Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson breaks down the first Canadian challenge -- and shares a little U.S. history in the process.

on Feb 14, 20120

 

Final Four. Vancouver madness. The chefs are forced to walk through the rain from the airport. I would gladly walk through the rain in Vancouver over 112 F in Dallas. Loved Texas, but it was the hottest summer I have ever experienced. 

You expect Padma to pop up at any moment and surprise them with a Quickfire in the airport parking lot. And that’s exactly what happens in note form. Lindsay is still harping on herself. Bev is still on cloud nine but seems more assertive than before. They have their snowsuits on. Bev may have A Christmas Story moment at any time, falling down in her snowsuit and unable to get up. Windy at the top of Whistler and Tom and Padma are literally getting blown away. Tom is dressed in his Merchant Marine best, but the man looks pretty warm. I need to chat up wardrobe all nice and stuff to get that type of parka. 

I paid no attention to the rules, so this should be interesting. Gondala. Cook. Stop. Cook. 

Paul is having travel sickness due to his orange pants. Sarah is all over the place. Bev is focused, or as focused as Bev can be. Lindsay is pretending this is like hunting gator in a Jon boat in the Okefenokee swamp. She is dressed like a Bond villainess, white turtleneck with black hat, making this gator hunt more interesting. I always loved the Bond skiing scenes. 

60 comments
:)
:)

Mr. Acheson, I love your writing style. You make me laugh out loud while making spot on observations. But the biggest plus: You mentioning James K. Polk. I lived in his hometown of Columbia, TN for a couple of years, and you couldn't really escape the Polk history. I also highly suggest that you check out the town's Mule Day Parade. Yes, a parade dedicated to the horse/donkey combo. (I see your wannabe-Canadian-speaking coach and raise you in livestock and parades...).

Chef's Mom
Chef's Mom

Yes, it's all getting "lame" as the kids say. It's like Top Chef Survivor. My disinterest in the show is accelerating. Kitchen life is a soap opera, that part I can take, but the gimmicks are getting ridiculous. Especially at the end of the season just give these chefs a decent kitchen w/good equipment and ingredients and let their skills fly. It's just getting demoralizing, and I feel sorry for them. I did enjoy seeing Padma show _some_ genuine emotion after all these seasons; I guess she isn't made of stone. Tom clearly looked like he was not enjoying the frigid winds on the mountaintop- bet he was thinking WT_, too. From reading all the previous comments, I conclude that this show is going to lose a lot of viewers if it doesn't consider our concerns....we can't be the only ones feeling this way !

pikeebee
pikeebee

Glad you're back Hugh... love your snarky honesty. I knew I'd found a kindred soul when on WWH you named Guy Fieri as "Most Over-rated Celebrity Chef!" The All Fieri All the Time Network - oops, Food Network - could learn a little from some of the responses here. Top Chef seems to now be playing to the lowest common denominator also. Foodies and true Top Chef fans want to see skills in the kitchen and fabulous recipes. They don't want to see arctic survival skills any more than they want to see some self-indulgent caricature of cool stuffing his face in re-run after re-run. Please Bravo, try to regain your self-respect and a bit of respect for your audience too... less cheesy (and I'm not talkin' Gruyere) gimmicks, more legitimate food preparation and competition.

Viewersacb bmd
Viewersacb bmd

I cringed at the heat in Texas (lived there) but the cross country skiing was over the top dangerous.......a bad accident waiting to happen...especially after I saw the bruises on Beverly and Sarah's hands. I would hate to see the size of the bruises on their hips and knees. Re-think next season...think safty.

Top chef Fan
Top chef Fan

As always this season your blog never disappoints. I agree with the other comments, your blogs have been better than the show. This season has been very disappointing and it has to do with the focus on gimmicks rather than the ability of the chefs to cook. You have been the one bright spot. Thank you again and again for your comments and insight into the challenges.

kathleen Kilmartin
kathleen Kilmartin

I agree with those above. You write a entertaining blog . Much better than this whole season of the show. I don't care about chili cookoffs in 112 degees,steak frys -done it - or riding bicycles into strangers kitchens. Can't remember what was cooked ! Isn't cooking the point of the show ? But this last one on the top of a mountain in a moving gondola, not mention shooting and s(almost) skiing - WTF ??? If you want mean girls -just have the Housewives of Bravo on the show . Top Chef has been "dumbed down" . so bad so sad.

TCbores
TCbores

Your blog quickly became the only good thing about this show.

MarioCkeepsthaCityCLean
MarioCkeepsthaCityCLean

Enough with the Amazing Race already. The best episodes have been where they get to cook individually (enough with the team challenges!)

/upvote shipwreckedcrew

TCAddict
TCAddict

I am disappointed in this season. The challenges haven't been up to past quality and there've been far too many team challenges. And please, Bravo, STOP telegraphing outcomes with the teary phone calls & personal stories. You can pretty much figure out what will happen based on who gets camera time. You're not as bad as Project Runway but you're getting there. Enough gimmicky challenges; make it about the food. Go Paul!! (I would love to see another female win but those two haven't shown much professional behavior or leadership.)

Food Watcher
Food Watcher

I detest bullies and this season has been a taste treat of some of the worst examples on television. Now the show decides to mount its own bully contest by putting two women who have never been on skis on a course where Beverly ends up so bruised she looks as if she's been beaten by one of the horrible contestants that have constantly put her down. Chin up, Bev. You did great. A tiger, you are. Paul, go get 'em. The other two don't even deserve a mention.

Viewer from MIchigan
Viewer from MIchigan

I can't wait to see the Toxic Twins, Sarah and Lindsay, taken down one by one in the last episodes. Sarah's resolution when she arrived in Canada to be "a really nice person" fell apart in the car, when she interrupted Bev's answering Paul about LCK by saying, "Look at that tree!" And then she and Lindsay snickered with each other over Bev's head. It just went downhill from there (No pun intended.)

These two belong in a fast-food chain with other teenage employees with Attitude. They are NOT professionals; they are immature and spiteful and don't deserve the Top Chef title. Go, Paul!

Viewer in PA
Viewer in PA

Please, Please, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!! Cut the gimmicks next season! I want to watch a cooking show, not this garbage that was put on this season. I TOTALLY agree with "shipwreckedcrew"'s comments. Where are the displays of culinary genius we witnessed on previous season? Why have the producers of Bravo lowered their standards? Top Chef started as a classy, intelligent and entertaining cooking contest. Now it is turning into a nearly classless, weak premised attempt for ratings. Tom seems disinterested and Padma is being given corny lines to deliver. Where are the reputable chefs who used to appear and offer intelligent critique? I truly miss the old BRAVO.

go crew
go crew

I'm such a baseball nerd that my first thought about Corey Hart was of the Milwaukee Brewers' outfielder. And my second thought was "he's Canadian?" My third and final thought is that I adore your blog. Keep your stick on the ice.

James V
James V

"Sarah gets the 'Tough rabbit' from Gail but I think it's kind of splitting hares."

Boooooooo

Food Watcher
Food Watcher

Top Chef has been one of my favorite shows but the bullying that has gone on this season is disgusting. Heather, Sarah and Lindsey should have been eliminated on those grounds alone. Ugly, ugly performances. And then the show itself goes on a bullying spree and asks two women who've never been on skis to fall all over the ice and snow. Broken legs? Broken ankles? Any minute now. Bev was so bruised she was purple. Too much bullying Top Chef. It's tough in the kitchen but this performance was a really badly conceived dish. Low marks all around.

Toni WS
Toni WS

Killer last two lines Hugh!

QQ
QQ

Hugh, your blog is the reason I ever logon to the Top Chef website because its better than the show for much of this season.

I've been telling my casual viewer friends that this season is Top Chef - Survivor edition, so I'm guessing next season is Top Chef: Chef vs Wild or Top Chef: Apprentice edition?

What can I say, there is continuous blast of Beverly doing Asian, it hardly seems fair (unless its all been edited out) that Sarah makes 5 versions of risotto, ravioli, or soup alternately the whole season. At least Asian encompasses a continent with almost 50 countries, Italy is boot sticking out of Europe. I'll need to get over that bit.

Also, Bev actually participated in more challenges than Sarah. I do recall Sarah heatstroking out of one the team challenges only to feel better in the knick of time to serve the judges then fall ill right afterwards. She also elected automatic advancement in the pre-finals challenge when she won that quickfire for soup....

JLHaspels
JLHaspels

Ilove your blog. It's funny, witty and truthful. "Splitting hares." OMG, make me LOL too much. BTW, you Canadians can take back Celine Dion.

azuremountain
azuremountain

I feel sorry for these poor chefs who had to go on a frozen holiday and put up with absurd challenges (but it was entertaining, I have to admit.) But the ice block challenge was downright unfair as men have so much more upper body strength. I'm mystified at the cattiness of the two remaining women chefs, Beverly may have violated chef protocols in the kitchen but she never did anything mean like they did. Cutting her off so rudely Sarah? I thought you were going to be a nice person. Go Paul.

Peyton Polk
Peyton Polk

OH, My Hugh. I love your blog! I was so spazzy excited about you including Pres. Polk. Also, this was the stupidest episode and what in the h*ll does skiing have to do with being a chef? SOOOOO boring. i didnt even watch the whole thing, i fast forwarded the dvr (to the end) to watch the inevitable elimination of good ol' Beverly... cause its been less about cooking and all about mistaking kindness for weakness and beating down Beverlys every attempt to be positive. Also, Lindsay, CONGRATULATIONS on being your prom queen. and no one will admit it, but did anyone ever REALLY like their prom queen. come on now, be honest.

MY OPINION, but the prettier you are, or more cheerful, or God forbid different, or the better that you get along with a team of men at work, the more the 'mean girls' give you grief. Men argue with you, but as soon as they see you working and pulling your weight, they let it go. Much easier to build a happy workplace that way. and Sarah, GEEEEZ, do you have to complain about EVERYTHING. Reallly SARAH, REALLY? I mean come on SARRRAAHHHH,,,,,,,, REALLLLLLY???? If you talk to people like that in your kichen, like... if someone is using your electric outlet, do you have to make them feel like a jerk? You could try "hey, greedypants, move your dang blender" Artsy people are wacky, it makes the world beautiful.

Season 1, when Harold won, it was said over and over that he could lead a team, people respected him, and treating people well was part of his comanding of a kitchen. He wasnt mean, he didnt have to be. I just could care less about the last episodes this season, and if paul doesnt win, i cant imagine why. The best part of the whole show has been "last chance kitchen", and "watch what happens".

projrunfan
projrunfan

Hugh, I love to read your blog. As others have said, they can be better than the show. By the way, is the name of the show "Top Chef" or "Girls Behaving Badly?" I tried to catch up and watch the show on On Demand. After the "girls" started being rude again I realized I didn't care, and I turned it off. I'll read your blogs without watching the show. It's better entertainment.

I hope Paul wins. He seems like a good person as well as a good chef. There is value in that.

Nashville
Nashville

Jeez some of the challenges this week seemed cruel just for the sake of entertainment! I don't know what extracting food from ice blocks has to do with how good of a chef you are. I like the challenges that really inspire the chefs, like the mentor challenge or the evil queen one.

disappointed fan
disappointed fan

why is top chef becoming more and more like a circus each week and not about the chefs' talents? soon, they have to start doing cartwheels across football fields and cooking food at the same time. I mean come on. This show is starting to lose its credibility and to have such a ridiculous round so close to the finals is just pure gimmick. I hope top chef returns back to its former glory where food is the real star of the show and not just circus acts. top chef, please know that we watch because we want to see real talent. you have to start learning who your audiences are again.

David Galloway
David Galloway

always enjoy your blog. They should have axed the Olympic champs for an Athens master chef. you're a lot funnier. The gondola, ice picks, and biathalon were stupid gimicks. Let them cook. And why go to Canada on a Texas series. What's up with that? by the time they filmed that, the Texas summer heat was long gone. I can not understand why this is the only show I make sure I catch. Maybe not if the zany shenanigans continue.

stlfan
stlfan

I agree with the other posters, and am only adding my comments so that the producers hear it again: HATED this episode. I know it is hard to come up with new ideas each week, but at this level in the competition it is disappointing to see so many non-cooking curveballs. Motion sickness (gondola), strength (ice blocks), athleticism (skiing and shooting) have NOTHING to do with cooking ability. Even Paul seemed mildly annoyed at these challenges, and showed grace in helping the others out. Aside from being a nice guy, I imagine he also had no interest in winning based on how fast he could chop food out of blocks of ice. Know your fans Bravo!

shipwreckedcrew
shipwreckedcrew

This has been the lamest, dumbest, most difficult to watch season of Top Chef ever. Last night was just the "ice" on the cake, in a manner of speaking.

I don't know if they changed production teams or what happened, but turning TC into a cross between Survivor and Galloping Gourmet makes it not worth watching.

Just 3 seasons ago they had the most outstanding collection of young kitchen talent they ever assembled. We've had challenges in past years involving making a dish using a chicken, potato and onion at the FCI in front of the legendary teaching staff. We had the challenge asking them to make the "Last Meal" for culinary giants, including Jacques Pepin and Lidia Bastianich; we had the contest involving preparing a presentations platter for Bocuse d'Or in 24 hours, which they served to Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jerome Bocuse, among others; we had the All-Star season where they cooked at Rao's; and I could go on and on.

This year we had Pee Wee Herman's great Bicycle Race, a 200 hundred guest steak dinner, and a chili cookoff. I know that one of the best pots of chili I ever made came from me just dumping random assortment of ingredients and spices in a large stock pot and turning it on low for about 12 hours.

Maybe they knew at casting that they had a particularly weak set of candidates, and it would show if they just had them cook straight-up. Instead we get all these stupid gimmicks that just get in the way of the cooking, where the contest is all about who can overcome the handicap the best.

Unless they revert to form, I won't be paying much attention in seasons to come.

Top Chef & Hockey fan
Top Chef & Hockey fan

Ken Dryden!! and how about Cammi Granato?! Is there any chance that you could get Darren Pang to provide color commentary on the show???? Love your blog - actually am enjoying it more than the show. But what is with these ridiculous non-food/cooking related challenges? I watch the show because I love watching creative chefs cook. I am not interested in watching them hack ingredients out of ice, try miserably to ski or shoot, bike around their food, or other wacky gimmicks. I loved watching the Voltaggio brothers cook amazing food and I don't care that they probably can't skate backwards while doing it. I feel ripped off with the current focus on gimmicks. Maybe the producers felt the current chefs weren't as good as previous contestants and so it's ok to treat them like trick ponies instead of chefs??

LeoR
LeoR

Hugh, You are the best thing about this season and I agree with the comments that your blog is better than some of the episodes. Why have you not been on more?. Tom seems to be just phoning it in this season and Padma is well ...Padma. I hate the gimmicks especially when you are down to final four. I have been rooting for another woman to win Top Chef ever since Stephanie,but this year ugh. I am hoping Paul wins. In my opinion he is the only one who deserves it and I can't stomach Lindsay or Sara.

fleur
fleur

Hugh, as many have already written, your blog is so entertaining and way better than the episode itself. I was a little peeved when it looked like whoever could shoot a gun best would win. So glad it didn't go down that way. Hope you get to write a book or something, Hugh.

Sorceressss
Sorceressss

Hugh, great blogs, thanks for keeping us smiling all season. Unfortunately, this has been my least favourite seaons of Top Chef, like so many other people here, I've had enough of the gimmicks. Tom seems checked out most of the time on the show. Sarah was the most wretched contestant I have ever seen on this show (Lindsey being a close second) I hope and pray she gets called out for that during the reunion. I was going to scream if I saw Sarah giving Beverly the evil side eye one more time!

Ohio Viewer
Ohio Viewer

Hugh rocks!! Love your take on everything. When Bev and Mean Sarah passed each other on the cross county trail, did anyone else think Bev's ski pole tip caught Sarah's pole and made her go kerplunk? Good job, Bev! Team Paul all the way!!!!

Gerry in CT
Gerry in CT

Please, please, please may Paul win....since Sarah is a monster (and I am sure that comes thru in the food) and Lindsay has the personality of a drowned lab rat. LOVE your blog, Hugh!!

Subhadeep
Subhadeep

"dam yankee" .... next week's episode and all of the season is fully recorded before they even broadcast the 1st week of the season so nothing can be changed at this point. AND I think I saw from the preview to eliminate the 3rd chef next week's episode has a 150 dish cooking challenge. So embrace yourself for another mass cooking!

LucyC
LucyC

Witty and so entertaining! Love your blog Hugh! I don't know about Heather kicking you ass though.. she's all bark.. you can take her!

CRL
CRL

I love reading your blog, especially the part about Bev's elimination making Padma cry for the first time. There have been some unpleasant characters on Top Chef and other reality shows, but Sarah is the only one that makes me NOT want to watch the remaining episodes. She is thoroughly disgusting inside and out.

NOT COOL
NOT COOL

I don't know who you are.........please bring back ANTHONY BOURDAIN!!!!!!!

KnowingLeigh11
KnowingLeigh11

Sigh.........I am so glad he's back! I'm just a Hughe fan!

kritty60
kritty60

I agree with previous posters: reading your recap blog is better than watching the show. You have a wickedly fun sense of humor. Looking forward to your recap of the finale. Oh and please recap the reunion show. That should be a hoot!

hildymarie1
hildymarie1

Thanks for making this season humorous -- certainly it has been a tough one. Very sadly, we have witnessed women acting like unprofessional chefs -- you just don't treat peers (fellow women) this way. Perhaps it is just part of the food culture...since it is still male dominated.

Rooting 100% for Paul at this point. He's earned the right -- and proven that you can do good and fair things while still playing a mean ass game.

Gaccha
Gaccha

Hugh - you rock! Great sense of humor; witty and keen observation. Made this season more enjoyable. Hope to see you more on Top Chef in the future!!

Former Top Chef Fan
Former Top Chef Fan

Your recap of this episode was so much better than the actual episode, which frankly, stunk! Enough with the gimmicks, Top Chef. I'm sick of hearing, "This isn't bad considering the conditions." Stop creating conditions that result in not bad food and let the chefs cook something amazing, which is what we want to see!!!! Please?

Ahahahahaha...thanks a crapload for Corey Hart and Bryan Adams.

MissyBinBigD
MissyBinBigD

I don't know if Chef Hugh has done a blog in seasons past or not, but reading his blog each week has been my favorite thing about this season, which, as a proud Texan living in Dallas, has been somewhat disappointing (San Antonio and Austin locales were approached with respect and an eye to heritage, but the Dallas episodes were full of all the worst stereotypes of Dallas, it really hurt my heart.) I nearly went into full-blown DTs last week with no blog posting from the Great Hughnibrow. PLEASE keep writing about Top Chef episodes, your humor and heart inform each episode with such wonderful perspective.

bluemerle
bluemerle

I think the three challenges should have been judged as a group, rather than sudden win/sudden death. In other words, Bev was screwed by the rules. She had two second places before the last challenge, versus Sarah with a third and a last, yet Sarah gets the spot in the finals because her tough rabbit was rated a little higher than Bev's char. Or Paul, or that matter, who was in last place after the gondola. They each cooked a bad dish; Bev cooked three strong dishes, but didn't make it in. NOT FAIR!!!

Sapphiegirl
Sapphiegirl

I can't believe you missed the comment Gail made during Round 2 when she told Bev that she could think of "1 or 2" people Bev could use the ice pick on LOL. The best line of the entire episode!

dam yankee
dam yankee

Hugh, love your blog and it really is almost better than watching the show. To the producers I have a complaint, however. This is the finals. We the viewers are interested in seeing awesome food, not gimmicky ridiculous challenges like chopping your food out of ice blocks and cross country skiing for amateurs. I sincerely hope that next week's show will be all about the best food these chefs can make, rather than who wins the luge race to get the best ingredients. Cooking in a gondola? Seriously?

Lola Danger
Lola Danger

My love for you grows stronger with every blog post, Hugh.

Maura Patricia
Maura Patricia

Best blog post in TOP CHEF history---almost as fun as the show...almost!

PaulainVA
PaulainVA

Great blog, Hugh. Wish the episode had been half as entertaining. Sigh.

Dean C
Dean C

What a weird cross between cooking, arctic survival, and a japanese game show. Next season chefs will have to free dive, spear their own fish, and then prepare sushi underwater in scuba gear. Judges,say it with a straight face "It's all about the food" yah right.

Dean C
Dean C

After watching this show I don't see how any judge can say with a straight face "It's all about the food". This episode was a cross between cooking, an arctic survivor series and a Japanese game show. To have this follow up a season of near endless team challenges c'mon is it that tough to make a cooking challenge show interesting. I can see next season the chefs will haved to prepare sushi dishes under water in scuba gear after spearing their own fish. Let's get back to being all about the food.