Under Pressure

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E2: There’s No Crying in Yachting

We’re back with the crew of My Seanna, and Eddie’s just been told about his superstar deckhand Avery leaving the boat. Now Eddie is left with “I don’t want to do anything” James, and “I don’t know how to do anything” Shane – not the best position to be in! Lee makes a call to get a new deckhand and – as long as it’s not Rhiley – hopefully things will improve for the next charter.

Francesca continues to be annoyed as Izzy’s speed; she asks her to pick up the pace, while primary guest Charley complains to Captain Lee about the service. Chef Rachel also has her hands full in the galley because the guest want a full tasting menu (from “different nations”) on day 1 of the charter. #Unreasonable? Lee then describes the deck team: “like three bears trying to f*** a football,” and this is why this man is reality TV treasure, people. Lee calls all the crew into the wheelhouse to let them know about Avery, and also to acknowledge how high-maintenance these guests are.

One of the guests, Shay, makes it abundantly clear she wants to see more of James. She’s going to ask the deck crew to get into Speedos for another guest’s birthday – and that’s not at all creepy, for some reason? If this was a guy asking the women to get into bikinis… #justsaying (something tells me James won’t mind a bit, but that’s beside the point).

Later, Charley complains to Francesca that not all the guests’ luggage was unpacked, and she’s starting to get really annoyed – at the guests, but also at Izzy, because as she rightfully says, she can’t do the job of all 3 stews. Francesca asks Izzy to handle the luggage while she and Elizabeth do dinner service. Izzy complains at the sheer volume of clothes the guests brought, and says she’d much rather be outside; she actually goes to Captain Lee and asks to move to the deck crew and replace her as a stew – he says he’ll take it under consideration, but in an interview says they just need to get through this current charter!

Francesca and Elizabeth set up the “different nation” dinner, and the crew gets dressed up in clothes to represent different nations. Rachel is working overtime in the galley but looks like she has everything under control; she says she got into cooking because of Anthony Bourdain, and has traveled the world studying different cuisines (Captain Sandy’s dream chef?!). In the middle of dinner service, Lee can’t find his black pants and Francesca runs off to try to find them while Elizabeth is making drinks with Shane’s help (?) and Izzy is still unpacking clothes. The guests, predictably, complain – but this is completely on Francesca. She should have told Lee she was in the middle of service and would look for the pants after serving the guests – because the guests have to come first – especially these guests.

Francesca tells Izzy to find the pants and runs up for service. Shane goes with Elizabeth to “present” the drinks to the guests – which is really weird, tbh – and Eddie calls him on the radio and tells him to stay behind the scenes, since he’s just standing there while Elizabeth does her actual job. Charley comments that Francesca “looks exhausted” (you think – with all your complaining?), and she does seem like she’s starting to unravel. Francesca calls Elizabeth down to the cabins to start cleaning while Izzy fumbles with her radio, and then Francesca runs back up to continue dinner – while the guests complain they’re tired.

Charley and his boyfriend go into the galley to “help” Rachel plate dessert – and Rachel says that has never happened in her 14 years of experience. Francesca bumps into them while they’re doing this, and is understandably unhappy. The guests then return the empty plates to the galley, and finally retire. Lee calls Francesca to the wheelhouse to discuss the day, and she gets upset and starts crying; in his interview, Lee says “there’s no crying in yachting,” though after 7 seasons there’s certainly been a lot of crying… I can’t help but wonder how Kate would have handled this situation – probably the same except without the crying?

The next day, Francesca does some yoga and is determined to do better. However the guests’ breakfast orders are completely bonkers and all over the place – they all want very different meals. Rachel gets a little frustrated since 8 guests want 8 omelettes with 8 different toppings – understandably a lot for 1 chef! One guest actually sends back a mean because she didn’t want avocado on toast, but sliced avocado… sigh. As the guests complain yet again, Rachel has a mini panic attack; she composes herself later and says she can do better. I think she’s doing amazingly and these guests would drive anyone insane!

Later, Charley discusses dinner plans with Francesca, and asks if charter guest Lexi can do a body shot off of James; Eddie asks James, and James is happy to oblige. Eddie, James, and Izzy take the guests to a beach picnic, leaving Shane as the lone deckhand on the boat. Shane takes the opportunity to strip down and go for a swim when no one’s (seemingly) watching. But of course Eddie tries to reach him and can’t (because his radio’s on the boat!) so Lee goes to investigate and sees him swimming. In an interview, Lee says “not on [his] boat”… They eventually get him on the radio and chew him out a bit. Shane is already way too laid back and it’s only charter 1!

While they’re on the beach together Izzy takes the opportunity to ask Eddie about transferring to the deck crew, since she has experience. Later, Lee discusses this with Eddie and Eddie says Izzy was helpful on the beach – more than “Sunshine” aka Shane.

The guests come back from the picnic and later dinner service begins – after Charley gives James a selection of Speedos to wear. They seem really happy with the food, for once, until some drama over James begins… one of the guests, Jamie, asks how Lexi ended up on a jet ski with James when Shay was interested in him. How old are these people?! The guests get mad and start arguing while James is changing into his shiny Speedo. The guests continue arguing while the crew stands around waiting; ultimately they stop and the crew brings a cake for Lexi’s birthday, complete with a gyrating James. Shay storms off, and Charley follows saying she embarrassed them; later, Lexi does her body shot off of James. As the guests stand around eating cake in the galley, Eddie wonders if they’ll even get a tip at all – because this charter has most definitely gone off the rails in every possible way! M

Getting Hot In Here

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W7: 1980’s Week

The 1980’s are alive and well in the tent this week, as the bakers get ready to tackle some challenges based on that totally tubular decade.

Signature Challenge

First up: quiche! The bakers must make 8 individual quiches, consisting of 2 different savory flavors, and Noel stresses the fact that they must be served out of their tins. High temperatures are going to be a challenge for this week, apparently, as Paul warns the bakers must be extra careful because of the heat. And as expected, the bakers have issues with the temperature, which Matt says has gone up to 28 C (~88 F).

Flavors and ingredients run the gamut here – Lottie is using baked beans, and she and Dave are both doing “English breakfast” quiches; Laura is creating a “pea and pizza” quiche, and Marc uses smoked haddock for his quiche. Despite the heat, the bakers all manage get their quiches done. Here’s how they turned out!

The judges have mostly nice comments for the bakers, but they absolutely loved Hermine’s quiches. The French baker excelled at the quiche!

Technical challenge

Paul’s advice for his challenge is to ‘watch the color for the end product.’ #Cryptic! The goal for the bakers is to make 6 custard and jam finger donuts. Again, Paul stresses deep frying in the extreme heat will prove difficult. Both Peter and Lottie mention they’re not looking forward to deep frying…

Paul’s finger donuts

Despite the heat (the bakers don’t even have to use proving drawers for their dough because it’s so hot!), the bakers seem to be mostly successful with their creations. After a lot of sweat, the bakers finish their donuts:

Bakers’ donuts!

Paul and Prue have nitpicky comments, and some donuts are fried too long or are just messy. Dave comes in last for his over-frying, then Lottie, Laura, Mark, Peter, and Hermine comes in first! Can Hermine take all three challenges this week?

Showstopper Challenge

Re-imagining ice cream cake (in 4.5 hours) is the challenge for the showstopper, and it must contain a baked element. With the heat, ice cream will probably prove to be a difficult ingredient to work with for this challenge… Matt lets us know the bakers will be using ice cream makers, so at least that’s one hurdle seemingly overcome in the battle with the heat? The bakers certainly take some risks: Dave plans to pipe ice cream on top of his cake, while Lottie plans to coat her entire cake all around in chocolate ice cream. Laura’s ice cream doesn’t turn out because she forgets to turn on the ice setting; she’s left with a chocolate mixture – she turns on the ice setting and chucks in the freezer.

The heat melts everyone’s ice cream really quickly – Mark says it’s around 35 C (~102 F) – and the bakers have a lot of trouble assembling their cakes. Maybe they should have rescheduled this week? Most bakers manage to get things to set, but Laura and Lottie have a lot of trouble keeping their cakes in shape; Laura’s cake falls apart in the freezer. Here’s how the showstoppers all turned out; ice cream in various states!

The judges like Mark’s ice cream cake, and also compliment Hermine on hers. Peter’s cake also looks quite nice and the judges love the flavors of his Christmas cake. On the flip side, the judges say Dave’s cake doesn’t look great, but it tastes great. Lottie’s cake doesn’t turn out quite how she wanted, and it doesn’t go over well with the judges. Similarly, Laura’s cake is lopsided and ice cream melted; the judges like the ice cream but the presentation is messy (and Paul doesn’t understand why anyone would do brownie ice cream – obviously he’s never been to Cold Stone Creamery?!).

The judges deliberate and say Lottie and Laura are in trouble, but Dave saved himself. Matt has the job of announcing star baker for the week, and it’s Hermine! She really did crush it with these challenges! Noel then announces the baker who will be eliminated from the competition this week, and it’s Lottie! She did struggle this week, though Laura has been in the bottom more often, Lottie had too many issues for the judges.

Five bakers remain in the competition, and Hermine has become a new front runner. The five bakers left are all very talented, and as Matt pointed out, everyone has now been named star baker once. I’d day Hermine, Peter and Dave are at the top of the pack and Laura and Mark are at the bottom, but as evidenced this week with the talented Lottie, all it takes is one bad week to be eliminated! M

The Coming Storm

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E1: There’s No Place Like Home

OG Below Deck is back! Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain – and her razor sharp wit – will certainly be missed after 6 seasons, but season 8 brings back bosun Eddie Lucas, last seen in season 3 (aka “The Rocky Season”). Season 8 also marks a return to the Caribbean, and as Captain Lee Rosbach opines, “it’s like going home again.”

Motor yacht My Seanna has a new Chief Stew named Francesca, a new chef named Rachel, deckhands James, Shane and Avery, and stewardesses Elizabeth and Izzy. From the trailer, COVID is not the only thing that goes wrong this charter season…

We start with Eddie arriving on the boat, and he says he hasn’t been in yachting for the 5 seasons he’s been away; he looks for Captain Lee, and can’t find him… Eddie call the cap, and we learn that Lee fell in the shower and “busted some ribs” – so he’s not on board for the first day! We’re already off to an unusual start!

As Eddie familiarizes himself with the vessel, Francesca arrives and starts poking around the boat as well. They meet, and in an interview we get some insight into how she thinks: everything needs to be perfect. This should be fun…

The rest of the crew arrives, and James is taken with Francesca. Later, he says in an interview he’s there to have fun and do as little work as possible (but he’ll still “work hard.” Sure…). Avery is the seasoned yachtie, and Shane is the greenest of the green deckhands. So green, in fact, that when Francesca sits and meets with her stews, Shane sits with them, unaware they’re in the middle of a team meeting. Eddie doesn’t seem to know what to do with Shane, so basically just tells him to follow the others and absorb what they’re doing.

The stews start cleaning the interior, and Francesca gets them organized; they seem to be on top of things, cleaning-wise, and she’s happy with their work. Elizabeth is a hippie-type who says she “feels vibes,” and she says Francesca has “pure intentions.”

Chef Rachel arrives and tells Francesca of her harrowing 72-hours of having her purse stolen; she seems frazzled as she gets on the boat, but quickly goes to work organizing her galley. She says she’s a perfectionist (like all chefs?), but says she has to hit the ground running; she’s been in the industry for 14 years, so she seems to know how to roll with the punches (unlike Kiko and Tom from Below Deck Med #TooSoon?).

Captain Lee returns to the boat, and says his ribs are killing him – but only when he moves and breathes! He says he’s going to suck it up, and get to work, as a crusty sea captain would do. He has a meeting with the crew, and apologizes for not being on the boat; he then lays down the law: don’t embarrass the boat or themselves. In an interview, he says he’s not going to have a repeat of last season (the less said about Ashton, Brian, Tanner, etc the better). He stresses the importance of radios, says the guests will arrive the next day, and the crew gets back to work.

Lee, Eddie, Rachel and Francesca have their first preference sheet meeting, and charter 1’s guest is Charley, who has been on Below Deck twice before. We see a montage of him complaining; Lee says in an interview he’s a handful, and makes a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow metaphor. Oh how I’ve missed Captain Lee and his idioms and colorful phrases.

The next day, Charley and his guests arrive, and the crew gets to work. Izzy seems to have trouble making drinks and keeping things running smoothly, much to Charley’s annoyance; he actually gets behind the bar and tells her he’s going to “help” her since they seem super busy. Izzy leaves and gets Francesca, who’s not too happy with this; Charley tells Francesca day 1 will be considered a “learning curve” but they better get their act together. Jeez, dude! Guests like this who are so entitled really annoy me; we’re all human beings and make mistakes. No matter how much money you’re spending, you don’t get to complain about being on a super yacht, waited on hand and foot #SorryNotSorry. One could also argue the stews weren’t even making mistakes – they just weren’t moving fast enough for the guests’ liking. In any case, this reeked of “I’m going to make a spectacle of myself for television,” so there’s also that.

Chef Rachel seems to do a great job with her food, as does Avery; Eddie says he’s “like a machine” and they’re just rolling along smoothly. #Foreshadowing… Later, Avery gets a text from his mom saying that his grandmother is “getting worse,” and he makes the decision to leave the boat to go back home to his family. He goes to talk to Captain Lee and tell him his decision; later, Lee tells Eddie what’s going on, and Eddie wishes Avery well, but now needs a new superstar deckhand…

One episode in and there’s already a crew change, an injury, and a super-entitled guest! The season started off with a bang, and it looks like things will only get crazier from here on out (before a certain virus wreaks havoc at the end of the charter season), and I’m here for the (choppy) ride! M

Domo Arigato

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W6: Japanese Week

As a manga-style Noel points out, it’s Japanese Week in the tent! What does that mean, exactly? Since this is the first time the show has done this particular theme, it’s anyone’s guess – and the bakers are just as excited and worried as they probably should be. Let’s find out what Japanese treats the bakers will have to tackle.

Signature Challenge

First up, the bakers must make a batch of 8 steamed buns; these are usually filled with pork or curry, but the bakers can choose whatever they like – sweet or savory. Prue points out this is a bun challenge, so that should be the task at hand.

Mark and Lottie are doing hamburger-filled buns, and Paul asks them both to make one without pickles for him, since he’s not a fan. Who knew?! This starts off a friendly rivalry between the two burger bakers. The bakers have a myriad flavors in their buns, borrowing from Chinese, Japanese, and Indian flavors. Filling their buns proves difficult for Marc, who can’t quite seal his shut – and Peter, who overfills his first 7 buns and doesn’t have enough filling for the last one. Here’s how the buns turned out!

The judges have mostly nice things to say about all the buns, but some turn out a little dry, but with good flavors all around.

Technical Challenge

Prue’s matcha masterpiece

Prue’s advice to the bakers is “do not panic” – a foreboding start to the challenge! The bakers must make a matcha crepe cake; 12 matcha filled crepes layered on top of one another.

Some bakers aren’t familiar with or don’t like matcha; I’m not a fan, either, so I feel their pain. It’s very good for you, but much like most things that are good for you it doesn’t taste all that great…

Peter has issues making the crepes, and he’s not the only one. Noel tries to get the bakers to flip their crepes in their pans, and Dave is the only one who obliges – he successfully flips one crepe in the pan, and Noel jokingly declares him the winner.

The bakers have mixed results in getting their cakes assembled and decorated, though ultimately they all look pretty good!

I’m always impressed that the bakers’ creations come out remotely how they should, considering they don’t have full recipes. I suspect they’re able to see what the finished product should look like, or some facsimile thereof, because there’s no way that 7 bakers could all make cakes that look so similar with absolutely no guidance. Anyway, Laura comes in last, Dave in third, Lottie in second, and Peter comes in first!

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper, the bakers are tasked with creating a “spectacular kawaii cake” in 4 hours. Kawaii = cute, so these creations should be the epitome of cuteness while incorporating Japanese culture and flavors – and of course, they must taste good, as Paul reminds us. Soybeans, pineapples, cherry blossoms, and yuzu will be inside and outside of the bakers’ spectacular cakes.

How did they turn out? For the most part, cute!

Lottie gets compliments from the judges for her design and flavors, but Hermine’s cake isn’t “cute” according to Prue. Prue also says Mark’s avocados are “witty and charming,” but Paul says the cake is very dry – almost “inedible”!

The judges deliberate, and agree that Marc, Dave and Lottie have done well this week, while Mark, Hermine and Laura are in trouble. When all is said and done, Noel lets the bakers know the star baker this week is Lottie! Matt announces who will be eliminated from the competition this week, and unfortunately, it’s Mark. So the rivalry between Lottie and Mark begins and ends in this episode, with Lottie coming out on top.

Noel’s manga final form

Prue says Laura saved herself with her showstopper, and called Mark’s showstopper a “disaster,” so that’s why he was eliminated this week. With only 6 bakers left, the competition won’t get any easier, and if all the bakers do well, the judges will have to nitpick their bakes to whittle down the contestants. At this point, Dave, Lottie and Peter seem to be the front runners, but as Prue points out, one bad week can send anyone home – so they all have to bring their A-game every week! M