It’s a beautiful and sunny morning in beautiful and sunny Chicago. Until the scary shot of Lesbian Lisa smoking her morning cancer stick on the deck. Ugh, that’s enough to make me skip breakfast…
Antonia is “fired up”. She is DONE doubting her flavors and her abilities. She is in it to win it. “Fuck everybody”, she adds, and I think we might have another bitter lesbian on our hands. Stephanie is thanking the cooking gods that she’s still around after almost getting sent home. And Mark is mumbling about coming to America, or vegemite, or throwing shrimp on a barbie… I can’t tell with that accent. Did he just say “crocodile”?
It’s Quickfire Challenge time. The cheftestants enter the Top Chef kitchen and are confronted with a large display of Uncle Ben’s rice. I immediately cringe. Ever since I took that “Women and Minorities in the Mass Media” course at Penn State, I know that Uncle Ben is a racist stereotype from slavery days when older slaves were referred to as “Uncle” or “Aunt”. I still have trouble enjoying Aunt Jemima pancakes, that is until Mrs. Butterworth stops by and spreads her syrup-love all over my plate and makes everything better.
So the cheftestants are in the kitchen filled with racist rice, and in walks Padma and Oprah’s personal chef, Art Smith. I don’t watch Oprah (I have a J-O-B), so I had no idea who this big queen is, but apparently he is a great chef and humanitarian and just the type of person Oprah likes to surround herself with. I wonder if Oprah is aware of Art’s affinity for racist rice?
Today’s Quickfire Challenge is to create a “fabulous” entrée in only 15 minutes. Because when Oprah’s HONGRAY, she wants to eat NOW!
In typical Bravo promotional fashion, darling Uncle Ben is going to help (isn’t slavery great!?!) because the rice is MICROWAVABLE and quick! The cheftestants look like they just smelled one of Art Smith’s rice farts. Somehow I don’t think these people went to culinary school to microwave racist rice.
We get the typical 15-minute kitchen clusterfuck. There is a lot of yelling of “behind you!” … “behind you!” … but that’s probably just Spike and Andrew. Dale says the first thing he likes to do is “put a pan on”. The first thing I like to do is “get my drink on”. Like I said, I get “white guilt” around racist rice. Alcohol, like Mrs. Butterworth, makes it a little better…
Utensils down, hands up! Uncle Ben can’t help your racist asses anymore!!
Art and Padma taste all the dishes. Art has generally nice things to say – ESPECIALLY about the dishes created by the MALE cheftestants. Now we know why this is an Uncle Ben’s challenge and not an Aunt Jemima pancake breakfast challenge.
Art and Padma NO LIKEE:
Mark’s Turkey Breast. Although Art “wanted to like it” (I bet). Padma kept calling it “chicken”. That’s funny, Art also referred to MARK as “chicken”. Hmmm…
Stephanie’s Scallop Pancake. She kept the racist theme going and brought in Aunt Jemima’s pancakes. Racism does not pay!
Lisa’s Grilled Shrimp. She made Art squeeze his own lime over the top. Art already has to deal with Oprah’s bossy ass, he doesn’t need more aggravation.
Dale’s Pineapple Fried Rice. Maybe it was those big, brown puppy-dog eyes that Dale likes to use on the gay judges. It worked.
Richard’s “play on” Steak and Tomatoes. Why is everything Richard cooks a “play on” something? Stop playing!
Antonia’s Rice Salad. It is her mother’s tried and true recipe – and it is the winner. Antonia has immunity. This lesbionic “fuck everybody” approach is paying off…
Art is involved in a charity called “Common Threads”. It attempts to build stronger families by bringing everyone back to the table for meals. The cheftestants must devise a complete dinner for a family of four that is simple, delicious, and nutritious. Their budget? Ten friggin’ dollars! Yes, you heard correctly – ten bucks.
Andrew and Richard immediately kvetch about the extremely low budget. Keep in mind, these bitches are shopping at Whole Foods, not Pathmark or Stop & Shop. Antonia, on the other hand, is a single mom herself and vows to “make it work”. Fuck everybody!
They all head to “Whole Paycheck”, AKA Whole Foods – each clutching their very own 10-spot. Everyone goes for the cheap chicken, except Dale who is doing bratwurst. He’s still working the “gay judge” angle with a suggestive sausage dish. Andrew tells us that one of his cooking philosophies is “Simple, Old, New”. What in the hell is that supposed to mean? One of MY philosophies is “Andrew, Big, Douche”.
Speaking of big, Andrew tells us a little about his childhood. Apparently he didn’t have a lot of money growing up AND he was FAT! Damn, now I can’t make fun of him – because I never have any money AND I’m fat! Who in the hell am I kidding, OF COURSE I can continue to make fun of the formerly fat and currently douchy Andrew! Being kind isn’t funny and makes for a boring recap.
Stephanie is walking around Whole Foods in a daze. She informs us that she grew up eating “gourmet food”. Smell her! She seems clueless while shopping on a budget. Apparently her “Aunt” did all the shopping for her family’s plantation.
Antonia, who’s a single mom in real life, is extremely comfortable with this challenge. It is obvious that she’s gone into the grocery store with ten bucks before and come out with a couple of meals for her and her daughter. She has chosen a chicken stir-fry with healthy whole wheat noodles. Fuck everybody!
Mark has decided to do a vegetarian curry. Because when one thinks of feeding inner-city families, one naturally thinks of vegetarian curry. Actually, Mark says that when he’s “strapped for cash”, he makes vegetarian curry for him “and his lady”. Ain’t America great – he moved all the way from New Zealand to become a destitute kitchen worker who can only afford veggies and rice!
After haggling with the Whole Food cashiers, the cheftestants return to the Top Chef house and proceed to package their ingredients in as many Glad products as they can manage. Bravo must not have gotten enough money from Uncle Ben. Racism does not pay!
Antonia gets a call from her daughter, and this is where the show takes a distinctly “warm and fuzzy” turn. They do a cheesy knock-knock joke – and Antonia’s daughter says she can’t stop smiling. I can’t stop thinking that if this keeps up, Top Chef might be moving to Lifetime along with Project Runway…
Commercial Break: Ooooh, it’s a promo for Step It Up and Dance! This week’s special guest star is Jason Alexander! Wait…what in the hell is George Costanza doing on a dance show? And why is Janelle fussing at my Sexy Papi Michael? DON’T MAKE ME BREAK MY FOOT OFF IN HER ASS! See my latest SIUaD recap here.
The next day, the cheftestants head over to the Washburne Culinary Institute, home of Art Smith’s Common Threads charity. Padma and Art enter, and inform everyone that the chefs will be receiving “a little extra help” (more racist rice?). Nine of the Common Threads students come out – they will serve as helpers.
Antonia starts to cry. The little girls remind her of her daughter – so she hopes her helper is a boy so she doesn’t cry during the challenge. What happened to “Fuck everybody”!?!
The kids pair up with their chefs, and everyone gets to work. This is also where it becomes IMPOSSIBLE to write a snarky and sarcastic recap – because these kids are little adorable angels. Seriously. And they manage to bring out the absolute BEST qualities of the cheftestants. We are talking SERIOUS warm and fuzzy.
Lesbian Lisa FINALLY makes it official and say’s “my GIRLFRIEND has a kid” – and Lisa loves to cook with him. She is working with chubby “Andrew” and I hope he stays chubby so he doesn’t end up like “Simple, Old, New” cheftestant Andrew. Richard is going to expose Little Miss Abigail to the joys of beets. And Antonia’s helper Jeffrey is already a pro at chopping. Yes, Antonia got a boy – so no more tears.
Special mentions MUST go out to two of the cheftestants I rag on the most – Spike and Dale. Spike’s kid Alex cut’s himself immediately on a peeler, and Spike fixes him up gently and tells him it’s “good luck”. He even asks Alex if he has a girlfriend, to which Alex responds “not yet”. I have to give Spike credit for not elaborating about HIS girlfriend Andrew…
But the biggest sweetheart has to be (formerly) Douchy Dale. He immediately identifies with Emmanuel, who is one of the smaller kids in the group. Dale remembers when HE was a small kid who realized he’d never be Michael Jordan – so he turned to cooking instead of basketball. Seriously, I feel HORRIBLE about the stuff I wrote about Dale. But I’m sure I’ll be over it next week, especially since I saw a preview of Dale acting like an ass in the Not-So-Glad Storage Room (where he is usually at his douchiest). But for now, I’m seriously wanting to hug on Daddy Dale. What are all these human EMOTIONS I’m experiencing?!?…
Nikki, on the other hand, won’t let Amaris get a word in edge-wise. Nikki blabs on and on about how she was raised by a single parent, and had to learn how to cook at an early age. Blah, blah, blah…I’m waiting for them to play the musical theme from The Godfather and do those flashback’s featuring Robert DeNiro as a young Vito Corleone. Nikki obviously saw how the “mother story” approach worked for Antonia during the Quickfire, so she’s going for it. Sneaky bitch.
The only other negative thing I notice is that Lisa keeps referring to her helper as “big guy”. When you are a chubby kid, the LAST thing you want to be called is “big guy”. Trust me. Thinking about it makes me wonder if I have any pancake mix and syrup in the apartment?...Or Twinkies…Maybe I’ll just get my drink on… Damn emotions!
I really wish that Ryan was still around. He could have made things interesting by ragging on the kids for not holding down jobs by age 11, like he did. And he could reminisce about his grandmother’s recipe for Chicken Piccata – no chicken, just a big mound of mashed potatoes. What a dumbass.
Anywhoo, Chef Tom Colicchio arrives, and even HE is cute with the kids! He goes up to Richard and Abigail, and Abigail gives him the lowdown on their dish – “sweaty” onions and all. Little Emmanuel can’t wait for Dale to finish cooking because he, like Oprah, is HONGRAY! Chef Tom approaches Nikki and Amaris and Nikki proceeds to talk his ear off about her one-parent childhood…blah, blah, blah. I’m ready to make Nikki an offer she can’t refuse. Tom decides to stick around in the kitchen instead of just his usual quick visit, probably upon the request of the Chicago Department of Child Services.
Mark’s helper Jesucita keeps looking at him like he’s from Mars. Well he DID say that New Zealand was “very far away”. Kind of like Mars. Jesucita is probably wondering if Mark’s accent is from also from Mars. Besides that, Chef Tom’s presence is making Mark nervous.
Time for service. The cheftestants bring out their dishes with their helpers. The kids will sit with three of their friends and eat the meal they helped prepare. The judges: Gail, Padma, and Art Smith sit at a separate table, and Chef Tom stays back in the kitchen. Child Services isn’t taking any chances.
First up: Richard and Abigail’s Chicken with Beets and Beans. Everybody Likee. Natch.
Next, we have Lisa and Andrew’s Chicken with Edamame and an Apple dessert that Andrew prepared himself. They no likee Lisa’s flavorless entrée, but they love the Big Guy’s dessert.
Dale and Emmanuel serve their Sausage & Potatoes. Emmanuel wins the most adorable kid in the world contest – with Dale placing a close second.
Spike and Alex come out with their Spaghetti Putanesca – and the kids rejoice. “Yeeeaaaahhh Pisketty”!! No nasty old beets for them. Oh Lord…Spike made another soup. Antonia barfs in her mouth a little bit.
Nikki and Amaris come out, and we have to hear the “I was raised a poor black child” speech from Nikki again. Or whatever the hell her story was/is. And do you know what? The judges fall for it! Art “loved the story”…but I thought this was about the food, you big stupid queen! Then again, Oprah’s got a pretty damn good story also…
Mark is already nervous about Chef Tom being in the kitchen, so Jesucita comes out and explains their Vegetarian Curry dish. Padma thinks it’s “too sweet” (the dish, not Jesucita’s presentation) and Gail and Art are looking for protein. There are children present, so I won’t say anything further about Gail and Big Gay Art’s desire for protein. I can be warm and fuzzy too, bitches.
Antonia and Jeffrey’s one-pot chicken noodle stir-fry is a big hit – everybody really likee. And Gail is the sucker for a good story this time, saying “this is real life for her”. If I was a cheftestant I would have told the judges about walking to school in the middle of the winter … uphill … both ways. It’s all about the “story” this week.
Andrew and Miguel are next with Chicken Paillard. Did you ever notice that Andrew acts like a total crazy person when he presents anything to the judges? Seriously – TOTALLY batshit crazy. And the judges friggin’ eat it up (so to speak). They probably found out his “story” about being the fat kid with no money…
Stephanie is last and still looks a little confused. Maybe she thinks all these ethnic kids should be washing clothes or cleaning bathrooms like they do at her mansion. Anywhoo, the judges no likee her couscous with chicken, eggplant and zucchini. Gail remarks that this dish was prepared by “a restaurant chef that doesn’t cook at home”. Well duh! That’s what servants are for!!
The challenge is over and everyone is packing up to head back to the Not-So-Glad Storage Room. Richard, in the warm and fuzzy spirit of the show, decides he wants to “go home and make some babies”. Unfortunately, this is surprisingly adorable and hard to say mean shit about. I really hope they all start acting like douchebags again soon, or NO ONE will read my recaps.
In the Not-So-Glad Storage Room, the cheftestants are NOT bitching and moaning for a change. Damn warm and fuzzy episode!!! Hell, they’re hardly even drinking! Nikki is bragging about how fast her helper was – and I didn’t even think Nikki knew she HAD a helper. You know, because she was raised by a single parent…. Richard still has that fatherly glow and even Spike says “I had the best time today”.
Padma enters, and asks to see Andrew, Nikki, and Antonia – which makes things a little more Not-So-Glad.
Andrew, Nikki, and Antonia are the judge’s three favorites. They are also the three with the best stories. There is all the usual talk of smart planning and excellent flavors, but this boiled down to who had the warmest and fuzziest story. And the warmest and fuzziest this week was Antonia – who wins the challenge. She went from “fuck everybody” to warm and fuzzy mom in less than an hour. Nikki will have to tweak her tale for next time. Maybe some lost limbs or cancer would be beneficial…
Lisa, Stephanie, and Mark are called to the Judges Table. They are the bottom three.
Lesbian Lisa is immediately defensive. She mentions that after the judges got nit-picky with “the rules” last week, she tried to follow all the guidelines and do a nutritious and cost-effective dish. The judges tell her that’s all fine and good – but the dish was “missing flavor” according to Tom, which he said was “shocking”. She should have told the story of her girlfriend’s kid who likes to help her in the kitchen…
Chef Tom is getting all queeny again. He is hatin’ on the combination of peanut butter and tomato in Stephanie’s dish – and Big Gay Art backs up his ‘sister’ by saying the portion was “too large”. Don’t feed the poor people too much! But Padma REALLY hates Stephanie’s dish – calling it “disgusting” and “awful”. Don’t hold back Padma – tell us how you REALLY feel. Somehow I think their might be more of a “story” there.
Mark takes flack for his lack of protein, and is convinced that Chef Tom doesn’t like him. Tom thinks he’s joking – but he’s not. Chef Colicchio is still in “snippy mode” and mentions that Mark’s dish was “sloppy” and he didn’t spend his budget wisely. The dish just didn’t “come together”.
In the end, Tom’s hatred of Mark is realized and Mark is asked to pack his knives and go. I immediately think about two of Mark’s biggest Dust Bunny fans: Howard and Psychomom. I hope they get through this ok. I recommend getting your drink on...
Just to show there are no hard feelings, Chef Tom assures Mark that he doesn’t dislike him, and promises to have a beer with him sometime in the future. By the look on his face, you can tell Mark doesn’t believe this ‘story’ one single bit…
Next Week: Lisa needs therapy, and Andrew gets a “culinary boner”. Ewwwww. Till then bitches!!