The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link.)


I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

  • Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
  • Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
  • Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
  • Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
  • Melissa & Ade: Safe
  • Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
  • Kayla & Kupono: Safe
  • Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

  • Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.
  • Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.
  • Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.
  • Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.
  • Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.
  • Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.


In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

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The Wife:

Hell’s Kitchen is over. Danny won. And I do not fucking care.

I knew Andrea wouldn’t make it to the final three, because she sucks, although I think as far as creativity in the creation of dishes is concerned, it was pretty clear from the pre-Andrea-ousting challenge in which Ramsay cribbed Top Chef and asked his protégés to cook 100 tasting portions of their own creation for the same number of L.A.’s finest chefs (only one of whom I recognized, which just means I don’t live in L.A.). The girls fared much better than Danny in this one, as Paula’s olive oil poached sturgeon was favored by the majority of diners, with Danny’s blackened halibut with fruit salsa and fennel-basmati rice salad ranking as least favorite by the same number. Andrea’s chicken roulade with jalapeno butter came in somewhere in the middle.

Sadly, I have no choice but to let one of you win.

Sadly, I have no choice but to let one of you win.

Because of her win, Paula was taken out for a day of pampering and allowed to appear alongside Ramsay on Good Day L.A. That night at service, Ramsay put each of his three hopefuls through his skills-at-the-pass test, and all did fairly well. Andrea was a bit too aggressive up there, though, totally dogging Chef Scott and goading him to threaten to kill her. I doubt that was why she was ousted; it was probably more that she was trying too hard to be Ramsay-like. And she’d consistently failed prior to this.

My favorite bit of HK is when the final two get to design their own fantasy restaurant within the HK space. This time, after they’d sussed out their initial concepts, Ramsay whisked Danny and Paula away to Atlantic City to do his traditional “cook off in front of your new boss” at the Borgata. Danny won said cook-off, while back in L.A. his girlfriend terrorized the good tastes of the interior decorator by insisting that banquets be done a certain way with high-backed chairs that would have obscured the wall art . . . cool waves . . . with tacky, tacky, tacky-ass fish attached to them. Meanwhile, Paula’s biggest trouble was that the fire marshal wouldn’t let her have real candles on the wall, so her sister and mother settled for battery-lit votives instead.

In looking at their two restaurant spaces, it’s clear to me that Paula’s was the one I’d rather eat in. She strangely decided to call the place Sunergy (although I can think of hundreds of better names to illustrate that concept . . . say . . . Photosynthesis . . . Synthesis . . . Soleil . . . Synergy . . . however the fuck you say sun in Portuguese, even), but the space itself was gorgeous. She chose lots of booths lined in a luminous silvery-yellow fabric and chose place settings and linens that made the place literally glow. It was a perfect execution of that strange, strange name. And then there was Danny, who ended up naming his tacky seafood joint Velvet Hammer, instead of the slightly classier Susan Marie (in honor of his mother). Name + fish on walls = makes no sense.

At service that night, Ramsay brought back Ben, Gio, Carol, Andrea, LA and Lacey to serve as each finalist’s battalion. Danny chose Ben, Gio and Carol, while Paula chose Andrea, LA and wound up with Lacey by default. Lacey didn’t fuck Paula over too badly, actually. That honor fell squarely on Andrea’s shoulders when she kept fucking up the halibut dish, while on Danny’s side of the kitchen, Gio repeatedly served up some salty sauce. Both teams finished strong, though, leaving Ramsay with the tough choice of picking one of two equally matched chefs to bestow his prize upon. Ultimately, it was Danny’s hand that turned the doorknob to executive chefdom, which is fine, because he’ll be cooking food that fits the vision of the hotel, and will have absolutely no control over the design of his dining room, lest the head honchos at the Borgata want to go bankrupt. Paula has excellent taste, and I’m sure she’ll get the capital to open her own restaurant very soon. Mostly because I want to sit in those shiny, shiny booths and bask in that Brazilian glow.

FOX just announced its Upfronts and it appears that we’ll be served up another helping of HK next summer, with some Kitchen Nightmares stored up in the vaults for whenever FOX needs to fill a hole in their schedule. Fine with me. I’d much rather watch Bones and Fringe on Thursdays, anyway, because I’ve completely stopped caring about this show.

The Wife:

Man, does Gordon Ramsay ever love to do a completely non-surprising fake-out. He did it in both of these episodes and I was totally not surprised!

1. He called forward the two weakest chefs and asked them to hand over their jackets . . . . because there’s just one big ol’ team for the final six now! Whee! If only he were Tyra so sad bits of confetti would fall from the ceiling and Nigel would half-assedly shake a maraca . . .

2. After a terrible dinner service, he announced that he was going to, for the first time ever, SHUT IT DOWN! Nah, just kidding! By “shut it down,” he meant close HK for a day to ship everyone off to the Borgata to see the perks of the hotel that they’re never going to see or use while they slave away in a restaurant kitchen for 80+ hours a week. Inspiration!

Did that surprise anyone? Except maybe the contestants, because they were told to look surprised by the producers, or they are genuinely as dumb as I think they are and have never bothered to TiVo the show?

Anyway, in the first of these two wholly unique and surprising episodes, Ramsay asked the all-new black team to prepare a unique dish out of 14 ingredients. It doesn’t matter what those ingredients were because, to me, it appeared that practically everyone made the same damn dish.

  • Andrea: rosemary chicken skewers over pasta
  • Gio: pasta pomodoro with stuffed chicken
  • Paula: I didn’t even write this down, but it looked like everything else so far
  • Robert: the least chicken cacciatore-like chicken cacciatore I have ever seen (because last time I checked, it was a stew, not a pasta dish)
  • Danny: oven-roasted chicken with rosemary and some pasta
  • Ben: whatever the fuck this was, it was the best looking of all of these dishes


My problem with these dishes was mainly that even though pasta was an ingredient, it looked like none of the contestants actually integrated it into their dish. Like it was always an afterthought. But Ben! Ben plated that dish as though the pasta and the chicken drumsticks were meant to go together, not like it was something thrown together in the backroom of an Applebee’s when a vegetarian asks for something to eat. (Were you aware that Applebee’s salads come with meat, as opposed to being something you add meat to? On second though, don’t even get me started on Applebee’s.)

Trying really hard not to totally fuck up.

Trying really hard not to totally fuck up.

Ben won, and was rewarded with a culinary trip to San Francisco (!) for which he brought Robert along. By “culinary trip,” of course, that means riding around on a cable car all day and dining at One Market, a totally nice restaurant that’s a bit classic French in its sensibilities. I had some amazing pureed golden lentil soup there that they plated fucking tableside (who fucking tablesides a soup, man?) and a wild mushroom pie, also plated tableside. There was also an amazing Chardonnay there that my friend totally fell in love with. It’s Trione Vineyards Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2005, and he describes it as “crème brulée in a glass.” This is all fine – but I wonder how riding around in a cable car all day can constitute a “culinary trip.” Shouldn’t there have been a journey to Pier 1, where there is an amazing food market? (Curtis Stone has picked up ladies there for Take Home Chef.) Maybe a trip to get some clam chowder out of a sourdough bread bowl? Perhaps some Ghirardelli chocolates? I would have loved to see some more of this marvelous foodie city on HK, but I guess Top Chef already beat them to doing, oh, everything awesome.

While Ben and Robert were eating at the chef’s table in One Market, the losers had to deal with running in deliveries during prep time, and Gio pissed everybody off by being lazy as shit. There was some argument about being short two lobsters, which, after Gio ran down the delivery truck, it turned out that wasn’t the case at all. During service, Gio’s laziness continued as he served up lots of raw, bloody chicken prompting nary a “EWW COULD HAVE KEEEEEEEEEELED SOMEONE, EWW DONKAY!” from Ramsay. Instead, Ramsay called him a fuckface, which Gio insisted he was not. Listen, bro, if Ramsay calls you a fuckface, you are indeed a fuckface. Fuckface. And after putting a hot pan in the refrigerator, which subsequently burned Robert, Fuckface Gio was asked to give Ramsay his jacket and get his fuckface out of Hell’s Kitchen.

Then, to no one’s surprise, Ramsay did that “shutting it down” thing and sent everyone off to Atlantic City for a taste of the good life . . . that they’ll never actually have when they’re working really, really hard running their own restaurant. Robert spent most of his time ogling the Borgata Babes, which I’m sure his wife really appreciated it, considering they didn’t actually get married because he skipped his fucking wedding to be on this how. Robert’s girlfriend, whoever you are, you sure picked a winner. I can’t make fun of him too much, though as I do have a lot of sympathy for the mystery health crisis he underwent shortly after ogling those girls and swimming around in the Borgata pool. While everyone else sat down with Borgata execs for dinner and practical questions about the management of the restaurant they were all poised to win, Robert excused himself and sought medical attention for chest pains. He eventually was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation in the fluid sacs around the heart that could really fuck him up down the line. Robert returned to L.A. a couple of days after the rest of the crew and revealed his condition to them, along with the fact that, for the benefit of his health, he’d be leaving the competition. Dude was generally a great line cook, but the 400 pounds he’s carrying on his frame certainly can’t be good for that heart condition. If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll go back to working wherever he was working, marry the woman who loves him despite the fact that he openly ogled other women on national television and get healthy, probably by shedding around 150 pounds, if he can.

With Robert gone, the remaining four chefs were asked to prepare their signature dish, the best of which would win a guaranteed spot in the final three.

  • Danny the Gator Slayer: pan-seared sea scallops in a grapefruit and champagne coulis, by far the prettiest plate of the bunch
  • Andrea: green-tea crusted tuna on a rice cake
  • Paula: smoked salmon ceviche
  • Ben: pan-roasted tiger prawns, on a plate that I thought was incredibly busy but Ramsay seemed to love, which was only ameliorated by the fact that he thought it was the least tasty of the four
Sadly, Madam, immunity means I cannot eliminate you and end my grief now.

Sadly, Madam, immunity means I cannot eliminate you and end my grief now.

Andrea was awarded immunity, which irked Ben and Danny because her dish consisted of raw fish and cooked rice, and proceeded to totally squander it by fucking up severely during dinner service. Her fuck ups were only rivaled by Ben’s, who got thrown out of service by Ramsay. In the end, no one went home, as Andrea should have, but Ramsay is a man of his word, even if that word is “donkey.” At this point, I think the only person who can really win is Paula, who has miraculously shown the least personality throughout this competition and, subsequently, has made the fewest mistakes. Gator Slayer Danny will make a nice runner-up to her, no? He’d never be happy in Atlantic City, anyway. There are no gators to slay, only the palates of the elderly.

The Wife:

This may seem blasphemous to say, but there is a better modeling competition than ANTM. And I say “better” here in the sense that its more serious and pulls out the big guns, rather than making deals with commercial companies while all the while spouting out reminders that they’re looking for a versatile, high fashion model when they really are just looking for a CoverGirl. I like ANTM, nay, I adore ANTM, but Make Me a Supermodel freakin’ blows Tyra out of the water when it comes to serious, serious modeling.

My Bravo-watching friends and I were so blown away by the first season of Make Me a Supermodel that we tried to recreate the snow shoot on our own during a weekend in Tahoe where I wore orange ski pants and drank more than I have since college. We loved squirrel-shooting Holly, the West Virginia country girl with a passion for fashion, and the bromance between prison guard Ben and Perry Ellis-style model Ronnie, the former a staunchly heterosexual man working in a world that fears homosexuality and the latter a very openly gay man. We watched Ben overcome his anti-gay indoctrination and learn to love a gay man, and we were totally transfixed when news hit that contestant Perry’s girlfriend was seen palling around with Britney Spears’ ex, Adnan Galib. This show was stellar, and it still is.

This season, Nikki Taylor was replaced by Nicole Trufino for this season, and she and host Tyson Beckford took on the capacity of Tim Gunn-esque modeling mentors for the models, rather than placing themselves on the judging panel, which has been completely revamped to include model-maker Marlon, photographer Perou, the always fabulous Jenny Shumizu and designer Catherine Malandrino. It’s. Fucking. Fabulous.

The new cast of Make Me a Supermodel

The new cast of Make Me a Supermodel

For their very first challenge, the chosen models were thrown together in pairs into a plexiglass box, suspended above NY harbor. To make their introductions to their castmates even more awkward, they were asked to pose in sexy lingerie and capture an intimate moment while in that very visible box of doom while Perou shot them and called out directions on a megaphone. Amanda, a mom from Portland, paired of with Kerryn, aka “the white Karen.” Salome, the former Mennonite, paired off with sullen Gabriel. Brazilian-by-way-of-Pakistan Mountaha paired off with Trinidadian dancer Sandhurst, who has one of the loveliest accents ever to be heard on TV. Laury paired off with English Jonathan, with the black Karen paired off with gaysian Shawn. Super cute girl Jordan paired off with CJ from San Ramon, which is all kinds of near where I live. Ken, who is like a Ken doll, paired off with geeky Colin, who bears a very striking resemblance to actor John Francis Daley. This left macho dickmeat Branden to pair off with androgynous Chris, whom I shall refer to solely as Orlando because he sometimes looks like Tilda Swinton. (I recommend you see Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s excellent Orlando if you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.)

Immediately, I took a disliking to Branden who was uneasy about being paired with Orlando because he is, and I quote, “especially not gay.” He expressed a great amount of discomfort about having to pose with another man, let someone mistake him as gay. Branden, darling, I have news for you. You’re a male model. You’re going to meet and work with a lot of gay men. And people will assume things about your sexuality (which I entirely disagree with) simply because of your profession. And you will have to deal with it. And if you can’t deal with it, then you shouldn’t be in this profession. Or any profession, really. Because the gays are everywhere, Branden. They’re everywhere.

Perou seemed largely unimpressed with the Ken/Colin pairing, as well as the Amanda/Kerryn pairing. After the shoot, Nicole brought the models their books so they could see their photos, and told the models that each photoshoot would have one winner, and that winner would be awarded a coveted go-see. Cory Bautista then called to tell Salome that she had won, and that she could get a go-see at Catherine Malandrino’s store. She was able to take a friend, and Salome unwisely announced that she wanted to pick someone she might be able to win against. She chose CJ, who was none-too-happy at being told, basically, that Salome thought she was a loser. Honestly, I just don’t think former Mennonite Salome has much of a thought-filter. She seems like the kind of person who just hasn’t yet learned how to navigate the social conventions of the real world, so she has no idea that it’s inappropriate and kind of mean to say, outright, that she thinks she can best someone. It didn’t really matter, anyway, though, because neither girl booked a job from that go-see. CJ was too short, and Salome just couldn’t walk it out well enough.

For the first runway show, the models were asked to walk in clothes by Alexander McQueen and Prada (for the gents), as well as Zac Posen and Jean Franco Ferren (for the ladies). After which, Colin, Chris, Salome, Jordan, Ken and Sandhurst were called in for judging as the best and the worst of the week. Catherine Malandrino really dislikes Ken and points out that he’s not quite the right size or shape for male modeling. She isn’t fond of Colin, either, but describes him as interesting because he looks like a dreamer. She’s French, so I can’t tell if that was a compliment or not. Perou also dislike Ken and calls him The Incredible Hulk, which is the opposite of what you want to be when you’re a male model. They gave the win this week, plus immunity next week, to Jordan, who walked the runway well in a difficult dress, and gave Ken the boot.

In the next episode, the models were asked to do a candy-themed photoshoot with Suza Scolora where the make-up artists went totally nuts. Everyone on set was basically naked except for some little nudie panties. The girls got some petals to put over their nips, but other than oodles of glitter, candy and body paint, they didn’t really have anything on at all. This was a cute for Branden to not only be a homophobe, but a completely unprofessional chauvinist, as well. And while I appreciate that he used the term “boobie wow wows” to describe CJ’s breasts, if he’s going to be in the modeling industry, he needs to start treating nudity like it’s no big thing and stop fucking staring so lustfully at his colleagues. Sandhurst gets it; he admitted that it takes quite a lot of concentration to not get excited on the set. And it does, but that’s what you do because it’s your fucking job. This shoot, by the way, was much classier than the candy shoot from ANTM Cycle 8, although I wonder why this shoot didn’t go the ANTM route and give each model a different candy to embody. Instead, there were two folks posing as chocolate, a handful of pixie stix, two lollipops, etc. Surely, there were more candies available, weren’t there?

Gabriel, Salome and Mountaha all posed as pixie stix, and the girls definitely did a better job than Gabriel did, who managed to do the most sullen impersonation of Ziggy Stardust imaginable, looking completely unhappy to be covered in orange body glitter and a messy orange anime wig. Come on, dude! Why wouldn’t you be happy to be covered in orange body glitter? It’s like coming home from prom!

Chris/Orlando and Kerryn had to become “sprinkles,” which I argue is not a candy, but an ice cream topping. Both of them looked a litlte too much like the cover of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, but Orlando definitely looked like Tilda Swinton in his shot and that was kind of fabulous.

It's like Woolf wrote a slash fiction where Orlando has sex with Willy Wonka. Whoa. Someone totally should write that slash fiction!

It's like Woolf wrote a slash fiction where Orlando has sex with Willy Wonka. Whoa. Someone totally should write that slash fiction!

Laury and Shawn became rock candy, which was weird, to say the least. The makeup here did look like rock candy, but it also looked like they had severe psoriasis and their skin was slowly peeling off.

Karen and Colin had to pose as chocolate, and while Karen totally made herself a hot chocolate goddess, Colin mostly looked like he’d been murdered in a black and white film and then covered in tin foil. Seriously, chocolate dripping out of his mouth looked like blood. I was worried for his safety.

Sandhurst and CJ became gumballs in the first shoot that had very different styling for its male and female participants. Sandhurst was painted with little gumballs all over his chest, and posed so gracefully with a gumball wedged between each finger. CJ had her hair transformed into a ponytail held together by giant blue balls, which was cool and reminded me of a science project. She looked very uncomfortable, though.

Amanda and Jonathan became lollipops and I think the makeup department did its worst job here. Amanda looked like she had been painted by a six-year-old girl with a My Little Pony fetish, and Jonathan, for some reason, only had lollipop stripes down his arms. He, too, looked somewhat equine, as they styled his hair like a mane. Surely there was a better way to be a lollipop than what the makeup folks came up with here, right?

Seriously, what the fuck is this? It's like Planet Unicorn.

Seriously, what the fuck is this? It's like Planet Unicorn.

Branden and Jordan got the best makeup of the night when they were transformed into candy canes. Outside of the photo, this makeup was extremely creepy, but both of their photos turned out amazingly.

Jordan was awarded the winner of this photoshoot and got a go-see at Miss Sixty. She decided to bring Moutaha with her, but neither model booked the job. Mountaha was considered too edgy for the brand, and the reps from Miss Sixty did not care one bit for Jordan’s giant hips. In the first episode, the show continued its tradition of making the models strip so Cory could measure them and keep track of their weight, as well as given them areas in which to improve. They noted things like Salome’s fat ass, Mountaha’s strangely un-Brazilian body and Colin and Orlando’s exceptionally small chests. (Male models should be 40″ in the chest. They were 36″ and 37″, respectively.) But I was surprised then that they didn’t note at all how huge Jordan’s hips are in comparison to the rest of her. I mean, I would guess that she’s like me: a 0/2 on top, and a 6/8 on the bottom. She takes a fierce picture, but I’m incredibly shocked that the discrepancy in her size hasn’t been a problem on the runway thus far. Those hips, though, lost her that Miss Sixty job. Someone’s got to notice that.

Even though this is a great picture, I still don't like candy canes.

Even though this is a great picture, I still don't like candy canes.

Then it was makeover time, and I was so happy to get two makeover episodes in one night! Tabatha from Shear Genius and Tabatha’s Salon Takeover dropped by to assess the model’s looks and assign them new, edgy New Zealand Cat Lady approved hair cuts. CJ started being a total bitch about her hair and how she doesn’t want it cut or colored because she has “natural” blonde hair and people would kill to achieve what she has. CJ, I’ma call you on your shit, girl. You have highlights. You have a multi-tonal blonde that is a mixture of natural and salon. And frankly, her reluctance to give up that blondeness just smacks of San Ramon, a wealthy community filled with blonde trophy wives. That’s nice work if you can get it, CJ, but you’re a model now. Suck. It. Up.

Tabatha took the models to a salon run by fellow Kiwi Rodney Cutler. For a second, I thought we were entering Flight of the Conchords‘ “New Zealand Town.” Some drastic changes were made to the models’ hair. Chiefly, Jonathan had his long hair cut off into a short cut that makes him look sexy in a Jude Law-ish way, Mountaha got bleached out like Tabatha and Tabatha herself chopped CJ’s hair into a really cute razored cut dyed chocolate brown. CJ hated it.

For the catwalk challenge, Tyson and Nicole asked the models to walk in pairs assigned according to height and look. Branden walked with Sandhurst, Shawn with CJ, Jonathan with Karen, Salome with Colin, Mountaha with Chris, Jordan with Amanda (whom she hates, apparently), and Gabriel with Laury, leaving Kerryn to walk alone. How sad for her. They kept up the candy theme by giving the models eye-popping sportswear and sports equipment made out of candy as props. The best bit of this show was in Mountaha and Jonathan’s end pose, where he swung his licorice whips like a golf club and she mimed watching the ball during his follow-through. Very clever.

Jonathan -- workin' it out.

Jonathan -- workin' it out.

Colin, Gabriel, CJ, Jonathan, Jordan, Chris and Branden were called out as the best and the worst of the week. None of the judges are happy with Gabriel at all. They hated his dour photograph and blasted his runway pout. Nicole gets angry with CJ for acting like she doesn’t give a shit, yawning on the runway and whatnot. She calls her a tasteless version of Kate Moss. In the end, Branden wins immunity for next week and, unfairly, they send Orlando home. I blame Catherine Malandrino for this entirely, because she was the most vocal about disliking Chris, when everyone else seemed so set to prevent Gabriel from becoming a supermodel.

The Husband:

My wife basically took my spiel, that Make Me a Supermodel is a great show because it’s actually about talented professionals honing their craft, while ANTM is about molding amateurs into Tyra-bots. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. ANTM is still my favorite reality show on television because, I reiterate, I have never once been bored for one minute with the crazy Tyra-verse, but sometimes I like to see stuff about the actual industry.

You know a good comparison for the discrepancy between MMAS and ANTM? MMAS is a bitchier Top Chef, and ANTM is less bitchy Hell’s Kitchen. I think that’s pretty fair, no?

I also sorely miss A Model Life with Petra Nemcova, an eight-episode series from 2007 that followed the titular person leading a handful of struggling female models in the industry not as a competition, but basically as a cable television documentary. There were no eliminations – although that one chick (Angelika?) got straight-up fired by the end of the season – and it didn’t pit all the models against each other, as they were different types for different kinds of fashion.

Basically, if a show is good, I will watch it. But while I may get more pure entertainment out of ANTM, I actually learn stuff from watching MMAS.

And what did I learn this week? Big hips may be sexy to me, but designers no likey. (Wife’s Note: Damn straight they sexy!)

The Wife:

And so we come to the end of yet another season of Top Chef and, to be honest, while I am surprised by the eventual winner, I actually don’t give a shit. Last year, I was heartbroken to see congenial Richard Blais shoot himself in the foot and lose to Stephanie Izard, who, for all intents and purposes, was a fine chef and my second favorite competitor of the season. It was a win-win situation that year. Everyone was nice to each other, helpful and respectful, and I loved them for it. This year, I lost interest after Jamie left. I don’t know why, but the finalists this year just didn’t do it for me. I don’t even think it would have been an interesting match if Fabio had survived to talk about monkey assholes another day. Knowing that Fabio was the only ounce of pizzazz this show had left after Jamie’s departure, though, the Bravo executives invited him to tag along to the final challenge, perhaps in the hopes that he would say something about monkey assholes.

Unfortunately, he didn’t, and we were left with a really bland episode that only had a few interesting aspects to it. Tom and Padma instructed the remaining cheftestants that their mission would be to cook the best three-course tasting of their lives at New Orleans’ legendary Commander’s Palace. To help them out, they brought back season two’s villainous Marcel (whom I loved and will always love), season three’s fish-out-of-water Casey (who doomed herself in Aspen by not remembering that cooking temperatures vary in high altitudes) and my beloved Richard Blais from season four. The cheftestants drew knives to determine the order in which they would choose their sous. Hosea got the pimp knife and chose Blais, which was certainly the best choice of the three. Stefan got to choose second and took Marcel, definitely the second best choice of the three, and Carla got stuck with Casey, at which point I knew she was doomed.

The chefs and their sous got a few hours to prepare their menus that day and they began frantically racing around the kitchen, hoarding ingredients. Hosea tried to steal more than his share of foie gras, and Stefan got all up in his grill about it, eventually losing out and only getting one of the three bricks of foie provided. (Hey, guys? I’m pretty sure Bravo provided three bricks of foie so you could each have one. At least give Carla a chance to succeed, jeeze.) Hosea and Blais also stole all the caviar. At the end of their first day of prep, Tom dropped by to deliver the twist on their final challenge by adding an extra dish to the menu. Tom requested that each chef create a tray-passed appetizer using one of three traditional New Orleans ingredients: redfish, blue crab and gator. Who would get what was determined as all things are allegedly determined in New Orleans: King Cake-omancy, or, whoever finds the baby Jesus within that spicy delicious confection gets to pick first. Just as before, Hosea got to choose first, as well as designate which of his competitors would have to work with that new protein. He chose the redfish for himself, gifted Carla with crabs and saddled his biggest competitor Stefan with the gator.

For my money, Stefan was lucky to get the gator. Gator’s actually quite tasty, if a bit fatty and oily. And he got the best line of the night when, upon seeing the gator, he proclaimed:


“Alligator is a wacky meat. It’s like having a kangaroo eat a fucking raccoon – what’s the point?”


That’s a pretty fair assessment of gator meat, and pretty damned funny.

The Menus

Hosea

  • trio of sashimi
  • scallops with foie gras and pain perdu
  • vennison loin with wild mushrooms
  • and a passed appetizer of blackened redfish on a corncake with creole remolaude


Stefan

  • hailbut and salmon carpaccio
  • squab with braised red cabbage and schupfnuedlen
  • strachitella ice cream with chocolate mousse, vanilla syrup and lollipops
  • and a passed appetizer of gator soup
The result of a kangaroo eating a raccoon: gator soup.

The result of a kangaroo eating a raccoon: gator soup.

Carla

  • seared red snapper with saffron aioli and crouton
  • sous-vide NY strip steak with potato rod and merlot sauce
  • cheese tart with apple coins and marmalade
  • and a passed appetizer of shiso soup with crab


Hosea and Blais had a productive and unproblematic prep time, which I largely attribute to the fact that both of those men do know how to work well and get a job done. Stefan decided to freeze his carpaccio dish so he could slice it thinly, which Marcel was uncertain about, but figured it wasn’t his contest to lose so he wasn’t going to say anything and just work on making lollies instead. And then there’s Carla, who basically made the crucial mistake of listening to the person who came in third place in her season because she couldn’t remember to adjust her cooking temperatures for the Colorado altitude. Upon hearing that Carla wanted to make strip steak, Casey suggested they sous-vide it, a cooking technique that makes the meat cook evenly, but not something I would ever imagine someone would do for a steak. Then Casey suggested that Carla step up her game by turning the cheese tart into a cheese soufflé . . . a soufflé that then burned in the oven and was unable to be served. I attribute this soufflé disaster not only to listening to Casey, but to Carla’s “I cook with love!” game plan. Why? Let me point you toward Billy Wilder’s Sabrina:


“A woman happy in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappy in love forgets to turn on the oven.”


Love. It ruins soufflés. Make note of that, everyone.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COOK WITH LOVE!

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COOK WITH LOVE!

At service time, the judges and guests such as Branford Marsalis and Fleur Du Lys’ Hubert Keller were very pleased with everyone’s passed appetizers, particularly with Stefan’s gator soup. For the first courses, they liked all but Stefan’s, which they thought was too watered down. No one liked Carla’s sous-vided steak, but they loved Hosea’s scallops and foie and were ecstatic about Stefan’s squab. As for the third course, Hosea’s venison was declared the best of all his dishes, and the clear winner of that round as everyone was confused by Stefan’s 1982 plating of some tasty-enough desserty bits and very disappointed in Carla’s plate. Oddly, she chose to explain that there should have been a soufflé on the plate, breaking one of Julia Child’s pieces of advice about mistakes made while cooking:


“Remember, you are alone in the kitchen. You must stand by your convictions and just pretend that was the way it was supposed to turn out.”


It would have been appropriate for Carla to explain the failings of her dish at Judges’ Table, when she would have needed to defend that pitiful plate, but not while serving it to her guests, who proceeded to eat that dish with the taste of failure on their tongues. She knew she fucked up, and she knew she fucked up bad. I was surprised to have seen her come this far, but the fact of the matter is this: Carla has a lot of potential under all that hooty-hooing, but she doesn’t have the kitchen wherewithal to back it up. She let Casey talk her out of perfectly good ideas, and burned her soufflé with all that filthy love. It was clear she wasn’t going to win even before the end of Judge’s Table, when Padma rightly declared after the cheftestants had left:


“I think we can all agree that Carla’s probably out of the running.”


After much debate in which Toby Young kept trying (and failing) to convince everyone that Hosea’s meal wasn’t complete because he didn’t do a dessert, the judges decided to award the prize to Hosea anyway, noting that, overall, his last meal was better than Stefan’s, who basically lost the title due to a watery carpaccio.

The real Top Scallop: Hosea's scallops and foie with pain perdu.

The real Top Scallop: Hosea's scallops and foie with pain perdu.

Let this be a lesson to you all:

  • No one wants to eat a frozen, watery carpaccio.
  • Never listen to Casey.

and, most importantly,

  • Love will make you burn your soufflés.


Thanks for watching Top Chef with me, everyone. Should you miss hearing my thoughts about foodstuffs, start reading my rants about Hell’s Kitchen. I yell just about as much as Gordan Ramsay does.

Until next season, I must pack my knives and go.

The Wife:

Can I start this Top Chef article with a little nugget about my Oscar party this weekend? Okay, because I’m going to. I’ve created a menu evocative of the Best Picture nominees, and there are two things I’m really excited to make. One is something called a Watergate Cake with Cover-Up Icing, a recipe popular with housewives during the Watergate era that uses, for no other discernable reason than its newness to the instant pudding market, instant pistachio pudding. Clearly, that’s my homage to Frost/Nixon. I mean, come on! Instant pistachio pudding? I can’t fucking wait to make this delicious abomination. The other thing I’m looking forward to cooking is a mushroom jambalaya in honor of the New Orleans setting of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which I’m adapting from an Emeril Lagasse recipe. That said, this episode totally put me in the mood for proper Cajun cooking and I am extremely glad that Bravo managed to synch up its programming with Mardi Gras so that the finale can utilize all the best that New Orleans has to offer. And that includes Emeril Lagasse.

For the Quickfire, Padma, Tom and Emeril, that gentle Food Network giant, asked the four finalists to sit this one out and they invited Jamie, Leah and Jeff back for a chance to win their way back into the finale. I thought this was an awesome twist, especially because it brought my Jamie back, as well as Jeff, who I honestly still believe has more of a right to cook in the finale than Fabio or Hooty Hoo. I just pretended Leah wasn’t there, because there was no way she wasn’t going to fuck up. The three axed cheftestants were asked to cook a crawfish dish in one hour and the winner would get to participate in the upcoming Elimination challenge, which, if they won, would guarantee them a spot in the finale. (If they lost, however, too fucking bad.)

The Quickfire Dishes:

  • Leah created a crawfish soup with andouille sausage, which was built upon a crawfish stock that she claims she made in one hour (impossible!). She explained this dish with her usual mirth.
  • Jeff cooked up some crawfish and grits with andouille sausage cooked in beer, because even though he cooks at a place called the Dilido Beach Club and got blonder since he was eliminated, he’s actually a good ol’ Southern boy at heart.
  • Jamie served up a corn cake with collard greens, poached egg crawfish and an andouille cream sauce, sort of a New Orleans Benedict, if you will. (I secretly hope she reads this blog, likes that name, and starts making this for Brunch at Absinthe.)
Jeff, who likes booze so much he even cooked his food in it.

An offering from Jeff, who likes booze so much he even cooked his food in it.


Of the three dishes, Emeril liked Jeff’s best and invited him to cook in Elimination Challenge, as well as join the other cheftestants for dinner at Emeril’s Delmonico. The next day, Jeff and the final four were told to bring their knives to Mardi Gras World where they were given their instructions for the Elimination Challenge: cater an event for the Krewe of Orpheus’ masquerade ball at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The cheftestants would be allowed to cook in the Delmonico kitchen, with one hour to prep on-site at the event. Everyone had to create two dishes to serve 100 guests, as well as a signature cocktail.

The Menus:

Hosea
duck, andouille and chicken gumbo
pecan-crusted catfish
a hurricane with grand marnier and rum

Carla
oyster stew
shrimp and andouille beignet
non-alcoholic cranberry and lime spritzer

Stefan
duck and rabbit gumbo over grits
apple beignet
black cherry and run cocktail

Jeff
fried oyster with sausage
crawfish pot de creme
cucumber mojito

Fabio
sausage and rabbit maque choux with grits
crawfish and crab stew with handmade pasta
muffuletta bread
bell pepper martini (trinitini)

Most of these things sounded very good and very New Orleans, but I had some misgivings, particularly about Fabio’s dishes. First of all, a maque choux is made with corn, so why serve it over grits, which are, in fact, boiled cornmeal? Isn’t that a little redundant? And isn’t it something of a misnomer to call it muffuletta bread, which is a particular kind of plain bread, when you incorporate the olives (necessary to a proper muffuletta sandwich) into the bread? Doesn’t it just become an olive bread at that point? And the bell pepper martini . . . I long ago learned that my people are not for making the cocktails. The only vegetable that should be in a cocktail is a stick of celery in a long island iced tea or a bloody mary. A bell pepper martini just does not sound good.

Fabio said he wanted to do something with a little bit of Italian and Creole flavors, which is a very, very Californian way of conceptualizing Cajun food. I’ve never had proper Cajun in this state, and everything I’ve ever seen at a Cajun restaurant here (including The Palace in Santa Barbara, which I love because it has tons of little delicious muffins and dirty martinis served in mason jars). Every Cajun restaurant I’ve been to in this state makes things that are similar to Fabio’s menu. It all tastes good, I just wonder about whether or not he should have striven to do something a little more authentic to the region.

I also had some questions as to why Carla would, in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, decide to make a non-alcoholic drink, but when she explained that she doesn’t drink and that she hates having to have water at social functions, it made more sense. Her drink sounded so tasty, though, that I’m sure someone at the party could have easily made it alcoholic by slipping some vodka from their carefully concealed flask into it.

Carla's offerings, filled with love, oysters and no booze whatsoever.

Carla's offerings, filled with love, oysters and no booze whatsoever.

During prep, Carla had some issues with her oysters, which Tom Colicchio rightly pointed out would have been easier to shuck had she bothered to steam them open first, but she managed, with a little help from the other cheftestants, to avoid some unshuckingbelievable mishaps (shout out to Gordon Ramsay!). The only person who had trouble during prep was Stefan, and by trouble I mean that he didn’t give a shit and was so overconfident that he constantly went out for smoke breaks and nearly cost himself a spot in the final four.

The judges arrived in masque plus Emeril and minus one annoyingly snarky Toby Young, who was replaced by a lovely post-nuptial Gail Simmons. It was nice to see her back, because she and Padma both looked smokin’ hot in their ball gowns for the evening. Everyone’s food seemed to go off really well with the guests and the judges, and I loved Jeff’s subtle attempt to endear himself to Emeril by mispronouncing “chipotle” the way the great chef does. I was also both shocked and amazed to see that so many denizens of New Orleans knew the call of the Hooty Hoo and loved her so dearly. I think I will have nightmares about masqued people calling out “Hooty! Hoo!” for a little while.

At Judges’ Table, the five contestants were called in. Although Jeff didn’t win, his cocktail was voted the favorite of the night, which would have been higher praise except for the fact that his non-win meant instant banishment from the show. Oh, well. At least he got a second chance and showed that his cooking was up to par with the final four. For her perfect execution of each dish she created, Hooty Hoo continued her winning streak and was given a Toyota Vensa with which to drive herself to the finale. Hosea, whose gumbo was lauded as the best of the three gumbos that night (I only counted two, but whatever) because it was the blackest, was also voted on to the finale, leaving Team Euro to face off for elimination. Despite Stefan’s cockiness, he cooked truer N’awlins cuisine and Fabio, whose bell pepper cocktail was voted the worst thing of the whole evening, was told to pack his knives and go.

I am okay with this. Fabio will continue to improve his skills, but he needs to learn how to plate food better. He is lazy in terms of aesthetics, no matter how good he looks in a baby pink scarf. I wish him the best of luck in getting out of the Kraproom.

Random Observations:

  • This is probably blasphemy, but Carla as a model is starting to make more sense to me. Why? With straight hair and bangs, she kind of looks like Padma. Only kind of. Only kind of.
  • I am happy to know that every year for Halloween, Fabio dresses in drag. It does take big balls to dress like a woman, and you do have to make sure that they’re not so big that they fall out of your panties. Truer words were never spoken. However, this raises some questions in my mind regarding Italian drag culture.
  • Why, by the way, does Fabio think of porn when he sees people in masks? Has he seen Eyes Wide Shut one too many times? You know what he should think of? Carnivale. He’s fucking Italian! They have a big giant month of masquerade there in a little city filled with canals! Fabio, you continue to confuse me.
  • How excited are we for the return of Make Me a Supermodel? I’m especially excited that its returning on the same day that ANTM does! Wednesday will be full of “glambition” indeed.

The Wife:

With Jamie gone, I have no one to love and root for, as without her, I don’t think Stefan really has any actual competition. I hate Leah, and you all know that and know why. Hosea is a fine chef, but he seems to lack the huevos, if you’ll pardon the pun, to really beat someone with Stefan’s chutzpah. Fabio and Carla are both too hit-or-miss to take the prize, although both of them have really managed to impress in these last few challenges. Thanks to Carla’s hot streak, I’ve forgotten about any bad things she did except for not being inventive enough to figure out how to set her not-so-frozen froyo without the use of a freezer. Fabio, though? Unlike Carla, I am haunted by some of his worst dishes. That disastrous oat-crusted eggplant, for instance, looms in my mind. As does his strange Italian lunch plate with the cheesesteak-that-wasn’t-a-cheesesteak. For Carla and Fabio, when they are on a high, their food can be sublime, but when they fail, they fail hardcore. So unless one of those two cooks everything perfectly in the New Orleans finale, Stefan will be declared Top Chef.

For the Quickfire, Wylie Dufresne of WD-40, New York’s premiere molecular gastronomic eatery (and possibly the second most famous of such eateries in the world, only outmatched by Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Spain), asked the cheftestants to create an egg dish that would “surprise and delight” him, per Padma. The two wild card chefs were the most interesting to watch in this challenge, as Fabio revealed that he actually knows a lot about molecular gastronomy, something I actually wish he would have pulled out of his crazy Italian hat earlier in the show – more than just that one time when he made those spherical olives. Has he not realized how much more interesting this show is when there’s a molecular chef thrown in with all the classically trained Cordon Bleu types, the CIA grads, the professional caterers, the hoof-to-snout guys and the seasonal/organic chefs? (Actually, I’ve not yet seen a hoof-to-snouter on this show. Top Chef usually has an odd meats challenge, but has never had one to my recollection that involved cooking pig face or trotters.) It’s always good to have a tension between molecular chefs and seasonal/organic chefs, because those two schools of cooking highlight not just what’s big in cooking right now (as Leah so dryly observed), but also to diametrically opposed ideas about food. This isn’t to say that molecular chefs eschew fresh, seasonal and organic things in favor of their true antithesis (processed factory foods in any form, from your McDonald’s hamburger to those infernal Hot Pockets), but simply to say that they bend and change the laws of nature through science. It’s an extreme version of what cooking already is (changing the nature of something through heat and flavor), combined with only the most well-intended food science. For all of that, though, Fabio’s molecular skills failed this time around due to an ill-conceived dish. Carla, on the other hand, chose to highlight her skills at cooking simply, natural foods and managed to pull out a victory with a playful take on green eggs and ham, which someone always does when given an egg challenge.

I suddenly feel like I'm in a Dali painting . . .

I suddenly feel like I'm in a Dali painting . . .


The Quickfire Dishes

Stefan: a savory poached egg with hollandaise and a sweet poached egg panna cotta
Leah: quail egg with potato and caviar and a bacon, egg and cheese mini breaky sammie thingy
Carla: green eggs and ham with egg whites and salsa verde
Hosea: egg white sushi roll with asparagus, poached shrimp with siraccha sauce and a tempura fried egg salad
Fabio: quail egg sunny side up, coconut “sunny side up” panna cotta, and “egg” with lychee juice and mango “yolk”

Wylie liked Fabio’s molecular gastronomy, but thought the dish overall was just playing with ideas more than executing them, landing Fabio in the bottom three along with Leah’s sad Leahness and Hosea’s failure at executing a Japanese-style dish the way someone from Japan would have done it. Stefan probably should have won, but Wylie gave in to Hooty-Hoo’s whimsy and let her simple dish win an advantage in the Elimination Challenge.

The chefs then drew knives from the knife block, emblazoned with the names of other chefs: Lidia Bastianich, Susan Ungaro, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Pepin and Wylie Dufresne himself. Each chef was to cook their knife-chef’s ideal “last meal” on Earth, a concept I like in general because this is a very popular question amongst those in the culinary profession, as well as a tidbit on Yelp user’s profiles. (Mine is currently listed as “goat cheese, straight from the goat.”) Tony Bourdain writes about this a lot, often asking his chef friends over drinks what their last meal would be. It’s never something complex. Many American chefs would choose a perfectly grilled hamburger or a flatiron steak. Tony’s Mexican cooks would choose a dish their mothers always made: tamales, menudo or some carne asada. The best thing you’ve ever eaten may have been the tasting course at the French Laundry, but when you’re about to die, all you really want is some mac and cheese, just the way your grandma made it. Comfort food. Simple and satisfying.

True to that form, none of the guest chefs chose anything terribly outlandish. Lidia Bastianich chose to have a roast chicken with roast potatoes and a simple leafy salad. Susan Ungaro chose shrimp scampi with provencal tomatoes. Swedish chef and Aquavit owner Marcus Samuelsson went for a roast salmon with roast potatoes, the simplest Swedish dish he could have asked for. Jacques Pepin decided on roast squab with peas and Wylie, well, Wylie chose eggs benedict. During prep time, Hosea, who drew Susan Ungaro from the knife block, questioned whether these chefs would really choose these things as their last meal, and while he himself might not choose shrimp scampi, I point to the simplicity of the dish. No one here is asking for their last meal to be more complex than what they could, and probably have, made at home.

The most exciting thing that happened during prep was Fabio somehow breaking his pinky. I don’t really know how this happened, but I always appreciate someone who has balls enough to work through the pain. Dude was a trouper: he had the medic set it and wrap it and he just kept on keepin’ on, even though he had trouble holding things and chopping things. He also remained imminently quotable throughout this:


“I’ll chop it off and sear it on the flattop so it doesn’t bleed anymore. And tomorrow, I deal with nine finger.”


Fabio = one hardcore motherfucker.

During service the next day at New York’s Capital, Leah presented the first course of eggs benedict. She made a simple salad, for no good reason, and everyone hated the salad. Wylie noted that her egg whites were a little watery, but that he didn’t mind it. Marcus Samuelsson, on the other hand, thought her whole dish was a failure of textures. (Maybe she should have stuck with the traditional thicker bread on the bottom instead of going for soft, crumbly challah.)

Stefan served up the second course of salmon, roast potatoes, spinach “two ways” and dill sauce. All of the judges and chefs agreed that his fish was overcooked, and Susan Ungaro said that she wouldn’t have noticed he had made spinach two ways if he hadn’t mentioned it, because she couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

Hosea served the third course of shrimp scampi with burre blanc and tomatoes provencal. Susan thought the shrimp scampi was too creamy, stating that she would have preferred the simple butter, oil and garlic version to one laden with cream. Jacques Pepin didn’t think Hosea rendered a true version of tomatoes provencal and then delivered the most damning critique of all: “He didn’t cook from his gut.”

Broken-fingered Fabio served up the fourth course of roast chicken, roast potatoes and caramelized cipolini onions with a leafy salad. Although everyone thought the salad looked like an airplane salad, his chicken was declared the best meat so far. Marcus Samuelsson loved it so much that he called it: “The first dish I’ve seen that could go straight into a restaurant.”

Hooty-Hoo Carla brought up the fifth course of roast squab with lemon-thyme butter and butter-tarragon peas. Tom Colicchio loved the audacity of her simplicity: literally, just some squab on a plate and a bowl of peas. Jacque Pepin loved the peas so much that he declared, “I think I could die happy with that.” Um! Please don’t, Jacques! We love you!

lady knows how to plate.

And I will say this for Carla: lady knows how to plate.

Tom had pleaded with the cheftestants before service to not embarrass him in front of such highly esteemed chefs and restaurateurs, and he praised his cheftestants for holding up to his standards. Even with overcooked meats and some missteps, nothing was inedible and it all tasted good. Maybe not “last meal” good, but good. At Judges’ Table (which Padma announced with her nipples, because the stew room is apparently a walk-in freezer and I’ve just never noticed before), the panel awarded Fabio with the win and a spot in the semi-finals. He also got a weekend in Napa at Terlato vineyards and a really frickin’ huge bottle of Terlato! (I will stalk him when he’s there. I don’t know how, but I’ll do it.) Carla was also given a spot in the semi-finals, leaving Stefan in the bottom for the first time, like, ever. Fortunately, overcooked fish and not-true-to-form scampi and tomatoes provencal were not enough to knock either him or Hosea out of the top, sending Zoloft Commercial Leah home without much emotion of any kind. I’m just glad to be rid of her.

I think its going to be Stefan for the win. Everyone else is pretty much just a wildcard for the role of “whom he should defeat.”

Fuck yeah! Leah's finally gone!

Fuck yeah! Leah's finally gone!

Other random observations:

  • “It’s Top Chef, not Top Pussy.” – Fabio, a quote that reminds me just how much I hate hearing Italian men say pussy. It just doesn’t sound right. Ever.
  • Did I hear Carla say that she started cooking back when she used to be a model? I mean, the lady is tall, but I’m really curious about this supposed former modeling career, given the beak of a nose that woman’s sportin’. I will give her this, though: she has great hair. (But you know Tyra would crop it. Tyra never lets a girl keep an afro. No one’s hair is allowed to be bigger than Tyra’s.)