Team Top Chef's Editor gives her insider take on the episode and answers reader questions.

Apr 30, 2008


Well, hello again. Let's get right into tonight's episode, which I'm dubbing The Cutest. Episode. Ever. First, the chefs had to create a dish made with Uncle Ben's Rice in 15 minutes. It's moments like these where I can hear the upcoming comments in my head: "This is Top Chef not Top Product Placement." See, my editors and I watch the shows in advance so we can have a site up for you when you visit immediately following the show, and so we play a little game called "Guess What the Commenters Are Going to Say." Every time one of the chefs drops the F-bomb we know the cursing comments are going to subsist for another week, and so on. So, I can only imagine what comments we're going get about the Uncle Ben's Quickfire Challenge, but this is what I will say. Um, I kind of love Uncle Ben's and for people without a lot of time, this challenge was great. Now, I will admit, however, that I don't eat Uncle Ben's at home. With a Middle Eastern father, it's basmati or bust. But even if you don't indulge in the Ben's, there were some pretty easy dishes showcased tonight and I have a feeling they may make their way into some of your kitchens. Please let me know if you try them.

Only a few of the dishes stood out to me: First, Stephanie's, but not for a good reason. She didn't taste her food! This made me die inside a little because I love her and didn't like that she served something she didn't try. Second, the multiple fried rice dishes. At first I thought these were a cop-out, but then I realized how much I love fried rice and how there's nothing better than fresh fried rice. And you can pretty much add anything to it. And then there was Antonia's dish. This could've gone two ways: Either Padma and Art Smith loved it or her childhood culinary memory was shattered. Luckily for her it wasn't the latter.

Before I move on to the Elimination, I just want to say what a pleasure Art Smith is. Being Oprah's chef and all (I have an irrational disdain for her), I don't know what I was expecting but he was nothing but accommodating and pleasant.