Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top Chef - A Bridal party for Gail!

It's no secret I'm one of the few Gail fans watching Top Chef, so last night's episode was bittersweet for me; Sweet that it was Gail-centric; bitter because it was all about her marriage.

Oh well. It seems I have missed my chance with her. I still wish the bride all the best.

But this isn't about that, this is about the cooking competition, and the mistake I think the judges made with who they sent home, and a deeper look into what they take into account in the deciding who is to pack their knives and leave.

More analysis on the flip side...

First, let's head over to the Quick Fire. I've always been a big fan of the palate challenges, where chefs are told to eat some random ingredient and they say what it is. Top Chef has gotten away from it a little bit, but tonight they brought it back...sort of.

While making chefs name ingredients in a sauce seems like a good idea on paper, it fizzled a little in execution. First of all, it boggles my mind that salt wasn't the first ingredient out of every chef's mouth. That seemed like an easy guarantee. The other thing I thought, as long as you could figure out what the sauce was (the Mexican mole at the end being a great example) then you didn't really need to taste anything, you just better know the recipes for the sauces. Whatever - Hosea won in almost a walkover, getting immunity.

Throughout the challenge, as well as all season, the producers have been setting up Stefan as the baddie of the show. This episode they "turned up that heat" even more. My theory is because he has a German accent, and that's much gruffer than Fabio's romantic Italian accent (which he showed off during the Bridal shower) and so he's an easy guy to hate. Of course, he also seems to enjoy being the bad guy - so much so that now I'm starting to like him. Yes, his opinions might be shared a little strongly, but during the whole sorbet debate, his intentions were good; he was saying it might not be easy to plate. That he was wrong I'm sure all the other chefs loved.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The chefs were broken into 4 groups and had to cook for Gail's bridal shower of 45 ladies. And since Gail is in the food world, we're many of these women would be harsh critics to cook for, though none of them seemed to have much of an opinion on anything.

Quick thoughts about the Main Challenge:

  • I can't believe chefs would allow another chef to put an ingredient in their dish and not do/say anything. But that's exactly what Daniel did with the mushrooms and Carla's salad.
  • It seemed that a lot of the women enjoyed Fabio's fish. And then he got crucified for it. I know you need to build drama for the show and have some tension, but I didn't get the vibe that it was that bad.
  • Jamie has to mellow out. You lost. It's a competition. Try again next time.
  • It also seemed like there was some artificial tension with the lamb. An extra two minutes really was going to throw everything off? I'd rather get the lamb cooked to perfection than serve it underdone.
  • Lord knows what Eugene was trying to create with his plate. Which leads me to the judges' table...

Based on merit, I thought for sure Eugene was going. He pretty much put the plate together, admitted he forgot to tell them how to eat it, and overcooked both the rice and shrimp. Daniel seemed to really not do much of anything. I didn't heard good/bad about the sauce, and while the mushrooms were a mistake, it didn't seem terrible. And yet he got sent home.

I know the judges bend over backwards to say that their decisions are based on the dishes at hand, and not previous performance, but that didn't seem to be the case here.

Regardless, I'm glad reverse goatee left, as I think Eugene is a better cook, but it surprised me to see it go down this way.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!


hendge said...

Pretty much agree, but with a slightly different take. I agree that Eugene probably should have gone based solely on performance last night. I actually think Daniel's responses to the questions in front of Judges' Table is what killed him -- which doesn't make it any more fair than kicking him out for past performance. Collichio was absolutely flabergasted that he continued to defend the dish. While he did defend the dish, I didn't think he was an a$$hole about it. I honestly believe that if Daniel had conceded that the dish was bad and admitted to his mistakes, and called out Eugene a little more, he might have saved his skin.

Goose said...

I know he kept defending it, but it wasn't his dish really. I guess he could have just shut up, but I need the judges to realize that then. You have two guys there 1 pretty much made the dish, and the other one is defending the dish. At the end of the day, it's a cooking show. I know the defense of it was silly, but not sending Eugene home makes me feel like the judges know he's a better cook.

I think the judges made the right decision, I just don't think they did it in the spirit of how they've said they judge in the past, if that makes any sense.