English, and subtitles are not necessary.  Although he is really, really French.  Fronsh, if you will.

10:04:  Is it wrong that I don’t really give a crap about the charities?  I mean, I’m glad they’re getting money and all.  But I still don’t care.

Wait, is Bayless competing for his own foundation?  I call shenanigans.  I’m still calling him to place, though.

10:05:  QUICKFIRE: A season two challenge, where the cheftastants had to base a meal around a single color.  In that season, drunk-ass Mike (he of Cheeto stuck in pureed snickers bar) won.

The judges: Three women we’ve never heard of.  I’m sure they’re lovely people.  Who the hell are they, and why do I care?

10:08:  Really, we may be American but we do understand accents.  Some of us have even TRAVELED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.  We fly in the bellies of giant, magical iron birds.  Unbelievable, I know, but true!

Bayless has green, Ludo’s got red, Cindy’s yellow and Wilo is orange.

In France, culinary training is intense.  Sometimes, petit Ludo would go home and cry at the end of the day.  But people cry at the end of the day on Hell’s Kitchen, so I don’t know what we can use that as a criterion.

10:09:  Wilo picks up some edible flowers, because they’re feminine and the judges are women, and you have to know who you’re cooking for.  Thanks for recognizing our individuality!  Flowers are girly.  Women are girly.  Therefore women like flowers.  All logically undeniable statements!

10:10: So Cindy was worried that she would be too slow, and instead she has to help Frenchy McFrencherson plate…and he STILL leaves something off.

Heez Frensh passion, eet ees too overwhelming even for heem.

10:15:  To heap insult onto indignity, the waiters forgot Ludo’s beet juice.  Either way, it looks like a plate of raw bloody cow.  A possibly alive, still bleeding cow.

Is he wearing a neckerchief?  Yes, because he is so very, very Fronsh.  Someone stop him before he makes me kill again.

10:17: Good on Wilo, I thought orange would be the toughest color.  If only he had taken the ring molds off the plate.

10:18:  WINNER:  Wilo, ring mold be damned.

10:19:  ELIMINATION CHALLENGE:  Street food…made with something gross enough that it has to be hidden under silver domes.  It’s offal!

Cindy pronounces it the way I do: awful, not oh-ful.  I feel vindicated.

Okay, it’s not all offal; there’s some tongue and pig ears in there.

10:21:  Ludo claims he can cook all these things, and yet his skin is a strangely pasty shade of pale.  Also, he cannot make street food because “They don’t have street food in France.”  So he’s making a quesadilla…going up against Rick Bayless.

Rick’s got tongue, Ludo’s got pig ears, Cindy’s got tripe and Wilo’s got beef heart.  I’m sure it’s not the hardest one, but the heart is definitely freaking me out the most.

Okay, and the tongue.

10:22: And the tripe, because it feels like you’re eating a bacteria-laden, slimy sponge.

And the pig ears, because those are treats for the dog.

10:23:  Ludo is not here to make friends.  Just to mooch off others and ask them for help plating and for advice on his food because he doesn’t know what cheese should go in a quesadilla despite years of intense Fronsh culinary training that involved beatings with chains for improperly pairing cheese and wine.  So here for that assistance, yes, but NOT friendship.

10:24:  Rick’s making a taco.  Good luck with that, Ludo.

Bayless is too good for this, but he should have thrown him under a big ol’Mexican bus and told him Velveeta is the traditional Mexican quesadilla cheese.

10:28:  The idea of a pressure cooker full of tripe exploding has been one of my recurring nightmares for years.

Seriously, the giant vat of pig ears could have been picked up at PetSmart.  Meanwhile, Rick is rendering an enormous pan of bacon, earning my love.

10:30:  Ludo’s in the weeds.  People offer him help.  People he’s already turned to for assistance.  He refuses. “Do not tell mee how to coook.”

Ludo is a dickweed.

10:32:  Everything Ludo touches, Ludo destroys.

10:33:  Obligatory hipster in a pink polo shirt and fedora asks Rick to slip him some tongue.  Thank you, hipster, I would NEVER have thought of that stunningly hilarious nugget of humor.  Be very, very proud of yourself.  Cock your hat to the side a little more, it’ll be hipper.

Gael’s hat is pleasantly non-distracting.

I gotta say, the tongue taco looks pretty good.  I think Gael is ready to ditch the rest of the stands and chow down on the tacos.

10:35:  I SAW IT!  I can confirm that Kelly Choi has taken at least one bite of food.

Ludo not only is not churning out food, he’s also a terrible street vendor.  I think he and floppy-haired English judge are going to re-create the 100 Years’ War in the parking lot of Universal Studios.

10:37:  I don’t think I could eat something called Menudo, no matter how good it looks.  Can’t we call it something else?  New Kids on the Block?  Bachman-Turner Overdrive?

Okay, Kelly Choi has also eaten the tripe.  Or at least, put it in her mouth and politely waited until off camera to spit.

10:39:  I don’t think Ludo is a real person.  I think he’s an animatronic chefbot with advanced artificial intelligence programmed to behave like the American stereotype of an asshole French chef.  It’s the only way.  This can not be a real person.

He wants to beat Rick at his own Mexican game, it would be beeg, very beeg. “Hooree up, jzust tell me I ween.”

10:43:  Oh, the quippy hispter went back to Bayless’ table more than once to make ABSOLUTELY SURE his humor was acknowledged.  One must admire hipsterdom’s tenacity when it comes to demanding self-recognition.

10:45:  JUDGES’ TABLE:  I want Ludo to SNAP.

The judges are way, way too nice on this show.  Why does Ludo still just have the one asshole?  Unless he already has the second from a particularly difficult day during his years of French training.  He doesn’t look very big, so there’s probably not room for a third, unless you put it in front.

10:48:  RIck’s faring well.  Because everyone loves a taco, and everyone loves bacon.

Wilo didn’t toast his pita.  Ludo looks at him like he just took a shit on the floor in front of the judges, because Ludo’s performance was flawless, making him totally qualified to pass judgment on others.

10:50:  The judges are a little tougher when they’re talking behind the contestant’s backs, but still.  You’re making me miss Tom Colicchio, and I can very rarely stand Tom Colicchio.

Ludo is not getting the spanking that I – and I assume everyone else who’s watching right now – would like to be watching him get.

10:52:  Brian notes, and I totally agree, that it would be nice to see a bit more actual cooking on this show, what with them being the masters.  Ditch the Colicchio intro, ditch the charities (I mean, don’t ditch them; just don’t talk to me about them) and show me more Rick Bayless making a taco, because that is why I’m here.

Well, for that and to hate Ludo, which has been my raison d’etre for the night. (See, Bravo, some of us even SPEAK non-English languages!)

10:55:  Bravo:  Not all of these things are offal.  Tongue is not offal.  Heart is not offal.  They are muscles.  This is a cooking show.  Get your shit together.

10:56:  Bob Balaban gives Cindy 2.5 stars.  HARSH.  She doesn’t even beat Ludo.  I’m hurt, I really am.

I also don’t know how I feel about the star-rating system, it’s a little too Star Search for me.

10:57:  BAYLESS CREAMS LUDO.  Suck on that, Frenchy.

Brian:  “Take that, Ludo-cris…Are you going to use that?”  (Ha! But he’s not wearing a fedora)

(Let it be known that Brian is not a ridiculous hipster, although he does like irony.  But sometimes I just can’t pass up a good tie-in.)

10:58:  Bayless, my second choice, takes it handily. He wins money for his own foundation, because his grocery store line of chips and frozen burritos doesn’t bring in enough to fund it.  (I kid because I love.)

Of course, I still think he’ll get his ass beat by Hubert in the end.  And I’m still looking askance at him for playing for his own charity.

10:59: Ludo: “How much did you pay to win, Reeck?”

Me: “How much would you all pay me to mail a flaming pig’s heart to Ludo?”

No really, how much?  Because I want to do it, I just need a little push.

NEXT WEEK: Neil Patrick Harris!  John Besh!  I heart John Besh, I totally thought he should have become the next Iron Chef over Michael Symon (sorry, Michael).

ONE YEAR AGO: Cheap Ass Monday: A Little Fancy, A Little Schmancy

[tags]top chef, bravo, reality television, cooking, chefs[tags]