Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Top Chef's childsplay,Vanessa burns out in Hell's Kitchen and a double dose of Diamond on Idol

This week's guest judge on Top Chef was Art Smith,Oprah's personal chef. He and Padma started off by introducing the Quickfire Challenge,which was to create an entree in fifteen minutes,using the provided packets of Uncle Ben's rice that were prominently displayed in the kitchen.

Antonia wound up winning that challenge by making a rice "salad",which was a favorite childhood dish made by her mother. After she recieved her immunity,the Elimination challenge was announced. It was to create a healthy meal for four people with a budget of only $10. That prompted Andrew to whine off-camera how he wouldn't be able to get anything good-"How can I make lobster with that?" Uh,you don't,dude.

The meals were to be served to kids at Common Threads,a charity devoted to educating children about food,and as an extra challenging bonus,each chef had to work with a kid volunteer. That worked out pretty well,actually. Everyone seemed to have a good time and no major mishaps occurred.

Most of the chefs went with chicken,which is a good choice for a low budget meal,but I did find it a little bit monotonous. I would've gone with chopmeat instead-Dale whipped up a turkey bratwurst that went well over well. One of the best chicken dishes was Nikki's. She made a "one pot" chicken with veggies number that was one of the first things she learned as a kid to cook at home. Not only did the kids and the judges love it,bonus points for slipping in some brussel sprouts without getting any

Antonia,however,was the big winner as her stir fry with whole wheat noodles and chicken was deemed the best. Since this was something she makes for her daughter at home,Antonia dedicated the victory to her little girl(aww!). Pretty damn good week for Antonia,I'd say.

Not so good of a week for Mark,with his QF turkey dish coming out very dry and his Elim dish of vegetable curry crapping out bigtime. It didn't help his case any by remarking at the Judges' Table"I think Tom doesn't like me." Mark,you are so lucky not to be on Hell's Kitchen with that kind of attitude.

In addition to that,he got snippy when the judges mentioned that he needed to add more protein to the dish(there were some peanuts in it,but they were overwhelmed by the sweet potatoes). Mark packed his knives and went home but I'd rather have seen Lisa leave. Not only was she bitchy about her underseasoned beans,I'm sick of her grumpy crossed arms stance every time she goes up for judgment. Better mellow out quick,Lisa,because next week is a huge wedding challenge and you're going to need to save your strength for that!

Vanessa tried to go back to work in Hell's Kitchen but had trouble with her bandaged burnt hand,so she went to Gordon Ramsey about it. He gave her the choice of staying or leaving and she decided to go. She wound up doing all of her fellow contestants a favor,since Ramsey gave them a break and didn't kick anyone else out the door this round.

That didn't make this dinner service a cakewalk;the guys had to deliver the new addition to the menu,a gourmet pizza created by Jen,door to door in a rickety little scooter car. Also,Louross and Rosann had a bad night;she screwed up her mashed potatoes and slowed things down while he couldn't get the steaks done right without Petrozza's help. Christina was in the weeds as well,with Jen not helping her with the desserts like she was supposed to:

Jen lost many of the brownie points she earned last week,by not only refusing to help Christina but campaigning for her to be thrown up on the chopping block at the end of dinner service. Not cool,Jen! You were assigned to appetizers AND desserts and it was your responsibility to pitch in there. You say Christina just likes to talk to hear herself talk? Well,you would know,being the resident expert!:

American Idol stretched out their running time yet again by having the contestants do two songs instead of one,something they usually do when the singer pool gets low.

Something different that they did do was to hold off on the first song criticisms until the midway point. That lead,of course,to the infamous Paula gaffe,in which she looked into that crystal ball of a brain that she has and talked about Jason Castro's second song,which he hadn't even sung yet.

Turns out that she wasn't far off the mark,since both of his tunes were complete and utter washouts(his rendition of "September Morn" was more phoned in than 911). Maybe she can take over for Dionne Warwick at the Psychic Friends network(is that still around?)after she gets tired of Idol:

While Brooke will babble no more on Idol this season,the Sanjay award for this round goes to David Archuleta for not only making "Sweet Caroline" sickening but for his less than rousing version of "America."

It was extra disappointing to have Archuleta take on two of Neil Diamond's biggest songs but to have him make "America" a pile of bland verbal mush was truly the worst. Imagine what Carly would have done with that song....sigh! Too bad nobody tried to do "Crackling Rosie",that might've been fun:



Syesha was in the Bottom Two again,even tho she did a great job with "Hello Again" and "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime." I don't know how long she'll last,but with next week's theme being Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame,she might have a tough time there. We shall see.

David Cook's second song was much better than his first,in my opinion,and by picking lesser known Diamond tunes,was able to make more of his own personal impression on them. That's it,Cook,sing smart not hard!:



Random Notes:

UGLY BETTY: Tonight's episode has special guests from Project Runway,Nina Garcia and this season's winner,Christian Siriano. Things do get fierce as Daniel's new love interest(who is also Wilhemina's little sister)starts to feel the effects of her switched out medication,thanks to Marc. Let the wild rumpus begin!:

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