Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef DC Episode 4

Show of hands: Who missed Mike Isabella? Oh, really? That many of you?

This week on Top Chef: more standard issue rushing and whining, still too many contestants, and - surprise! - a double win and a double elimination. Plus, a crazy format change in the Elimination Challenge that keeps things interesting, if a little confusing.

But first, the Quickfire. We meet the cheftestants in their home away from home, the Hilton kitchen, where Padma (wearing...something weird on her chest. What is she hiding?) and Tom announce to the group that today, they'll be responsible for creating a dish that satisfies her and Tom and that would satisfy Padma's two month old and Tom's eight month old.

Nevermind that two month olds don't eat food - that's just a technicality. Actually, I start to think that maybe I'd do OK in this Quickfire, since I made my kid's own baby food for a while (mostly guacamole, in case you're wondering).

Also, it's a high stakes Quickfire - no immunity's at stake, but two winners will each receive $10,000. Which Arnold will donate to an orphanage, while Alex will blow on, well, hookers and blow. Good to know, Creepy Alex.

We learn a little more about our cheftestants - some have kids, some don't. Sadly, we learn that Kenny's first wife passed away when their daughter was very young.

When it's time to taste, the judges have the stoniest faces I've ever seen - except when Padma finds an errant lemon seed in Kelly's baby food, confirming that Padma has secret, superhuman seed, shell and bone-finding powers.

Overall, Tom thinks everyone did really well, though he singles out Timothy for his overcooked lamb and Hooker-Loving Alex for his dill-heavy puree as weak spots, while Padma was turned off by Kevin's bloody lamb and Kelly's bland meat (and, I'm assuming, that lemon seed).

On the flip side, Tom liked Lynne's well-seasoned dish (though I find Lynne, as a character, b.o.r.i.n.g) and Tamesha's licorice oil, and Padma thought Angelo's was delicious and special and appreciated Kenny's use of bulgur wheat.

In the end, it's Tamesha and Kenny taking home the ten grand and Tamesha's honest excitement is pretty charming. Angelo's crankiness is also kind of hilarious (but predictable).

Next, it's onto the Elimination Challenge. Padma introduces Beth Scott, who's the Hilton VP of restaurant concepts, and who will be a guest judge this round (along with, as it turns out, Spike, Mike Isabella, Bryan Voltaggio and Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora.)

The format is a little different than usual and while it's kind of confusing, it also keeps things interesting. The cheftestants are to pair up into teams of two. Every team must be ready to cook a breakfast, lunch, and dinner dish that would be appropriate for the Hilton restaurant menu and that could translate to room service. The winning dish will go on the menu.

Here's the twist: the top two breakfast teams will be safe from elimination, but the rest will have to cook lunch. The top two lunch teams will be safe, and the final three will cook dinner. One of the final three teams will be eliminated - both of them. To be honest, I'm pretty relieved, as it's the fourth episode and I'm still having trouble keeping these people straight.

The cheftestants quickly pair off and it looks like this:
  • Amanda/Steve (nobody else wants them)
  • Tim/Tiffany (she's not that psyched)
  • Ed/Alex (Ed's not real happy, probably because we're not the only ones who think Alex seems creepy)
  • Kenny and Kevin
  • Lynne/Arnold (I love him)
  • Angelo/Tamesha (He loves her, but she does not return the favor)
We learn that Kenny has restaurant experience, which immediately makes me think he's either winning or going home. After a lackluster early performance, I start to worry. I like Kenny. He's got skillz.

What follows is a lot of shopping and a whole lot of cooking. The highlights include:
  • Ed and Alex screwing up their breakfast by missing out on the hollandaise and forgetting to put a breakfast patty on one plate.
  • The underdog teams of Steven/Amanda and Tiffany/Tim winning the first round (despite Amanda's voice, which makes me want to claw my eyes out).
  • Angelo and Kenny both being angry they're not winning...and showing it in the least dramatic way possible. Where's Fabio when you need him?
  • Someone (Alex) getting cocky about scallops and, for the first time in Top Chef history, actually delivering. Maybe it is Top Scallop.
  • Two teams in the finals making short ribs. And neither one going home.
Ultimately, Kelly and Andrea took home the win (and trips to Venice and Barcelona) for their short ribs and polenta, which looked pretty fabulous, but, sadly, Boring Lynne and Fabulous-I-Love-Him Arnold had to go for their undercooked squid pasta which, let's be honest, might be good but is way too adventurous for a Hilton restaurant menu.

Arnold is sweet about his defeat, making me doubly sorry to see him go, but I am excited that next week, I will have one less random blond woman to keep track of.

So, what did you think? Were Lynne and Arnold robbed? Did Kenny and Kevin deserve the boot? Did you like the new format? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....


Sean said...

Based on what I saw on the TV show, seemed like Kenny's dish was the worst of the two. However, after watching this:
It definitely sounds like the other dish was weaker in execution.

I really like these extended Judge's Table clips. Coupled with Tom's blog, it really helps paint a clear picture of what really happened and why.

Anonymous said...

This season so far is depressingly BORING and more than half of the cheftestants are annoying beyoooooond belief.

Cliff O'Neill said...

Oh, I am sooo glad to see Arnold go. Sooo glad.

Also, humorless Lynne.

When you think about it, they kind of cancel themselves out. Between the two of them they have, well, two personalities.