Saturday, September 22, 2007

Top Chef in New York

I missed reviewing last week's episode, so here's a short take: the chefs had to make breakfast for Padma (what was with all the cracks about Padma liking her alcohol...are we missing something here?) and jetted off to New York only to get stuck in Newark making airplane food. I thought that Elimination challenge was a good one. They were cooking for business class so they didn't really have any restrictions on budget or ingredients, but the constraints of cooking it on board an airplane meant that they really had to think about it carefully. Kudos to Casey for winning a second week in a row (and with yet another AWESOME prize...two tickets to anywhere that Continental flies!) but CJ gets sent home before even making it to Manhattan. Hopefully by now he's gotten his slice of pizza!

Moving onto this week's episode, the five remaining chefs had their classical techniques put to the test, and it was really only fitting that Hung won both challenges. I was really happy to see that there were no gimmicks at all this week. The Quickfire was an interesting an amateur cook who's tried on occasion to reproduce dishes from restaurants or my grandmother's kitchen, I can tell you that did not look easy, despite whatever Hung was saying.

I loved the Elimination challenge as well, because chicken is so rarely used on the show. Everyone wants to do seafood or Kobe beef or pork or whatnot, and chicken is usually passed over as being pedestrian. Hung carried off the win here again (but with no prize at all, hmph), though I don't think they really explained what gave him the edge over Casey. I don't really mind though, Hung's win makes things a bit more interesting (otherwise Casey would have had 3 consecutive Elimination wins going into the finale).

So yeah, I've been really impressed with Casey these past couple of weeks. She doesn't have the classical training but she's been more than holding her own and has shown a lot of smart, creative thinking. At this point, I'd say that it's down to Hung and Casey. Dale and Brian have had their moments but they'll need to really step it up if they want to really be in the running.

You know, it's weird, as much as I'm glad that the show this season has returned to serious competition after the fiasco that was last season, but now it's almost too focused. Last season I didn't care who won because I kind of hated them all for some reason or another, but this season I almost don't care who wins because I like them all. I'm not sure at all who I'm really rooting for, which makes things a little less exciting...

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