This show is often exhausting and infuriating, as we all know. It takes 10 weeks just to narrow the contestant pool down to a manageable number. The themes and puns are either heavy-handed or make no sense. There’s also the issue of the shopping sequence. We are now in the ninth season, not including spin-offs and masters and all stars, and still this show pretends as if anyone is even remotely interested in who saved how many cents off their $300 bill at Whole Foods in half an hour. (This week one team saves 11 cents and gives each other a high five! CORRECTION: they give the CASHIER a high-five. Oof. And I’ll tell you what else: maybe this shopping sequence would be acceptable if every once in awhile a team went over their budget or their time limit and wasn’t able to buy food and had to make their meal out of shoe leather and fingernail clippings, but that has NEVER happened, so cut it.) There are never more than three people you really think should win, and the villains are always the most heavily edited reality TV villains in the game because for the most part I think these chefs just want to do their work. But all of that being said, and as much as the two week break was enjoyed, it was actually kind of nice to have the show back last night. ALL OUR OLD PALS! The Mean Beast eliminated! LET’S COOK IT!
Right out of the gate, this week pits Sarah against Ed. Can we just agree that they’re both awful, eliminate both of them, and move on? As the episode progresses, each will actually have semi-legitimate complaints against the other, but the editors work real hard at the starting line to show their antagonism. A little too hard. Everyone’s sitting around talking about Yucky Monster’s elimination last week, and Ed says that it’s getting serious now and people will probably stop helping each other and sharing recipes, the way that he shared his cake recipe with Heather, which led to her winning two challenges. This makes Sarah very angry in a way that makes no sense. “You don’t have the balls to say it to her face while she’s here? This makes Ed someone to keep an eye on. You can’t trust him.” Wait, why? Because he will give you a winning recipe while you are here, but as soon as you get eliminated he will say, “I gave her the winning recipe”? What a snake! (I dislike Ed plenty, but this argument that he’s an asshole because he’s helpful to your face and then will complain that he helped you win behind your back is not really holding water for me.) Anyhow, keep an eye on these two! Don’t worry, the editors will make sure that you do.
There is a knock at the door and a waiter pushes in a cart with a copy of Microsoft founder Nathan Myhrvold’s cookbook, Modernist Cuisine. There are gasps, GASPS, from the contestants. Haha. Easy guys! Like, yeah, this book got a lot of attention this year and I’m sure pro-level chefs love it, but it is also a cookbook being pushed into the room on a rolly-cart.
Gasps seem like a bit much. They are told that they have all night to look at the book before the Quickfire in the morning. Sure. Beverly actually says out loud “I don’t think you could absorb everything from this book in one night.” Uh. Beverly. The book is 10,000 pages long. But she says she’s going to try! Good luck!
The guest judge this week is Microsoft founder Nathan Myrhvold. NERD ALERT! LITERALLY!
Everyone has to prepare a dish using “modern” techniques. The winner will get immunity and a copy of Modernist Cuisine. That’s fine, but everyone bullshits their way through the interviews saying how big of a thrill it would be to win a copy of this incredible book. Would it? Because my idea of a thrill is winning $10,000 furnished by Glad Poop Buckets and using some of that money to BUY a copy of the book and saving the rest for CHAMPAGNE. But that’s just me. Anyway, everyone cooks. Not a Richard Blais to be found. Some people seem a little more prepared than others, but not REALLY. Beverly can’t even get the foam to come out of the whipped cream canister, which is not even that new of a tool, without spraying it all over Padma’s dress and filling Nathan Myhrvold’s pocket protector to the brim. Then she knocks over some hotel pans. It is hilarious how mad Padma gets.
Scrunchie Chris prepares a plate that features a miracle berry, which is one of those things that inverts your taste buds so that ketchup tastes like maple syrup or whatever, which seriously just seems like a kids science fair project, which is to say, it seems like something that no one had to put any real thought or work into. And OF COURSE Nathan Myhrvold says that he GROWS MIRACLE BERRIES IN HIS BASEMENT. And as he goes through the different tastes Scrunchie Chris has set up he looks like SUCH A NERD.
“Deep Space Nine is underrated or whatever. Something something Game of Thrones!”
Somehow, though, Scrunchie Chris still makes it into the top 3! Incredible. (The bottom three were Paul, Beverly, and Grayson. It doesn’t even matter. Nothing gets taken away from them, and this is a particularly easy and uncompelling Quickfire to biff. Even Paul was in the bottom. Paul! Let’s move forward.) So, Scrunchie Chris, for his Museum Gift Shop Miracle Berry dish, Tylor for his watermelon cube with powdered olive oil, and Sarah for her breakfast ravioli, which looked disgusting but I didn’t start Microsoft so what do I know. In the end, Tylor wins for a cube of watermelon. Snoooooze. I hope they make him hold the cookbook in his arms for the rest of the season.
This week’s Elimination Challenge is the opposite of molecular gastronomy: barbecue, yee-haw! (Haven’t they already done barbecue? Whatever.) They have to cook three proteins and two sides for 300 people. That does seem like a lot. After eating some delicious barbecue at a famous Texas barbecue pit, the Salt Lick, they are driven out to a creek bed [insert PAINFUL Toyota product placement here: "this is a cool truck!"] and murdered. The bodies are never discovered. Goodnight.
Everyone keeps talking about Nathan Myrhvold and how he won the Texas Barbecue Cook Off or something two years in a row, and how this on top of his Modernist Cuisine cookbook just makes him such an intimidating person to cook for. Does it? Because he doesn’t seem intimidating. Irritating, but not intimidating. Like, the fact that he won the Texas Barbecue Cook Off in no way suggests to me that Nathan Myrhvold, one of the founders of Microsoft, is just an incredible chef. I think he’s a good cook and an incredible nerd. And I’m sure he used some of his billions of dollars to just Google the hell out of barbecue until he broke it down into four three-ring binders of Nerd Notes on barbecue and took breaks from making out with his pillow to master the recipe. You know what I mean? It’s fine. It’s impressive in its own way, but the dude is just the Nerd King of Dork Mountain.
Shop shop shop. Cook cook cook.
Sleep sleep sleep. Everyone stays up all night cooking. Tylor wears a miner’s helmet, even though everything is bright enough to be caught on TV cameras so I’m sure this is completely unnecessary. The briskets fall into the coals! Beverly starts a fire in the RV! Man, what is UP with Beverly this week?
The next day, everyone’s cracked out. Grayson says that when she gets tired she will just say whatever comes to her mouth. Boo! This is that girl at a party who tells you that she’s probably the craziest girl you’ll ever meet and all her friends think she’s so crazy who is the most normal and boring girl ever. Like, OK, you told Tom that your barbecue was so good it was going to be like “sex in your mouth.” That’s gross and stupid, but it’s also kind of pedestrian and dim-witted. Just go to bed. I’m sure Paul and Senorita Frogs can get along without you. No offense. Some offense. (When I’m sleepy I just blog WHATEVER.)
Sarah gets heat stroke, which is a real thing, and a medic is called and she is taken to the hospital, leaving Tylor and Ed to go on without her. They decide they can’t carve their meat to order and start chopping everything up. Ed in particular is losing his mind. He’s slamming things around and sweating a lot.
(Weirdly, it ends up being Gay Chris’s food that is too salty. Ed seems to have sweat just enough on the ribs.) And when Sarah comes back during service that is when he REALLY loses it. He is yelling at her and being an asshole.
He says that he would have just powered through heat stroke, which is a really easy thing to say when you don’t have heat stroke, and the only test would be to see if you actually DID pass out, but that’s not a test you can take right now because you don’t have heat stroke so relax. He complains that Sarah only showed up to serve four “nice” drumsticks to the judges before she sat down again, which, OK, no, that is kind of lame of Sarah, but also those drumsticks clearly weren’t THAT “nice” because SPOILER ALERT their team ends up on the bottom anyway.
Tylor is the only one who is thoughtful and empathetic and kind towards Sarah. I’ve found Tylor pretty annoying all season, but his behavior towards Sarah is both appropriate and likable. Team Tylor! (For two seconds!) Oh, also Ed points out that because Tylor has immunity, the “irony” is that Ed might go home. Uh, I think you’re using the word irony wrong? You could just go home because you deserve to go home, Alanis.
OUTDOOR JUDGES TABLE!
The blue team, which is Paul, Grayson, and Senorita Frogs, wins the challenge! They were nervous because they did Asian-style barbecue, but all of their meat was cooked correctly and their sauces and rubs were good. Good for them. Paul admits that he’s now won $35,000 from challenges. And a spread in Good Job Paul magazine.
Tylor, Ed, and Sarah are a losing team, and Gay Chris, Scrunchie Chris, and Beverly are a losing team. Everyone seems to have really sucked. Tylor and Ed are in trouble because they pre-cut the meat, which they explain had to do with Sarah being gone, but the judges seem unimpressed with this argument. Sarah is in trouble because her chicken would have been better BOILED. (Ouch.) Scrunchie Chris made good French Grandma’s Roast Chicken with his cans of Bud Lite, but it wasn’t smokey barbecue chicken. Gay Chris made all the rubs to salty while he was staring at different women, imagining painting them nude. (What was THAT all about?)
(Also: “why did you make Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce?” “Dr. Pepper is from Texas and everyone here keeps drinking Dr. Pepper.” TIGHT ANSWER, BRO!) And then there was Beverly, who made terrible baked beans and terrible coleslaw. GOOD GRIEF, BEVERLY, YOU ARE REALLY BOMBING HARD THIS WEEK. The judges all agree that anyone could go home this week. Good. So send them all home! But in the end, they just choose Gay Chris.
Aww, goodbye Gay Chris! We will all miss you, but Grayson will especially miss you, apparently. Oh well, at least now you will have more time for your ART!