Monday, July 30, 2012

Hell's Kitchen/MasterChef Repeats - July 30-31

"I'll B-R-B, yes?"

UPDATE: Expect repeats next week.  They're repeating the last 4 episodes to coincide with the Olympics.  Tonight was the stupid TBC episode followed by Psycho Bitch Tiffany's elimination.  Next week we'll get to see Kimmie and Brian bid farewell once again.  I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef are on repeats this week I'm guessing because of the Olympics.

They'll probably be on repeats again next week, too.  Why?  Well, according to HK's Wikipedia page, this 10th season runs until September 10th.  There are currently 6 chefs left. Either they're gonna switch to a once-a-week format or we're gonna get repeats until the Olympics are over.  Or they'll bombard us with more "to be continueds" which is entirely possible.

If you remember season 8 was delayed for a couple weeks due to the MLB playoffs.  We were without HK during the best part of its season for a good two and a half weeks.

So we'll see what happens next week.  In the meantime, why not head over to the Greg's Gourmet Facebook page and inspire me to maintain it by becoming a fan?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Edokko Review - Sacramento

This is part, like, 5 in my series of road trip stops.

Ok, let me start by saying that the full title of this place listed on Yelp is "Edokko II - The Pocket Greenhaven."  The Pocket-Greenhaven is the neighborhood but what the hell "Edokko II" means, I have absolutely no idea.  The more I think about it the more confused I get.

But whatever.  So on this particular night, having driven from Reno to Sacramento and appearing on Twirl Radio, I was in the mood for something lighter, specifically Teriyaki chicken.  Naturally I wound up going with something entirely different - some sort of spicy Korean chicken, what it was exactly I'm not sure because Edokko II DOESN'T HAVE A FRICKIN' WEBSITE!!! COME ON, GUYS!!!

Korean Chicken A La Carte, which I pronounced as "car-tay"

I asked the waitress what the heat level was on a scale of 1-10.  She said about 7.  I was feeling bold so I went for it.  And yeah, 7 is a fair assessment.  It had a slight peanut-taste mixed into it along with a heat that lingered from start to finish.  For comparison sake, Twirl Radio host Mike got the mustard chicken, which hits you with a falcon punch of heat the second you put it into your mouth and then it tapers off. 

One thing I wasn't big on was the chicken-to-vegetable proportion.  In the opinion of this humble blogger, the chicken should outnumber the vegetables by at least a 2-to-1 margin.  Here it seemed like the other way around.  Granted, the vegetables here were cooked well and had some delicious flavors and spices, but still. There's a place in the Fashion Valley mall called Sarku Japan, and you can order Teriyaki chicken or Korean chicken or whatever the hell else you want and unless you say otherwise, they'll top it with a bombardment of vegetables that feel and taste like chiseled up bricks from a construction zone.  And it's that off-kilter chicken-to-vegetable distribution that makes the dish a pain in the ass to eat.  I don't want two pieces of broccoli for one piece of chicken.  It should be the other way around.

Some take-out Japanese places have those Styrofoam containers that have a big entree space and two smaller side spaces.  They generally give you the chicken and sides of a salad and rice.  THAT'S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE!!!  

So, in short, the chicken was good.  It had heat that lingered but it wasn't ridiculously overpowering.  

And here's a bonus chocolate bar from the Lone Pine Film History Museum located, surprisingly, in Lone Pine, AKA the middle of nowhere:

From the 20s-50s an endless brigade of Hollywood westerns were filmed in and around Lone Pine because of its geographic beauty and location.  So out there in this tiny town, they've got this really nice museum of film memorabilia spanning the last 100 years.  They don't film out there as much as they used to, but parts of big Hollywood flicks still claim Lone Pine as a shooting location, including recent juggernauts Iron Man and Gladiator. 

Anyway, this was a chocolate bar with a raspberry filling and it was outstanding.  If you happen to be driving up the 395 in the middle of nowhere, I'd give the museum a look-over.  Well worth it. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Circus Circus Reno Buffet Review

This is part 4 of my recent road trip around California/Nevada.

So.  Reno.  Las Vegas Jr.  The Biggest Little City in the World possibly because of all the morbidly obese people waddling around.  We stayed in the Circus Circus for a night and before I get to the massive dinner I'd like to bitch about the Internet once more.  In Carson City, Wi-Fi is apparently a thing out of Star Wars, because the Carson Station is operating in a galaxy far, far away where some of the floors don't have any Internet access at all.  Dude, what?  A good change of pace is that Circus Circus DOES have Internets on all their floors.  Good improvement.  BUT...each room fee allows you access to the Internet on only ONE device.  So what happens when there are TWO people there with TWO computers that need Internets?  Extra four dollars.  Dude...WHAT?!?!?!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME, CIRCUS CIRCUS?! IS THIS A JOKE OR SOMETHING???  BITE ME!!!

I ranted appropriately on Yelp to tell them who's boss.

Anyway, dinner that night was at the hotel buffet.  As is well documented, I can be a monster at buffets.  But on this road trip I've been trying really hard to not eat myself sick, even going as far as to forego lunch in favor of a couple small healthy snacks throughout the day (notably apples and apple sauce).  Needless to say, my first trip around the buffet left me AMAZED and practically begging for a stomach ache before even touching anything.

Let's get into it.  Some of these pictures aren't the best because, in all of the excitement, I just piled stuff on without considering plate presentation.  Oh well.  If you want to put out to bring me back to Reno to take better pics then let me know.

Nothing amazing here leading off - meat and potatoes...but wait...what's this?!?!


UNBELIEVABLE!  PRIME RIB!  BUFFET!  It's like the Oceanside Room but...MORE!  

Ok...calm...anyway, as you can see I kept it pretty simple for that first plate after scavenging through the various stations.  Here's where I went a little out of control:

Remember when I said I wasn't considering plate presentation?  I wasn't lying

More prime rib, more potatoes, corn on the cob, pizza, wedges, mac n cheese, and frickin' nachos.  Yes, nachos at a buffet.  INCREDIBLE!

Now, this next picture is more of an homage to the great All-You-Can-Eat Prime Rib Buffet for $11.75 in Point Loma which shut its doors earlier this year:

It's like the cook from Point Loma relocated to Reno.  This is vintage prime rib buffet here

Transition plate: fruit and salad

The dessert station was amazing.  About a dozen different types of cakes, donuts, eclairs, turnovers, croissants, and everything in between.

The cake was good but the donut kind of sucked

I don't know what the hell I was doing here

Last but certainly not least...a fruit tart:

Hello Beautiful

So, 6 plates and guess what?  I didn't get sick!  OH YEAH!  Overall this buffet was awesome.  Tons of choices to pick from and the food for the most part was really, really good.  Especially the prime rib.  I would love to come back here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 15

Episode 15

David Martinez is not a, seriously.

Onto the real story of this episode:

The Curious Case of David Martinez: David, I think, has become more of a punchline than anything else during this competition.  The dude is so easy to make fun of, yet at the same time he's such a character that he makes the show really, really fun (unlike, say, Brian or Justin from HK).  So here's how David's day went and how he went from being number 1 to number 699 in a matter of minutes.

1) David beats out Bitchin' Becky and Christine to win the Mystery Box Challenge thanks to some raw prawns and a complementary balance of sauces and seasoning.  For weeks David has been hiding in the shadow of each eliminated contestant, rarely ever showing any signs of pulling ahead.  He's delivered some stinkers and holds the dubious dishonor of having Joe Douche Alarm Bastianich toss his food in the trash.  But he's hung in there mostly because there's always been someone worse than him each and every episode.

2) He's given a huge advantage.  He even says "I will not squander this advantage." Can you guess what happens?  The Elimination Test calls for each cook to construct a dessert using either bacon, corn, or beets.  Not only does David get to pick what everyone cooks with, but he gets to view three different samples of a corn dessert and gets to ask as many question as he likes.  In essence, he's spoon fed how to make this dessert.  This should be a shoe-in for him, right?

2a) As the background music provides a soundtrack of determination, David proudly proclaims "David Martinez is not a joke."  Well, as he gets his 5 minutes alone to shop for his ingredients to cook up some rice pudding...

3) ...he forgets to pick up the rice...

4)  Face palm as the doors to the pantry shut with his basket full of all the ingredients for rice pudding...except the rice.

5)  Epic fail.

David then goes around and asks each cook if they have rice.  As luck would have it, Bitchin' Becky grabbed some as a backup plan and graciously gives it to him.  That brings up the question: did she do the right thing?  Ultimately she wound up with the best dish for the Elimination Test so maybe it was karma.  But from a competitive standpoint, maybe she should have said piss off.  Frank brought up a good point that if he's gonna win he wants to beat the best and beating others while they forget main ingredients does cheapen things in a way.  I can see both perspectives.  It was nice of Becky to give him the rice.  There's a lot of nice people in this competition, as evidenced several weeks ago when Frank was trying to give a member of his team immunity and they kept refusing.  But this is a competition and David blew his huge advantage.  Not sure what the right answer is.

So David had the best dish of the Mystery Box, he had a huge advantage, Becky gave him some rice, so how did his dish turn out?

"It's really, really, really inedibley disgusting." - Joe Bastianich

Wow.  What's even more shocking is that David actually didn't go home.  His second saving grace of the day other than Becky is Felix and her creation of breaded cat-poo shaped as nipples.

Becky's dish looked good and she rightfully won.  Her cheer was, naturally, annoying; "I feel SOOOOO good!"  Frank was second.  Monti and Christine ("this is a smart use of spices as opposed to David's dish" says Joe) also put up notable plates.  Josh's plate of some kind of weird caramel corn was in the bottom three along with David and Felix.  Felix got eliminated.

How is it that David is still here?  Pretty simple actually: Felix doesn't have the backbone to be a MasterChef.  This is the second time her dish has been grilled and she once again crumbled to the ground in an ocean of "woe is me" tears.  Look, no one likes to hear that their work sucks, but when you're in a field and a competition that constantly provides you with feedback, you need to learn to take the good with the bad.  That's why David is still here because, as I've joked, he doesn't show any emotion whether he's whipping up something good or bad.

Oh yeah, one more thing about Becky...

Bitchin' Becky: It's not that this prissy little bitch is always a finalist in every challenge, but it's the fact that she jumps around like a TOTAL NEWB every time they call her name.  Like "OOOOMMMMGGGGG I'M TOTALLY IN THE TOP 3 OMMMGGG AREN'T YOU HAPPY FOR ME?!?!?!"  Just SHUT UP AND TAKE YOUR PLATE UP THERE, BECKY!

Really good episode.

Monti telling the prawns that David forgot the rice for the rice pudding.  Even they couldn't believe it!

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 15

Episode 15

Later, Brian

What do you know - a second consecutive good episode!  But by my count we may be in for another scheduled "to be continued" next week.  It's been 3 episodes so we're due. But I digress.  Onto tonight:

Justin: "Why couldn't we win today so we could be at the beach?" I don't know, Justin.  You're always one to ask the really, really challenging questions. 

Dana: Does anyone notice that this girl really likes to yell while in the confession booth? It could be over something really simple like "Today I woke up and GOT SOME BREAKFAST ARRRRRGGGHHH!!!"

Brian: What the hell is this guy smoking? Ramsay puts a black jacket on the table and he thinks it's mint? What a douche.  

What the hell is a holding oven?  And why would you put spinach in it?  Even I know that's something you probably want to do.  I don't think in HK history do I recall all of the garnish being held in an oven.  That actually sounds like something that douche Brian would make up. 

Robyn: "Justin's a dumbass."  Truth. 

More Justin: "What was I thinking? That was just a dumb, dumb mistake."  Yeah, kinda like the decision to let you onto this show, Justin. 

So after sending up an entire slaughterhouse worth of raw meat, Ramsay called on Barbie to help Brian out with his station.  Pretty embarrassing but also humorous to see Brian throw a two year old temper tantrum.  Watching him pound his fists and swear was almost like watching a 6 year old who couldn't get his Power Ranger. 

The trio of Dana-Christina-Barbie worked well.  I guess everyone else was just extra baggage. 

Black Jackets:  Always a big time in HK.  Occasionally you see a couple bogus handouts, such as Matt from season 4.  Total fluke.  But this group?  The women all deserved one.  Clemenza has heart but lacks the skill.  Nevertheless, I think he deserved one.  Justin has skill in the kitchen but he's boring which makes him one of the worst chefs to receive a black jacket ever. 

Robyn reminds me of Trev from season 8.  That dude went up to the chopping block each and every episode but made it to the final 4.  Robyn won't win but she's shown she's got skill, she's got heart, and she's got tenacity.  That's why she's still here and Brian isn't.  Brian is just...really, really strange.  The problem I had early on with this season is that the blue team consisted of like 5 generic white guys who all looked, talked, and sounded the same.  Brian was one of those guys.  Justin is the remaining one and arguably the most boring of the bunch.  Seeing that guy trying to direct people is like watching a piece of grilled broccoli trying to direct a sequel to Inception. 

So I think this group is as good as it could be.  I would have liked to see Patrick Van Halen or Royce make it this far, but I'll settle for what we've got.  I'm rooting for a Dana/Christina showdown since I think they have the skills as well as the mentality to do big things.  Barbie has only gotten better as the competition goes on but I don't see her as head chef material.  Or executive chef.  Or whatever the hell the prize is this season.  Clemenza has the leadership capabilities but his cooking skills fall short.  Justin is a joke of a leader.  Robyn will finish 5th or 6th but I think she has the talent to do big things down the line.

Overall a solid episode. 

Did I really just say that she deserved a black jacket?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Masterchef Recap Episode 14

Episode 14


Well this is certainly a nice change of pace.  I'll say this to start: Bringing back the recently cut 8 chefs was a simple ratings move so they could include Ryan.  In reality, the Flavor Elevator nor Tali the Douche have any shot of returning.  Both of those dudes make the Stooges look like rocket scientists. 

Bitchin' Becky: "Josh is my biggest competitor. The idea of him coming back is throwing another wrench in my master plan."  I'm so sorry that Josh is interfering with your Final Solution, Becky.

Ryan: "The Flavor Elevator is back and we're going up!"  If by going up you mean going down, then yes, you're going way up, Ryan. 

Joe Bastianich: Who on the balcony doesn't deserve to be there?
Ryan: Definitely David Martinez. 
Joe: Martinez? Is he wearing your apron? 
Ryan: He's definitely wearing my white apron.  I'm definitely getting it back today. In true David form, he flips Ryan the bird with his patented emotionless face. What a non-shocker. 

Tali: "If Josh's mousse was a chocolate dream, this is like a chocolate mortar" Hahaha bye Tali!

Monti: "This kid, he better not worm his way back into this competition after being gone for so long.  Ryan...go f@*# yourself."  HOT OVERLOAD.

David: "I want Ryan to come back just so I can be the one to hammer that last nail into his coffin. I don't think that kid can cook his way out of a microwaveable popcorn bag." Wow, David. You're so tough. You're, like, the designated tough guy now.

Douche Alarm: "But what Frank doesn't realize is how delicious this is. I think that there's a potential in you that sometimes is masqueraded by this seemingly bewildered young man who has no job probably not doing a whole hell of a lot everyday."  Even though it was aimed toward the Flavor Elevator, it was still a douchie thing to say.  

I think Anna, Scott, and Tanya knew that being included with a group with Tali by default means they're going home.  Bummer. 

Flavor Elevator: "I don't want to sound overconfident but I think I'm the best chef including the ones who are already up there."  I don't think you're sounding overconfident at all, Ryan.  The words that come to mind are delusional.  Stupid.  Inter-dimensional. 

More Flavor Elevator: "I think it's safe to say that the pressure is on." Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Hopefully you're cooking isn't as predictably bad as your one liners.

Josh: "I'm gonna whoop Ryan's ass, man.  This is gonna be the culinary battle of his life!"  I'd take Josh in a fight over the Flavor Elevator any day. 

Those tarts look amazing.  Holy crap.

Christine, in response to hearing that they'll be participating in a blind taste test: "I think that's fair." 

Gordon: How is your tart going to separate from his?
Josh: What I plan to do is use a lot of exotic ingredients. Pineapples, mangos, kiwis...
Should have just said "What I plan to do is kick his ass again."

More Josh: "This has to be the best dish I've made in this kitchen cause otherwise I'm going home and that's not what I want to do."  Really, Josh?  I thought the whole idea of MasterChef was to be the first to go home, but I may be wrong...

Josh: Maraschino cherries, man.  Might get you.
Flavor Elevator: Might get me to the next round.
The exchanges between Josh and the Flavor Elevator seemed kinda forced, but having Ryan around is always good for entertainment. 

Even More Flavor Elevator: "In the infamous words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part." Nice.

So Josh is back, defeating Ryan 6-0 in the blind taste test.  This was a really good episode and a nice curveball.  It was also cool to see Ryan again because he's just such a douche.

Flavor Elevator Words of Wisdom: "I'd like to say to the remaining seven contestants: you're lucky they threw another baking challenge at me. But now I really think Josh will win because anybody who can take out the Flavor Elevator deserves to be the next MasterChef."

Really enjoyable episode.

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 14

Episode 14

"Get outta my face or I'm gonna eat you...BITCH!"

Well, good news.  This may have been the best episode of the season.

The challenge was a nice touch considering the producers probably had some agreement with a local church/choir.  It was amusing.

Kimmie: I can't stand this chick. Her entire vocabulary consists of different ways to call people bitches. It gets old after a few minutes.

More Kimmie: Dude...Kimmie is gonna REAM Brian?  I don't know who I'm more scared for...

Dana: She looks pretty hot in the kitchen.  She looks even hotter out of it. Niiiiice.

Brian: Brian is such a douche.  Putting up raw pork. Get out of there, son.

Justin: "I won't churn my own butter again. It is the worst thing in the world. It sucks." Why does this sound like some kind of perverted act of self-gratification that only a loser like Justin would be interested in?

Brian's "ejection": While seeing this clown get tossed mid-service would have been sweet, this really had to be one of the more pathetic "fight backs" we've seen in HK history.  Remember when Tennille got kicked out of the kitchen but vehemently refused to go quietly?  And then was allowed to return?  Brian's ejection was just as lame as his personality.  He made his smartass remark "what's it taste like?""tastes like fish." He walked toward the doors and then James was practically reading a script from a teleprompter about fighting back.  I guess a lame performance like that is warranted for such a lame person like Brian.

More Justin: "We need to figure out who's the weakest link on the team. Bottom line." Well thank you, Captain Obvious. I actually thought you were trying to figure out the quadratic derivative of pi, but that was clearly just silly of me.

Everyone got kicked out.  Again.  Robyn got destroyed.  Again.

In a way I'm kind of surprised that Robyn got spared yet again, but at the same time Kimmie deserved to go.  When she said "I fight back" I couldn't help but to roll my eyes.  Really?  Kimmie cries during every episode.  She cries when the pressure is on.  She cries when she's defending herself.  In traditional society, that's not the typical definition of "fighting back".

And once again, how many people mouthed "back in line" after Ramsay said "The person leaving Hell's Kitchen is...Robyn..." Would someone please tell Ramsay that that's totally played out?  Maybe an intern or something? Just take one for the team.  Please.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carson Station/Grandma Hattie's

This is part 3 of the gourmet eaten on my recent road trip around California/Nevada. 

So I already discussed the gourmet I enjoyed in Bridgeport en route to Bodie with delicious meals at the Virginia Creek Settlement and the Hays Street Cafe.  After spending several hours in Bodie, we ventured up to Carson City, Nevada where we stayed at the Carson Station Hotel and Casino.  Before I get into the food I just want to say that if your hotel does not have complimentary Wi-Fi then you are losing business.  This place had Wi-Fi on SOME of the floors but for the others you had to check out this modem thing that you plugged into the wall.  I mean, really, guys?  Is everyone in Carson City still on Myspace, too?

Anyway, that night we dined at the in-house eatery, The Station Restaurant.  This is where I feel like I became Gordon Ramsay in an episode of Kitchen Nightmares:

"Just look at all that" I said in true Ramsay fashion as I squeezed the grease out of the roll

I don't usually order meatball fact the last meatball sandwich I ordered anywhere was back at State.  I dunno, for a casino hotel I just expect the food to be a little more, hmm, not so cheap looking like it was grilled on the floor of the men's bathroom.  Did it taste good?  It wasn't bad.  But it looked like such a mess that I was afraid it would create a whirlwind of diarrhea in my stomach. 

The menu has exactly what you would expect; burgers, fries, and the typical breakfasts.  Again - for a casino hotel I just expect the food to be a little more up there. So yeah. Not too inspiring. 

The next morning we decided to try breakfast somewhere else.  En route to the hotel we passed this place called Grandma Hattie's, so that seemed like a logical choice.  I mean, grandma always makes great breakfasts, right?

Why are the potatoes so oddly placed in this picture? It's like they're allergic to the eggs or something

Once when I was about 10, my friend and I picked our noses in order to keep these annoying girls away from us at one of our block parties. They didn't leave. This dish reminds me of that. Not because it looked like it was cooked with booger oil mind you, but because this Eggs Benedict looked like it was picking its nose in order to keep me away. 

I checked out Grandma Hattie's on Yelp afterward and was amazed to find it has an average rating of 2/5 stars.  Pretty bad.  But the thing that's most shocking is that all of the reviews say it's not a horrible place, it's just forgettable, which I think is spot on.  The food isn't bad.  I ate everything just fine.  The menu isn't anything exciting but it's got the essentials.  The service is fine.  But there's nothing about this place that really stands out as different from any other Joe's Breakfast Shack you may find along the 395.  I mean, you look at the picture and you can tell that everything is cooked fine but it's not the most photogenic plate I've ever posted here. 

So that was Carson.  After that we headed up to Virginia City and then Reno afterward.  

More coming soon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 13

Episode 13

"I have to work with David Martinez? I think I'm gonna eat my own vomit"

Paula Deen: HEY YALL!!! MUWAHAHAHAHA!  Sorry, for us Southern Californians it's like hearing a foreigner trying to learn English as a 53rd language. 

David: "I love butter. I love Paula Deen. I love Paula Deen with butter." Too much info, David. 

"Holy hell!  You've got some real flavors happening here, Martinez!"  Holy hell, Joe Bastianich complimented David Martinez! 

I laughed out loud when learning of the contestants being paired together.  Frank did, too. 

More David: "When it comes to sushi, man, honestly I do kinda know my shit. I've never done it myself but I've seen it done so many times." Yeah, David, just like me with nuclear weapon construction; never done it but I've seen it done in a lot of movies. 

Bitchin' Becky and David: I love seeing these two butt heads.  Becky's a loudmouth and David's incapable of showing any emotion.  It's like a howler monkey paired with a bowl of oatmeal.  Awesome.

Ramsay: Do you think your team's in front?
Christine: I'm not sure, chef, I can't see around me.

I like how they're using the same three seconds of Frank laughing over and over again. 

Felix and Monti: These two really worked well together.  Monti has no experience with sushi and she completely deferred to Felix, who has done a ton of this stuff.  Monti has been a hothead at times but she knew Felix was the MVP this time around.  Good teamwork.

Stacey and Christine: These two were just discombobulated.  Nothing worked, nothing came out right, and the dish was a mess. 

It's weird to think that David is in the final 6, especially considering that he shouldn't be there. If all 6 of these chefs were competing individually then I think David would easily be leaving instead of Stacey, but he's lucky that there was a team that competed worse than his did. 

SO how about six eliminated chefs getting a second chance?  That's a pretty cool twist, I gotta say.  AND WE GOT TALI AND THE RYAN "THE FLAVOR ELEVATOR" COMING BACK!!! YEAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!

Next episode is gonna ROCK...just cause Ryan and Tali are such DOUCHEBAGS!

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 13

Episode 13

"I care more about food than my family...j/k but srsly tho"

Again - Chef Ramsay samples these dishes just 30 minutes prior to dinner service cause he's been out of town for a day and a half for one of his 50 other television shows.  Is that really demonstrating his world class standards?  I don't think so.

Robyn: "Who the f@*# wants to eat a mousse with a flower in it?" I'm wondering the same thing.

Kimmie: "Barbie, you see these two fatass fingers from Memphis?  I can handle this shit! I don't need your help!" as she waves two open hands. Um, Kimmie?  You may not want Barbie's help with cooking but you may want to consider seeking her out for some basic arithmetic lessons.

Ramsay: "I swear it's pinker on the inside than Paris Hilton's lipstick!"  Nice.

Justin as a leader reminds me a lot of Napoleon marching into Russia.  I'm sure this will end well.

Psycho Bitch Tiffany: "I care more about food than I care about my family." Jeez...are you the child of one of those loser couples that appeared on Jerry Springer in the 90s?

Dude, Andi taking names...hotness.

Whenever Justin gets into an argument I'm always concerned that he's going to accidentally develop some personality.

More Robyn: "Justin won't vote for Brian and Brian won't vote for Justin...I think they sleep on top of each other." Ah, mystery solved.  Thanks for the inside information, Robyn.

One of the (other) reasons I can't stand Brian and Justin is that neither one stands up for themselves. Or when they do it's like watching a spider trying to crawl out of a toilet bowl only to be flushed away two seconds later.  Clemenza stands up for himself. Robyn stands up for herself.  But Brian and Justin?  They're the kids you bully into doing your homework because you know they'll do it.  It's just pathetic.

Psycho Bitch Tiffany was sent home because she started showing her heart way too late.  Up until now she's been stoned off her ass half the time and brawling with people the other half.  Seeing her cry shows that she actually does care but it was too little too late.

Prediction for finals: Christina vs. Dana.  Justin in third cause that's just how bad of a season it is.

MasterChef Recap Episode 12

Episode 12


I'm still yet to see the first half of this, so I'm just going on what I caught last night. 

It was actually a really good pressure test, with a solid group of chefs going up against each other.  Felix was picked not to participate in the test because I don't know why.  Maybe just to protect her.  I think Josh and Becky and Monti are far better than Felix and, above all else, they're all mentally tougher. 

Anyway, eggs are one of the easiest things to screw up.  How many times have you asked for over easy only to get over hard?  It's annoying.  So for the test they needed to cook a soft boiled egg, a poached egg, a sunny side up egg, and a three-egg omelette.  

Monti: Solid as always.  Best of the bunch.

Bitchin' Becky: Ugh. When Graham is complimenting her on her eggs she celebrates like she won the half billion dollar lottery.  I mean, calm down, little girl.  Act like you've been there before.  If you're going to be a Master Chef then you should be able to cook eggs.  Why you're getting all emotional is the sign of a total amateur and.  You also come off as a bitch, no offense.

Josh: His eggs sucked. Plain and simple.

No contest in this one.  Monti was safe from the beginning, Becky's soft boiled egg was raw, but Josh had a ton of mistakes which made him the easy departure. 

Sorry - not many wise-cracks this time around.

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 12

Episode 12

"Another 'to be continued?' THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!"

This show is officially an insult to not just entertainment but to food in general.  In what world is it a good idea to have Ramsay try each team's menu just 30 minutes before dinner service?  Is that even remotely respectable to the customers?  How on earth does that reflect Gordon Ramsay's "world class standards"? Oh, that's right, it's because Ramsay was in 50 other cities tending to his 50 other restaurants/television shows so he couldn't get back to HK to try the food any earlier and he's surrounded by yes men who agree with whatever he says.  You know how he's been doing the whole "The person leaving Hell's Kitchen is...Bob...BACK IN LINE!!!" for years?  Yeah, it was cool the first few times but 200 episodes later it's kinda lame. That's what happens when someone has complete control over something - the product suffers. It's like Hotmail - used to be a good service once upon a time but now it's just covered in dog vomit.

Anyway, onto whatever the hell happened during this useless show with these boring people:

Justin and Brian: They've got a bromance going on according to Robyn. Why is this not surprising?

Brian: Little bitch complaining about Tiffany taking over his failed station. I kinda just wanna get out the box of tissues and cry along with him.  

Psycho Bitch Tiffany: I like how she says this competition is about the customers and the food. This coming from a girl who licked some cooking utensils and then stuck them back into the batter.

Wing Eating Contest: Seriously? They brought in Joey Chestnut? How much did they have to pay this guy to hang out on this stupidass show?  Just give him the prize now.

Chefs and Smoking: Why does every single chef in HK smoke? I've heard over the years that it's calming given the stressful conditions that chefs have to work through.  But it also ruins your pallet, as evidenced by Kimmie: "I'll sit out because I just smoked this morning." But like, why continue to do it if it messes with your sense of taste, which is kinda critical when, you know, you work with food.  Maybe someone can help me to better understand.


"You gotta love Brian. You just gotta." Um, no.

Blind Taste Test: This is always one of my favorite challenges because it's a lot harder than it seems, can you mistake turkey for tofu?...I guess Psycho Bitch Tiffany has a lot of experience eating soggy diapers...Justin the first in HK history to go 4-for-4?  Clearly he cheated. 

Kimmie vs. Barbie: How many times has this chick said "stupid bitch" and "I've had it" so far this season? Holy crap, she's like an old record stuck on repeat. I did like Barbie's "you haven't jogged a day in your life!" insult. 

Further proof that Gordon Ramsay is spreading himself too thin: A special delivery of an I-Pad with a pre-recorded message from Ramsay saying that tomorrow's service will be Red vs. Blue menu.  This just continues to cement the fact that this show isn't what it used to be.  In the past he would have been there to tell the chefs in person, but with his 3 other shows on Fox, 198 restaurants, and not to mention his shows in the UK, the dude needs to be in like a million places at once.  Quality management going way down.

Dana straight out of the shower. Yow!

Kimmie: "I really wanna get my thoughts and ideas on this menu!" That'll be a pretty blank menu.

Brian and Justin 2: "Me and Justin are completely on the same page." I guess that's pretty easy when you have two generic white guys with the personalities of a couple pieces of string cheese.

Okay, I'm 30 minutes in (out of 40) and they haven't started dinner service yet.  I sense another to be continued coming...

Chef Ramsay needs to approve each team's menu 30 minutes before dinner service? In what world is that a good idea and even remotely respectable for their customers? Oh, that's right, it's because Gordon Ramsay has too many things to do and couldn't try the dishes any earlier and is surrounded by yes men who approve every dumb idea that he comes up with. 

OH WHOOOOOOOA!!!! TO BE CONTINUED YET AGAIN!!!!  I can't WAIT to see how this INTENSITY pays off!!!!


Monday, July 16, 2012

No Hell's Kitchen/MasterChef Recap Tonight

For folks looking for my usually cynical and potty-humor charged review of Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef - I'm currently on vacation and didn't get to see HK tonight and missed the first half of MasterChef.  There's usually someone who uploads the episodes to YouTube immediately after airing (Fox wants you to wait 8 days to see it on their website. Seriously, guys?) but are yet to do so tonight, so I'll get some reviews up once I've had a chance to watch them.

In the meantime, you should check out my pictures and reviews of a couple cool restaurants in the middle of nowhere: the Virginia Creek Settlement and Hays Street Cafe.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: Hays Street Cafe

Yesterday I wrote a review for a nice dinner place in the middle of nowhere.  Today I'm writing a review for a nice breakfast place also in the middle of nowhere: the Hays Street Cafe.

When first making the trip to Bodie last year, the girl working the hotel's front desk said something along the lines of "The Hays Street Cafe has the best breakfast in town.  Actually it has the ONLY breakfast in town." I'm not sure that means anything considering that the breakfast could have consisted of cheese-coated cockroaches and salt-crusted goat testicles and the above quote would still apply.  But I digress. 

This, my friends, is what breakfast should look like:

You know it's a good thing when restaurants make a point of highlighting the fact that they cook with REAL butter as opposed to stupid fake butter

Two eggs over-easy, half plate of hash browns, bacon, and toast.  Really fantastic, really good, really filling.  Last year I didn't have much to say about the breakfast other than it was "good".  Which was true, I wasn't lying.  But now I can rave about it because this was really, really good.

Also as I mentioned with the Virginia Creek Settlement - service is excellent.  Maybe everyone who works there is family.  Wouldn't be all that surprising considering that Bridgeport has a population of about 14 and a half (it's actually about 600 but I was rounding down).  But the cool thing is that in the dining room there's always someone keeping watch in case anybody needs anything.  Granted it's not the biggest restaurant in the world but it's also not the smallest, so it's nice to have that watchful eye that can help you out with something if you need it. 

And what continues to amaze me is how the prices for these little restaurants miles from civilization are about the same as they would be for any other restaurant in a bigger city.  How do they do that?  Maybe they slaughter their own animals, I dunno.

A nice, well-rounded menu, good scenery, and a pretty badass meal prior to spending the day at Bodie.  Check it out.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Virginia Creek Settlement

Been on the road for a few days so I've got some catching up to do with all of the most mouth-watering gourmet I've been downing.

Leading off is the Virginia Creek Settlement located in Bridgeport, California.  Bridgeport is a town of about 600 located 8000 feet up in the Sierras.  It dates back to frontier times and prospers primarily on the tourism seasons, with the epic ghost town Bodie being the main attraction.

The Settlement is one of the few restaurants located up here and I'd say it's safe to say it's the closest thing to a fine dining-type of establishment in a 10,000 mile radius.  So here's what we've got:

New York Steak, a baked potato, and an entire garden of asparagus

Given the proximity of Bridgeport to absolutely nothing, the prices of the food are actually really fair. Whereas prices for gasoline are about a buck higher than the bigger metropolitan areas, the menu here is pretty constant.

The steak was good.  Cooked well and tasted good.  But what the hell is up with the all the asparagus?  Seriously, why so much?  Maybe they're trying to counter the lopsided fat portions with something healthy, even though most restaurants leave their veggies cooking in a pot of full-fat butter.   But whatever. 

Appetizer: beef vegetable soup

I gotta tell you - after 8 hours and 330+ miles on the road through the mountains and desert, this soup was amazingly delicious.  Like whoa. 

Garlic bread

The bread was also refreshing, like that feeling you get after stuffing your face at an all-you-can-eat buffet and before you realize you probably ate too much and then sit in a daze of intense intestinal cramping.

But overall a great place.  Highly recommend if you happen to be snooping around the Sierras.  The other thing is that even in the middle of nowhere you can find superb customer service.  It's amazing how so many restaurants just don't get it, but you drive up the 395 into this tiny little isolated town and it seems like it's second nature.  Really good restaurant.

Got some more good stuff that I've gotta catch up on.  More coming soon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 11

Episode 11

Tali's audition photo for the new Three Stooges movie

Poisonous sea urchin.  Yeah, right.  Does anybody really believe that?

Bitchin' Becky: Ugh. What a prissy little bitch. A little know it all, knows every answer to every question never asked, and the crap she throws at Hot Stuff Monti is bullshit.  Thankfully Monti doesn't take any bullshit.  See below.

Monti: "She can kiss my Puerto Rican ass."  Oh...yes please.

Tali: "I've never seen anyone with my type of dish because it's never been done."  You've never seen anyone with your type of dish because your type of dish is most likely terrible.

More Bitchin' Becky: "It's a giant bowl of pasta with everything ever in there. At least it's not on fire." I think if pushed too far, Monti is capable of making that bowl serve as Becky's bedpan.

Christine: Giving her the salmon which, according to the judges, is the easiest fish to cook. Good move or bad?  We'll find out...

More Tali: "It's frustrating when Chef Ramsay interrupts me in the middle of my creative genius explosion. It's kind of like interrupting a master artist like Picasso." Or in your case it's like interrupting one of the Three Stooges as they try to figure out calculus.

Felix: "I think she got lucky cooking it so good for her." Oh shut up.  Monti's been consistent ever since she started.  The same can't be said for you.

David: Dude should be a poker player. I don't think he's capable of showing any emotion whatsoever.

Judges: I love how they ask overly obvious questions.  When David's fish is raw, Joe asks "Is this what you wanted?" Graham asks "You know someone's going home today, right?"

Even More Tali: Dude got ripped a new one. When I get the chance I'll post the text of Joe's epic speech because it was really a good one.  Naturally, Tali disagrees with the judges' assessment of his nasty gourmet: "They can't see the beauty and the genius that is my food." Well, yeah, when Larry, Moe, and Curly are combined into one person and trying to cook seafood over a fire-pit of plastic combs, it's kinda hard to see the genius, Tali. It's MasterChef, not MasterBait.

Joe's Beatdown of Tali: The name of the show is MasterChef. What do Chefs do?
Tali: Chefs cook.
Joe: That's right. So it's not Master Oilator or Master Tell Me What My Intention is About Cooking. It's MasterChef. You think you're going to impress us with things like suve(?) and mulcify(???)? So at the end of the day what you have here is basically destroyed lentils because I can see they're all exploded and overcooked. You have a bunch of herb scraps with now dressing on them. You got a piece of fatty nasty looking bacon on top of some poorly conceived cooked arctic char. You've consistently disappointed us.

Damn.  Joe laying down the law.

Even More Bitchin' Becky: "I'm so disappointed! And I can't believe Monti's dish was better than mine!"  OOOH NOOOO WAAAAAAH!!!!

Yet More Tali: "Why don't they see the genius that's right in front of them?"  Okay, Tali, the genius talk is just getting ridiculous now.

So Felix's victory of the Mystery Box completely deceived her, as she screwed up her own dish and didn't get rid of any of the real competition.  Chefs like Monti and Frank are good for a reason.  Joe's assessments I think were pretty fair today considering Felix tried to send a ripple through the competition but instead just wound up getting rid of the worst chef still there.

Yes, Tali is finally gone.  The delusional rat and self-proclaimed genius can now join the Flavor Elevator in doing whatever it is Flavor Elevators do.

Overall a good and interesting episode.

I had to try. Larry turned out best

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 11

Episode 11

Psycho Bitch Tiffany giving herself a pat on the back

Kimmie: Why does this chick cry after every challenge?  Chill out.  Then Dana starts getting trashed because she's got the balls to lead the team?  Something's not right here.

In the early seasons of HK, the winners would have been flown to Las Vegas on a private jet as opposed to coach on Southwest Airlines.  I guess the producers are starting to penny pinch.

Carrot Top: This may be the worst celebrity spotting in HK since Sasha Vujacic.

"Brian was very into Carrot Top." A little bit of an understatement from the Rolls Royce of Cooking.

Brian: When the guys returned from Vegas you saw Brian making some kind of alien noises that are native to his home planet to which Dana asked "what the #*@! is wrong with you?" Dana, seriously, I don't think anyone knows what the @*!( is wrong with Brian.

Lee Dewyze: This may be the worst celebrity spotting in HK since Carrot Top.  Shouldn't be too surprised.  As the worst winner in American Idol history which includes the distinction of being dropped from his record contract, Lee probably has plenty of time on his hands.

Psycho Bitch Tiffany: I like how she gives herself a pat on the chest as a way of giving herself a pat on the back.  Must be nice to be stoned off your ass at all hours of the day.

Speaking of Psycho Bitch Tiffany, it was great to see her totally pwn Brian and Justin. "This is why you guys get (@*!#$ up!" In true generic white guy fashion, Brian and Justin had absolutely no way to defend themselves because they lack any personality whatsoever.

More Brian: "It took every bit of every thing that I have inside of me not to turn around and shove her head into the fryer."  Every bit of every thing inside of Brian isn't that much just in case you forgot.

Rolls Royce of Cooking: Not surprised he went home at this point. He was walking on egg shells from the beginning but had made some improvements. It's too bad because he's one of the few contestants that actually has a personality this season.

"Everything you think you know about Hell's Kitchen is about to change." HAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, right. How often does Fox slip that quote in for every promo of every show in their cabinet?

Overall this would have been a decent episode if they had picked any other celebrity other than Lee Dewyze.

Is this how everyone looks if David Beckham likes their pork chop?

Friday, July 6, 2012

4th of July

He makes money for eating like a pig

First of all, I hope everyone had a Happy 4th.

Second of all, I'd like to give a big middle finger to ESPN.  So the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, which has become a national pastime similar to baseball or full fat cheese, always airs live at 9 AM on ESPN (noon eastern time).  For some odd reason this year, Nathan's decided to have the competition at 3 PM instead of noon.  When they realized how weird of an idea this was, they moved it back to noon, however by that time ESPN had already filled that time slot with Wimbledon.  Oops.

The only way to watch the contest live was to stream it on ESPN3.  However, ESPN3 makes you sign up through your cable provider, so if you can't do that then you're SOL. It's not that this is a ridiculously hard task,'s just annoying.  It's the same with Fox.  A few years back they used to upload Hell's Kitchen episodes to their website the day after they aired and you could watch them without even signing up.  Now? You gotta do this goofy sign-up through your cable provider or wait 8 days after the initial airing for the episodes to be available.  Hey Fox, you ever hear of YouTube?  It's this really cool new website where people on the east coast upload HK episodes THE SECOND AFTER THEY'RE DONE AIRING.  Legal?  Probably not.  Convenient?  Oh yeah.  8 days? HA!

ESPN still aired the contest in its reserved noon time slot, but by then it was tape delayed and had been over for 3 hours.  To no one's surprise, Joey Chestnut once again annihilated the competition, downing a record-tying 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes for his 6th straight title.  Chestnut is a total baller but without Kobayashi there it's not a competition anymore. The best years of this contest were 2006-2008.  In 2006, Chestnut gave Kobayashi a run for his money but in the end lost 53.75 to 52.  I remember this one distinctly because Chestnut looked like he was about to puke up a tractor the entire time.  The next year Chestnut defeated Kobayashi 66-63, ending his 6-year title run.  The next year they went into overtime with Chestnut defeating Kobayashi by a bite.  Ever since then it's been Chestnut's game.

Sure, they had one more great duel in 2009, but by then this was Chestnut's reign and no one was taking that away.  Kobayashi hasn't returned to the contest since due to contract disputes, so really it's just a question of how many dogs can Chestnut down rather than who's gonna come in first.  Guys like Eater X and Bertoletti have been doing this for years as well and while their numbers continue to rise, they're YEARS behind Chestnut's abilities. They finished second and third this year with 52 and 51 dogs and were actually leading the pack halfway through and wound up LOSING by double digits.  I dunno man.  Chestnut is awesome but I wish there was more parity. Like in hockey.

On another note, there's something really, really attractive about a woman eating 45 hot dogs in 10 minutes.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, here's some of what I ate:

Mmmmmm chili

I didn't down 68 of these bad boys, but I did eat 5 of them.  I was hoping to go for more but apparently I wasn't as hungry as I thought I was. 

A dessert that needs no introduction

The All American Dessert!  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MasterChef Recap Episode 10

Episode 10

"See these red bowling shoes, guys? These are shit!"

Tali: Why the hell is Tali still around? This guy has done absolutely nothing since arriving other than to creep everyone out and serve as Ryan "the Flavor Elevator's" sidekick. Whatever.

Pressure test was a good one.  Rabbit is one of those foods that I've always wanted to try.  Graham's "Rabbit Five Ways" looked outstanding despite the fact that he was feeding us its kidneys and liver. Sorry, organs are where I draw the line.

Becky: This chick is seriously starting to annoy me.  She's like that little know-it-all in school who would always raise her hand after every question and would get upset if she got a B on something.  She's up there jumping around after the victory like she had just won the lottery.  I mean, show some class.  Act like you've been there before. You really think the other chefs are thinking "WOW! Finally Becky won a challenge! Whew!"? The answer is a great big emphatic NO!

Anyway, the real fun of today's episode was during the Elimination Test. As someone who made my first pizza on a pizza stone very recently, I know how tough it can be to make a pizza - especially in an hour.  The reason Tali is still around, I think, is that he DID make a pizza with the pizza stone, whereas the three "worst dishes" were something entirely different. 

"You drew a blank? Hope there's not a blank space at your cooking station tomorrow." Ouch, Douche Alarm going off ten-fold.

More Becky: Ugh. Becky. Bitch Alert: "I know that Monti is a single mother and she does raise her kid on this stuff but this isn't, like, the best Budget Cooking Mom Show, you know? She isn't a Master Chef."  Hey, Becky? Guess what? YOU'RE NOT A MASTER CHEF EITHER! As Kimmie from Hell's Kitchen may say, you're just a Master BITCH!

David: Okay, I find David Martinez hilarious because it seems like everyone can't stand this guy and despite all of the quarrels he's been in, he maintains the same disposition regardless of what's going on. He has that goofy straight face at all times like he's incapable of having any emotions. But he seems to keep his cool in the kitchen, so that helps him greatly.  So first Graham crushes his hopes and then Joe slams - not throws - but slams his food into the trash while calling it shit.  Talk about a bad day. But did anyone else notice the red bowling shoes that Joe was wearing?  I guess he and the gang were planning to hit the lanes after filming or something.

More Tali: Again, the question we're all asking is why is he still here?  And the reason today is that he made a pizza with the pizza stone while the bottom three didn't.  But I couldn't stop laughing when he was getting socked left and right.  And it was vicious too, but it was just the circumstances that I found hilarious. First Ramsay embarrasses him to shit with the mess that is his work station, then they rip his pizza to shreds. He had no chance for this round.  I like how he said "that wasn't my intention" when told it was served on raw crust. 

Tanya: You ever bite into a clove of garlic? It's disgusting. The power of its taste can overwhelm your senses so for the duration of the meal all you can taste is garlic.

Mike went home because he didn't shine at all. The double elimination was kind of random, but Tanya stood no chance in this competition either. It seems like she was crying in every episode. That kind of attitude won't win.  "It's a competition you silly cow!" The judges were probably thinking the same thing, as David deserved to go but he seems to have a stronger personality in the kitchen and can take the heat way better than Tanya. No more of pulling steaks out of her ass. 

Good episode overall. 

Hell's Kitchen Recap Episode 10

Episode 10

Ladies and gentlemen, one of your season 10 front runners

Announcer: "The women have suffered a big casualty." I guess in Kimmie's case that may be an understatement.

Kimmie's injury: Didn't I say yesterday that Kimmie wasn't going anywhere because of the burn?  So the big cliffhanger they gave us was resolved within two minutes of the next episode. Bite me, editors.

Psycho Bitch Tiffany: "I don't like kids. At all." I don't think Psycho Bitch Tiffany likes anybody. At all.  But seriously, I swear this chick is stoned off her ass during every episode.

Ramsay to Brian: "You make something so simple look so difficult." That's generally what happens when you have an IQ equivalent to the fat content of fat free milk.

Patrick Van Halen: Okay, so, you know how in the advertisement for this episode they tried to play up Patrick royally screwing up? And they had him being "thrown out" of the kitchen? And cursing his mistake? From what they were playing up you'd think he'd served his left testicle on a plate to the Queen of Denmark or something. But no - the reality is he said two filet instead of three. That's it. That was the horrible mistake he made that they were playing up in the promo. Two filet instead of three and OMGERZ PATRICKZZ THROWN OUT!!1111

I genuinely feel bad for Van Halen.  I think he was one of the early front runners but he hasn't really risen to the occasion and whenever he says he's gonna fight back it's hard to believe he's got what it takes.

Royce: The Rolls Royce of Cooking...okay, you know what?  That's pretty good.  He's one of the few people who has both a personality and an attitude.

I love it how hillbillies bob their heads when they yell.  It's really funny.

Robyn: "Keep my friends close, keep my enemies closer. That's why I was keeping you close, Kimmie!" WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOA ROBYN!! WHOOOOOOA!!! THEM ARE SOME PRETTY STRONG WORDS DER!!!!!  Whoa, man. I gotta step back. That was just harsh.

Dana said it best "It is so ghetto right now. JUST SHUT UP!!" I couldn't agree more, Dana.

Brian: "Justin's strong. Clemenza's strong. Brian's strong. I'm not surprised that we're the last three left." That's weird, Brian, because I for one AM surprised that you're one of those three.

So cleaning one's ears out is what caused Robyn to snap and get into Kimmie's face. I'd be afraid of what Robyn would have done if Kimmie had said to kiss her ass.

I love how Kimmie says BITCH, I mean she really pronounces the B with such passion like she really means it.

Wait, Psycho Bitch Tiffany can HEAR eye rolling? WHOA! She totally IS stoned off her ass!

Patrick Van Halen was sent home because, as Ramsay said, "he talked a good game but couldn't back it up with his cooking." Pretty accurate statement.  He did talk a good game and I was rooting for him but he just didn't have it.

So Robyn's on the Blue Team now. Maybe this is where the show finally starts to get interesting. I wouldn't be surprised to see Christina and Dana in the finals, but given the horrible way this season is going it'll probably be Brian.

Again, one of your probable front runners

The thing is - if they hadn't fed us this ridiculous "to be continued" again, and condensed the last two episodes into one, it probably would have been decent. 

Hell's Bitchin' no doubt. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

MasterChef Episode 9 Recap

Episode 9

Um...okay then, Graham.

MasterChef is exceeding Hell's Kitchen in entertainment value far and beyond this season. 

When Stacy picked Tali first I was shocked and about to make fun of her.  But then when I heard her reasoning that she picked him first as insurance in the event they go to a pressure test, I applauded her move.  Naturally it's probably gonna come back to bite her in the ass, but for the moment it seems good.  But whatever. She made some good choices with the teams.  Frank and Becky are pretty sound chefs and Tali no longer has the self-proclaimed "Flavor Elevator" ramming him into the ground so he's not as annoying.  Pairing Monti and David was a good move as well as Tanya and Anna as there's no central leader. Monti has leadership capabilities but she comes off as a bit hot-headed.  Not that I'm complaining. 

I love how Monti says "no, David, you don't got it."  Also evidenced by his raw burgers.  Suave. 

My first thought when I heard they were charging: Dude, MasterChef is charging people? Seriously? Why don't they say "go to whichever food truck you want and whoever makes the most orders wins"?  Come on, guys. 

My second thought when hearing that the money goes to charity: Awe, that's so nice and a good move.

Reality thought: Joe Bastianich will probably pocket most of it and invest in a book on how to be Italian.

Wow, Red Team won with Tali as the first pick.  Impressive.

"The first things that you sent out were raw."  "NOT ALL OF THEM!" Hahahaha, that's what you like to hear from a chef. They're not ALL raw, only SOME of them. Silly David Martinez. 

Too bad Tanya couldn't pull any more steak out of her ass like last time. She's too soft to win.

Not a shocker at all that Anna went home.  Captain of the losing team and served raw food during the elimination.  

Very enjoyable episode. The thing that makes this show entertaining is that not only do these people have personalities but they have ATTITUDES. Some are more evident than others, but it makes it fun. There's obvious front runners, dark horses, and some chefs that are about to be picked off one by one. It's a really fun range this season. Too bad HK is stinking up the joint, otherwise this would be a great block of programming.