Team Top Chef's Senior Editor passes on the advice of her wise high school tennis coach.

Dec 21, 2010

Hello my little ball boys and girls! Thank you so much for your comments on my last entry, and I want to start by responding to a few of them. First of all, thank you, "DCFoodie," welcome to my blog! "andy boy," I think your line-up does sound kind of awesome. I don't know exactly who was asked to participate this season, but we did get a great response back from the people asked. I think Andy said in the TV Guide cover story that about 90% of the chefs asked were able to participate. Unfortunately that leaves 10% who couldn't, for one reason or another -- some things are just out of our control! I think we can all agree, though, that this cast is pretty fantastic. Finally, transcripts of Eric's vlog are back by popular demand! So, "hard of hearing," and the other commenters who requested it, can rejoice!

Also, before I get to this week's challenges, I wanted to share a very memorable meal I had this week. I finally ate at Dan Barber's Blue HIll NYC this past weekend, and let me tell you, it's as good as you've heard! My former editors got me a gift certificate to the farm-to-table heaven last Christmas, and I only just used it! I participated in the tasting menu, called the Farmers' Feast, and every course was fresh and satisfying. Unlike some other tasting menus, I didnt' feel sickeningly full by the end, which was nice. The service was impeccable and one bottle of wine was paced perfectly through the meal by our dorky, yet adorable server.

OK, now, onto this week's episode, in which the chefs first had to compete in a very difficult Quickfire Challenge -- they had to create stuffing for Chef Tony Montuano ... without chefs' tools! Now, we've done something sorta similar once where we took away the chefs' electricity. This time, they had electiricty, but no tools. I honestly don't know which one is harder -- I"m thinking this one because the chefs didn't even have knives this time around! Some of them were more resourceful than others, like Fabio using a shelf to grate his cheese (ew?), but in the end Chef Montuano was satisfied with the overrall result. Anthony Bourdain has the funniest comment about Fabio's resourcefulness in his blog, so you should probably read that. Tre won with his Southwestern take on the traditional dish, and althoguh I can't eat food that's too spicy, I really wanted to try this. The three bottom dishes, offered by Casey, Carla, and Tiffani just weren't stuffings. Oops!

Onto the Elimiation Challenge, where the chefs participated in a challenge inspired by the only sport I am any good at -- tennis! Yes, that's right -- the chefs had to create dishes for the athletes particpating in the U.S. Open. And as a total aside, how cute were the top chef tennis ball cans the Elves created? I wonder where those end up. I'll have to find out, and get back to you guys! 

Spike's team actually had a strategy, and that was to put their worst dish out first, so that the other team would "waste" their best dish. There was just no way this was going to work out. And then to tell Tom the plan from the beginning so that he already knows the first dish is the "the worst?" What were they thinking?! Anyway, Jamie sort of put a wrench in the whole strategy and ultimately doesn't present a dish at all. Eric Ripert has some choice words about Jamie, and although I don't know if I agree with all of it, when we were filming his vlog, I literally lost it. I was laughing so hard I started crying because I don't know that I've ever seen him get so fired up -- except about this. Basically, Spike's whole team falls apart, not knowing who to send out when, and although they had a couple wins, in the end, they lose. They should've prepared for good food at every course. You can't hide a weak link.