Last episode: The judges tasted the dishes blind, which, as Fabio told us, did not mean the judges were wearing blindfolds. It meant that the judges didn't know who cooked what. What would we do without Fabio clearing up these things for us?
Seriously, I don't know why they do so few tastings blind. That's the way most cooking contests are done, because it's the most fair. Although it's reality TV, so maybe fairness is not a big priority.
Anyhoo ... Eugene and the blonde chick with the bangs -- Melissa? -- went home. Carla, to my relief, stuck around. She's kind of out there, but I like Carla.
Oh yeah, and they got a new judge, a Brit who seemed to be cut from the same cloth as Simon Cowell. Except Simon Cowell is smart and often right. This guy seems to like the sound of his own voice, but doesn't say much. But we'll see.
On to this episode...
They show Stefan acting like a jerk. Then lo and behold, they showed Hung, who was known as being a jerk in his season. At least he was a funny jerk, though. "I love food. I grew up eating food," he said once. "My monkey could cook ..." was another favorite. Hung is there to judge the QuickFire, which is to create a dish without fresh ingredients. They reveal a whole lot of canned stuff, and tell the chefs they have 15 minutes to cook. Top Chef has to have at least one QuickFire like this each season. Hung's was getting an aisle of the supermarket to cook from, and he created a kooky sculpture out of fruity cereal, and presented it with deadpan seriousness. I miss Hung. Carla is the only entertaining character this year. Oh, and Fabio.
The QuickFire winner: Stefan. Booo!!!!
And whaddya know, Hung wasn't there to plug anything! No cookbook, no restaurant ... gotta love him.
Next the cheftestants draw knives -- pig, lamb, and chicken. And knowing that we saw live animals in the previews, I worry that we're going to see some bloodshed. The challenge is simple -- to create a seasonal lunch including dessert for 16 people -- and if I were the chefs, I'd wonder what the twist was.
The next morning comes the twist...
"We are driving now and we see booshes and trees everywhere and I'm like, it doesn't look like we're going to the Whole Food Market," says Fabio. I know I shouldn't keep quoting him like this but him talking is often the most entertaining part of some of these episodes.
They are at the Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture, home to people who look like they are from Ithaca and could sing in the Sim Redmond Band. (A lot of my fellow Rochesterians will get those references.) Then the chefs will cook in Dan Barber's restaurant and serve lunch to more Ithaca types, I'm guessing.
And now I have a terrible feeling they'll be doing some killing. It will be like an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. They are all playing around with the animals and I'm just waiting for a farmer to say, "go ahead, kill one."
The chefs wind up in the kitchen and there are sheet pans with the proteins on them. Whew. No killing.
The food we see coming out of the kitchen doesn't blow me away, the way it did in previous seasons, but I think the point of challenge was seasonal and fresh. On the pork team, they show Fabio's ravioli with a major mound of pesto on top. Holy cow, does that look like a ton of pesto. The chicken team is criticized for cooking soup on an 85 degree day, which I don't understand. Didn't they just celebrate Thanksgiving in Rochester and Christmas at the charity event? Maybe this farm is like Camelot, where the weather is always perfect.
The British judge seems to wait for others to comment and then chimes in with an inane comment. As an example, Padma comments that Fabio's pesto overwhelms the pork filling. "The pesto is the big bad wolf that blows this pig's house down," the Brit says. Can someone please send that guy back where he came from?
Carla, Jamie and Stefan won. Two of those people are on my Top Chef team, but by now I've given up on winning a cookbook. And for winning they get ... nothing. This doesn't make any sense ... for winning a QuickFire they get immunity, and for winning an elimination challenge they get nothing, unless a guest judge is plugging something. At least this guest judge didn't send them home with a live animal from the farm.
Then the Brit judge talks about how he wants to have unprotected sex with a piece of meat, which conjures visions of him doing nasty things to farm animals. Please, please, can we send him home?
The elimination came down to team lamb: Leah, Hosea, and Ariane. What did I say about fairness not being a priority? I think Leah should have gone home. I never expected Ariane to stay to the end, but I thought her being chopped was a bummer this time.