Top Chef
Freezer Burn

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OMG, IQF! WTF?

Moving on to the Elimination Challenge, Padma babbles stats about the frozen meal market and I really don't care about them because while I eat frozen meals, I don't need to memorize their money haul. Looking as embarrassed as the toxins will allow him, Rocco pulls out a bag of Bertolli's frozen "Mediterranean-style" pasta dinners and does a quick commercial (we'll get the longer commercial during the actual commercial break): cooks in ten minutes, you feel like you're actually cooking for your family, blah blah blah advertising copycakes. The cheftestants draw knives to pair up, and the teams are: Tre and CJ, Hung and Joey, Howie and Sara M., Sara N. and the Brians, and Dale and Casey. According to Padma, each team must create fifteen portions of "a new Italian-style, Mediterranean frozen pasta meal for two." All portions must be packed individually, ready for the skillet, and fully heated in ten minutes. They have two hours to cook and get everything in the freezer and the next day, they have an hour to pack up their meals. BIG PAUSE, as all the cheftestants are told to look puzzled for the noddies. The members of the winning team will each get two tickets each to Italy, courtesy of Bertolli. Pandemonium. The cheftestants clap and cheer. Joey tells us that if he wins, he's sending his mom and sister to Italy because they've never been there. Aw.

The teams split off to examine the frozen contents of the Bertolli bag and plan their strategies. Tre, CJ, and Hung all note that everything in the bag is frozen separately. Dale and Casey squee over their shared inspiration to make meatballs. Oh, I'd be careful, Rocco and his Mama's meatballs are sort of Oedipally, freakishly entwined. Howie thinks that Sara M. is a whiner and he knows that she thinks his food is too simple, "People like Sara don't realize that putting a bunch of bullshit on a plate does not make you a chef." No, sweating into everything you cook makes you a chef. But whaddayagonndoo?

The cheftestants have $100 and thirty minutes to shop for their ingredients. A lot of the teams go for chicken, but Howie grabs shrimp. Tre has the idea to class up their chicken with black truffles. Hmm, that's an interesting idea. Usually truffles go better with a protein that can handle them, like beef or lamb. They might overwhelm chicken. Howie is incensed that Sara M. wants to use tri-color fusilli, "To me, that's the cheesiest, corniest pasta that you see in every buffet table, in every schlock house across the country." Hung tells us that he's choosing penne, but in the market, we see Joey picking out the tri-color fusilli. Hung appears to give in to Joey fairly quickly. Note that we don't see Hung telling Joey he wants penne. He just tells us. Not Joey. Note it for later.

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