Monday, June 29, 2009

The Next Food Network Star - 6.28.09

Bobby met the wannabes for the first challenge, and challenged them to make their best burger. The winner will have their burger at Bobby's Burger Palace in CT. They will have to represent a region of the country, and they have 20 minutes to cook, and 30 seconds to present it to the selection committee.

Melissa gets my vote immediately because she's making a Burlington, VT Burger with cheddar cheese. However, that doesn't look like VT cheddar. It's orange. VT cheddar is not orange. Give me Cabot, give me Grafton!

Katie's turkey burger didn't cook properly and she is nervous about serving it.

Presentation time!

Melissa's presentation of her Burlington Burger (hey, she went to college in VT! Cool) was very good. She nailed her presentation. The committee loved her burger. Lots of lip licking.

Jeffrey's burger with chutney and avocado looked yummy, but they were worried they didn't learn much about him.

Teddy's Pennsylvania Burger looked yummy, and he wasn't over the top, but he wasn't engaging. The committee wasn't thrilled.

Deb's Cal-Asian Burger looked yummy and she is a very good presenter.

Michael's Mulberry St Burger was good looking, but he is so strange to watch. I don't get why they love him.

Jamika's New Orleans Burger looked yummy, but she was over rehearsed again, and sounded like a commercial. Bobby didn't dig her sausage under her burger.

Katie's undercooked San Francisco burger was not presented very well. The ingredients were appreciated, but the rawness = not ok.

The bottom two are Jamika and Katie. Melissa is in the top, but the winner is Michael. It may have tasted great, but I just don't like him on my tv. He's unappealing.

Time for the second challenge! They get to the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum. Guy Fieri enters and tells them that their challenge is to cook their own all American Home Cooking Dish, using ingredients in regional baskets, and it will be served at a homecoming party for soldiers returning from the middle east. The winner will have their recipe in the upcoming issue of USA Weekend.

They have 1.5 hours to prep. They are cooking in shifts of two, because of a tiny kitchen.

Teddy has NY - skin on duck breast, apples, and cream soda. He's making a DLT sandwich.

Jeffrey has Maine - Smoked Sea Salt, blueberries, and lobster. He's not sure what to do with the blueberries, but then decided to make pot pies. He was thwarted by tiny electric burners, and timing. It may or may not work out.

Teddy's presentation included a lot of ums and ums, and flustering moments. Not good. The food seemed to be very good, though.

Jeffrey was embarrassed by his pot pies. They looked kind of nasty. His presentation was quite good, and he told a cute story, but the pot pie was called "disgusting." Oh, that's not good.

Melissa has New Mexico - skirt steak, chilis, and honey. Looks fantastic, but she is not used to working with chilis because her family doesn't like them. She was smart and tasted all the chilis before trying to cook with them.

Katie has Georgia and it didn't mention what her ingredients were, but catfish was one.

Melissa had a great presentation. She did a honey chili skirt steak tostada with a honey mango salsa on top. She had a fantastic presentation and connected because her mom was in the military. The committee loved her food and her presentation.

Jamika had Wisconsin and had cheddar cheese, amber beer and kielbasa. She doesn't like beer but made a casserole.

Katie's presentation was focused on the military aspect, because she has a cousin going to the middle east for another tour. Bobby called her middle of the road.

Jamika had issues with her potatoes and they weren't cooking. She threw her potatoes in the food processor and they turned into goop, but she hopes that it won't matter once it's in the casserole. Her presentation was good, but her food was gluey.

Michael had Hawaii - macadamia, pineapple, and kampachi. Is that a fish?

Debbie had chicken breast, zinfendel, and almonds for California.

And then Michael whacked Debbie in the eye with the corner of his sheet pan. Youch.

Michael's presentation was focused on the love of macadamia nuts. He was engaging, I suppose.

Debbie finished her meal, and was subdued in her presentation, and her food was a little bland. They were disappointed in her.

Time for the evaluations!

Jamika's presentation was called delightful and not over-rehearsed, but her food was a gluey mess.

Katie's food looked healthy without lecturing about it. Her presentation style is still questionable. They did bring up the raw burger, and that is not ok.

Michael's food was good, but he has "not made friends with the camera" yet.

Jeffrey was embarrassed by his food, and it was called suprisingly awful. They said he was flirting up against the edges of blandness. They want more from him.

Melissa's presentation was fabulous and her camera energy is starting to reach the right level, not over the top. They loved her dish. Her dedication to learning the chilis was lauded.

Teddy's sandwich was really good, but his presentation was a mess. He wrote on his hand! Seriously?

Debbie's injury brought her down some, and her food was not a home run, so she did not have her best week.

The winner for the week (and the cover on USA Weekend Magazine) was Melissa. Bravo! She deserved it!

Debbie and Michael were also safe. Teddy's inability to find his own onscreen comfort zone sent him home this week. I think it was his time. If Katie can get it together, I'd watch her show.

Next week, they're on the Rachael Ray show! Fun times.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.25.09

The Group Dance looks like the aftermath of an orgy in the beginning, but then it cut to fancing instead of simply writhing on each other. Then several of them got to dance on puddles, reminiscent of one of my favorite music videos, Love to Hate You, by Erasure. I cannot find it online, but do look for it - it's wonderful.

Cat is wearing a very... interestingly cut dress. Oh, no... it's a jumpsuit. Oh, Cat. No. Just no. Never.

Before getting down to it, Nigel took a moment to mention the terrible news of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson's deaths. They are showing a clip of the Thriller Video in homage. Ah.... I remember seeing this when I was a kid. I actually went, all on my own volition, as a zombie from the Thriller video for Halloween in kindergarten...

Now, it's time for the results. 5 couples take the stage.

Asuka & Vitolio are up first, and I think they deserve to be in the bottom 3. Asuka, at least. They are in the bottom 3. Brandon & Janette are safe. Good good good. Evan & Randi had my love last night, and also America's (or, as Cat said - "The Butt Made the Cut."). Good. Jeanine & Phillip were lovely last night (though Jeanine was better than Phillip). Are they safe? Yes, they are! Good! They didn't expect to be safe. Left on stage are Melissa & Ade, and their rhumba was insane. Are they safe (as they should be)? Cat read the painfully written copy ("It was Ade to remember, but will it be a night to forget?" groans...) and they are safe. Yippee!!

Back from the break, the last three couples take the stage. Jonathan & Karla should be in the bottom 3, and they are. Will the couple joining them be Caitlin & Jason, or new couple Kayla & Kupono? It ought to be Caitlin & Jason, though I don't think they should go home. They are in the bottom, and I am 3 for 3. Woo.

Fast forward throught the professional dance, though it is very talented kids. I caught Cat mussing with the littlest one's hair. Cute. Still. Jumpsuit. No.

Asuka is up first in her solo, and she is sexy, but she is just not up to par with the others. And ballroom solos are hard.

Vitolio's solo included some very impressive leaps and was passionate. I hope he stays.

Karla has a lot to prove in her solo, and I think she proved it. Her solo was interesting and showed some of her unique styling. I would love to see her with Vitolio.

Jonathan did some tumbling but failed to ipress me with his dancing. Again, bland bland bland. Hope he's gone.

Caitlin's solo was emotional and expressive, and I just really love her. She connects. Hope she's safe.

Jason is the last solo, and he also showed some very unique and interesting moves. I think he should stay, too. Really like him.

Fast forwarded through the performance by The Veronicas. I kind of like them, but the hubby wants the tv.

Time for the moment of truth. The judges told Caitlin that she is growing in confidence and gave the best solo. She's safe. Good for her. They said that Karla seemed a little desperate in her solo tonight. They just think that Asuka is an exciting performer, but they don't think she is growing in the competition. They were unanimous in their decision to get rid of Asuka. I think it was the right decision.

Now, to the men. The judges thought that Vitolio is holding back too much, and they want him to deliver. They told Jonathan that he is good at gymnastics, but they don't think he's showing why he should be kept to be America's best dancer. They also told Jason that he had a desperate solo tonight, and they want him to remember he is dancing for his life. Jason is safe. They decided to give Vitolio another chance, and WOOOOOO, Mr. Boring Acrobat, Jonathan, is gone.

Can't wait to see Vitolio & Karla. Bring it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top Chef Masters 6.24.09

The chefs tonight are

Wilo Bennet is a chef in Puerto Rico, and he's been a chef for over 20 years. He's playing for San Jorge Children's Foundation.

Cindy Pawlcyn is the "queen of Napa Valley cooking." She's competing for a charity that helps the underinsured.

Ludovic Lefavre is the next subtitled chef of the night. He's playing for C.H.A.S.E for Life, to teach people how to do CPR to help save children.

The last chef tonight is Rick Bayless and he's competing for the Fronteir Farmer foundation, which gives grants to small farmers.

Not-Padma welcomed the chefs and introduced the Quickfire Challenge,and the chefs had to draw knives, which were different colors. They have to create one-colored dishes, and they are being judged by food photographer and stylists.

Ludovic's Red Dish: Steak Tartare with watermelon, red onion, and beet gazpacho. He was freaking out because the waiters didn't bring the beet gazpacho. The judges didn't like the gazpacho when it was poured on the plate, because it looked a bit like blood. Oops.

Cindy's Yellow Dish: Yellow vegetable curry over sweet corn grits, fried corn tortillas. I would eat that. They liked the different colors of yellow and different textures.

Rick's Green Dish: Roasted vegetables on a banana leaf, with tomatillo, green chili, and pumpkin seeds. They seemed to like it.

Wilo's Orange Dish: Smoked Salmon tartare with coconut milk and tomato paste sauce. The plating ring was left on the plate, and that's a mistake, but the judges liked the flavor.

Not-Padme announced the scores. Ludovic got 3 stars. Cindy got 3.5 stars. Rick got 4 stars. Wilo got 4.5 stars, ring mold and all.

For the elimination challenge, they have to create street food dishes to serve to the general public at Universal Studios. They will be using unique proteins, which they drew knives for.

Wilo got beef hearts. Rick got tongue. Cindy got tripe. Ludo got pig's ears. They have $300 to shop for additional ingredients, access to the entire Top Chef pantry, and 3 hours to prep. Ludo was upset because he was planning a quesadilla and Rick was planning a taco. Cindy was excited to work with offal, because she has actually started a club called "Girls Who Eat Guts." She's kind of awesome.

They have to use pressure cookers to get the offal cooking right (or it's a good idea to), and Cindy got help from Rick in setting it up. Ludo had a hard time getting everything done and refused help in packing up.

Ludo also had a hard time getting his stuff cooked at the event.

Gael Green's Hat made an appearance for judging again. How lovely!

Rick served up a tongue taco, and it sounded pretty good. The judges called it brilliant and melt in your mouth tender. Gael Green's Hat would like a second one.

Wilo was serving a Puerto Rican Tripleta with Heart in pita bread. Some of the judges thought it was a bit too much toppings, but the heart was cooked well.

Ludo was having a terrible time getting things cooked. He used his accent to try to get on the waiting diner's good sides. The judges said the quesadillas were kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich with pig's ear.

Cindy was serving Menudo. The judges liked the tripe, but some seemed to think it was a little underseasoned.

Not-Padme brought the chefs in front of the critics.

Total Scores are:

Ludovic: 16.5 stars
Cindy: 15.5 stars
Rick: 22.5 stars
Wilo: 19.5 stars

Rick wins this round, and I think deservedly.

Until next week!

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.24.09

Cat looks quite lovely and slightly Grecian tonight. I approve.

I'm still saddened by the loss of Max in favor of Kupono. Let's see if he can make it up to me this week.

Joining Mary and Nigel this week is Toni Basil! How fun. She's going to be getting the Living Legend of Hip Hop award. How cool.

Again, anyone wishing to vote, the number is 1-888-TEMPO-##

Karla & Jonathan (Hip Hop, choreographed by Dave Scott. Song: By My Side, Jadakiss feat. Ne Yo) If she weren't a dancer, she would be a journalist. Jonathan would be an acrobat in a circus. I think he's a better gymnast than a dancer, so I could see that. In rehearsals, Karla was doing well, but Jonathan was struggling. Karla definitely did a better job with it in the dance, though Jonathan did a super crazy flip that was highly impressive. I don't get the right vibe from him, though. I really like of like Karla, though. I would like to see her with someone else. Nigel (sounding hoarse) thought it was like an ironed out hip hop instead of smooth hip hop. It was bland for him, with no danger. He pointed out that they were not in sync and it was like a Sunday School Picnic Outing with no hint of gangsta. He bet they would be in the bottom 3. Mary agreed with Nigel about the lack of chemistry and synchonization. She said the highlight was Jonathan's tumbling, but there's no surprise he can tumble. Toni said there was no groove or funk and it felt store bought instead of street.

Asuka & Vitolio ("Thrash Rocker" Jazz, choreographed by Mandy Moore. Song: Heartbreaker by Pat Benetar) If Asuka wasn't dancing, she'd make jewelry. Gawdy jewelry for ballroom dancers. Vitolio would be a lead singer in a band. He thinks. But he's bad. lol. Asuka struggled in rehearsals and broke out in tears. I hope she can bring it together. She was kind of sogt in the dance when she needed to be hard and didn't seem to hit anything quite big enough. Vitolio did a pretty good hob, though. They also seemed out of sync and ind of disconnected. Vitolio did a really awesome lift at the end, though. He was the better one in this pair. Nigel thought that it was fantastic. I don't see it. Mary called it really good, but it didn't take the roof off like last week's. She brought up that they were not alway in sync. She applauded their partnership, though. Toni thinks they have the potential to develop into something extremely powerful. The judges were all really moved by the rehearsal clip. Toni told them not to let the technique get in the way of their emotions.

Ade & Melissa (Rhumba, choreographed by Tony Meridith. Song: Emotion, by Destiny's Child) If Melissa was not a dancer, she would teach pilates and maybe get her own studio. Ade would be a sound engineer. Their rehearsal was rough. Can they bring it in the performance? She os wearing quite the abbreviated dress, and it's impressive. They got the feel of the dance down and did a could really neat moves, including a flip through his arms that I'd have to watch again to understand how it happened, I think. They are a great couple and really work beautifully off each other. Wonderful. Bravo to them. Nigel called it absolutely fabulous and complimented Melissa's back and said that Ade gave Melissa something to undulate against and was highly impressed. Mary said that she was buying the emotion they were selling. She loved how Ade grooved. Then she started screeching. Gah. Toni thought it was beautifully done and thought that Melissa's ballet training worked perfectly for this dance. She then complimented the choreographer. I think that's in the contract.

Jeanette & Brandon (Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. Song: What a World by Common) If Brandon wasn't dancing, he would do lighting and design. Jeanette would be a loan processor in a bank. She's about a year away from a finance degree. The dance is Rock n' Roll meets Hip Hop. I'm really impressed with both of them - Brandon especially! He has some hip hop skills!!! Jeanette plated her Rock Princess Character well, too. That was a fun dance. I really liked it a lot. Totally impressed by Brandon. Nigel called it impressive choreography and was also very impressed by Brandon's skills. Mary said they really hit it. She drooled some over Brandon, and gave them a scream and a cackle. Toni liked the juxtaposition and thought it was strategic choreography, and thought that they nailed it. Good for them. What a great job.

Kayla & Kupono (Vienesse Waltz, choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. Song: Sweet Dreams for You, by Jewel) New Couple! If Kayla wasn't a dancer, she would be a model. Kupono would be a costume designer. They had some troubles in rehearsals, and Kupono doesn't have a lot of upper body strength, so the lifts are really hard for him. Her dress is phenomenal, and the backdrop is a cityscape. There was a lot of wind machine action going on. It was pretty lovely. Nigel said it was very beautiful and sucked up to the choreographers. He said it was very elegant, but it isn't going to make anyone stand up and cheer. Mary said it had a beautiful flow to it, and was so elegant. She appreciated the rise and fall. She did tell Kupono that he had to get heel leads better. She fell over herself about Kayla. She screamed them right onto the Hot Tamale Trine. The dancers rejoiced. I wished for ear plugs. Toni really liked the routine and thought that their shoelessness in a waltz was a little avant garde. She loved Kayla, saying she is always in the moment. She liked the partnership, and really really loved the dance. Good. I thought it was beautiful. I wish Max had been dancing ith Kayla instead, though.

Evan & Randi (Contemporary, choreographed by Mia Michaels. Song: Koop Island Blues, by Koop feat. Ane Brun) If Randi wasn't dancing, she'd be a special ed teacher. Evan would own a custom car shop. The centerpiece of Mia's choreography is about Randi's butt. What? Ok... It was a neat fance, and they danced it well. I liked that Evan got to wear a hat and suspenders. Wonder what Randi's husband felt about all the butt grabbing and adoration in this one!? Nigel said it was very simple choreography, but it was beautifully danced. He liked how the story was followed through from beginning to end. He made many butt jokes, and thought it would be memorable. Mary said they were terrific and did some screeching, saying it was one of the best numbers of the night. She said it was the first time she's seen Evan as the leading man. Toni said she would love to be choreographed by Mia, and thinks that they lived up to the choreography. Good for them. I loved it.

Caitlin & Jason (Pasa Doble, choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux & France. Song: O'Fortuna from Carmina Burana) If Caitlin wasn't a dancer, she would go into Broadcast Journalism. If Jason wasn't a dancer, he would play soccer. They have to get the anger and strength into the pasa doble. Great song! It's not the best Pasa Doble I've seen on the show, but it was pretty good in the end. I do think I could see her thinking in a couple moments. Some of my favorite steos in the pasa were msising (that knee walking thing. No, I don't know techinical terms). They got into character, though. Nigel thought that Jason was performing to the audience instead of to Caitlin. He did think that some of the things were exceptionally good. He likes Caitlin's flow and her lines. They didn't interact a lot, emotionally, and that was a problem. Mary thought it was really a strong performance. She likes Jason's bare chest. She did think he lost his posture just a little at times. Does anyone else think that Caitlin looks a bit like Fergie tonight? A prettier, less "butterface" Fergie? Anyhow... Toni thought that the performance was very good, even if there was some struggle with the style.

Janine & Phillip (Broadway, choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Song: Moses from Singing in the Rain) If Phillip wasn't dancing, he'd be an inventor. Janine would be an actress. They did a great job and were really fun in the routine. Phillip leapt over a long couch. Good job to him. They got to rip up some feather pillows. Wonder if that mess is why they went last. They were adorable. Good job! Phillip ripped his pants! Oops! Nigel made Phillip turn around to show off his rip. He loved Janine, but wants Phillip to bring the skill on, because he is so well loved, he wants to make sure that Phillip is as good as his fans think he is. Mary thought it was really fun, and thought Phillip was better than she expected him to be, though he started struggling at the end. She would love to see Janine on any Broadway stage. She was really good, so I agree. Toni thought the performance was adorable, but wasn't sure that adorable was exactly what they wanted to go for.

My favorites of the night were Brandon & Janette, Evan & Randi, Melissa & Ade, Kayla & Kupono. Phillip & Jeanine were darned cute.

I think the bottom 3 couples will be Karla & Jonathan, Asuka & Vitolio, and possibly Caitlin & Jason. Not sure. I think that Jonathan and Asuka ought to go home, so we'll see if that happens.

What do you think?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Next Food Network Star - 6.21.09

The show begins with the hopefuls meeting Tyler Florence at a giant grocery store. They have $60 to cook a meal for 12 people. They have to record 30 second tips at stations throughout the store on how to stretch your food budget. The person that does best gets an advantage in the second challenge.

The first person for a tip is Teddy, and he was ridiculously over the top. He needs to work on that. Jeffrey does a much better job, and is comfortable on camera and even included a little story. He's much better than I expected him to be.

Melissa gave a really cool tip about green onions - if you put the whites in water, the green grows back. Who knew? I'll be using that tip.

Michael isn't used to budgeting, and said that his average dinner party costs close to $1000. Wow. Insane.

Debbie did ok with her tip, but not great, and Jamika gave a tip to reuse her marinade as a sauce - to which Tyler said "Is that after you make someone sick?"

Eddie was a little weird. Katie started by saying that organic food might be a good way to save money, but back tracked and saved herself by saying that focusing on grains and beans saves money. Bingo.

Tyler singled out Michael, Jamika, and Teddy for bad tips. He likes Jamika's energy, but not her potentially dangerous tip. He said that Teddy seemed like he was trying to sell him a used car, and Michael seemed to be grasping at straws (and missing). The winner of the challenge is Jeffrey, and I think that's fair.

They head out to the Hamptons to cook their budget meals. They are at Ina Garten's house, and they are making dinner for her, her friends, and the selection committee. There is a twist... teams! Appetizer, entree, and dessert. Each finalist is responsible for one dish, and they will collaborate on the third one.

Jeffrey chose Michael for his partner (that's what he got for his reward)
Teddy is paired with Debbie. Melissa is paired with Eddie. Jamika and Katie are the final team.

They have an hour to cook, and 2 minutes to present. Two teams will cook at a time, to "respect Ina's kitchen."

Teddy and Debbie are in the kitchen with Eddie and Melissa.

Teddy and Debbie's Menu:
- Debbie's: Vegetable Lingune with Asian marinara
- Collaboration: Pan Asian Meatloaf
- Teddy's: Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Eddie and Melissa's Menu:
- Eddie: Sweet Onion, Watermelon feta salad with mint.
- Melissa: Lemon Thyme Chicken with port sauce
- Collaboration: Nutella Quesadilla with Bananas foster.

Teddy and Debbie seemed to be working very well together. Eddie doesn't have confidence in Melissa at all, because she's a home chef, and they are not working super well together. Teddy then pretty much forgot about his dessert. Oops. He came up with something that looked kind of like glop. Eddie was very condescending to Melissa, and that makes me angry. If you have such disdain for the home chef, why do you want to be on the Food Network? It's FOR the home chef.

Time for the first groups to serve!

Eddie and Melissa are up first. Eddie talked about his salad, and Melissa talked about saving money with Clean the Pantry meals. Ina said that Melissa glows in the dark and loves her personality, though some of the guests don't like her. Melissa's chicken is deemed kind of flavorless except for the exterior. Eddie's salad is called "inedible." Oops.

Debbie and Teddy worked well together in the presentation, and Debbie calmed Teddy's insane presentation mode. They were very good. The food is also called unusual and very successful. Until they get to the nearly forgotten dessert... oops.

Now, the second groups get together.

Michael and Jeffrey are trying to fuse their ingredients to make something Mexican/Italian.

Jamika and Katie's international menu:
Jamika - Asian Marinated Salmon
Katie - Whole wheat pasta with vegetables
Collaboration - Fruit salad and grilled pineapple

Michael and Jeffrey's menu:
Collaboration - Roasted tomato and chili soup
Michael - Pesto grilled chicken with broccoli rabe
Jeffrey - Chocolate filled Crepes

Jeffrey added some chili seeds back into the soup, and hoped that it wouldn't be too spicy. Jamika was nervous about her salmon. Michael was nervous and siad that he was like a mad woman in the kitchen.

Jeffrey and Michael's presentation was first. Jeffrey did a much better job than Michael, who struggled. Presentation = most of being on the Food Network, so... the soup had a good texture, but not enough heat for some. The chicken got good marks, though, as did the crepe. They just didn't like Michael's presentation so much.

Jamika and Katie were up next. They did a nice job in presentation. Jamika's salmon was given good marks, and the pasta was also good, but not together. Katie fell to lecturing about her health benefits again, which was an oops.

Time for Evaluations!

Jamika and Katie didn't seem to work together on their menu well, and their concept was called a cop out. Jamika's salmon was called perfectly cooked. They loved her presentation. Katie's pasta was decent, but not memorable. They let her know that she seemed to be lecturing.

Jeffrey's use of chili pepper was called timid, and his reuse of the crepes with the daughter story in both presenations was not great. Michael's food was fantastic, but his presentation was described as "lost."

Eddie and Melissa didn't worked well together, and Bobby didn't appreciate Eddie's attitude towards Melissa. Melissa's chicken looked better than it tasted. Eddie's use of onions in the salad was called out, and then he mentioned that he got the recipe from a Paula Deen cookbook. Um. NOT ok. Be original if you want your own show!

The commitee loved Debbie and Teddy's meal, but hated Teddy's dessert, saying it should have been just not served. Teddy then claimed that the meatloaf was his, though the sauce was Debbie's. Not ok. There goes Teddy throwing someone under the bus again. Integrity is important, and he doesn't seem to get that. Debbie was really taken aback by that attitude, and honestly, so am I.

The winning team is Jeffrey and Michael. I really don't like Michael and don't want him on my tv (I just don't think he's a good presenter!) but he did well cooking this week.

Debbie, Melissa, Katie, and Jamika are safe this week. I can see that.

Who will be eliminated? Teddy or Eddie? Teddy needs to step it up, and not throw people under the bus. Eddie seems to have disdain for the home cook, so I don't know... it's a hard decision. In the end, it's Eddie going home, and I am glad. I don't want someone on my tv who doesn't want to help me be a better home cook. Teddy could be good if he resists the urge to climb over people.

Next week - Guy Fieri, panic, Michael whacking Debbie with a pan (hot?) in the face, and more fun. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top Chef Masters 6.18.09

The four chefs competing this week are Graham Elliot Bowles, who calls his culinary style punk rock. His charity is the American Heart Association, in honor of his nephew who is awaiting a heart transplant.

Suzanne Tracht is the second chef this week, and she like simple elegance in food, with a focus on seasonal things. Her charity is Sova, a food bank.

Wylie Dufresne has been on Top Chef before, and he is known for molecular gastronomy. His charity is Autism Speaks.

The final chef this week is Elizabeth Falkner, an avant garde pastry chef, who also does other cooking. Her charity is Edible School Yard, and that's cool. It's about teaching kids about food.

Not-Padme welcomed them.


This week, they will create an amuse bouche from items in a vending machine, a challenge taken from season 2. The judges for the quickfire are Ilan, Betty, and Michael, all from Season 2, who took part in the original challenge.

Let the shopping begin!

They have 30 minutes to cook and create.

Elizabeth whipped out the liquid nitrogen to make some ice cream to go with her braised beef jerky. Interesting.

Not-Padma called time. Not everyone was happy with their dish.

Wylie's dish is a red onion and grilled cheese sandwich with Dr. Pepper reduction. The judges liked the presentation, but the reduction solidified. It was a bit too big to be an amuse bouche.

Suzanne's dish is fried shallot rings with a microgreen salad and a Dr. Pepper aoulli. They judges were salivating about that. Betty licked her bowl, or almost.

Elizabeth made a braised beef jerky with an orange juice, lemon, and horse radish ice cream. There were some faces, and the flavors didn't work for Betty. Ilan said it was a journey.

Graham made a tuna salad with pickled shallot, ginger orange bubbles and beef jerky miso powder. Betty called it brilliant. It got very high marks.

The scores were averaged. Elizabeth got 3.5 stars. Graham's tuna salad got 4.5 stars. Wylie got 3 stars. Suzanne got the maximum 5 stars.

Elimination Challenge

For the challenge, Not-Padme told them they have to cook dinner for the creators and writers of LOST. Neat. Suzanne is a LOST fan. The LOST creators want to know what would happen if chefs were stranded on an island. They can only use items on a weird-island-ingredient table, and they can shop from a "Dharma" list of canned and preserved foods. They have 45 minutes and $200 to shop at Whole Foods for the packaged and canned items on the Dharma Pantry List.

Cooking began.

Elizabeth's plan is: Ancho-Beer Braised Loin, Coffee Scented Poached Boar Loin, and Yam Papaya Pudding. She is cooking the beer sous vide.

Graham's menu is: Maki Roll with tuna & dehydrated pineapple, Tuna nicoise, and tuna a la plancha. Hope the judges like tuna.

Suzanne is making risotto with uni, clams, and prawns, wild boar strip with oyster beer sauce, and mango corn salsa.

Wylie is making Roasted Chicken with poaced egg, beets with dried corn, and plaintain puree. He is poaching his eggs in a circulating water bath.

Gael Green's Hat is back, along with other judges. The writers of LOST say that the dip in quality in LOST in Season 2 was attributeable to too much talking about Top Chef between them.

Dharma-dressed servers took the dishes.

Elizabeth wanted to do more sauce, but her food was taken before she could sauce it. The judges were split about the boar, but the pudding was compared to baby food. More sauce would have been appreciated.

Graham's traveling tuna trio was next. The judges really loved it. Gael Green's Hat didn't get a sound bite on this one.

Wylie's dish would have been better if he didn't get chicken on one plate... and two on another! It was resolved. Ooops. Gael Green's Hat loves Wylie's slow poached eggs. Others were not as convinced. The chicken was highly regarded, though.

Suzanne's meal was really yummy looking. It was called hearty and phenomenal, even though it was complicated.

Who will come out on top?

The critics were intruiged with Wylie's egg. Gael Green's Hat is suspicious of chemicals used in cooking, but loved his chicken.

They wanted to know how Graham thought of using coffee to crust his salmon, and they really loved his inventiveness.

Elizabeth's spices were very useful. They didn't appreciate the pudding, and really wanted more sauce.

Suzanne's crowded plate worked, and the critics really seemed to love her style.

While waiting for the judge's deliberations, Elizabeth decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the group, after claiming that she can make up a chocolate chip cookie dough in less than five minutes. Fun.

The final scores:

Graham's final tally was 20.5 stars.

Wylie's final tally was 20 stars. Graham puffed up about beating his friend Wylie.

Elizabeth's total was 16.5 stars. Ouch.

Suzanne ended up wtith 22.5 stars, and she won the night. Good for her.

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.18.09

The Group Dance is to Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground, and I think they said that Mia choreographed it. It was a very very cool routine. Everyone seemed to really do a great job with it. It was pretty awesome. Everyone was pretty kickass in suits - men, too.

Cat came out in a white suit (looking so much better than last night's fiasco!) and confirmed that it was, in fact, Mia's routine.

Before finding out what the results are, some reactions to Lil C's interesting comments were shown. I totally love Lil C.

Down to the nitty gritty. First to take the stage were Ade & Melissa, Jason & Caitlin, and Phillip & Janine. Happily, Melissa & Ade are safe. After hearing the critique last night, Jason called their hip hop routine hip not. I would agree. Phillip & Janine's tango was a little rough last night, but I still am rooting for them. Who will be in the bottom 3? Caitlin & Jason are the unlucky duo. I hope that they are spared this week because I enjoy them. Just not last night.

Next to find out their fate are Brandon & Jeanette, Jonathan & Karla, and Ashley & Kupono. Brandon & Jeanette are justifiably safe. I really don't dig Jonathan, so I hope that they are in the bottom 3. Karla I like well enough. Ashley & Kupono were pretty weak, though, so .... boo. Karla & Jonathan are safe, putting Ashley & Kupono in the bottom 3.

Who will the final couple in the bottom 3 be? Before we find out, we see that Evan's brother, Ryan auditioned for Season 6 and did a fantastic job, and he is going straight through to Vegas. Sweet. Randi & Evan's jive was a little lacking in some technical aspects, but I still love them. So does America! They are safe! Asuka & Vitolio's waltz brought Mary close to tears, and I just loved loved LOVED Max & Kayla... I hope that Asuka & Vitolio are in the bottom, actually. No! Max & Kayla are in the bottom 3! I wonder if the judge's adoration for Kayla made people less likely to vote for them?

Before the guest performers, Nigel had to tell Cat how devestatingly gorgeous she looks tonight. I agree. She looks classy.

Guest dancer? Bollywood!!! Awesome!!! I love her jingly pant cuffs! Amazing to watch.

Solo time!

Caitlin is up first, and she is simply lovely. She had a really beautiful leaping split that was gorgeous, and she threw in some of her gymnastics know-how. I like her.

Jason also had some really lovely moves. His extenstion is gorgeous, and his leaping splits are stunning. Good luck to him.

Ashley's solo started way back on the stairs and took a while to get to the front, and I wonder if she proved anything other than the fact that she is dead sexy. She might be in trouble...

Kupono showed some very cool moves, but I don't know... he didn't thrill me.

Kayla's solo was really lovely. I don't think she's going anywhere. The judges have too much love for her.

Max did his solo to Footloose,and I appreciate that. Look at those feet go! GO Max. Good choice. He's good. I want him to stay. Badly.

I think Ashley & Kupono might be in trouble... I don't know, though, Caitlin might also be in trouble.

Kristinia Debarge is the guest singer this week, and I fast forwarded. If she wasn't lip syncing, I don't know what lip syncing is. Apparently, she was on American Juniors back in the day. And yes, I watched that, too. It was kind of bad, though.

Results time!

The judges are not unanimous on either elimination tonight.

Caitlin's quality of movement and control were lauded. Ashley's Hollywood Glamour was apprecitated, but they agreed with me that her solo had no real substance. Kayla's solo disappointed them, because they felt she was throwing too much in there. Ashley is leaving. I think that was the right decision. She is gorgeous, but didn't showcase her skills tonight.

On the guy's side, Jason's solo was called exceptionally strong, one of the best on the series to date. He doesn't have to wait to hear that he is safe. Kupono suffered, as did Ashley, with lack of substance in the solo, but they love how he gets his character down and gives it all the to the dance. They love Max, but know it's hard for solos for ballroom dancers... and Max is eliminated. Can I cry now? I just loved him! Boo.

So, next week, Kupono will be paired with Kayla. What do you think of this new couple? Do you think the right people went home?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.17.09

Cat looks like a slightly sloppily wrapped Christmas present, but she manages to pull it off. Impressive. Maybe a piece of ribbon candy... only Cat could pull that off.

Joining Nigel and Mary this week is Lil C. I love Lil C because he said he watched the show live at home last week, and did commentary with himself. Mary regrets her botox comment, expressionlessly. Nigel tells them to just dance well, pretty much.

Tonight, the dancers are told to reveal secrets about their partners.

Again, those inclined to vote - 1-888-TEMPO-##

Randi & Evan (Jive, choreographed by Louis Van Amstel. Song: Shake a Tail Feather - Ray Charles) Randi is one of those dog people who treats her dog like a baby. Annoying. Evan is a gear head and built a car from scratch. Cool. They had a "fun" meter for their rehearsal, but will they have fun on stage? They sure do! They are adorable and he did a flying leap OVER her head, which was highly impressive. I can't wait to see them do latin! They have great feet, and hips. Go Randi and Evan! Lil C said they were out da box with a bang. He did think that Evan looks a little too smooth sometimes. He called Randi a firecracker, and loves the partnership. Mary added some funs to the fun meter. She said that Evan and Randi are built for the jive, but felt it fell short of her expectations a little. She said that Evan missed the triple step action a little. Nigel sucked up to the choreographer, and agreed with Mary that they are built for the jive. He expected Evan to be better than he was, and he lost the double bounce and quick legs. He does love them as a couple.

Ade & Melissa (Jazz, choreographed by Sonya. Song: 24 Hours by Tony Poison) Melissa has been married for four years, and her sister married Melissa's husband's brother. Ade has a really ridiculously long African name, and that's why he goes by Ade. I love Sonya's choreography. The story is about a girl playing hard to get. It's weird, and their outfits are quite something. I think that Melissa did a good job of getting the sweet ballerina out of her and brinign in a naughty girl. Ade was wonderful. It was fun. Lil C called it Buck. He said that Ade is everyone's competition, and appreciates how Ade modifies his manipulation of movement. I love Lil C. He told Melissa that she dove right in and submerged herself in the character of Sonya's choreography. Mary said she needed to give them some tough love, then squealed that it was tough to find anything she didn't love about that. And then she cackled. She loved how Ade stood out, and thought he looked effortless and soared. Nigel said that Sonya's choreography is out there, but it lets the dancers show their chops. He loved it and thought they danced it brilliantly. I would agree.

Jason & Caitlin (Hip Hop choreographed by Shane Sparks. Song: Missin You by Trey Songz) Jason grew up obsessed with Michael Jackson and can do the moves. Could when he was a kid. Very cute. Caitlin uses baby voices and can also make a velociraptor nosie and do the impression. Jason doesn't like those noises. The story of their choreography this week is all about chemistry, and in rehearsals, she ended up pulling Jason's pant down by mistake! ooops. Jason was able to hit some good pops. I don't think that Caitlin hit quite hard enough. They are supposed to be in love in the routine. Her solo could have been better. I love her, and him, but don't really think this was the best. He outperformed her, I think. They do both have lovely smiles. Lil C didn't love it. He said he felt perplexed, because the choreographer's fantasy didn't become the dancer's reality, and worried it was corny and thought it missed some nectar. Mary said it was like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, just two completely different dancers. They had some rolls that were supposed to be in sync, but were not. She sucked up to Shane Sparks, and loves Jason and Caitlin, but didn't like it. Nigel said that this is not really hard hitting hip hop, and sucked up to Shane and said that he did a new style of hip hop for these two dancers and he really liked them.

Brandon & Jeanette (Disco, choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. Song: Love is Really My Game by Brainstorm) Jeanette had really awful teeth growing up. Brandon has never worked out, he just lifts girls. Doriana thought it was the fastest dance she's ever choreographed on SYTYCD. Brandon picked it up well in rehearsal.. Jeanette hada harder time. In the performance, they started with a really cool lift, and ten went into it. They were getting the feel of the disco for sure! Brandon is super strong. Jeanette pulls faces sometimes, but that's ok disco. Jeanette did a really cool flip through Brandon's arms. Near the end, they got out of sync and Jeanette seemed to be waiting for Brandon's lift. Not sure if that was meant to be or not. Lil C thought that the primary focus of all obstacles is to induce labor so progression can be born (direct quote) and thought that he had just witnessed the birth of progression in two amazing dancers. He liked Brandon! He noticed Jeanette's mishap (she tripped), but she recovered well. Mary wailed about how fast the dance was, and I really couldn't listen to her. She is so obnoxious. How can a person live with a voice that annoying. I actually muted her a couple of times. Nigel said that he was standing up and screaming in his mind. He thought it was one of the best disco routines ever. Doriana was in Dirty Dancing! Cool!

Asuka & Vitolio (Waltz, choreographed by Louis Van Amstel. Song: Dreams are More Precious, by Enya) Vitolio is obsessed with motorcycles. Asuka blows spit bubbles. During rehearsals, Asuka told Vitolio that she wasn't attracted to him. Louis ended up making the dance center around Vitolio's story, from being an orphan and all. They started out very nicely, and did an amazing low lifted spin, which ended a little strangely, in my opinion, with Vitolio throwing Asuka over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, but then they went back to the really gorgeous movements. It was a more "lyrical" waltz,, and was lovely for the most part. Mary had her breath taken away. And her words? Please? She was fighting off tears, and Nigel tried to egg her on by blowing into his own hankie. She said tonight was painfully beautiful, and thinks that she finally saw an honest performance from Vitolio, though some of the footwork wasn't always the best. She appreciated Asuka's restraint and passion, and sucked up to Louis. Lil C said that the choppy footwork was overshadowed by his feeling. He said that Asuka had a dominant submission. Nigel said that anyone not touched with the beauty of the routine is heartless. He thinks that he's seeing a different couple this week, and loves how people grow. And then sucked up to Louis.

Max & Kayla (Punk Jazz, choreographed by Brian Friedman. Song: Hot Like Wow by Nadia Oh) Max likes to cook for his roommates, and is the House Dad. Kayla texts a lot, maybe 100 words per minute). The song is about a man performing for a princess, with an ulterior motive.
It was very very cool. Totally different. I love their costumes. It was wonderful and engaging. Lil C said dancing is a language, and they are challenged to pick up vernaculars in a short amount of time. He told Max to give himself a hand, and said that he was left speechless by Kayla because she was amazing. Mary wasn't a fan of Max's outfit, but still watched the dancing. She thought that Max was a huge surprise but didn't steal the throne. She put Kayla firmly on the throne, and screeched (I muted). Nigel sucked up to Brian, and called Kayla a front runner. He said that Max reminded him of a young Kevin Spacey. I assume that's a good thing.

Jonathan & Karla (Contemporary, choreographed by Stacey Tookey. Song: Falling Slowly by The Frames) Karla is a really good hip hop dancer. Jonathan loves to sing, but sings terribly. Their choreographer is new to the show, joining them from SYTYCD Canada (is Mia cutting back?). They were pretty rough in rehearsals. I don't know what it is about them, but I don't find them engaging. I think he's not that strong a dancer. She is better than him, but as a couple, something is lacking. The dance left me cold. And, I preferred Kris Allen's version of that song. Mary thought that Jonathan did this style better than his own, and thinks that they have grown a lot. I don't think they did so much. She then sucked up to the choreographer. Nigel thought that the center of gravity was based on tai chi and loved it. He loved it. Lil C thought they danced it beautifully, and thought it was buck. See, there were moments, but they just leave me cold. Am I alone?

Phillip & Janine (Tango, choreographed by Tony Meridith. Song: Violento by Bailanto!) Phillip is an engineering/physics major, super nerd. He has a reptile collection. Love it. Janine has a teddy named Spanky. Phillip is completely unschooled in tango. There was unintentional groping and manly part kicking in rehearsals. I thought they were entirely engaging and fantastic to watch. They have such incredible chemistry. But, I am in no place to judge the technical issues. Mary gave Phillip an A+ in tango attitude. In technique, she gave him a C-, for bad pivots, sloppy footwork. She loved Janine, and said her technique was a lot better. Lil C said that Phillip's lack of confidence was the heaviest anchor he could place on his art. I love Lil C. He said that he saw a lot of disconnect with Phillip's. Lil C didn't like Phillip's bent knees, but Mary said they should be bent, and Tony agreed. Nigel said the truth was that the last tango we saw on the show was the fantastic tango on the Results show last week, and Phillip just didn't measure up. He didn't really mention Janine.

Ashley & Kupono (Hip Hop, choreographed by Shane Sparks. Song: Imma Be by Black Eyed Peas) Kupono is diagonal about straight lines and is totally ocd about his closet. It's weird. Ashley projectile vomited on her first grade class on the first day of school. Lovely. In this dance, Ashley is Kupono's shadow, and it's a super fast routine. Kupono added Finding His inner Shane Sparks to his infamous To Do List. The beginning was pretty hot. I think that Ashley did a better job than Kupono in general. It wasn't dreadful, though. Ashley looked hot. Mary said it was ok, and she didn't hate it, but she didn't love it. She said it wasn't memorable. Luckily, no screams. Lil C called Kupono for struggling, and said that made it hard for Ashley to follow and mirror him. He urged them to find the serenity in the chaos for true hip hop zen or something. He said he wasn't mad at Ashley, and her moments saved the routine. Nigel also loves Lil C's vocabulary. He thought that the dance stopped just when he was getting into it, and he found himself underwhelmed. Then he sucked up to the choreographer. I wonder if that's in the contract. He feels let down for Shane tonight. I would agree, for the most part.

So, my favorites for the night? Melissa & Ade were my favorite, I think, and Kayla & Max were close. Randi & Evan have a place in my heart, as do Janine & Phillip. Jeanette & Brandon's Disco was pretty kickass, despite the missteps. Asuka & Vitolio were lovely. In trouble? I'm saying Karla & Jonathan (I really don't feel him), Ashley & Kupono, and Jason & Caitlin. That's my prediction. And yours?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Next Food Network Star: 6.14.09

First challenge is bringing food to life, and the guest judge is Ryan D'gastano, food editor for Esquire Magazine. They have to make a menu with food under domes. Everyone has something different, and they are things that are typically in an Esquire Man's pantry.

Katie - Bran Cereal and Rack of Lamb
Debbie - Peanut Butter & Flank Steak
Brett - pickles and ground beef
Michael - Coffee beans and pork chops
Melissa - Marishino Cherries and chicken
Jeffrey - Pistachios and fillet
Jamika - Whiskey and porterhouse steak
Eddie - beer and strip steak
Teddy - Rib Eye and Maple Syrup

And they are doing direct to camera presentations! 1 minute each. Cool. I like when they get right down to it.

Eddie is first, and he is really good on camera. He didn't stumble over words. I think one of his eyes is kind of wonky... but I could overlook that. The judges liked his food.

Melissa is unhappy with her cherry chicken tagine, and did not do a convincing job of presenting. It was called "confusing and boring." Just weird and not good.

Jamika was very comfortable on camera, and I liked the look of her food until she froze and forgot what her food was. She got confused and it was a shame. She was mortified. The judges thought it was probably due to over-rehearsing.

Jeffrey did a really great job describing his food, and was wonderful. The judges loved him. I wish he'd get a hair makeover. Just saying.

Teddy is a little too excited about his food. It looked yummy, but he was too over the top. Bobby Flay wanted to know "Why is he yelling at me?"

Brett looked like he was selling something in an infomercial. It was weird. Is he giving it to me for this one time Low Low price?

Michael's accent bugs me. Cawh-fee. He was short in his presentation, and was completely awkward. He is not camera friendly. The judges liked his food.

Debbie was really wonderful on camera. Her food looked delicious. They didn't think it was very creative.

Katie had to present raw lamb. oopsie. She aso has a wonky eye. She went on and on about the healthfulness of her food, but the lamb was rare rare rare. The judges did not look impressed.

The winner was Eddie. I think he did the best job. Good for him.

The next challenge brought them to the home of Good Housekeeping Magazine. The winner of the challenge is going to get their recipe in Good Housekeeping. Michael, who is NOT an Esquire guy, claims to be ALL about Good Housekeeping.

They each have to cook for a holiday. As the winner of the other challenge, Eddie gets to pull holidays from a stocking and assign them. He decided to go nice for the most part.

Mardis Gras he gave to Debbie, who was very excited.
Michael got Halloween.
Katie got Earth Day.
Brett got April Fool's Day.
Eddie took Valentine's Day.
Teddy got Labor Day.
Melissa got Mother's Day.
Jamika got New Year's Eve.
Jeffrey got the joy of Groundhog Day. lol. oops.

First, they gathered props to decorate their tray, and then got to cooking.

Debbie had a snafu - her rice overcooked and she had to start over. Melissa had a problem getting used to a commercial kitchen. Teddy did a dance. Jamika got annoyed at Teddy and Brett, who were helping Melissa plate, but totally condescending to her at the same time... I commend them for helping out, though.

Time to serve!

Melissa is up first, with her breakfast in bed. She was good in her presentation. Much better than in the previous challenge. Bob said it was just aces. The editor of Good Housekeeping thought that Melissa embodied Good Housekeeping. Cool.

Jeffrey brought Mexican food to Groundhog's Day. He admitted that he had no tie in with the holiday, and the judges found him charming, but wanted a little more connection.

Jamika brought out collard greens and good luck corn bread, and hoped that two side dishes was enough. The judges thought she was true to herself and very good, and loved her food.

Katie brought out her Earth Day meal, and she went on and on and on and rambled. It was too much sharing about the health benefits. She knew she didn't do well, and it was bland. Giada said that the beans gave beans a bad name, and they felt like they were being talked AT instead of TO.

Teddy brought out his Labor Day meal, and he was funny, although a little weird. He made potato salad, crab cakes, and filet mignon. The judges thought he was just acting too much.

Brett told the judges that he didn't think he was going to continue on with the competition. Where did that come from? Oooooooooooohhhhhh - it's April Fool's Day. It was funny. The food had nothing to do with April Fool's Day. The judges wanted more connection... and less shell in their lobster tempura. oops.

Debbie was personable and smiley for Mardis Gras food. It was a Korean potsticker, which is not typical mardis gras food. I wanted to try it.

Michael went a little crazy with the presentation, but the judges thought his food was a bit too overcomplicated.

Eddie shared a bit too much about his Valentine's day meal, calling it his muse. It was odd. There was love on his plate, he said. It was the same meal he made for his girlfriend on their first date. It was weird the way he went into it. He started telling them about how intimate the date was. Ummmmm.... it was very strange. And, his food was not well cooked.

Time for Evaluations.

The judges told Jeffrey that he is a charming con artist, and even though the food had nothing to do with Groundhog's day, it was still yummy.

Debbie's potstickers were a bit too complicated, but the judges loved her storytelling.

Katie was told that her food was not flavorful. She cried and told the judges that they have not had the opportunity to experience her.

Michael's food got good marks, but they thought it was a little too complicated. They love his personality, though.

Eddie's oversharing was called insincere, and the fact that he offended women by saying you need to cook differently for them didn't help.

Jamika was thrilled that her food and her presentation got good marks. And she said that she didn't rehearse, so that was better.

Teddy's food got good marks, but the judges wanted him to not act as much.

Brett doesn't seem to really want to be on tv. He doesn't seem to want it much. And then there was the lobster shell.

Melissa's inexperience in commercial kitchens was kind of a problem. Brett of course threw her under the bus insisting on bringing up the fact that they helped her plate. Teddy refused to throw anyone under the bus. I really don't like Brett. He seems smarmy.

The top three in the Good Housekeeping Challenge are Debbie, Melissa, and Jamika. Jamika picked up the win. Jeffrey, Michael, and Teddy were also safe and were dismissed.

The judges deliberate. They think Brett is likeable. I do not. Bob said that he felt Katie is shoving health food down their throat, and it makes him want to rebel and eat nothing but ice cream and fudge.

In the end, it was Brett going home, and I am thrilled. It was the right decision. He was obnoxious and not good on tv.

As the winner of the challenge, Jamika got to make a Good Housekeeping Recipe for Healthy in a Hurry, and it will be in the July issue. It looked yummy and involved pineapple, so it might be worth checking out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.11.09

The group dance is set to Boom Boom Pow, choreographed by Shane Sparks, and started with a Heroes-esque "Save the Dancers, save the world." It is a really cool dance, and they all did a great job. Phillip had a cool solo, and Caitlin also had a couple solo moments. It was very cool. Cat is wrapped up like a saucy present.

Montage of slightly funny partnership moments and "rules," and mutual sweating. Mostly boys sweating.

Now, on to the results.

Kayla & Max were so good last night. Evan & Randi (still super cute with curly hair) were also very good. Phillip & Janine round out the first 3 groups brought up, and they were my favorites last night, I think. Are all three of these couples safe? I sure hope so! Kayla & Max are safe, Randi & Evan are also safe. How about Phillip & Janine? Yup! Yippee!!!

Next four groups on the stage! Caitlin & Jason were lovely in their Bollywood. They are safe. Melissa & Ade were so gorgeous. They are safe. It's down to Ashley & Kipono vs. Paris & Tony. In the end, Wade Robeson's routine was good for Ashley & Kipono. Paris & Tony are in the bottom 3 couples, I think deservedly. I think that Tony deserves to go, and Paris just needs a different partner.

Only one more couple is safe. Who is it? Asuka & Vitolio are probably in the bottom 3, I think. Am I right? Yes, I am. They are in the bottom 3. Who is the safe couple - Jeanette & Brandon, or Jonathan & Karla? I think it should be Jonathan & Karla in the bottom 3 - because I didn't think they were as good as the judges thought they were. I am correct. They are the last couple in the bottom 3.

It's time for a professional tango! I love watching a good tango. It was very fun.

Paris' solo didn't engage me as much as her dance last night. She's good, though.

Tony's solo was really nothing special. I think he has some good moves, but he doesn't grab me.

Asuka's solo was kind of awesome. She did some great footwork, showed off her stuff. I like her a lot.

Vitolio's solo started with a huge leap that was beautiful. He had some really great lines, and a lot of emotion. He deserves to stay.

Karla's solo involved a lot of running around and she almost toppled once I think. I think she is in trouble.

Jonathan's solo involved a huge flip! He is a latin dancer? huh. wouldn't have guessed that. I think he is safe, because the judges love him to pieces.

I think that Karla and Tony are leaving. Let's see if I'm right.

(First, performance by Sean Kingston, who I don't like. I just don't like reggae at all. I muted him.)

So, who is going home? The judges were unanimous about Paris going home. I'm sad. I think she had some potential. Oh well. She didn't have a very good solo.

How about the guys? They were unanimous again. They didn't think that any of the three had very good solos, and think that all of them are in trouble. Vitolio needs to bring more personality, but he's safe. Good. He was good, and I want to see more of him. Tony is going home, and I think he deserved to go home. I don't honestly think he should have been in the Top 20 in the first place.

So, no couples get mixed up, and Tony & Paris go home together. Well, probably not TOGETHER, but simultaneously.

Until next week!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Show Alert: Top Chef Masters

It's a battle of famous professional chefs! Will it be as good without Padme as host? Kelly Choi takes her place. They are playing for $100,000 for their charities.

We'll see!

They are doing 4 chefs at a time, against each other, and then I assume, down like a bracket.

First up is Michael Schlow. He is an Italian specialist. He's won the James Beard award, along with lots of others. His charity is for cancer.

Hubert Keller is next. He's also got a handful of restaurants, and among other things, trained White House Chefs on healthy cooking. He is playing for Make a Wish.

Christopher Lee has won many awards in his young career. His charity is Autism Speaks.

Tim Love is a Texan chef. He is playing for March of Dimes. He is not formally trained, and calls himself just a cowboy.

Quickfire Challenge (which they will be bringing back favorite Top Chef Quickfires from seasons past).

They have to make the most creative and original dessert they can make. Girl scouts will be tasting them, and the chefs will be able to see them, but the girl scouts won't see them. They have 60 minutes.

Tim started off with a shot of tequila. For himself. Not the girl scouts. Michael had a bit of a problem - his cakes didn't bake all the way, his ice cream base was liquid, and in the end, he just had candies and hunks of almost cooked cake. Yipes.

Michael - Milk Chocolate Cake, peanut butter chocolate candies and whipped cream. The girl scouts thought the candies tasted like tagalongs (girl scout cookies) and didn't really care for his chocolate.

Tim - Strawberries three ways. He included chicken fried strawberries. Interesting. One girl really liked it, but another didn't. The strawberry shake was called sour.

Hubert - Chocolate Mousse Swan with whipped cream couse, fruit with orange saboyan. The girl scouts were really impressed with the presentation, and seemed to love the flavors.

Christopher - French Toast with caramelized banana, orange sauce, and maple syrup fluff. One of the girl scouts didn't appreciate the caramelization and called it burnt. They didn't seem to like the fluff.

Michael got 2.5 out of 5 stars. Tim got 3.5 stars, as did Christopher. Hubert got a winning 5 stars. It was a pretty awesome dessert. Their quickfire scores will be added to their scores formthe elimination challenge, and the winning chef for the night will win $10,000 for their charities.

Elimination Challenge

They have to create a 3 course meal with a toaster oven, a microwave, and a hot plate. They will be serving them to college students and the panel. They have a very limited pantry, $150 to shop, and 2 hours to prep and cook.

There are 20 stars up for grabs in Elimination challenges. 5 come from the diners, and 15 come from the panel. Some of the chefs had a really hard time shopping, because they are not used to shopping for themselves. Bwah ha ha.

Tim's got a big problem the next day. He put his groceries in the freezer by mistake. Everything froze solid. Christopher admitted that if Tim pulls off making something edible out of that, he deserves to win.

On top of it all, they are cooking in dorm rooms.

Double bwah ha ha!

Tidbit - if Hubert wasn't a chef, he thinks he would have been a dj. That's pretty cool.

Students who live in the dorms come by to check out cooking progress.

Michael's menu is: Salmon Crudo, Cabbage Soup with Bacon, and a Pork a la apicius.

Tim's menu is: Scallop Carpaccio, squash & corn pozole (with no hominy), and skirt steak & braised kale.

Hubert's menu is: Fresh Scottish Salmon, Carrot & Pea Soup with cinnamon, and macaroni & cheese with prawns. He had to drain the pasta in the shower, and cool it there, too. and reheat it there. Fun.

Christopher's menu is: Red Snapper Ceviche, Creamy Risotto, and Pan Roasted Pork Chops.

Critics and Jay Rayner, Gael Green('s hat), and James Oseland.

Eating, the students were amazed that the dishes were made in their rooms. Hubert seemed to win the first course. I think that Hubert won the second round again, though Tim seemed perhaps close. Tim's kale was called bitter. Michael's pork was called overly peppery. I think Hubert won the third round, too, with his shower drained macaroni, though I think Christopher may have come close.

Critic's Table

Hubert's macaroni madness was applauded. Some of the judges didn't get or like the cinnamon in the soup. Gael Green's hat loved the cinnamon.

Michael's pork was lauded for flavoring, but Gael Green's hat thought that the pork was over done. She also loved his soup.

Tim's freezer snafu wasn't that bad, after all. The pozole was called great football food. The steak was ok, but a little too salty. His kale was admitted to be a little bitter.

Christopher's risotto was called delicious, even if the texture wasn't perfect. His pork chops were called well executed.

While the critics discussed, they seemed amazed that the chefs were able to get anything out of the dorm rooms. Hubert got high marks. Michael didn't cook his soup long enough, and cooked his pork too long. Tim managed to come back from adversity, and Gael Green's hat had lots of respect for him in his effort and improvisation. Gael's hat was also in favor of Christopher's risotto attempt, even though it wasn't really risotto.

Michael's Diner score was 3.5 stars. The combined critics gave him 7.5, upping his score to 13.5 stars.

Tim's diner score was 3 stars. The critics brought it up to 14.5 stars total.

Christopher's Diner score was 4 stars. The critics brought his total score up to 19 stars.

Hubert's Diner score was 4 stars. The critics brought it up to 20 1/2 stars. He took the night, got $10,000 for his charity, and moved on to the next round.

(The non-winning chefs will also get an undisclosed amount for their charities.)

So You Think You Can Dance - 6.10.09

Cat's dress looks like it was created by a very artistic and jewel and glitter-loving spider. She's quite something. She still sounds like she's calling Asuka Oscar... guess I'll just have to get used to it.

I love when she show gets to this point!

I do not have the letter that Kupono has as his u, with a line over it, so we'll just spell his name using conventional letters.

Mary and Nigel are joined by Adam Shankman tonight. Nigel advised the dancers to be as energetic as the audience. Mary did some shrieking. I can't handle her. Adam is producing three movies simultaneously, including Step Up 3D which includes a lot of past dancers from the show.

Who will be paired up?

Before we find out, we've got a montage of the journey thus far. Lots of high jumps and splits and flips and Mary crying.

NOW - who will be paired up? 1-888-TEMPO-## if you are inclined to vote. (01-10, in order below)

Jeanine & Phillip (Hip Hop - Tabitha and Napoleon. Song: Mad - Ne Yo) She hasn't had much air time up to now, and Phillip has had a huge amount of air time. She has a lot of troubles with hip hop in rehearsals. She managed to bring it for the performance, and Tabitha and Napoleon did a good job of incorporating some of Phillip's special moves into the dance. They have pretty darned good chemistry together, and it was a really good way to start off the show, in my opinion. Adam called it un-freaking-real. He said that Jeanine stepped it up and held her own with Phillip. He also loves how present and generous Phillip is with partners. Mary screamed, after attempting a psych out, saying she didn't like to disagree with Adam.. she she didn't. And she screamed. WHY must she scream. She was worried about the chemistry, but said that Phillip taught a chemistry lesson. Nigel thinks that Jeanine made up for her lack of exposure in the previous shows, and loves it.

Asuka & Vitolio (Broadway - Tyce Diorio. Song: Hot Honey Rag from Chicago) Asuka did ballet up through college, and then learned latin ballroom. Vitolio grew up in an orphanage. Asuka was worried about the locking involved in the dance, and Vitolio wasn't doing much better. They are making a silent movie in the dance. They managed to work the locking out, I think. Asuka just shines. Vitolio can just leap. I don't think the dance was as engaging as Phillip and Jeanete, though. They didn't look as smooth. Maybe it was just the choreography. Adam said that they suffered from following such an emotional piece, and it felt more artificial. He did think they did a good job with the dancing, but the piece wasn't as full of feeling. Mary said they didn't let anyone down, but she was disappointed that they didn't bring the personality to the dance floor. Nigel said that their lines were wonderful, but they needed to bring their personalities into it whole heartedly. I would agree with all of those critiques.

Karla & Jonathan (Cha cha - Tony Meridith. Song: Poker Face - Lady Gaga) Karla has toured with Wicked (wonder if she toured with Adam Lambert?), and done Broadway, and Jonathan started dancing because of this show, so it could be good. Her hips don't move quite quickly enough for latin, in my opinion. He also seemed to be half there in a lot of the shimmies, specifically the shoulder shimmies. Some of the moves were good, but it just was missing a spark for me. Adam thought it was very good, and included his own beeps for censoring. He thought their technique and frame were great. He did say that Jonathan should have had more roll and more curve in his back. Mary apparently liked it and screamed, calling it a whole lot of rough and a whole lot of fun. Nigel said that they are another couple who have slipped under the radar, and said that they exploded on the stage. I guess they saw something I did not see.

Randi & Evan (Jazz - Tyce Diorio. Song: I Only Have Eyes for You - Jamie Cullun) Randi finally got through in her third year of auditioning. The song is a love story. Randi is married, so it's hard for her to act in love with Evan. Evan apologized to Randi's husband. I will say this about Evan. He's got a great little crooked half smile that is very appealing. This dance is grabbing me, I'll tell you. They are wnderful dancing together and definitely have chemistry. He did an amazing liftwith what looked like no effort. It was beautiful. Now that's what I like to see. That was wonderful. Adam called them on being a short couple (they only come up to Cat's shoulder - of course, she's very tall) but said that they both danced like they are 8 feet tall, and called them sensuous and wonderful. He said that Evan is a beautiful, beautiful dancer. Mary said that she didn't think they would do that well coming out of Vegas, but then screamed and called them smouldering and believable and beautiful. Nigel called them absolutely fantastic and loves Randi's hair curly. He agreed with Mary that it was one of Tyce's best routines, but their control of it sold it. They were just wonderful.

Paris & Tony (Hip Hop - Tabitha and Napoleon. Song: Let the Beat Rock - Black Eyed Peas) Paris had a very bad car accident which left one leg numb from the knee down. Tony is a hip hopper, who chose dance over sports. Tony actually had a harder time getting into the choreography than Paris. They both did verywell with the choreography, though they didn't seem quite together in the beginning. I think Paris outshone Tony, actually. Adam thought it was really good, but thought the costumes were a little distracting, and wanted more rebound on the quick pops. He doesn't want Tony to get by for being cute. Mary wondered if the performance would be memorable, and didn't think it would be really. She called Tony on not being aggressive. She called Paris just "good," when they are seeing a lot of great and extraordinary. Nigel said that Paris is a very good dancer, but thinks that Tony needs a lot of growth before he's going to get far on the show. I would agree. I wasn't a fan of his in Vegas, so much.

Caitlin & Jason (Bollywood - Nikul(?). Song: Jai Ho - Slumdog Millionaire) I love the Bollywood style, but I really like it more with a group than with just 2 people. Last year, I think it was Katee and Joshua who got it. I am glad to see it in the show again this year, because it is so different from anything else, and really shows a dancer's chops and ability to learn new things. They had the hardest time with the fingers. They look fantastic in their costumes, and started with a really lovely lift before getting right into the Bollywood. Sometimes they looked a little of, but only a little. Overall, I thought they did a beautiful job, and they ended it with a kiss. Very nice. Adam thought it rocked. He said that Jason's handwork was superb, and so was his footwork, and he made it look effortless. He went into it worried about Caitlin, but loved how they worked together. Mary screamed about being glad about Bollywood coming to Hollywood. She appreciated Caitlin's handstand with footwork in the beginning. Then she screeched some about Jason. Nigel said that they had to follow the memories of Joshua and Katee, and thinks he did a great job. He thought that they came alive from the second the dance started. Excellent.

Janette & Brandon (Fox Trot - Louis van Amstel. Song: Come Fly With Me - Michael Buble) Janette was more memorable with the shock of blonde hair she had last year. They thought it was going to be easy, because the beginning came to them well, but then they got into the nitty gritty... how will they do on stage? The first lift seemed pretty darned nice. They didn't have the magic chemistry that some of the other couples had, but the lift at the end was really quite something. Adam bemoaned the fact that Brandon had clothes on (since he did so much dancing previously in very little clothing). He called the dance lovely, and liked that Brandon finally brought character and performance to his dance. Mary said that she can't raise her eyebrows anymore because of botox, and let out a scream. Can we botox her vocal chords? She thought that Janette was Ginger Rogers and chilled out the salsa. She again slobbered on Brandon, giving all of Janette's talent due to Brandon, basically. Nigel thought that Janette brought grace and carriage to the dance. He applauded both of them.

Ashley & Kupono (Jazz - Wade Robeson. Song: Felt Mountain - Goldfrapp). Ashley auditioned for the show four times. Amazing. Their dance is based on them being crash test dummies. Interesting. Kupono is plating a slightly broken crash test dummie, and Ashley is the brand new model. It was... weird. Not sure about that routine. I blame Wade, though. Adam said that you either love or hate Wade's routines. He called their dance wonderful, but called Wade one sick puppy. Mary says she sometimes doesn't get Wade's routines, but she loved this one. Nigel sucked up to Wade, calling him a genius. He loved how Ashley and Kupono took their characters to heart.

Melissa & Ade (Contemporary - Mandy Moore. Song: Right Here Waiting - Richard Marx) Melissa is the oldest on the show (at a ripe old age of 29) and is the "naughty ballerina." Ade is into sound engineering as well as dancing. He also has a pick in his hari during some of the rehearsals. I never got that look. Mandy thought the pick was like his super power. The dance is fluid and quite moving, from the first step. The lifts are crazy good. I can see them going far. It was wonderful. I love Melissa's hair down and curly. So nice. Adam called the routine quite special, and seemed near tears. He said that Melissa is living proof that things can get better with age. He said that Ade's power is quiet and profound. Mary screamed and called it just totally believable and loved their lines, their lifts, and the quality of their movement. Nigel said it's just a great Top 20, and thinks it's wonderful to have a ballerina on the show, and doesn't think anyone has seen how fantastic Ade is yet.

Kayla & Max (Samba - Louis Van Amstel. Song: Jum Bah Day - House of Gypsies). Kayla's the one with the great supportive grand parents. Max is from Moscow, but has lived in the states since he was 13. His younger brother died in a car accident several years back. Max has known Louis since he was 14. That would be Max at 14. The samba is very quick, and Kayla has never done ballroom before, but picked it up very well. Max is just wonderful. This is his style, and he and Kayla had great chemistry. Their samba rolls were really grand. They really just brought it. I was impressed. Just grand. Adam covered his face and screamed about how good it was. He said that Max is the luckiest man alive, because he got ballroom for his first dance, and also thinks that Kayla did the most amazing job for never having done ballroom before. Mary screeched and put them on the hot tamale train. Nigel had ear protection. I wish I did. She was losing her voice. I wish she would. Nigel called it truly sensational, and said it had everything they could ever wish for. He said that Max is wonderful (though not quite as sharp as Pasha and Dmitry from seasons past), but said that they capped off a wonderful evening.

Wow, what a night of dance! Cue recap:

I think that Phillip and Jeanine topped it for me, but it's so hard to pick favorites on a night like tonight. I think that Asuka and Vitolio might be in trouble, and Karla and Jonathan didn't do much for me, though the judges love them. And then there were Evan and Randi. Wow again! Paris and Tony I think could be in the bottom 3. Caitlin and Jason? Amazing. Just amazing. Janette and Brandon? Also great. I think that Kupono and Ashley might suffer for the weird routine. Melissa and Ade were lovely, and then Kayla and Max wrapped up a simply brilliant night....

So, if I had to guess, I'd put Asuka & Vitolio, Paris & Tony, and Kupono & Ashley in the Bottom 3.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yay for a New Season: The Next Food Network Star 6.7.09

Meet the chefs.

Jen Isham is the "modern housewife."

Jamika Pessoa is an "island girl," half Jamaican, half Trididadian. Is that even a word?

Katie Cavuto is from Philly, and is a dietician and personal chef.

Brett August is full energy and high powered. He says.

Michael Proetti wants to pizzazz Food Network up.

Eddie Gilbert is a corporate guy turned chef.

Melissa D'Arabian is a stay at home mom to 4 kids.

Teddy Folkman is determined.

Debbie Lee fuses Korean spices with Southern cooking.

Jeffrey Saad has been in kitchens for years and years.

And time for the first challenge. Bob, Suzy, and Bobby Flay greet the wannabes. The first challenge is to cater the Food Network's Birthday Party (16 years), 75 people, including lots of Food Network people, and others. In five hours.

Two teams.

Teddy, Jamika, Brett, Ted, and Melissa are the green team.

Eddie, Michael, Katie, Jeffrey, and Debbie are the red team.

Brett is planning on making - Beef Tenderloin with red wine sauce and butternut Squash soup
Teddy is making an herb and truffle infused potato gratin.
Jamika is planning on a Florribean Shrimp Cocktail with Mango Jicama Slaw
Melissa is making Apple tart with caramel drizzle
Jen is making Green beans with red onions, grape tomatoes, and toasted walnuts

on the other team

Michael is making a five spiced tenderloin with pickled vegetable slaw
Debbie is making a crab cake with Spicy Mayo
Katie is making a beet, pomegranate, orange salad & sauteed chard
Jeffrey is making achiote grilled zucchini with mushroom ragu (and he gets the first culinary term subtitle of the season, achiote is annoto-seed paste used for earthy flavor and color in Mexixan cooking. Thanks, Food Network)
Eddie is making a Jelly Filled Beignet and B.L.A.S.T. Balls - Bacon, lettuce, Avocado, Sprouts, and Tomato.

Two members on each team went shopping, with a $1200 budget. Debbie couldn't find the buttermilk biscuits for te beignets, and her team was also WAY over budget and had to leave a lot behind. Yipes. The other team was over $200 under budget. Better planning, it seems.

One thing left behind was Jeffrey's achiote. He's upset. He also doesn't like Debbie's fallback dessert idea of store bought angel food cake with some sauce dolloped on it was really chef-worthy. I would tend to agree.

As they cook, Bobby Flay entered the kitchen to Tim Gunn it up. (And by that, I mean check out how they are doing, not critique their clothing choices.)

The tarts weren't perfect, because some of the crusts got too warm. It was a team effort to get them in the oven. Hopefully, they are flaky enough. Debbie failed to get dijon mustard, and Katie panicked a little, but the other team gave her some dijon to save her dressing. That was nice.

Time to eat!

Brett was the captain of the green team and announced his food and the team. He was not super comfortable in the presentation. His high energy was not there. Jamika was much better on mic. Teddy was a little of a little and said little about 12 times. Jen was friendly and pleasant. Melissa was very excited about her tartlets and was very pleasant. She was cute.

Bobby loved the tart, and so did Duff. Bob loved Jamika's slaw, but the shrimp was not good. Jen's beans were called unpleasant and unspecial. Teddy's gratin was not cooked enough, and Brett's beef was badly cooked.

Red Team's Turn!

The Angel Food Cake mess is not looking good. It looks like a pile of crap. It was Debbie's idea, and she passed it off to Katie and Jeffrey, and it was not good....

Time for the presentation.

Debbie was comfortable in front of the mic. Katie was also very comfortable, and emphasized her colorful food. Jeffrey was funny and personable. Michael calls his style Global A Go Go. I think he's a bit much. Eddie was a little stiff.

The judges like the flavors of the crab cake, and they liked Michael's flavors. Jeffrey's zucchini also went well. Katie's salad "were from a dietician, and seemed like they were from a dietician." ouch. Eddie's B.L.A.S.T balls were a bit too bacony. And the cake? That was called an embarassment. Ouch. I would agree, though.

Evaluation Time.

It's not all about cooking, it's also about personality.

Debbie was called out for going over budget and then telling everyone that they went under budget. Bob told her that character matters, and they need to be able to trust someone if they are going to make it. Debbie was also called out for the angel food cake, and she called it a group decision. Um. No. At least her crab cake was good, and her presentation style was good.

Michael's dish was a favorite. They liked that he was funny.

Bobby called Katie's salad a throwaway dish. She didn't impress anyone with her dish or her style.

Eddie's B.L.A.S.T balls and stiff persona were not great. Bob said he seemed corporate, and they urged him to loosen up.

Jeffrey was happy that they liked his zucchini, and Bobby liked the way he described the food, saying it made him hungry. That's good when you are on tv.

Time for the Green Team.

Brett's food wasn't cooked well, and his presentation was not great.

Jamika's slaw was very good. Alton called her shrimpt the gate keeper of badness. Not good. Her presentation was good.

Melissa did very well with her tarts, and her presentation was good, but she was told to self edit.

Jen's beans were boring and nothing special, and her presentation was also boring.

Teddy's gratin was called out for not being cooked through, and his presentation seemed confused and fake. Not good.

Who is the winner of the challenge, and who is going home?

The Top 3 are Jeffrey, Michael, and Melissa. The winner of the challenge is Jeffrey. Good for him. He made something wonderful without most of the ingredients he wanted.

Jamika, Teddy, Katie, and Debbie are safe this week.

So, the bottom 3 are Brett, Eddie, and Jen. Brett was the first one safe, so it's between Jen and Eddie. Jen and her green beans were not good enough, and she is out. She is beautiful, but subpar green beans aren't going to make her a Food Network Star.

Looking forward to seeing more. I really don't like Brett - I wouldn't watch a show with him. Debbie rubbed me the wrong way with that Angel Food Cake, but her food looked good... I'm not sure who to root for now. We'll see. Do you have any favorites yet?