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.
I few weeks back I submitted a post about the lackluster quality of the Top Chef recipes on the bravo website - interestingly, that comment never showed up. The moderator must have decided that it is something the "Bravo Team" doesn't care to address.
Additionally, while I appreciate some of the insights you have from "behind the scenes" the writing style leaves a lot to be desired. It is hard to read your posts (that is to say, to follow your thoughts and the point you're trying to make about the show) when you change tense in the middle of a sentence. Writing in an overly familiar style is also quite distracting and perhaps some attention to rules of syntax would improve the readability of this area of the site, and the enjoyment of the users of the Bravotv.com website. Your enthusiasm for the show is clear, but to honor how excited you are for the show, I imagine I'm not the only reader who feels that better readability would amp us up even more, too.
My only comment about the whole Jaime left vs. Carla stayed debate is this: If you need stitches, nothing is going to change that. If the cut was on open flesh deep enough to need stitches, you really should get them, especially if you work with food. They're a mess, they bleed everywhere (up and out of gloves, even through bandages) and if it -is- that deep, infection is an issue. I think she's made a very poor showing anyways and has managed to literally squeeze by with only the smallest of margins, but stitches are stitches. Jaime had never had them, was nervous, and decided to go to the hospital. I can't fault her for that, despite my many problems with her cooking and attitude this season.
When you slice off/tear off a fingernail, there is literally nothing they can do for you except maybe put some lidocaine on it, put a pressure bandage on it and send you on your way. You can't stitch that, you can't butterfly that. It's a 'well, here's some pain medication, have a nice day' kind of wound, and I think Carla understood that and made the decision to stay and work through the pain. She did so and managed to make a beautiful, winning dish (that oh man, I -really- want to try!).
Okay. That aside, I love your blogs! You're always witty and have well thought out commentary and I can't wait to see more in your next blog.
Unlike CuriousCook, aka DebbieDowner, I LOVE your blogs! This is TopChef, not TopSchool, so if ya don't like the recipes, writing on the blogs, etc. why watch?! Wah-Wahh!!!
Please keep up the GREAT work! :)
BTW - Best.Show.Ever!!!!
"And that, my dear readers, is why I'm not on Top Chef."
This line was hilarious to me and I really don't know why. Perhaps because I am totally addicted to this show and my husband always asks me why I don't cook more if I love watching people cook so much. I finally gave in, went to the kitchen and presented him with a delicious serving of "heat and eat" mac n' cheese. How's that for gourmet cooking?
Love the blog, love the season!
Where was Angelo in the Quickfire? He was shown during preparation, but did not present a dish and was not on camera when they showed the lineup during judging. It was great to see Carla's "homey" soup win. I've watched since the 1st Season, and am a huge fan. The first few episodes of this series had caused me to despair - when did the ego of a Chef become more important than a consumers enjoyment? The use of the latest Fad ingredients and techniques (is anybody besides me already over "puree") does not make a great dish, and is not what the great majority of diners are looking for. It seemed like some of the Restauranteur/Contestants had lost sight of that. Both challanges in this episode focused on flavor and the needs of the customer, so thanks.
I disagree about this being a fantastic group. It's okay, not fantastic. Having Cheftestants that came in fith, sixth, or seventh in their seasons should not be on a Allstar lineup. Would you put a MLB team that came in 6th in the playoffs. Not Likely. Once Jamie and Mike Isabella are eliminated then the season will be more competitive. Good riddence to Spike.
Tried to post over on Tom's blog, but it's not there so thought I would repeat here. To ensure that the challenge is fair to all chefs, all the chefs should be required to have their dishes tasted. The judges could decide who won out of each pair but not announce until after all dishes are tasted. Then they could announce the results in a manner similar to Jeff Probst reading the tribal council votes on Survivor.
To Curious: Critical much?
To blogger: I love hearing where and what you eat. I'm on the West coast and don't think I'll ever get to that great food on the East coast. Therefore, I taste vicariously through you. Instead of just saying you had the tasting menu, could you tell us a few of the dishes you ate? What farm fresh ingredients did they have on hand that day?
I completely disagree on this. Some chefs were eliminated simply due to bad luck or a bad day. Take Jen for example, who was eliminated in episode TWO of this season. However, is she a bad chef? No. Absolutely not. Anyone who saw her in her season or looks at her pedigree and her current success can say definitively that she was probably one of the most talented there. Tre, Mike, and Spike are all VERY successful in their respective careers, which I think was probably a factor in them being asked to participate. Spike especially, who frankly didn't show THAT much talent in his season but has gone on and done very well for himself.
Jamie definitely should go though, for the simple fact that, if she doesn't exhibit her cooking skills, she basically doesn't have any - and why are you in a cooking competition if you don't want to cook?
Top Chef is the only current show that I never miss. I'm constantly amazed with the creativeness of each of the chef/contestants. I'm not a cook at all, my wife thankfully is and she is good!! My currrent favorite contestant is Carla Hall, not just for her cooking but her enthusiasm and personality as well. I ultimately think that Richard Blais will end up at this series Top Chef. It will fuin watching as the weeks wind down
Thanks for the shout out! Loved it...Love the blog! Without being rude (as everyone is entitled to their opinion), but I believe that Blogs are so successful, because they are people's random thoughts. They should make you feel like you are talking to the person (we just can't respond). They should make you laugh, cry, etc and sometimes you just might learn something. Your.Blog.Does.That. Soooooo those that choose to read (because we do have a choice), should read for enjoyment. Anything other reason, just doesn't make sense to me.
Ok...I wasted my time on that, so my TC thoughts will be brief. Jaime should have been sent home. Not for her cut, not for not cooking THIS one dish...but just overall, she just appears to be the least skilled of the group. She is CLEARLY a better cook than I am (she would win hands down). But I would not make it to Top Chef, unless they decide to have a TC season that is solely based on cooking things that are frozen or out of the box. #I'mjustsaying
P.S. Feel free to continue to post those types of let's call them "interesting" comments about your 'Top Chef' thoughts. You have enough supporters on here to keep you going! :)