Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top Chef TX rounds up their contestants,Work of Art gets ripped and a TAR couple needs to get a grip

The last of the 16 contenders for Top Chef Texas were chosen last night,as the third group of potentials were given their special challenge by Padma,Judge Tom and new judge Hugh Acheson.

The chefs had to pick trays of various ingredients to cook with that had pre-set timers underneath covers. Once everyone had chosen their tray,the clocks were revealed. One group had twenty minutes to cook,another had 40 and the last batch were granted 60 minutes.

The time restriction was tricky for some,like Chaz who didn't have his risotto plated when the clock ran out and had to pack his knives and go. He was worried about having only 40 minutes and was nearly done but a last minute inspiration came way too late for him.

On the other hand,Beverly managed to make her Korean style octopus tender enough to wow the judges. She was concerned with the toughness of the fish and sliced it into small chunks,which turned out well for her. It'll be interesting to see how far she goes in the competition.

After the third group was finished up,only two spots remained open. The chefs who were placed "on the bubble" then had their chance. They were allowed 45 minutes to cook whatever they wanted within the stocked TC pantry.

Laurent decided to go with a duet of scallop,with a tartar and a seared one with saffron and fennel. Judge Tom was repulsed by the raw version,saying it looked gray and unappetizing. The flavors for the whole dish didn't mesh very well for any of the judges and Laurent's second chance was his last.

Out of the six folks on the bubble,Ed was the first one to earn his TC jacket. His barbecue duck was a little overdone but the Asian custard that he made with it helped him over that hurdle. Ed cut his hand pretty badly during the cooking process but just slapped on a glove and kept right on going,which gives him a few bonus point there.

Joining Ed was Grayson,who wound up in the bubble group due to the hacked up piece of meat she had to work with on her earlier try-out. Her bacon wrapped shrimp was made exceptional by adding fig(which goes well with bacon,according to Judge Tom and Hugh),a risky yet good choice that paid off.

I'm glad that she made it and looking forward to seeing the first Quickfire of the season next week,that has a scary surprise in store for the chefs. Just be glad you don't have to cook this lively protein on a plane!

At the beginning of this week's Work of Art episode,the artists were taken to the printing offices of the New York Times to choose a headline from the old papers dumped on the floor as their inspiration.

They also had to use actual newspaper in their piece and while immunity is no longer an option,the prize for this challenge was 20 grand and having your artwork displayed in the NYT lobby.

One of the pieces considered for the win was Dusty's take on an article about rising depression in America,due to the economy.

His map of the country with silhouettes of sad citizens played well to his strengths as a mixed media artist but I don't understand why Dusty kept insisting that this was a "dark" work for him.

Dude,you made a trashcan that chastised people for eating fast food and one of your portfolio pieces is an American flag made up of toy soldiers. There's no need to distance yourself from doing something like this at all,particularly when it was relevant to the theme given here.

Lola's,on the other hand,was another one of her typical messes yet the judges seemed enthralled with it. She picked a solid topic,an article about the makeshift weapons that Libyan rebels had to work with,but her array of newspaper covered tools and a barely visible under direct lighting sketch looked scatter shot at best.

For the second time in a row,Young was the winner. His piece about the persecution of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei consisted of bundles of blacked out newspaper with his own headline about the artist's disappearance on them.

It was pretty basic but got the message across in a very direct yet compelling way. Young said that he plans to use the money to take his ailing mother to Korea,a trip that she's been wanting to make for awhile.

Sarah K. had her first critique with the judges but unfortunately,it was for her piece landing in the Bottom Three. She had a review of a memoir about author William Styron's mental breakdown and chose to shred the paper's type into teeny tiny pieces that were confusing both to their source and meaning.

The Sucklord was under fire once again,for his take on an article about the BP oil spill and their attempts to pay off those affected by the environmental damage. He did try to step out of his comfort zone and even abandoned his early efforts at it,creating stacks of artificial cash spattered with oil.

However,at this point,the judges(especially Jerry,who I have something in particular to say to in a moment)are less than inclined to appraise the Sucklord's work fairly.

They seemed rather peeved that he used strips of the NYT paper to bind the money,which was his way of incorporating the newsprint into the work as instructed,and then saying that it was meant as criticism of the Times for not hitting hard enough at BP in their coverage.

Gee,Jerry,would that particularly annoy you,since your wife is a senior art critic at the paper which is something that you should have at least mentioned to the artists before the critique? All I'm saying is that if guest judges on Top Chef can openly point out that he or she has worked with one of the contestants previously but will not allow that to affect their decision,so can you.

Bayete was sent home,for his set of doors that was supposed to be a mix of criticism of the flashiness of organized religion and a theater review of Sister Act. It was an incomplete thought at best and also an attempt to do something different that just didn't pan out for him.

Next week,the theme is street art and the artists have to make their own outdoors piece. Too bad Tewz was eliminated since this is right up his alley. This is also a team challenge,which should pump up the drama rather nicely.

Being overly competitive is the norm for the teams on The Amazing Race but Ernie and Cindy really take the cake for this season. Not only have they been griping nonstop,even though they're been in the lead for some time now,the two of them actually got upset that they wound up in second place on the last leg.

The surfer dudes Tommy and Andy barely beat them to the Pit Stop in a mad dash on the beach and instead of being happy that they are still in the running,Ernie and Cindy whined about their brief loss instead.

They should have been kicking themselves for cashing in that Express Pass of theirs so soon(they'll regret that not before long). I think they were even getting on Phil's nerves and he's seen his share of self indulgence on this show. You need to get over yourselves,Ernie and Cindy,or the game will get over on you:


THANKSGIVING LIVE: On the Sunday before Turkey Day,Food Network is hosting a live cooking of a typical holiday feast with some of their notable chefs. Nice to see at least one channel that is willing to embrace Thanksgiving rather that give it the bum's rush in favor of Christmas:

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