Thankfully, there were a few bright moments in the otherwise dreary meal that day. Fabio amazed us with sticky, tender Soy-Honey Glazed Spicy Pork Ribs, a much needed departure from the gnocchi streak he had been on. Dale and Angelo together made outstanding Cheung Fun with Shrimp, a traditional loose rice noodle roll that has always been my favorite on the dim sum menu. Individually, Angelo also made a Spring Roll that was packed with flavor, crunchy vegetables and large, juicy pieces of shrimp and pork. Dale’s rendition of Sweet Rice with Chinese Bacon Wrapped in a Banana Leaf was by far the most exciting, tasty and innovative dish we tasted. Of course, that is somewhat expected, as he makes a great deal of dim sum in his kitchen at Buddakan every day. Nevertheless, he proved not only is he a whiz at it but that, in all the mayhem and chaos of the Grand Harmony kitchen, at least a few bites of balance and pleasure could be found. For that we were all truly grateful.
I agree totally with your views. I think the Top Chef writers do a great job with creativity but sometimes they go too far. I disagree with all challenges, including restaurant wars, that expect one of the contestants to play hostess or waiter/waitress instead of being able to cook. If Casey had not selflessly volunteered to push the carts, she could have tasted that her chicken feet were inedible and maybe improvise to cook it another way. Instead, she got sent home because she couldn't cook her own food. Being that Jamie had an equally worse dish and had time to cook it herself, I felt she should have been sent home.
I absoulutly agree that Casey should have not been sent home. I am starting to dislike Tom and all the Judges now whos next to go. I think this show and all the other Bravo shows are all a bunch of publicity stunts gone wrong.
I couldn't agree with you more. The chefs should have experienced this dim sum restaurant and kitchen prior to service, just as they did with the NY restaurant challenge. This was an awful challenge and shows nothing about these chefs and their abilities. What would the producers have done if nobody volunteered to push the carts? In Stephen's original season, Tom told him "This is Top Chef, not Top Sommelier." The producers need to keep that in mind. It is also not Top Expediter, Top Runner, Top Give Directions to Someone Else and Hope They Cook the Dish the Way You Want It. Let them cook! It might not have made a difference for Casey in the end, but at least it would be an honest competition.
I GUESS TOP CHEFF IS ALLERGIC TO MY POSTS... I'VE POSTED SIX TIMES & NOT EVEN ONE HAS BEEN PUT UP. I'M DONE WATCHIN NOW TOO. GOOD WORK ALIENATING YOUR AUDIENCE TOP CHEF!!!!
Good job Top Chef writers and producers. There was someone who came up with this week's story line and challenge. This person or persons also decided to tack on the ridiculous stipulation that two chefs had to suddenly become cart pushers? I hope that writer(s) knows they made a terrible mistake in story writing and their sense of creativity is insulting.
Why was it necessary to have two chefs push carts when even that aspect of the challenge was hardly aired at all? In a real dim sum restaurant, you don't only have two cart pushers. There are at least a dozen if not more in a restaurant of that size. So just throwing in a random two lost, confused Top Chef contestants seems pointless, humiliating, and in the end... a total waste of Top Chef talent. Totally an afterthought in my opinion, and just a silly challenge.
None of the viewers care about who can push the cart the fastest and prettiest, and to see some good talent go home because of it is truly disappointing. Sure Casey volunteered, but like others mentioned, I thought you aren't allowed to send a contestant home who didn't cook a dish? Let's be fair and stop with the excuses.
The judges can write a blog and defend their decision, but I have to say it is pretty clear based on the comments that you made a terrible decision, one that insults the viewers and our sense of reason.
I couldn't agree more with Dawndee. Jamie has continued to skate by, has continued to prepare easy meals and some how manages to get out of showing her food to the judges. She does not take any responsibilites for her own work like the other Chefs do. She should have stepped up to plate and taken the blame for her own food instead allowing that to fall on Jen. I don't and would never call her a chef. Maybe a cook if that. Jamie should have been booted a long time ago. She's a sorry excuse for a so-called chef!
I think it's interesting that only women offered to help in the dining room. The men stayed in the kitchen to tend to their dishes. Mmmm?
Reading Casey's bio...it indicates a background in Asian cooking. I would think she would have known what she was doing with chicken feet if she chose them. Certainly, there were other options she could have picked knowing she was going to be in the front of the house.
Amen! If they need wait staff...hire them. This is Top Chef...not Top Wait Staff. They should have kept Stephen around if they wanted to focus on front of the house. Volunteering for front of the house is an automatic ticket to the lower end at judges table.
I agree to a point. However, having been in one of these restaurants in Hong Kong during a trip (only once...I'm no expert)...the number of servers was minimal and the dishes were also a lot less. I recall at least 30 differnt dishes to be available on carts. These diners are also a different breed...they don't always wait for the carts to come around. If you really want something you go and get it as the cart enters the room. Sort of like a buffet. I think the chefs could have been briefed better about this type of restaurant and the typical types of cookware available. Their detailed plating was unnecessary. These chefs typically don't prepare food for the masses such as this.
In judging...Casey has performed well however the judging is done on the current challenge and not cumulative. I'd rather it be that way to see a true evaluation of the dishes as well as keep the suspense. Would I personally rather see Jamie go home? Yes...if given the choice, she should have went instead of Elia. Why she and Stephen are even there over some other past contestants is beyond me. I commend the judges in judging on the dishes...and not popularity.
Love the show! There is so much to like and enjoy when watching, even when the producers mess up, and mess up they did. How can you eliminate contestants when the competition is not equal in the responsibilities of all those involved?
Gail, you said that Casey had no one else to blame because she took on too much (paraphrasing here), but someone had to, and why is that? That is totally unfair and a huge disadvantage when you are solely judged on the food. Why have them work the front of the house at all? It is unnecessary and and most unfair.
Same with the tennis challenge - how do you have a competition where you are judged on the food you cook and don't taste everyone's dish? You are sending people home based on situations that don't take the most important aspect into account - the food and only the food - all judged equally and fairly.
It really is not in alignment with the show's stated goal of getting "the Top Chef" - it's not the best cart pusher we're watching for. Please make it fair.
I won't be watching any longer. This used to be a great show that was fun to watch and one could follow the reasoning of the judges even if one didn't agree. Now there is no rhyme or reason for the eliminations, or at the very least, no consistency.
I thought Jamie should have gone be sent home when she didn't help with the dish that she and Jen made, but the judges said that Jen was responsible for the failure because Jamie didn't help. Okay, it took me a few days to buy that excuse, but I eventually bought in and decided to start watching again. Now this week Casey is sent home for her dish when she wasn't the one responsible for preparing it? It makes no sense. Even if Casey volunteered (vs Jamie being injured), the challenge was set up in such a way that someone HAD to volunteer so she gets penalized for doing what the challenge dictated had to be done? And we all know that Jamie could have completed her service before going to the hospital. Ridiculous.
This show has gone the way of most reality TV. They keep people on the show for entertainment purposes despite ruining the credibility of the show and it's original intent. What a waste!
While I won't debate Casey's food being inedible, and therefore based solely on the criterion of worst food means a ticket home she deserved to be booted, there are a number of issues both specifically with this episode and more generally with the show.
First, as has been pointed out, the requirements were that the chefs were to cook as a team. Therefore, their epic failure should have hit all of them, and there should have been no winner, since the team failed miserably. If anything, this should have been a "do-over" episode as was done with a previous restaurant wars. I mean, from what we could see, none of them even asked if anyone had experience with dim sum, and if so, would they take the lead and explain what they could expect. I would think that would be the first thing they should have done.
Second, this is supposed to be a cooking show. Chefs don't bus tables, nor should they be required to do anything like it. If you're going to judge them on their cooking, let them cook and only cook. You got rid of the decor part of restaurant wars, so why introduce this ridiculous stipulation?
Third, would the producers, editors, and whoever else the powers that be are PLEASE stop with the boring BS and just show the damn cooking and judging?!? If we wanted to see drama, there are 4000 "Housewives of whatever city you want to name" to watch. Leave Top Chef alone and let the viewers see what they want -- chefs cooking fantastic food and informed critique of said food.
If this trend keeps up, not only will you continue to alienate viewers, but the reputations of everyone involved with the show will suffer as well.
I could not agree with you more! The production team owes a BIG apology to not only the chef's, but to the viewers. These are the "all stars"...we want to see them do what they do best, AND what we loved them for...watching someone go home after a flawed challenge isn't fu, it is frustrating!! I think Casey should have been given a save under the circumstances, and that Jaime should have gone home for actually being there and producing 2 terrible dishes.
Even you recognize that absolutely nobody should volunteer for any task other than to cook their food. Let the chefs cook as nobody wants to see them serve anything. It gives them no time to fix a dish when there's something wrong with it.
My first reaction upon reading your blog was "Poor You". Seriously. If servers had been available to get the food out to the diners, most of the problems would have been avoided. The way this was set up, it was bound to be a colossal failure. If a chef had not cooked and only served, they would have gone home for not cooking (unless, of course, that chef were Jamie). If a chef was unable to follow his or her dish through to completion because he or she was serving, how can he or she be held accountable? This was a complete no-win situation.
Mike did gthe right thing by not cooking and trying to expedite, since he had immunity. All of the other chefs should have been in the kitchen tending to their food. Because they tried to help out the team, they were penalized unfairly.
Casey knew how to cook her dish. Antonia did not execute it properly. She was too busy working on her own dish, and helping Jamie prep. Jamie made two very flawed dishes. Casey made an inedible dish because she was helping the team. Period.
If this had been better planned and thought out by the production team, you would have been spared your embarrassment, and perhaps the right person would have been eliminated.
First of all, Top Chef All Stars... give me a break!!! Most of these cheftestants should not be on an all star show. 2nd: The producer are horrible this year. The concept of these challenges are poorly done. In the tennis challenge, Jamie dosen't have to show her dish because her team lost already. Therefore she is not up for elimination. Now the dim sum challenge where the cheftestants have to cook for over 200 people and still serve food and be runners. Are you kidding me. I thought it was about the food. This season is a total waste of time. Casey gets sent home when she didn't even cook the chicken feet, but Jamie dosen't have to cook in the tennis episode and she stays. Where is the consistency in the rules. Antonia even mentions that she's cooking shrimp toast and admits to paying little attention to Casey's chicken feet. You can see Casey describing to Antonia how to cook the Chicken feet, and Antonia dosen't seem to be paying attention, and proves it by cooking the chicken feet wrong. Yet she stays. Antonia also made the green beans with Jamie and they were horrible. How can you mess up green beans working as a chef for a living. This season is getting worst every week. How disappointing!!!
Setting up a situation where three of the contestants are not allowed to fully concentrate on their food while competing with others who have no such constraints cannot be construed as a fair challenge. Arguing that Casey didn't HAVE to volunteer is not a viable excuse for this inequity; in fact, three people did have to volunteer or the task could not have been completed. If no one had been willing to expedite or to serve, then would the producers have abandoned this requirement? If so, why make it a requirement in the first place? If not, then someone did, in fact, have to volunteer.
The challenge as constructed was predestined to be unfair to three of the contestants and to put an unequal burden on them. Mike Isabella was immune from elimination; his sacrifice was not as great. The other two who "volunteered" ended up in the bottom and one went home. If they are required to serve as part of their competitive duties, then their quality of service (as far as they could control it) should ALSO have been a factor in their overall evaluation. We saw no evidence that it was.
This challenge was blatantly unfair. Don't do this again, Top Chef. And, if you do? Stop trying to justify it with "No one had to volunteer." Clearly, someone had to do these tasks and they were punished harshly for their team-player attitude.
I think these guys were set up for failure as soon as the challenge was announced. There's no way that a brigade that small could have served all of those dishes to all of those people. I am sure there are easily double that amount of people in the kitchen for a normal service. They would also have had plenty of people on the floor. Unless you prep and hold, catering style, there was no way this was going to work.
What is going on with this show this season? This is not Top Chef All Stars. It's more like Top Chef SCAMS!!
Jamie is just a joke but she's laughing all the way. Talk came out about Spike being the most crafty person ever on this show....I think we have a new winner for that title!!
The rules are never the same this year. Jamie got a pass for 2 weeks because she had no food to present when she KNICKED her finger, and she absolutley refused to send her dish to the tennis match! Well, Casey was volunteering to push carts and she didn't cook her food either. Jamie, thinking she is the SCALLOP queen sends out 2 bad dishes, that she actually cooked and is still in the running.
I have also seen this year that the producers have a lot more to do with who goes home than the judges do. Admit it, they keep around the (non-cooks) just to keep a good story or controversy going. This is truly the most scripted reality show on TV...I couldn't be more dissappointed and have watched this show since it's inception.
What's the next challenge? Frying an egg on a 118 degree New York sidewalk in the middle of August with no eggs and only worms, dirt and chewing gum? Ok, the vending machine challenge from a few seasons back was a 'fun-ny' quickfire, but c'mon! Would love to see Tom, Gail and Padma try and keep up with these ridiculous challenges. This season had SO much potential and it's been a wasted opportunity. Forget the theatrics and LET THE CHEFS COOK. Gail, I love you, and you go ahead and be as smarmy and defensive as you want, but you're a smart lady and you KNOW this season is not about cooking... It's about drama....and if we want drama we'll watch the housewives.
1. Like everyone else, I agree that Jamie needs to go. She has been a negative nancy all season and has not produced anything better than a talented home cook all season long.
2. Whether Casey expedited or not, chicken feet is not a piece of steak/chicken/pork/seafood that you can cook minutes before service to perfect and make edible. It takes a lot of time to cook thoroughly to even be deemed "edible." Something Casey obviously didn't do before she went upstairs to expedite before the final "15 minutes" before service. So whether Antonia threw those chicken feet in the wok or a fryer or if Casey was there to cook it herself, the end result would have been the same, "inedible." I think had Casey made anything that was edible, she wouldn't have been kicked off. Similar for Carla, her food wasn't good, but at least it was edible, that's why she didn't get kicked off. Food for thought. =)
I understand Casey's confusion - judges' table seemed so focused on Jaime and her two poor dishes, why wouldn't Casey be surprised when she was told to pack her knives and go? Maybe it was the editing. Or maybe the judges felt the need to rail on Jaime because she had escaped the previous two episodes by avoiding being judged. Either way, I felt sorry for Casey. She behaved with style and grace after recovering from her initial shock. I wish her well.
I will agree that the chefs should not have to be runners, however, they should have insisted the Mike be a runner since he had immunity. Having said that, Tiffany D was a runner and top 4 dish. Casey and Casey alone chose chicken feet.
I agree with Whatevs... Casey lost because she took the risk of volunteering for the job nobody wanted. So the lesson is never ever volunteer for the jobs that the producers force people to volunteer for. Be selfish and unprofessional, it's the only way to win.
That's total BS. I agree that Casey had to go home, but once again the Bravo producers are going out of their way to make the show stupid and obnoxious. Way to once again ruin what could otherwise be an awesome show, Bravo producers.
The next Quickfire should require the chefs to dress in tutus whiling picking and roasting chestnuts through osmosis.
Gail I watch reruns, that's how much I enjoy Top Chef. But the picture of Jamie hiding behind the table at the Tennis challenge when she was asked to go first has killed it all for me. Jamie, go home.
Thank you for the giggle. You rewarded the one person who said he could of helped more but didn't and axed the person who was trying to get out food. The only the you should be disgraced about is your judgment at the judges table.
Please, for the love of Top Chef, tell me that Jamie gets eliminated soon. If she skates by to the finale, I don't know that I'll be able to watch the show again. If you and Tom say Casey's chicken feet were inedible and that's why she went home, OK. I hate that for Casey, but the game's the game. However, I view Jamie as a huge cheater in this game and seriously hope that she's out of it -- the sooner, the better.
Cannot WAIT for the reunion episode. Please tell us that there's going to be one!
I truly sympathize with the judges. I know no one wanted to see Casey go, and I was personally hoping she'd stay much longer but it was clear even before JT that she was doomed. Your hands were tied. I'll always prefer bland food to bad food, and bad food to inedible food. As much as I would have loved to see Jamie booted, it would have cheapened the season because even though it pains me to say it, Casey clearly tempted fate and set herself up for the worst performance of that particular day.
I think what makes Jamie such a tough pill to swallow, even more so than some of the "skate-by" contestants of seasons past, is that she seems almost disdainful of the entire experience. In past seasons, contestants like Carla and Dale had dodged plenty of bullets but it was always clear that they were truly trying and they were actually improving over the course of the competition. It's fun to root for a dark horse like that. But Jamie looks like she flat out doesn't care and doesn't want to be there. Cut her loose, good riddance.
But seriously, there's going to be a reunion episode, right? Because I can't wait for Jamie to get her comeuppance when the viewers' comments are read and the contestants' gloves come off.
Lack of experience and orientation showed. I would not expect any of them to be able to cope in any fast food restaurant for a lunch rush. The least that should have happened was to have them eat at a dim sum restaurant during a busy lunch and them show them through the kitchen afterward. Whatever they've seen before in a tapas restaurant or the dim sum at a leisurely sit down place with reservations just mislead them.
Speed counted more than presentation, cook the product so it tastes good and is identifiable, get it on the right plates and do it again with a wide variety of products and do it now. 200 diners times 8 plates is 1,600 servings and that's just the beginning; 2,000-2,500 would be reasonable and more would not be outrageous. Of course, some capable person must be in charge of willing, working, organized team players - another factor that was missing.
It was not pleasant to watch when they were set up for mass failure. If humiliation is desired use the quickfire and basics: Each to carve a roast turkey into plated portions, white & dark meat (using the entire bird); each to open a dozen oysters and a dozen clams, leave on the half shell; each to hardcook 6 eggs and make 12 servings of deviled eggs; each to fabricate a crown roast of pork from a whole loin as delivered. Get it all done in whatever order or mix they choose but all must finish every task and judging, only when the contestant declares "finished", should be harsh with suitable time penalties in the elimination challenge using some of the above ingredients.
Get back to cooking and avoid management exercises when the participants can't be managed.
Dale and Angelo standing at the top for judging.
Really, a chef from Buddakan and a chef who acted as a consultant when Buddakan opened. Preparing good food in a Chinese kitchen. Cooking with all of the "unfamiliar" equipment, that THEY use every day.
Again compliments to the producers for creating a fair playing field.
Wait a minute ...
Compliments to the producers for producing one of the most unfair elimination challenges ever.
Casey was gone anyway a bad idea, poorly done. Nothing Antonia could have done would have saved the dish, simply required too much time to make edible.
I have to concur with most of the other comments. I do not understand what the point of this challenge was. If it was to highlight that some of the chefs have never worked in the kitchen with this equipment while others specialize in it every day they go to work, BRAVO! Yup, that was obvious. You really should have added the twist that those who didn't volunteer for the cart got to seat guests and be the greeter... fascinating. My heart is breaking for you Gail that you were humiliated because you got to eat first. Boohoo. Casey got to go home because she not only made a dish, but also worked the cart, while Jamie has not shown that she deserves to have any higher position than the cook at the local i-hop. Well done. I have taken this show of my DVR list...don't care how it ends, don't care "what happens next." I had really looked forward to this season to see the best of the best compete with their dishes, but it isn't about the food anymore, so what is the point.
Casey deserved to go. But the problem that she could've avoided is that if you're going to do such an immense challenge as chicken feet, you need to work with it from beginning to end. To have your competitors responsible for taking care of it seems awfully naive. It was sad when she came into the kitchen to find out her "teammates" didn't even know they were supposed to use the wok instead of the deep fryer. Sure she was trying to be the big person and be above all the pettiness of a competition. But competition brings out the worst in a lot of people and if you want to compete, you have to make sure you're on your toes and doing your thing. Depending on your competitors is crazy. There's also a problem with recent Restaurant Wars. In the early days of Top Chef, the restaurant attendees also had a hand in determining the top and bottom contestants. But now, it's all judges. And the contestants know that now. Make sure the best food goes to the judges, let the rest of the restaurant have the rest. They didn't go fast because all they worried about was what the judges had.
I'm surprised to see so many of the cheftestants being so Euro-centric. Using a wok or a steamer basket is not such an arcane skill. I'm surprised that nobody ever pointed out to Fabio that noodles are popular in Chinese food, too. Very few of the chefs seemed to understand that dim sum is accomplished with preparing and (usually) serving the food right out of the steamer basket, not with last-minute plating.
Gail, it was probably just a slip, but I'm disappointed that you equated "upscale" with "expensive European." I'm sure you've been to elegant and pricey dim sum restaurants in San Francisco, among other places. The cheftestants' failing isn't that they're trying to be upscale, it's that most of them refuse to look further East than Puglia.
This is probably the first Top Chef Challenge that was simply unfair and produced a unfair result.
The Chefs are there to cook -- not serve. When you impose a service responsiblity as part of a challenge, you take them away from cooking. If you are going to do that, then handicap all the chefs in that fashion. Casey got eliminated because she didn't cook her dish.
Gee, isn't that the rationale given for Jamie not getting eliminated in Week 2?
Gail, if you don't think Casey should have volunteered, then why did you make anyone volunteer? Making chefs be servers, especially when only some have to do it, is just plain stupid. Selfish and talentless people like Jamie skate by while great chefs like Casey fall. This is not the show we want to watch. Please stop with the stupid crap like serving, expediting, etc. Just let them cook, so Jamie has no choice but to actually stand on her own merit for once.
"Almost a dish", Jamie slides through again. This season is becoming more of a disapointment with each episode. The chefs should have stayed in the kitchen and the restaurants own servers used. All the chefs need to be able to compete on a level playing field. The contestants need to be judged and eliminated on overall performance, a grading scale, lowest overall score is eliminated. I believe that even Tom C. has had a bad day from time to time, and served a bad dish or two. All chefs do. Having been a chef for 30 years, I know I have. Enough of the gimmicks, Bravo, your embarrassing the chefs, judges, and insulting the intelligence of your viewers.
Chefs, as a cook on Navy Submarines, heed my words and remember what NAVY, stands for: Never Again Volunteer Yourself.
Marcel, MSG as a secret ingredient, really, hope you were joking!
Richard and Carla, it's yours to win, I'm in your corner.
Gail, I'm disappointed by your repeated use of the word "upscale" to mean "expensive European." Dim sum can be quite pricey and quite elegant as well. It has been disheartening to watch Season 7 and now Season 8 contestants make out that Asian food is in some way inferior to European food; I'm sad that you have chosen to back up their implication with a poor choice of words.
It's understandable that Top Chef focuses mostly on chefs who specialize in French food, and it's great that you have some who are trained in Asian food as well. Of course French-trained and CIA-trained chefs are going to specialize in European cuisine. Really, though, the chefs' ignorance reflected poorly on them. Dim sum uses dipping sauces, not drizzles; it uses steamer baskets with food arranged before steaming, not last-minute garnishes and finicky plating.
I want to know why those customers were so hungry as you keep stating. Didn't they know a show was being taped? So stereotypical.
its called top chef, not top personality. why didnt d or a let the other contestants know how a dim sum kitchen is run? uh, because maybe theyre contestants in a competition? just taking a WILD guess there.
jamie hasnt gone home because even tho she stinks, one chef seams to mess up magnanomously... so shes skirted by. what is up with people thinking producers keep schmucks like jamie on for drama purposes... just watch the show as it unfolds and stop thinking youve figured out some silly conspiracy.
YOU were uncomfortable? Multiply that by about 10,000,000 and you will know how the viewers felt. This was a fascinating, but very poorly executed, concept. First of all, there should have been some brief explanation to the contestants (and viewers) about what they would be required to do and what/how a restaurant like this operates. Dim sum preparation and restaurant experience is unlike anything else, and should not be supposed to be universally understood. Secondly, why were 3 of the chefs completely removed from the kitchen? Servers should have been provided. This was a total Top Chef production debacle, and not a true reflection of the actual chefs involved.
This elmination was flawed. It required two runners so Casey was "sacrificed" because she took one for the team and could not work on her dish. She could not work on her dish because someone had to be the runner. Producers should be blamed for this one!
I agree with some of the other viewers. If this was a "team" challenge why wasn't the "team" judged as a whole like in other past challenges??? I've noticed a severe trend that whoever is a better team player and volunteers to do the extra "waiter" service - as well as being responsible for a dish - ends up in the bottom. That just doesn't seem right or fair to me. They should be judged JUST on their dish - and not take them away from the preparation of that dish and leaving it to someone else who has absolutely no proprietory interest in it. They don't get extra credit for volunteering to run the carts but they sure are penalized for it. This challenge was interesting but I feel the judging was unthought about and unfair.