Friday, August 17, 2007

Psych! Oh.

What the hell? Did the other chefs neuter Tiny Bald Howie after the last episode? It sure seemed like they wanted to. He is downright subdued tonight. ...but I'm getting ahead of myself again.

We start off with a morning montage just so Lurch can remind everyone that we all still hate Howie, and then it's time to place some product.

I mean cook.

Room To Move As A Fry Cook
The guest judge is Daniel Boulud, and he doesn't seem to be as shocked and appalled as he should be at being asked to whore himself out as a shill for Red Robin. The challenge is to create a gourmet burger that Red Robin hasn't already tried to make a quick buck off of. Good burgers? You're welcome.

The Talking Dog recycles his mad fishdogs from the barbecue episode. Shocking! Brian's doing seafood? He's just one of many to offer up some sort of Burger of the Sea abomination. We get it. You're in Miami. Psssst! Burgers are made from cows. What the hell are they teaching these clowns in culinary school?

Tiny Bald Howie tells us that Daniel Boulud is famous for being the first person to make a $120 truffle burger. I hope that comes with a side of Punch In The Face, because if you spend $120 on a hamburger, you really should have one. Howie's serving up burgers with a heaping helping of ass kissing! I mean truffle butter, for extra richness and fat ...and ass kissing!

Daniel likes Hung's fishburger. Hung squeals and giggles and throws his panties.

Chef Boulud doesn't think Tre's steak sandwich is really a burger. Tre refrains from mentioning that it contains beef, which technically makes it more of a burger than most of the stuff still on the table. Daniel also doesn't like Sara's salad-wrapped bunless burger... didn't she go home last week? Oh! My bad, Second Sara's bunless burger.

Tiny Bald Howie's Asskiss Burger makes it into the top group and I shout at the television. Hung's fishpatty and Last Mohawk Standing's egg and burger sammich also make the top group, but Lurch brings it home with, I kid you not, a Scallop Mousse, Shrimp, and Tangerine Notburger. He sarcastically feigns excitement at not getting immunity.

He doesn't have to fake excitement when they tell him he gets to pick his team for Restaurant Wars. Tiny Bald Howie thinks "Well, now I'm fucked," but mercifully doesn't actually say it out loud, because it kept that mental image out of my head until just now. Ewwwww! Lurch grabs Tre, The Talking Dog, and after a long pause, Casey at the Bat. Now Mohawk, Hung, and Second Sara are thinking the same thing as Howie.

Right about now we have a hilarious commercial break that tries to jam in all of the sponsors. Good luck with that. By the end of the season, the commercials will be longer than the show. Can I suggest again that they should force the chefs to wear ASSCAR-style logo-plastered chef's jackets next season?

Speed of Lightning, Sound of Thunder, Stink of Vanilla?
Team Overdog decides that they will serve buzzword buzzword buzzword contemporary cuisine. Lurch shows us that he is a little sexist by putting the Batter in charge of design "because it needs a woman's touch," and that he's pretentious by naming his place "Restaurant April" (I don't care if it is his sister's name), but also that he knows what he's doing, because he makes Tre executive chef and nominates himself as sous chef. The Talking Dog is going to be front of the house, and you know he's serious because he sneaks in a suit.

Last Mohawk Standing takes control and Team Underdog decides that they will serve buzzword buzzword contemporary buzzword cuisine. Hung suggests that Team Underdog should name their restaurant "Ambrosia". The rest of the chefs don't even bother pretending that they aren't ignoring his suggestion. They settle on "The Garage". Last Mohawk and Hung are going to decorate, and then Mohawk will take front of the house duties. Second Sara kicks Howie in the balls, knocks him down, and dry humps him while yelling "Who's the alpha dog now, bitch?" Metaphorically of course, because, again, Tiny Sweaty Howie? Ewwwww! I think what I meant to say was that she nominates herself as executive chef and the newly-testicle-free Howie rolls over.

The decorators all go to a secure and undisclosed location. (It looks like a Pier 1 outlet, but the store didn't whore themselves out to Bravo, so we'll never know for sure.) Mohawk tells us that Queer Eye has nothing on him and Ted says "Say whaaaat?" They buy lots of stuff. Mohawk and Hung think vanilla candles are a good idea. Really?

Meanwhile, the cooks all go to Fresh Market to buy ingredients, then return to the kitchen to cook while the decorators try to put together a restaurant. Lurch is slow with the shellfish. Tre finds himself in the weeds, burns the potatoes, and decides to serve them anyway. Interesting choice, I wonder how that will work out for him.

Hung spazzes back into the kitchen to help out, knocks over a big vat of something red, and if looks could kill, he'd be going home in a bag. Hey, Hung, your monkey could knock pots off the counter!

Sevice starts and right out of the gate, Brian gives the judges dirty dishes and not enough silverware. *golf clap* Way to go. Somewhere Michael Midgley points at him and laughs. He probably says something like "Dude! You're so hosed!" Brian soon totally melts down and has a hissy in the kitchen, telling the other chefs that they need to stop cooking and help him, which begs the question of what exactly they would be serving if nobody is cooking. After a quick conference, HeyBattaBatta is sacrificed to the front of the house gods. Could Team Overdog be going down in flames?

Maybe not. The candlestink isn't going over as well as Mohawk and Hung had hoped. One of the guests goes so far as to put out the candle, set it on the floor, and cover it with a napkin. The judges are not fans either.

The candle-hating guest seizes his fifteen minutes of fame and runs with it by going all restaurant critic on Mohawk, dissecting the lamb experience at length. Mohawk shows that he's a much better waitron than I would be, because he doesn't stab him on the spot, set him on fire, or even quietly explain that he has customers who aren't assholes that he needs to check on. Obnoxious Douchebag finishes his complaints with "If that's a vegetable medley, I'm a monkey." Is this Hung's monkey? I thought he'd be better dressed. No fez? He's also fatter and considerably balder than I would expect for a monkey. Live and learn...

In fact, Mohawk rocks the front of the house. He's doing tableside presentations and totally has his shit together when he's out in front of the customers. He only lets his inner crazy become outer crazy when he's back with the waitstaff, who clearly want to knife him if he should ever turn his back on them.

Oh yeah... I forgot that they cooked, didn't I? Team Overdog served up oysters and watermelon slush, scallops on corn and truffle custard, grouper with basil and artichoke hearts, beef covered with stinky cheese and mushrooms with a side of ashtray potatoes, and for dessert, mango brainfreeze and baked apple things. Nothing impressed, but Tre's Beef and Butts seems to have been the worst of a bad bunch.

Team Underdog opened up with Hung's Tuna Tartare Nicoise which I thought everyone would pan because, according to the Veterans of Foreign Foods, Tuna Tartare is so overdone, but the judges seemed to like it. Things went downhill from there. Team Underdog decides that diners really want their restaurant experience to include food induced paralysis. Tiny Bald Howie piled fancy ingredients into his Portland Risotto but most of the glutinous mass went uneaten. Second Sara served up monster sized Medieval Times style slabs of beast with sunchoke potatoes. They end the meal on a high note, though, with Grand Marnier and dark chocolate crepes tarted up with a tableside application of bitter chocolate whipped cream.

Are you guys looking for real details on the food? Experience disappointment! Just one of the many services we offer here at the Dead Spot.

Much Ado About Nothing
Team Overdog are called in, and the judges start by telling them that they aren't the winners. Ho, snap!

This week, everybody shows class at the judge's table. They take responsibility for their mistakes. People actually step forward to say that problems in an area should belong to them. Nobody gets thrown over the bus. I quickly flip channels to find Top Chef. What have they done with my show?

Team Underdog is called in. About half way through their ass chewing, I point out that they haven't been told that they're the winners. I think the judges are hazing them, but Sue suggests that maybe neither team has won. Nicely predicted. That hadn't occurred to me.

Howie argues that his way of making risotto is better than the way everyone else in the world has chosen to make it, but in comparison to every other episode this season, this seems to be some sort of low-sodium, reduced-assholery version of Howie. A little advice from me to you, Howie? If everybody else does it differently, the odds are that you're the one doing it wrong. No charge.

The mystery guest blogger may or may not know about food, but she clearly doesn't know shit about design. Everything should come in a matte black option, sweetheart, and that includes tablecloths. Mohawk is right, white plates on black let the food pop. She also says that Restaurant April is a better name than The Garage, so she's kind of a dumbass. Neither are good names, but if I had to pick one sight unseen, I'll take my chances with The Garage. Overpriced pretension gives me the hives and just hearing "Restaurant April" makes me itchy.

As it happens, everybody shares the producers' Robot Chicken/M. Night Shyamalan: "Now That's A Tweest!" Immunity. Burgerwhore gives a copy of his book to everyone, nobody goes home, and we're going to do this all over again next week. Somewhere, right about now, Michael just threw his remote at the TV.

Because the Judges didn't have the huevos to pull the trigger, I'll give you the head to head results.

Last Mohawk Standing vs. The Talking Dog (front of the house battle!)
Team Underdog crushed Team Overdog in the front of the house so badly that it wasn't even funny, unless you're really into Schadenfreude. Thankfully, I am. Mohawk didn't cook anything, but Team Overdog doesn't really seem to have been helped by their cooking this week.

Hung vs. Casey At The Bat (gopher battle!)
On the one hand, Team Overdog gets the edge in restaurant design. Despite the guest blogger's criminally wrong-headed disdain for black, she was correct that the stinky candles were a bad idea. Hung signed off on that decision. On the other hand, he seems to have made the best dish of the night, which should count for something. On the other hand, I'm not sure what that vat of red stuff was, but they made so much of it that it had to be important. He's got to chill in the kitchen. On the other hand, Casey did bail out her team when Brian completely lost it. I ran out of hands a long time ago, so I'm going to call this one a draw.

Tiny Bald Howie vs. Lurch (sous chef battle!)
Nobody wins here. Lurch was so slow with the shellfish that he contributed to Tre's disaster. Even if this was Top Sous Chef, Lurch wouldn't have come out of this looking good, despite Howie turning out terrible food. However, since Lurch was team leader and his team failed on all counts, he has to shoulder some extra blame. Moreover, he hand-picked his team, dumping all the losers onto the other team. There's no excuse for failure this week. I'll choke down my bile and award this one to Team Underdog on the basis that they failed less miserably in this department. I guess.

Second Sara vs. Tre (executive chef battle!)
Second Sara's food was bad, but Tre's was inedible. I'm giving this one to Second Sara. Moreover, I think Second Sara made a really good decision to squash Howie this week. We've seen how things went when he was in charge of the kitchen. Not letting him take charge again was a really smart choice, regardless of whether she was the best chef on her team for the job. Tre, on the other hand, showed really questionable judgment. He knew the potatoes were terrible and he served them anyway. That was just stupid. Nobody had seen the menu yet. Just serve the crusty meat. It would have been better on its own, and those oversmoked potatoes dragged the whole meal down.

Did anyone see that coming? Lurch managed to throw away every advantage at his disposal. If it wasn't for those candles, Team Underdog would have whipped him at every stage of the game. Don't expect a return from Bizzaro Top Chef next week. Even though Team Underdog has to revamp less of their menu than the Overdogs, don't expect it to help them.

After Tiny Bald Howie's Tragedy Plate, Second Sara will try to really take charge of the kitchen and Howie will flip out. The judges will notice that Mohawk didn't actually cook in this episode, and he'll get raked over the coals no matter what he does next week. Hung will either show his thus-far veiled contempt for his teammates or accidentally stab someone. I'm hoping for both.

The Overdogs will smack Brian with a newspaper and put Casey in the front of the house, where she saved their ass. Tre can't possibly burn his food and serve it again. He's too good to make that kind of amateur blunder again. They'll probably remember to wipe their dishes this time too. They have to completely overhaul their menu, but they'll have all 4 chefs on deck to do it. I think they'll pull it off.

The only question at this point is whether we have a double elimination next week.


Anonymous said...

Can someone explain what the role of Red Robin was? It seemed that Padma showed the cheftestants the menu from this fast food chain as some sort of reference, but made no connection between it and Boulud or the challenge particularly. then it went away. Product placement is bad enough when some effort is made to force it into context. Then they screwed us at the end and gave them another chance after all the blunders and who the hell gave sweaty Howie a chill pill? *sigh* I was bored by this episode....

Writeprocrastinator said...

Howie should've been bounced the week before instead of Sarah. I'm tired of his flop sweats and throwing everyone including the camerapeople under the bus, every time the pressure rises.

deadspot said...

That's what happens when you purchase the discount product placement option, bluez. Relevance costs extra.

It's interesting, WP, Ted Allen said basically the same thing. After he saw the episode, he said that he wished they had sent Howie home instead of Sara, which was a little surprising, because I can't see any reason other than the drama he creates (except for last week... how weird was that?) that they would still be keeping him around.

Writeprocrastinator said...

"It's interesting, WP, Ted Allen said basically the same thing. After he saw the episode, he said that he wished they had sent Howie home instead of Sara"

Was that on the "Top Chef" blog? I don't go there because it takes too long to load with dial-up.

"which was a little surprising, because I can't see any reason other than the drama he creates (except for last week... how weird was that?) that they would still be keeping him around."

I think it's because Hung hasn't turned out to be the bastard that they wanted. He doesn't have enough Tiffani/Marcel in him and Howie has a little, though not much.

deadspot said...

Yeah, it was on the Top Chef blogs. They have something like 83 thousand of them now, but most of them have been abandoned after one or two posts.

Anthony Bourdain has one now. He got hooked after doing a guest blog for Radicchio. It's pretty amusing. Rocco the Plastic Boy has one too, and he's not nearly the tool in print that he appears to be on television.

What is the deal with Hung? In the first couple of episodes, they painted him as this big talent, and since then, he's been in the bottom of at least one challenge almost every episode. He may think he's a certified badass, he's more like an annoying spazzy little kid... You just wish he would take his one weak joke and go the hell away.

Howie just has Tiny Man Syndrome. He's little and he's bald, and he compensates by being an aggressive jackass.

Writeprocrastinator said...

Hung does have the arrogance, but obviously he can't season to save his life.

Howie will get himself booted, though probably not tonight because of the nature of the challenge. What kind of finale will it be for the non-gourmet or food-oriented person when you have a reality show without a villain?