First episode of the Champions Round. $5 if you can guess who I want out first.
THE LAST SIX WEEKS: Were not nearly as exciting as you would expect them to be. Hopefully people will start some shit up in the Champions round.
I wouldn’t want to go up against Chiarello, he looks like a biter.
10:02: Aw, Kelly Choi’s anatomy freaks me out just as much today as it did six weeks ago. Either of her big ol’ hoopy earrings could double as a necklace.
10:03: ELIMINATION CHALLENGE: The mis en place relay race! I always like this challenge during the season. Hopefully everyone’s been out of prep practice long enough to make it funny. Hubert looks adorably shamefaced.
- Open 15 oysters
- Dice 5 onions
- Butcher 4 chickens
- Separate 5 eggs and hand-whip the whites.
10:05: The judge is…Hung! No, it’s not; that would actually be interesting. It’s Colicchio.
Tracht v. Keller, shucking oysters. She’s giving me a creepy, creepy vibe.
I think she is a robot. But the kind who that becomes sentient and turns on you. Look, she’s already fooled me into thinking she’s a person.
10:06: Smith v. Keller, onions.
Bayless on Smith: “He’s cutting his onions in a way I’ve never seen before.” WITH A SPOON.
Keller is slower, and yet, his onion-dicing method is like a thing of beauty. A dance, almost.
10:08: Lo v. Chiarello, chickens. He can’t keep from spying on his competition. You know, because he’s kind of a dick. But maybe also because he’s scared of her. I don’t blame him for that one.
They are both really fricking good at that.
10:09: Smith v. Bayless, egg whites. Smith: “Rick Bayless is my nemesis.”
Really? I would totally pay to watch that show. It wouldn’t be on for many episodes, since Bayless could kill a person with his forearms. I’ve never whipped eggs white like that it my life; that’s why god makes KitchenAids.
Bayless, Keller and Lo, winners. Smith, DON’T CRY. It’s too early in the episode.
10:11: Next up, each chef has to prepare their signature dish for the others…and then there’s a twist!
Brian: “I saw her smile! The Tracht lady! Just like when I saw Kelly Choi eat the nut! IT WAS REAL, MICHELLE.”
10:15: Art Smith, I like you. I really do. But your gay-busybody vibe is going to start to grate.
Hubert grew up in a little village in France, where his parents owned a pastry shop. Of course they did. Is he even real?
Smith is serving fish that he served for the president. Which almost makes him cry. Good god, man. So now you’re a gay-busybody-namedropping-cryer. Officially grating.
10:17: Even listening to Chiarello describe his dish makes me want to kick a baby seal. His sad my-mom-died-of-cancer-too-soon story cannot pierce the frozen black carapace he constructs around my heart, and lord knows I’m a sucker for a cancer weepy.
10:18: Bayless is a giant hippie nerd! Love him.
10:19: ELIMINATION CHALLENGE: Re-create a competitor’s signature dish.
Okay, I looked up for the supposed Tracht-smile moment, and I gotta say, I didn’t see it. Maybe it was a twitch. Or a burp, like with newborns.
10:20: Hubert takes Lo. Lo’s stuck with Keller. Bayless and Chiarello. Tracht and Smith. Can we funnel some personality out of Smith and into Tracht?
10:21: Mark it: 21 minutes in, Brian calls Anita Lo for the win. I’m torn between everyone except Chiarello and Smith.
10:24: Unrelated but no less momentous: 24 minutes in, Brian declares that U2 has become irrelevant.
10:25: Chiarello: “I want to honor Bayless by completely taking over his dish and using my own ingredients.” Bayless is doing basically the same, yet someone manages to sound not like an ass saying it.
10:26: Keller has never had mashed potato and sea urchin, which Anita did in her dish. “Eet was a revelation. Eetz grand!”
I don’t know exactly what Lo is doing, but I heard “lobster” and “biscuit” and I will take two of those.
10:28: Tracht: “I’m doing Art’s dish, but he’s a hack so I’m making it more elegant.” Okay, maybe I was paraphrasing, but still, see? The robot coup begins.
10:31: UnBalaban is here, he’s wearing a bright purple shirt, and he is READY TO JUDGE YOU HARSHLY. His cookbook is on my list, and then I will smack it down and the judger will be the judgee. Except that I’ll probably fuck it up and then he’ll show up at my house with Gael Greene to berate me in person.
Seriously? Of all the previous contestants you could bring back to judge you bring Ludo? And Christopher “Buy My Swanson!” Lee?
Art’s got a Scottish egg, sweet potato chili fries, and something else.
10:32: Rick’s got quail, prosciutto, wild greens. It’s not Mexican. Since this is not American Idol, he is not pinged for stepping out of the box.
Tracht’s got grouper, gnocchi, peas. Which is cold. And overcooked.
UnBalaban: “It does feel like once upon a time, this fish was cooked perfectly.” Isn’t that true of all fish at some point?
10:34: Mark it: 34 minutes in, Kelly Choi is shown looking very intently at food.
10:35: Chiarello’s got lamb, fig mostarda. Which has a “seasoning defecit.” Heh. Heh heh.
Anita has a gelee something, some kind of soup and LOBSTER BISCUIT. And everyone loves it. And is scared of her, maybe she flashes her shiv when she presents? But dang, it sounds good.
10:36: After the break, I have high hopes that Chiarello and British judge guy will start. Please, somebody, start. But they’ll probably just stare at each other for a minute and then everyone will giggle and hug.
10:40: Interlude: Did you know Art loves FUN? And he likes to make people LAUGH? And he is a giddy joy-bearing fairy, and I’m not calling him a name I’m making a statement of fact. Lose a tooth, put it under your pillow, and Art Smith comes in the middle of the night to force you to laugh at a joke and mention that he worked for Oprah.
The grating may be worse than I had feared.
10:44: CRITICS: Gael’s hat matches UnBalaban’s shirt. They TOTALLY call each other the night before.
They’re praising Anita’s biscuits…Art is getting hot under the collar. LET NO ONE ELSE EXCEL AT ANYTHING VAGUELY SOUTHERN. Even if your parents are from Tennessee. Because did you know, Art cooks Southern food?
10:46: Tracht’s group takes a beating. She actually shows some spine, getting a little pissy. Or it’s the evil robot thing.
Everyone is laughing so very jovially, about everything. Not laughing jovially? Me. Do they sedate everyone before the show?
10:48: Sometimes I wonder how UnBalaban enunciates his words so well with his lips constantly in the pursed-sneer position.
Anita’s getting high praise even when she’s not in the room, so either they’re still scared because they know she can hear you through 24 inches of concrete or she really did do a great job.
Gael is terrified of Art’s Scotch egg. And snatching a minute to actually look up, I have to agree.
10:50: UnBalaban is impressed with Rick’s “quiet respect” of Chiarello’s dish. Would someone say that to Chiarello’s face: quiet respect? Because even when Chiarello is being “nice” he oozes Dick. And yes, I wanted that to sound just as gross as it did.
10:51: Top two: Bayless and Lo. Rick ends up with 23 stars, which I think is the highest anyone has gotten all season.
10:52: Except for Anita Lo: 24 stars! One star shy of a perfect score. Every minute, I love her a little more and more, because since she’s only on my TV I don’t have to be afraid. If she doesn’t take the whole thing, something is wrong with the world.
I call Art for the boot.
10:57: Kelly Choi’s voice turned frighteningly nasal for a minute. Probably issues with airflow through the strand of thread she calls a neck.
Art gets pounded. I don’t even think Rick Moonen, who entirely failed to produce a dish in the quickfire, did as poorly.
10:58: Tracht’s getting it even worse…and she’s out. Aaand Art starts to cry. And something switches on in the kitchen appliances of food critics worldwide, as they get the “go” message from the Tracht mothership and prepare to attack.
NEXT WEEK: Catering for Zooey Deschanel. Art Smith: “I smell a rat.”
I’ll be here sporadically, I hope.
Let’s just say if this episode isn’t interesting, I’ll be completely bummed.
ok, i’m sort of excited to see these pros doing prep. and yay, welcome back colicchio. 🙂
how am i NOT surprised the asshole is shocked to see anita is ‘capable’?
did he just make a limp wrist joke too? christ.
I feel ashamed that I’ve never whipped egg whites to peaks by hand.
“Even listening to Chiarello describe his dish makes me want to kick a baby seal”…still laughing at that.
i’m actually impressed to see the softer side of anita lo. which makes me want her to win EVEN more.
and i too love that bayless is just a big hippie at heart.
Did Art just say “scottage egg”?
I’m still trying to get over “oozes dick”.
Anita Lo is a fucking rock star. Wake up, Food Network!!
Kelly Choi needs to eat a fucking sammich.
haha i love how it was the overemotive gay bear vs the robot for the cut.
either way, neither are going to win.
i fucking love anita lo.
no no no, syd! anything tv touches, they ruin. no anita lo for food network. but, whenever i do have some money, i most definitely will check out her restaurant (and cookbooks if she has any?).
Good point, Emily.
BTW, I’m pissed at everybody that didn’t show up for this shit.
I’m saying this as a fellow gay man – art is really annoying. And not because of all the name dropping. Its the “have a comment on everything” and sickening extroverted personality. I know people like that – I can’t stand five minutes being around them.
emily, it was definitely more interesting than last week, but that’s not saying much. and i’m totally with you on the tv thing – keep anita pure.
syd, i’m sorry about the dick thing. i had to get the grossness that i felt out, and you were the unfortunately audience.
tim, i hear you. there’s just some kind of “i can get away with being like this because i have an untouchable jolly gay man persona” thing he has. and if you don’t like him? you hate gays.
kimbaa and sara, where hast thou gone? i am bereft and syd is pissed, and you do not mess with her.
“Some poor woman chopping onions way too slow.” Best description of Casey ever.
Next week may actually be interesting. Zooey Deschanel has some serious food allergies/sensitivities. She’s allergic to dairy and eggs, and she can’t eat wheat gluten. Her sister is vegan, and I know Zooey tries to eat vegan most (not all) of the time.
As always, wonderfully snarky recap this week.
Next week = yawn.
emily, so true re: casey.
rin, i hope so; when i saw all the chefs’ looks of despair i immediately assumed “vegan” and “allergies.”
Oh boy. Suzanne Tracht is still the posterchild for flatliners. But I still wanted to eat that egg topped burger more than I want my eyeteeth. It looked good.
I am not-at-all-secretly hoping that Chiarello fails spectacularly and takes Art Smith down with him. He’s so skeevy I don’t even have the words (Chiarello, that is… Smith is just literally and figuratively a colossus of irritation. The man could give lessons on how to be annoying.)
Anita Lo is a superhero. Really.
And Bayless’s explanation of why he can whip eggwhites so quick? Awesome. I want to take classes with him.
And Hubert Keller? I adore him. He is awesomely fantastic. In a wonderful way. And I want him to cook for me. And he hasn’t dropped one single solitary name yet unlike SOMEONE ELSE on the show…
I really, really like Art still. This is because I haven’t watched the whole season. I can see why Oprah loved him (what about her doesn’t scream ‘hag?). Bayless? Okay, he’s a genius. I get that. But it’s always secretly a little bothered me that the expert on Mexican food in the US (which has shitloads of actual Mexican immigrants) is a white guy who looks like a physics teacher, only with less sex in his life. That said, he’s brilliant.
Oh, and I had to convince my husband that Anita was a) a woman and b) not a ninja. It was his first time watching.
I love that you picked up on the fact that Bayless is an adorable hippy nerd. I think those pictures of him in Mexico made me fall in love a little bit. Plus Hubert is a french demi-god. He’s great – and lets not forget he made mac&cheese in the SHOWER in his first episode! Also – what is the name of Anita Lo’s restaurant. I really really want to eat her food.
-I heart Rick Bayless and his hippie ways, am thinking we would have been able to spot the bong in those old photos given more than a second to look at them.
-My husband (bless his little heart)inquired what purpose beaten egg whites would serve.
-Unrelated, but I also questioned the relevance of U2 during that commercial but the word I used was uninteresting.
-I expected sooooo much more out of Ludo as a judge. I was waiting for him to spit out Bayless’ food and declare it “sheet”
-I call Anita Lo for the win, I especially liked the fact that she wanted to go home after WINNING. Food network would ruin her, her charm is that she has none and they would try to make her into a people person which she clearly is not.
You are my FAVORITE food blogger and this post is another reason why. “Sometimes I wonder how UnBalaban enunciates his words so well with his lips constantly in the pursed-sneer position.” Bwahahahahaha! Every week I think the same thing. Saveur used to be my favorite food mag, but now I know the editor, not so sure….he’s so EW.
1. Chiarello is a douche.
2. Art is indeed grating. You worked for Oprah? No one cares dear.
3. And I’m sorry, Bayless might be a hippie nerd, and cook like a genius, but he’s an ANIMATRON. From DISNEY. Have you SEEN his face? Look at the cover of his first cookbook and look at him now. HE’S the robot, people.
Deb, I think Anita Lo’s restaurant Annisa caught on fire on July 4th and thus is currently closed. I thought they were closing for good, but the looks of the webpage says otherwise. http://annisarestaurant.com/
She also co-founded and is the chef at the more casual Rickshaw Dumpling Bar. I didn’t realize that until I saw the Rickshaw Cart tweet about their chef Anita winning the first time she was on TCMasters.
No I’m not an Anita Lo dork, I just fell in love with her and want to not be unemployed broke so I can go eat her food. Hahaha.
Michelle–I miss you too! I have a bum laptop and have to watch alone with no funny comments and no one listening to me besides the dogs. Luckily, no one is looking over my shoulder at work whilst I read recaps. I will be back asap! But, man, the show is not getting more interesting. But you all, as usual, are fantastic.
i think the producers totally rigged this bc Smith is great tv and Tracht is awful tv.
oh, also i view top chef masters as one LONG screen test for them looking for more chef/hosts for future series. to be sure.
I’m really surprised Hubert didn’t win! Not because Anita Lo didn’t deserve it, because she totally did, but because he’s Hubert Keller, damn it.
Most of my preview for next week got cut off; a vegan challenge? That’s going to be awesome.
emily – thanks for the info! I’ll try and check out the dumplings soon =)
hey, everyone! i love that these threads get so long that i can’t keep up. select comments:
rebecca, ditto to everything you said.
kristie, i’m not convinced that she’s not a ninja.
deb and kimness, there was totally a bong in there somewhere. i’ve gotta start tivoing these so i can fact check shit like this. and i too was deeply disappointed by ludo.
libby, you are my favorite commenter named libby.
i never get the allure of saveur. i got a free subscription a while ago and i keep trying to like it, but the whole thing just screams “trying too hard” at me. and now i see the mastermind, and it kinda makes sense.
emily, it’s fine to be an anita lo dork. i am.
edgertor, with you on the smith/tracht decision. totally should have been him.
sara, it did momentarily take the sheen off hubert, but he’s still my favorite in the end. anita is very close, but still second.
seems like a vegan/allergy challenge next week.
So… I have to DVR this because I play in community concert band that rehearses on Weds nights (band nerd!), so I just got around to reading this today. I to share — if you are into motocross at all, doesn’t Chiarello (and his voice) bear a resemblance to Jeremy McGrath? So much so that my husband calls him “gay Jeremy McGrath”…
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