Top Chef: A Bad Chef? Moi??

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Pigs! They're all winey pigs. Everything being used in the Top Chef challenge last night, that is. It was the highly esteemed Las Vegas Pigs 'n Pinot festival and the remaining sweaty, miserable chefs had to make a pork dish to serve a crowd that paired well with a bottle of wine. While everyone knows that the best thing to do with that criteria is to fry up some bacon, pour a bottle of red into one of those enormous glasses, and then just dip the bacon in it like it's maple syrup, that would have been a bit too obvious, I suppose. So they had to think outside the box. Or, outside the pen. Pig jokes! Keep 'em comin'!

Oh, before we get into this too hot 'n heavy, I should mention something by way of context and apology. It's been so long since we last spoke about dear Top Chef. Three weeks, in fact. This is partly Bravo's fault for not airing an episode two weeks ago, and partly my fault for getting sick last week. So let's all pour a bottle out on the suckling-paved sidewalk for our dead homegirl Ashley, who got sent to the great briarpatch in the sky last week, where her thicket of hair won't seem so out of place. She had a mid-season surge that suggested some dark-horse qualities, but alas it wasn't meant to be. So she's sitting up on her cloudbed playing a harp with Pretty Preeti and ol' Hap Blapgood the Zatarain's man and looking down at the group of chefs who remain. And they're all good! These are the elite!

EXCEPT FOR THREE. First there is Ash, who looks like the animal upon which this week's challenge was based. I'm sorry, but he is a big furry gay pig. There is nothing you can say about that other than: "Truth." (You may also yell: "Testify!") Second there is a bewigged gnome named Lurleen. Lurleen is... the most indistinguishable contestant of the whole season. No one knows who Lurleen is, nor do they care. No one knows what sort of foodstuffs Lurleen prepares in her little gnome kitchen, because, yes, no one cares. Lurleen could win the whole thing and everyone would say "It's kinda weird that no one won Top Chef this year. If that happened before I'd be really confused and upset. But now, for some reason, I just feel like... I don't care, y'know?" That is Lurleen. Wait. Who am I talking about? Oh, who cares. Moving on. And third there is Robin. Ohhh dear, Robin. The untouchable. See she's had nasty cancers which is awful, and you feel bad for her. But also she is crazy and kind of annoying and though I used to like her and want her to show 'em who's boss, I don't really think she has the chops to chop it as a professional chopper. There was a point in this episode where Robin made curry and said it was Middle Eastern and Padma was like "No it's not." And Robin was like "Well... ehhh... sorta, y'know... yeah you're right." Because her thought process was going like this: "Well, it's Indian. And they're pretty brown. And they're close to the Middle East. Like, Pakistan. You know, who really knows the difference between Indians and Middle Easterners? Like could anyone really tell the difference? Oh holy shit, Robin. Padma's a freakin' Indian. What're you gonna do, Robsy??? OK, OK. Backpedal, backpedal... Heh heh heh. You're right Padma, you're always right..." And that was mortifying enough to supersede all of Robin's other antics combined.

Her other antics include everyone hating her. Robin just likes to play this fun game where everyone hates her. She's very good at it. Often as a child at her parents' cocktail parties she'd tug on a lady's skirt and say "Hey, hey. Wanna see something?" And the lady would say, a bit startled, "Well... uh, sure dear. What is it?" And Robin would grin and say "Look what I can do." And then she'd point at everyone in the room, look up to the expecting lady, and say "Everyone hates me." The woman would look confused at first, but would eventually scan the room, only to turn back to Robin to stammer and say "Why... Why you're right. They really do hate you, don't they? Aren't you talented." So yeah, it's a pretty special skill. Pretty good work. So Robin was playing a game of everyone hates me at the Top Chef manse that involved chastising people for not cleaning up and then everyone else--who are mostly (entirely?) younger than her, so she figures that's why--ganged up on her and the boys were the typical kind of blustery misogynists boys tend to be on reality shows in which they have to actively compete with women, and Robin just sorta smirked awkwardly. It must be brutes magutes having to sit there, months later, and watch on the big TV box as everyone you hung out with for a month or so in Las Vegas says really horrible things about you. Ah well. The wages for reality infamy, I suppose.

Domestic psychosexual dynamics aside, the kids actually did some cooking this week. There was a fairly uneventful QuiF that involved these actually kind of delicious snack products that they sell at the deli around the corner from my apartment so I wanted to eat everything. The QuiF was notable also because the guest judge, a greasy pig farmer name'a Zeke, had to pretend that he didn't favor the Brothers Grim, with whom he'd worked before. He totally did prefer them over all others, but 'evs, he couldn't let them win or his whole spot would be blown, so he gnarled his greasy grin and pointed his pitchfork at the horrid Eli and said "You there, Jewboy. I reckon you done did the best. Kinder ironic, ain't it?" Then he cackled and slapped his knee and took a long, greasy pull from his jug of moonshine and Padma swooned and fell in love. So Eli was happy, which makes me unhappy. Because Eli is sooooooo annoying and full of himself. At least he got a little bit of comeuppance this week. I'll tell you about it in a bit. Don't worry!

So once the QuiF had been windily dispatched with, it was time for ey'body to draw knives. Each knife had a picture of a pig on it (it was Ash, waving to the camera at the Grand Canyon) and had a word too. Basically the word meant what cut of pig you got. I dunno, some people had pork belly, others had pork chops, and somewhere a mama pig wept because she didn't have a piglet. The Lady Who Will Probably Kill You ended up with a knife that said "Wild" (this was with a picture of Ash at a discotheque, arms up in the air, making a kissy face to the camera) so she decided she'd go with pork belly too because why the F not, what am I, some sorta retarded person ovah heah? Some sorta gimp? Naw, I'm a chef, and I'm very likely going to take this Ash knife here and put it right in ya face. So how's about that. (That's how she talks.)

I don't know! Can I be honest? I kind of didn't miss writing about Top Chef that much, mostly because I was a little sick of writing about food. Because I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to food. I know you must be shocked to read that my strange diversions into the made-up personal lives of these cheftestants were but masks meant to cover up the fact that I don't know a cornish game hen from DJ Qualls' face. (Actually, those two are the same thing, bad example.) Plus, unlike Project Runway, how can I really assess anything on this show? I didn't taste it! Some of my peers in the recapping industry talk like they ate the food, and that's just kinda geigh. And I don't wanna be geigh. So let's plug away here and see what we come up with.

Basically what had happened: So they got their meat assignments (more people, more things, more events should have Meat Assignments. "Welcome back, students. Hope you all had fun and productive summers. Here are your syllabuses. Oh, and don't forget to get your Meat Assignment on your way out at the end of class." OR "I'm flying United. Ugh. Six hour flight. At least I was assigned a window seat." "Well that's good. But what's your Meat Assignment?") and were whisked off in Padma's rusted out molester van to Zeke's famous Las Vegas restaurant. It's famous because it has this enormous wine case thingy that's so big the waiters have to use harnesses to soar up in it to get various wines they want. It's also famous because at some point every night--you don't know when exactly, that's the fun of it--Zeke comes blasting out of the kitchen, firing his shotgun, and playing banjo music really loud. He steals one female customer and makes her his "Gypsy Bride" and she goes to live in his holler in Summerlin. (See what I mean about pointless, un-food-related digressions?) Anyway, there was a wine tasting set up for all the kids because they had to pair their pig pot with some sorta grapey juice. Everyone just got totally canned and wandered around mumbling to themselves, which--now that I know that's how the professional chefs do it--makes me feel better about my own wine drinking habits. Eli was being straight-up gross, saying things like "There are a 150 wines by the glass at my restaurant, so I know wine." and "I'm seeing some pretty unsophisticated palates here." Oh snarf, you idiot. You should have also said "And I'm very popular with Japanese schoolchildren, because I look like a Pokemon."

Unfortunately Eli, approximately zero Japanese schoolchildren were invited to Zeke's big Pigs 'n Pinot desert wasteland party. Luckily, someone remembered to invite Padma and Papa Bear and another guest judge, Sabrina's Aunt Zelda (green hair). So they slopped and gulped and gargled and masticated all over the place. They were just masticating right there for everyone to see. At one point Padma was like "Whoa, whoa. Tom. Tommy. Slow down there. You're gonna hurt yourself if you masticate so hard." Aunt Zelda nodded and said "You could go blind!" Once everyone was done masticating and they all felt sorta dirty and guilty, it was time to go assessing. Remember that Eli comeuppance I deftly foreshadowed earlier in this novel? Well, here it is: They said his wine was paired really badly with his dish. Ha ha ha ha! Get it? Because he was being a total bragging Pokemon about his wine knowledge ("Winezyo Pokemon... Goooo!")? Yeah. Well, OK, screw you, I found it satisfying. But not as satisfying as masticating at least three times a day.

MOVING ON. In the top there were no surprises. Though she totally bit biscuits in the QuiF, the Lady Who Will Use This Waffle Iron to Make Belgian You-ffles redeemed herself and ended up in the top four. Toby Young said her dish reminded him of armpit hair. Like in a good way. Toby Young is a complete assclown. Guess who else ended up in the top four. C'mon, just guess. No, not Lurleen. (Guess where she ended up. Aunt Zelda said she made cat food.) No, Hap Blapgood is no longer in the competition. Duhhh. It was Uncle Applewood the Bacon Man and the two brothers, oldster Bryan and sexiest-thing-walkin'-on-sticks Michael. They're always in the top! (Heh. Michael. "Top.") Of course because this was a pork challenge and Uncle Applewood's insides basically look like Ash's outsides, he won the damn thing and he will get to be a "guest chef" at next year's Pigs 'n Pinot. Which, yes obviously, means he's going to be put on a spit and served.

Also getting an apple shoved in his noise-hole and skewered on a spit (he's used to that--adult jokes!) will be Ash. Because Ash had to wave his meaty paw and saw bye-bye to everyone last night. I know what you're thinking. Robin, WTF? And Lurleen? Wait. Who the hell is Lurleen? Oh, I don't care. Robin! Ridiculous. Next week, my treasures. Next week will be her week. Because it's restaurant wars. And Restaurant Wars are the greatest and most satisfying episodes of Top Chef every season. And we demand the satisfaction of seeing Robin sent back to her rightful place.

I'd settle for Lurleen though. Or Eli.

Omigod, guys. We're getting to the point where one of the brothers might have to go. Can you believe we've made it this far?

Oink.

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