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October 13, 2015

Top Chef: Thunderbirds

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 3rd 2009 3:41PM
MIchael V. prepares an American favorite - bacon!
Bacon might be one of America's unhealthiest foods. But as comedian Jim Gaffigan pointed out in his last special, bacon also holds awesome powers that are far beyond the grasp of mere mortals.

Given enough patience and time, bacon can move mountains, eradicate poverty and help scientists discover a lifelong cure for herpes simplex one.

Bacon's divine power proved itself once again in last night's Top Chef.

The teams are thrown back into the blender following last week's "Battle of the Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties" straight into an aptly named "Quickfire" Challenge. It's one of the chief reasons I'm starting to enjoy Top Chef. It doesn't dick around with useless squabbling or backstage antics that seem to eat up time on every other reality show. It gets to the meat of the challenges and focuses on the competition. It's like watching any other Bravo reality show, if they cut the whole thing down to five minutes.

The crew have to put their hash-slinging to the test by creating an out-of-this-world dish using potatoes as their main ingredient that will be judged by culinary expert Michael Peel. Will next week's episode feature a challenge to create the best pizza with celebrity guest judge Johnny "Stuffed" Crust?

It turns out that making a potato-themed dish ain't all lilacs and shamrocks. It's quite difficult to bring flavor to such a dull vegetable and it shows well in the frustrated efforts of the chefs. Jeese goes heavy on the spice and almost crushes her own forehead from slapping it too hard in post-desperation. Eli leaves a pistachio shell in his dish. Ashley curses the laws of physics for not allowing water to boil faster.

This time, however, Jennifer's steamed mussels in potato sauce wins her the creamy taste of immunity and the captain's chair from her teammates in the next round. An Air Force Colonel strong-steps into the kitchen and announces the chefs will be cooking for 300 airmen at the Nellis Air Force Base. The team is fired up since some of the men and women will be going to and coming back from overseas duty, turning episode three into the official "Hooray for America" episode of the season.

They only have a day to prepare their menus using only the contents of a military kitchen to make something slightly more scrumptious than an "SOS" (Google it, but wait at least one hour after eating). The chaos begins and quickly crescendos with a home-style Southern meal that could shut Foghorn Leghorn, I say, shut up. That means it was good, particularly Kevin and Eli's braised pork shoulder and potato salad and Michael V's bacon-esque pork loin lettuce wrap, which wins this week's "So good you'll wanna slap yo momma" competition.

Michael I.'s bland shrimp salad, however, finds himself in both the winning and losing interviews, which makes him "frigging livid," along with Preeti and Laurine's uninspiring red pepper salad. Laurine's excuse? She forgot she was in a competition. That's understandable. Brett Favre keeps making the same mistake.

Preeti, however, got the big ugly axe for sticking by her sad and sorry excuse for a salad. But in this competition, everyone's a winner because the boys and girls of Nellis absolutely fell in love with their impromptu buffet.

Hooray for America indeed.

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Alicia R.

I can't wait fro Mike I. to go home. I want to smack the TV every single time he opens that trap of his. I haven't disliked a Top Chef contestant since Tiffany, the way that I dislike that man.


September 04 2009 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alicia R.'s comment

I haven't figured out if he's just playing for the camera or if he's really that big a . Either way, his cooking doesn't keep up with his mouth.

They're still separating the wheat from the chaff this season... He'll get his before too long. Jesse will also get the boot, so will Ashley. And Mattin.


September 04 2009 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patrick R

A few comments...

Regarding the bacon: what Rob Stevens said.

Michael Peel: should be Mark Peel.

Eli: Moreso than the errant pistachio shell, I think he was done in by the fact that his dish was supposedly too sweet.

Ashley cursing the laws of physics: this only happened because someone else used the water she had already prepared, so I suspect she was far angrier at Preeti than at the laws of physics.

Michael V's bacon-esque pork loin lettuce wrap: this was not bacon-esque. It was, in fact, braised bacon -- which itself is cured pork belly. No loin involved.

Preeti & Laurine's salad: You're right, there were red peppers in it, but overall it would be more accurate to call it a pasta salad.

September 04 2009 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I get the feeling what Laurine was trying to convey, wasn't that she was uncaring about the competition, but that she was wrapped up in creating something positive for the troops and got caught up in THAT moment, forgetting about competition in her zeal to give them something back. Unfortunately for her, pasta salad is one of the judges least favorite dishes in any competition (someone in the past made one and got a similar reaction from them.)
I got what she was trying to accomplish with a cold dish, just should have tried to be more creative in making one.

September 04 2009 at 8:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Frost

This is my first time watching this series. I'm looking forward to when they can spend a little more time on how each chef assembles their selection. Right now there are just too many cooks in the kitchen to really follow who has the skill (besides Kevin and the Brothers).

September 03 2009 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob Stevens

"Bacon might be one of America's unhealthiest foods."

Cite your source, or stick to reporting on TV. Bacon, in and of itself, is not unhealthy. A certain amount of fat and protein in our diet is required, and bacon is a good source of both. Of course the key, as with many things, is "in moderation."

September 03 2009 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Top Chef judges like anything with pork. Always a winner.

September 03 2009 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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