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Hello my little crispy aged goat cheeses. Well, it's been a few weeks since I've found the time to sit and process my thoughts about an episode, but hopefully some of you have been joining me/us for our weekly live chats! I've really enjoyed dishing with everyone in real time. But, I also enjoy writing this blog and reading your comments, so let's talk about this week's episode shall we?
First, we have the chefs split up into two teams for the Tag Team Cook-off. I think this Quickfire might just be our most interesting because it truly highlights how each of the chefs think. While the challenge certainly requires ingenuity and innovation, it can also reveal cracks in someone's basic technique. Although there are certainly preferences in how people like to complete tasks, there are some basic tenets in cooking, and if one of the chefs doesn't know them they can't predict what one of the other chefs on their team might do. So seemed the problem with Alex and the salt. Although some people might like to season their fish early (maybe for fear it won't get seasoned at all), seasoning is apparently usually done later. If Alex had known that and predicted that Angelo, who knew that, would season the fish later, the fish wouldn't have been oversalted, and guest judge Nancy Pelosi would have maybe given them the win. Or maybe Angelo should have checked to see if the fish had been seasoned. In my opinion they could have won that challenge -- their dish just seemed a little more interesting than the Red Team's. And I will say that although many of you have expressed discontent at Speaker Pelosi's appearance on the show, I have to say that politics aside, this was kind of huge. The Speaker of the House was on Top Chef! We've come a long way.
Perhaps more exciting though (to the culinary world at least), was an appearance in the Elimination by Frank Bruni, who I'm now in love with. But, anyway....
The Quickfire teams stuck together for Restaurant Wars. The blue team named themselves EVOO, and I couldn't decide if this name made me puke or was brilliant. Jury's still out. I've always wanted to open up a place, have it be a media hub, and name it TK. So, I'm not one to talk. Team EVOO decided to put Alex at front of-the-house so he wouldn't be in the kitchen. Usually the front-of-house person is still responsible for one dish. In this case, Alex supposedly conceived of the dish while Angelo and Ed tackled it. Alex mostly did mise-en-place type stuff (which his teammates had to re-do). Honestly, I don't know what I think about all this, but I don't think Alex should have gone home. In fact, he couldn't! Basically, no one on the winning team goes home. So, it was never really up for discussion whether or not Alex would go home. What is interesting is that while I have felt bad for Alex lately, the way he treated those servers kind of made me completely turn on him. He even made a joke about what a hard employer he was! Anyway, he wasn't the best front-of-house ever. Like the judges, I too appreciate being greeted immediately when I enter a restaurant and acknowledge when I leave. I usually thank the host/hostess on my way out if they don't say anything. I know -- I'm a passive-aggressive jerk. As far as the rest of the team's performance, I didn't really think Angelo freaked out that badly, but, well, I'm excitable. Ed and Tiffany stayed strong, stayed out of the drama, and, well, came out on top. I'm glad so many of you are liking Tiffany. After the first episode, we got comments on the site that her Obama fervor turned some of you off, but she's just excitable too.
Team Twenty One 21 (name isn't much better) sort of bombed. Although it didn't seem as disastrous as some of our more memorable Restaurant Wars disasters because they were calm, it was no less tragic. There was kind of only one dish the judges spoke highly of, and that was Kevin's. I guess he earned the right to rip Alex a new one? And although i was as shocked/sad to see Kenny go as you all were, I wish he could've taken more responsibility for his failed dishes. It seems constructive criticism has been a problem for both Kenny and Kevin all season. Alex going home wouldn't make Kenny's food taste any better. So although I'm happy Kevin got out what he needed to, and now the judges are kind of aware of the anti-Alex animosity, I agree with Eli in suggesting that Alex go home instead of Kenny was, well, not going to happen.
I think it's now clear that no one is safe. I may or may not have watched next week's episode already, and it's good. So, until then, happy eating and cooking. (I've been baking up a storm lately!)
*Yes, this blog post title is a reference to Kanye West's new song.
So Alex didn't cook or conceptualize a dish (broke rule number one of the challenge) and he did horrible as host, yet everyone makes excuses for him? I mean c'mon, it's a cooking competition. It's called Top Chef, Not Top Non-Chef. The judging and criteria needs to be re-tooled. Also, this lame ass excuse we get from Tom and Gail that "we don't know what goes on in the kitchen and we don't care" is really putting a damper on the integrity of the show considering a Top Chef is more than just the taste of the food. Alex is finding loop holes and the producers are letting him get away with, creating a water-cooler effect for the viewers, when in reality it's just pissing the real fans of the show off. If you bring in all these top judges and famous people and boast about the integrity of the show in the realm of the cooking world, then maybe they should seriously consider what a real Top Chef entails and what does go on in the back instead of what is put in front of them. Marcel got "assualted" and the guy had to leave the contest. How can Alex ruin the integrity of the show, assaulting the show and the fans with his actions and not get disqualified? There are big errors in the judging and in the production and something needs to be done about it. I don't see why it can't be fixed? Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen doesn't let that slide. Sure he may give second chances more often than not but nothing gets by him which is why his show, though with inferior chefs has more integrity at this point. Sorry Top Chef, yer jumping the shark this season. Hopefully you can rebound.
Having Nancy Pelosi on Top Chef was like my worlds colliding in a very positive way. I love food, wine, and politics, and I got it all, on this episode. I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area and have watched Speaker Pelosi's career blossom, I loved how she commented that Top Chef Season 1 was based in SF.
As for Kenny going home, I agree with the judges, he anointed himself Executive Chef, and made two poor dishes. He has trouble taking constructive criticism, remember when Michelle B. schooled him? Kenny's ego is the main reason why he left in the middle. By the way I'm Team Tiffany all the way!
Can't agree more. Bragging does not a great chef make... If Kenny was all that he thought he was then why didn't he win more challenges. I think he is a good cook but maybe not as good as he would have everyone believe. And here is my 2 cents on the complaining about the guest judges, it is in Washington DC hellooooo. And one observation, i rememer just e few short years ago if anyone bashed the Prez they were unAmerican, today if you don't bash the Prez your unAmerican, people puhleeze make up your minds!!!!!!!!!!!
Shame you didn't quite fill us in on the rules. Was it required that a chef simply be "responsible" for a dish - meaning conceive it and supervise it - or was it necessary that they cook it solo?
It seems like it's the former because in a kitchen, chefs are always helping each other out with prep and cooking. Plus in this case, the chef wasn't in the kitchen because he was out front, so he couldn't cook a main course dish. As Kelly showed, the only way for a front of the house chef to cook is to do pre-prepared food like a soup or a torte.
So if that's the case, Alex met the letter of the rule, even though he did less than Kelly and his teammates carried a lot of water for him.
Have to say, though, the production and editing on this weeks show was really below par. If the judges could vote on that, one of you would be packing your cameras and going home instead of Kenny.
I find it perplexing that you didn't even mention Amanda's failure in cooking something as basic as grilled steak and why that wouldn't have made her the one to go instead of Kenny.
It's a contradiction to Tom's reasoning for sending someone home last week for failing to cook rice properly which he said was such a basic dish. Seems to me that not being able to grill a steak is even easier than cooking rice. Hypocrisy?
I can't believe Top Chef sent Kenny home. I am soooooooooooo upset. How can you justify keeping Alex and Amanda over Kenny... Really???? wow. In all the shows I have watched this was the most clearly poor cut that Top Chef has made. I am not sure I can continue to watch the show with such outrageous decisions. Judges you need to wake up!!!!!!
Has anyone on the show actually looked aat the tapes to see if Alex took the pea puree? He seems to always slink around. Is this how he really is or just devious editing.
Well I think sending Kenny home was a huge mistake--that dark-haired girl, Andrea, is it? should have been sent home. I just don't understand how a chef in their right mind would try for the show and not know their proteins or how to cook them properly or half the other stuff they come on the show and know nothing about. The show's been on for seven years, people! WTH? Get with it! Get out of your comfort zone and cook some damn food! So, off my soap-box, she should have been sent home since that was the only dish she had to do and she screwed it up while Kenny, although he didn't execute his dishes successfully, he was still team captain and really organized the group beautifully and harmoniously. Everyone was chill while team EVOO (horriffic name, btw) was a disaster! I'm seriously considering NOT watching the show anymore! I'm sick of the judges' decision-making process. Is it a popularity contest, or what? How about giving the chefs their due credit and boot of the idiots that don't deserve the gig.
Monica, I enjoyed being on the live chat this week. It was fun and I'm glad you extended it too. I think Tom's blog and your blog put things into perspective. I've never been a Kenny fan also. I think the decision did stir up alot of controversy. Before Tom's blog even came out, he got over 500 responses. More than the peagate incident. I think the producers should feel glad that they are stirring things up, but I do wish some of the integrity, in portraying the real results through more fair videotaping, would return. They are going overboard. Perhaps it is the result of the competition from all the other reality cooking shows. Oh well. But TC is the classiest, and should remain that way. No the most sensational. You have great judges...Frank B tops the list. I loved listening to hjis insights. Wish Eric wpould return.
I love seeing the politicians on the show! Just like you had celebrities on in LA (including sooo many vegetarians and vegans), I expected to see local flavor with the politicians. And, Republicans are gonna have to suck it up for a while that the Dems currently run DC, so *we* have the house, senate and white house. A nice change after 8 years of catastrophe.
I am delighted that the chefs got to meet Pelosi! It gave them a chance to make a (hopefully good) impression on someone with a lot of sway and power, which is never bad for one's career.
What about the rules? You can break the rules and win? That is OK? You don't address the fact that the team one because they cheated!
Having Nancy Pelosi on the show???? Please....what's her food background...this is a cooking show. Her performance appeared so rehearsed and definitely not fair to the contestants since what gives her the expertise to judge. Kenny should not have gone home. Amanda messed up the only dish she had. You aren't a chef if you can't cook a wonderful piece of steak to the right temp. Alex lucked out again.
This season is terrible and I will no longer watch. Top Chef was my favorite television show but I've become unentertained and disgusted with the shows current version.
To be fair I think you deserve my critique to hopefully improve next season. By the way if the next two episodes aren't awesome I am gone forever. I only stuck around this long this season based on years of good content.
Fix 1: Re-focus the production of the show. Perhaps the production team was split or lost key members due to the crappy dessert show. I don't know the reasons but the production value is awful this season.
Fix 2: I liked Top Chef because it was never about "the game". The show always centered on the food and the moments of drama were always rare and led one to just roll their eyes...re-visit that annoying caterer broad and the dude with the hair. There was some in-fighting but it was never the focus of an episode. This season we've been subjected to several segments of survivor-like plotting...if I wanted that I'd watch survivor
Fix 3: The cast just sucks. It is amazing how compelling last season was and now we're stuck w/ these people. Angelo may be talented but I have zero desire to ever see him again...nevermind eat his food. I can't think of anything nice to say about any of the other folks...
Fix 4: Tom, you've told a million chefs to edit their dish, to taste their dish, and execute the simple things perfectly. Using this season of Top Chef can you say you personally (the TRUE Credibility of the show) have edited, tasted and executed your dish well?
Top Chef DC please pack your knives and go.
i agree with roger. i am SURE that there are rules and regulations that go along with becoming a top chef. from what i have seen, and i have watched the same pea puree episode over and over, i am sure that alex stole it. he should be eliminated and the two chefs that just left (steve and kenny i think) should be brought back because of that backstabbing so called chef. alex needs to go home.
I love the show Top Chef. Many of my friends watch also. However, no matter what Tom says, Alex should have been eliminated. If you ever go back and view your shows, you will see that ALex is thoroughly incompetent and not what anyone would consider Top Chef quality. Maybe you should consider renaming the show to Kitchen Cooks if this is the caliber of "chef" you want shown. Even on the restaurant wars show, the prep work Alex did had to be redone by his team mates. It is getting hard for us to understand why your judges continue to keep Alex and jeopardize the integrity of the show. As far as Kenny being too arrogant - yes he is. But this is what has made him a successful chef. The quality of his food far outshines anything Alex has ever prepared. If Kenny's arrogance bothers Tom, maybe Tom should look in a mirror. Even on the show entitled Foreign Affairs, the judges judge cuisine contrary to what the guests from those countires felt. One judge remarked that a particular dish was an embarrassment to China. However, the people from China felt the dish was just as they would have at home. The judges, thought experts in their own rights must understand that other opnions and ideas also matter. Just because their palates don't like a dish, consider others who have different tastes and palates. Flexiblility and fairness and hinesty and integrity needs to return to this show - both in the judges and the contestants. I am seriously considering whether I would ever continue to watch this show.
Please go back to the format of past seasons! These chefs are generally nastier and their dishes are not as outstanding. This Restaurant Wars was insulting to the viewers. There was no attention to the entire dining experience.
Please do not become like every other reality show on TV.
Perhaps "many" expressed their disappointment in having Nancy Pelosi on TC; however, I suspect many more were pleased at her appearance since it was, indeed, a major coup on your part.
If you're actually keeping score, congratulations on convincing the Speaker of the House to participate.
I'm pretty sure the pea puree issue has been put to rest. Regardless of how bravo edited the episode, according to Tom several chefs have since called in and said they witnessed Alex making it. About all you can argue now is that Alex stole the idea. Also, Alex may have been by far the weakest link, but did he lead to Steven's downfall? No. Did he lead to Kenny's downfall? No. As Tom pointed out, who cares how the kitchen was run? Evoo (terrible name) put out the best food and won. 2121 put out awful food - someone from there had to be held accountable. Kenny put out bad food - it's not like he's been killing it anyway lately (definitely not the "beast" he claims to be). I really don't understand why he is so popular.
I think the fans who are upset that Kenny was PYKAG should go fry up a big blob of aged goat cheese, salt it and put it on some strawberry and rubarb with micro greens and serve it as dessert to your family and let them judge the dish. If anyone in fandom think they have a better palate than Frank Bruni, Tom and Gail combined, then by all means open your own restaurant right away. Please let me know so I can steer clear.
I kind of felt this was too - please don't become like every other reality show - I love Top Chef and I can understand why the decisions are made even though I can't taste the food. Maybe I didn't hear properly but I thought Kenny said with regards to Angelo the best vs. the beast - WHAAAT. While I do not like Angelo's personality he does seem to be a great cook. As an avid TC watcher I really dislike Alex - I truly hope he is voted off the show -
Re: Fix 2: Excuse me. Did you not see Season 2? Season 2, Marcel vs. just about everyone else, was a non-stop screaming, fighting, nasty season, with the most immature "chefs" of all 7 seasons. Physical and verbal assaults, shaved heads, false accusations of cheating--it was ridiculous. The drama this season is nothing next to that one! And it was a long time ago, but Ilan should have been thrown out with Cliff; he was just as involved in the assault of Marcel, who was sleeping, for God's sake. Please do not compare this piddling pea puree/Alex- sucks-as-a-chef controversy with the truly offensive Season 2.
Kenny should not have been sent home. They have rules set up and it seems like the judges are ignoring them. Yes, you may not care about the kitchen politics but you have to care whether the chefs are following the rules. The winning team knows Alex did not COOK ANYTHING! And they defended him...And they put him in the front of the house knowing he can't cook that well. They didn't even have confidence in his abilities to help them win. The shows seem to have more 'taking of other's ingredients' and 'sabotaging' in the last couple of seasons. What's up with that? And why have rules if the powers that be are not going to make the chefs accountable?
I, too, was brain washed by the charisma of Kenny. And when he didn't come on top like he said he would on challenges, I still thought his was one of the best...like he thought and expressed on the show. And when he fell on the bottom, I thought it was just a fluke...like he thought. I believed in him like he believed in himself. But then Restaurant Wars proved what I have been in denial about this whole season: His food was not up to par. And, as executive chef of his team, should have made sure the other dishes were up to par, too. (over done meat, thin soup...come on.) I still love Kenny, like the rest of us, (and hope to see more of him in the future, since the camera suits his personality,) and Alex is truely annoying, but the food says it all. And that's what it's all about in the end! C'est la vie, Kenny!
This is THE MOST BORING season of Top Chef that I have ever seen. The contestants are SOOOO boring. I usually watch every episode faithfully, but this time, I don't care.
I totally agree! I was baffled by the choice of the judges/show not to hold all contestants accountable to the rules they set down. Tom, in past seasons (and judges' tables), has been the final voice in stating whether or not contestants have achieved success or failure based on THE CHALLENGE. I understood that for Restaurant Wars, each contestant was responsible for conceiving/cooking a dish...Alex did neither (he poorly butchered some protein as prep, harassed the wait staff, and virtually ignored the judges' table at dinner service). I certainly don't feel the "worst chef" went home...which means that when the "best chef" wins, I have wonder if he/she is really the best. I understand that Kenny made two bad dishes, but at least he made something...at least he attempted to play by the rules! [and didn't take someone else's pea puree...but that's another story for another day]
so insulted by restaraunt wars. Have been such a fan in the past. This is crap. Alex should have BEEN gone !
I agree that the cheftestants should live and die by their dishes and that Kenny failed to get the clue that Michelle Bernstein tried to give him. However, I think it's a cop-out for the judges to say that they don't care what happens in the kitchen when the FOOD happens in the kitchen and a significant part of any competition is integrity. If Alex stole Ed's puree and because he obviously neither made nor composed his dish, he and his accomplices - who thought they should win by skirting the rules - should go home. That would be ethical, and would make for a more interesting -and satisfying- season.
I would like to say that i think that Alex DID STEAL that English pea puree. I've been in the restaurant business for 15+ yrs. and i have saw the cleanest of chefs, and the dirtiest of chefs (strategically and hygienically). Alex is the Heisman Trophy or better yet, the Nobel Peace Prize (of Cooking) winner for the dirtiest categories. However, he should have been sent home. Amanda said that she liked Alex, but i don't even remember her winning a quickfire or an elimination challenge. I just feel there is a lot of favoritism in this season, because most of all i just don't think she should still be there. I feel that she does not have an idea of how good food should be executed. I think she should be fixing slices at the college campus after-class spot serving french onion style pizza and dumplings. I also felt like Angelo charmed Tamesha right into PYKAG cause he knew she had a lot of issues when it came to her coming out-of-the-shell personality. Kenny should have still been there as well as Michelle. One more thing, I really do not like Tom, He is a little too hard on some expectations of the competing chefs. Kevin,Tiffany,and Angelo? that is my final three, if Angelo does not drop the ball, and Kelly picks it up. She really stepped her game up also.
After Season 6 I was really excited at what I considered to be the increasing quality of the chefs (and their professionalism). Season 7 is being quite a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, I love the challenges and seeing how the chefs respond but after last season, it's difficult to imagine that any one of the people here could compete with that group. Even the season before that, with some real losers but also some amazing chefs, was a serious contest. Maybe it's the editing, but for some reason I haven't seen a single dish this season that I thought was a knock-out. Yet I remember things made two years ago that I wanted a bite of. Could it be the camera work? Or is it really the caliber of the chefs? Maybe it's time to do a different spin off. The favorite 'losers' of top chef competing again. Carla! and Blaise and Jen and Eli and more... That would be a great show with outstanding food! After reading some of the comments, I have to agree that there's some manipulation of the video esp with regard to peagate. If there is footage that Alex truly didn't steal it, then either show that or stop cutting it in a way that just makes people think he did. You've got a huge and devoted fan base. No need to result in trickery. For what?
Seriously, to make it different and more exciting and satisfying (because this season is kinda dull) they should have made an exception that Alex should go home regardless of him being in the winning team because he didn't cook anything! Kenny should have been saved. So, what happens on the episode after, yea we all already know, Alex is going home, and he did, big surprise! So predictably boring!