Top Chef S07E02: Why Are You Hitting Yourself, Nerd?!

Ah, here we go. It is only week two of the competition, and yet, as the contestants get ready for their day, with the shaving and the pushups and the butter, already they are starting in with the “I’m here to win” interviews. Oh who are we kidding, they were doing that last week, too. Relax, contestants! For one thing, I am pretty sure you are all there to win? Because of how it is a competition and that is the point? I’m not even sure why you keep saying that. We know. Hush. “I’m here to try my best, hopefully come in tenth or eleventh, but learn a lot about myself and my craft and hopefully make some new friends,” said no one on a reality show ever. But also relax, contestants, because almost all of you stink. “I’m here to win” makes sense in the final four, or maybe even the final six, when you have proven yourself and/or managed to survive to the point where the group has been whittled down to a reasonable number of people. Until then, most of you are cannon fodder, as we will see during this week’s exciting Judges’ Table. But I am getting ahead of myself. First, the Quickfire!

This week’s guest judge is Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and “food initiative coordinator”. The contestants pretend to be excited and to know who he is. “He is important, he feeds the president,” says some guy. (Still way too many dudes on this show. Give me a few weeks to learn their names. What is this, school? Trust fall!) Anyway, the Quickfire this week is to pair up and make a sandwich. Because of bi-partisanship? So it’s going to be a PORK SANDWICH with a FILIBUSTER JUS. Get it? Politics. Everyone is like, “What? A sandwich? So easy! There’s definitely not going to be a twist that makes this harder than it sounds.” Whoops. Pay attention, guys. You are here to win!

The catch is that each pair will have to wear a conjoined apron, just like they do in the House of Representatives!

Apparently, this is hilarious.

Really, guys? It’s just an apron sewn late at night by a team of production assistants for a throw-away challenge on a basic cable reality show. You’d think these guys had seen SAM KINISON’S GHOST!

The one thing I have always thought about relay races is, yes, OK, sure, these relay races are hilarious and exciting to watch, and I can only imagine how much fun the people running these relay races are having, probably the most fun possible, but what all of these races are lacking is KNIVES. Problem solved.

So hilarious and fun! One guy keeps complaining that his partner is not helping enough because his partner is worried that he’s going to cut his hand. Uh, that is a completely reasonable complaint? He just keeps saying “I’m not going to cut your hand, bro,” which is the type of sentence that you can so easily hear right before hearing “I’m so sorry I cut your hand, bro.” Angelo says that he would be embarrassed to lose this challenge because he owns a sandwich shop in New York. It is interesting to hear Angelo talk about the things that would embarrass him, because frankly I find most of his behavior, and the things that he says, and the way that he looks embarrassing.

Anyway, welcome to Sandwich Town, population Some Sandwiches. They all look fine. I mean, seriously, incredibly hilarious aprons aside, these are highly trained chefs preparing sandwiches. Big whoop. At the end of the day, the worst-rated sandwiches are downgraded for being too boring (but still entirely delicious). Although that one lady from the Culinary Institute of America got busted when Sam Kass said that her sandwich was a mess to pick up and she was like “It’s more of a knife and fork sandwich.” Really? Because it definitely just looks like a regular sandwich, and you definitely let the judges pick it up in their hands where it then fell apart. I’m sure at the Culinary Institute of Technology they have an entire class called Letting the Customer Learn for Themselves. The winning teams are Kenny and Ed, and Angelo and Tracy. So basically Kenny and Angelo. Both made very delicious looking fish sandwiches. The coolest part of this show is how you never get to taste any of the food. You get to use your imagination! So neat. It’s like the Phantom Tollbooth of food, or whatever. Angelo wins. Kenny is pissed. Everyone is pissed, actually.

Elimination Challenge! So, because of MIchelle Obama’s genuinely important and compelling initiative to end child obesity within the next generation through rigorous institutional reforms, the chefs will make a mockery of all that by preparing a school lunch. I mean, seriously, child obesity is a serious problem, and the deep and consistent budget cuts made to public school funding perpetuates many of the lazy dietary shortcuts that result in children’s overconsumption of sugar and fat. Those endemic problems don’t have fuck-all to do with some James Beard nominee’s YOGURT FOAM. And do not even get me started on the “sherry braised chicken cutlet”. Not yet. Get me started on that in a second.

So the teams split up. They have a very small budget. $134 to feed 50 kids. But Sam Kass is taking $4 away for some elaborately explained reason that still doesn’t make that much sense. Seems kind of arbitrary. God forbid something on this show seem arbitrary. The gay guy on the show (no offense to anyone, but I mean, COME ON) says that he doesn’t think feeding 50 people is a problem, for him the problem is the budget. Uh, yeah. That’s the challenge Gay Einstein. “When I go out, I spend $150 on myself hahahahha,” he gay interviews. Again, no offense to anyone, but I hope that guy falls into a k-hole and has to leave the show.

Anyway: each member of the team is responsible for one dish. There is supposed to be a main course, a side dish, a vegetable, and a desert. And as an added twist: the food is supposed to appeal to children. “Perhaps I should rethink my ox-tail ragout over saffron polenta with carmelized radishes and sea urchin reduction,” says everyone on this show.

Shopping. Cooking. Tensions are mounting! This week, we have a new semi-villain in Kelly, who comes up with pork carnitas tacos (“kids fucking love tacos,” crass but true) and then cannot shut up about how she came up with pork carnitas tacos. Relax, Kelly! They are tacos! No one is confused about what tacos are. And you didn’t actually INVENT tacos, you just thought of them as a thing for kids to eat, which makes sense, because even when I was in school back in the 1500s, they served tacos in the cafeteria. “Were they pork carnitas tacos? Because I love to say pork carnitas and I seem to think that I invented the term pork carnitas even though I am not hispanic and I live and work in Colorado. Pork carnitas! Were they pork carnitas? You never did tell me if the tacos you ate in school were or were not pork carnitas tacos, which is my idea.”


The thing is, I respect taking pride in your work! And for as mad as the other people on Kelly’s team get about her steam-rollering them with her “idea,” it’s not like they really have her best interest at heart. But she is being pretty much a cunt about it. The thing that I don’t like about Kelly is that she reminds me of a lot of girls that I knew in high school and college (that’s right, I’ve been to college, and I knew girls, JEALOUS?!) who were just as self-interested and back-stabby as anyone else, but who liked to think of themselves as nice people who would never do anything selfish at the expense of someone else, and it’s just like, I’m sorry to demolish your self-image, but you’re a human being like the rest of us, and one of the defining characteristics of being a human being is being an asshole sometimes, so just be an asshole and acknowledge that you’re being an asshole and let’s move on. Kelly? Hand shake? Pixie haircut aside, enough with the “who me?” attitude because you’re kind of a dick. OK? OK.

Speaking of dicks, this guy would just hate himself if he didn’t confront Kelly about how he hates her.

Doctor Logic over here.

Anyway, they feed the kids. And the judges. The kids don’t care. I mean, I think the kids are just as excited to be on TV as anything else, which makes sense, because adults aren’t any better. “You’re telling me this is going to be on TV? Hell yes I will put that in my mouth! What? I might win $5,000? BONUS!” Can we please just go back to the Judges’ Table, situated in the World of Adults?

So, the losing teams are Team Kenny, Angelo, Tracey, and Ed, and Team Stephen, Amanda, Tamesha, and Jaqueline. Both of these teams seem pretty deserving of criticism. Team Kenny’s lunch had basically no vegetables in it except for a celery stalk with peanut butter on it. Good work, team! Meanwhile, Team Stephen had Jaqueline’s banana bread pudding with TWO POUNDS OF SUGAR IN IT (divided by 50 is 0.math cups per child!) and Amanda’s sherry chicken. Oh hell. Sherry chicken? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me with sherry chicken. If the challenge had been to prepare dinner for an AA meeting, sherry chicken would have been LESS INAPPROPRIATE than for a school cafeteria. What a clown. But also there is awesome fighting between the two teams over who is the stupider team. Team Sherry is all about giving Team Celery a stern lesson about the calorie count of peanut butter, forgetting entirely that Team Celery always carried the fact that Team Sherry used FUCKING SHERRY in their food as a secret weapon. When that weapon gets brought out, it is hilarious:

Kelly, Arnold, Tiffany, and Lynne (Team Alex, Tim, Kevin, and Arnold were somewhere in the gray middle) are the winning team. Kelly reminds the judges that she is the first person to have ever served pork in a taco, a dish that she has named Pork Carnitas Tacos after her beloved Grandpa Carnitas Jones. She wins. Everyone is happy to win, but they are tired of Kelly’s shit. That makes all of us.

The judges bring the losing teams back out to eliminate someone from one of them. There has been much discussion of whether or not Angelo threw the challenge because Kenny is on his team, since he had immunity and Kenny is his stiffest competition (no cooko). But here is the thing, Angelo, you STUPID: it is so early in the competition. Kenny is not going to get eliminated just because YOU made CELERY STICKS. The judges know that he is good at cooking, and there are so many crap chefs waiting in line to be eliminated that basically all you have done is shown Kenny your cards. Now Kenny knows what your cards are! You hold the Ace of Disliking Kenny.

Big deal. So Jaqueline goes home because in the challenge to make a healthy meal for children, she cooked two pounds of sugar with some bread.

Goodbye, Jaqueline. Turns out some of you (you) were there to lose.