Thursday, July 23, 2009

Top Chef Masters Episode 6 - The Art Smith Show

On last week’s Top Chef Masters, smarmy Chef Michael Chiarello “charmed”(?) his way to a spot in the finals – and psychotic Bravolebrity Jeff Lewis (below) made me nervous while watching him handle a knife and fork. If I was in charge of Bravo, Jeff would only have “plastic spoon privileges” because he could hurt somebody (or himself).

This week’s Top Chef Masters can be summed up in two words: Art Smith. Oh Em Gee – I think Art is my long-lost sister! Bitch is big and hysterical and makes a mean fried chicken. And you just KNOW Art is a riot after about 6 vodkas. Furthermore, I bonded with my “sister” even more when I found out that Art's husband is a cute Papi!!

Art Smith (right) and his partner, Artist Jesus Salgueiro.

Anywhore, there were three other Master Cheftestants competing as well – Jonathan Waxman, Michael Cimarusti, and Roy Yamaguchi. Although none of them were nearly as fabulous as Mr. Smith.

The Chefs enter one-by-one, and we learn a little about each of them. Jonathan Waxman was a hotshot chef back in the 80’s and is still going strong today. On the flip side, he is also the man responsible for Bobby Flay – which he should totally be punished for.

Roy Yamaguchi invented Hawaiian Fusion cuisine, and apparently has more restaurant locations than Chik-Fil-A. And Michael Cimarusti is known as a seafood chef, and once worked for Jonathan Waxman. I just hope he’s not as obnoxious as Bobby Flay.

Finally, we learn that my long-lost Sis (Art Smith) owns restaurants in Chicago and Washington, D.C. – but he is best known for ridding Oprah of the HONGRAYS (not a small job). Art is appearing on Top Chef Masters to raise money for Common Threads, the children’s charity that was featured during Top Chef Season 4, where the kids acted as Sous Chefs. I remember it as being the feel-goodiest episode in a long season of douchebags and belligerent lesbians – even Dale acted right.


Host Kelly "I'm Thinner Than Padma" Choi tells the Chefs to draw knives, which contain the numbers 1 through 4. These numbers correspond to an aisle at Whole Foods. The Masters will have $20 to complete the Quickfire Challenge – and must shop for ALL of their ingredients in their chosen aisle. I wonder why no one drew the “Pet Foods and Automotive” aisle? Now THAT would have been a challenge.

Art Smith immediately starts dropping names – because that’s how we roll in my family. He tell us about cooking for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Julia Child, the King of Sweden and President Obama – and then sniffs at the measly $20.00 budget. Hell, $20 isn’t even enough for Oprah’s Afternoon Snack #12. How do you expect a Grand Queen to be grand with only twenty bucks?!?

They head to Whole Foods for shopping. Roy seems lost, Michael is pissed that he ended up in the baking aisle, and poor Jonathan Waxman can’t see. My sister ends up in the “Rice and Beans” aisle, which is where all Papi-watchers go eventually. Personally, I could spend hours parked in front of the Goya products – waiting for Señor Right (or Right NOW).

On the way out, Art remarks about Chef Michael Cimarusti, saying Michael was a “young little chicken and I’m an old rooster. I could teach you a few things”. Lord, I bet that’s EXACTLY what Art said to his husband in the Rice and Beans aisle when they met!!! But seriously, someone give Art Smith his own show NOW. We’ll call it “This Old Rooster”.

They return to the Top Chef Kitchen to create their one-aisle masterpieces. Art and Jonathan can’t figure out how to set up a pressure cooker until “young chicken” Chef Michael helps them. And just like that the young chicken becomes a rooster.

Time is up, and we are introduced to an even lamer judging panel than Jeff Lewis & Co. This week we have “Peter, Becky and Dave” – three Ho’s on their day off from Whole Foods. What I want to know is where they found Whole Foods employees with those names? If they went to a real Whole Foods (i.e. NYC), the three employees would probably have been named “Carlos, Tanika, and Vladimir”. And they would have been NO JOKE.

Anywhore – Kukla, Fran, and Ollie (or whatever their names are) do their judging thing. And actually they seem to know their stuff. But Carlos, Tanika and Vlad would have still been better.

When all is said and done, “young chicken” Michael Cimarusti wins with his chocolate dessert – followed (in order) by Art, Roy and Jonathan. The Rooster is NOT happy to come in second to the Chicken. A competitive streak runs in our family.


For the Elimination Challenge this week, each Chef will create a “Mystery Box” of ingredients for one of the other Chefs to cook with. In a NORMAL douchebag-and-bitter-lesbian-filled episode of Top Chef, this would also be known as the SABOTAGE Challenge. But these guys are all Roosters Masters and aren’t looking to mess anyone else up. Which is boring. If I was on the show, I would have chosen the following 11 items:

Edible Underwear
Animal Crackers
Vienna Sausages
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Diet Mountain Dew
Rainbow Sprinkles

Let’s see what these “Masters” could come up with that Box-O-Ingredients!

The Chefs return to Whole Foods to purchase their items, and head back to the kitchen to open their boxes. It’s like Christmas!

Sister-girl (AKA Art Smith) is scared to death that there will be some kind of critter he’ll have to butcher in his box. Art can handle a chicken, but please don’t give him a Bambi or a Babe to butcher. When he opens his box, The Old Rooster is quite pleased that Roy purchased a chicken for Art to cook. I just wonder how Roy got Michael Cimarusti into such a small box…

The only one who did not give his assigned Chef a perfect box was Jonathan. Chef Waxman didn’t give seafood Chef Michael any fish, but he DID give him the food with the grossest name in the history of grossery (or groceries) – kumquats. As I've said before - I don’t know what kumquats are, but they sound nasty and I want nothing to do with them.

The Chefs get to cooking, and I just can’t get enough of Art Smith. Art tells us about his Mama – who taught him that “food is love” (in that case, I must be REALLY loved). Art also channels Paula Deen by saying, in his best Southern twang – “Who don’t lack (like) a pie?!?”. Later, when things start getting down to the wire, Art exclaims “Honey, I need a drink!”. I swear, the next time Art is in NYC, I want to take him for a “girls night out” to my favorite go-go boy bar – Urge. There’s plenty of chicken for the Old Rooster to “teach” at that joint.

The judges enter the dining room. We have James Oseland, Gael Greene, and Gail Simmons. Yep, Gail Simmons from Food & Wine magazine is there…

The judges will be joined this week by a group of culinary students. Everyone finds a seat and …

Oh, who am I kidding, I HAVE TO MENTION THE BOOBIES! Gail Simmons has, of course, brought the fabulous Double Whammies with her – and they are on serious display this week! Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

First to present is Art Smith, who gives his philosophy as a Chef – “You feed people, and they will come”. Darling, I feed myself CONSTANTLY, and, well … nevermind. The judges seem to likee Art’s dish.

Next up is Roy Yamaguchi with mahi-mahi and short ribs. Seriously, here is what I wrote in my notebook regarding Roy’s presentation:

“GAILS BOOBIES ON DISPLAY!!! Students no likee”.

I have this recapping thing down to a science, don’t I? Anywhore, Michael Cimarusti is next – and he fails to “sauce” a few of the plates. Art Smith, on the other hand, seems to never be more than a few steps away from the sauce, if you smell what I’m stepping in. I can say this because we’re family.

Jonathan Waxman is last, and presents a retro-80’s “Pork Chop and Sausage” dish. Furthermore, he mentions that he and Gael Greene “go way back”. And now I have the image of Jonathan and Gael ‘pork-chopping’ in NYC restaurant bathrooms circa 1986 (I’m picturing neon colors, cocaine and shoulder-pads). Now there’s an image I must try to forget.

Back in the kitchen, Art is as nervous as a small nun at a penguin shoot as they await word from the judges. After much deliberation, the results are in…

Jonathan Waxman – 20 stars

Roy Yamaguchi – 15 stars. He is OUT.

Michael “Young Chicken” Cimarusti – 17 ½ stars. He is OUT.

Art Smith ends up with 22 stars and WINS! My long-lost sister immediately begins to cry tears of joy, and tells us he’s going to call his Mama and tell her the good news. ‘Cause that’s how we roll in my family.

Next week: The Champions Round! Note to the Culinary Gods: PLEASE let Art Smith kick the crap out of Michael Chiarello.


Berry Blog said...

Just hilarious. I MUST SEE this show. Your recap makes it irresistable. I love you.

xoxoxoxo Charlie

mikeinbama said...

Hilarious, just hilarious! I love this episode. Art is the only Top Chef Masters cheftestant with any personality.

Gails boobs have gotten bigger...hahahaha

Kailyn said...

I don't know if NY is ready for you and Art on a night out. Last night's show was hilarious. I loved it when Art didn't know where to put his meat and Jonathan said, "You can put it on top here." (Yes, sometimes a 12 year old takes over my brain.) Next week I'll probably root for Hubert. Because he is godlike in my book.

frogponder said...

Really, I was worried for a paragraph, or two, when 'boobies' did not automatically appear within syllables of Gail's name.

And these fellows are all so sweet and professional and, I hate to say it, almost boring, that it takes your recap to bring the franchise up to par!

Joy said...

Fab recap!! Your sister Art was great!

I'd like to have my own personal Jonathan Waxman. What can I say, he does it for me. We could hang out together.

Hubert also does it for me, so I'll be OK if he or Art wins the whole thing as long as they are both in the top two. Should be interesting.

They all seem delighted to watch each other in action. (and probably have)

JenM said...

Who is Jesus Salgueiro's fashion consultant? Merlin?

MCWolfe said...

Oh, David, I love your recaps but I think this might be the funniest you've ever done. I too love Art Smith and he certainly was in all his queenly glory on the show, wasn't he? The only other great line I remember from the show was when the chefs were all walking out of Whole Foods and Art made a comment along the lines of "watch out, I'm coming at you from behind" to Jonathan Waxman. It was hilarious.

Can't wait for your recap of the Masters round.

theminx said...

One of my favorite restaurants is one of Roy's 37 (!) outposts. His restaurant in Baltimore is a cheerful place with excellent food and service and damn fine mai tais.

I keep saying, "Common Freds" in my head...must be the bad influence of Kelly Rowland ("hanging by a fred").

Vienna sausages + edible undies = party!

And...if you ever want to lose your appetite, real Gael Greene's memoir. She boinked everything that moved. :::cringe::::


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