Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Playing the Game

Wow. What a freakishly pleasant surprise. The second half of the last Top Chef DC didn't suck. Who knew.
So it's simple right? Healthy school lunch for 50 kids at $2.60 a kid. Each chef is responsible for an element of the meal. Shopping somewhere other than Whole Foods because we all know how laughable it was the last time they cheated their way around cooking a family meal for $10 at Whole Foods during Season 4. Restaurant Depot will be the shopping grounds this time around. However that's not the only twistiness to this challenge. Not when you've got this guy Playing The Game.
Angelo. It's only the middle of the second episode and he's already scoped out his closest competition and devised a plan on how to eliminate said competition. How? By winning the Quickfire, gaining Immunity, and given the chance to pick the other two members of his team for the Elimination Round. Because he and Tracy have immunity, if his team is the worst, only the other two members will be up for elimination. Interesting because this really only works if Angelo's team loses and they only pick one team for elimination. No mention is made at the challenge's explanation by Padma how they will pick the loser but it makes sense to pick a losing team to auf a chef just like picking a winning team to pick a winner. Here's the tricky part for Angelo, he's picked the second best chef (in his mind) to try to put on the losers block. He's got to put up just enough effort to look like he's trying but influence the rest of the team enough to put them in the losing position. Can he and will he?
Not that he has to do much with Kenny totally getting outmaneuvered. Kenny fails to step up and take control or lead the team in the decision making process. Letting Angelo make celery and peanut butter? As his only contribution? Kenny may be fast with his knife skills but Angelo is smoking him in the game playing aspects of Top Chef.
However all of Angelo's carefully laid planned could be ruined by the Chef Known as Sherry. Yes, this fame whore wanna be came up with the brilliant idea of braising chicken in sherry for her part of the meal.
The rest of her team, Winken, Blinken and Nod, put a weak defense but Sherry will not be denied her sherry chicken. Nod decides to do dessert. Sherry thinks she a doofus for picking dessert, confident that her sherry chicken will rock the lunch kids world. Winken and Blinken hope to hide somewhere in the middle.
Team 4 gets a lot of screen time because they understand that bitching and sniping at each other is the best way to get a lot of screen time. Team 3 gets very little screen time so they must know what they are doing and working well as a team.
Now after 6 seasons of Top Chef and 2 of Masters, I will, for the most part, be skipping over the shopping segment of Top Chef. It's an old dried up piece of meat that not even the dogs will chew on so we will all just assume that shopping happens without incident for the rest of the season. However this shopping was important if only for the fact that if you don't fight for your dish it will more than likely bite you in the ass later on. Above Nod shops for chocolate for her pudding.
And here is Sherry.....
...and here is the first subtotal before they start cutting down what they think they don't need.
Do they get rid of the 15 lb bag of basmati rice and go for a cheaper brown rice? No. Do they get rid of the sherry? No. They get rid of the chocolate for the chocolate pudding. Not even when Nod begs for her chocolate does Sherry relent.
Perhaps she thinks she's cooking for the children of the French Ambassador and she's a French Lunch Lady.
Not that any of the other teams are doing any better. They all come up heavy the first time at the register and end up doing a lot of creative product trimming which is kinda perplexing. Don't these folks know how to put down a budget before they get to the Depot? Don't they have an idea how much a jug of sherry costs? A bag of rice? Some of them may have worked OK together as teams but I didn't really see anyone step up and take control of their team.

Before I cut to the end, only one food picture of the vegetable dish for Angelo's team.

Nice, huh? Can you say punking your teammates?

You know I do a lot of bitching and moaning about Top Chef, mainly that they don't ever change the template much. You know if you're called in first to Judge's Table, you're the winner.

Surprise! You suck!
How awesome was that? Not only do they freak them out, they also freak out the teams left in the stew room thinking that they lost and spend their time waiting, figuring out in their heads who they will throw under the bus. But back to the losers. They just start blabbering. Nod explains that without chocolate she cannot salvage her dessert without adding two pounds of sugar. Sherry says nothing about her budget busting sherry. Apparently she's still in a stupor to be at the losers table. On the other team it's not much better. After pointing out their woeful lack of vegetables, Kenny tries to present evidence to the contrary with their roasted tomatoes on the burger. Too bad the guest judge knows his veggies from his fruit and doesn't hesitate in correcting Kenny's mislabeling his fruity tomato as a vegetable.

I'm pretty sure at this very moment Kenny wanted to go back to cutting chickens. He could learn from Angelo who decides to take the fifth when asked if he would make what he made if he didn't have immunity. And really, isn't that the chickenshit way out? As much as he bragged in the One on One interviews about being the One that everyone was supposed to chase, he's just another chickenshit coward who, in my humble opinion, threw this challenge in the hopes of getting Kenny auffed. But that was just part of a GREAT judges table. This is what we as audience members want to see. Blinken decides that he needs to jump in and help Kenny get auffed by criticizing Kenny's lack of vegetables. Considering that Blinken's rice was not exactly stellar, and seriously, if you can't make rice perhaps your silence would be golden. Kenny doesn't mind putting Nod's pudding in the line of fire with it's two pounds of sugar while his own apple bread pudding was well down the ladder for sugar content. Sherry suddenly finds her voice as she attacks the sugar content of Angelo's bizarre vegetable contribution. She's deep into her anti peanut butter rant before Ed points the stupidity of using sherry for a kids lunch meal. Oh silly man, I'm not having the kids drink that expensive sherry is the best she can muster before Gail breaks in with her own question as to why she used it. "Because I like it" Oh Sherry, Sherry, Sherry. Still she set Gail up for the best line of the night: " I like it too, there's a lot of things I like, like vodka but I'm not cooking with it."
Damn it, don't you know you're spoiling all of Angelo's best laid plans? So they let the losers stew some more in the stew room while they bring in the winning team and announce a winner.
Despite putting up with an amazing amount of bitching from her teammates Kelly wins with her Pork Carnitas Tacos with pickled onion and handmade oatmeal soft taco shells. Now onto the loser's team. But wait?
That's not a complete team? Suddenly Kenny and Ed's chances of going home are back at 25%. Did the producers make a sudden adjustment to keep a better chef in the game? Or maybe to screw Angelo because it looks like he threw the challenge? Not sure but it's not Kenny who is going home, it's Nod.
Not that it matters because I suspect Sherry will soon follow. One last word on Angelo. If you noticed in the post by Tom he ends with his thoughts on whether Angelo threw this particular challenge, saying that it appeared that way. Please keep in mind that Tom writes his blog posts after the show airs so he may be giving us a little foreshadowing of what might be ahead concerning Angelo and his game playing. It could be very interesting.


Making Space said...

This kind of pisses me off. If people are cooking for my kids I want them to think more about what my kids are eating than whether their already-employed-in-the-food-industry asses are going to win something.

Not, I hasten to add for the sake of clarity, that my own personal children were in the group of fifty sherry chicken slurpers.

I would just have thought twice, three times, and more before signing the permission slip to let these yahoos try to trip each other up and call it my kids' lunch.

Maybe this was going to function as a promo for Tom's wife's movie on hunger - if so, fine. But still, bleah. Really. Bleah.

Making Space said...

However, I stand by my previous assertions that your posts outrank the actual show by MILES. Excellent recap.

Big Shamu said...

MS, please try and be a little more passionate when commenting. You seem a little wishy washy (snort).

moi said...

Wait a minute. Tom Colicchio is married? To a woman? Excuse ay Moi while I go Google . . .

Syd said...

I saw this post and thought I had missed this week's episode.

BTW, Tom Colicchio did a very cool thing for us. I have a new respect for the man.

Big Shamu said...

Can't wait for Moi's Google Report. Long time married with kids. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Syd, he still sounds a little hesitant but making orders for NOLA seafood. It's definitely a trust thing.

Making Space said...

LOL I hope I was clear that I was hellaannoyed about the way the contest was done, but crazy impressed with the way the post was written. I'm staying tuned for continued drama for SURE now. Haha

Dani said...

I bet MS uses Jazz Hands when she's pissed.

Big Shamu said...

Dani, I think her little hair spikies wiggle in agitation.

However MS made a great point (in private) about peanut butter and food allergies but knowing the sort of all or nothing waivers they give to folks who want to be tv guinea pigs I'm hopefully the food allergy kids stayed far far away. Because you just never know when a Sherry or Angelo is going to throw a liquor or peanut laden monkey wrench into the mix.

Sharon Rudd said...

Excellent analysis, as always, Shamy. And lol about the wiggling hair spikies.

Is Bourdain's road show coming to your city? If not, and in case you're interested, I've posted a recap after seeing him Sunday.

We'll see how tonight's show goes . . .

Making Space said...

LOL jazz hands, spikey hair, and entertaining people with tantrums. It's good to be a soprano. LOL

Hope y'all are enjoying your show tonight.

moi said...

Well, color me surprised. A few years back, I commented to my husband that I found SeƱor Colicchio kinda hawt. Which caused said husband to roll his eyes. "What's with you and the roly-poly bald-headed dude fetish?"

I could only shrug. To which said husband replied, "Besides, he's gay." Which I took on faith because, well, it's not the first time my romantic aspirations have thusly been thwarted.

So, Google coughed up the muy intriguing fact that not only is Coliccho married to a gal, he's married to bigwig Hollywood producer/director/writer Lori Silverbush. Hey, not fair! I'm a brunette, too!

Big Shamu said...

Yeah, the gaydar never pinged on Chef Tom for me so I'm not sure what the hubby was taking for Tom's gayness. Other than to get you off Tom.

Perhaps you should play Gay or Not with the hubs other gay pronouncements.

Jenny said...

Bwahaahahahah. I love your line "surprise! You suck" and she continues to do so.

Can't wait to see your post about last night.

I usually agree with Moi regarding her "Hawt Level" but when it comes to Tom? Nooooooooooo.

Big Shamu said...

Uh oh, better get the third member of my Blog Buds Troika to chime in, Chickory? Tom, Hot or Not?

Milk River Madman said...

I don't know if Tom is hot, I sometimes like it when he "tells it like it is" but then I sometimes wonder how close someone has come to kicking his ass when the camera isn't on. Wouldn't suprise me in the least if there have been a couple "incidents". What this show is lacking is the Brit with his wicked humor.

Big Shamu said...

Which Brit?