Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode Two

On this week's episode of Top Chef Masters, we were introduced to five new competitors, two of which will go to the championship round:

Swedish Chef by way of Ethiopia, Marcus Samuelsson, playing for UNICEF Tap.
Flavor-Spray dude David Burke, playing for Table to Table.
Make-up eschewing Monica Pope playing for Recipe for Success.
The tiny, hobbit-like Carmen Gonzalez playing for the ASPCA.
French dude in a hat, Thierry Rautareau playing for Food Lifeline.

For the Quickfire, Kelly Choi instructs the chefs to create an extraordinary grilled cheese sandwich. April is Grilled Cheese Month after all! The sandwiches would be judged by Kelly, who looks like she hasn't eaten since last season. Seriously - the girl is frighteningly skinny. After taking minuscule bites out of each offering, Kelly proclaims Monica Pope's Moroccan feta-and-raisin bread concoction the winner of $5,000. Although feta and raisin bread doesn't sound the least bit Moroccan to me, I feel myself start pulling for Chef Pope to win this week; there's something immensely likable about the woman.

For the Elimination Challenge, Kelly tells the chefs they are "going Hollywood," which means, I assume, they are all going out for spray tans and nose jobs. But no! They will be preparing food for some dude named Mekhi Phifer's birthday party. What? He was on "E.R." ? Sorry, never watched it. And if it's not Clooney, who cares? Mekwho comes out and tells the chefs he wants soul food, and they pretend to be excited.

The chefs are shipped off to Whole Foods in vehicles provided by Lexus. Quickfire winner Monica gets to choose her protein first, and it becomes off-limits to the rest of the chefs. She picks shrimp to make shrimp and grits.

Back at the Top Chef kitchen, after an hour of prep, the chefs pack their foods to be transported to the party venue. The next day, Chef Carmen realizes her food must still be at the TC Kitchen and has to hop back into a Lexus and drive across town - in LA traffic - to rescue her dish. Meanwhile, we see the food has been SITTING OUT ALL NIGHT. And when I hear she's working with oysters and sausage, I feel a little queasy.

Meanwhile, while Carmen is on her rescue mission, Monica offers to prep her yucca for her, with Thierry's help. It's times like this when one sees the great camaraderie amongst professional chefs - even though it was a competition, they banded together to help one another. Except for the very smug Marcus Samuelsson who suddenly becomes a douchebag. Or maybe he's always been one and I haven't noticed. Monica and Thierry have wasted their time, however, because the yucca ends up burnt and un-usable. Chef Carmen returns and does what she can to salvage her dish in the brief time remaining.

Next we see the chefs serving the guests and the judges. Because there can only be one hat per episode, and it happens to be on Thierry's head, Gail Simmons is subbing for Gael Greene. But we at ATC are happy to see Ms Simmons because boobies trump cranial attire any day!

I continue to be unimpressed with Mekwho when I notice that not only does he talk with food in his mouth, he makes nasty loud lip-smacking noises while he chews. Something his mama should have slapped him upside the head for decades ago. Ugh.

Party's over! Next we head to Judges' Table and find that everyone loved Carmen's oyster and sausage stew THAT SAT OUT UNREFRIGERATED ALL NIGHT. It earns her 15.5 stars, enough for first place and a trip to the Championship round. Neither Thierry nor David scored high enough to stay in the competition, so it was down to kind, helpful Monica and douchey Marcus. To my chagrin, Marcus gets more stars and ends up going to the finals with Carmen. Bah.

We end the show with a scene of Monica, crying, saying that Marcus informed her that there was a lesson here - she should have just worried about her own dish. Meanie.

So what did you think about this episode? Were you hissing at Marcus every time he came onscreen? How do you feel about audible chewing? Please leave a comment!


David Dust said...

I didn't see the whole thing, but I was quite surprised that Marcus was such a douchenugget.

Kleo said...

I don't know...

Marcus wasn't the only chef who didn't help Carmen, another chef (whose name is on everything he does and yet I still can't remember it) didn't either. Plus, they burned the dish. How helpful is this? Obviously time was scarce, because cooks of this calibre don't just burn something - so Marcus made the right choice in sticking with his own food.

Who knows, if they hadn't burnt it, maybe Carmen could've done something with it still..

Look, Carmen made a mistake. It wasn't just bad luck or unjust circumstances. If that had been the case, then yeah, not helping her would've been douchey, but as it was, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Btw - so excited for the next round. I don't even know who I am rooting for the most - Moonen, Peele, Dufresne? Ludo would be very entertaining...:D

Anonymous said...

Okay, Marcus didn't want to help Carmen, it's competition I get it. The remark to Monica "what was the lesson learned here?" That's just rude and tacky. And finally Marcus admits to having a sister and brother in Ethiopia and they struggle everyday just to get clean water, and he's a successful chef, who is in a position to really help them personally. Are you kidding me?!! That's his family. wtf?? Insensitive and classless.

Kleo said...

The part about "what's the lesson here" was tacky and douchey. I agree. But the thing with his siblings: for one thing, they might not want to leave their country, which is where they grew up. And who knows how their life really is...I mean, maybe he just exaggerated it.

theminx said...

Actually, I think he meant brothers and sisters symbolically, not literally. He was orphaned and adopted so it's possible he doesn't know of any blood relatives.

Cliff O'Neill said...

I can always tell your unique voice, Minxy!

Glad folks are doing this, since I certainly can't. (Must save up my snark for PR and TC:DC.)

Oh, and Mekhi Phifer from the movie 8 Mile and how he was name-checked in "Lose Yourself."

Since I don't watch ER. The phone rang 15 minutes into the series premiere in 1994 and I didn't think I'd be able to catch up, so I never saw it again.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Marcus is a douche for not helping Carmen. Carmen is an idiot for forgetting her main dish back in the kitchen. I could not believe they put Carmen through after her using store-bought sausage. Not to mention, like you said, her food had sat out ALL NIGHT! Disgusting.

Dmail said...

Cliff - I have no idea who the hell you are but your comment about the phone ringing 15 mins into the ER premier nearly made me wet my pants!

That was just the funniest thing I've read all day!


theminx said...

Cliff - 8 Mile? Lose Yourself? Can't say I've seen/heard either. So I shall continue to think, "Mekwho?"

Cliff O'Neill said...

Oh, sweetie. 8 Mile. The Eminem movie. Lose Yourself is by various measures the biggest hit of the entire last decade. The song won the Oscar.

And Barbra Streisand said she loved it. Which is the probably oddest bit of trivia ever.

theminx said...

Bah. Neither worth my time nor effort. :)