Marc Naimark's writing and interviews _____________________________________________________

Top Chef 12.2 / Aaron’s dicking, so he’s sticking around

Posted in Top Chef by marcnaimark on 2014/10/26

tcOur cold open to episode 2 of Top Chef: Boston shows the stew room  reacting to Mei’s win in episode 1. She thinks she’s hot stuff because she beat them all with rice porridge. Oh, and did you know she works for Chef Michael Voltaggio? The Michael Voltaggio who has restaurants and shit and won TC season 6? Did you know that the Voltaggio brothers were considered hot dudes? Michael not so much anymore. Bryan, maybe.

Katsuji, our Mexican-American Princess, describes his trainwreck of a taco with 50 ingredients. He has a sense of humor.

The stew room should be called the product-placement room, because the only thing we see there are boxes of PP crap.

Keriann Von Raesfeld gets into it with Aaron over her failed (at least in Richard Blais’s view) attempt at MoGas. Aaron’s a real MoGas expert, and he wears a baseball cap at all times, because he’s also a dick.


We see the cheftestants in their early morning mode. We learn that James has lots of tattoos because he’s prancing about the kitchen in his shorts. We also learn he works in White Lake, Michigan. I have no idea where that is; I am waiting for him to show people where exactly he’s from by using his hand as a “handy” map. A a MIchigander, I am now obliged to root for him, which is fine by me, despite the tattoos (ugh).  He is going to make this even harder on me, as one of his more prominent tattoos is of his inspiration/hero, Patrick Swayze, who’s craftsmanship and commitment to excellence James respects. I guess we’re going to get some fine Roadhouse cuisine from him.

Time for the Quickfire. It’s kind of complicated. There’s a big-name chef there with Padma, and Aaron is as excited as he can manage (barely) to realize that he’ll be cooking for some top people in the country. Yeah, they have guest judges on the show, Aaron. Have you ever watched it? Although sometimes they’re professional wrestlers or Muppets, so…

Anyway, the theme is the North Church and Paul Revere. So over the time of the challenge, lanterns will periodically light up. If it’s one lantern, the cheftestants need to pick something from the eclectic choice of ingredients on the “Land” table; If it’s two lanterns, they need to take something from the “Sea” table. Their choices decrease at each lighting, and it’s first come, first served, so woe be the cheftestant who’s not on the ball.

Land is first up, and Napoleon-complex guy is upset that Katsuji got the sweetbreads. He wants K’s stuff. James got wild boar bacon. You can’t just cut it: you need to manipulate it. Katsuji is making a hot sauce, and Katie runs into him. The video replay shows that both are at fault. K needs to say: Chaud devant!

Adam isn’t on the ball, so he ends up with crab crisps.

Judging time! Joy has made veal over beef. Not a great choice. Stacy has overcooked her pork chops. Katsuji used quail eggs which is good for guest judge, and showed restraint, which pleases Padma. He gets top marks with James, who takes the win, which is 5000 smackeroos, but no immunity.


It’s a feast for the police and fire departments, and it sounds stupid. The commissioners are old white guys with heavy Boston accents. The theme is “first responders”. There are five teams of three. Aaron tells us he’s a jerk, which we already knew; Mei’s with the losers from the previous challenge, Katsuji and a girl. They’ll be cooking in a restaurant, and can only use the ingredients there, so the last to cook will have a very hard job, which makes this totally unfair. Except that it’s not really that, because they have boxes of ingredients they can use. It would be much more entertaining to see the early teams choosing their ingredients just so that the later teams can’t use the good stuff.

Adam is eating PP snacks with his team and worrying about what they’ll find in the restaurant. Mei wants to be the boss. Did you know she works for Michael Voltaggio? She’s gonna taste everything, she is. Aaron is riding Keriann Von Raesfeld because she went to pastry school. Since they’re going last, their team is likely to get dessert ingredients. He wants her to tell them what to cook. She responds that as they have no clue as to the ingredients, she can’t. Aaron wants her to “entertain the thought of hypothetics”.  She says that whatever it is, it won’t be MoGas. Thanks for pushing his buttons, Keriann Von Raesfeld. He responds that gelatin is a hydrocolloid and is often used in desserts. Is she going to reject all gelatins because they’ve got a science-y sounding name? Did you know that salt is sodium chloride, and is a MO LE CULE? Do you refuse to use salt??? Aaron’s a dick and she plays into his crap. Hate them both.

Everyone’s got some sort of connection with the men in blue.Stacy from Boston likes them because of the marathon attacks.  Adam’s mom worked at WTC and was convinced she was dead on September 11. She was late to work in fact and was coming out of the subway when her tower was hit, but couldn’t get through to her Teamfamily for many hours. Keriann Von Raesfeld’s dad is a firefighter, so she knows they hate MoGas.

Team 1 with Mei and Katsuji are up first, and they argue over who’ll make the sauce. Mei makes the mistake of saying she doesn’t want to argue about it, so Katsuji says that means he’s going to make the sauce. Walked right into that, Mei. He lets her taste his sauce as he makes it, and she thinks it’s great. So that’s nice.

Team 2 choose a box that lets them do surf and turf.

Team 3 wants to do pork chops.

Team 4 is doing veal chops, and Big Ron asks Joy if she’s OK to grill them. She says the timing is important. Uh oh. The chops are thick so she wants to take them off the bone. Even I know that’s a mistake, because they’re tastier and look nicer on the bone. Her two teammates overrule her, so we can be sure she’ll serve undercooked chops, which she says is bad because you can’t cut through raw veal.

Team 5 has chicken (boring) and shortribs (not enough time). Keriann is upset because Aaron insists on using MoGas. The MoGas in question is using agar to make a marmelade. No big deal IMO,  so lighten up, Keriann Von R. Stacy is getting sick of the bickering between Aaron and Keriann, who kind of doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Time to eat! The restaurant is located in an old firehouse. Cool!

Team 1 serves their halibut with other stuff. Everyone loves the sauce, and the fish is cooked perfectly (Mei!). The cherry in the salad is appreciated. Everyone did something the judges liked, and it was cohesive.

Team 2 makes surf and turf and it’s great.

Team 3 makes pork chops. I want this dish, served with hot stone fruit salad.

Team 4 has a problem with undercooked veal chops. Surprise! They used vanilla, and it’s too much.

Waiting for a big dustup with team 5, we get some marathon stuff. One of the police officers talks about going to the wedding of a guy she saved, now a double amputee who she was able to see dance with his new bridge. I’m sentimental, but it’s so hokey here, I’m not tearing up.

Team 5 has Stacy cooking the boring chicken, and her teammates worrying about the fact that it’s not cooked yet. They keep offering to help, but it’s not like they can make chicken cook faster. As it turns out, Aaron and Keriann haven’t actually prepared the plates with their own components, and Aaron’s marmelade is too watery. Hah. He wants to warm it up, but Keriann says there’s not enough time. He reheats it anyway, adding agar. The judges like Stacy’s chicken but the raw onion and raw corn in Keriann’s corn salad is unpleasant. Aaron’s chorizon jam is crap, it’s too loose, it’s lumpy. Aaron does his best to throw Keriann under the bus. Keriann responds in kind.

Back in the kitchen, K and A are at each other’s throat. A. doesn’t accept K.’s insistence that he shut up. “I don’t work for you, you don’t silencio me”. A.. is kind of racist, but it’s true that K. does this thing where she snipes and then shuts off further comments: “Your component was crap, but the dish got out so that’s all that matters, shut up.”

So the top teams are 1 and 2, the bottom are 4 and 5.

Back in the stew room, Aaron gives me another reason to hate him: “They said that Stacy’s chicken was perfect and that Keriann and I’s parts were shit.” Aaron, you must die for “I’s”.

Team 2 wins.

Tom goes after Aaron for his agar shit; he had plenty of time to make a jam thing without the tricks, which failed him anyway. Keriann is slammed for using a bad ingredient and make it worse. Joy failed to check her meat.

They need to keep Aaron on for the dick factor. I think Joy is the goner. Or Keriann. But she’s such a good foil to Aaron! Who’s packing up their knives and going? Stacy’s chicken saved Aaron and Keriann, so it’s Joy who’s out. Joy blames a lack of assertiveness for her fail. Sorry: you had two hours to cook, so you had plenty of time to cook those chops on or off the bone.


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