I’m totally looking forward to the episode. I loved everything Charleston and almost all of the chefs seem like people who want to see succeed. Except oddly, Emily the homegirl with the bad attitude. Also there are no idiot chefs “from Atlanta.” As a Georgia girl, I am already appalled by the folks on reality TV claiming to represent Atlanta. Alabama Jim is just an adorable and joyous being. It looks like it’s going to be the happy fun season we all sorely need. And then there is John Tesar, an extremely talented chef with a dark side that includes throwing cutlery in the kitchen and calling employees retarded. Brilliant and self destructive often discussed in the same conversations as Bourdain, who gets away with a bit more, because he’s hot. I probably will be pulling for Tesar for the win.
Yum, we start with Frank Lee and a low country crab boil. The only thing better is she crab soup. These are my people and I wish I was there.
The elimination challenge is a team challenge. No one likes that. It’s rookies versus veterans. Emily is irked that Padma calls the new chef “rookies.” The two teams go to two different local homes for inspiration to create a traditional low country meal. The veterans already have the better supper. They have a Gullah chef, while the rookies have a local restaurant owner with an emphasis on biscuits.
I really miss living in South Carolina. I was teaching at an HBIC a couple hours inland once, and we all got very sick with some sort of flulike thing that knocked half the school on our asses. One of my students came to my house, as I lay on my deathbed with an old paper cup from 7-11 and made me drink this random concoction that could have been anything. It was from his Gullah grandmama. Those of us who drank it lived and the rest of the infected all died. Okay nobody died. But we were all back at school the next day in perfect health and the others lingered on being sick for at least another full week.
The butter beans and tomato pie at the biscuit lady’s house has me drooling. I am loving these local scenes. The Geechee guy served tea in red solo cups. They were outside on a picnic table but still, dude.
Last week, we learned that Tom doesn’t like okra. John is going to do a dish with okra. It’s a staple of low country cuisine, but if I were Tom, I’d let someone else have that. Fried okra is one of my favorite things. You can get it as a side at Captain D’s. I’ve made many pass through the Captain D’s drive thru on road trips just for fried okra and a sweet tea. I do not like the slimey kind of okra. The fact that okra has been brought up on both episodes so far means John will either win or go home with his shrimp, okra and rice dish.
On the rookie team Annie wants to do Hoppin John, but the Italian wants to do that. Actually Emily needs to do that, idiots. It’s the most Charleston dish and you have a chick from Charleston. Annie says fine, she’ll make the slaw, but some other guy takes that. This team is not cohesive at all. Annie ends up with tomato pie, and she’s butthurt about it. I don’t know where she is from but yankees have no business making tomato pie. She probably doesn’t even know to use Dukes mayo. This is non negotiable. The rookies practically brawl at the checkout. I did not see a jar of Dukes on the conveyor belt. When the rookies get back, they realize they should have included biscuits. Because, you know, biscuit lady. People are actually yelling at Jim to make the biscuits. Jim points out they didn’t buy the stuff to make biscuits, like buttermilk. Some of these rookies are dicks. The veteran female chefs are hanging out drinking wine and chattering away.
Casey doesn’t want to make real collard greens. She’s going to make fancy pants collard greens. Good luck with that. I mean it might work out just fine but it’s not a southern dish. The Italian chick is making hoppin john without rice. For the record, there are two ingredients in hoppin john, rice and blackeyed peas. It’s not rocket surgery. Annie is not making tomato pie either. She’s making a tomato tart. No Dukes in site. No bueno. This is painful to watch. At least they have tons of cast iron skillets. The guy who burnt his veggies last week burned them again this week. Burnt broccoli. Broccoli is a genetically modified vegetable that does not occur naturally anywhere and is relatively new to the US. It has no place on a traditionally southern dinner. Sure we all eat it now, but that is not what this challenge is about.
Right away, the biscuit lady is pissed that there are no biscuits. It is a travesty. Jim probably should have made some in addition to his regular dish. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make. A five year old could do it. If they had buttermilk. Jim just made a grits dish. Also easy. He had plenty of time to make biscuits. Emily’s shrimp and pickled cukes and onions was a hit. The pork loin was not. Annie’s yankee tomato tarts looked amazing, but the judges didn’t care for me. They crust was a bit raw. Slyva, who is a Haitian dude, made a great cornish game hen (nice to see that making a come back) with rice and a chow chow. It’s a hit. Haitian and Gullah are not too far apart. Jamie, the veggie burner’s dish missed the mark.
The veteran’s team serves everything family style. Smart. Shirley’s pork and oyster stew looks amazing. The judges loved it, the Gullah dude seemed to think it was just alright. The biscuit lady loves John’s rice, crap and okra dish. Tom even liked it despite using the word slime. The biscuits did not pass the biscuit ladies inspection. Why is there ceviche on this table? Casey’s collards won over the Gullah guy her addition of trout roe made everyone happy. An eggplant and okra dish was also a hit. Katsuji made a stew with a hot pineapple sauce. Biscuit lady loved it. Sam made fried chicken. The judges liked it.
I’m so hungry.
The veteran team won. You should never risk it and go no biscuit, rookies. Casey’s collards, John’s rice crap and okra dish and Sheldon’s eggplant and okra dish were the top three. I knew it was going to be all about the okra. Or not. Casey’s fancypants collards won.
The bottom three dishes on the rookie team were BJ’s pork loin that I don’t even remember and apparently didn’t comment on, Annie’s raw tomato tart, Jaimie’s broccoli and squash dish. Okay BJ is the one who spent over 20% of the entire budget on a pork loin that didn’t get cooked so he had to sear it in the skillet to keep it from being served raw. It was still undercooked. What’s worse? Raw pork or raw pie dough or the guy who keeps fucking up his vegetable dishes? Frank Lee is irritated by the tomato pie. It was truly a calamity. But you can die from raw pork.
Sorry, Annie. You can’t make a tomato pie without Dukes. Please pack your knives and go.
Next Week: Padma has the best meal she has ever had on top chef.