Big Trouble in Little China
Bravotv.com's Senior Editor doesn't understand why the other chefs still listen to Nookie.
Before I get into this week's big trouble in huge China, I'd like to say that I feel slightly vindicated by last week's 80 Plates poll on Bravotv.com. I asked whether Jenna was really all that bad. And you know what? The winning response was that no, she wasn't, and people just needed to blame their shortcomings on someone else! I was shocked, but oddly pleased.
OK, now we're in Hong Kong, you guys! First, we have to take care of the business of Avery selecting a new team. She opts to go with the women. She chooses the ladies's team, claiming that she thought bonding with the women was important -- well, she said that before she actually started working with them. What's interesting is that she didn't trust enough in Nookie's "alliance" that he wouldn't vote her off if she was on his team and they lost. And that takes us to the Course.
First, the two teams have to locate the Tian Tian Buddha. This involves a cable car. Poor, Nookie. I feel you, bro. I'm afraid of heights too, and going on the The London Eye recently was difficult. And even that's sturdier than a cable car! But Nookie put on a makeshift blindfold and trucked through.
Next, they had to locate the Wah Hing Hong Shop. Nookie and John found their way first, but the ladies saw where they were going and actually got to the shop first. Although Nookie was bummed, it didn't really matter. At the shop, they had to bundle 10 hairy crabs. A lovely fact scrawls across our screen telling us that these are sometimes sold in vending machines in China. I think this is one case where one doesn't hope two don't accidentally fall. I'll take a Twix instead, please. Nicole takes it upon herself to complete the task for the women. And it's weird she had so much confidence because it certainly wains quickly while she's actually doing it. Nookie finishes first, and jumps to the next task: heading to the Peking Garden at the Alexandra House and filling seven steamer baskets with Happiness Dumplings Yummm. This may come as a surprise, but I've only had proper dim sum once, in Chinatown in Los Angeles. And it was amaaazIng, and stressful. Many of you will remember the dim sum challenge from Top Chef last season. Well i think the eating can be just as anxiety-inducing as the cooking if you don't know what to order! I will be asking for Happiness Dumplings next time, though, because they looked delicious. The female chefs finally catch up to the men, and actually do well in their dumpling creation. Nicole once again takes it upon herself to tackle this task. Sooo, Avery's on the sideline. I don't know why the female chefs wouldn't have their strongest competitor, you know, compete. Nookie obviously takes this opportunity to heckle Avery. Why not?The boys eke out the win. And Curtis and Cat issue the Takeover. Extreeeme Chinese Cuisine. No Mountain Dew involved. And the kicker? The chefs will cook individually. Finally! I'm sure this is amount many of you have been waiting for.
The whole crew heads to Bo Innovation, a restaurant known for being, er, innovative, and No. 52 on this year's list of the best restaurants in the world. There, they are treated to a tasting menu with the Demon Chef, Alvin Leung. Yikes! Not only does this guy yell at his servers, but he hits on Avery. I was uncomfortable just watching this. Not sure if this guy is auditioning to be the next Gordon Ramsey, but he seemed to lighten up pretty quickly. The food did look pretty cheffing cool, though. Although, I almost puked when I thought they were going to eat dog food. Silly Monica. Apparently these tricks are not for me. Although, yeah, I'd probably eat a fake condom. You only live once, right? I was not surprised Nookie picked up on Chef Leung's comment about the Chinese vinegar, as it was the ingredient that most resonated with me as well.
The next day, John and Nookie went back to Bo Innovation to claim their Exeptional Ingredient -- extra cooking time and help from the restaurant Sous Chef, David Yu, who was super-nice (another reason I believe the Demon Chef has a soft side.) While Nookie took advantage of Chef Yu, asking him which methods he should use for his first course, and having him actually do it, John went off on his own, confident in his techniques. The women finally arrived, ready to cook their dishes. That moment when Nookie opened the door and told Liz he was there to help her, before closing the door while she was speaking grossed me out. We get it -- she's naive and you're there to compete. Chill, Nookie. But as he says, he works smarter not harder. I've always been the biggest fan of people who worked both smart and hard. Call me crazy.
The Demon Chef dines with Curtis and Cat, and John takes front-of-house. Well, for a few minutes. Chef Leung instantly criticizes his techniques and he steps back a bit. You knew this would happen when John told the servers he would help. You could just imagine the thought bubbles over the regular servers heads saying, "Yeah, OK, buddy."
On to the meal! Out came Nookie's oyster. People enjoyed it. Cat's only complaint was that she didn't get enough vinegar. Also, he had a lot of time and only made an oyster. Next came Liz's pot pie. According to Chef Leung, "Asians do not like this." I couldn't decide if I appreciated her take on an American comfort foos with an Asian twist or thought it was a total disaster. Either way, her pork was overcooked. At one point in the kitchen, Liz says that there was shift in the competition.. "We've all got targets on our backs." And therein lies LIz's problem: she's always had a target on her back and never realized it. Hopefuly she hasn't realized this too late.
Next came John's course, which was a complete train wreck. His "snow" melted and he overcooked his sallops. John had said "Chinese people love scallops." Well, I'd like to follow up that complete overgeneralizeatin with "Nobody likes overcooked scallops."
Nicole serves her smoked duck. Cat calls it "astringent." Maybe Nicole can sell her duck at Kiehl's? I only started drinking tea recently, but I still don't love tea-flavored things, so her dish would probably been a miss for me.
Finally, we have Avery's dessert, which seemed to be the best dish of the night, which is why she wins Most Valuable Chef. Nookie complained that her flavors were Thai. I don't think he's wrong, but he needs to get over it.
The remaing chefs have to vote someone else off. Not surprisingly, Nicole goes home, but not after John goes into a tirade about her lack of passion. I couldn't tell if he was a little tipsy, but I'm also noticing that every chef on this show mumbles, so who knows? At this point in the competioin, I may have voted off my biggest competition, which is Nookie.I still don't understand why the other chefs are afraid to vote him off. Oh, because they're totally blind to his manipulation -- that's right. John likes to think he's playing the game as well as Nookie, but he's not, and his little outburst showed that.
Next week, we're in Buenos Aires. If that doesn't get Curtis to take his shirt off, I just don't know what will. (Did I just type that?) Until then, Have a Nosh!