December 16th, 2010
01:13 PM ET
After last week’s epic meltdown at Judges’ Table, this week’s ‘Top Chef’ felt a little lacking in the drama department, even with a double elimination. But it was stuffed with some really impressive food.
The show started with an awesome mise-en-place race for the Quickfire, but it had a twist: After teams finished their prep work, they had to make a dish using the ingredients they just prepared.
Oh, and the 15-minute timer to finish all the dishes started when the FIRST team finished its prep work. How deliciously cruel was that? I loved it.
The Green team (Angelo, Mike, Tiffany, Fabio) had the fastest prep and started the timer, which led to the most furious 15 minutes I’ve ever seen. Their dish ended up on the bottom, though. The winner was the Blue team (Stephen, Tre, Richard, Spike).
I’d like to pause for a momentary rant about a trend I’ve noticed on these shows, one that Angelo committed when he presented the “beautifully cooked lamb.” I have a beautifully crafted response: Why don’t we let the JUDGE decide if it’s beautifully cooked? I hate when contestants do this. When you’re presenting a dish, just tell me what’s in it. Leave the beautifully written adjectives to the thoughtful, witty professionals.
On to the Elimination Challenge: each team was assigned one of New York’s finest restaurants, and each contestant had to create a dish that could be featured on that restaurant’s menu. The Blue team cooked Italian. The White team (Dale T., Carla, Tiffani, Marcel) was charged with modern/molecular gastronomy. The Red team (Antonia, Jamie, Casey, Dale L.) served up whimsical American (or as Dale L. hilariously calls it, “food with jazz hands”). And the Green team was assigned French-Vietnamese cuisine, to Angelo’s sheer and utter (and oh-will-he-please-stop-talking-and-giggling) delight.
(Listen, I know I bag on Angelo a lot, but it has nothing to do with his talent as a chef. His food is usually outstanding, even when he tries something that sounds outlandish (he combines chocolate, fish and chorizo… and it works!). I just find his personality insufferable. So I hope that you’ll indulge my slings and arrows on the way to his inevitable top-5 finish.)
As for the challenge, most people did really well. Standouts include Casey’s “scallibut” (halibut made to look like a scallop), Tre’s swordfish, and Dale T.’s pork and egg dumpling breakfast bowl.
The top dishes from each restaurant came from Dale T., Angelo (sigh, see what I mean?), Antonia and Tre. Dale nabbed the win, and it was well deserved. I don’t know how he made broth taste like buttered toast. All I know is that I want to eat it.
There was really only one chef who did poorly at each restaurant, so predicting the bottom four of Fabio, Stephen, Dale L. and Tiffani was pretty easy. In the end, Stephen (called it!) and Dale L. (no!) were sent packing.
I don’t feel that bad for Stephen. He’s the only chef who has consistently been out of his depth throughout the competition so far. But losing Dale is sad. As he pointed out, he’s never been told to pack up and head home before (he was runner-up in his season, so he just lost). It might take me some time to get over it too, Dale. On the bright side, no more last initials!
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