Friday, July 20, 2007

Julie and Julia: Er, I mean, the cooking shows, of course.

This week on Top Chef, the episode started with a vaguely bizarre quickfire challenge requiring the chefs to utilize the wonder ingredient that is . . . frozen piecrust? Yeah, that's what I thought. So in the end, it seemed that everyone ended up doing some sort of tart; be it meat-filled or fruit-filled (except for Hung, who's ingenuity lead him to make some disastarous chocolate mousse) and in the end, it was Joey, owner of one disturbing neck mole, and his trio of tarts that won immunity.

Moving on to the main challenge, the chefs were informed that they would have three hours to put together Latin themed lunch for the cast of the Telemundo soap Dame Chocolate. However, it was mentioned in the description of the challenge that the life of a soap star is hectic and their filming schedule always changing. Hm, upcoming twist? I think so.

After another fascinating trip to the supermarket, the chefs return to the kitchen to luxuriate in their three hours of cooking time. Except three hours is too easy, so in comes Chef Tom Colicchio to inform our poor put-upon chefs that the timetable has been moved up and in reality they have only an hour and a half to cook their meals. Bugger. So now, as one might expect, the kitchen is aflutter with stressed out sommeliers running around like chicken . . . well, you know. Now, I understand the producer's need to inject challenges with surprises and to raise the stakes, but forcing a dozen or so people to hurry around a room with open flames and very sharp knives seems like a (pun very much intended) recipe for disaster. This point seemed to be proven when Hung very nearly gave Casey a free nose job with an ill-timed whirl with a blade at face level.

As often happens, most every dish came together relatively well, but ultimately it was the cast of Dame Chocolate who passed down judgement. Some who attempted classic Latin flavors succeeded, though some failed miserably. It was Joey paired in the top two with Howie, these nemeses turned best friends sang each other's praises with Howie taking the top prize and then giving it to Joey. They are in love. Hung again misfired this challenge, but it was Lia, last week's winner, self-admittedly out of touch with Latin flavors that was eliminated.

Next week? Back to groups!

On Hell's Kitchen this week . . . okay, you know what? No. Nothing ever happens on this show. Nothing different. It's the same thing week to week and no piddly paragraph I write or don't write on it is going to change things. For those of you that want a play by play go here. It's far more thorough and shows an interest I could never feign.

Instead, let me tell you about a fantastic book about cooking and the average girl. Julie and Julia follows one woman's journey through the cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in just a year. Yes, I know this book came out a long time ago, and in truth, I read it a long time ago, but that doesn't change the fact that it's hilarious and touching and all about fantastic (and sometimes less than fantastic) food. A must read for foodies and non-foodies alike.

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