My Assistant Editor and I both said the same thing after watching this week's total food porn-fest: "I am hungry!" Seriously, I can't get over the level of food this week. I've always thought the entertainment value of the show is really not about the chefs' personalities (although, obviously, I'd take a more colorful chef over a dud any day), but it's really all about the level of food. The better the food, the better the show, and I'm already digging this season.
Before I get into the episode I just want to answer two questions that came up in your comments from my blog last week. Well, actually, first, thank you for the kind compliments — I always love a good ego boost. A lot of you asked about Lee Anne's Blog, and guess what? It's on its way! She has actually been in Japan for the last two weeks. So hold tight, and check back for her commentary on the first two episodes. Secondly, I'll let you know when any episodes of Top Chef are available online. I'm going to go ahead and venture to say we should have a full episode available in September, so stay tuned.
Onto the episode: First, the chefs are introduced to their guest judge for the week, Todd English. You can get more intimate with our guest judges with our new Webisode series, Strip'd. Here's Chef English's. In the Quickfire, the chefs had to roll a pair of dice, and cook with the number of ingredients they rolled. I actually thought this was an exceptionally hard challenge because there was no real focus. They could make anything they wanted, as long as they used the right number of ingredients. The chefs were worried about getting too many (12) or too few (two or three). Chef English seemed fairly happy with the majority of offerings, although I think I heard an "interesting" in there, which is the kiss of death for any chef. The winner? Michael Voltaggio's "gazpacho." His brother was worried that he was whipping out the nitrogen, but after speaking with Bryan, it appears he now thinks the decision was a smart one. On a side note, I'll be visiting D.C. the second half of September and plan on eating at VOLT. I'll obviously report back with all the delicious details. I'm so psyched -- the menu looks amazing. Also, shout-out to the D.C. viewers: I know you are currently in the midst of D.C. Restaurant Week, and I implore you to take advantage, and definitely visit our cheftestant and guest judges' restaurants, including those offered by Bryan Voltaggio, Spike Mendelsohn, Jose Andres, and Eric Ripert!
For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to cater a bachelor and bachelorette party. Ashley was pretty upset because gay marriage is not legal. Tom addresses this issue in his blog, so I encourage you to check it out. The women cooked for the men and vice versa. It seemed like the engaged couple actually gave really specific instructions, which is actually a good thing. Oh, and all the food had to be paired with shots. I honestly don't know how the judges did it! I'm going to assume they only took sips of the shots, but even if I did that, I would be out of my gourd by the end of that tasting since one of the shots was pure tequila ... and I have the tolerance of a newborn. OK -- I hate to be so petty, but seemed like the bachelorette, well, was not the most fun bride I've ever encountered, but it seemed like she knew what she was talking about in terms of her food. There are so many chefs right now I don’t want to go into each dish, but there were a food standouts. First, on the women's side the judges seemed to like Ashley's carpaccio, but not her second dish. Note to chefs: DON'T MAKE MORE DISHES THAN YOU HAVE TO! It never works out! Also, shocker, Jennifer Carroll's dish was a good one. Unfortunately it was time for Eve to go home. I felt kind of bad for her because when she was trying to explain why her shrimp didn't work out, Tom gave her a "You've got to be kidding me" look. I just don't think she had the skin for this competition.
Onto the good stuff: the top dishes. Well, it was down to Eli, Hector with his ballsy tofu dish, which I was skeptical about, and the Voltaggio brothers. OK -- I’m sure it's obvious by now that they're my faves. I just love the competition they have between each other, and how they have each other's backs against everyone else. And, I'll say it, they're adorable. Michael wowed with his deconstruction of the super-sweet apple shot, and Bryan won with his "chip and dip" macaroon. Ill definitely have to try that when I visit VOLT.
I thought this episode was exceptional, and I'm excited for next week's episode where the chefs seem to be cooking for members of our armed forces. I'm sure I'll cry. Until next week, let me know who you're rooting for, and any questions you might have.