Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain thought this episode would suck, but as he admits, he was wrong.

on Dec 21, 20100

Anyone for tennis?

I was watching from home this week and I'll tell you straight off: I thought this episode was going to suck. Early on, as I got the idea that somehow "tennis" and "Swanson" were going to be involved, I reached blindly for the bong. Tennis is about as interesting to me as golf. And I find golf as deeply fascinating as what a Kardashian might say next. Coming up bong-less, a Louboutin Barbie (those spike heels hurt if you don't pick up em just right) snapped me back to reality. Wrapping my wound, I dug in for what I assumed would be an hour of painfully obtrusive corporate tie-ins and silly themes: "Using only a hot plate and the thawed contents of these Hungry Man Dinners, you have 20 minutes to feed 200 drunk-ass tennis fans -- and special guest, Bindi Irwin!"

How wrong I was!

Instead, it was classic Top Chef! A slaughterfest! A high pressure face-off in which the tennis theme served as model in only the best possible way: chef against chef. And in the end, only skill, ability and endurance --not strategy, not guile, not luck --prevailed. The best food won.

Instead of the worst -- this was in fact the best kind of Top Chef: Skill-based, gimmick-free, requiring the cheftestants to draw on all their talents at cooking, work under pressure, and at end of day, (hopefully) make smart, delicious food that tasted right for the situation.

What we got to see -- as we do in only the best challenges -- is who these chefs really are. We got to lift their skull-tops and peer inside for a second, examine their true natures (and how deep their skills). This was a very revealing episode. There was heroism, drama, cowardice, bloodshed, suspense, and conspiracy. And at end of day, an unexpected victor emerged from the carnage, clambered out of the rubble with a knife between her teeth to claim victory.

34 comments
DCFoodie
DCFoodie

President of the "I love Carla" fan club here! Mr. B....I was all prepared to make mention of how GREAT Carla is yet again....but you truly did her justice! In due respect to this blog....I have just downloaded the first season of "No Reservations" on Netflix. I have heard for years of your genius, but I have to admit....I haven't seen the show. In honor of Spike and that unfortunate loss....I will be grabbing some friends and going to "Good Stuff Eatery" tomorrow! I for one thinks it takes SKILL to cook a perfect burger! WE are happy to have Spike here in DC!

Lisa E.
Lisa E.

"Clostridium Perfringens" Oh Tony, you light up my life in so many ways, most recently with this weekly blog. You say what I feel in ways that I never could...so I will simply leave you with the song in my heart "I love him, I love him, I looooove him!" Thank you for the euphoric happiness you are constantly leaving me with. I think it is possible that you are even making me a better person...thanks again.

CC22
CC22

Carla's amazing. And Jamie's a giant pill.

Poochleyboo
Poochleyboo

Oh, Anthony, I so agree with you about Jamie. I'm sitting here having a glass of wine after dinner and waiting to watch to see if she cooks this evening. Thank you for that very honest observation, which all the chefs in this season are feeling, but are only "whispering" about and you are actually stating.

Terrie Tashtego
Terrie Tashtego

brilliant witty blogs...you write, you cook, You are caleiente in many ways....

Lovinyou
Lovinyou

You are a great addition and I LOVE your blogs. So funny, I think you did find your bong after all.

Jennifer Marshall
Jennifer Marshall

"I've never been entirely convinced there's not actual penetration involved." HA!!! Just wanted to let you know that I am a huge fan and reading your blogs is about as entertaining as watching the show itself. Keep on keepin' on Tony.

jfkcolorist
jfkcolorist

Can't say you have been one of my fan favorites on this show, but this blog moves you forward!

Marcela Silveira
Marcela Silveira

Anthony, I have no idea what you talking about once here in Brazil we still watching a previous season of Top Chef, however, I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of No Reservations and I really want to ask you to come to Brazil in order to try our flavours! ;) Happy New Year!

Smirnonn
Smirnonn

Yup. Spike out-spiked himself. He should've been paying more attention to what Angelo was doing to his dish and less attention to the Top Chef edition of "Risk" that he was playing in his mind.

Jamie has successfully employed the possum strategy way too much. Time for her to put up.

Amy A
Amy A

you are hilarious!!! loved this blog. agreed with all of it.

Big Daddy
Big Daddy

Anthony, big fan of No Reservations but i got to agree with Fabio. His dish might have sucked but you did not need to totally dis and humiliate him. As much as you play the roll of the rebel, remember you are "The Man" in this setting and he stuck it to you (tastefully I thought). No disrespect, I remain a fan.

MorganLF
MorganLF

Carla rules, even though as your partner at the DC FF the foie got burned. Well at least according to Mr. Ripert.

EmmyN
EmmyN

Anthony- thank you for being an honest, unfiltered judge. Tom wishes he could be as blunt as you are. I too was very excited to see you at judge's table this season....big fan of No Reservations!

I'm with you on Carla. She is underestimated but will consistently deliver as long as she trusts in her own cooking!

Jamie is a joke this season. I enjoyed watching her before and looooooooved it when Fabio coined her as "Top Scallop".......but come on, this is a COOKING competition. What a whiny wimp. She makes me want to throw my glass of wine at the TV, steal her apron, and take over. If you don't want to compete, than give another contestant a chance!

Looking forward to the next episode! Thank you for your hilarious commentary!

jjgg5
jjgg5

I'm rooting for Marcel to take the title. He's demonically good looking.

Navymommy
Navymommy

Aaaaargh! Sorry for the typo!

DCinPR
DCinPR

Yup Anthony, much to my dismay, Members Only Jackets are back in style, but please don't think that gives license to the 40++ to whip out their old one and put it on!

Cirque
Cirque

Okay, THIS was funny and present. Not the usual drone fest that the other blogs trudge out week after week. Thank you for clearly drawing a line in the sand regarding the unimportant mess that are the Kardashians. Let's hope they stop that Jonas brother nonsense or anything else of its ilk.

What?
What?

You're so hot ;)

sushiroll
sushiroll

Mr. Tony, I don't want to sound ridick, but your respect for women got me by the balls (spiritual ones, 'cause I happen to be a W.; I have a spiritual penis too, but that's beside the point). I believe you got that 'under influence'... of your beautiful gutsy wife, and the 'little lady B." BTW, I watch "No Reservations" religiously, I wish to invite you to Poland, where I am from and all my family is there too.

Besides, as a writer, I think you get too kooky with your metaphors, but I guess that's your appeal. Thanks for the insight.

sorryiam
sorryiam

Don't know who underestimates Carla? As viewers I think we all root for her and know shes got game. A little more confidence and she had a shot at winning her season.

Viewer12
Viewer12

Excellent and pithy as always.

Cynhounds
Cynhounds

I love you Anthony Bourdain, you are a priceless addition to the Top Chef judging panel.

princessofpastry
princessofpastry

Spot on Anthony! Go Carla!!!!! When will Jamie go home...after she wins?

BJ BREAUX
BJ BREAUX

OMG, right on target Tony!....Hurray for Carla who fought like a warrior for her dish even with an injury...it was epic....Angelo in his season and this one has been so helpful getting chefs back on the streets out of the competition, gotta love him...Hope you're back on next week Bourdain...

JacquelineNY
JacquelineNY

Tony, you had me at "I reached blindly for the bong."

JazzE-J
JazzE-J

I love, love, love your commentary! Carla definitely showed what a true cook looks like this week after her finger fiasco! I shutter at the thought of Angelo actually putting "love" into every dish but he is trying a tad bit of sabotage and strategy on every corner! Hmmm...hopefully the other cheftestants will realize this sooner than later!

Erin T.
Erin T.

Your insight is spot on... as usual. Sad to see Spike go, but Carla totally deserved the win with her game on attitude! Jamie better step it up next week (I've seen Server's work with worse cuts than hers), or just volunteer to go home. I think its possible she might be able to participate more from the comfort of her own couch.

RaginCajunGal
RaginCajunGal

Tony Bourdain, you are AWESOME!!!!! I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. Your observations are spot-on, as well as hilarious! I'm going to be laughing for the rest of the day about the "penetration" comment. True dat!

Jantina
Jantina

What can I say? I love you and love your blog. It's insightful, witty, intelligent, funny and with just enough tongue in cheek that keeps it edgy. Also, we know you know what you're talking about.

Thank you and keep up the blogging.

Miss Mouse
Miss Mouse

I just LOVE the fact that you are back judging and blogging Top Chef. You break it down and cut right through the bullshit, giving us a brilliantly incisive look at what the hell is going on in each episode. Please don't leave Top Chef again after the All-Stars cycle.

JSG in Miami
JSG in Miami

Happy Holidays! As always your blog is fantastic! Last night's top chef was truly epic in every way!

The episode even inspired me to break the record for Top Chef blog comment exclamation points!

Cheers!