Top Chef is often full of monsters, but they're usually egotistical chefs, screaming cohosts, and otherwise unruly contestants. Last night the monsters were the lovable ones from Sesame Street. We have never been so tickled by Elmo.
You would think that Padma, being the diva that she is, wouldn't abide her latest scene-stealing guests, but we have a feeling that the only thing diva-ier than Padma are the puppeteers behind these Muppets. After all, they're making millions of dollars a year and don't need Padma or her stupid brand for their success. The first time she tried to upstage Elmo the big man who controls him probably got all up in Padma's face and told her how to behave. The challenge was simple, create a cookie to satisfy Cookie Monster's insatiable addiction for the sugary treats.
Cook, cook, cook; but not so boring, boring, boring, because the monsters were barking out jokes and making fun of the chefs while they were cooking. Man, we love these diva monsters! Then it was time for the judging. We guess they had to break that fourth wall and had the puppeteers a cookie so that they could talk eloquently about them, but it was kind of strange hearing creatures that obviously can't eat talk about cookies.
[There was a video here]
At least Elmo put Padma in her place on camera. Take that, Padma. Their favorites were the gooey chocolate mess that a flutter of a curtain named Antonia plopped down from beyond the grave. Yes, the ghost made something that Elmo likened to cow chips. Dung. The cookies, literally, according to Elmo, looked like crap, but they were still their favorites. The winner, though, was Dale who crushed up potato chips and pretzels and a bunch of other shit and put some chocolate frosting on top of them.
Like the ghost Antonia said, he is a cookie cheater. He didn't even bake the fucking cookie. Doesn't "cookie" have the word "cook" right in it. And Dale was so smug about it. He's all, "I don't make cookies, so I'm just going to throw all this shit together. I'm too cool for this challenge." That's what fucking pisses me off about Dale. He always pretends like he's so put upon by all the challenges on the show. Seriously? This is Top Chef. The point is for there to be a bunch of stupid challenges making things you wouldn't make normally. He knew that before signing up the first time, now that the second time has rolled around he should know it for sure. It's like joining the Army and then talking about how ugly camouflage is every morning. Then he wins the challenge and his shitty attitude is rewarded. That's a lesson for all your kids from Sesame Street. Even if you act like an asshole, you can still win. Sarcastic hurray!
Then Padma is like, "Listen here, assholes. I told the producers I was sick of finding ways to insert Biutoni pasta into every fucking conversation I have so they said, 'Fine, you don't have to talk about Biutoni anymore, but we have to make the entire challenge a commercial for Target.' After he told me what this Target place is, I said, 'Fine,' because me and my baby need to eat. They're going to lock you in this Tanget place overnight and you have to cook food for all their employees using only things you find in the store. Have a blast, plebs!"
This is actually kind of like my dream come true. I fucking love a Target. It's probably because I don't get to go very often (even though there are two in New York) so when I do it's like a treat and there are so many wonderful inexpensive things there. I just stock up on Brita filters, cute bath towels, tighty whiteys, and $5 DVDs of the entire first season of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. (OK, Target, where's my check?) Getting locked in one overnight and having the run of the store would have been a fantasy of mine if I knew such a thing was even an option. Now that I know, please lock in me in Target overnight.
Shop, shop, shop; boring, boring, boring. Carla, the Owl Princess of Yosemite, is taking far longer to shop than everyone else, probably because she's trying to make things beautiful because she thinks that everything at Target should be as fancy as a state dinner for the royalty of the owl clan. Angelo is running around with Mike Isabella and he's wearing cargo pants and black socks pulled all the way up to his knees. While this is a look that can often be seen by the people shopping at Target, that does not mean that it is fashionable on Angelo.
Poor Angelo, his whole life his abusive mother thought that he was behaving like a girl. She used to lock him up in the basement and pelt him with Barbie dolls and mock him, telling him that he would never be man enough for a real woman. That didn't turn him gay or into a serial killer, but into some sort of sexual deviant. He's some sort of shy man who is into really creepy sex acts involving action figures, paraffin wax, and vintage issues of McCalls. As he was running around shopping, Mike was being especially nice to him and showering with all sorts of attention. Finally, a light went on deep down inside Angelo. It didn't matter what his mother said, he was good enough to be loved. It's not that he wanted a man, necessarily, he just wanted to be wanted. He wanted to be cuddled and caressed by someone big and strong who was really interested in his happiness. Look, here was this big macho man from New Jersey and he finally saw something in Angelo. Something sweet and talented and attractive. Something that drew him in.
Angelo was delighted and wanted to act on his love. As the two were cruising through the store looking for hot plates and apple corers, they passed the "family planning" section. "Look. Condoms!" Angelo said, stopping and pointing them out to Mike. "These might come in handy."
"What are you talking about?" Mike said.
"Maybe we should take some of these condoms in case we need to use them. It's going to be a long night in the store and we have been alone for weeks while taping this show."
"Angelo, I don't think....Oh....OH," Mike said, finally catching his drift. "I've never tried it before, but I'll give it a shot. Why the hell not!"
Then their two ample bodies collided and they clawed at each others' clothes. Mike reached for Angelo's socks but he pushed his hand away. "No, the socks stay on." And just like that, the two finally found love in aisle 33 of the Target somewhere in New Jersey.
Cook, cook, cook; boring, boring, boring. Everyone is making soup and there isn't very much drama. This was a really cool concept for a challenge, but it just didn't bring the tension in the way I think they wanted it to. Dale, smug canary turd Dale, is the only one who is doing something interesting. He's cooking grilled cheese on a griddle with an iron. Smart, but still annoying in that Dale kind of way like, "Yeah, you want me to cook in Target? Then I'm going to use an iron to cook the food you eat. Fuck you!"
Now that they have coupled, Mike is already treating Angelo like his wife, ordering him around and telling him to go fetch him utensils. Oh, their relationship has progressed so quickly!
The judges show up and Padma looks a little bit lost and confused, like this is the first time she's ever walked on a linoleum floor. She has dragged along chef Ming Tsai and Thomas O'Brien, a rather attractive homosexual who designs bed skirts, toothbrush holders, and other wonderful little home things for Target. If he ever needs a partner to go, um, shopping through the "family planning" section of Target, I volunteer myself for the position. The judges start eating the food and they're not at all impressed by the number of soups that they're having to work their way through.
Finally it's Angelo's turn to present his dish. He's a little bit nervous about his deconstructed baked potato, soup, but his darling Mikey is there to help. Mike grates the cheese on top of the dishes and gives his lover a peck on the cheek and a swat on the ass. "Knock 'em dead, honey."
He approaches the table and tells them about the deconstructed baked potato with potato soup, bacon, cheese, broccoli, and "fresh coconut milk."
"I've never been here before, but they have fresh coconuts at The Targets?" Padma asks.
"No, I don't think so," Angelo said nervously.
"Well, then what did you put in the soup?"
"Fresh coconut milk."
"From a can?"
"Yes, from a can. But I opened it right before I.."
"Well, then it's fresh coconut milk, is it, asshole? First I had to put up with those fucking puppets all morning with their superior attitude bossing me around. Do you know how hard that is? They didn't even care about my Emmy! Cookie Monster said to me, 'Cookie has 118 Emmy. Shut up, bitch.' Do you know how humiliating that was? He's not even a person! And then they made me come out to this god awful place in New Jersey at 3am to eat your god awful food and you can't even tell me the truth about it. 'Fresh' coconut milk. Huh. I may not know what La Targét is, but I know fucking fresh and not fresh, and I'm still lactating, so if you want some fresh fucking milk I will take my motherfucking boob out right fucking here and I will squirt some fresh motherfucking milk into your god damn soup. That's it, Tom, he's going home. I'm not even..."
"Padma, sit down, don't be rash," Tom chimed in, motioning for her to take her seat again.
"Rash? Rash! He lied about fresh milk. I'm done with him. First he stole my pants right out of my house and now his outfit is even worse. Just look at those fucking socks. He deserves to lose just for those! You're done, Angelo. Done!"
Angelo ran back to his table and collapsed on the floor. He was rocking back and forth saying, "Mommy don't." Over and over. Mike couldn't stand the sight of it and came over and wrapped his arms around Angelo's shoulders. "Don't worry, she didn't mean it. You know how she is. It's going to be fine. It will all be fine. I love you..."
Then everyone dusted themselves off and went to judges table. The tops were Richard Blais who made something with pork and apples, the fluttering curtain Antonia whose egg dish haunted the judges, and Dale. Man, those judges just love it when Dale tells them to fuck off. He won. Smug dildo battery Dale won again.
Back in the stew room, Angelo was more nervous than usual. He started rocking back and forth again in his chair. "What's wrong?" Mike asked.
"I'm going home. I'm going home. She said I'm done. Mommy's mad. I'm going home," Angelo was chattering.
"No, you're not. You're fine. You're gonna be fine," Mike said, placing his hand on Angelo's thigh but not the outside part over the shorts. No, it was on the inside part, the part without hair that is inside the shorts. He put his hand on the soft, tender part of Angelo's thigh, the section of leg reserved for the intimate, and Angelo's heart was buoyed, like a bacon crumble in a heavy broth.
Then he was called in with Princess Carla, who made a bland apple soup, and
Black Tiffany, who poured a bunch of meat and crappy spice into a pot and called it Jambalaya. They weren't fond of Angelo's dish either, which was heavy and far too salty. They asked if they had any final words.
Black Tiffany immediately started bawling. Everyone thought it was done for her and that this was the last of her mediocre showings. Being in the middle of the pack had finally caught up to her, and she was resigned to her fate. "I'm just from a small (sob) town in Texas called Beaumont and I (sob) started working (sob) at the IHOP when I was (sob) 16 and all I (sob) (sob) ever wanted was (sob) to come to New York and cook (sob) with brilliant people and this has been (sob) a great experience and if you send (sob) me back (sob) there now, (sob) I'm OK with that. I have (sob) lived (sob) out (sob) my (sob) dreams. (sob) (sob) (sob)"
"Oh, stop crying, Tiffany," Padma said. "We're not even sending you back to the stew room tonight. Angelo, get the fuck out of here. And take those god damned socks off."
Everyone was stunned, especially Tiffany. It's like she was hanging from the gallows gasping for air and the rope snapped, sending her careening to the ground where she took in one deep rasping breath after the next, happy to live again.
But the most shocked of all was Mike. "What?!" he screamed. "You can't be going home! How? How?" And that big strong New Jersey man showed what a man he is and started crying. More like weeping as Angelo clutched his head to his shoulder.
"Shhh. Shhh," he said smoothing his hair, the warm liquid from Mike's eyes slowly seeping through his jacket, moistening his shoulder. It was Angelo's turn to be the strong one. "It's going to be fine. We have something better than winning. We have each other. OK? OK?"
Mike barely moved his head from Angelo's shoulder, but he was nodding. He agreed. He knew once the taping was done that Angelo could move down to D.C. and could be his sous chef. He could chop the vegetables, taste his broth and laugh when he brought the spoon up to Angelo's lips and spilled his sauce all over his chin. Together, alone, in their own little shop they could live out their lives together. That is what Angelo hoped for too, and he held his head high. For the first time in a long time, he couldn't hear his mother's voice, that nagging drone in the back of his head, telling him he wasn't enough, telling him he was something less than. No, for the first time ever, Angelo felt like a man, and there was no defeat in that.