I thought this series would never end. TC 3 started with two too many chefs and had two too many breaks. The show should have wrapped up by labor day. But, cheers! The end is in sight. Yeah! Pretty soon we'll know who the winner is: Casey, Hung, or Dale.
So on last Wednesday's show Bravo flew our merry band in a hot air balloon over Snowmass and dropped them unceremoniously in a slanted meadow full of weeds and rabbit holes and cowpies the size of buffalo burgers. A smiling Eric Ripert awaited them. He waved them over to some frying pans and rickety camp stoves, then lifted a hefty brace of trout as Padma told our disgruntled chefs that they had 20 minutes to complete the Frying Pan River Quickfire Challenge. “Good luck,” said Eric, with a twisted smile. “Yoo are going to need eet.”
Brian dropped the trout in the grass, muttering “I’m not having clarity. This kinda sucks.”
Meanwhile, Hung finished his trout five minutes early, and began to whistle while he waited.
Casey, looking surprised, commented. “Uh, you already done, Dude?”
“Uh, like, yeah, Bitch,” thought Hung. He knew his dish was awesome but a cold wind was a blowin’ and now he was worried the fish would get cold while the others dilly dallied.
“Dayum, I can’t cook out in the open,” thought Dale, feeling his heart creep up to his throat. “My inner chef has just reemerged an’ this is no time to choke!”
Hung just hung around and waited. And waited. And waited. “Ding!” went the bell. At that moment Hung realized he’d forgotten the friggin lemon juice. "Sheeeit," he exclaimed, then said, "Oh well." Half his dish was better than the three others' combined.
Brian knew his dish was horrible, but since trout was not a seafood, he figured he’d be safe.
After tasting all four dishes, Eric Ripert declared Brian’s and Dale’s the worst. “Dale,” he said in his best French accent, “Zee Cayenne stuck een my troat.”
“Yeah, that and my heart,” thought Dale morosely.
“An Bri yenne, your SALADE eet taste ted like zee grasse een zee feelds. Dere waz no taste too eet. Eet waz owhfull. Derefore ah choose Hung and Cazeee to ween. But Hung, yooo shooold ‘ave used zee lemon, no?”
“No?” said Hung, confused. “Er, Eric, I already left the lemon out.”
“Yes,” said Eric. “That’s a no-no.”
Eric then turned to Casey and smiled. And smiled. And smiled, showing off his pearly white Gallic teeth.
“Cazeeee, I deeclare yoo zee winner.”
Casey was overcome with emotion. “Wheeee! That hunk chose me above all the other women! And then she thought, "Wait, I AM the only woman left standing. Sheeeit!”
But Eric was too busy smiling at Casey to notice her disappointment.
Meanwhile Hung looked intently at the camera and intoned, “I tasted Casey’s dish and I think mine is more refined.” Yeah, sure, Hung, and so’s your monkey.
Since this recap is getting long we’ll just skip quickly over the elimination challenge. Let’s just say that some cute lil’ ol’ Elk got all chopped up and had the bejeezus cooked out of its gamy self by our four cheftestants. Then 45 hungry cowpokes and cowgirls ambled in with their plastic plates and plastic forks and plastic spoons and paper napkins to taste gourmet elk.
“Ooooweee,” said one, impressed by Brian’s Honkey Tonk Whiskey River Drunken Elk Shank. “None of our elk tastes as good as this.”
But the judges, looking at the tacky dinnerware, were in a sour mood. “We’re gonna be tough. We’re gonna be diggin.’ And these cheftestants had better be perfect to make up for all these dinky oil-based utensils we’re forced to eat with.”
After Brian was through heaping Padma’s plate with sprouts, asparagus, almonds, and the kitchen sink, he pointed to two HUGE hunks of cheese. “Go slice yourself some smelly roquefort or gorgonzola. You decide. My brain is too full at this point. Besides, I feel good about my performance.”
(In the background, the angels of doom began to sing once again. Uh oh, I said to myself. Bri’s a goner.)
Our cheftestants then trotted in front of the judges. “If Bravo forces me to eat with a dinky plastic fork on a lousy plastic plate again,, I’m tendering my resignation,” said Gail, eyeing Brian balefully, for his 40 ingredients had been toughest to eat with the faux cutlery and dinnerware.
“Basically all of y’all’s dishes were pretty good, so we can’t decide who gets cut,” said Tom. “So tell us why you want to cook and then maybe one of y’all will mess up and help us decide.”
“Well,” said Dale, “I worked in one of the top 20 restaurants and then it closed and then my dream job slipped through my hands and then I lost my partner, that was a bitch, and then I lost myself, but then I found myself again, and then I was like reborn, and now I can cook again. I want to cook for all of the beautiful people in the world. Oh, and I’m for world peace.”
“I worked my ass off, “ said Casey, sparking Eric’s interest. “I work morning noon and night in the coolest restaurant, and I’m still young so you’ll get a lot of publicity mileage outta me, and I have so much to show and give, and I stand behind my dishes. I’ll even stand on them if you’ll let me. I love making people like Eric smile. Oh, yes, and I’m for stopping all wars and giving leftovers to all the little children of the world.”
Hung took a deep breath. “My daddy crawled all the way over to America from Vietnam over the water and through the woods and to someone’s grandmother’s house. Then he sent for my family, my mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, second cousins twice removed but who still have a drop of our family blood line in them, neighbors who didn’t give a shit, and all the cows, chickens, and pigs in our small village, and then we came to America and cooked. We cooked with soul, the kind of soul that Ray Charles could only dream about, and our soul food fed the souls of our extended family. Without food I’d have no soul. I must win, or half the Vietnamese counted in the 2000 Census will starve, for if I don’t win, I won’t cook again, and then who will feed Vietnamese soul food to all my kith and kin? Such a development would wreak havoc in our world, and that would be bad, since I’m for World Peace too. Oh, and I intend to win with grace and style and finesse.”
Well, by now y’all must be tired of listening to all this bull crap, said Bri, so I’ll cut to the chase. I want to win for me, my wife, and our precious dog. I would like to take the money and buy a maserati and then go on a nice cruise, where I can put on my party hat and cook food for entertainment, I think I’m pretty entertaining and I think that once you know how entertaining I can be and how long my conga lines are, you will vote for me. Oh, and if I win all that money, I will purchase better quality hats. I know you’ve been thinking they’re an eyesore.
After the cheftestants shuffled out, Gail spoke up immediately. “I liked Dale’s speech. He made me cry.”
“Hung’s was not so successful,” said Tom. “It lacked soul.”
“Cazeee, sheee eees beeyooteefool, no?” said Eric, “Eye vuld let hair stand on my plates anee time.”
Well, I liked Brian’s reasoning the most,” said Padma. “Cruises are fun, and I love conga lines.”
The judges discussed the speeches a little longer, and threw in their opinions about the food. After some deliberation they gave Dale the win and Brian the boot. The discerning viewer could see a sheer moment of “WTF?” in Brian’s expression, before he took the decision like a man and hugged the cheftestants. Then he walked off into the sunset.
As for Dale, he’d found his inner chef, and declared to one and all that he was ready to kick ass in the finale. "I've got me a fast moon a risin'," he crowed.
And me? I'm ready to have it all end this week. How about you?