Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons judges the Super Bowl challenge ... from her couch.

on Jan 28, 2009

I grew up in Canada, as I've mentioned in previous blogs, so the Stanley Cup was a much bigger deal in my house than the Super Bowl. I've tried to become a football fan, but I really only watch the big game for the over-the-top commercials and the opportunity to eat spicy chicken wings, spinach-artichoke dip, and potato skins for dinner. Viewing this episode of Top Chef, however, certainly put me in a spirited mood. I thoroughly enjoyed not only how enthusiastic the cheftestants returning from seasons past were to get back in the game, but also how fiercely competitive our seven remaining Season 5 chefs became when they discovered their Elimination Challenge would involve cooking against former contestants in a race against the clock.

This challenge had a few more rules and regulations than most. It was judged on a point system that dictated which chef won each set of a seven part cook-off. Each of our New York chefs was pitted against a chef from a previous season. They were asked to create -- in front of a live audience -- a dish inspired by food from one of seven great football cities: Dallas, Green Bay, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. The judges allotted seven points to the dish they liked best. Four tasters from the audience also weighed in, bestowing three points on their favorite. If a New York chef lost in their individual heat, they were up for elimination. Thankfully, our hometown chefs won the day overall. Jamie (San Fran), Carla (New Orleans), Josea (Seattle), and Leah (New York) managed to create dishes the judges and fans really liked. To their dismay, Stefan (Dallas), Fabio (Green Bay), and Jeff (Miami) lost their respective challenges and faced the judges' wrath at the end of the evening.