Friday, December 12, 2008

Top Chef - Here Comes The Judge

Last week’s promo told us that Top Chef judge, Gail Simmons, was going to have the Top Chef contestants catering her bridal shower.

Would you want a bunch of random competing chefs looking to cut each other down at the knees doing the catering for YOUR bridal shower? I’m not so sure I would. Vamos a ver

We see droopy Melissa at the beginning, worrying about her chances. She is sooo going home. Her bangs are way too straight. (Oh, sorry, Anonymous, there I go, again, commenting on the follicles of the chefs.)

Stefan apparently has a crush on Jamie. He seems not to appreciate that she plays for the other team.

Padma, in braids, greets the chefs. No guest judge here. The chefs will be the ones doing the tasting. Radhika’s eyes bulge out. They go head to head identifying the ingredients in a sauce. They have 15 seconds to identify them.

The way this works is fairly incomprehensible. Why didn’t Danny have the opportunity to name the ingredients when he said he could name more than Hosea. Why didn’t Jamie have a chance? I don’t get it and I don’t care. I'm not going to worry about it. They do a couple of more rounds. The winner is Hosea (don't ask me how) and he has immunity from elimination in the next challenge.

They draw knives, which determine their teams. Padma comes in and says they’re doing a bridal shower for a good friend of hers. Gail comes in and says it's for her and that they’ll be catering for 35 to 40 women and they love to eat. Veal and black beans are banned, but anything else goes.

Something Borrowed Team
Ariane, Radhika, Jamie
Eastern Spiced Lamb marinated in Yogurt
Vadouvan (vada-WHO??!) Carrot Purée
Wilted Kale (Nothing says festive like wilted kale)
Cucumber Raita

Something Blue Team
Melissa, Leah, Fabio
Fabio says there isn’t a “freakin’ blue food”. He’s right. Good luck to them.
Chilean Sea Bass
Roasted Corn Purée
Swiss Chard (AGAIN I say, NOTHING says festive wedding-to-be party like a big hunk of SWISS CHARD! Whoo-HEE)

They also seem to have fewer dishes than the other teams. So maybe Melissa really is going home?

Something New Team
Daniel, Carla, Eugene
Carla doesn’t like Daniel’s idea of pickled something or other. Eugene wants to go with a surf and turf sushi roll. Eugene shares with us that he’d love to give his wife a bridal shower that she never had.
Surf and Turf Sushi Roll
Frisée Salad with Wonton
Peach Miso BBQ Sauce
Yuzu Sorbet

Something Old Team
Jeff, Hosea, Stefan
They go with heirloom tomatoes. Stefan is really bossy and worries about Jeff’s idea of tomato sorbet.
Tomato Terrine Wrapped In Eggplant
Carpacchio with Tomato Sorbet

I don’t particularly like the sound of the first dish.

Tom comes in as Eugene realizes his sushi rice is too sticky for sushi. TC walks around. He tells the blue team, with a laugh, that there IS no blue food. The Borrowed Team says it’s borrowing its theme from Radhika’s culture. Tom laughs at Daniel's idea for a bbq sauce for the sushi roll. Tom likes the guys. To the camera, he says the Blue Team’s dishes seem boring and The New Team is really out there.

Eugene salvages the rice. Melissa thinks their dishes lack pizzazz.

More nonsense at the apartment.

They walk into Twenty Four Fifth Avenue, where a gorgeous super-long table is set up. (Even though you might not think it, a long table is often better for conversation than a round one, because you can engage more people around you. But the folks on the ends kind of get screwed. Let’s see who Gail puts there.)

Padma toasts. We learn that Jeremy is name of Gail's intended. Tom is relegated to the kitchen. The chefs themselves serve the ladies. The guest judge is Dana Cowin, Editor In Chief of Food and Wine magazine. (She’s really skinny. How annoying.)

The Old Team is first. The guests seem to love the sorbet…and not necessarily the terrine.

The New Team is next. They put together a rather complicated plate that the diners have to figure out how to eat. Eugene explains it well (to us) in advance of serving it. To THEM, he says it’s a new school type of sushi. He doesn’t say anything about how they should eat it. Someone notes that at the table, while back in the kitchen, Eugene realizes that he failed to mention the best way to attack it. Gail doesn’t like it. Oh, no.

The Borrowed Team is next. Ariane’s lamb isn’t quite ready. Finally, she takes it out and they manage to serve in time, with other teams helping them. The ladies love everything. It made Gail “really happy”.

Something Blue serves their fish. Jamie says it looks bland and boring.
Fabio charms the guests by telling them they all look beautiful. They fall for it and everything else he says. They even applaud. Unfortunately, the guests don’t actually love the food.

Gail thanks her guests. Shouldn’t they be thanking HER? And, BTW,
we don’t get to see who is sitting on the ends.

The sorbet course and the lamb course were the judges’ favorites. They LOVED Jamie’s carrot dish. Gail said Ariane’s lamb was perfect. Dana gets to announce that Ariane wins the challenge. Ariane is shocked. She wins Calphalon cookware and a Calphalon electric collection. Jamie and Jeff are pissed, especially Jamie.

Jamie says she’s always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

To the New Team, the judges say they didn’t like the mushy rice. When asked if they liked the dish, Eugene and Carla said they weren’t happy. Daniel said he was unbelievably happy. Tom grimaces. Daniel is definitely going home. He’s a complete moron.

The judges say Fabio’s team’s dishes were sad and mushy. Melissa says nothing, so I guess she’s here to stay. Eugene says something really disgusting when they leave the room. I think he does anyway. I'm not replaying it.

The judges are baffled by Danny’s dish and say that Eugene’s rice wasn’t worth salvaging. I’ll say it again. It’s got to be Danny. Team Blue’s boring food was let off the hook and sent away.

Danny, Eugene and Carla are left. Tom says he wants to send all three home. And it’s…Daniel that gets the boot. He’s upset. That was kind of obvious. Next week, we have Martha Stewart to look forward to.

Do you feel not terribly enthralled with this season? Not much has happened, and when it does, I don’t much care anyway. There are no appealing or, even, particularly UNAPPEALING characters.

It seems like a pretty tame group in general. I suppose the producers are showing the best of what they have. There is no great conflict (essential for must-see reality television) for us to sink our teeth into. And if the food isn’t particularly alluring, then we’re left with a pretty paltry display.


Jen said...

Hi Sue-- I missed Top Chef this week so I was waiting to read your write up... thank you for posting it, as always.

Anonymous said...

I bet that was not Gail's REAL bridal shower. And even if it was, it's free! And I thought her "no veal or black beans" was weird. Veal, okay. I'd never expect to get black beans.

And Dana Cowin had breast cancer recently, I think. . . she wrote an article in Oprah a few issues ago. It could've been awhile ago. So maybe that contributes to her skinniness, but I remember her being skinny from before. Probably having to eat all the time, she gets sick of it.

And that quickfire challenge - I don't think they should have gotten to select salt and pepper. Duh, even my husband would know to pick those. And, if they can see the dish, that's half the battle. If you see curry, of course you can think of what would go into the curry, even if you can't taste it. The blind taste tests they've had in years past are better.

Sue said...

Thanks Jen,
I wish you had missed something more exciting.

Well Amy,
Now I feel terrible about saying that Dana was skinny. I'm reprehensible AND jealous.

I agree. The quickfire challenge, in addition to being unfathomable, was kinda dumb.

Anonymous said...

Sue, if it makes you feel any better, in college one of of my friends spent her junior year abroad in Colombia. When she came back, she was watching Janet Reno on the news and laughing about how nervous she was from all the shaking she was doing on camera. In Colombia it apparently hadn't been news that Janet Reno had parkinson's.

Sue said...

Amy, I'm glad there are people as mean as I am. But I don't really feel better. It just makes me realize the danger of making potentially hurtful comments about people (not that I'll stop). And, actually, I did mean it as a compliment, however grudging.

DebCarol said...

Well, have to agree with you Sue ~ this season does seem bland and somewhat predictable. Your reviews are far more entertaining than the actual show!! LOL on your comments ~ "droopy Melissa, nothing says festive like wilted kale and vada-who??" Funny stuff. I did think the loooong table seemed anti-conversation but your explanation makes some sense. And last - totally agree with Amy on the quickfire challenge - salt and pepper should not have been accepted as part of the naming of ingredients. Thats it.

Anonymous said...

I am so behind! I love reading your take on Top Chef. I am just so disappointed in this season. I used to finish episodes and want to recreate and make something that I saw. So far, this year...nothing.

I agree that the quickfire was RIDICULOUS. In the past the tastings really tested the palate. Maybe this is all that the producers have to work with. It almost seems like the judges are even bored with themselves.

Hopefully this week gets better.

;) amy