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Okie Dokie

In defense of Jenna. (Sort of.)

By Monica A. Reyhani

I must preface this week's recap with the fact that I finally just watched The Hangover 2. And if you'll remember, while most of it does take place in Bangkok, Chiang Mai does get a shout-out. And no matter how difficult this challenge was for our chefs, no one ended up in a Simian drug ring or with a regrettable face tattoo, so overall, I think they were better off. So, quit your bitching, chefs!

This time around, the chefs broke up into pairs. Was I the only one surprised that Nookie and John teamed up, rather than Nookie and Avery? Or did I miss something? Avery actually ended up with Jenna, which would eventually cause major issues throughout the whole episode. First, the chefs had to "Go to Pahyum Mrket and Purchase 2 Bakets of Coconuts." No one at the market speaks English -- and Jenna doesn't know Thai! What's the Italian phrase for not knowing how to speak Thai?! I will say that the chefs were lucky that the cab drivers on the way over did speak English and many of the chefs took advantage of that by asking them how to say things, like "coconuts," in Thai. John and Nookie find the coconuts first, but the ladies aren't far behind. Watching the chefs try to operate the baskets was fairly amusing, and it seems the Thai women in the market were equally amused.

The chefs then had to head to a specific location to grate five pounds of coconuts. Nookie and John gain their lead back by paying a Thai woman to show them how to get to the location. And luckily, John knows the correct method of grating cooconuts, which apparently invokes a wooden board and a nail. Yikes! Jenna and Avery's team begins to break down already, with Avery claiming that Jenna got them lost on the way to the grating location. While I'm all for blaming Jenna, it always takes two to tango, and Avery didn't know where she was going either, so the accusation seemed fairly unwarranted. I don't think it was clear how Jenna was responsible for being lost. Once that team finally arrives at the grating spot, Avery comes up with the idea to leave some of the coconut water in the coconuts to weigh them down. Since the groups are being judged by how fast they can grate by weight, this is pretty smart. Nookie can't figure out how Jenna and Avery are catching up so quickly, which I find amusing because this "technique" seems right up Nookie's alley.Next, the teams have to head to a rice paddy and this is where all hell breaks loose. Nookie and Jon keep their lead despite Nookie's slowness. I have to say I was realy impressed with John's motivational skills. He had a lot to do with Nookie being able to push through. Nicole and Liz are a little behind, but are working well together. And then there's Avery and Jenna. Jenna's boots kept getting stuck in the patty, and rather than take them off, she chose to leave them on, and so she wasn't going that fast. And Avery was getting pissed. Remind me to never get on Avery's bad side. After planting 20 rows of rice paddies, the chef had to then race to the Ban Dient Temple. The boys got there first. (Did anyone else think Nookie would ask that random Thai man if he could borrow his motorcycle?) And, honestly, I had that Troop Beverly Hillls feeling again! Nicole and Liz weren't too far behind, and then came Jenna and Avery, much later. They walked. Avery completely gave up. I have to say as difficult as Jenna might be, I thought Avery was being kind of a pill. On a sidenote, have you read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers? There's a great narrative about rice paddies, and that's all I could think of during this moment. For winning the Course, John and Nookie get an advantage in the Takeover.

The Takeover required the chefs to take over (har har) a food stall in the food market. Chef McDang wold guest judge. Nookie and John had the advantage of cooking two dishes, and therefore got more money for their ingredients. Jenna and Avery were left out in the cold -- literally -- not being able to use heat in their dish.

The trip to the market for ingredients was interesting. Maggots and piranhas?! Yikes. I've seen that piranha circulation thing before, but selling maggots? For what?! Obviously while going through the market, Nookie made the requisite ladyboy joke. Had to happen. We saw a weird side of Avery in the marketplace. She threatened to kick a puppy! I will say though that Avery and Jenna probably had the best experience at the market because they found a local woman to show them how to make a dish -- papaya salad. They learned from the incident with Nonna that they should listen and they did! On to the food stalls. "I always dreamed of having a street cart of my own." OK, John. After a lot of yelling on Nookie's part, the hosts finally come around to taste the chefs' food. Basically, Liz and Nicole's food was good, but it wasn't authentic Thai and they ran out of their protein. Jenna and Avery's dish seemed to be the most authentic. Did anyone else catch Jenna holding on to the one Thai word Jenna learned and telling Avery to use it too? That was right before Avery told Jenna she barely listens to her! Priceless. Also, is anyone surprised that none of the teams made noodle dishes? Just me? OK.

Then there was Nooki and John. While their main dish apparently didn't have much flavor, they had another -- a drink, that sold like hot cakes.

When Nookie saw that he was running low, he watered it down, and while the diners could taste the difference it didn't matter -- he already had their money. The team that makes the most money wins, so that was Nookie's goal. And he succeeded, with their team pulling in way more money than the second-place team. So, the elimination vote was between the two bottom teams. While Jenna wasn't happy that the boys were rewarded for Nookie's deceit, she needed to get over it because they won. So it was the ladies' turn to vote.

Nicole decides to vote for her partner because the diners preferred the dish. This was as shocking to me as it was to Liz. I'm all for integrity, but I mean, this is a competition. Why would you get rid of one of your biggest allies?! In the end, though, Liz gets two votes -- from Nicole and Avery, and Jenna gets two votes. It's up to this week's MVC, John, who vote for Jenna. I was actually kind of surprised because he's been bitching about Liz and Nicole for a few episodes. But ultimately, everyone wanted Jenna gone, and now she is. So it'll be interesting if the "alliances" that have formed will remain next week. They just got rid of their scapegoat. Maybe the chefs will actually take more responsibility for their own actions and their outcomes. 

So Jenna goes home, John wins again, and we'r off to Hong Kong! Should be interesting to see who the chefs turn on now that Jenna's gone. Until then, Have a Nosh!

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