The seven seas have been the setting for many dramatic tales in film and literature. But when the cooking monkeys from Top Chef go fishing, it's kind of boring. How did they mess this up?
Look at The Deadliest Catch, it's one of the best reality shows out there because there are either crabs in the traps or there aren't. There's no faking that. But what makes it great is sometimes, there aren't any crabs in the traps, and the fishermen have to starve. On Top Chef everyone caught fish and had plenty of food to cook. That is fucking boring. Why couldn't one team have no fish at all?
Anyway, we're getting ahead of ourselves. It all started when the chefs were awoken at 4:30am and forced into the Top Chef kitchen. They were surprised that Padma wasn't there. Where was she?
Well, a PA called her at 4am and Padma answered and just as quickly said, "No." "I'm sorry, Ms. Lak..." "I said, 'No,'" and hung up. Guess she'll have to meet the cheftestants in Montauk, the tip of Long Island where the chefs had to go fishing. They had to cook whatever they caught. Sounds easy enough. Padma says, "Listen up, jerks. Because some fucking PA woke me up at 4am, I have decided that I am officially sick of your tired faces. That means we're kicking off two of you this week so that we can get to the finale that much faster." They break up into four teams of three and head off to their boats.
It starts off nice and exciting as one of the boats is catching fish after fish and the other boat—which includes most of the assholes, including Marcel, Mike, and Angelo—isn't catching any. For a moment we hope that their minnows would be lost, and they wouldn't have any fish to cook except for the can of sardines that Fabio keeps in his pocket to cover up the smell of other women's perfume when his wife is around.
On the other boat, it was like the bounty of the sea. Dale, who comes from a long line of fishmongers, was pulling up bass after bass. Tre, the bulging god, decided to wear a wife-beater to show off his developed chest and massive arms. He didn't even bother putting his pole into the water, he just flexed his guns and the fish leaped over the bow and sacrificed themselves at his feet. Don't worry, Tre, we'll hold your rod while you keep flexing those guns. This shimmering specter that we could barely see that everyone kept referring to as Antonia was there. We thought it was a ghost, but it stayed solid just long enough to catch a fish, and when it did, it let out shriek after blood curdling howl. It was like 17 bachelorette parties simultaneously drove by in pink stretch Hummer limos. That is just what it sounded like and that is when we realized that this Antonia creature was not a ghost at all, it was a Banshee! Damn, for a Banshee, she sure doesn't have a very Irish name.
At one point, Jamie was leaning over the side of the boat with this strange contraption in her hand. Her teammate, White Tiffani, said, "Jamie, what are you doing?" "Well, I have to catch some scallops. This is a scallop trap. Do you think they have scallops here? I really hope they do, because if they don't, then I have to cook soup. The only three things I can make are scallops, soups, and scowls." White Tiffani shook her head and looked out over the calm blue water and secretly hoped that Jamie fell overboard, was rescued by Kurt Russell, and found herself an entirely different personality.
As they were all celebrating, the other boat was looking dour, because they had no fish at all. Oh the dramatic tension. It was like the haves and have-nots. It was like Upstairs, Downstairs on the Seven Seas. It was like the opening of Clash of the Titans (the remake, not the original) where a boat is completely destroyed by the wrath of the gods. That's what it was like. Until they all started catching fish. What a fucking bummer. We don't want this to be fair. We want blood! We want wrath!
So, everyone catches a bunch of fish, especially Dale, who was casting his line with the help of all his fishmonger ancestors. Then they go to a farmer's market where they all talk about how excited how fresh all the ingredients are. Shop, shop, shop; boring, boring, boring.
Then the chefs all go to the "beach" to cook. But they're not on the beach at all. It's not like they're behind Padma's compound in Southampton with the surf at their back and facing a beautiful white house with huge windows, a manicured immaculate lawn, and a pool house where a manicured immaculate Latino lives to cater to the mistress' every whim. No, they're on Water Taxi Beach, which is
on Governor's Island in Long Island City. This is not a real beach. This is a bunch of sand off the coast of Manhattan where they have parties and concerts and such. I went to a party there last year during Pride, and it was lots of fun, but it was not partying on the beach. Also, I think I lost an ecstasy tablet in the sand.
Cook, cook, cook; boring, boring, boring. The team challenge is playing out interestingly this time. Marcel tells Richard and Fabio that they should only make one dish, and they should put everything behind that. It is actually a smart move because, if everyone makes one dish and it tanks, it's hard for the judges to figure out who did what and which two people to send home. Fabio did not like this idea. "Can I make gnocchi?" he asked. "No. No gnocchi. No," Marcel answered. "It's a no-no to say no to gnocchi," Fabio said, but their minds were made up. So they let him cut all the vegetables, but he wasn't doing it fast enough. After they were pestering him, he finally said this inexplicable sentence.
What the fuck did he say? "I love him to death, but this guy is going to get a nut attack if he doesn't piss himself up a little bit." Is that what he said? What does that mean? Has Fabio broken with reality entirely? Does his brain need to keep making gnocchi to function?
Anyway, Black Tiffani, Mike, and Angelo are taking a different tactic and collaborating on two dishes whereas the remaining six chefs are all making their own dishes. If that's the case, why even bother with the team challenges. I hate the team challenges, especially at this stage in the game. It means that a mediocre (or bad) cook on a good team gets a pass, when a better cook on a worse team gets sent home. It punishes the middle of the pack.
Padma arrives, and looks resplendent in her flowing black gown, but as soon as she steps onto the beach she screams, "What the fuck is this brown shit all over the ground?" A little PA answers, "Uh, Ms. Lakshmi, that's sand." "I know it's sand, you stupid fuck, but what is it doing here? I told them that I would only come and eat here if there wasn't any sand on this beach. I can not have all this grit in my toes. Do you know how long it took me to get this pedicure? A long fucking time, and now you want to ruin it with all this disgusting fucking dirt all over it. Thanks for ruining my fucking night. I'm going to need a Xanax or something to get by."
The PA took out a little pill that he found earlier in the sand. It had a small E on it, and he figured that a nice homosexual must have lost it during the Gay Pride dance party that happened the weekend before. He washed it off and gave it to Padma. For the rest of the night, she was in the best mood she has ever been in. She was going around and congratulating all the chefs and even talking to the pesky diners, who she usually refers to as "germ factories," and asking them what they thought of the food. Before the end of judging, they actually found her dancing in the corner, bewitched by the blinking palm trees on this fake beach and asking everyone to touch her hair. Such a strange mood Ms. Padma was in.
So, onto the judging. The tops were team Dale, Carla, and Tre and team Angelo, Mike, and Black Tiffani. We thought for sure Tre, a god shaped like Neptune himself, was going to win because we saw pictures of his family earlier in the episode, but he did not. Instead it was Princess Carla, heir to the Owl Throne of Yosemite, who won for her take on smoked fish and bagels. She was very ecstatic (just like Padma) and when she got back into the stew room, she did a celebratory dance well known to her people, the Owl Clan of Yosemite. She flapped her wings and raised her legs and let out a succession of "hoo-hoo-hootie-hootie-hoo." She was very glad for her win. But Marcel was pissed and said, "Oh great, that means we're going home. Shut the fuck up, Carla." And that made the Owl Princess very sad. She perched on the top of a metal folding chair and turned her head all the way around in shame.
The bottoms were Marcel, Richard, and Fabio for their Sufferin' Succotash and White Tiffani, Lazy Lesbian Jamie, and this strange fluttering of a curtain that was haunting the room. The judges thought there was too much going on with the Sufferin' Succotash, including a "gastric" (which happens to share a name with Key West's number one Padma Lakshmi female impersonator, Gastrique, and that really pisses her off) and a foam. Marcel and his goddamned foams. There comes a point where every artist's signature becomes a joke, and at this point, Marcel using a foam is more of a parody than a trademark. The judges hate it.
Then they tell this strange ghost that her po' boy was delicious and she would have won, but her teammates dragged her down. It was a second death for this ghost, and just another reason why we all hate team challenges. They also didn't like that Jamie made "cucumber soup." And they asked why and she said, "Well, I couldn't catch an scallops, and I've been serving you scowls all season, so the only other thing I know how to make is soup." They didn't like White Tiffani's blue fish because, apparently, blue fish has a bad blood line. Basically, it is from the wrong side of the tracks, and no matter if you take it to the country club and show it off to all your friend, when you cheat on it, it's going to show up to the country club and dump a whole fucking barrel of bluefish into your convertible. Then it will smell like fish for forever. Basically, White Tiffani should have made a mystic pizza, because no one liked her blue fish's trashy bloodline.
In the end, Marcel and company's strategy to make one dish paid off and the judges decided to keep all the boys and kick off White Tiffani and Jamie. Man, it was a lesbian massacre up in there last night. Somewhere in North Hampton, there was a whole bar full of women wearing flannel and short haircuts that was dead silent. All the flags at Smith flew half-mast last night.
And Tiffani just shook her red mane and walked off into the sunset, ready to go home to her girlfriend, to make bluefish for all the girls back home, and maybe, one day, she and her two best lady friends would get to take over the pizzeria where they worked as waitresses. It wouldn't be a glamorous life. It wouldn't be Michelin stars and a show on Food Network, but it would be something. It would be money in her pocket, life among friends, and all the blue fish and bad bloodlines she could ever hope for.
Jamie on the other hand, was a different matter. Everyone tried to hug her, but she shrugged it off. She folded her arms up and turned away and said, "Naw, dude, it's fine. It's fine." And she would go home to her girlfriend, Dinty Moore, who would say, "Don't worry, honey. It's fine. We have all of my soup money that we can live off of. We can open a nice green restaurant that only serves organic local ingredients and free market coffee. We can call it Birkenstocks, and we don't even need to make any money. We can just be happy, we can be together, and you can sear the scallops and I can stir the soup, and together, we'll be happy. Just all sorts of happy." But Jamie shrugged her off too. She didn't need happiness, she needed to win, and that is when she looked Dinty right in the eye and served her up a big, steamy helping of the dish that she makes best: scowl.