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Live-Blogging Top Chef 5.5 Gail’s Bridal Shower December 11, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
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9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, Amy went home to Dallas for Thanksgiving & then to Santa Monica for excellent company morale-building exercise/sales meeting retreat, both of which caused her to fail to live-blog Top Chef. Don’t think I’m happy about this…Foo Fighters? Rocco DiSpirito? It was good stuff! Also, everyone kind of treated Ariane like their cute, slightly pathetic little sister when she actually won some stuff & some people named Alex & Richard were eliminated.

10:01 – Apartment open. Melissa begins with an interview about being scared to go home. At least she doesn’t sound surprised. Also? Apparently Stefan has been making Jamie gifts. Jamie thinks he’s totally in luuuuurve with her. She also thinks maybe the word “lesbian” got a little lost in translation. Touche. BTW, Stefan, for his part, does in fact say he luuuuurves Jamie, although it sounds like maybe not in the way she thinks.

10:03 – In the kitchen, the chefs are greeted by Padma. Solo. Padma tells them there is no guest judge for this Quickfire because the chefs will be doing the tasting. It’s time to play Identify That Ingredient! Jamie is pleased & still hasn’t gotten over that thing where she’s come in second on the last couple of challenges. So the chefs draw knives & begin to realize that there are two of each number. It’s a head-to-head! Hosea is paired with New York Daniel & hilariously notes that Daniel’s got “more of a brain than people think.”

10:04 – The chefs will go in head-to-head. Each pair will taste the same sauce & try to identify as many ingredients as possible. Wow, okay, this is actually super hard. Last chef standing gets immunity. Daniel & Hosea are first. Padma flips a coin to determine who gets to try to guess first. Hosea says he can get four. Daniel can only ID four too, so he has to gamble that Hosea gets one wrong. He doesn’t, so Daniel doesn’t even get a chance to guess. Sucks for him. Hosea moves on to the next round. Other chefs that move on: Ariane (because Jeff guesses the wrong shellfish), Stefan (who beats Jamie, hilariously), Leah (over Eugene), Radhika (over Fabio) & Carla (over Melissa). In round 2, Hosea (impressively over Ariane), Stefan (arrogantly over Leah) & Carla (over Radhika, who messes up). In the final round, the remaining three chefs will all taste the same sauce & compete spelling bee style. Carla immediately goes out. Oh, Carla. Hosea & Stefan go at it for a pretty good number of round before Stefan messes up. Hosea gets vegetable oil right & wins. Yay! I’ve decided I like Hosea.

10:16 – Elimination Challenge time. More drawing of knives. This time the knives are labeled “Old,” “New,” “Borrowed” & “Blue.” Ariane & I immediately think wedding. Actually, not really, since I saw the promos last week. There are more than two people per group. Radhika wins my heart by stating that she’d rather be on Satan’s team than Stefan’s. Heh. She’s not. Stefan is in fact with Hosea & Jeff. The challenge, as we saw, is that Padma is throwing a bridal shower for a friend…Gail Simmons. Everyone’s pleased to see Gail. There will be 40 guests. Gail hints to them that she freaking hates veal & black beans. She also notes that many of the guests will be colleagues from Food & Wine magazine.

10:18 – The teams get together to plan. Team Borrowed is Radhika, Jamie & Ariane. Jamie actually comes up with what I think is a cute idea, to do dishes from their cultures & say they “borrowed” them from their mothers. Radhika, having actually seen the previous seasons, is worried that the judges will start to say she can only do Indian food. She’s a smart cookie, that Radhika.

10:19 – Team Blue is Melissa, Leah & Fabio. They sit around, trying to come up with food that is blue. It’s harder than you’d think, but I don’t agree with Fabio that it’s the hardest of the four concepts.

10:20 – Cut to Team New—Carla, Daniel & Eugene—who are thinking about something pickled. Actually, Daniel is thinking about something pickled & Carla is wondering, in interview, if pickles are new. Heh. Eugene suggests sushi, which we know he’s already done in possibly all of the previous challenges (remember the disgusting sushi hotdogs?). Red flag! He pitches a surf ‘n turf sushi that gets approval from Daniel. Carla is seriously skeptical. Of course, she is not saying anything, in fact she even interviews that she isn’t speaking up. Oh dear, Carla. Well, you didn’t make that much of an impression anyway.

10:21 – Team Old is Jeff, Hosea & Stefan. Jeff wants to do a sorbet, but Stefan shoots it down due to a time issue. Hosea is immediately interviewed to demonstrate Team Old’s general discontent & tension over Bossy McBossy Boss over there. Jeff is also annoyed, but insists that he can do the sorbet. Stefan knows it won’t work, but apparently gives in. Red flag.

10:24 – At the store, the teams get $800 to shop! Jeez! Everyone buys like a ton of food. PS: Team Blue is going with fish, which I really hope someone can explain. Crazy Carla interviews to us that when her husband & her go out & lose each other, they do a silly little call, “Hooty!” “Hoo!” It’s kind of cute. But again? Completely irrelevant to this particular reality show. Nevertheless, the cameras catch Carla doing the “Hooty!” call when she loses the rest of Team New. PS: Let me just say. It’s not that Carla’s done anything particular crazy so far this season. It’s that she looks LITERALLY. INSANE. when they interview her & she’s got her hair in a big fro & her glasses on & her eyes get like the size of dinner plates. I’m just saying, I’m not the only one who thinks this.

10:25 – Team New is throwing red flags all over the place. Even Daniel’s a little apprehensive about the sushi. And then there’s Team Old, who is basically Team We Hate Stefan. Hosea & Jeff are passive aggressively trying to get their shopping done while yelling at Stefan that they know what they’re doing. This is going to be an awesome Judges’ Table, I can already tell.

10:27 – Back in the kitchen, everyone realizes how little time they have. Food frenzy. Radhika is indeed doing an Indian dish, which she tells us she’s done 14 million times, which means something’s probably about to go wrong with it. Team New is also doing a sorbet. Huh. Interesting. BTW, their “new” sushi? Is stuffed with tempura shrimp. Found in every Japanese restaurant in America. How is this new, exactly? Team New’s rice is done & Eugene says to leave it in there. Red flag! I mean, usually when rice is done in the rice cooker, it shuts off automatically & you can just leave it in there until you need it, but they wouldn’t be showing something so mundane unless something’s about to go wrong, right? I learned that in high school film class.

10:28 – Meanwhile, Team Blue’s menu seems kind of short, compared to everyone else. Over at Team Old, Hosea explains the menu & notes that he has immunity, so he’s kind of taking a backseat since he’s not at risk this week. Good attitude, Hosea! Who was it that had immunity last year & yet still forced her team not to make a squash soup last year? They should take notes, heh. Unless of course Team We Hate Stefan blows up.

10:29 – Film class pays off again…Eugene’s rice has gone south. Told you. Meanwhile, Tom C enters for consultations. He arrives at Team Blue first & tells them there aren’t actually any blue foods. Huh. Who knew? Melissa points out blueberries. Good point, Melissa! Tom has no real reaction to the blue = ocean/fish/seafood logic.

10:31 – Team Borrowed seems to do okay talking their way through their concept to Tom. Ariane tells us in interview the only thing she’s concerned with (i.e. in charge of) is the lamb. Tom seems incredulous of Team New’s sushi idea. I’m not kind of thinking the concept won’t be the problem so much as the badly made rice. Team Old discusses their cumulative failed marriages. Heh. Tom C interviews that he’s bored like to tears by Team Blue Ocean’s dish & that Team New Sushi is going to end up being like totally awesome or will crash & burn.

10:33 – More food frenzy. Eugene is attempting to salvage the rice by adding texture & chili. Oh this is definitely going to be interesting alright. Melissa doesn’t think Team Blue’s dish has the pizazz they need. And Team We Hate Stefan won’t actually get to try Stefan’s dish because it has to set. Touche. Time’s up & it’s back to the apartments. Eugene has had an idea. Team New is changing up the sushi idea to make it a build-it-yourself style service technique. Both Daniel, who is waving weights around violently, & Carla, who is looking less crazy at the moment, love the idea. They feel like it’s a better “new” concept. Stefan comes out to where they are sitting & pokes his nose in about women not liking to have to make their own food. I kind of agree. But then, Stefan’s still a jerk.

10:41 – Double-apartment open. Sigh. No, nothing exciting happens. We learn that Leah & Hosea are still doing their semi-flirting thing. Fabio shows a pic of his wife, who is lovely. Ariane tells us that she’s catered a lot of bridal showers & weddings. Based on the preview of this segment, we wouldn’t know that.

10:43 – The chefs show up at the restaurant where the shower’s being held. It’s ridiculously fancy & they are serving at a huge, long table. The guests, judges & Gail show up & break out the wine while Team We Hate Stefan, who are the first course, race through plating. Meanwhile, Tom C, banned from the all-ladies party, is banished to the kitchen to watch the final prep & service. This makes Fabio very nervous. Meanwhile, Team We Hate Stefan is wrapping up & Stefan makes the requisite interview to criticize Jeff’s sorbet, which, admittedly, does not look particularly elegant on the plate. During plating, Hosea’s hands are shaking so bad, he almost breaks both of the glasses he’s carrying. Hey, dude, I’ve been there. It’s hard to carry stuff like that.

10:45 – Team We Hate Stefan stand at attention while Padma introduces guest judge Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine. Everyone is now 14 times more nervous. The team talk through their menu & we pan through their dish, which does not look particularly good. It seems to go over pretty well, though. Jeff’s sorbet is very popular. Oh, good! Yay Jeff! I was kind of thinking he maybe wasn’t a very good chef, since mostly we’ve seen him fall short on dishes since he’s so busy leading, so it’s cool that he did well. Plus he was way less passive aggressive about hating Stefan than Fabio.

10:46 – Second course is Team New, who is plating. Daniel has a surprise for Carla, which is some mushrooms he prepared & is putting on the bottom of HER salad. Ha! That’s hilarious. Carla is horrified, but again says nothing. Team New’s plates are looking…busy. Daniel plays it off as being “new.” Not everything can be new, guys. Team New is extremely confident. Danny thinks the girls will start taking their clothes off, the food is going to be so good.

10:48 – There’s a lot of hesitant eating going on. During the menu explanation, Team New completely neglected to explain the make-your-own-sushi concept, so now no one knows what to do with the plate of seemingly unrelated food in front of them. Eugene realizes this immediately upon going to the back. Touche. Gail says the tempura shrimp is cold & nasty. No one seems like they’re about to take their clothes off. The girls all wish that Gail’s marriage goes better than Team New’s food.

10:49 – Team Borrowed begins plating. Ariane realizes that the lamb is incredibly rare. Oh dear. They stick it back in the oven in hopes of magical perfect cooking in two minutes. They are also pushing back their plating to give it as much time as possible. Radhika & Jamie are both extremely uncomfortable. The rest of the chefs rally around them to help them plate in time & they get it done. BTW, their plates are lovely. This is what I’m talking about with presentation! The lamb is in the middle, on top of his bright yellow sauce. It looks really interesting & pretty.

10:51 – Everyone…LOVES the lamb. How is this possible? Everyone says it’s well cooked & how delicious it is. Gail says the dish made her really happy. Okay, I really don’t understand. The lamb now looks completely cooked & at least medium, if not well done. It was, literally, RARE two minutes ago. I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. What is happening here?

10:52 – Team Blue is plating. Their dish is boring, even to their own members. Melissa & Leah push Fabio into doing the presentation, in order to charm the women & get them to like them going in. Heh. Fabio immediately gets on everyone’s good sides by saying everyone looks beautiful. Hee! Fabio accents his way through a hilarious explanation demonstrating how the colors of the dish, when looked upon in a certain light & probably with the help of tools, appears blue. The diners oooh & ahhh for him, smiling & clapping & Fabio exits heroically. That was actually pretty awesome. I gotta appreciate the good marketing.

10:54 – The fish actually goes over pretty well. The guests all think it’s interesting & good, although maybe not as good as the lamb. Man, I’m surprised by the lamb. Maybe surprised is the wrong word. Confused. I’m confused by the magical cooking lamb. Am I being stupid here? I’ve never cooked lamb, can it really go from rare to medium-well in two minutes? Cause if it can, I apologize.

10:55 – Wait a second. There’s five minutes left for judging? Great, this puppy’s going to run over, isn’t it? Y’all, I have to work tomorrow!

10:55 – Gail in the front gives a lovely speech. She can’t wait to get married. Aww! Congrat, Gail!

10:58 – In the backroom, Padma comes in to ask for Team Borrowed & Old. Oh good, the return of the asking for one group first in fake suspense of whether they are the winners or losers despite the fact that they have always called winners first since the beginning of time.

10:59 – Judges’ Table. Team Borrowed & Team Old are the favorites of course. Jeff gets complimented on the sorbet by each judge while Stefan looks on in jealousy/bemusement. The lamb & sauces of Team Borrowed get complimented & Tom C briefly calls out Ariane a little for thinking the lamb was underdone. Well, Tom, we saw the lamb & it was. Whatever, the point is the lamb dish is the best. The guest judge from Food & Wine announces the winner. Jamie, under her breath, says that she wants this win. (Plus, throughout the episode, she kept saying she thinks she can get the win because she came up with the Borrowed concept. But it never got brought up in judging.) But the winner…is Ariane! Ariane & Jamie are shocked. There is a cut to Jamie’s face & it really looks like for a moment, she can’t believe her name didn’t get called. It actually makes me feel a little bad for her. Ariane wins some kitchen appliance swag & is asked to send back the other teams. Heh. Padma doesn’t even try to make it sound like it’s a chore for the winner.

11:01 – In the back, everyone cheers for Ariane. Here’s the thing. Good for her for winning, really. Good for her for clawing her way back into this competition. But it really feels like she barely knows what she’s doing half the time. I’ve said before, I think she might be a decent chef & just a bad competitor. That makes sense to me. I just don’t think she’s a Top Chef. Let’s be honest with one another. You can’t have that little confidence with EVERY challenge & stumble your way to the top three. I would be shocked if she made it that far. But maybe she’ll just continue to prove me wrong. I mean, I doubt it. But who knows, right?

11:02 – Jamie is still bummed. She tells Ariane she isn’t mad at her, but continues to sulk in her chair. In interview, she relieves us of any lingering threads of sympathy we had for her by telling us that no one expect anyone but her to win. You know, it’s because she continues to say stuff like that that I will continue to always root for even Ariane to win over her. Seriously, that’s just unlikeable.

11:02 – Team New & Team Blue trudge out to face the music. Eugene begins & looks really upset as he claims responsibility for both forgetting to explain how the dish is put together & for the bad rice. Carla, to her credit, allows that she allowed everything to happen for the dish even if she wasn’t completely happy with it. Eugene is also not happy with the dish, but Daniel—oh, Daniel—says that he was “unbelievably happy.” Now, look. Even if you were happy—which, how could you be? With everything that went wrong?—even if you were, why would you say so now after you can see that it’s not very popular? Oh Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. Tom C puts his face in his hands & tells Daniel the dish was a freaking disaster. Daniel, unheeded, plows on, claiming responsibility for the mushrooms in Carla’s salad. Carla is too nice to flat out say Daniel both made the mushrooms & put them in her salad without telling her or asking her permission. She also is forced to admit she didn’t actually taste them. Daniel happily jumps in to say that he did! And he thought they were seasoned perfectly! Yeah! OMG…I think he’s taking a dive to save Eugene. Okay, maybe not, but this is an unbelievable display of a combination of ignorance & arrogance here. Tom can’t believe this is happening either & gives Daniel another chance to say he wasn’t happy with the dish. Daniel, tragically, softly says that he is happy with it. Oh Daniel.

11:04 – With Team Blue, Leah says that she was happy with their dish. Gail tells them that the guests liked the flavors okay, but thought the texture was like “old people’s food.” Tom C says he didn’t like the dish, actually, he thought it was sad. And also? Safe. Uh oh. That’s not a word you want to hear at Judges’ Table. Fabio speaks up & objects that it isn’t easy to cook 45 pieces of fish. Tom’s like, actually, Fabio, it is, since you picked a particularly easy fish. Fabio objects again & what is it with people not cowering like they should at Judges’ Table? Jeez. The teams are dismissed.

11:05 – Judging. Tom C is now to the point where he really can’t believe that just happened. Team Blue’s dish was too simple & unimaginative. Team New’s dish was just a disaster. Each chef made catastrophic mistakes. The judges agree that Carla was the least offensive, but don’t like that even though she clearly had an opinion of what was happening, she didn’t speak up. And that’s not what a top chef does. Meanwhile, Tom is still like, Danny liked that dish? Really? Really?? Seriously? And Eugene? Eugene just messed up. Left & right. The judges wonder about his judgment. Heh. If this was America’s Next Top Model, Tyra would have said that in a weird, unappealing, breathy voice. I hate Tyra. Anyway, the judges are agreed. I have a bad feeling about this.

11:11 – Tom C’s self esteem destruction speech. Team Blue is chastised for their boring food, but ultimately allowed to go. Team New is broken down, horrible mistake by horrible mistake. Tom wants to send all three of them home but…not Eugene, not Eugene, not Eugene…YES! Daniel! Please pack your knives & go.

11:13 – In the back, there are hugs. Everyone is sad to see him go, but his speech is mostly about the judges making a wrong decision. Daniel compares it to football, which I can relate to (GO COWBOYS) but it doesn’t make it a good exit speech. I give it a 5 out of 10.

11:14 – You know, it’s interesting. I kind of think Daniel was eliminated over Eugene, who maybe had just as many & just as bad mistakes, over what he said at Judges’ Table. That doesn’t happen that often, right? The food usually trumps all.

11:15 – Next time on Top Chef, Martha Stewart!!! Food poisoning! Guests! Bad food!


1. Jennifer - January 7, 2009

Am I the only one in America who knows that yellow and green don’t make BLUE! They make light green. Yellow and blue, however do make green. How did everyone miss this?

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