And not a week too soon. You know, because the regular Top Chef is starting RIGHT NOW.
You know, I hope I meet Michael Chiarello one day and he’s really, really nice; I do. Until then, I will rip him a new one every chance I get.
Chiarello. Bayless. Hubert. Pull it out, Keller. Pull it out.
Here we go! And I’m already exhausted. If my exhaustion could be measured by head size, it would be Kelly Choi-level exhaustion.
10:17: FINAL CHALLENGE: The meal of your lifetime – your first food memory, the experience that made you decide to become a chef, the opening of your first restaurant and where you’ll be heading.
10:18: This is in Chiarello’s wheelhouse: “He feels those emotions in his heart every day.” Holy crap, we have something in common! That’s where I feel my emotions!
10:19: Hubert’s earliest memory has something to do with little old French ladies doing laundry in a stream and spending Sunday making stew that they would bring to his parents’ shop to seal the pots with pastry. Seriously, HE IS NOT REAL.
I’ll say it, and this is not because I already dislike him and he keeps referring to himself as “a master storyteller”: Chiarello, not a cute child.
10:22: Holy shit, they get $1300? I could win this show with $1300!
Chiarello, you think you’re scrappy? Really? You could not be a more choreographed, image-conscious contestant. Which makes it all the more offensive that you choose to project “jackhole” and think of yourself as scrappy.
10:23: Bayless: “It’s going to be FULL BORE COOKING.” That is SO close to a porn movie title, but I’m not going there.
He’s making Oaxacan black mole, which I love.
10:25: Hubert’s second course is salmon souffle, which I’m not going to lie, sounds a little icky to me and involves putting salmon through a meat grinder. But I trust him implicitly.
I’m actually sweaty.
10:29: I’m chugging along on fumes and Sour Patch Kids here.
Could it be? Time for A TWEEST??
10:30: Good on you, show! It’s words of encouragement from their sous. Hubert’s French sous is utterly soulless. Like the character from Ratatouille: “I killed a man with THIS THUMB.” Hubert seems to take heart in it, though.
And: They’re here to help! What kind of twist is this? They should be taking away all their spoons, or chopping off one of their legs, or not letting them use salt.
I’d actually like to see that last one.
10:32: Fine, Chiarello. Your crispy ginger fish thing sounds good, I’ll admit it. I’m not without heart.
WHOLE PIG HEAD LOLLING AT ME. Not cool, editors, not cool.
10:34: Hubert’s doing the multi-step garlic blanching Thomas Keller forced me to do. I mind it less when it’s Hubert. Also, I’m not the one having to do it.
Chiarello just used the word “biff,” so I have to scrap it now.
10:36: Came back in just in time to hear “sweetbreads.” (Had to let the dogs out.)
Rocky’s trainer was named MICK, not “Old Fighter.” MICK. And he could BEAT YOU DOWN.
10:40: Pointless interlude: Setting Saveur “doilies” on fire. How will UnBalaban react? My guess: pursed lips. Just a guess.
10:43: Tim, in the comments, correctly points out that I have a lot of Chiarello hate. To which I respond: On this show? Yes, yes, I do. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s up against the World’s Politest Chef and Hubert the Adorable French Pothead, but he’s done nothing to counteract the shitheel reputation he’s developed.
10:46: Eating! Course one:
Before we start: Ilan Hall also makes me want to poke someone’s eye out. Also, I’m sad that Gael and UnBalaban don’t match.
Bayless has BBQ quail, Hubert has a classic French lamb stew, Chiarello has gnocchi.
Ah, he’s from Calabria. That must explain my feelings toward him: He’s from the toe, I’m from the heel.
10:47: Tom, you are Italian. And a trained chef. And that makes me assume that you know that gnocchi is ALREADY PLURAL.
Gael is a vision in magenta with purple accents.
I totally want Hubert’s stew.
10:49: Course two!
Bayless has the black mole on seared tuna, Hubert has salmon souffle, Chiarello has heirloom polenta…which Gail Simmons wants to bathe in, and then things turn a little blue with Gail and Colicchio and British guy, and ew.
The mole is universally beloved as well.
10:51: Course the third!
Rick’s got suckling pig (WIN!) and sunchoke puree (Harold!), Hubert’s got lamb in veg mousseline and a little potato vessel holding his sauce, Chiarello’s got crispy ginger fish with mango.
10:52: Hearing Padma criticize Hubert, even if it’s justified, is hard to take.
10:54: Course the fourth:
Rick’s got a paella-y thing with chorizo and chorizo “air,” Chiarello’s got short ribs, Hubert’s got sweetbreads and beef cheeks with truffles. Because he thinks the future of food is that people will go for cheaper cuts, like truffles.
Dammit, I LOVE short ribs. With an unholy love. And the air/foam/aroma/gel/other non-food form of food thing is very 2004. Why, Rick?
But I still have a crush on you.
10:55: British guy, please let your tortured grandma-with-the-spandex metaphor die. It wants to, it really, really does.
I gotta say, it looks like Chiarello is pulling into the lead here. I am learning to accept that.
10:56: I know none of that was particularly funny. But unlike most of the season, it was so nice to actually have time spent focusing on the food, I couldn’t help myself.
10:58: I don’t know if you ever realized this, but the Glad Family of Products is a sponsor of this show. Really!
11:00: JUDGE’S TABLE: Okay, Gael is not so much magenta as she is neon.
I thought my crush was on Bayless, but watching Hubert’s little face light up when he talks about his childhood lamb stew? Priceless.
The short ribs get mad love, as they should, because they’re short ribs
11:02: Gael, on air: “Whenever I see something like this, I think ‘What are they trying to do to me now?'” But the mole made her “shiver,” so I guess that redeems him.
11:03: British judge needs to STOP RIGHT NOW with the sexual innuendo.
Gael: “Nocchi.” No, Gael, “nee-yocchi.” Just like on the regular Top Chef, which was an hour ago but seems like a thousand years, and the “seveech” ceviche.
11:05: I gotta say, this night says a lot more about the judges that it does about the chefs – Mexican food has no street cred? Barbeque sauce can’t be refined? It’s like the Zoey Deschanel episode: “Oh, those vegans – they’re almost like people!”
11:08: Commercials. I guess they couldn’t really call it “The Totally Improbably 0.01% of the Population Housewives of Atlanta,” huh. Not as catchy.
11:11: The awarding of the stars! I always feel like we should have Ed McMahon for this part.
11:12: Ooh, UnBalaban has it out for Chiarello. I don’t think he appreciated the torching of his magazine.
11:13: Hubert LOSES TO CHIARELLO.
God is dead.
11:14: BAYLESS TAKES IT! Everyone is happy! Hugs for everyone!
Quick, our parents are coming to pick us up in a few minutes, everyone exchange phone numbers and pledge eternal friendship.
Plus, everyone else gets $20K for their charities anyway, so no one really loses.
God, Rick is so fucking polite.
Thanks for sticking it out, y’all. I’ll see you next week (I hope!) for our good ol’ version of Top Chef, which looks to be filled with both talent and asswipes, making for excellent television.