Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top Chef's bulldog problem

Sorry for this late review of last week's episode...I was in Cape Cod for a couple of days without Internet access. I did eat a ton of good food there, though, including lots of fresh seafood and homemade ice cream, which by the way, is SO much better than the overrated Cold Stone Creamery.

I have to say that I'm getting tired of all the product placements this season. And I was so not a fan of this Quickfire. Last season's ice cream challenge at least actually required the chefs to make their own ice cream, this time, they were just supposed to make the mix-ins. But the results were pretty much the same: Dale's prudent but not exactly groundbreaking peach cobbler wins, while Hung and Casey's adventurous combos crash and burn. I can actually kind of see where Casey was coming from...I've had some desserts at Asian restaurants with interesting sweet and hot flavors, but Hung was just insane. I mean, cauliflower? And you know, now that we're down to under 10 chefs you'd think they would show all of the chefs' dishes, but no. I feel like we only got to see about half of the Quickfire entries. what the hell?

The Elimination Challenge was truly cruel. I mean, on the one hand, the chefs should probably know that on shows like this they never really get a break, but Padma definitely made it sound legitimate. The challenge itself ended up being pretty interesting. I thought that the Orange team had a better concept of what people want to eat late at night after partying (burgers, sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas), but their team dynamics were just crappy. Sara N. definitely had a part in this, although I do sympathize with her...clothes might seem like a silly detail, but being dressed for clubbing and having to cook in a tiny and hot food truck sounds truly miserable. But Howie was definitely not making it any better. Last week it was kind of questionable whether Sara M. was really being that annoying or whether Howie was really just an ass, but this week, he was definitely being an ass. And with this week's Restaurant Wars episode being another team challenge...it's going to be interesting.

I do always like to see harmonious teams though, and the Black Team was really pleasant to watch. Deciding on the menu based on stations in the food truck was extremely smart, and while a raw bar as late night food sounds kind of gross, it was a good idea to have Brian out there revving up the crowd. And Tre with his wifebeater and muscles was cracking me up. And his bacon wrapped shrimp and cheesy grits sounded and looked awesome. I'm going to have to try that recipe. Sara M.'s taco sounded pretty yummy as well...I kind of feel bad that she seems to only be shown when her food is bad. I distinctly remember her dish for the Latin Lunch episode being praised by some of the soap opera cast members but she wasn't mentioned at all during Judges' Table.

So in the end it's down to Sara N. and Howie, and Sara goes home. While I'm sad to see yet another woman go home, the decision made sense. The judges claim to judge on that week's challenge only, but the truth is that Howie's put out some great food while Sara's really been coasting in the middle the whole way.

Is it still too early to call favorites? I'm liking Dale, I think he's one of the more thoughtful chefs there, and I'm also calling Brian and CJ as ones to watch. And I can't really count out Hung. Howie needs to work on his teamwork issues...doesn't he know that if he gets to the finale he has to choose fellow contestants to help him? Both Tiffani and Marcel got screwed in the end because of their "I didn't come here to make friends" mentality. It's really funny...I was positive that Hung was going to be the "villain" of this season, but it looks like Howie's taking that role instead.

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