Thursday, September 10, 2009

Top Chef Season 6, Episode 4: Ballers and unicorns

According to Robin, the “Top Chef” contestant who is more like a spastic hummingbird than a sweet red-chested singing bird, “There are a lot of big baller chefs this season.”

While she’s correct in her assessment that there are some “big baller chefs,” unfortunately the “a lot” part fails to hit the tail on the donkey that, in my head, resembles the uber Frenchie Mattin (it’s the pointy ears and silly giggle).

Last night’s episode of “Top Chef” made it emphatically clear that this season is about three chefs: Michael Voltaggio, Bryan Voltaggio and Jennifer Carroll. Of course, that was pretty obvious from episode one, but back then, I was too busy making googly eyes at Michael’s face on the screen to notice that the other chefs all kind of, well, suck.

Actually, I take that back. They don’t suck suck (though Eve wasn’t exactly the brightest oven light in the GM kitchen), and I do have some faith in Kevin red beard and Eli “fat kid,” but when standing next to Michael, Bryan and Jennifer, most of them look like amateurs.

The predictability of this season’s winners at each Elimination and Quickfire challenge makes me want to turn off the TV and pick up a chick lit novel in protest. I would too if Michael weren’t so gosh darn pretty, Jennifer so gosh darn sassy and Bryan so gosh darn calming. Thankfully, the producers have also amped up the stakes this year to at keep things at least somewhat entertaining. The show can’t survive solely on close-ups of Michael’s tats and one-liners from Jenn C. Though that would be good too…

Last night’s Quickfire Challenge got things up and moving from the get with a few unpleasant surprises. Guess what chefs? You have to cook snails for Daniel Boulud! And the loser in this “High Stakes” Quickfire has to go wee wee wee all the way home! It’s good stuff. Everyone is nervous – even Jenn C. who snarls in typical Jenn C. fashion (don’t cha just love her?), “Whoever thought that a snail looked good to eat had to be really f*cking hungry.” She’s like super cute when she’s snarky. Squee!

So the chefs are freaking out, Mattin is giggling in the corner about childhood memories of eating snails in France (apparently that’s what they do instead of pouring salt on ‘em), and Mike the evil one is “stoked” because he thinks he’s Ron Burgendy and “kind of a big deal.” Nobody knows what’s going to happen until Kevin red beard goes and plays the bacon card with his secret weapon – caramelized bacon jam. (I suspect that may be the number one Google search today.)

The three chefs on the bottom – Ashley ugly flannel shirt, Robin hummingbird, and Jesse lip ring – are then forced to create “one bite to save [their] life.” They have 20 minutes to create an amuse-bouche and the losing bouche goes home. Insert more tripping out here, and then cut to Jesse’s sad mug saying, “The thing I want people to know is that I don’t suck this bad.” We know, Jesse, we know. Only we don’t.

But enough tears, because it’s Elimination Challenge time and this week the chefs don’t have to posture about their strong sense of American pride! That’s right, no airmen. No red, white and blue. No Freedom fries. This time the chefs are “sooo honored” to cook six courses for the wickedly talented Frenchie chefs Daniel Boulud, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, and Joel Robuchon. That’s right, Eli, Joel Robuchon does exist. He’s not a unicorn! Though that would be really cool if the chefs did get to cook for a unicorn. Bet nobody would be honored to do that. Har har har.

The chefs (sans Kevin who, courtesy of his Quickfire win, gets to dine with the Frenchies and work on maintaining his cuddly physique) are instructed to pick a knife that has either a traditional French sauce or protein. They must then pair up by matching a compatible sauce to a compatible protein. Jenn and Michael V. get together over some rabbit and sauce chasseur, Bryan and Mike I. get together over some trout and béarnaise, and that’s pretty much all that needs to be said about that.

Robin and Ron the Haitian slow-talker are immediately established as the odd couple in this round – they roam around Whole Foods to that bouncy music that indicates that nobody should take them seriously. Mattin, on the other hand, is all revved up about taking the lead on this challenge with his fancy French accent and bacon veloute sauce. Lookie here, someone was taking notes during the Quickfire!

Unfortunately, not very good ones.

The bacon overpowers the poor poussin that Mattin and the subservient Ashley overcook, and not even his adorable pronunciation of “poussin” can save them from a space on the chopping block next to Ash and Hector. Hector’s “hack job” on the under rested chateau briand is ultimately the biggest no-no of all, so he’s sent packing with his big cajones and unintelligible word speak in tow.

Much to everyone’s nonexistent surprise, Michael and Jenn, and Bryan and Mike I., land on top because they are awesome and everyone and Joel Robuchon the unicorn knows it. I’m gunning for M & J to win because they were like two little peas in a pod in the kitchen, and I kind of wanted to cuddle both of them when Michael was throwing rabbit bones at Jenn for her sauce. They were like so totally in sync in a way that should have made me jealous, but didn’t because I’m a grown woman and I don’t ever pine after married men I can’t have.

In the end, however, Bryan gets the nod for his and Mike I.’s trout with deconstructed béarnaise, and Michael makes a sad face because his brother beat him again. Wah wah. But, not to worry, Michael! America knows that this season is all about you, your bro and Jenn C. There will be many chances to best him in future episodes whilst all the other chefs play around in the sandbox. Just be sure to watch out for snail-hater Jenn C. You were right to be nervous that she might “out do ya.”


yutjangsah said...

I actually watched last nite. it was scary whenever Joel, as I call him when he's not around haha, talked. Everyone got all silent. And did he have a friggin interpreter? wth? He was like an oracle. Once he spoke everyone was just like silent. I guess that's power but it was weird. And did he steal his black shirt from Steve Jobs' wardrobe? He needs some new threads. I said it.

weezermonkey said...

For yut -- Robuchon's "interpreter" was Emanuel Cornet, general manager of L'atelier. The only reason I know is that he was super nice and gave us his card when we dined there earlier this summer.

Don't you feel like The Talented Triumvirate (Voltbros + J) and even Beardie could've won any other season? Too bad they're all competing with each other this season, and only one will win.

Diana said...

Sook - He was kind of scary! Personally, I thought his oraceleness was a bit overdone. I mean c'mon... he's just a man! In a t-shirt!!!

Sharon - So true! It's really sad that there can only be one winner this year. Though I'm not really sure it makes that much of a difference who wins aside from the money. All three are clearly going to come out of this with a gold star on their resumes.

The Blonde Duck said...

Loved your donut post. I would kill for a glazed waffle!

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

I love your take on the show so much better than I actually like the show! I feel like something's missing from the show but I can't put my finger on what it is.

Diana said...

Miranda - They were pretty amazing! I bet you could recreate it at home!

Reeni - I know, I feel the same way. Last season was worse though. Hopefully things pick up soon!