Oh Fabio. Wiser words have never been spoken ...
Anyway, I read your comments. I know how many of you want a vegetarian challenge, so when I saw this episode all I could think was "Yikes!" Did anyone else think they were actually going to have to kill the animals themselves? Cause I was kind of nervous that that would be the case. I gotta say, though, that I think the lesson learned, my little farmhands, was that all animals' lives are precious, and if you're going to eat them, respect the meat. And unfortunately, Ariane's team didn't do that.
Let's go back a sec to the Quickfire, which brought back one of my all-time favorite Top Chef contestants, Hung Hunyh, who is still working at Solo in the City. (I have to make a reservation soon!) Fabio wasn't wrong to assume there was an aquarium under the white tablecloth, but imagine if Padma had knocked it over during the reveal? Yikes again! Instead of little fishies however there were canned goods, or as Jeff would call it "garbage." Obviously canned food isn't ideal, but, well, I love me some Hormel chili. Add about a bag of shredded cheddar cheese and I'm in heaven. As Hung was apparently our fastest Top Chef ever, the chefs had only 15 minutes to create a dish out of the canned goods. We had this challenge in Season 2 (Remember when Mia won by simply adding mint to a salad?), but a lot of the chefs missed the mark this time around. Basically, you can't eat this stuff naked because they're not good ingredients. You have to do SOMETHING, whether it be season, marinate, or fry to get the can taste to go away. I was surprised that Jeff's fried conch came out so well because I didn't even know you get conch in a can! And I guess Hung likes pork rinds. I think I would too, but I just can't bring myself to try them. The pork rinds weren't good enough to battle the Betty Fraser combo of a grilled sandwich and soup that Stefan made. So, Stefan won immunity.For the Elimination Challenge the chefs were split up into teams based on the names of proteins: chicken, pork, and lamb. Before they traveled to their final elimination destination they tried to plan out their menu. I know I've said every week that I heart Stefan but he really bugged me in this episode. I'm stubborn too, but I at least LISTEN to people before I knock them down (hehe.) And also never use the word cock again for fear I will be unable to control my vomiting. Moving on ... after the menus were kind of set, the chefs traveled to Blue Hill at Stone Barns within the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. I was actually really excited to see the return of Dan Barber, Richard Blais' sous-chef for last season's finale (and he made a pretty spectacular cheesy joke about Whole Foods, which made me giggle.) The chefs were told they would be picking their ingredients basically right out of the ground, so their menus needed to be restructured. The chefs all seemed to make pretty basic things. I think Jeff, Fabio, and Radhika not only had the strongest menu but the best team as they're all super-talented and work well in groups. However, they took the fat off the pork. Big mistake.
Their mistake wasn't as big as Team Lamb's however. The minute Ariane said they were making a roulade I wanted to scream at them. Anyone remember Marcel's failed roulade Season 2, which coincidentally was in the same episode as the canned food challenge? I just got the feeling the judges don't go for that type of thing -- rolled up meat. Anyway, Ariane actually didn't know how to string up the roast so Leah "helped" her and did a pretty shoddy job. All in all, that was the team's demise. Should Leah have gone home for not truly helping Ariane when she asked for it, or is it worse to not even know how to do the task in the first place? Honestly I think the judges probably made the right decision. How can a Top Chef not know how to string up a roast? I loved Ariane and she's a total sweetheart, but that was pretty bad.While Toby might have been a little harsh declaring she couldn't cook, his delivery was priceless, and I laughed out loud. Hopefully you guys found him a little more natural this episode as I did. (Although the comment about a good piece of meat and sex? TMI!!!) Um, and also, did Leah really whisper something to Hosea in the stew room?!? Why didn't she just pass a note in the shape of a paper football?
Overall, I really liked the way this episode was set up, and, um, OK I'll say it Toby's kind of sexy. (She says meekly.) Did you see him pour the water for Padma? (Oh geez -- did I just say that?) PLEASE let me know if you agree; i'm sure you will if you don't.
Next week is RESTAURANT WARS!!! I can't wait!
Monica A. Reyhani
P.S. Was Carla's "Hoo hoo" a variation of "Hootie Hoo?"