New Orleans is known for two things: fat people and natural disasters. Oh, and Mardi Gras and music and corruption. New Orleans is known for lots of things, and we got to see a little bit of each one.
Like a William Faulkner novel or a cunnilingus demonstration video, last night's Top Chef was all about going down south. When all the chefs arrived at their kitchen of doom, they cooed and cawed because they could see the shining face and Crisco white mane of Paula Deen. She's like a clogged artery with a smile painted on it. Padma had a bit of a pained expression, like a grumble was buried just below the surface.
"Listen up, jackasses. You have to cook something for Paula. Her body can only process food that is breaded and doused in fat, so it has to be fried," Padma said.
"Yeah, you jerks. And don't make it no mozza-rella sticks or calamaris or chicken's finger neither. I ain't messin with no boring ass fried dinners, y'all. You better cook me something good or I'll smack you on the head with a deep fryer," Paula Deen added.
Cook, cook, cook; boring, boring, boring. Carla and
Black Tiffany are all talking about how they're southern so they should know about making southern food for Paula Deen. Of course that means they're totally going to suck. Paula and Padma start walking around the room and finally they get to a station that is completely haunted. There is a whistle on the wind know as Antonia standing there and there is only one plate of fried shrimp and avocado salad. For some reason Antonia, who is a ghost, could only become solid long enough to plate one dish. Padma and Paula look at each other, and then the look at the dish, then each other, then the dish. Everyone hears the Woo-oh-woo-oh-woooooooo sound that means there is about to be a show down. Several chefs duck for cover.
"Oooh, Padma, I love me some friend avocados," Paula says.
"And I love me some fried shrimps," Padma says.
"I think that you should just let me have it."
"Well, Paula, it's obvious there isn't enough room on that plate for the both of us, and it is my show so..."
""Listen here, missy. You invite me to come up on your little piece of shit show and you think..."
"...I clearly deserve it. Who do you think you are, showing up here with your white hair and your smile..."
"...that you're so special that you get to eat all the food. Need I remind you that I have an Emmy?..."
"...and your successful TV show. 'Oh, I'm Paula Deen, I won an Emmy.' Guess what, so did I..."
"...And I don't only have one show, I have several. And a restaurant. And cookbooks..."
"...Yes, I won a motherfucking Emmy for this motherfucking show and you're just on basic cable like me..."
"... And a whole fucking line of products. I have been doing this for longer than you..."
"...so you're no better. Stop looking at me so smug like you know everything. Then you go around..."
"...had that nasty as scar on your arm, so you better let me eat that god damn plate of food..."
"...eating all this fried mayonnaise and shit you fat turd. Do you know how hard I work at staying this thin?..."
"...because I have earned it. If you don't give it up, then I am going to call my good friend Oprah..."
"...I starve myself for weeks at a time, because if I gain even one ounce the tabloids..."
"...yes, that Oprah—and tell her to put a hit out on you. She is Oprah and she can do that..."
"...will be down my throat faster than you can swallow a fist-full of fried butter..."
"...I survived a flying ham, I can certainly wipe the floor with your scrawny model ass."
"...So you're going to give me that plate and you're going to fucking like it. Got me?"
They both stood completely immobile, faces and eyes locked. After three very deep breaths, Paula snatched the nearest chair, sat down, grabbed Padma by the arm, and threw her into her lap. All the chefs watched on in slack-mouthed horror as Paula swatted Padma repeatedly on her pant-suited behind. Then she tossed her to the side, got up, and devoured the entire plate of fried shrimp and avocado. "Boy, was that delicious," she said, daubing the corners of her mouth with a napkin. She stepped over Padma's legs, still sprawled out on the floor, and moved to the next station.
It was time to eat Mike Isabella's food. Before we can get to his dish, which is a "chicken oyster" served on a shell, we must first discuss Richard Blais and his prophetic works. Richard Blais isn't a psychic, per se, but he is in tune with the spirits of the culinary world. At night and in moments of rest, he is seized by the spirits of dead chefs and they work through his body to get out all the experimental dishes they wished they had tried when they were still alive. When this happens, he grabs his notebook and starts writing and writing and writing. There are pictures too, and measurements and details, but it's not like they are exactly recipes from the great beyond. No, it is like the words of a Sybil and must be interpreted and massaged into something magical, usually with the use of liquid nitrogen.
That morning at breakfast, Richard cracked open his magical notebook filled with the dishes of the spirits and white light shone out of the pages and onto his face. But Mike was looking over his shoulder and saw the recipe for the chicken oyster. And then decided he was going to make it for himself.
Paula and Padma—otherwise known as P&P Music Factory—loved the dish, but Richard knew it was from his prophesy. He was angry and glowered across the room at Mike. But Mike, being such a craven thief, didn't even try to hide that the inspiration came from Richard. He was all, "I saw this thing for a chicken oyster on an oyster shell in the magic book, so I just decided that spirit recipes belong to the world, so I just made it myself!" What a dick.
Paula says that the disembodied spirit of Antonia would have won, but because Padma didn't taste the dish (and because Antonia is technically no longer alive) that she was ineligible. Instead Mike won. He was all cocky and arrogant thinking that he was god's gift to chefs. It was like that day in high school when he got his leather jacket with fringe all over it and walked into Bayonne High School with his head held high and his chest puffed out thinking that finally, for once, the jocks would give him high fives and all the ladies would pay attention. But they just laughed at him. As soon as he passed by, they pointed and laughed, but he kept up his macho walk, totally deaf to the indignation that wafted behind him like carcinogenic pesticides from a crop duster.
Anyway, after the challenge Padma said, "Alright, dickwads, I got sick of stupid Tony Bourdain and Gail Simmons always hogging the spotlight. I had them killed. Replacing them today is John Besh. He has something to do with New Orleans. Since all their seafood is dead because of an oil spill, we're going to cook the seafood New Orleans style. You have to pick a protein."
Then six trays of protein floated into the room. All the chefs were looking at each other like, "How the fuck is that food floating?" Everyone except for the fluttering curtain Antonia. She was like "Hi Tiffani. Welcome back, Tre. It's so good to see you Fabio. What up, Spike. Stay away from me, Angelo. Ew, Marcel." Yes, only Antonia could see them, because they were ghosts of contestants past, and they were here—like any poltergeist—to make life horrible for those still living. When you picked a protein, that specific specter came along with it and would shiver and shake the chef for the rest of the challenge.
Shop, shop, shop; accuse Mike of stealing, accuse Mike of stealing, accuse Mike of stealing; boring, boring boring. And they're back in the kitchen cooking. Black Tiffany and Marcel are not getting along because Marcel is an asshole who keeps needling her with the same idea over and over again hoping she'll change her mind. It is a particularly fierce kind of haunting. Carla, the Owl Princess of Yosemite, is very upset because the dish that she cooked for the Quickfire didn't work out well. In all of her brilliance, she is going to make the same dish again, hoping she can perfect it. She has drafted the ghost of Tre (who makes us shiver in so many ways) to help her. However, Tre is not of the Owl Clan like her and doesn't know any of the strange dishes that she wants to cook. Angelo is just happy to be around his love Mike once again. When Mike walks by, he slaps Angelo on the ass, which brings a smile to his face and a...well, it makes him happy.
Cook, cook, cook; boring, boring, boring, and they're off to serve 300 people at a fundraiser for the New Orleans oil spill or some shit. There are all these people there and they keep putting their names on the screen with no descriptions like we're supposed to know who they are. But we don't. They're just normal unattractive people. It's like that annoying friend of yours at brunch on Sunday talking about some fabulous party he went to the night before and he's all like, "Oh, Snidely Prendergast was there. And Joseph Honeyclotter and Lindsay Fanatussi and Amy Fine Collins wearing this fierce jacket that must have been Galliano. It was amazing," but you have no clue who any of those people are and you kind of don't care but it also makes you feel a little stupid for not knowing. Maybe that just happens to me.
But the revenge was that everyone—including the judges—hated all the food. All the guests were waiting in long lines and harassing all the contestants and going up to Carla and saying, "Do 'Hootie-Hoo,' Do 'Hootie-Hoo,'" and she would Hootie-Hoo to make them go away. And then they would just bitch about how nasty everyone's food was. The judges were having an equally hard time. They got up to Richard's stall and he was preparing their plates. He made Padma wait for five seconds and then she screamed, "You better give me some fucking food!"
Dale, smug enema nozzle Dale, was struggling with his stew. He picked his protein last and got stuck with some giant fish we had never heard of. He knew he was in trouble, but was hoping that "owning" last episode would carry him through to next week.
They get to judges table and Padma calls in Richard, Mike, and the flutter Antonia, queen of the ghosts. Again it comes down to these three on the top. They like Antonia's crap cakes, and Mike's shrimp fried in grits (an idea he stole from the spirit of White Tiffani), and Richard's shrimp with pulled pork. When it comes down to it, Richard wins and he lets out a huge, "In your face!" while pointing his chest and his raised index finger at Mike. Well, he would have, if he wasn't so meek.
Then it's time for Princess Carla,
Black Tiffany, and smug toe nail clipping Dale to face their final judgment. We knew it was going to be them, because of all the food that people hated, they hated their dishes the most. Princess Carla apparently put way too much hot sauce and collard greens and other Owl Clan delicacies on her fried fish and ruined it. Dale undercooked his potatoes and put way too much mustard in his stew—so much mustard, it burned Padma's mouth like when she has to say she's sorry (which only happened once). Tiffany didn't cook her shrimp right and put too much honey on them, which is sort of like her usual strategy of killing people with kindness.
We thought for sure that it was going to be Tiffany or Carla to join the growing ranks of the ghosts, since they had been in the bottom consistently for weeks, but instead, Padma said it was time for Dale to go. I audibly gasped when they announced the decision. I really don't like that smug tampon string Dale, but he was clearly one of the best chefs and won more challenges, it seems, than anyone else. How is that talking roll of neck fat called Mike Isabella is still there and Dale isn't?
Dale was devastated too. His fragile ego ruptured like a balloon pushed into a pin and, like a deflated balloon, he just hung there limp and crying, red and latexy, waiting to be thrown out with the rest of the trash. And like a balloon, his confidence was just so much decoration trying to mask that he hated himself deep down inside. All that bravado there to make everyone think he was so great when deep down inside he thought he was a deep-fried turd nugget. As he packed up his knifes he started to feel a bit better, his ego reinflating, but the balloon still had that hole in it, and all of that new confidence seeped out with a weak whistle. This was it for Dale, smug limp balloon Dale. He would never rise again.