Top Chef: “Focus Groups”

January 7, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Pre-show thoughts on contestants: He may not be the best chef, but I love Hosea.  He’s one of the few that has yet to do something on the show that annoys me and I think his food’s decent-he did win the challenge last week.  I like Ariane and Radhika as well.  The Europeans, Stefan and Fabio, don’t do much for me at all, not because they’re European but because they have ridiculous attitudes.  Jeff seems pretty personality less. Of course, all this perception is based on all the editing they do.  It is television, after all.

Quick-fire Challenge: Create a sugar free dessert. I’m not at all opposed to sugar-free desserts, but darned if I could come up with one myself.  I am always amazed at the ability of the Top Chef contestants to come up instantly.  Of course, everything looked pretty good.  Radhika won, which is fine by me.

Elimination Challenge: No Limits (mostly)! A family style meal with blind judging?! That’s new, but I imagine that it makes it fairer.  A double elimination was a pretty serious threat, but also fair considering the judges didn’t eliminate anyone last episode.  I think it was awesome that the rest of the contestants were the “food experts” and even more nice that the contestants who were being judged got to watch it on television.  That poor second set when they realized every mean thing they had been said that been seen by the chef who cooked it.   It was also nice to see Jamie get some vindication for her bad scallops last week, one of the few positive moments of the discussion.  Melissa made fish tacos that got really criticized and then there was discussion from her and a comment from Hosea that she hadn’t put out her best work–its Top Chef, not your home kitchen!  You should always do your best work if you’re playing to win.  Toby Young, the judge brought in to replace Gail Simmons,  is especially not nice.  I’m not sure why Top Chef didn’t try to find someone more Gail-like.  I suppose in a way he brings some more drama, but didn’t we have enough drama already?

Judges Panel: Ariane, Jamie and Stefan had the top dishes.  Jamie won, which is really nice for her.  Melissa (surprise!), Eugene and Carla were the bottom three.  I thought Carla handled herself well and her response to the judges was well thought out (except maybe for the comment that her dish was perfect without the scallops, clearly she should have done vegetarian like she wanted to).  I don’t believe that Melissa wants to be there, at least she doesn’t act like it.  I have mixed feelings on Eugene.  At any rate, Melissa and Eugene went home; I’m glad Carla got to stay.  She’s a pretty good cook and she deserves another chance.

For a different (and pretty clever) take on the episode check out the Top Chef Liveblogging at the Internet Food Association.

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