Saturday, February 05, 2011

Top Chef: Molto Italiano

After the excitement of Restaurant Wars and no new episode last week, this week's Top Chef was kind of...boring?

The Quickfire challenge was truly bizarre. I guess Bravo wanted to do a little cross-show promotion inviting Isaac Mizrahi from The Fashion Show (Bravo's replacement for Project Runway that I, a big PR fan, never bothered to watch) to guest judge, but making a dish just for show that's not going to be tasted? For some reason this made me think of that plastic food you see in display cases at Japanese restaurants, but actually it turned out to be kind of an art challenge using food as your materials. I was a little confused by the judging, especially with Richard's win because I thought that black ice cream looked really gross. Meh.

Moving onto the Elimination challenge...this was similar to the dim sum challenge in that it zeroed in on a specific cuisine and put the pressure on a few chefs because of their background or self-proclaimed expertise. This time around, it was the Italians, Fabio, Mike, and Antonia who were confident that they would take this Italian-themed challenge.

Thankfully, this wasn't a team challenge. Three chefs each had the antipasti, primi (pasta), and secondi (meat) courses. (No dessert?) The ladies chose the appetizers and all fared well: Carla with a minestrone, Tiffany with a non-traditional but successful polenta and sausage terrine, and Antonia with a simple mussel dish that ends up winning. I've never been a huge Antonia fan...when the cast list for All-Stars first came out, she was the only pick that I didn't understand because I didn't think she was particularly likable or memorable or anything. So another meh here. I think I would have been happier to see Fabio win for his chicken cacciatore and polenta.

On the bottom was the entire primi course. I can understand why Mike and Dale decided to make their own pasta despite being told by Frankie Junior of Rao's that dried pasta was perfectly acceptable. Top Chefs in the past have made their own pasta with good results, and it's something the judges are impressed by. Too bad both of them messed up. Mike's dish could have been good had the rigatoni been properly cooked, while Dale's seemed to have failed in conception...it was bland and under-sauced. I know that Italians are pretty picky about their pasta but honestly, even I can make a decent pasta dish. Poor showing, guys.

As for Tre, he put out risotto, while everyone panned as being just completely technically wrong. I thought this was odd considering in his original season he did a risotto that was praised by Tom himself. Sometimes I feel like if the judges all agree on something, they just end up convincing each other that it's much worse that it actually is. And this ends up getting him the boot.

Tre was one of the All-Stars that seemed to have so much potential but never broke out during his original season and I'm sad to see the same thing happen this time again. He's clearly a solid chef and a nice guy too but I guess this just wasn't in the cards for him. Not exactly a shocker, but definitely a disappointment.

Leftovers:
- I've definitely seen jars of Rao's pasta sauces in various stores, but I had no idea that it was actually a restaurant in New York. Probably because apparently no one I know ever has a prayer of ever getting a table there.
- That Lorraine Bracco is pretty fun. Perhaps I should watch Goodfellas finally.
- I don't know if I've ever had great polenta. Hm.
- Dale has been rising in the ranks for weeks but some might say that he deserved to be eliminated this week. I'm kind of glad he wasn't though, because I still want him to go all the way. Has anyone noticed that he's been mentioning his girlfriend an awful lot lately though?
- Next week: something with Jimmy Fallon!

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I thought Dale should have gotten the boot, but after reading Tom's blog it seems everyone agreed that Tre's risotto was the worst. I guess getting the essence of a dish wrong is a cardinal sin in this kind of challenge where being traditional really counts for something.