Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top Chef: Food Flight

So, here I am on my own blog. Welcome. See the archives for my older top chef posts, including last week's.

Anyway. I actually have 2 people watching Top Chef with me, which hasn't happened since the first episode. Have I become more likable?

Padma, seeming alarmingly awake, bounds into the top chef bedrooms! Padma really is hyper. I don't recognize her. She's very emotive this episode. Padma runs into the Top Chef Bedrooms like it's Christmas and shouts that she wants them to make her breakfast. Honestly, she seems 11 as the chefs lumber out of bed and stagger into the kitchen. Malarkey apparently sleeps in a hat. Why?! Does anyone have any conspiracy theories? Dale is no fool: he says, "Breakfast challenge. I know it."

It's true. Their entire apartment has been turned into a kitchen whilst they were asleep! How did they not wake up? It really is like Christmas! Casey is in a bathrobe! Who will cry first? Then it'll really feel Christmas.


The quickfire is to make Padma breakfast. Of course. And of course they must use this ridiculous blender that the show is clearly doing a product placement for. Do they think we don't know these things? "With this blender," touts Padma, "You can make practically anything!"

"MARGS!" screams Travis, who is caught up in the moment of his first Top Chef viewing and who loves margaritas. As do I.

Hung says, "We all scatter like roaches." I nervously eye my kitchen. I did spy a roach there earlier. I hope Travis doesn't see. Anyway, it's (as Joey would say) New Yawk.

I am also wondering if this is all pre-coffee. Would the producers really be that cruel? I've actually made coffee with my eyes closed before. Dale confesses that he ran a brunch place in Chicago for about a year and it was voted best brunch.

Hung makes steak and eggs, and a smoothie with Gran Marnier in it and hilariously says, "I also put a little alcohol in it...for Padma." Sarah says of Mommy Dearest Padma, "we know she likes alcohol..." and then realizing how bad that sounds, she continues "and she likes marscapone cheese. And she likes healthy products." So Sarah makes egg cooked in french toast with multi grain bread.

CJ makes crepes. "Women" he confides "love crepes for some reason! They just have this thing with crepes." Yes CJ. And they also love SHOPPING and SHOES and have mugs that say "Hand over the chocolate...and nobody gets hurt!"

Ultimately Hung is the winner (I guess Padma really loved the snootful of liquor in the shake.)

"The game is about to change! Top Chef is hitting the road!" says Padma. All of the chefs are flying to New York! That's my town!

There's a montage of them getting ready for NY, during which Malarkey puts on a fedora. The hats are back. I laugh hilariously when they land in the Newark airport. Not quite there yet! Padma is waiting for them when they disembark. Casey says, "We knew that we were in for...something." Good prediction Casey.

Padma says that in order to actually make it to Manhattan, they'll have to get past the elimination challenge, set at Newark Airport. She then makes them check into a hotel "near the airport." Oh wow. Not quite a New York Penthouse! Padma cruelly giggles. There's a shot of the New York City skyline. "We could see it in the distance." says CJ longingly.

Elimination Challenge!

They all walk into a hanger, wearing hairnets. Padma is there in a hairnet, and she manages to look gorgeous. The challenge is to create a dish for business first service on an airline I won't name. They then have to pack it up and serve it to the judges and a group of "frequent fliers."
Hung, as the winner of the quickfire, gets to pick his protein first, and then none of the other chefs may use it. They get a tour of the kitchen of this airline, and it's huge. Hung looks depressed. This really doesn't feel like a very culinary challenge. Hung picks Chilean Sea Bass, since "it's oily, think, moist, it's really hard to dry it out." I guess that's a good pick, but I would have picked red meat, which I think would have screwed the other chefs.

Dale is making a peppercorn crusted fillet. CJ is making Halibut with some sort of succotash pilaf and a side of broccolini. Dale: "peppercorn crusted fillet is a slam dunk." Malarkey is making a 'surf and turf' of steak and lobster hash. Casey is making something with veal medallions. Tom is here! Tom: "fish is the last thing I'd order on a plane." Sarah is making salmon and a cous cous.

The chefs prepare their meals with no real mishaps. Hung gets some flack for not helping CJ. Eh, it's a competition! I think there's a difference between stabbing people in the back and not helping them. Our judges are the head chef of this airline, Anthony Bourdain (looking chic!) and Tom. No Gail! Tom is in a leather jacket and backwards Newsie Cap. I'm not going to say anything because I love Tom.

The frequent fliers are, as I predicted, Flight Attendants. The chefs serve the food and there aren't any real fiascos, except that they do have some difficulty figuring out the ovens inside the airplane. This challenge really doesn't excite me. Dale actually makes only 17 servings when he was supposed to make 18, so the last guy in the aisle doesn't get any food. Now it feels like a real flight! CJ gets the most maligned, for his overcooked brocolinni, which really does look very weedy. Anthony Bourdain says, "They were cleaning Bob Marley's house and found this in the closet...sickening."


The top three: Dale, Casey and Hung. The winner? Casey, for her veal medallions. I kind of think Hung should have won. I feel they are setting up Casey to be in the top three. She's only been middle of the road until now so I find this trajectory all very suspicious.

The bottom three: Malarkey, CJ and Sarah. The judges are stunned by the brocolinni. "I can't believe that was actually served.' says one of them. Tom seems very cranky this episode. Anthony Bourdain cruelly says of Sarah's salmon, "We're talking cat food territory." Ouch. Bourdain also says the broccolinni was " couldn't serve it in prison. It was wretched."

Tom adds that the broccolinni was "the single worst thing we've had throughout the entire competition." CJ looks totally morose. That did seem over the top cruel. Especially because Padma then says..."CJ please pack your knives and go."

CJ says, "Can I say something?" I have a moment where I'm afraid he'll pull a Howie. But he graciously continues "Just to say thank you very much for this experience. I appreciate all the feedback and it was a really great experience."

Padma looks like she's going to cry.

CJ gets a round of applause.

'"I made a lot of new friends. Made connections... I'm looking forward very much to the things that are going to happen in my life....I'd love to sit down and have a beer with Anthony Bourdain and talk shit about my brocolinni."

I really wasn't that engaged with this episode. Could I miss Howie? Say it ain't so.

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