Top Chef recap

28 Jan

Since it seems a decent faction of readers watches Top Chef, I figured a recap of the latest episode was in order. Read and respond. Or don’t.

The show begins with Carla talking about how lucky she felt to still be around, which reminded us that she could have, and maybe should have, been sent home already. Ah well, she’ll be gone soon, right? Right. From there we’re off to the Quickfire.

In reference to the upcoming Super Bowl – and here I thought gay-haven Bravo was the last refuge from the hype – the gang plays the ever-popular ‘numbers’ game to randomly sign up for a dish, only to find out they’re all required to prepare a meal out of oats. Why? Because it’s the Quaker Oats Challenge, that’s why, and Top Chef just isn’t Top Chef without the shoehorned sponsor nods.

Each chef proceeds to do their thing. Carla shows off her eyeballs the size of cantaloupes, Jeff gets in way over his head, Fabio’s well-conceived dish turns out kinda sorta not good at all, and Jamie does well and everyone hates her for it (or maybe it’s just me). Least surprising of all, Stefan wins the Quickfire.

The theme for the Elimination Challenge is entitled Top Chef Bowl (another winningly subtle reference to the upcoming game) and pits a current chef against an “all-star” former contestant (read: telegenic loser). They get one evening to practice their dish, and a 20-minute session to cook for realsies in front of the judges (and other former contestants). The chefs who lose their head-to-head are automatically on the chopping block.

While discussing the upcoming challenge, Fabio briefly complains about the rushed time limit before ending with, “If they gonna give me monkey ass to fill with fried banana, I’ll find a way.” Now that…is…confidence? Someone please parse this for me.

As for the actual challenge, so little attention was paid to each matchup that it’s tough to say why one chef did well and why another did poorly. Leah, Hosea, Jamie and Carla came out winners (with Carla taking top honors, go figure), while the losers were, sadly, Jeff, Stefan and Fabio. Can’t say why, exactly. And after the elimination showdown, the talented but unlucky Jeff gets sent home.

So, what did you think? Hate to complain, but I found the challenge to be gimmicky and, considering the three that ended up on the chopping block, a total backfire in terms of the legitimacy of the competition. The matchup was more important than the actual cooking, too much responsibility was given to the nameless group of judges, and the chef’s dishes weren’t actually compared to one another. Which is kind of the point of the show, I believe.

Love the show, but this was the weakest of the season thus far, by far.

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4 Responses to “Top Chef recap”

  1. RandBall's Stu January 29, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    Yeah, but $10 says that Daniel Faraday’s mom is Mrs. Hawking.

  2. Dave MN January 29, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    “If they gonna give me monkey ass to fill with fried banana, I’ll find a way.”

    Not sure exactly what he was intending, but it made me laugh. I’ll miss him if/when he gets eliminated. He’s the Carlos Gomez of Top Chef.

    I’m convinced that Carla was the inspiration for or was inspired by Fraggle Rock.

    The judging during the head to heads was pretty spotty. It seemed rushed even with the extra 15 minutes of show. I also thought it was a cop out that if the judges tied 2-2 the entire 10 points went to the whim of the “tasters”. I’d just say that was a “goal line stand” there is no touchdown and the 3 points would be the only ones awarded. And, anyway, what did the points matter in the end anyway? It’s not like anything happened to the second-rate competitors from past seasons if they lost or won. It just seems like they have to do something goofy any time that there isn’t an even number of competitors.

    At least Toby Young didn’t get many opportunities to be an annoying prick this week. That was the saving grace of the episode.

  3. A.B. February 1, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    What was up with Stefan ripping on/flirting with his opponent? What is he, a fourth grader? Dude, make up your mind.

    I was sad to see Jeff go. He seemed genuinely dazed and disappointed that he got the boot, questioning his abilities and his choice to throw tons of eclectic ingredients into his dish (come on, that’s his signature!!!). Jeff has been lauded many times before, so I was sad that this mis-step was his undoing. But the bottom three? Damn. They have to keep Fabio, he’s great TV. Plus, Stefan will probably win. Poor Jeff.

    Now. Who’s counting the days to Real Housewives of NYC?

  4. lattewarrior February 2, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    I’m a little late to this party, due in large part to me not seeing last week’s episode until Friday. I do not support any Elimination Challenge that doesn’t pit the contestants against one another. It goes against the very framework of the show. To make matters worse, this horrible idea was made worse when the bottom three consisted of Jeff, Stef and Fabio. Do you really think a true Elimination Challenge would result in this bottom three? Ever?? Like Jeff, I really thought Fabio was going home and now my Final Three has been blown up. Stef and Hosea remain as favorites, with Fabio and Jamie dueling it out for the third spot.

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