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All this is fine and dandy, but TC producers, I have a small bone to pick with you—a potato challenge? Really? What does that have to do with anything even remotely related to Vegas? Are you running out of smart Quickfires? It just seemed like such an odd choice to me. Why the potato? Why not a carrot, or an onion, or a rutabega? I love potatoes, I think they are great, but it just seems like it really wasn't that much of a challenge. Perhaps cooking a potato while blindfolded and standing on one foot would be more interesting?
As you can probably tell, I am feeling a wee bit snarky today as I write this. Sometimes that comes out in me, as most of you know from watching me on TV this past winter. I think part of me just feels like the audience is being a little duped, and that the show could really step it up a notch. Maybe it's just the chefs I am disappointed in? It all seems so obvious to me, that the brother's V., Kevin, Eli and Jen are going to go pretty far and the rest are going to plucked off slowly week after week. However, I do think it's going to make for interesting television when they get to the final five or six. I predict the judges are going to have a hard time sending people home ... the worst of the best... That's a difficult task to carry out. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, and this sadly is where TC really should be about overall performance, not a single performance of a single task because when you have a great cook like say Kevin, who manages to have an off night one challenge, then he gets sent home, which makes the potential for an amazing finale dwindle — kind of like what happened on my season. Not to be even remotely cocky, but think about how cool it would have been for me to be in the finale going head to head against Stefan? I think that could have made for a really interesting battle. In fact, when I got eliminated, that was the one thing I regretted ... not being able to kick Stefan's ass in the end! (I heart you Stefan *wink*)
Moving on to the elimination ... a team challenge, always amusing. It's always fun to watch who is going to throw who under the bus and who isn't going to take the blame for something but will take all the glory, and a team challenge amongst all the chefs ... priceless! I liked that they all decided to put Jen in charge since she had immunity. That seemed like a smart move. Give the others a chance to shine, because she wasn't going anywhere. Immediately I sense doom for Ron (can we subtitle him too please?) and Jesse and Preeti and Laurine. It's obvious to me that the Atlanta boys and whatever teams the Voltaggio brothers are on are going to do well, so I am not even remotely surprised when they are the top four. However note to Tom C: I was braising smoked slab bacon two years ago. I wouldn't exactly call that a new technique. Maybe it's just something more prevalent in CA? But now that it's been done on TC I am sure everyone will do it ... and they should ... braised bacon is ridiculously delicious! I can only imagine how the chefs felt walking into that hangar without even a remote idea of what they had to cook with. That had to be really, really difficult, but working with tilt skillets and steam kettles is fun ... kind of like a chef's day at Disneyland. Well, for me anyway. I don't get to work with them often and when I do I am amazed at their efficiency. Here I find myself impressed with how Jen handled the kitchen. I thought she was very fair with all of the cooks and very organized ... a nice thing to see in a competition show. Overall, I thought most of the food looked pretty good ... aside from the aforementioned doomed four above. I think everyone really pulled it together to make some good food using limited resources, but again, that was it. They all kind of skated by ... making decent food. Where is the wow factor? Is it in braised bacon? I can't say I agree. It is Las Vegas after all. When are the chefs going to loosen up and show us their wild sides? What fun is Sin City without the sin?
As ever, wonderful blog, Jamie. I totally agree with where you are regarding, Jessie, Preethi, Laurine, and Ron. Regarding where the potato idea came from, I fault Mark Peel, as he seemed to have the backstory behind the challenge. I think it’s a shameless pneumonic pun/plug… Peel -> Potato. /facepalm. Regarding the weaker contestants, I agree that a part of the show’s appeal is the best cooking. I think that some viewers watch because they see a part of themselves in the cheftestants. So to attract more viewers, they have a bunch of “everyday people” thrown in. And as you said, since some of the challenges throw curveballs, even the mighty can stumble. Bryan was on the bottom during a QF, and next week’s QF will eliminate someone. I was so sad when the celery reduction was the reason cited for voting you off. Toby can be such an overreacting monkey sometimes…
Agreed on ALL points, Jamie. In addition, did anyone else find Tom and Padma exceptionally difficult on the Bottom 3 last night? I felt their criticisms crossed the line between constructive and mean.
Jamie u ROCK!!!! U sure know how to write a blog. BTW..you're right in evry thing you say.......and funny as usual. :)
I like the seriousness of this season. Yeah the personalities aren't as in your face. Right now there is no one that makes me smile (like carla) or no one that makes me cringe (hung) but the cooking seems alot better than the other seasons and this is only the beginning. In the last couple seasons of top chef you have a clear picture of who is going to be standing at the end but this season it seems that more people than ever are here to win and not just get as far as they can. I have to say that last season was really disheartening because you couldn't tell right off the bat (besides stefan) who was going to win the title cause everyone kept playing it safe and mediocre. The food coming out of alot of those challenges was flat out boring and uninspired sometimes.
I welcome the change in focus back to cooking talent and away from charm(or lackthereof) and personality. It may not be as entertaining to hear what they have to say but its very entertaining to see what they create.
I love reading your blogs and I agree with you that although this is a cooking show I would like to see a little more personality from these cheftestants!!! That being said, you DO seem a little snarky this week...maybe you should have waited until you were in a little better mood before writing this blog...LOL!!!
Oh..BTW, after living in SF for about a year I finally gotta chance to go to Absinthe a couple weeks ago...DELICIOUS!!!!
Jamie - I'm glad you are blogging this season. I've enjoyed learning your insights each week! Glad to see Preeti go...she really didn't have the chops for this group and you are right, we've got to get some captions for Ron! I don't see him making it too far, but he is a lovable guy...as are the "Fat Kids," who should both go far IMO. Can't wait til next week!
I agree with you completely about the view-ability of the show. It's totally boring this year, and completely predictable. If this was a horror movie, I'd know who was going to be walking off by him/her self next....
If they didn't tell us every 2.5 mintues that Bryan and Mike were brothers, I'd never guess. There's no comraderie, no playful interaction....I'm starting to think they based on opposite coasts for a reason. Jen has no charisma, neither does Eli. Kevin has more than the rest, but the bar's set pretty low.
Everyone else makes me feel pity or causes me to yawn. It's too bad, because I was sooooo looking forward to this season
I don’t know what you mean about the wild side. You were very conservative on your season. You even whimped out several times. Don’t get me wrong, love ya and I’d love to eat your food! Teasing you a little ... The only wild side we saw on your season was when Stefan skinned that eel.
Jamie- Great post - amusing prattle - love your sense of humor. I think we will see some personalities come out of this season. Ashley comes to mind first. It's a bit too soon to tell.
I had you picked to go to the finale by the second episode in your season. Would have loved to see you kick Stefan's ass! I'm picking Jen, Kevin and Mike V. for the finale.
Why do you bring up Stefan all the time? Why are you bagging on the talent level of these chefs? This season seems like the season to beat. And you made braised bacon 2 years ago? This is a blog about the show, not your "I did that first" gig.
Jamie: You're awesome! Keep blogging :) A note on the reason for picking potatoes for the Quickfire: I think it was a nod to the elimination challege, being that the staple of a mess kitchen in the army is potatoes and canned food. Anyway, that's why I think they picked the potato.
As a chef, I'd think you'd have been able to sense all the sour grapes in this column. But perhaps you intended that. This season is the best so far, for all the things you dislike.
I already sent a comment, but I wanted to tell you that it would have been great and so much fun for you and Stefan to have been in the finale. (Instead of Hosea) I was so disappointed when you were eliminated.
My favorite part of your season was how Stefan had a real crush on you. He was like a little boy with a bouquet of daisies! I think it's sweet! On the one hand, I was thinking, Oh too bad she's gay, and on the other, Oh thank goodness she's gay!! Tee-hee.
If I have to choose personality or talent then I choose to watch talent. I wholeheartedly agree with Carl above. Oh, and it's nice to see Tom impressed with the food he's tasting rather than being constantly disappointed like he was last season by all of you playing it safe.
Spot on commentary-I am glad you speak with the courage of your convictions.....the Quickfires are getting lame-Either come up with interesting ones or come up with another concept-
And Chocolate, Bacon,and Ice Cream should be removed from the challenges because it seems to me, that when one of these ingredients is used, it wins.....where's the surprise?
Jamie, you are allowed to talk all the smack you want because I've eaten at Absinthe and it rocks my face off.
I'm sure it's hard for them to keep coming up with different quick fires and elimination. I liked the one challenge when Sam was there about bringing back the sexy in salads. I'm a salad girl and always looking for something original. I'd like to see something like the "ultimate mac-n-cheese" quickfire. It seems to me that last seen had a lot better calibre of female chefs...pretty weak this season except for Jen...she's gonna be a hard one to beat. MIKE I HAS TO GO SOON!
Hmm, Jamie, I think you really want Stefan.
That aside, we already know who will go in the next three weeks, so why bother to watch. The show is boring this season. They need some bad boys, or hot guys to watch.
They should have Fabio on every season, he is so cute.
I am already sick of Jen. The same with brothers. Boring.
They need to pick a differnt mix. How to they pick the chefs for this show?
Ya! It would have been fun seeing you go head to head against Stefan. Shame you failed to get to the finale. What makes you think you would have kicked his ass? I thought he had demostrated beyond a doubt that he is far superior to you in the kitchen. As for the talent in this season, I can't see you beating the V brothers, Eli, Kevin, or even Jen, in any challenge...even a scallop one.
Jamie, love to see you blogging this season! But on braised bacon, you and Tom are both pretty late, ppl here in the South have already been doing that for years to go with cornbread and beans! It just sounds a bit silly to us to hear y'all being all amazed by it, like it would probably sound to you if I said I just discovered that letting dough sour for a while makes really good bread, or like it would sound to Tom if I said that I just found out tomatoes make good sauce for pasta.
Jamie, I respectfully disagree with you about wanting more "out there" personalities for the show. If I wanted reality show entertainment I would watch Hell's Kitchen. Top Chef started out classy and it has seems with each season it has lost some of its class with the addition of such characters. This season has brought it back to a talent competition. I am back to looking forward to each Wednesday instead of thinking "I'll just catch a re-run later in the week."
I look forward to reading your blog every week, Jamie, and I couldn't agree more with your comments.
I find this season of Top Cheftants very lackluster! There doesn't seem to be much character in any of them. Aside from Mike Isabella's annoying sexist comments and oh-so-adorable Ashley Merriman, I have to say, I'm a little bored. I'm waiting for another "Top Chef Top Scallop" person to emerge from the bunch! I think we all need a little reality TV entertainment. It's pretty sad that there's no "Team Rainbow" bonding on this season of Top Chef tho.
I did also think that Ashley should have won over Jen; she did take a lot more risk with her potato dish! And Jen was amazing leader in the kitchen during the Elimination Challenge; she should have been commended for that.
Looking forward to the next episode! I'm personally cheering on my favorite Ashley Merriman. Hopefully in the next couple of episodes, a wow-factor will appear. Till next week, JL!
Spot on, Jamie, spot on. I also agree with some of the other viewer comments though. Personality versus talent? Fabio and Stefan were entertaining, but they weren't Richard Blais or Ilan Hall in the talent department either. Richard, Ilan and a number of previous competitors were interesting to watch to see what they would cook next, not what they would say.
Braised bacon and braised pork should certainly do seem to be in the comfort food category.........but where is the risk and the edge? Chocolate ganache and chicken liver baby! No, I wouldn't eat it, but it certainly ups the edge factor!
I wanted to see you, Stefan and Fabio in a TC3-style 3-way finale!
Loving your blog, Jamie! Re: you and Stefan...we were kind of hoping you two would get over your differences (and the obvious stumbling block of Team Rainbow) and have a baby together...OMG, the Ultimate Top Chef baby!
It's kind of presumptuous to say it would have been "cool" for you to be in the Final 3. Stefan was the best chef on the show (sheer number of challenges & quickfires won), Carla stepped it up big time towards the end, and Hosea (shudder) won the whole damn thing. You're implying that one (if not all) of those chefs didn't really belong there. But, didn't you know? You didn't get into the final three because, "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop."
Hi Jaime - I just powered through all three of your blogs and thought they were all insightful and on target. One suggestion though, since TC is only giving you a portion of the show that doesn't include the judge's table; I'm wondering if your blog can include your assessment of the judge's table in your next blog. For example, your week 3 blog could start with your review of the judge's table from week 2 and a rundown of the dishes, dialogues and ultimately who was selected to go home. Thank you and take care.
agree that the potato challenge seemed really out of place, and most of your observations in general, but what's with the "me too" comments? you were braising smoked slab bacon 2 years ago? fine, but i didn't see anything like that on the show, just seared scallops... 'Cool' if you'd be in the finals against Stefan? don't forget you had a second chance to come back, but lost to Jeff.
Ok, so both me and my gf agree Jessie should have gone home in the last episode. And i watched the whole ending and Preeti going home i was disappointed but i guess ill surmise in the fact that Ashley almost won. I too believe that Ashley should have won the last round. i yet again enjoyed your blog and both i and my gf laughed at what you said about Jessie. I look forward to your next blog. :D