Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Chef: Deja View

So. Here we are. Top Chef...the repeat. Someone is seriously going home this week! Seriously! I'm watching by myself this week because my friend Travis thinks I would "shush" him. True!

It's a bit hard to get excited about a challenge repeat. I am also severely disheartened by the fact that Hung opens an envelope slipped under the door at the start of the episode to read some comments from.....Andrea Strong. Will this blogger never leave? Hmm? This
ambassador of zing? Who is she and how did she ingratiate herself into the show? (and how can I do this next season? Do I need a zing makeover?)

Speaking of makeovers and bloggers that talk too much, I did give myself a makeover...again. Makeover? More like mistake-over! I was going for the curly bob - like this. However, forgetting I had curly hair, I wound up with this. Since this child-like look was exacerbated by my wearing a white frilly dress today, I decided to look a little grown up by wearing makeup.
Now I can tell you exactly what happened to Baby Jane . Honestly don't cut your own hair drunk. Or ever!

But anyway! Andrea De La Zing's comments are read aloud again, so that the chefs can take her bon nots to heart for this challenge.

Padma, at the quickfire, attempts to make it more exciting by announcing that the teams for the restaurant challenge will now have to offer two (count 'em!) options for each course. Tom says that they have someone to help one of the teams out, a consultant that will go to the team winning this week's quickfire challenge: a relay race!

Our teams (from last week) are:

CJ, Malarkey-pants, Casey and Tre: or, as Dale calls them, "The Dream Team."

Howie, Hung, Sarah and Dale: or as Dale calls them, "The Bad-News Bears."

The race is composed of four legs: shucking oysters, chopping onions, breaking down chickens (and by that I do not mean breaking down their spirits, but rather breaking down their carcasses), and separating eggs and then beating the egg whites until the bowl can be turned over and the egg whites not fall out.

Everyone on team bad news bears is grateful to have the speed demon, Hung - even Howie acknowledges this. Howie does not annoy me this episode at all. Are the producers making him a little more appealing since they have sneaky plans to keep him in until the top three?

First off it's Howie verse Malarky for the oyster shuck. Malarks, who is a chef at a seafood restaurant, beats Howie (who actually does well against him) by five oysters. Then, it's Sarah vs. Casey on the onion cut. Sarah is ahead by a mile, cutting onions like a short-order chef onion shack...and Casey deliberately and slowly cuts, and cuts. She is the Leonardo Da Vinci of onion cutting. Dale, (who really should just take over my job here) says something
about needing "a speed queen."

Malarkey is staring at Casey and wishing for a "tap out rule." Even Hung, who is on the other team, is staring at Casey and voice-overs, "She's playing with, massaging the onions!" But soon Hung is distracted by his own turn, or as he says, "It's chicken time!" I actually imagine that he says this, just in his own life. E.g, "It's shower time!" "It's coffee time!" Hung is, of course, incredibly fast. Even Tom stares as chicken parts fly around the kitchen.

Hung finishes. Casey is STILL chopping onion! Dale whips ups a storm and poof! - the challenge is finished. Bad News Bears, victorious. They cheer, they clap, they hug - I feel like they should turn over the watercooler on the coach (or may I suggest Tre?) but they don't.

Anyway, back to our tedious challenge. Yawn.

Apparently the restaurant patron who was such a jerk last time is --of course-- a guest this week: his name is Christopher Ciccone (Madonna's brother!!!) and he is here this week to help them make their restaurants look better, or, "fine-tune their concept and design."
Dale, who I really want to be my bgb (best gay boyfriend) says that Christopher is "Definitely one of the most annoying people I've ever met in my life." But, ultimately the chefs are happy to have his help.

Cut to the house. It's work-out time! Let's get physical! Tre is on the balcony, clad in a tight tight tanktop and shorts, jumping rope. He makes some comments that have me believe that he's out there every day (but of course) and the producers have been HOLDING OUT on us.
Why? I can't think of a reason so I abandon that theory.

The opposing team decides to go out on the balcony to have some brainstorming session (or to leer at Tre, along with the rest of America), clearly assuming that Tre, who has a "brain for business and a bod for sin" won't listen. But readers, Tre is a Renaissance man. He
manages to spy on the other team AND do some tantalizing work-out moves, such as pushups with his legs over his head and his hands resting on WEIGHTS! Then, Tre struts around the balcony. Strut, you dish you! Work it!

This brings me to a conversation I had at work recently. My work friend commented that she doesn't see the appeal in Tre. We were in the elevator. I was aghast. "Really? You don't?" I decided that maybe she has to actually WATCH the show to see his appeal? Hear his dreamy
smooth baritone? Watch his muscles gently (oh so gently...with the coiled restraint of a Tiger yawning or a Lion playing with a mouse) flex as he scrambles eggs in the morning?

But anyway! Brainstorming. The dream team is in the kitchen talking about menu: Tre cockily volunteers to do dessert, saying, "I can do bread pudding in my sleep." Casey, who has blood in her veins and is therefore attracted to Tre, tries to justify it by talking about how
"they have started leaning on each other like brother and sister." (ha!)

It is the next day and Tre is in a dove-grey, silky V-neck sweater. Just saying! The teams are off to get wine. The Bad News Bears have an extra $200 bucks for wine and the help of a consultant who is, of course, Steven from season 1. Steven gives them some long-winded,
bombastic wine advice that is actually probably very good. Even Hung says, "He may come off as arrogant but he knows his stuff."

The restaurants, with the help of Madonna's Brother, have been redecorated. Dale likes the change but says with all the deep red it's, "kind of like valentines day threw up all over it."

Our guest judge tonight is Geoffrey Zakarian, owner/chef of Town and apparently one of the beautiful people. Ted Allen is also here, (does anyone know where Gail Simmons is? I'm
seriously upset about this.) and of course we have Padma and Tom. Tom will be in the kitchens tonight, observing, which I think is an interesting twist. He'll also be eating of course, but in the kitchen. Anything to be closer to Tre!

Let's get to it, shall we? Dale is in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, which I think works but Ted Allen, clearly thinking he needs to give some snark to seem Top Cheffy-like, says "he looks like he's working at Dennys." (Haven't we already had a Denny's crack this season?) Some old chefs show up -- Joey (at one point wearing sunglasses inside) and Sarah and Camille and Leah -- for dinner, and when Dale mentions this, Hung says, "Who?" I love Hung! I'm on team Hung.

We have an assortment of dishes paraded out; the dream team actually has some losers that the judges hate. Mostly two dishes from Tre (head chef) get the most vitriol: a sugar cured salmon dish (our guest judge says it's like "a car wreck in Times Square) with pesto, and his bread pudding that is called "dry".

The Bad News Bears are beating them on the food front, which I think is due to Hung being in the kitchen (who, I really do think is technically the best) and Sarah, who is kind of snappy and mean but seems to be holding them all to very high standards. Howie is bitter when Sarah makes him redo the lamb, which did look seriously undercooked.

Tre is a much more mellow executive chef, and I think the dishes are going out a little sloppier. However, people are really liking the"table-side" service from Tre.

"HI TRE!" shouts Ted Allen, like a groupie. Later when the judges are discussing the meals, (and the fact that the Dream Team's restaurant April had some truly bad dishes) Ted Allen remarks wistfully, "...but I loved how Tre came around and poured the creme anglaise over our
desserts..." which for a second I mishear and think he said, "poured
the cream anglaise over our shirts." Either way, it sounds dirty and delicious.

The Dream Team loses. Sarah, Executive Chef of the Bad News Bears, wins.

The losers have to go stand before the judging panel, and there isn't any fighting at all. The judges talk about how bad the food was, and for the first time (kill me) I can kind of see Jamie Lee's point; It's kind of horrible to watch. Here they are, Chefs, getting totally reamed by people they consider culinary idols. The flip side is that sometimes they get compliments...but watching them now, all sad, it's hard.

CJ, as the head of the team (since he picked teams) and also as a sous chef, is called out for letting his exec chef send out that disastrous bread pudding. Tom says the team, "Suffered from overconfidence."

The judges talk in private, clearly trying to find a way not to send Tre home, but ultimately they can't avoid it.

Tre, please pack your knives and go.

Farewell! Farewell my love. Farewell. Now, readers, you see why I've gone on especially about Tre this week. It's not because I'm a desperate blogger with bad hair. That's incidental. It's because this is goodbye!

Farewell to flexing muscles, silky baritones, cool-cat delivery and tight (so tight!) white tanks.

Farewell to balcony workouts and charged moments with Tom.

Farewell to real culinary talent.

See you in my dreams!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A blogger scorned

I was emailing with my friend Travis about Top Chef. I invited him to join my merry circle of watchers (which may, this week, include someone besides myself) but he declined, saying:

I'm afraid watching Top Chef with you would be stressful, like someone makes a comment and you're like "pipe down, I'm working!"

To which I retorted:

Ouch! you just earned a vindictive shout-out on my blog. But I guess it's true.

But anyway. Top Chef. I had this horrific experience on friday night. I was out with Dorothy and Kate for dinner at the Good Fork in Red Hook. Eh, it was okay. We had 9:30 reservations. Arriving at 9:30, we were told that it would be about 20 minutes and were directed across the street to a wine bar, where we each had a glass of wine. We had just come from the Brooklyn Inn where I'd had a whiskey and gingerale.

So anyway, we ordered at 10 or so and didn't get a scrap of food (including a salad!) until 11. At which point yours truly was at exit 67 on the Boozy highway. At some point in the meal, I noticed a beefy neck mere feet from our table. Suddenly, the (bald) man swiveled his head around...was it...could it be....Howie?! Long-standing target of my web vitriol? I've often sweated thinking of what it would be like to ever run into one of the top chef contestants (part of this nightmare, of course, is the dream that anyone reads it....especially Tom.). I hissed to Dorothy:

It's Howie! It's Howie and he's going to kill me.

But, he merely went back to his meal. Was it him? Probably not. Was it frightening? Yes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Chef: Blah Zone

I'm underwhelmed. Should I write this hopped up on espresso tomorrow morning when I'm late for work, which will create a bit of excitement, at least on my part? Should I get right to the point and say who I loved and who I hated tonight?

The worst part? I didn't even love or hate anyone. Dale continues to amuse me and CJ is not my favorite like he used to be. Howie is Howie, which is to say, thissss close to going crazy, but I'm even used to that now! I hate to say that Jamie right, but your barbarian blogger found this ep a bit boring: No blowups, no backstabbing, and no tears. Not even any hot tubbin'! No hats from Malarkey! Tre is completely dressed!

We open up with Casey overlooking a canal. I immediately notice her lush layers, because last night I took a pair of kitchen scissors and cut of six inches off my hair. People are, as is our tradition, talking about the chef who left last time, in this case, Sarah. CJ is saying that Howie had no tact (understatment of the year!) and they it's the final straw and "Howie's done for us." You wish! He'll outlast you all! When the smoke clears, he'll be standing there with a cleaver, trash talking, I assure you.

They walk to the quickfire's Daniel Boulud! I'm ashamed to find, after hearing him introduced, that I've been mispronouncing the name of his restaurants as Boulee. The horror! I'm so gauche! And here I thought I was just poor!

The chefs are, of course, excited.

'He's a big deal" says CJ.

Hung, who I think is earnest and adorable, says "I respect him highly. I love his restaurants."

Dale, who as the fat kid from junior high can do no wrong in my book, ever, says, "Holy Shit! It's Daniel Boulud!"

I am also into this quickfire. The challenge is "to come up with your own unique take on America's best love meal...the burger!" And, because Top Chef is sickeningly about product-placement, and nothing is sacred, not even a burger because the producers HATE AMERICA, it's sponsored of course by some burger restaurant that I refuse to name, because I had tons and tons of readers (don't disabuse me of this notion) and I know my abstemious take on product whoring will make a difference. Take that!

Anyway. This challenge is dear to my heart because I LOVE burgers and red meat. 6 days out of 7 I'm a vegetarian because I'm too lazy to cook meat just for myself, but on the seventh I want a steak. In fact I just went home to my parents in the suburbs tonight and had a burger from the grill. Hmmm. The New York Times Style section just did an article on how it's cool to like red-meat or something, that men love a woman who loves a big steak,which is true of course, if you're an anemic, spindly dishwater blond type...but I bet that if you LOOK Like you like steak you look like a hog, not a hedonist.

Anyway. Daniel Boulud is of course notorious for his fancy, expensive burger that has a block of fois grois in the middle. Howie says it's about 120 bucks? I thought it was 68? I went to DB Bistro Moderne once but couldn't bring myself to order it. I look it up. $27? I thought it was more? Aha, apparently there is a $100 double truffle version.

Padma also announces that the winner of the quickfire no longer has immunity. Fine by me. "No more hiding!" Says Malarkey, who is wearing a red leather top hat. Actually, he isn't. Which is a shame!

The chefs have 1/2 and hour for the quickfire. They race into the kitchen and Hung cackles hysterically. Why? Who knows?!

Many of the chefs are making seafood burgers. I love seafood! But I'd like to see some more variations on....a BURGER OF RED MEAT. I think that would actually take some culinary serve a red-meat burger to Boulud instead of cowering behind fish burgers. Casey and Howie, I think, are the only ones doing a red-meat burger. SIGH!

Hung is making a shrimp burger with tempura flakes and shitake. Daniel thinks its very juicy and it's true, it's running down his chin.

Sarah wants her burger to be a "little healthier, lighter" (wrong wrong wrong) so is serving it on lettuce (I know immediately that Daniel will be offended by this joke of a bun.) She's got a crab burger with citrus. Daniel is, indeed, horrified by the lack of bun.

Malarkey is doing a fishburger based on his fish sausage that he won a challenge with - a scallop, shrimp and sea bass burger. Daniel says this has too much bread.

Casey is doing a sort of friend beef burger - I applaud her for this.

Tre is doing a surf and turf ciabatta burger;

Dale is doing seared tuna with an egg on top.

Howie is using truffle butter for the extra fat (the way to Boulud's clogged, french heart - smart move Howie.) It's a black truffle burger with taleggio cheese, that Daniel says is very good, very moist.

CJ is doing a scallop mouse and shrimp burger with tangerine, that Daniel says is "beautiful."

Ultimately Daniel feels that some of them were slightly more sandwiches than burger. His least successful were Sara's and Tre's. His favorites were CJ, Dale, and Hung. CJ wins. Howie manages to clap looking very bitter. CJ doesn't get immunity, but he gets the advantage of picking his own team for the restaurant challenge!

The team gets a raw space, 24 hours, $2500 for decorations and $700 for food. Each team will have an FOB, design, sous chef and head chef. 30 guests will show up at each restaurant.

The teams are:

CJ, Brian, Casey and Tre.

The other team is Howie, Hung, Dale and Sara.

Howie's team is leaning towards the french influence American contemporary blah blah blah bistro thing. Tre is nominated to be the exec chef, which he has no problem with, since he has the most experience. I have no problem with Tre. At all. I do have a problem with that shirt he's wearing. It's huge! Tre, wouldn't you be comfortable in something tighter? An undershirt? Chaps? Howie wants to cook. "I'm happy in the kitchen." Which is probably shorthand for "I know people hate me." Sara decides to be exec chef, which Howie says if fine by him (probably because if the food sucks the exec chef takes the fall). Howie, it pains me to say, is no fool.

The two teams go shopping. Malarkey stops Casey from making the mistake of scented candles. There is no one to stop Hung and Dale from getting scented candles, which seems insane, and the judges absolutely hate it later.

Eh, what more is there to say?

You know why? Because at the end of it all, NO ONE goes home.That's right! No one! Jamie Lee would be so happy! Boring! Blah!

To sum it up:

Tre overcooks the potatoes! Howie's risottos is gooey! Hung does a great job on his tuna! Malarkey, as the FOB, sweats alot and makes people uncomfortable! Dale has 8 years of restaurant experience! He works it like a pro and says: "You're half prostitute,half performer!" Dale, that is how I feel every day! Someone sends out an amuse bouché, an oyster with ginger and watermelon granita! No one credits Joey for something using a watermelon and he crashes through the restaurant window with an axe! Some food blogger who I shall not even name, because no one gives ME free food, even though I blog about how HANDSOME they are, TOM, is here to give us some zingers. Fine! Her name is Andrea Strong! Zing zing! Andrea Strong insults the black tablecloths as "very billy idol...and I don't' want to eat off Billy Idol." More zing please?! Is this zing fat free? I may be a blogger but even I am suspicious by this inclusion of a blogger into the show! I would prefer to hear Tom, Padma and Daniel Boulud take about the food! Howie put cream in his risotto, which even I know not to do! Howie says, 'I'm not put off by eating a heavier item! ...that's what turns me on!" Wow, stop right there!

So, there you have it.The judges send no one home. Why? Some contractual obligation for an extra show? The producers were too lazy to think up a new challenge for next time? They thought they might finally have to send Howie home, since his risotto was really bad? Who knows! Tune in next week, I guess, for....the same challenge. Huh?

Blogger out! Zing! Tom, you looked especially manly and handsome tonight. You have a sure hand, an even keel, and some real charisma. I also loved your outfit tonight. NOW EMAIL ME! Andrea Strong doesn't deserve you. Zing!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Top Chef: Shark Jump

I think it's best to start off this recap with the last line of my Top Chef notes, which was:


Here is where I turn away from -- forever -- straight up recapping the show. I have to clamber up on a rickety soapbox and shout, "Shame on you, Top Chef Producers." Shame. Jamie Lee Curtis thinks Top Chef watchers are barbaric morons. When I read that, I was annoyed that she
decided this after watching about 30 seconds of the show, on mute. And yet, after last night I think that although viewers aren't total idiots, the producers might think we are. How else to explain this turn of events?

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

My roommates are away, so luckily even though it is 400 degrees, I can at least kick back in my underwear and drink a beer while I watch the show. I do, in fact, have a mouse living in my apartment, but I'm going to hope it doesn't saucily trot across my teeny tiny living room whilst I blog, which it in fact did last night while I had a dinner party...which was embarrassing. I tried to pretend that I was shocked -- shocked! -- but actually we've been living together for quite some time.

Today's episode of Top Chef not only opens with a bikini clad girl, it opens with a bikini glad girl bending over. You don't even see her face. I would say this sums up where this show is going. We flash to the waking-up shots, most notably of course, Mr. Sexy Man Tre With the Honey-Caramel Baritone Voice.

Dale is voice-overing that he was "The short fat gay kid who was teased in Junior High." This provokes me to consider who I was in Junior High. After remembering that I was in the Latin Club and the marching band, I decide to stop remembering.

The quick fire

The sponsor is Cold Stone Creamery! The quick fire is about creating a delicious topping to go with the vanilla ice-cream, which they will mix in, cold-stone style. I've never been to cold stone creamery, but there's one right in the Atlantic Mall. Maybe I'll hoof it down there
(or take the B63, let's be honest). This quick fire is definitely giving me flashbacks to my high school job, which was at TCBY.

Dale, as the fat kid from junior high, clearly knows his way around ice cream. He decides to make a peach cobbler type thing. He's "looking for texture, for flavor."

Howie, also no fool when it comes to dessert, "starts thinking about berries...sweet cream and berries. If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I do agree with him.

Hung says, "Any monkey can make fruit and berries and make it taste good" or something. This monkey of Hung's! It sounds amazing! So far it makes cocktails, ice-cream creations and a host of other things. Does it know Shiatsu? Hung has decided to make some disgusting amalgam of 7 totally disparate flavors, including white chocolate, cauliflower foam, tempura flakes and some other ridiculous things. The ghost of Marcel hovers.

It comes down to Dale and Howie, and Dale wins.

The Elimination Challenge:

Surprise! Padma says the chefs are "off the hook for now" and will "get a chance to enjoy Miami nightlife." The chefs are all incredibly happy. Silly, silly chefs, can't you see this is a trap? Cut to the real world house, where they all get all dolled up. They are so giddy.
I also read recently that they have no TV, Cell phone, internet, newspapers. That seems extreme. But it does explain why they are going so bonkers over the prospect of socializing with other people. I also read that they can't even fool around with each other because if they
catch something, the TV show could be sued.

Dale and Sara N. are dancing around happily. They admit they have become great friends. Sara N. says, "he's my new gay boyfriend." I want one too. I do live in New York. Unfortunately these days I'm more Sister Carrie than Carrie Bradshaw, so I'm probably not going to
attract any fabulous gay men. The chefs all hop into a stretch limo. Someone screams, "Yeah! It's ON!"

And then, it's off.

Or as CJ says, "All our dreams come to a crashing halt." Hung actually screams in horror when he sees Padma, with our guest judge, standing in front of the Miami club with 2 food prep trailers, and the familiar knife block for choosing teams. Padma says that each team will have 30 minutes to shop and a budget of 300 dollars. They have to "create something that will satisfy the late night partier."

Dale, as the winner of the quick fire, doesn't even have to cook. He gets the night off, and a four course dinner with the guest chef. Dale says, "I can just feel the anger in the entire group."

They draw knives, and the teams are:

Black Team: Hung, Sarah, Tre, Malarky

Orange Team: Howie, Sarah N., Casey and CJ.

CJ says that "Howie hasn't worked successfully with anyone."

Sarah says "I don't want Howie on my team, personally. I know he's not a team player and every team he's been on has been on the bottom."

The teams start strategizing. Malarkey takes a leadership role and they kind of decide what to do based on space: Malarkey decides to do a cold bar, since that will take him out of the mobile trailer entirely, freeing up some space.

Howie tries to take charge of his team, since he was born and raised in Miami -- which does nothing to explain his accent -- and knows the nightlife cuisine. Howie wants to go simple but upscale: sliders, crab cakes, etc. Sara N. is trying to make some suggestions but Howie
steamrolls her, very dismissively. She wanted to make fries with different dipping sauces, which I think would have been a hit.

Howie, knowing that everyone hates him, says "there's very little about being liked that has to do with being a good leader." Yes, Machiavelli was right...if you're a corporate raider, an Italian
Prince or a DICTATOR. However, Howie, you are on a TEAM.

After the supermarket, it's 12;12 and time to start cooking. Tom is here! In a baseball hat! He looks adorable. Adorable. Tom goes over to the black team and makes chit chat, clearly picking up on the positive vibe.

Tre is behind the grill in a white undershirt, saying to Tom, "Once they see these guns, they're gonna wanna get back here." And then cackles hysterically with a kind of yee-haw at the end. Tom laughs really hard. They kiss. Just kidding.

Tom wanders over to Doom & Gloom Inc, where CJ tries to explain the menu. Tom says that they have a good menu, but "Sara N. had her head down." It is here that I know she is doomed. Howie and Sarah get into an argument over the milk shakes: Sara N. wants to cut them with crushed ice. I'm going to side with Howie here, who is appalled by this idea. As a former marching-band member and latin club pioneer, I also know my way around an ice-cream container.

CJ remarks, staring off into the horizon, "We're going to be flooded by a bunch of drunk morons." This is actually giving me horrible flashbacks to another high school job, when I ran the snack bar at a Yacht Club on the North Shore of Long Island. There was a summer
sailing program for kids from 9-12 in the morning, and as I set up the grill, fry-o-later, etc, I could see them sailing around. Then, my coworker Mary and I would stare off to sea as 1000 little children docked their little sailboats and ran up to shore, screaming like Vikings, preparing to raid the snack bar. Thinking about it still stresses me, after at least a decade.
So anyway, I really know how CJ feels as the drunk crowd gets out of the nightclub and swarms the two trailers.

The orange team is having some problems. Sara N. can't find the top of the blender to make milkshakes, and they just aren't as organized. CJ says, "Howie's a bulldog and Sara N. just keeps drifting off." Tom is there waiting to be served, and waiting...and waiting. CJ stands

Meanwhile, the guest judge is at the Black team's area, enjoying Tre's bacon wrapped shrimp with cheese grits. Hung is also making onion rings and chicken in the fry station.

After an eternity, Tom gets a slider which he likes. Padma is eating everything and loving it; I love her. Ted Allen shows up and gets a slider. Tom says of Sara N.; "Sara N. just in general seemed to be just a little out of it." Hmm.


The black team is clearly the winner. Tom feels they put together a well-flavored menu that was also accessible. Ted loves the grits, and says "Note to chefs, if you want to make people happy give them bacon." Duly noted! At my dinner party on Tuesday, since it was so
hot, I served BLT's with my farm share tomatoes, and it was a hit with boys and girls alike.

Tre's grits win! Malarkey looks very happy for him.

Doom and Gloom Inc. enters to be judged:

Sara N. talks about how she was demoralized by wearing her going out outfit to cook in. She was "out of her element." The judges think this is lame, although Padma is more sympathetic. I would like to see Tom and Ted to cook in high, high heels, basically shirtless, as grease
spatters their bare chests. My goodness. What I mean is, I can see Sarah's point.

The judges are not impressed by Howie's Cuban sandwich at all, which is especially bad because he's from Miami, so if he's going to make a Cuban sandwich it should be good.

The judges also comment on how the team dynamic didn't seem right. Howie takes the opportunity to say that they weren't getting a "full load pull by Sara N.." He says there was "no food coming out." Ah, Howie, my trash-talking chef from Hell.

Sara N. says that no one told her that during the challenge. She says, "I don't think Howie's and myself personalities worked well together in the kitchen." Which I would say is a very restrained way of her to say that Howie is unbearable.

Tom says, "Why didn't you assert yourself?"

Sara N. says, "There are certain chefs I've worked with who I know just won't bend." I agree - if you're on a time limit, there is only so much time one can argue with say, a Howie or Joey type. I think the judges alwaysdeliberately ignore this.

Howie continues on his rampage of vitriol: "She's the baby of the team! The baby of the house! Everything needs to be done for you!"

CJ interrupts to defender her - "that's a little extreme."

Sarah N. says, "That's enough."

Howie: "What's enough?"

Sara N.: "You."

They walk back to the holding pen and Sara N. starts to cry. The other chefs look horrified.

CJ says it was "an asshole thing to say."

Howie says, "If that's how it came across...that's not what I'm saying."

CJ says something about how Howie tries to cop this integrity role...and Howie interrupts that he "doesn't need anyone signing off on anything I say...I'm not trying to be an asshole."

Sara N.: "You're more of an asshole everyday. More and more and more."

The judges call the chefs back in and say it's basically between Howie and Sara N. I'm thinking, of course it will be Howie. What did he contribute to this team? The Cuban sandwiches, which nobody was impressed by. The sliders made by Sarah played to much better reviews. And, of course, he's Howie, who the judges have admitted gets along with no one.

Tom says, "one of you is more suited to this competition." This is where I really think Howie is going home.

Sara N., please pack your knives and go.


She says, "I'm a little bit angry. That I didn't get to show exactly what I can do in the kitchen...." She doesn't hug or say goodbye to Howie. He sits alone. She continues "I think I'm too nice for a competition. There's a fine line between being competitive and being an asshole. "

I'm seriously annoyed too. Please. My theory? I think that Howie realizes that he needs to be the villian to keep going on this show. Either that, or he really is just that contentious. I think
that the producers tried to make Hung the new Marcel, but realized that they needed more overt conflict, and that's why they've kept Howie here.