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Omar Little, street philosopher, almost-superhero, stick-up man extraordinaire -- the most memorable character on the best dramatic series in the history of television, The Wire, articulated the Code of the Streets perfectly. While gleefully sticking up a drug dealer, he takes time to explain the brutal logic of what's happening.
"It's all in The Game, yo! It's all in The Game!"
What Mr. Little means, presumably, is that in the day to day ebb and flow of his victim's chosen profession (in this case, slinging dope on Baltimore street corners), one must anticipate
the occasional unpleasantness. Like Mr. Little shoving a large caliber weapon in your face and taking all your money and product. Nobody is more aware of the rules than Omar himself. He lives his life knowing full well that in all likelihood, he too will fall. And that when it comes it will be fast, unexpected, probably from behind -- and decidedly "unfair."
Yet in a harsh, insecure world of constantly shifting loyalties and great danger, Omar has chosen to live by certain hard and fast rules. He doesn't curse or use bad language. He doesn't hurt, kill, or otherwise victimize anyone not "in the game" like him. He never explains, complains, snitches, blames, finger points, or whines. When his own end comes on the floor of a convenience store, shot from behind by a small boy, one is certain that had he a few seconds left of consciousness, he would not be griping about how "wrong" or "unfair" or undeserved it all was.
Compare and contrast to the first two weeks' eliminations on Top Chef All-Stars.
My heart went out to our gastro-gladiators this week. Highly trained, experienced professionals, all of them looking for an opportunity to cook their asses off, do their best, give us their best game, hoping, hoping for nothing less than a clean shot at redemption, perhaps a challenge in their comfort zone, a few good swings at the proverbial plate.
It was not to be.
Brilliant, Bourdain, brilliant!
Anyone who can so deftly weave The Wire into a Top Chef reaction deserves major applause. But can we get a **spoiler alert** for those poor saps who are still waiting on the Netflix turnaround to finish up the series?
Also, kudos for drawing attention to Elia's comments and calling them out as nonsense.
Great blog Bourdain. I was shocked at Jen's behavior tonight - perhaps it was the lack of sleep? Some people really don't function well without it, but she seemed to really lose it. I lost a lot respect for her and think maybe her success has gone to her head. I didn't know Elia said all that stuff too. Looks like the "all stars" are turning out to be the largest egos as well.
I'm so happy you're back and writing blogs Tony. Your commentary is witty and insightful. Keep it up!
Jen may have been struck by the same poison you claimed as your own last week. That being said: SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED. This was the worst Top Chef ever. Jamie should have gone home for abandoning ship. Since when does not competing win a person a pass. She skipped the challenge and should have gone home. I also think the wrong team won. I can't believe the winning dish was banana puree with a fruit cup - made by 4 people!! Seriously I don't care how good it was - 4 people!! I may be over Top Chef.
I'm so glad that you're back!! Having you as a judge and having your blogs to read is making this season amazing. And a blog about TopChef & TheWire - pretty brilliant.
As excited as I was to see Jenn back and how much I wanted her to win after watching her compete in Las Vegas, I was shocked at how disrespectful she was. I admire her passion and obvious talent but you can disagree without degrading yourself or those you are speaking to. And for all the dignity, leadership and respect she commanded in her season, she did herself a disservice with her screaming temper tantrum in the hallway after leaving the stew-room. While I can't begin to imagine the heartbreaking disappointment and know no one will be harder on her than herself, I wish she could have maintained her poise until she was truly in private and out of (audible) camera range.
Jeebus Feist that was some beautiful snark. I was disappointed that you weren't on screen tonight but you more than made up for it with this essay. You, sir, have earned your Bravo paycheck for the week.
I love Jennifer and she was my favorite and now that shes gone (I still dont believe it)my family and I will not watch Top Chef ever again! She was not rude.. she is passionate and we truly believe in everything she said about her food!! My family and I are so mad with the judges decision that we are going for the first time to the restaurant where she works to support her!!! We dont know u Jenn but we love u!! We r the winner in our heart!!
"petulant, visibly contemptuous, unprofessional, and frankly -- appalling." Perfect description of Jenn's behavior. What's wrong with her?
I was blown away by Jennifer's arrogant and petulant behavior. While it's a given that she's talented, this season brings back all the top contenders from all the years, and it not only is ludicrous to carry on like a spoiled and narcissistic jerk, but, highly insulting to the other talented chefs, who were brought back to compete at a new level.
I completely agree with how graceless and idiotic both Jenn and Elia made themselves look. It made me feel the rush of schadenfreude watching both of these egomaniacs receive their just deserts.
I was sad to see Jennifer go, since she was in my personal wish list for top three and I really respected her showing first time around. But frankly, I was sadder to see her demean herself with her tantrum at judges table. I'm sure the 45 minutes sleep followed by however long they were in the stew room made her Ms. Cranky Pants, but at the end of the day if four people who are not unfamiliar with, um, EATING, are telling you your dish was a bucket of suck, give them a reason to keep you. Or at least allow yourself to exit with the dignity we know you have. When you get to the end zone, you're supposed to act like you've been there before. And in this case, YOU'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE. There is a fine line between putting yourself forward extra-dramatically in hopes of more airtime, and behaving like a whinging little fartweasel. It was beneath her. Altho, still more respectable than that asshat Elia complaining about Tom's endoresement deals. Really? Did Diet Coke make your dish craptacular? Probably not.
On a seperate note, it is beyond delish to have you as a regular, and to have the blog...thanks for playing.
Brilliant and witty Wire (****ing Omar rocks)/Top Chef comparison. You are so right on, it is refreshing to read such a down a earth analysis. Don't care at all that Jen got ousted and hope Jamie is next. Their comments throughout are so self-absorbed it is almost sad. Go Richard! Redemption!
Jennifer failed to understand that the challenge was about "meat" not "me" ( a nod to my favorite chapter of Kitchen Confidential.") There is nothing more off-putting than a person who has failed refusing to accept that fact.
That was a hilarious and brilliantly executed commentary. Thanks Anthony for saying what you have here. I assume Elia is a good chef--but obviously she can't stand the heat.. and is too petulant to be in a tv kitchen. I can't believe she's trashing Tom. Ridiculous! Jennifer Carroll is generally so "cool" so it was odd that she would have that little seizure in front of the cameras---I was thinking she must have been delirious from lack of sleep and enforced use of too much protein. I HATE her departure and blame Jamie -- another way too pissy and petulant on camera chef--for boning over Jennifer in the most casual way. Let's hope no one ever has to share a foxhole with her. Anyway I agree, all but one of these chefs will be going home--can we please have a little style and grace on the way out guys.
I don't know which is more entertaining - the show or your blog. Thanks for sharing your wit and insight - I can't wait to read you next week.
First I love your writing and your wit. But and it's a big but, how can you say you admire Fabio's behavior last week and then slam Jennifer's? They did the same thing, the only difference is one is a woman and talked back to Tom rather than to you. While you wouldn't take it personally, Tom would and has in the past and still does. If the future of American cuisine is overpriced burgers and uninspiring dishes then yes he is the leader of that. While I love your writing, I think you comparason is off. Tre made his dish unedible, the frittatas were raw and unsafe to eat. So her food wasn't tasty but it was edible. Forget about her behavior, what about the wrong decision being made.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone:
This from Bourdain: "Her behavior at Judges' Table and after Elimination was petulant, visibly contemptuous, unprofessional, and frankly -- appalling."
Please remember the next time you are petulant, contemptuous, unprofessional....as we've already seen this season, that we viewers find it APPALLING!
I respect Jen's attitude and words much more than I do your critique. If TV is about drama, you writing is about sarcasm. No thanks.
The only other time that The Wire was connected to culinary arts was during the DVD commentary when the kids who played Namond and Dukie were laughing about the cake Duff made for a Wire wrap party. It was a replica of the abandoned houses and projects. They said, "What, did they put little chocolate dead bodies inside the houses?" Thanks Tony for writing for us...if you can't feed us.
I love your blogs but I do have to correct you on one point, Omar did, in fact snitch. When "Brandon" was killed he told Kima & McNulty a lot of information about the Barksdale Crew. He even testified at "Bird's" trial. I completely agree with you that the Wire is the best tv show EVER!! Keep up the great work.
Oh sweet jeebus I am so glad I read this at home and not at the office... I am still ROTFLMAO, and the tears of mirth will start shorting the keyboard out at any moment! Mr. Bourdain, you are indeed the Supreme Overlord of Snark, and I bow to your greatness!
One question though: why the difference in your take on Fabio's performance at JT in the first episode, and Jen's performance in this one? They both seemed very similar to me, as if maybe they were smoking from the same crack pipe or something.
This game suddenly got real when someone I thought would make the top five gets booted unceremoniously due to "wet bacon."
As much as I agree with your "all in the game" reference, I have to wonder about the game itself. This isn't about a dangerous illegal job choice, it's about making great food, ideally on a level playing field with your peers. And when the game is structured to put you at your worst physically and emotionally, when you are forced to create via committee, and also to draw the short extinct reptile bone when it comes to creative potential, can you really blame Jen for blowing up for not getting the chance to perform the way she'd hoped to?
I guess I was expecting a little more from this season than to have to watch chefs cook from one food group wearing strait jackets while jumping through flaming hoops with electric probes attached to their genitals. I prefer watching them, you know, cook. But that's apparently not interesting enough for some people.
Jamie weasled out of the challenge and that is almost worse than sending out a flavorless dish. I do think that pork belly was ill-advised for a kid's breakfast. And even one of the kids said it was rubbery and not the way she would like bacon to feel or taste. But Jennifer could have influenced the judges to see that the inedible and dangerous frittatas or the overly-salted sauce for the salmon was actually worse than her dish, especially considering that she had no help from Jamie.
So now we have two female chefs who have left the show with petulant attitudes, making it that much harder for females who have control over their emotions and don't act like PMS Queens when things do go their way, to be taken seriously.
Nevertheless, I did see Jennifer as one of the strongest contestants. Too bad she had to lose it, in more than one way.
Does anyone have links to some of the Elia interviews? I read that she was unhappy about getting palm leaves versus tiki leaves, but nothing about consipracies against her!
Two stitches means you didn't need any stitches. I suppose it was the recommendation of the medic (because every professional kitchen has a medic on duty) that saved her from a proper reaming from Tom.
So, my question now is: would cutting yourself open 2 minutes into every elimination challenge guarantee you save passage to the finals?
Anthony, you may be a talented chef, but you are a BRILLIANT critic. I laughed out loud at least ten times over your two blogs. You nailed it. I could get drunk with you any time.
Your blog adds much needed levity to Jen's uncharacteristic behavior. Love the Wire analogy. "Omah comin" no doubt.
Bada@@ Bourdain! I look forward to your Blogs as much as the show!!!! No diplomacy or politics, no pandering to the sponsors, just raw, raucaus, insightful, funny, intelligent, seasoned commentary! I LOVE IT!!!!!
Another "I will never watch again" post! Flavia, you must know that posts like your's make no difference, and really make you appear as petulant as the Chef you are sad to see go? Please!
I appreciate that Chef's are passionate about their craft, but I also realize that they have outsized ego's that have a tendency to run out of control when not kept in check, and Jen's was not kept in check this season. Even the other Chef's were commenting about her behavior, and that is normally something that doesn't happen.
If you must go, good-bye, but know that you are going to miss Anthony Bourdain and his witty reparte and some darn fine cooking. Something that will most definately be YOUR loss, not ours!
I disagree with you. I think Jen had every right to stand up for her food and call BS on the judges, and I think Petulant Tom C. eliminated her for that reason. Jen over inedible eggs??? A deserting contestant?? No way!!
I was rooting for Jen, Carla and Richard, because I think she is one of the top talents there, and I think she came in angry, because - again - in disagreement with you, I don't think all of the decisions have been made by the judges. She made a fabulous dish in her season, and then was eliminated, and if I recall correctly, Michael V. made a terrible dish, but the producers wanted the BROTHERS to be in the finale, and there was really no way they could take Kevin out. So she was screwed that season. And then again, last night.
So I call BS on her elimination and also on your claims about the show being judged on the food. Sorry - I ain't buying it.
JEN WAS ROBBED. it was beyond obvious that undercooked eggs (salmonella city potential Emergency room visits) was a lot worse than some bland chopped eggs on slab bacon. Eric Ripert had Jen's back, stand-up guy. Bourdain's had some meltdown I'm sure at Les Halles, oh please with the dissing of Jen (and I dont' even LIKE her but feel the judges were babies about it, their egos have landed)
I liked Jen the first time she was on Top Chef, the very second she stated that she could make boys cry in the kitchen. And I believed her. I was shocked and saddened to see her go but if you screw up, you screw up. Jamie on the other hand, I think she should have been sent home.
Tony, your blog is awesome. I love your writing. I devoured your words and before I knew it, it was over. ;(
I think Jen must have learned rude and disrespectful from the master - you. Of all people to lecture - the king of snark. Give me a break, Mr. Bourdain. If the judges can do it, so should the cheftestants be able to.
Well written blog as usual. I was actual totally on board...until you got to this part.
"was petulant, visibly contemptuous, unprofessional, and frankly -- appalling. That's no way to go out."
Pot meet kettle. Perhaps you should heed your own advice at least SOME of the time. And why such high praise for Fabio's spirited defense last week, but none for Jen? Not a good look. Otherwise, yes, Jen's food seemed uninspired and it did seem right to send her packing.
I'm a total Bourdain fan HOWEVER Fabio is an ass but he got more respect than Jen and, yes, she had more of a tantrum but still she was defending her dish like Fabio. Fabio actually threatend you Tony when he said something along the lines of it was a good thing you were where you were because if it had been in another context the two of you would have a "problem". Fabio's dish seemed far worse to me than Jen's. Whatev. So far, I disagree with both eliminations. It should've been Stephen or Fabio (God he's annoying) last week and Tre, Jaime or one of the frittata girls this week. It is what it is!
I know how much of a fan you are of Eric Ripert, but I fully agree with his assessment. Antonia or Tiffany should've gone home for their lack of execution instead of Jen for a tasteless dish.
Briliant Bourdain! Absolutely BRILLIANT!
Please leave Ottavia and marry me!! Ok. I don't really need to marry you but I would love to do a bar crawl with you through any city of your choice. I am totally in love with your wit, intelligence, writing, vision and snarkiness! I saw you earlier this year in Portland, OR! I fell in love immediately!!!
I was an avid Omar Little aficionado! In fact, I love all things of The Wire!!! Your interview with Snoop was classic Bourdain.
Glad to have you on the show....Didn't think Bravo would get it right, but they surprised me.
Have fun and keep the blogs coming!!!
Your awesome! Love this blog for saying everything we're thinking. Can't believe these chefs are so full of themselves and so disrespectful this season. They knew what they were siging up for this season so they need to suck it up take the advice and become better at their craft.
I don't think Jen was unprofessional at all. This isn't a workplace. This isn't an office or a kitchen or an operating suite. It is a TV show. A competition. The whole point is to for chefs to contort themselves and cook food in high-pressure situations. It is admirable that she stood up for herself. Her passion and dedication is refreshing. I hate how Padma, Tom, and Tony expect to be treated like gods. They are too snooty and political. I think they should be called out more often by the chefs for making bad decisions.
I like Jen. I think she deserved to stay longer, but I think this show is all about drama and ratings. They wanted to create buzz and have a shocker, which is why they sent her packing. It's so stupid.
Also, Tom Collicchio's restaurants are terrible. Really bad. Maybe he was once a good chef, but the joints he currently has in NY are downright gross. I got so sick once at CraftBar that I had to be taken to the ER. So his opinions mean nothing to me.