Friday, May 09, 2008

Top Chef Chicago- episode 9- Wedding Wars

Well well well, can I say “I told you so?” I knew that this would happen eventually and I am so pleased that Nikki is gone. And she failed in a miserably spectacular way this past episode. Impressive, Nikki, you actually managed to screw up your one single talent. More about that later though. The Wedding Wars episode kicked off with one of my favorite challenges, the Relay Race Skill Challenge. I think that these are the great Top Chef challenges because they set aside those who are truly skilled and those who can just cook. I believe that the art of cooking is vastly underrated in the world at large. Yes, so a home cook may not need to supreme an orange very often, but if you respect the history of cooking and are a classically trained chef, these things are extraordinarily important and show respect for the art that you are a part of. And… there is no guest judge because; cue the steam whistle music, Tom is going to judge the quickfire. And there he is, looking so cute, that wiley smile on his face. Everyone is instantly put at unease. Nikki, one of my faves as everyone knows, immediately starts whining about how she hasn’t made mayonnaise for years, kvetch kvetch kvetch. Well Nikki, we all could have guessed that because the only thing you have made ever, it seems, is pasta and roast chicken. And I’m not knocking either dish, but I can kick those two out the park and no one would ever call me a chef. I already know that Nikki will bring her team down, that’s one of the nice, dependable things about her!

So Lisa and Antonia face of with their oranges and paring knives in hand. Lisa starts off with a bang and pulls her team ahead. Spike and Andrew then face off following their partners. Andrew starts late but beats Spike by using a vegetable peeler (duh) to trim the artichokes. Come on Spike! Use your head. Maybe those hats are actually hurting the blood supply to his hairy noggin. It’s a thought. Following up comes the ugly but delicious monk fish. Dale and Richard go to town and are pretty even when it comes to their finish time, although both have questionable finished products. But the drama came to a head, or should I say a peak, haha, when Stephanie grabbed the reins and destroyed Nikki with the mayonnaise. Stephanie really put her effort into it. I cannot imagine how much her arm stung afterwards, but Nikki just looked, well, pathetic, in comparison. Shocker.

So the winning team of Antonia, Richard, Stephanie, and Andrew, we’ll call them Team “Of Course They’re Gonna Win,” got to choose which side of the wedding party they were going to cater for. They surprisingly chose the bride. I was surprised because I felt like the bride would have a lot more expectations and would therefore be a trickier choice. But Richard continues to expose his sentimental side and said that the day was all about the bride, so there. It’s funny; in contrast I think that Richard has softened up a lot as the competition has moved forward. At the beginning he was cockier and seemed to have a rougher edge while Dale seemed very calm and Zen. Now Dale is just a whirling dervish of negativity and contrariness and general misery, and Richard seems to have found some inner peace and romance or something. Last show he discussed his burning desire to make babies, and now he is waxing poetic about weddings and how they are your most special day. Wow, someone has been slipping this man some estrogen. Do you think he wore his fauxhawk in his own wedding? Did he sous vide salmon personally to make sure that the obviously insane woman who married him had “the most special day of her life?” These are questions I need answered. Don’t even get me started on his extreme generosity at sharing his prize with Stephanie. And maybe he has let go a bit because he is obviously one of the front runners and knows that pretty soon Andrew will run out of Ritalin or whatever juice he is on, Dale will break a bone punching something and not be able to cook…

Now I am rambling. Back to the other team, aptly named “A Snowball’s Chance in Hell,” or something of that ilk. Comprised of Sour Lisa, Worthless Nikki, Bitter Dean, and Slimy Spike, this is the team that lost, this is the team the audience is rooting against, and this is the team that’s each other. Self loathing is NOT a good way to start a challenge. So Team Snowball, which has start melting, meets with the crazy groom to plan the menu. I say crazy because who spends a YEAR PLANNING A WEDDING AND DECIDES TO HAVE A TEAM OF RAG TAG COMPETITIVE TV CHEFS CATER IT STARTING THE DAY BEFORE???!! Wow, I feel a lot better now. But seriously, where do they find these people? I know that the wedding is obviously catered for free, which will dramatically help anyone’s wedding budget, but who is that crazy? If you are a “wedding person” as I like to call it, you must actually value the frivolity of this day and therefore won’t leave anything up to chance. But who knows, no one asked me. So Mr. Groom likes Italian, lucky you Nikki. They decided to do a huge array of ridiculous antipasto along with bad looking tenderloin and pasta. Lisa makes the world’s ugliest wedding cake, that thing looked like a shoe box, and Nikki is too busy making bad pasta to help anyone else out. Which means that Dale is flitting around the kitchen doing a lot but not much of anything. He is bitching and moaning and making miserable faces, but not actually stepping up and asking for help or trying to organize a cohesive menu. And Nikki keeps chiming in, I’m not the executive chef, don’t listen to me, even though she is the one who put the most input into the menu and is the resident expert. Oh, so it’s like that Nikki?

Team “Of Course We’re Winning” is tired but staying strong. Andrew seems to have shared his stimulants with his fellow teammates and they are chugging along as well as you can when locked in a box of a kitchen for 2 days. Antonia makes pizza and other hors d'eouvres and Richard make beef or something with “delicious” horseradish and Andrew fulfills his weakest link persona by making bad creamed spinach through a meat grinder (?) and soggy chicken. All while Stephanie whips up a prettier than it tastes, multiple tier wedding cake. The cake really did come out beautifully I will say.

It’s obvious that the Winning Team is the winning team throughout the entire episode. But we still have to show Padma, inappropriately sleazily dressed as usual, come and say in her phone sex operator voice, “can we see: Stephanie, Richard, Antonia, and Andrew.” Oh my gosh, I’m watching what happens but are they going to be the losers, even though first picked, for the first time ever in “Top Chef History?” The answer is an obvious no. They are regaled with compliments, Gale Gand is happily blasé about the entire thing and then they are asked to send in the other team. Team Snowball has been reduced to Team “I Hate All Y’all’s Guts” and they are sent into Judge’s Table looking 100% miserable. Lisa looks like a school yard bully but more poorly groomed, Dale hates himself and everyone else, Nikki is saying “I wasn’t the leader, don’t look at me,” and Spike is just sort of shuffling his feet and hiding under one of the many monstrosities he owns that cover his head. The judges pounce on the chefs, but not as much as they pounce on each other. One by one they begin throwing each other under the bus. The room looks like a slaughter house and Dale and Spike have barely begun yelling at each other. “You didn’t do anything,” “your stuff was bleep bleep bleep.” Nikki is standing there the whole time going, don’t look at me, I didn’t have anything to do with anything and continuing to shirk responsibility. Well, at least she’s reliable. There is more yelling, Lisa continues to look really mean and nasty, and Nikki’s accent might actually have gotten uglier.

But someone must “pack their knives and go” and it ends up being… wait for it, Nikki! Yay! I have been validated. And I know that I have been because every blog and comment I have read about this episode reiterated my dismay for the fact that Nikki was still around. Finally someone wised up and figured out that woman cannot actually cook! Amazing. It only took half the season.

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