I have to say that I enjoyed Top Chef more as a casual spectator than writing about every single second. AND, surprise, surprise, up until the final 60 seconds, I absolutely thought that Lisa should stay and Antonia should go.
But first a grumpy preface about Padma’s English. I would imagine that the initial scripting of Top Chef goes through many hands and eyes and presumably brains, AND that the editing goes through even more review. AND I feel confident in saying that as events are actually happening (especially the aforementioned SCRIPTED ones) that SOMEONE is watching.
With all that oversight, it is appalling that the ever beautiful Padma got away with the following offending phrase – and naturally, she shouldn’t have needed anyone looking out for it:
Your Quickfire Challenge, she told the contestants, “is to make some fritturas for Wilo and I.” Okay, what’s wrong with that?
Of course, it should have been “fritturas for Wilo and ME.” All you need to do is to take out the first name and say the sentence: “Your Quickfire Challenge is to make some fritturas for ME.”
You would never say “make them for I”. It’s not brain surgery and it’s a jarring, evil, bad use of English.
Back to the show.
There was one reason and one reason only that I continued watching after the initial few minutes. I wonder how many others hung on for the same reason. And that was the talisman that Lisa wore around her neck. It was simple disk of jade strung on a red string that is supposed to bring good fortune to its wearer.
I know about this for several reasons. The enthusiastic shopkeepers at the jade factory on the way to the Great Wall told me of its powers.
Our lovely young Chinese guide in Beijing (she reminded me of my daughter) told me about the jade bracelet passed down from grandmother to granddaughter that she will never take off. It brings all good things - from fortune to good health.
AND as I was bestowing a jade bracelet and necklace on my daughter in a Boston hotel room, the Chinese maid walked in, dropped the towels and fell on her knees admiring the jade. Okay, I made that last part up. She kept the towels in her arms as she fell to the ground. She concurred that jade indeed brings all good things to those who wear it.
SO when Lisa showed up after their many months’ break, with that awful haircut, but slimmed down in body and, at first anyway, with a revamped attitude, I thought perhaps the jade was having its desired effect. I wanted to see how it would end up for her. AND I wasn't surprised when I found her food to be very, very interesting and well-executed.
But things started to go downhill for Lisa when they brought back 4 former contestants as sous chefs, including Dale, who, of course, should never have gone in the first place. Stephanie, as the winner of the Quickfire, got to assign them. She kept Dale for herself.
No one wanted to work with Lisa and she was left with Andrew. But it wouldn’t have mattered who she got, because she hated everyone and the feeling was mutual. The effect of the calming jade? It seemed to be fading. Even so, she produced a nice menu.
Antonia, on the other hand, was a bit low energy and brought nothing special to the table. Tom remarked that Antonia’s station at the party for which they were cooking, had the fewest takers.
Stephanie and Richard definitely belonged in the final, with Stephanie showing her chops when sous chef Dale left out the pork belly all night. She could have completely flipped, since it was a major component of her menu. She picked right up, continued throwing ideas around and came up with an alternative, which was rated highly by the judges.
Lisa was back to her old nastiness by at the end. Antonia had been voted off the island (literally - they were in Puerto Rico) and she went back to the other two (Richard and Stephanie) and basically cried in their arms. She left and Lisa was standing there feeling left out and looking like a wet lox.
Her mistake was actually to SAY something, “You guys really suck for not congratulating me for not being sent home. Thanks A LOT,” or words to that effect. She should have kept her mouth shut and just looked pathetic. She might have gotten some sympathy then.
But she mouthed off, reminding us why we love to hate her. Actually, I hate to hate her. I wanted to feel genuine enthusiasm for the finalists. Notwithstanding the momentary cessation of my antipathy for Lisa, I feel a real sense of unease that she COULD win, although I don’t think it's likely.
If it IS Lisa, then Mars really must be in retrograde and we should all rush to the jade factory and get a powerful amulet that causes miracles and unlikely dreams to come true.