Bravotv.com's Senior Editor works herself up over the Quickfire Challenge.
Feb 1, 20110
Hello my little bandanas. (Bandanas of course being a reference to Quickfire guest judge Isaac Mizrahi's signature schmatta.) Before we get into this week's episode, let us catch up on the first seven episodes, shall we?
Did you spot my Tarantino-esque cameo? Its' embarrassing, but awesome, and is the handiwork of Ms. Courtney Pollard, the video's editor.
OK, now that we're all caught up, let's start with this week's Quickfire, which was literally all about presentation. We actully had a similar challenge on Top Chef: Just Desserts if you recall. I remember thinking then that some people might not "get" the challenge because flavor is paramount in cooking, and I have a feeling fans might feel that way even more so with this series, but I'm prepared to defend it (y'know, if it were my place to do so.) Presentation is important, and I thought it was appropriate to have Isaac Mizrahi, legendary fashion designer, to judge the challenge. Would he even want to eat the food based on its looks? Although I have a feeling most of our viewers, and probably the chefs too, prepare their dishes for a restaruant setting, there are a lot of food services, especially outside the restaurant business, that rely on appearance. For example, if you go to a restaurant and order something, chances are you don't know what the actual dish will look like, but you probably wouldn't send it back based on its appearance. However, it's more likely that you stop at an eatery daily where apperance matters. Are you going to scoop yourself up some of that gross-looking soup? Probably not. This challenge obviously wouldn't have worked as an Elimination Challenge, but it wasn't, so let's move on! (Don't you love how I just spent a whole paragraph defending a challenge you may not have had any qualms with in the first place?)
Either way, Richard won. I wonder what Isaac would have thought of Hung's Mushroom Fantasy from Season 3. Hmmm.
Loving the WIC idea. A friend of mine with a small child had been receiving it, and while of course it was better than nothing, it was tough. I like the idea of the ingredients being so limited -- no heavy cream, NON-albacore tuna -- no "Whole Paycheck." Let's see it!
Once you overcook a mussle there is no trick to take back the cooking. It sounds like the winning mussles was spot on for taste due to perfect cooking and seasoning. Italian cooking is about cooking more with less. My polish grandmother arrived in US at age of 12. She lived with her sisters in NYC. They married waiters. My gram, got the good catch - a head waiter in a well known resurant. Everything was fine. Since she lived next to the Italians she learned to cook many Italian dishes. At the age of 15 she was married with three boys and her husband caught whopping caugh. She made her way to Conn and lived nearby the Polish Jews - who continued her cooking education. She was a catholic widow. Most of all after having 5 children - 4 boys who were all over 6 feet tall- you learned to cook alot from less and it tasted wonderful.
Also cooking gravy was starting with tomatoes and adding what you had to the mix. Left over or meat products (the bones, skins and yuky stuff is what gave it flavor) that no wanted, a big splash of wine or whiskey,some whole carrots, celerly, garlic smashed.
This challenge brought me back to sitting around my gram's table waiting to put a piece of bread into the gravy. She never made it the same way twice, yet each was better than before. Even my small dog got a scoop of gravy on his dry food. After all it was Sunday Diner. Thank you for making me remembering those wonderful times.
I always love it when they do more real life challenges vs. the yuzu jelly type stuff... like the $10 dinner thing a few years back that Antonia won (I think.).. or the neighborhood fridge block party thing. Why not do a WIC challenge? In NYC, on WIC, one can get a ton of 1% or skim milk (but no higher fat), 1 lb dried legumes, 6 cans of light non albacore tuna, 36 oz of cereal (Cheerios, Kix, etc.), one loaf of whole wheat bread, one package of tofu, 64 oz juice, 1 dozen large eggs, and $6-10 for fresh fruits and veggies. Let's see the Top Chef judges come up with a meal or two on that... or on a typical food stamp budget. Send them shopping in a 99 cents store or Wal-Mart...not Whole Foods... or maybe one of the Middle Eastern or Indian groceries.
I am sad to see Tre leave, but I was disheartened to see the way the other chefs responded to Antonia when she won. Typically they clap and say congratulations. It did not happen here.... OK maybe one person clapped. According to everyone who tasted her plate, it was the clear winner. Chefs, you need an attitude adjustment!
Although I wasn't crazy about this Quickfire I didn't hate it as much as some viewers. We do "eat with our eyes first" and the first thing I thought of when Richard presented his dish was Ansel Adams, so Richard was right on target. I thought Fabio nailed the "inspiration" idea though. At first I wasn't going to bother watching your little video clip but I'm very glad I did.....very funny! It is o.k. to like Marcel Monica, there is something intriguing about him....the fact that most viewers want to personally strangle him, including (or maybe especially!) me, just gives us all a common cause & makes for great water cooler conversation!
I've watched every season and tonight's quickfire was, without a doubt, the dumbest challenge ever. If you want to make presentation part of the equation, that's fine. But to COMPLETELY not consider taste?? No matter how great a dish looks, if it tastses bad, it's a bad dish. Good food can overcome poor presentation, but no amount of good presentation is going to save bad food. Let's hope that TC doesn't use this challenge again in future seasons!!
That was the dumbest quickfire challenge ever. I would have respected any chef who mailed it in. Unlike the rest of Bravo, Top Chef is about food, not fashionista's and drama queens. If it were you'd lose a viewer. What's next, bringing in RuPaul and asking the Chefs to design a bedroom toy with food?
Congratulations -- the Isaac Mizrahi-judged Quickfire was the absolute dumbest challenge in the history of the Top Chef franchise. Judging food on how it looks instead of how it tastes? A pile of feces can be dressed up to look like chocolate, but would you want to eat it? And for Richard -- a nice enough guy, it seems, and obviously a decent cook or he wouldn't be on the show -- to win with a plate that looked like it was coated with volcanic ash? It doesn't make any damn sense. At least whatever gains he made with winning that challenge had no bearing on the outcome of the Elimination Challenge, thank goodness.
And yeah, Mike should have gone home. But if you take anything away from this, please -- no more Quickfires like this. 15 minutes of television absolutely wasted.