After my recap of the premiere went up last week, people left comments. That’s how these things work. But it was not just “civilian” people leaving comments; there were also comments from this season’s contestants. If I was on a cable reality show, I’d definitely mix it up on Grantland. Aadip thanked me for the shout-out; he seems like a savvy guy, and he gets how to play along. Dr. Bob, who presumably gets a wireless signal in his Panic Room, was confused by how I described his TV persona. That makes sense, because very little of what I write has anything to do with reality. If everything I wrote was based on facts, this would be a weekly series in which I describe ingredients and how ovens are working, and I am getting bored just thinking about it. Dr. Bob wrote, “Sorry for your misunderstanding me since we have never met, call anytime for clarification or facts – Dr.Bob.” Dr. Bob is right. I am a bad journalist, and I did not once call him to check any of my “facts.” But is Dr. Bob saying that we should meet up? That seems like a very Dr. Bob move. Never follow Dr. Bob to a second location.
Rasheeda’s comments were the best, though. If you’ll recall, Rasheeda has braces and heels and wants a man. She answered people’s questions, and she seemed very sincere. She wants to be a better cook, everybody. Like me, she hopes her womb does not fall out on the floor. She advised me to not take this show too seriously, and I assure you, Rasheeda, that despite what 2,000 words a week might indicate, I do not. Rasheeda’s commenting charm even won her some new fans. At the very least, it attracted some fans looking to “social network.” Rasheeda, though your cooking skills are still up in the air, your womb may get some use yet. Check your Other Folder in your Inbox. Do you live near Minnesota? Maybe don’t answer that.
This week’s episode begins at the contestants’ house. Dr. Bob says, “I wake up feeling fresh and ready to go.” He looks extremely fresh. He’s got a farm-to-table vibe to his face and personality. The cast gets some kind of message from the producers about fish. To be honest, I tuned out on the content of the message because Alex Stein was reading it. I still don’t like that guy. While it may seem like I rag on everyone hard in these things, I genuinely get that they are normal people, playing or not playing a “role” on a silly show, and it’s all in good fun while they try to learn how to cook and have a chill time on television. I’m rooting for all of them, in my way. But Alex Stein works his sound bites too hard, and I learned he appeared on another reality show called The Glass House last year. Cool. His Twitter bio says he lives in L.A. and is a “comedian,” and I’m sure we’d have a ton to talk about. He’s the new Theo Von.
The red and blue teams are going fishing, so it only makes sense that they dress up as Cirque du Soleil cat burglars. They are wearing suspenders and winter hats and turtlenecks and you can hardly tell them apart from the real fishermen. The difference is that the contestants have no calluses on their hands and also slightly fewer diagnosed cases of the clap. Michael says, “We look completely ridiculous,” and he says this after tying his “signature” bow tie underneath the rolled collar of the turtleneck. Similarly, Chet is wearing one of his ties under his turtleneck collar. I have honestly never seen this done, and I read some weird street-style blogs. Did the producers not think we’d be able to identify the contestants without their neckwear? There aren’t that many people on this show; I think we’d manage. Michael looks like Liz Lemon’s terrible agent on 30 Rock, and Chet looks like a robot from Real Steel.
Everybody goes out fishing on a boat called “Brooklyn VI,” and, predictably, there’s lots of yelling and screaming about how gross fish mouths and hooks and things like that are. We did not expect these guys to be chill about fishing. Alex and Big Mike both kiss their fishes, as if that’s a thing you do. Rasheeda is great at fishing. I think that even if you can’t cook dinner, Rasheeda, a man will appreciate if you can catch it. Lots of guys like sushi. Somehow, the fishermen manage to all swallow their disgust for these mime-looking lunatics and not steer the boat into a cliff face. Safely back on land, the contestants are greeted by Anne and Bobby arriving on another boat. This show should be called Most Boats in America. Just go buy fish at the supermarket.
Anne and Bobby don’t want these guys slicing their own hands off, at least while on Food Network’s watch, so this week’s Skill Drill is about knife skills. Anne says, “We want to get you guys comfortable with your knives.” I think that means Anne and Bobby will talk about how to use a knife for three minutes while everybody nods and tries to “take notes,” and then people will nearly slice their fingertips off. Anne and Bobby teach each of their teams a sample black sea bass dish. It involves filleting and lots of different vegetable knife cuts. These people are in trouble. Chet says, “I can’t cut an onion!” while cutting fennel. Aadip has never seen radicchio. Dr. Bob is familiar with filleting, though he’s never done it to an animal.
All Bobby wants his team to do is not touch the pan after the fish goes in to brown. He yells again and again at everyone to stop touching the fish. Everybody ignores him and tears apart their fish. Alina, who loves to burn things, thinks it’s going to burn. Carla moans and groans while filleting her fish. This is not what she signed up for. (She signed up for having sex with Bobby Flay.) Big Mike cuts himself while trying to open an avocado in midair, and he’s lucky he doesn’t bleed out. But he’s got a lot of blood. He can take it. All the knife work is giving Anne palpitations. “Someone may be headed to the emergency room today. It might be me. I’m having a heart attack.” Good line. Put that star in front of a camera and let her get to work, everybody.
Bob is feeling good about his dish. It’s nice to see this guy confident after his poor showing last week. I’m startled, though, when he yells, “Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about right there! That’ll put the fear in you!” Dr. Bob seems awfully comfy with that last line. He’s got a beer coozy that says “Putting My Fear In Them Since 1952.” It’s intense how loud he yells it. Maybe he’s used to saying it with a bondage hood over his mouth. He loses a bit of his moxie, though, when he realizes he’s cut himself and bled all over his finished dish. Anne asks, “Did you bleed all over this fish?” Bob answers, “Yes, ma’am.” He then tells her not to eat the food. You think, Bob? Because if I were Anne, and you hadn’t warned me, I would’ve been itching to get your bloody sea bass all up in my mouth. Thanks for the heads up.
A lot of the cooks ruin their food with too much salt. Most of Anne’s red team does, in fact. Always taste your food, guys. Adjust that seasoning. Though I’m not sure what to do if you serve your food and it’s already too salty to eat. Maybe dump it all in a bowl of water and serve it as a room temperature soup. Big Mike throws a bunch of his extra relish on the plate, and Bobby is not into it. “More is not better,” he says. Big Mike does not like that news one bit. Carla tries to seduce Bobby with a heart written in honey on her plate, and while he’s flattered, honey next to the fish is gross. The winners are Alina and Crystal. The losers are Big Mike and Dr. Bob. That goes to show that people do not really like it when you bleed on their food. Dr. Bob says, “I’m feeling pretty low about it.” This guy needs to shine in the next challenge. It’s worth noting that winning or losing the Skill Drill seems to provide no incentive or punishment for the next challenge; it’s just a chance for the viewer and the contestants to be reminded who sucks.
This week’s main challenge is cooking some farm-to-table chicken. Nobody on the show has ever seen a whole chicken before, much less one with the head and feet still on. Carla says, “I don’t think so.” Bobby and Anne show their teams how to butcher and break down the animal. Anne’s method is even more intense than Bobby’s; she shears out the whole backbone and gives it a “spine-ectomy.” She laughs and says that she’d be pretty good at chopping up a body. Dr. Bob nods in agreement.
Aadip, once again, is in a tough spot. “As a vegetarian, I don’t even eat chicken.” We know what a vegetarian is, Aadip. It’s funny he’d come on this show, but it’s also funny the show doesn’t even bother to care about making concessions to his lifestyle choice. He timidly starts hacking at the chicken’s head. Anne yells at him, “My grandma can whack it harder than that.” My dad had a phrase for that, when I would cook or do handiwork with him. “Come on, you’re making love to it.” Aadip, you are making love to that chicken neck, and I’m sure that goes against your vegetarianism, which I understand now means you don’t even eat chicken. Anne is disappointed. “Aadip is stuck on a loop and if he doesn’t get out of that loop I’m gonna send him on a loop outta here.” Will the loop out of here then bring him back here? I’m confused. I just saw Looper and time travel stuff gives me a headache.
Anne’s dish has got brown sausage and chicken parts and a pickle liquid sauce and some polenta. Everybody but Dr. Bob makes a close approximation of what Anne made. Bob has his own way of doing things. His cooking is like he heard about Anne’s dish 15 people down line in a game of Telephone. He’s making Chicken Purple Monkey Dishwasher. Most of the ingredients are the same, but they are all out of order. There’s a glossy white splotch on his plate. I get very nervous when I see it, and so does Anne. “What’s that?” “That was a slip of the spoon, Chef.” I feel like parole officers are about to burst in. A slip of what? It’s mascarpone. Why was mascarpone anywhere near his chicken? What is this guy doing over there? He says, “I’m not getting the focus I need yet,” and Anne writes him a prescription for 20 mg of Adderall on the spot.
Chet, who doesn’t drink, serves about a liter of cognac on his plate. Bobby says, “I’m gonna have a hangover after this chicken.” Carrie Lee’s dish is probably perfect, who knows. I’m in love with her. Large Mike does everything well except cook his chicken. Bobby takes a bite and then pulls it out of his mouth, which is sort of a motif on this show. Chef Flay is not a huge fan of raw chicken. Mike is confused, because he followed Chef Flay’s timing instructions. “It doesn’t make sense, like a poopy-flavored lollipop.” Wow. That is an expression that will stick with me. That he chose “poopy” is going to haunt my dreams.
This week’s winners are Alina and Sue. I don’t know anything about Sue yet. She seems nice. Alina and Sue both get $1,000 Kohl’s gift cards, which is probably enough to actually buy a Kohl’s store in some parts of the country. Alina says, “Maybe I’m someone you need to look out for.” Speaking of, don’t you need to look out for your patient from the audition? Where’s that guy? Don’t you take care of him? Sadly, Anne and Bobby send home Dr. Bob and Big Mike, genuinely my two favorite contestants. Mike’s disappointed, but he’s a mama’s boy, and he’ll head home to his mama. My heart goes out to Dr. Bob, though, and also to the parents of the young drifter on whom he’ll take out his frustrations.