Dear Reader: I've seldom been accused of lacking imagination. So in this fanciful interview I imagined a conversation with Howie, the Sweating Chef. I imagine that some people might mistake this Q&A post for fact. Well it isn't, but that didn't stop me.
Howie: Before we get started let's get this straight. You don't like me and I don't like what you've written about me. In fact I wouldn't hire you to type my menu. Capiche?
Ms. Place: Er, yeah, sure. I wouldn't hire you to test my antiperspirant, so I guess we're even. So, how did you feel when Joey was cut and Sara stayed?
Howie: Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Seeing Joey weep like a girlie girl, well it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. Sonsofbitchjudges got rid of the wrong chef. It took all my willpower not to lose my temper when I saw Sara M's smug smile. I think I held it in pretty well.
Ms. Place: Sure, keep fooling yourself. In the last elimination challenge, why did you figuratively knive Sara N. in the back and then twist it until she nearly bled to death?
Howie: Sara's such a baby. I only said what needed to be said and it was easy to push her over the edge. She just stood there and took what I dished out.
Ms. Place: She called you an A*Hole several times. That's saying something about her spunky character. And the other chefs defended her, while it was obvious they could barely stand you.
Howie: Who cares what those wusses think? I'm not here to win a popularity contest. Being an A*Hole has nothing to do with leadership or cooking.
Ms. Place: That's for sure. How do you account for your uneven performance since day one? You've been at the bottom so often I've lost count. In fact, in my opinion you should have been cut in the first episode when you ran out of time and failed to complete the challenge.
Howie: Who the hell do you think you are? Any stupid fool with a computer can blog and set themselves up as an armchair critic, but not everyone can make a risotto like mine. (Ms. Place under her breath: That's for sure.) In the first challenge I had Bourdain's number. I merely quoted a few lines from his book, and he was mesmerized. He was a pushover.
Ms. Place: Reading his blogs he hasn't been exactly a fan of yours lately. In fact, he thinks you're on A*Hole too. Plus he thinks your leadership skills stink.
Howie: OOOoooh. Was that remark supposed to hurt my feelings? Quick. Get me a psychiatrist.
Howie: Look, I AM a bulldog. Sara M. was right for once. Insults roll over me like shit in a French latrine. I know my worth, and I'm the best chef of that bunch.
Ms. Place: That's your opinion and one that's open to debate. How did you feel being lumped in the same team with Sara M., Hung, and Dale?
Howie: (Snickers) You know my low opinion of Sara. Hung can cook, but his monkey keeps tripping him up. As for Dale: What kind of a dipshit chooses vanilla scented candles? I would have gone for a pine smell myself. Or maybe a nice woodsy odor.
Ms. Place: Let's go back to the risotto and choice of menu. First, why did you let Sara M. volunteer to be head chef? You don't seem like sous chef material to me.
Howie: This is a war of attrition. I decided to let her hang herself.
Ms. Place: How noble of you. So what was up with the heavy winter courses you and Sara M came up with, like lamb shank and risotto? Perfect food for Banff in mid-winter, but spring in Miami? Stupid, don't you agree?
Howie: Look, food is food regardless of seasonality or the appropriateness of the setting. I'd serve bear paw at a vegetarian convention if I thought it would win. I'd eat Matzah Balls in Lebanon if I had a gun... I'd sample gorilla toes in front of Dian Fossey if she were still ali....
Ms. Place: Yeah, I get it. Service really fell short in last week's Restaurant Competition. Do you think one of those two front men should have been auf'd?
Howie: Dale worked his ass off. And, yeah, Brian got flustered, but he had never worked the front room before. I commend them both.
Ms. Place: Huh?
Howie: Look, we had only 30 minutes to assign roles and settle on a theme. Then they gave us a lousy $700 for food for 30 diners and $2,500 for tableware and décor. In real life this process would take months. You do the math. The judges decision to give us a second chance was fair. All I could do was concentrate on my special one-of-a-kind, can't-be-beat risotto.
Ms. Place: The judges hated it. They thought it was sticky and gummy, and overcooked. Why make three giant batches? Why not make individual servings? And why add cream?
Howie: (Grimaces.) When that risotto left my lips it was perfect.
Ms. Place: So, give me your assessment of the remaining contestants.
Howie: Tre's ok, but he was ovewhelmed as head chef in this last challenge. C.J. called Hung a douche a while back. For that alone I like him, though he was stupid not to choose me. I've yet to see Brian cook anything other than seafood. And you already know my opinion of Sara. I wouldn't pay her to fold napkins in my restaurant. Casey royally f*cked up our team assignment and nearly got Joey and me tossed on our asses. Her tuna tartar in a bird's nest looked like a bad case of raw rocky mountain oysters flung in straw. Hung will accidentally knive someone while running around the kitchen like a banshee and get arrested. Dale claims to have a bad sense of smell, yet he wants to win this competition. C'mon!
Ms. Place: And your conclusion is?
Howie: I've overcome the challenges I've had in the past, specifically the timing issues. At the end, I'll be the only good man left standing.
(I awoke, sweat pouring off my forehead. It took a moment before I realized my conversation with Howie was all a dream. Whew! Stay tuned for next week's episode when the chefs get the opportunity to perfect their dishes and individual performances.)