With four shows down, it looks like Top Chef: New York has all the makings of being the most exciting season ever. The challenges are unique, fresh and star-studded, which makes for some dynamic television.
I was traveling last week with my family on the Oregon coast and didn't get a chance to give my thoughts on the Thanksgiving Foo Fighter Fiest. A popularity contest was on full display with Leah taking the Top Chef: The Cookbook Quickfire challenge by preparing Hung's White Asparagus dish. The dish translated into a great soup that Grant and Padma loved. It's always tough when the contestants have to pick who they like and want to work with, but it's also very telling of who has the respect in the house. I would have swapped Melissa for Jeff in a New York minute and I have always enjoyed Eugene "aloha" vibe of over Radhika's casual vibe. All in all, the Foo's spit on my boy Richard from San Diego and he was sent home with his marshmallows intact, for the most part. I believe we have the second best crying exit in this episode, second only to Joey's "Pickles" breakdown on my season. Daniel dodged an al dente potato bomb with those spuds (what are party underwear?) On the up swing: Ariane is no longer the turkey, Eugene kills it with his home made grill, the Italian Stallion kicks it with a pumpkin tiramisu and Jeff's cuisine crashes, but again, he shows great leadership skills.
All caught up and full steam ahead ... Thoughts on the Today Show episode with guest Chef Rocco Dispirto:
No matter what happens to any of the contestants on this show, no matter how much Richard and Alex cry, no matter how many dishes are spit out on national TV, no matter how outlandish the chefs are portrayed, they, like the rest of us, will never know the embarrassment Rocco has put himself through. I like Rocco and I think he's a great chef . Years ago Rocco and Marcus Samuelsson made one of the best meals I've ever eaten in my life. Rocco made me laugh all the way to the top of the mountain in Aspen after I had was kicked off on the cowboy episode. (We played a game of who would you f***, fight or kill given three choices of former contestants. He picked Howie, Marcel and Stephen, but my answers will forever be a secret to everyone except Michelle Bernstein and Todd English, who were also on the gondola with us. I gave him much better choices - Sam, Lei Ann and Frankie the Bull.)
Anywho, our game was nowhere near as embarrassing as Rocco's outfits and his hip-slapping farewell on Dancing with the Stars. Rocco, what the hell was that? If you didn't see it you have to check it out on YouTube. Hilarious!
This episode is one of those episodes that really has nothing to do with what it take to be "Top Chef," even with the ever changing challenge criteria that Tom and the guest chefs seem to make up on the fly. This episode had little to do with the food, it was more focused on showmanship (which, of course, I LOVED!) Rankings
Fabio: I like him more with every episode, he is hilarious and has mad chops in the kitchen and he is not scared to ask to butcher his own Tuna. I loved the fact that he stayed away from the "Bullshit Eggs' and made something very familiar to his country, unfortunately Rocco "not a real Italian" didn't get it. Fabio understood the challenge and knew the importance of making something "my mom" could and want to make at home. Line of the week also goes to Fabio with "Fresh out of the Boat"
Stefan: What is that egg thingy called? I don't know, you don't know and Rocco doesn't know - does anyone know?
Leah: I was wrong, we do have a couple great girls on the show this season, and Leah is the front-runner. Two Quickfire wins in a row! The "Chef of Family" kept it real with the one-bite quail egg. I can't believe more of the chefs didn't go for the quail egg.
Hosea: Not much from Hosea this week, but he has a great energy and shows streaks of ability. Plus Leah likes him and she seems to know how to pick winners.
Jeff: The Amuse was confused, but the babaganushish dish was well liked by everyone except Kathy Lee and let's face it, who likes Kathy Lee?
Jamie: The solo Rainbow survivor cracked with duck egg and obviously hates the camera, but has the tats to compete with the best of them.
Eugene: Great Grill! Eugene is hanging in there, but blew the answer to the sushi question.
Daniel: Loud and proud. Tom didn't like Daniel's shtick, but the ladies did and I thought it was hilarious. Cornflake catastrophe and soy ablaze! Better get cooking …
Radhika: Radhika is consistent and very quiet, could easily stick around a lot longer then some of these guys who go for it and bomb. Ariane: Ariane has a huge comeback and she did a great job in front of the camera, but I don't think she has the "cougar" strength to survive much longer with this crew.
Melissa and Carla: I foresee major meltdowns on the New York horizon. Farwell to Alex and all my best to you and your wife. Cheers!