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Go, Bad News Bears!
Ted Allen gives his take on Restaurant Wars: Part 2.
Yee-owch, you viewers were lusty for some chef blood last week, weren't ya?!
And not even just the two or three "politically-correct"-ravin', Oxycontin-munchin', Limbaugh-listenin', Falwell-missin', hard-right conservative Bushies whose tender feelings I apparently bruised in last week's blog. (Sorry, really sorry, and I'll shut up as soon as Ann Coulter goes away for good and you quit voting.) But also the peacenik, Chablis-sniffin', book-readin', almost-vegetarian-but-can't-kick-prosciutto, vaguely bisexual, Volvo-and- Birkenstock set I had always figured for the Bravo audience we love so much! I kid, you know. I really do.
Most of my relatives voted for Mr. "Mission Accomplished," and some of them don't even regret it yet. But since you ask, my fundamentalist friends, I LOVE Fred Thompson. On "Law & Order." Where he'll be working again in November 2008—can't wait! J Oh, yes: "Top Chef." Apparently, nobody's happy unless a chef goes down. Me, I'm almost always sad to see somebody go. Tonight, y'all got your wish.
Were you happy with the judges' choice?
wasn't. Happy, I mean. I was part of it, I agreed with it, I actually came off in the edit as if I led the charge for it (I didn't; it was open and shut. Tre was the right choice tonight). Still, it makes me a little sad. Tre is such an excellent chef, such a class act, such a strong, solid leader in the kitchen, such a no-bullshit, no-drama guy. I didn't like his cooking tonight, but I have long been hoping to see him cooking in the finale. I respect him deeply and I wish him the best.
Now, then, how about our spikey-haired Chicago boy? Dale was the star of the show tonight, and I loved it. He is a leader, he's strong but not stubborn, and he makes his people want to perform. I loved his poussin, and I loved the way he ran his restaurant. I loved his shirt, too—I think it was by Penguin—although I wouldn't have chosen it for the front-of-house job (maybe at the Melrose Diner in Chicago, a place I'm sure Dale has seen on one or another late nights). I loved how Dale managed the inimitable Stephen's elaborate wine service. And I loved how he stood up to Chris Ciccone, who was wrong about the meat dish last week, wrong about the vegetables, and, as Dale said, doesn't get a pass for being Louise's brother. He did, however, make both restaurants look better. (Good thing he designs rooms and not clothing... meow.) Quote of the week goes to Dale: "The other team, they kind of seemed like the dream team, and we're kind of like the Bad News Bears and the fact that we kicked their ass really has us going."
Speaking of Dale, next time you're in Chicago, visit the restaurant he's working in: Sola, on North Lincoln Avenue in Ravenswood. I went with a gang of friends (purposely choosing a night when Dale wasn't there, for propriety's sake) and Carol Wollack cooked us a helluva meal. Great place. I
'm gonna break the rest of this down into bites:
How about Hung, our Speedy Gonzalez, tonight, whose work with those chickens even had Colicchio shaking his head in amazement? There are people who have faulted him for his energy, but I think it's inspiring. He loves it, he feels it, he knows his stuff.
Years ago, when Tupac Shakur was shot in a very personal area, some people took to calling him "One-Pac." Just in case you're in the market for a nickname, CJ.
Shocking: Sara clobbers Casey at onion-chopping? Casey is a verrrry talented chef. It's probably been a while since she had to slice the Vidalias, but still! Good going, Sara.
Priceless: When Dale tells Hung, "Table 7 are Sara and Joey," and Hung says "Who are Sara and Joey?" And Dale has to remind Hung they're two of the people he has already left in the dust. "Oh, nice!"he says. Evidently, Hung ain't looking back.
Also priceless: When Sara tells Howie, twice, "Do it over!" Yikes! Chef's gone wild! More amazing, yet: Howie obeys! He slams the oven shut a couple of times, but he does it. Has he been meditating? Medicating? Where's that rambunctious bulldog we all know and love?
Something that came up tonight in reference to last week: I have to say, I like Andrea Strong, the blogger from TheStrongBuzz.com. I've met her several times, I like her work, and I think she's smart and cool. But I found her awfully sarcastic, a little too eager to tear people down with good (but show-offy) writerly chops. I thought the chefs were gracious in accepting her harsh critique. I bet some of their real feelings are sitting on the editing-room floor.
Speaking of writing: I'd love to give a public thank-you to Denise Martin, who wrote the nicest article anybody's ever done about me in today's L.A. Times. Giver her a read if you like.
Finally, a funnyhaha: Last week at judges' table, it was I who read Andrea's comment to Brian that, because he was so sweaty, he should, "Get thee some Right Guard."Whoa: free product placement on Bravo—nice for Right Guard, huh? And, indeed, they clearly were psyched about it: two days ago, what should arrive on my doorstep in Brooklyn? A year's supply of the stuff, dispatched via messenger by the grateful (if cheesy) PR people who handle the brand. They also sent it to Brian, I'm told (who, in fairness, smelled perfectly nice). But Andrea is the one who really deserves it—Right Guard people, take note. I haven't tried it yet, but I appreciate the thought.
Better than those crystal deodorant rocks that the left-wingers use, I'm sure...
See you next week. Cheers, T