Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Top Chef TX parties in Dallas,Work of Art drives off and TAR flexes their muscles

The gang on Top Chef Texas took a bit of a road trip,as their next Elimination Challenge was to take place in Dallas. On route,they stopped for a Quickfire in a field,with Padma and John Besh(the special guest judge for this episode).

The field was set up with benches and very basic cooking equipment and the chefs had to use whatever was packed into the survival kits stowed away in their car trunks. Most of that stuff was prepackaged goods with no fresh food items whatsoever. One guy tried to use the corn that was growing from the far end of the field but that so did not work out.

Much to her surprise,Lindsey won this challenge along with immunity and five grand. Her club sandwich was made up of saltine crackers with tuna and served with French onion soup garnished with Vienna sausages. An odd combo,to be sure,but those flavors seemed to hit the spot for John Besh there.

Before they reached Dallas,the chefs were divided into groups for the next challenge, which was a progressive dinner party. What they meant by progressive was that that each course of the meal would be served in separate homes of the perspective hosts and their friends.

One household had the appetizers,the next one offered up the entrees and the last home dessert. Even though they worked together,each chef was allowed to make what he/she wanted(or thought the guests and judges wanted)and were judged as individuals.

Dakota was convinced that her banana bread pudding was too dry but it went over like gangbusters with the party people. She also served a banana mousse and a milkshake that was poured into edible date cups,a really nice touch. She landed in the Top Four for her efforts and to her relief as well.

Grayson joined her in the victory circle,for her chocolate sponge cake with caramelized bananas and a semifreddo. While it was a rather rich dish,that dessert delight was too good to be ignored.

The winner,however,was Paul for his fried Brussels sprouts appetizer. He added grilled prosciutto to the plate,which really enhanced the flavor of the sprouts that everyone agreed were properly prepared. I'm not a Brussels sprouts fan myself but I will say that his dish does look tasty.

Unfortunately for another member of Team Appetizer,his attempt at wit was his comedown. Chris C. whipped up a "cigar" that was mostly a chicken wrap covered in collard greens with the "ashes" consisting of cumin and caraway seeds.

Most of the diners found it unwieldy to eat,plus the chicken was dry. Yes,it looked convincing but taste was just as important as presentation here. As a result,Chris landed in the Bottom Four.

Next to him was Ty-Lor,with his pork tenderloin and summer slaw. The plating was considered to be pretty sloppy and rather old fashioned. The reviews regarding how well it did or didn't taste was a fifty-fifty mix at best.

The person who had to pack their knives and head for Last Chance Kitchen was Chuy. His entree was hailed as the worst of the bunch,due to the salmon being overcooked(the corn husks that it was served on show just how close to burned the fish was).

He claimed that the fish had to be cooked that long in order to make the goat cheese stuffed inside melty enough. That argument didn't hold water with the judges so maybe Chuy will have better luck with his second chance cook-off.

Next week,the chefs receive a French twist to their Quickfire and one of them gets a nasty injury that could put him out of the game. Everything is bigger in Texas,so they say, and that includes the risks,I guess!

On Work of Art,the remaining contenders were taken to a room filled with car parts and tasked to incorporate at least one piece into their next project. The winner for this challenge would get 25 grand,which had a lot of people give Young some serious side eye. Lola even tried to joke about pulling a Tonya Harding on him but the key word here is "tried",folks.

Lucky for him then that it was the two Sarahs who were up for the winning critique. Sarah K. used a pair of car seat covers that she sliced off to make a duel portrait entitled "Hide".

One cover was meant to represent her late father,who she went on many road trips with. While I thought that the arrangement of the covers on canvas did have a nice inkblot test configuration to them,it didn't particularly move me. Yet,it was a good creative use of the materials and worth a pat on the back there for Sarah.

Sara H. won this round for "Backfire",a piece that had a muffler shooting out white branches that reminded Judge Bill of Superman's Fortress of Solitude(someone misses the Sucklord,I think!).

She does deserve points for doing something outside of her comfort zone and doing it well but again,that art piece just left me cold.

I felt sorry for Kymia,who had an interesting concept but not the technical skills required to showcase it. She found a car key amongst her collection of parts and decided to grind the metal down to make stardust.

The star dust was then placed on glass frames and then put into a kaleidoscope box that broke down during the exhibit. Kymia's "Key to the Universe" had promise and to her credit,she knew that it wasn't her best work.

It was startling to see Lola get another pass on her scattershot presentation,since even the judges seemed tired of her work.

Dispensing with the rambling pretentious title(she should name songs for bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco,that's her true calling),her piece was a hodgepodge of crystal coated car parts,murky color prints and a picture of herself with little notations on it.

By the way,Lola,do you know what it means when you constantly trace over photographs and display them as your "drawings?" That's right,you are a Tracy Tracer,dear. Just be content with your station in life,already!

Speaking of station in life,Judge Jerry needs to take a reality check(and maybe a time out) as he went over the line in criticizing Michelle's work. True,her "Scenic Overlook" was a mess,due to her having too many ideas at once and not focusing on one solid notion.

Yet,there is no excuse for Jerry to lecture Michelle like a child and throw in her face how her being in a car accident should have made her do better here. Even in his blog,he admits that he yelled at all of the women in the Bottom Three,to the point where the crew and the producers were staring at him:

Then comes the elimination round, and I face my three faves at once: Kymia, Lola, and Michelle. That’s where my internal (and not so internal) drama begins. Though you don’t see it on the air, I started ranting during the taping: “How could you three do this to me! You’re all so good!” Things got so bad that the director called for a break, whereupon I turned around and saw the whole crowd of producers and directors looking on with concern.

I then tried to convince them to let us re-select the bottom three, and this time include Dusty and Young. They looked at me like I was bonkers. So I came back with this: “Let’s issue reality TV’s first ever post–Thanksgiving Day presidential pardon. Let’s not vote anyone off this week. Wouldn’t that be great?” Silence. I slunk off to brood by myself, coming back only to understand in my little art-critic heart what had to happen. And then it did.

First off,Jerry-you need to realize that this show is NOT about YOU. It's about the artists and I can see being disappointed at their work but that gives you no right whatsoever to talk to anyone like that.

Secondly,did it ever occur to you that Michelle's lack of focus on this assignment might be due to her car accident? You should know better than anyone else how sensitive artists can be,especially about personal traumas and instead of speaking to her in a thoughtful manner,your criticism was rude and below the belt. For shame,sir,for shame! That was badly done,indeed!

Michelle went home and she might be the better for it,if Jerry can't control himself during the crits. Next week,the artists have to work in pairs to sell their work on the street and Lola gets another chance to be annoying. I'm still tuning in,but miss the Sucklord dearly.

The Amazing Race stretched out their leg in Belgium,which resulted in Bill and Cathi coming in last by the time they hit the Pit Stop. Those two really did their best and a few of the other couples still in the running would do well to take a few cues from them.

Ernie and Cindy,for example,were once again bummed out about not being in first place. *Sigh* you two need to get a grip-at this stage,being the third team to arrive is a good thing,okay? Quit complaining and focus on the positive,seriously!

What delayed many of the teams was the body building contest challenge in Brussels. Each team had to don skimpy outfits and pose before a panel of judges,plus a cheering audience. These judges were not very forgiving when it came to presenting the proper positions on stage. This task may not have seemed too daunting at first but it was tricky to get a good score there. As usual,Bill and Cathi were real troopers and displayed themselves accordingly:


MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE: One of the highlights of the parade is watching segments of Broadway musicals and this year,we were treated to a medley from Spiderman:Turn off the Dark. All I have to say is that if this is the watered down version,I fervently hope that someone taped the original Julie Taymor production for future humorous reference(and DVD release):

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