Before we go any further, let me just say that I never watched Dallas. I don’t know who J.R.is, and I don’t know who killed him. Oh, my wife tells me he wasn’t killed, just shot. OK. Bottom line: Filming the Elimination Challenge at Southfork Ranch meant nuthin’ to this New Yorker -- it was just another place to shoot. The episode, I mean.
And I’m sorry to say that the work our chefs presented at the Elimination Challenge held about as much appeal to me as would a Dallas rerun. The reason we were so harsh at Judges' Table is that the chefs were complacent and wouldn’t take risks, so they didn’t create dishes worthy of this competition. This group of chefs, more than in any season prior, seemed to be thinking about how to win the game, and at this early stage, seemed to be saying to themselves, “Hey! Just don’t go home! Stay in the middle of the pack until the end. Then step it up.” Like pacing oneself in a marathon. And with a dinner for 200, yes, they could say, “That’s a lot of people -- let’s play it safe.” But they could have been far more creative than they were.
This points to aproblem inherent in a group challenge like this: When creating dishes by committee, no one puts themselves out there and says “I want to go out on a limb with this, and I don’t care if the group doesn’t want me to.” So nothing soars. Furthermore, the food lacks a point of view -- any chance of one has been eradicated by the process.