Sin City Without the Sin

Jamie Lauren implores the chefs to go big or go home.

I have been sitting here for over an hour procrastinating and trying to figure out what to write my blog about ... after screening this week's episode, I am realizing that  I have no clear favorites, and none of the chefs are really striking my fancy. Sure, the talent is there amongst many of them, but not a single one has yet to capture or motivate me in the way I have been in the past. I get that Top Chef is a cooking show — trust me, I was on it — but watching a group of chefs that are kind of lacking any sort of charisma is making it a little tedious. I hate to say this, but where are the jesters like Fabio and Stefan and Spike and Marcel, and all those other chefs you kind of loved to hate? As much as they had a tendency to distract from the actual art of cooking, it made for entertaining television. After all, it IS reality TV, and I'm sure the casting directors aren't casting based solely on one's cooking ability.

Moving on ... gotta say I loved watching Ashley freak out in the kitchen over her boiling water (finally some drama!!). It seems as if the Team Rainbow alliance isn't quite as tight as it was on my season. For some reason, I get the feeling Ashley doesn't really care for Preeti, but if she took my blanching water I would have been crazy pissed too. Can't say I blame her. I thought Ashley was incredibly ambitious with her 45-minute gnocchi and homemade ricotta. As a chef, I know how long those two things usually take so I have to say I was impressed with her having the balls to make them. Personally, I felt she should have won over Jen considering the risk she took, but Jen succeeds again, and she is definitely starting to look like the woman to beat. Ash, nice job on calling your failed ice cream a custard — that was smart, and look, you ended up on top. Sometimes it pays off to roll with the punches. On the flip side, Jesse, I have to say, please be the next to go home ... please .... You keep fessing up to all your mistakes. You know exactly what you do wrong and yet, you do nothing to fix them? Your soup was too spicy. Why not add a cooling element to it? Yogurt, cream anything? You could have fixed it and yet you just served up mediocrity. It's TC girl ... go big or go home!

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?

 

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