So I decided to stay in DC Friday night to see some people and catch up with friends I’ve only seen once or twice since moving away in May. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I kicked off the night with a celebrity sighting Friday evening. My last year of law school, I worked as a babysitter/nanny and became very close with the whole family* (to the extent that when they were going to a family reunion in Michigan this summer, they spent a night in Cleveland and we had a very fun BBQ and swimming evening. I meant to write about it, but ended up not having time with the Bar). Anyway, Sara, the mom, and the two girls and I were supposed to meet up once I got done with work stuff and go to the Portrait Gallery and then Zaytinya for dinner. Unfortunately, The Divine Miss E, the four year old, was sick with bronchitis and unable to come at the last minute so it was just me, Sara, and Baby, who is no longer a baby but a very adult 18 months.**

We had an awesome time checking out the “1934: A New Deal For Artists” exhibit at the American Art Museum and catching up, but the highlight was when we got to Zaytinya. Not only was the food fantastic (Baby laid claim to the kibbeh immediately and made this preference clear with her emphatic MMMMs after every bite! – overall, she was fantastic and charming and quite the little lady), but Sara (who is also a huge Top Chef fan) and I got a great surprise when Mike Isabella from this season came out to chat with the people behind us and we realized that Richard Blais was at said table. Sara may have taken a picture of Mike and Richard, under the guise of taking a picture of me and Baby, but other than that we played it cool and basked in the Top Chef glow.

After that, I met up with Jill at the semi-annual work party for the SAT prep company we both worked for in college and that she is pretty high up at now where I got to catch up with my old boss and some old co-workers and meet Jill’s new boyfriend. After that, we went to our favorite bar in Crystal City where several shots where had to celebrate my passing the NY Bar.

Jill has been working like crazy the past few weeks and I’ve had a few stressors as well what with starting work and moving and all, so we decided to treat ourselves to massages to relax. It was great-I mean, who doesn’t love a massage- but definitely not relaxing! My masseuse started working on my back, then stopped and said that he thought my shoulders needed a lot of work and that we should do more of a therapeutic massage. I figured he was the professional, so why not?

Let us just say that he took his work VERY seriously, to the extent that he was telling me to breathe through the pain. I definitely think that my back and shoulders needed it because he found and worked out a ton of knots, but Dear God is my back tender today. The boyfriend literally put his hand on my back and I winced in pain. Am actually contemplating breaking out the heating pad now.

Clearly I need to find a yoga studio that I like here and start a regular practice again because I can’t let my back get this bad. It will definitely be a battle with work and sitting at a desk all day so I also really need to be more conscious of my posture. So easy to say, but we’ll see how I do in practice!

*I knew it was going to be a good fit when I discovered they named their dog Asta after the dog in the Thin Man movies and that we shared a love of old movies (the Thin Man movies are some of the first movies I remember seeing).
**Baby has a very pretty and elegant name that she is just starting to grow into so most of the time we all just called her Baby. Very Dirty Dancing.

Dale’s defense of his behavior is up on the Bravo website. He basically says that if Chiarello were a real master (he lists Joel Robuchon, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, and Alain Ducass as examples-I thought it was kind of interesting he didn’t list any of the other competing masters), he would have reacted differently, but because Dale does not believe Chiarello is a master, then Dale does not need to respect Chiarello. Keepin’ it classy there, Dale.

I’m glad he cleared that up. Chiarello had a TV show. And he has cookbooks. And a restaurant. And a vineyard/winery. (And lots and lots of money from those endeavors – so SUCK ON THAT DALE). And Dale has…what exactly? Oh, that’s right. None of the above.

Dale/Spike/and Blais especially all came off as having a serious case of sour grapes to me. Chiarello is what they all secretly want to be. I’m sure there’s a bit a self-hatred involved, because while they all claim they want to be the next Thomas Keller, I’m sure secretly they’d all REALLY love to be on the Food Network with Ray-Ray and Sandra Lee for the money and the fame.

I know, I know. You all probably thought you were getting a real post and instead you just get my TC musings. I am working on some real posts so no fear. But for now…

Wow. I did NOT see that coming. Not only did the judges seem to like Anita’s food better than the Chiarello’s, but I didn’t really think they’d do an all-male finale. Of course, I was probably surprised by the outcome because of the massive amounts of misdirection that the magic elves sent our way tonight, misdirection which really only served to create a crappy episode. First off, because of all the drama and the anti-Chiarello rants from former cheftestants (whose opinions I really could care less about, unless of course they are Fabio because I will listen to anything Fabio wants to say happily), there was virtually nothing about the food. I couldn’t even tell you what each chef made or what the desserts were. I wanted a scene with, at the very least, each chef explaining what he made. Instead, we got drama and time-sucking twists. Second, if I were the Chiarello right now, I’d be pretty pissed about all the bashing. Was he being a little bit of a dick in the kitchen? Maybe. But I didn’t seem him as being a dick so much as he was actually taking the “hiring” seriously, whereas the other chefs were being more relaxed with it. Were they really hiring for their restaurants, you know they would have put the cheftestants through many, many, many more hoops than the Chiarello devised. And they would not have been nearly as nice. Also, way to shoot yourself in the foot, show. I think that you may have a little trouble recruiting chefs for the next edition once they see how you treated MC. Famous chefs aren’t going to want to risk being thrown under the bus. Poorly played, show, poorly played.

It also made me sad to see some of the former cheftestants being such pains-in-the-ass. Clearly, some of them have abandoned their culinary aspirations in favor of being reality show personalities. Maybe you came in 2nd on Top Chef Richard, but that does not excuse the massive amounts of ego you were throwing around (“I should have won.” Seriously? Get over yourself). I was a little disappointed that none of the other chefs said something to Dale. Regardless of whether or not you think MC was being an ass, Dale was completely unprofessional and out of line.

Finally, because of crappy editing, I can’t tell you why Anita was PYNAG-ed over Michael. The critics’ comments seemed to favor her food over MC’s and there was really no explanation for why the critics gave MC’s food higher marks. It seemed like from what we saw, there were really no redeeming qualities about MC’s food. I do wonder if maybe the critics were punishing Anita for being in the bottom the last few episodes. That said, if it hadn’t been for the stupid twist, Anita probably wouldn’t have been in the bottom, at least from what I could tell. So basically I think she got screwed. And with that thought…

HAROLD! But I refuse to acknowledge he-who-shall-not-be-named & his “victory.” And I would really prefer that we pretend S.2 never happened.15 minutes ago from TwitterFon

I could watch last week’s episode over and over again. This week, not so much.26 minutes ago from TwitterFon

Hmmm that was surprisingly harsh critics.28 minutes ago from TwitterFonWeak episode show. It is supposed to be about the food, not the drama. I call FAIL.30 minutes ago from TwitterFonI think I know who is going home.33 minutes ago from TwitterFonHmmm so this is not the finale. I feel very silly now! Next week will be TC overload. Good times.34 minutes ago from TwitterFonBuffet plates just never look appetizing.35 minutes ago from TwitterFonTell us what everything is show! I would rather hear what the chefs actually made than another Richard rant.39 minutes ago from TwitterFonFinally Gael’s hats come in handy.41 minutes ago from TwitterFonThat is not really a nice space.41 minutes ago from TwitterFonWhat does Richard have against the Chiarello? So much negativity.42 minutes ago from TwitterFonWow. Did NOT see that coming Anita. Curiouser and curiouser.43 minutes ago from TwitterFonWell played Hubert. And Bayless.44 minutes ago from TwitterFonCut Dale!!!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWhat is with all the references to $10000? I thought it was $100000 for the finale?about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonBAD magic elves. We do not need a stupid twist on TC: Masters. Ugh.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWhere are the season one cheftestants? Never thought I’d say this but I miss Tiffany.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonOkay show. Since Dale comes up to the Chiarello’s chin, my money is on MC in a fight.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonHmmm Anita seems to be regreting picking Jamie. Not a glowing endorsement there.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonReally Betty? You are ALL accomplished chefs? You put yourself on that level? Nice try.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonHere is the thing. Even if MC is being a tool, he is a successful tool. He has a freaking tv show. The cheftestants need to quit bitching.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWay to ruin your career Dale. You suck.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonThis competitive crap is ruining my TOp Chef Masters and its good vibes.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonClearly Malarky understands what it means to be an adult and check your ego at the door. Other former cheftestants take note,about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonThe Chiarello has the best team (well the team I would pick)about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonRick has the weakest team I think.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonOh Spike that was NOT a compliment. Nice try.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonInteresting that Ilan was picked almost last. That says so much.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonBut that said MC, enough is enough already.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonStop whining Richard. The Chiarello is successful and you are not. Ergo he gets to demand you say his name right.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonSeriously Spike. STOP IT. I know the Chiarello is being a tool but he still wins.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonUgh. Spike.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonFABIO! CJ!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonOkay really MC? Calm it down.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonBuffet really? I would prefer a sit down meal.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWow they all kind of sucked at that.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonClearly MC does not cook with a lot of asian ingredientsabout 1 hour ago from TwitterFonGood challenge!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonI love Hubert. I think I am rooting for him,about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonHere we go… Finale time!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon

So clearly I found Art just a wee bit grating throughout the episode and kind of a big ball of cliche. (That he couldn’t wait to call “mother” and tell her about his win? Shocking, really). That said, if I could order any of the chefs’ food, I would pick his plate in a heartbeat. Obviously Roy deserves some credit for putting together such a nice basket for Art, but even if the chefs had been separated from their plates, you would have known in a heartbeat which one was Art’s. All the others kind of blurred together.

I loved the Quick.fire tonight. Anything that puts the chefs in Whole Foods for more shopping is fine by me.

Hubert Keller for the win. I would settle for the Chiarello in 2nd.

And, now, as always, for my thoughts on the episode:

And how much is that donation Kelly?! Seriously show I am not letting this go.12 minutes ago from TwitterFonWow GG.13 minutes ago from TwitterFonThat smile does not soften the low star blow James.14 minutes ago from TwitterFonMy vote is for Art. It was just the most appealing overall to me. Everything else just seemed too heavy and dark.21 minutes ago from TwitterFonAre we really having such an intense conversation about plate selection? Interesting.23 minutes ago from TwitterFonHmmm I think we know who won’t win.24 minutes ago from TwitterFonGreat makeup on Kelly tonight. Whoever styles her does a great job.24 minutes ago from TwitterFonThank goodness Art’s secret wasn’t love. That would have been too much.25 minutes ago from TwitterFonMmmm mushrooms.26 minutes ago from TwitterFonI kind of miss the British critic- he’s grown on me. If only he could replace Toby on the regular version if they must have a Brit.26 minutes ago from TwitterFonOff topic, but you know who is SO excited to see the ATL housewives back? The boyfriend, that’s who.*29 minutes ago from TwitterFonI’m not a huge pork person so jonathan’s is the least appealing to me.30 minutes ago from TwitterFonLA chef’s lamb looked cooked perfectly. Pretty dish too.31 minutes ago from TwitterFonI would have liked more color on Roy’s plate. And mahi-mahi is delicious GG. Don’t diss it.32 minutes ago from TwitterFonArt’s looks delicious. I love fried chicken and the mango thing looks amazing. Nicely plated too. Now if he would just not talk.34 minutes ago from TwitterFonGAIL! (said like Carla)35 minutes ago from TwitterFonJonathan’s plating leaves a little to be desired. The colors just aren’t very appealing.36 minutes ago from TwitterFonClearly there are no problems with Jonathan’s ego.37 minutes ago from TwitterFonI liked the ingredients Roy picked for Art best. Very fresh.40 minutes ago from TwitterFonThat was NOT very nice Jonathan. Poorly played.41 minutes ago from TwitterFonThat was very sweet Roy. I will cheer for you now (GO AWAY ART)42 minutes ago from TwitterFonAlthough it is a little bit of a Chopped rip off, no?43 minutes ago from TwitterFonThis is an awful lot of trust to put in the Masters show.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonThose shrimp look delicious. I want to eat them NOW.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWhat’s with the random apostrophe in cheftestants Bravo?about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWatching the pros shop and try and stay in budget might be my favorite part of the show.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonJonathan’s just did not look visually appealing to me.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWell played LA chef. That looked yummy.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonArt’s does look good darn it.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonGo away Art. No one likes the bitchy.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonRoy’s is pretty. But I love runny eggs on everything.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonIf you need a long time to plan your dishes, then this might not be the show for you Roy.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonI do like this challenge though and how it is forcing them out of their comfort zone.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonCome on show. Could you not get better judges for the quickfires? I want real critics.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonLA chef is funny. Poor guy got a bad aisle. I am cheering for him now.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonOkay Art Smith you are annoying me. You are not above $20.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonKelly’s hair looks great tonight.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWhen they say seafood chef, I automatically think of Malarky.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonThe regular intro is so much better.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonHere we go again…about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon

*He loves him some NeNe.

So even though the Chiarello was being a little swarmy with the flirting with the guests (it just seemed so calculated!), I am happy he won. I definitely think overall (factoring in the QF) his food looked and his flavor combinations sounded like they would be delicious. It’s too bad Rick didn’t finish the QF though – I think he definitely would have won. Out of all of the dishes, his ceviche sounded the most exciting/interesting.

I found the Sweede too over-the-top with his specialness and Lachlan was just kind of boring. Overall, a solid episode though with two good challenges. Not the best so far though – it’s only been over a few minutes and I’m already having trouble remember some of the dishes which is not a sign of a standout episode.

My thoughts, (because you know I have some deep ones 😉 ) in reverse chronological order:

I mean, is it like $50? I am a detail person, show. I require specifics.less than 10 seconds ago from webI want to know what the “you will also get a donation for your charity” amount is.4 minutes ago from TwitterFonJudges are being much more generous overall this week. They were much harsher last week.6 minutes ago from TwitterFonI love that they even give the Masters a cheese plate to go with their fancy wine in the stew room.10 minutes ago from TwitterFonI think overall though I would most want to eat RIck’s or MC’s. Both sound/look amazing.14 minutes ago from TwitterFonNow I want short ribs. Damn you TC.15 minutes ago from TwitterFonSo apparently the salmon was amazing. Still doesn’t look good on the plate.16 minutes ago from TwitterFonThe panna cotta needed a garnish.17 minutes ago from TwitterFonGael and what’s his name from the magazine are certainly no longer playing nicely together.18 minutes ago from TwitterFonHmmm. I’m really not sure who is going to win this one.26 minutes ago from TwitterFonThat grass clippings comment was certainly cranky Gael.26 minutes ago from TwitterFonUgh. Now MC is making me roll my eyes. Stop being sketch so I can still root for you.27 minutes ago from TwitterFonI have to disagree there- salmon did not look appetizing at all to me.29 minutes ago from TwitterFonOh they’re actually letting Kelly offer an opinion. A very short one but still.29 minutes ago from TwitterFonGreat tiff over the knife. I love how both judges are so convinced they are right.30 minutes ago from TwitterFonI think out of the four, I would most like to try Rick’s based on the description and look.32 minutes ago from TwitterFonAll the appetizers are plated beautifully. Kudos.32 minutes ago from TwitterFonSWEET P!!!33 minutes ago from TwitterFonOh MC don’t be skeezy please.33 minutes ago from TwitterFonAnd again I want kelly’s dress. She does wear such great colors.34 minutes ago from TwitterFonWell now I have to eat my words. MC is using his waiter to help plate.35 minutes ago from TwitterFonOkay MC. You are no longer on the Food Network. No need for the cutesy names.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonAre you from Sweeden? Really? Because maybe you can tell me one more time in case I forget.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonRick sounds so depressed. I want to tell him to cheer up and have fun.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonI think that MC might have an advantage here since he’s not used to being in a kitchen/depending on underlings,about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonI do love anything that comes in crispy round form (BF I really want those riceballs!)about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonSo I wouldn’t be surprised by, say, time limits.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonEven if I were a super famous very busy chef, if I were going to be competing on Top Chef I think I would make time to brush up on episodesabout 1 hour ago from TwitterFonUgh. I hate the “my cooking is too refined for plebs to appreciate” card.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonReally show? These are the best “experts” you could come up with?about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonFish sticks and hot dogs seem too easy.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonI may be cheering for Michael C. Always liked him on the Food Network.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonIs Easy Entertaining still on?about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonThe boyfriend raves about aqua vit.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFon

I’m trying a new approach to TC: Masters, twittering as I watch. So here are my thoughts on this episode.

Still, overall, solid episode. Good to see Gail again.less than a minute ago from webI am a little over the chef who wins the QuickFire winning the overall competition. There’s not much suspense.1 minute ago from webNPH is a little cranky. But I still heart him.20 minutes ago from TwitterFonI think I want Kelly’s dinner dress. Awesome color.21 minutes ago from TwitterFonI heart Neil Patrick Harris SO much.27 minutes ago from TwitterFonI like Mark. He’s funny. I am pulling fir him for the win.31 minutes ago from TwitterFonI think kelly’s dress would be much more flattering if it were a couple of inches longer.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonWOW. Harsh score for Mark. Homemade pasta is delicious even minus olive oil.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonOkay Anita I take that back. I don’t particularly like eggs and that looks delicious.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonIt appears the John Besh may once again be a bridesmaid and not the bride tonight.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFonPerhaps when you are required to cook with one hand, you should forgo the step that involves delicately slicing the top off the egg Anita.about 1 hour ago from TwitterFo
Clearly more food thoughts and less fashion thoughts would be better next week!

The original TC is one of my favorite shows on television and I watch it religiously (the boyfriend is under strict instructions not to call between the hours of 10 & 11 on Wednesdays when it is in season), but I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this new incarnation (I like getting to know the contestants throughout the season, although after how I felt about he-who-shall-not-be-named winning last season after he was such an ass throughout the season maybe there is something to be said for not getting to know the contestants). But anyway, after giving Masters 2 episodes, I have to say I’m hooked. Some thoughts:

-I love that all the chefs seem to be having so much fun with the challenges. Wylie & Graham were hilarious at the grocery store.

-Kelly is a fine host, but seems pretty superfluous at this point. If Pis qualified to be a judge, I’m sure Kelly is qualified to be a critic – maybe not a final judging, but at least at the Quick.fire.

-Even from just his brief appearance, everyone’s non-favorite Season 2 winner appears to still be tool-rific. I actually thought Betty was the best out of the three.

-I am also really liking the critics, but I think it would be interesting if they challenged each other more, rather than just each putting in their 2 cents and moving on. I do enjoy a good judge’s table debate. Overall, though, they seem very professional, which is a nice change from the last regular season – I thought P was being a drama queen throughout (I.SPIT.OUT.YOUR.FOOD!) and Tom was getting  wee bit bitchy towards the end.

-I do think it would be interesting if they had the three set judges and then a rotating fourth judge – I’m sure there are plenty of critics out there who would be willing to take a turn. I’m thinking Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton, Frank Bruni now that he’s leaving the Times, etc.

-I hope that these last two episodes are not setting a precedent that whoever wins Quick.fire, wins the overall challenge, because that would be boring.

-Out of all the final dishes, I wanted to try Graham’s most. I was pulling for him for the win.

-What was with none of the Quick.fire judges pointing out that none of those dishes with maybe the exception of Wylie’s actually qualified as an amuse? Elizabeth gave us the definition and then proceeded  to completely ignore it. That annoyed me.

***

In other news, the Madre and I had to run to OWM to pick up some olive oil this afternoon and stumbled across a display of the below deliciousness being promo-ed for $2. Of course, we scooped it up. We weren’t by the grocery store and have somewhat limited stocks at home as we are headed out to Catawba for the weekend. I didn’t want to try it just on toast, so when I stumbled across a tube of crescent rolls, I knew I had a solution. A smear, a roll, and the result: chocolate-filled crescent rolls. Nom nom nom. Just call me TC, thankyouverymuch.

OWM