July 2, 2010

Reality Rundown: Melinda is Tapped Out

The Next Food Network StarSo You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef DC

The Next Food Network Star - The aspiring stars have to cook a dish incorporating a pepper of their choice for the Camera Challenge and as a bonus incentive, the winning dish will be placed on Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill menu for a whole week. The contestants will be judged not only on taste, but also how they present the dish to camera cause if you can't explain how the flavor of peppers burns the mouth then you can't be a star. Tom the schlub impresses me and Bobby even comments how this dish could be on his menu, but Brianna wins the challenge, finally warming up and being real to the camera. The bottom 2 are Das (no surprise) and Herb, who is having an off day and is not sure if he's worthy.

For the Star Challenge, the chefs are put into groups of 3 to compete against each other. They will each need to re-create the best dish 3 top chefs have ever had (and 2 of these chefs appeared on Top Chef Masters). Tom, Aarti, and Herb take on lamb and potatoes and Aarti's lamb kebabs are a smash hit. Herb just smashes into the ground. Serena, Brianna, and Brad have to make fried chicken with iceberg lettuce and blue cheese dressing, and Brad finally shows his culinary expertise with delicious chicken, though the chefs don't like his angle of being "pro" since he's barely been around the industry. Aria, Paul and Das each ruin mac & cheese and steak, so Aria wins by being the least crappy. The bottom 3 of the week are Serena, Herb and, while he's slowly improving, Das eliminated cause they can't wait for him to finally get good forever.

So You Think You Can Dance - It's no secret here that I've been on the fence thus far regarding the All Stars. I've felt that this fresh crop of dancers couldn't hold up against these amazing, powerful favorites... until this week. Minus Melinda's salsa clunking it up, I thought everyone danced fantastic. Sure Kent gets a little corny in the face, but it's great. Ashley got contemporary again, but it was so beautiful and fluid, it was like she floated. Lauren almost flashed a boob, but kept up her vampy Broadway character. But the stand-out of the night, maybe one of the best routines on this show ever, was the first 2-guy hip hop routine that wasn't part of the final 4. Napoleon and Tabitha hand-crafted a routine for Twitch and... classical ballet dancer Alex Wong. Even Tabitha has to make a "so wong, but it's so right" pun. This routine made me laugh, smile, and get excited. I've been on the fence about Alex Wong, but I think I need to reconsider my stance. Holy awesome.

The results show begins with a group contemporary piece choreographed by some new guy (sorry, didn't catch his name) but man it was hard to watch. Was it just me or did it look really sloppy, with no one really together? The judges also announce that next week each dancer will perform 2 routines, one with an All Star, one with a fellow competitor. So if you read between the lines, the judges also are noticing a flaw in this season. Time fillers include: All Star spotlight (this week, Mark and Courtney with their freaky Sonja jazz piece "The Garden"), a performance by the Cirque du Soleil's Viva Elvis, and Ne-Yo singing a little bit, but mainly dancing without even attempting to lip-sync.

The bottom 3 are Billy, Robert, and Melinda and while it's sad to see 2 really talented dancers in the bottom, I really see no reason to worry because even the judges admitted in the performance episode that Melinda should've gone home last week. I don't even think the judges deliberated this week. I think they went backstage, had a Snapple, took a bathroom break, and just came out to say the obvious. Billy and Robert are quickly sent to safety and Melinda is eliminated.

Top Chef DC - The Quickfire is also a back-handed way to promote the upcoming Top Chef spin-off, Top Chef: Just Desserts, and this doesn't bother me at all. Each cheftestant has 2 hours to make a pie, and of course most whine because they aren't pastry chefs. Hey morons, have you ever made chicken pot pie? Well instead of putting chicken, peas, a potatoes in the middle, throw in some fruit. Some of the most disgusting pies are made, but a few stand out from the pack in a good way. Kenny wins his first Quickfire with a twist on Bananas Foster.

The Elimination Challenge this week is make a picnic lunch on the good ol' grill for the annual Capital Hill intern picnic. Add your own Monica Lewinski joke here. Johnathan Waxman makes his 2nd appearance in the Rundown this week, as he is this week's guest judge. The sun's out and so are the Canadian geese, which show how much they love American by crapping on Timothy's table, because even the geese know his food sucks. Arnold, Ed, Amanda and Angelo are the winning dishes from the picnic. Ed makes a bright, bold tuna sandwich, while Arnold is able to make a delicious lamb meatball. Amanda makes mouth watering ribs which sends me to the kitchen to snack on some chips, and Angelo makes something Asian again. Arnold is named the winner- suck it, Angelo!

Arnold gets to deliver the bad news to Tim, Stephen, Tracy, and Kevin that they are the bottom 4, so the drag their feet into the judging room. Stephen overcooks his bass, doesn't grill his bacon enough, and has greasy cous-cous. Timothy makes pork 2 ways but fails at seasoning and his veggies. Padma calls Kevin's dish "the safest Puerto Rican food I've ever had", while Gail says his family and friends don't count and he needs to make professional food. Tracy isn't surprised to be in the bottom with her burgers, and the viewers aren't surprised she's in the bottom either cause she had an epic pie fail and has gotten a lot of screentime. Tracy is eliminated, which isn't surprisingly unless of course you go to BravoTV.com right after the episode airs and the site spoils it (see below).

And now a gripe. I watch this show on DVR and watched the episode from approximately 10:30-11:30. While blogging for the show mid-episode (because sometimes I pause the show to write my thoughts), I went to BravoTV.com to look up a chef's name and already, barely an hour after the episode ended, they posted on the Top Chef website who got eliminated. Hey Bravo, not everyone sees the show on Eastern Time LIVE. How about a spoiler alert? Or save it until the morning? Easy on the Publish button there.

Photo Credits: BravoTV.com, BuddyTV.com, FoodNetwork.com, RetroJunk.com