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Top Chef 2--Social Restaurant Episode

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I am suprised that no one has started a topic on last night's episode, so I figured I might as well get the ball rolling. My comments/thoughts:

1) The right team went home. Josie and Marisa's idea for the tasting menu was not only stupid, it wasn't even good.

2) Josie should not complain about being sent home. Even if she is as good as she thinks she is, she should know that you are only as good as your last dish, and frankly her last dish sucked.

3) Uh...can anyone explain the duck entree? Duck Napolean? What!? It was puff pastry with duck on top. That's not a napolean. Plus, didn't they mention mashed sweet potatoes a couple of times? I did not see any sweet potatoes on their plates. Maybe I'm just crazy.

4) Last but not least. I'm glad that Tom called them out on the whole duo and trio thing. I don't know why chef's sometimes feel like they need to hit the customer with radically different flavors on one plate all the time. Just give me a solid, center of the plate protein or dessert. While I like different tastes, doing one duo and two trio's in one six course tasting menu is a bit much.

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  1. I think Tom hit the nail on the head when he said all of the contenstants are just striving to be middle of the pack. No one is trying to be the best, they are just trying to avoid bottom three. Josie's comment at the end of the show illustrated that. She said she was never in the bottom three so in her mind that justified to her that she deserved to be there. She should remember, she was never in the top three either.

    1. I brought this episode up in another Top Chef thread, but now that you mention it.

      I am so glad to have Marisa and Josie gone! I was getting really tired of their getting by is good enough production in the kitchen. Marisa constantly talked up her experience as a pastry chef, but never really made it to the top three. Like other posters, I found Josie smug and solidly mediocre. It wasn't just poor judgement like she said at judges table... it was a palpable sense of entitlement that was really off putting. Her performance with the pho is a good example.

      Why does America hate Marcel? I find him immature, yes, but excited about food and excited about trying new things. His tendencies in responding to the quick fire challenges make him seem out of touch with the audience... mostly he is just trying very hard to show he has the technique and the creativity to be there. His work in elimination challenges has so far been very solid.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MaspethMaven

        i think that it is because he is pegged as this season's "steven" and steven could run circles around the wolverine in the kitchen.

      2. I agree, if you read Collicho's blog on bravotv.com he sounds pretty angry about the quality of food thus far. This season certaintly is not living up to last year in quality and invetivness of food. It's like none of the chefs are thinking in inventive terms and really can't execute simple dishes. I'm really hoping that as the weaker chefs are sent home the quality of the show goes up.

        I'm hoping the Mexican/ French chick is off next - I really can't stand her.

        7 Replies
        1. re: wingman

          The funny thing is, collectively, these chefs have way more experience than the chefs on Season 1.

          Perhaps some of them are stuck in a trend rut?

          1. re: wingman

            I dunno. I really don't think a lot of these challenges are "fair" in the sense that they don't reflect situations a chef would face in the "real world." I mean, two hours to conceptualize and prepare a course for 60 people? Without any recipes or any prep help? That's a lot to ask, let alone asking them to be creative, too. In a situation like that, you go with what you know you can do, because you don't have any time to test and tweak your dish, and if it's not completed or it simply doesn't work, then you're out of the competition.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I agree, especially with the offal challenge. Why even bother to give them ingredients that cannot be properly prepared in the time alloted? Unless the point was to determine who DIDN'T know how to work with the ingredients, rather than a test of their actual skill and creativity with the ingredient.

              I think it would be more interesting if the set-up were more like the camp challenge, where they had the prior day to come up with the recipe, and the next day to prepare it.

              1. re: DanaB

                Just look at how many did sweetbreads in that challenge!
                BTW, Mia's constant crutch of down home country cookin' is getting tired.

                1. re: MaspethMaven

                  Yeah, I think I am ready to see Mia leave next..

                  1. re: MaspethMaven

                    I was thinking the same thing exactly while watching it. I enjoy that type of cooking, but she's falling back on it way too much.

              2. re: wingman

                On the contrary, I find that the chefs this season are trying too hard to be inventive and losing sight of simple, well-executed food. The duo and trio thing, the Alice in Wonderland fiasco on a plate, bacon and avocado ice cream, etc.

                Sam's sweetbread beignet dish was inventive, but it was also executed well. It caught my interest more than any other dish so far. Sam, Cliff, and Ilan are clearly the strongest players.

                I had a feeling they would cut two people this time, and I thought it was fair that it was Marisa and Josie. Their "awakening" trio looked so strange and didn't make me hunger for it in the least.

              3. Thank God Marisa is out! What a waste of space & what a waste of an opportinity on her part. Yes..she thinks she's a great pastry chef(which I had yet to see)but with the exception of maybe 2 things all she made was dessert. Top Chef is about being a chef which means being versatile & knowledgeable about all foods. She always insisted on doing dessert as if nobody else was capable. Ugh..take your self righteous attitude & your nasty egomaniacal calender & go back to pastry school.

                Josie was starting to wear on my nerves. She seemed like one of those people who never admits to being wrong. Like it was posted above..she had this sense of entitlement to her. You only deserve to stay if you can show that you have the ability to be a chef. That means more than just cooking up a good dish.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sugarbuzz

                  i agree the right pair went home. the pastry chef simply never should have been there. josie's loud, hip-hop-y brashness was grating. and if her phaux from the first episode was truly what she thinks pho is, especially when she claims to have worked in a vietnamese restaurant, then she didn't belong there either.

                  however, i did find it interesting that the only decent dish the self-proclaimed wonderful pastry chef turned out utilized offal.

                  if you watch sam's interview on bravotv, he says they did meet briefly to discuss their dishes in order to avoid major clashes/over-utilization of any particular ingredient. so, despite the editing indicating the teams acted separately, it seems the cast managed to work together, at least a little bit, to create an ill-conceived multi-course tasting menu.

                  after reading lee anne's blog, it sounds like the drama only gets heightened from here on, which is a real shame since they've now eliminated most of the really weak players (there are still 4 or 5 that need to be culled), and the food should get better now. if her teaser is correct, then i'm afraid next week will be my last viewing. yes, i know it's a reality show, but it's top chef, not top melodramatic, self-centered, i'm-not-accountable-for-my-own-actions post-teen.

                2. What confused me most about this episode was the "leftovers" theme. I could kinda see how offal could kinda be considered a leftover... but the tremendous selection of expensive, -fresh- foods at the restaurant? Why bother assigning a theme at all? Just call it "tasting menu for 60 with basically unlimited ingredients". Or, better still, "tasting menu propelling Jeffrey Chodorow PR Machine".

                  Josie's 16 mentions of her "talent" in her 45-second farewell interview drove me to distraction.

                  It's also gotten to the point where I want to slam Padma Lakshmi in the face with a Kenmore Pro saucepan until she falls face down onto the Kenmore Pro floor tiles. It's not her fault, poor dear, but I don't think I've ever seen more saturated product placement in my life.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: frenetica

                    **It's also gotten to the point where I want to slam Padma Lakshmi in the face with a Kenmore Pro saucepan until she falls face down onto the Kenmore Pro floor tiles. It's not her fault, poor dear, but I don't think I've ever seen more saturated product placement in my life. **

                    Yes Yes Yes! I wish they could get someone along the lines of Suzanne Goin. A real professional chef with real cooking experience would provide better judging ability than some second rate actress & celebrity trophy wife. Oh I forgot she did author a cookbook but that doesn't make her a culinary genius.

                    1. re: sugarbuzz

                      she does seem to be an odd choice. nice to look at and fairly personable (when not reading from her script), but she seem to be a pretty picky eater. she also lacks that ability that good spokespeople have to plug a product without it being obvious that they're doing so. her script must read, "(product plug) + (insert conjunction here) + (product plug) + (insert conjunction here)...", and she recites it just like that. if they're going to keep her, they should at least take her out of the judging as she is obviously unqualified if on no other basis than she won't taste a lot of the food due to her squeamishness.

                      1. re: mark

                        I don't think she is truly a judge; she voices her opinions, but I don't think she has much, if any, say in who the winner or losers are. And I haven't noticed any squeamishness on her part, or an unwillingness to taste anything. At least she's had some substantial comments to make about the food, unlike her predecessor, who clearly had no culinary knowledge whatsoever. Incidentally, apparently, they wanted Padma Lakshmi as host originally (for season 1), but she had a scheduling conflict), so they ended up with the beyond-awful Mrs. Billy Joel.

                        I agree the product placement and her constantly having to work into her lines is way OTT, and makes her delivery even more stilted. I believe she sounds so flat in part because they're making her speak with an American accent, not her natural British one, and she's no good at it.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Years ago, she hosted a food travel show and was willing to eat beef testicles, I seem to recall. She was extremely pretty but a fairly bland personality. Even now, it's hard to tell how much she actually knows about food. This show isn't really about the food, anyway - one can hardly see it for all the fast heavy editing.

                      2. re: sugarbuzz

                        I would love to see Suzanne Goin as a permanent judge. She was the best guest judge they've had, IMO. It goes without saying that she knows her stuff, but she was polite and respectful to the contestants (unlike Colicchio, who's often condescending), she kept things low key and professional, she was fair, and her criticism was both spot-on and contructive.

                      3. re: frenetica

                        "Why bother assigning a theme at all? Just call it "tasting menu for 60 with basically unlimited "ingredients""

                        Great point. I was irritated when the judges mentioned all the other ingredients that were available to the contestants. I think it would have worked better if the leftovers were from a themed party. I think the contestants and viewers needed a narrower theme.

                      4. One last thing..It was really really nice to not see Betty with that annoying cheshire cat smile on her face. She's another one grating on my nerves. She has some talent(crying on cue being one of them) but she seems like a total fake.

                        1. The Global Knives are starting to get to me, too ....

                          I almost had an aneurism at the thought that MIKE might have won the challenge prize!!! My blood pressure came down to near normal when Ilan received it.

                          Then went up again during Josie's "I'M SO GREAT" speech.

                          1. It's amazing that a show seemingly about food is so resolutely low on food - and food knowledge. On one of the subtitles identifying the dishes (I suppose it was Elia & Carlos' dessert course) I saw the word "marscapone", possibly my most hated culinary misspelling/mispronunciation of all time :(

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: frenetica

                              Amen to that! That subtitle was the last straw!

                              1. re: mnosyne

                                And yet...why can I not stop watching?!

                                1. re: frenetica

                                  Because, although it's bad at times, you're getting a lot more than from other cooking shows. It gives you a chance to think what you'd do in their shoes, letting you take part in the process. Plus, I like the imperfection. I'm tried of seeing people tasting their supposedly perfect dishes at the end of food network shows. I'd like to see RR just once say, "Holy cow, that's a dry chicken breast"

                            2. i'm new to top chef, not having seen last season. but i'm none too impressed so far. their lack of focus and inability to improvise (like when the deep fryer at the firehouse was too cool)is disappointing. equipment in kitchens goes down more often than you know.

                              it's cooking 101 that you start with the protein, and then build the dish. when the list of potential proteins in social's walk-in was recited, i was disgusted at what some people put out. that pepto-bismol spoon was horrible. these guys all are making the rookie mistake of concept over execution first. that goes double for the offal quick-fire challenge. they didn't know enough to soak the kidneys, or that huge hunks of oxtail couldn't be ready in two hours, they had no business being there.

                              did the producers pass over more talented but less telegenic people to get this serial benneton ad of diversity?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                are pressure cookers unavailable in the kitchen? it seems it could cut down cooking time.

                                1. re: Jerome

                                  professional kitchen don't use "crockpots". if they're braising something like beef cheeks or oxtails, it's known well in advance, and it cooks in a big pot in a lot of liquid for as many hours as it needs. something like shortribs may take 6 or 7 hours. organs like kidneys and liver need soaking and tougher cuts just need time. that's why the best dishes were sweetbreads -- they're quick to cook.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    crockpots aren't pressure cookers. Many industrial kitchens use them, and if you have only three hours, you can save a great deal of time.
                                    Like using glace de boeuf rather than making a stock.

                              2. Bravo TV needs to rename the show "Top Douche Bag". Really.

                                It seems the contestants are chosed for their potential drama king & queen aspects and not for their cooking abilities. Besides, who knows what really happens in real time. Any half-witted editor can make a compelling story in the editing room. Post-production, baby.

                                I would love to prompt the contestants with proper pronunciations as well. "Mar"scapone (ARGHHHH!!!!!!) being number one in my book. Learn how to read people!! Not to mention Josie's mistaken "pho".

                                Or, Bravo could re-name it "Train wreck in a kitchen".

                                Just an idea..........but don't get me started on Tom Col-dickio!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

                                1. A few random comments in response to a few of the above comments, in no particular order.

                                  My personal theory is that this season's chefs were supposed to be in line for Jerry Springer casting.

                                  This week's elimination was an interesting challenge (despite the odd decision to call it "leftovers" -- as Harold's blog said, "Someday I hope I'll have leftovers like that!"), and it was disappointing to see half of the teams do such lame dishes. TC is the evil twin of Next Food Network Star -- as much as I enjoy FN shows for technique as much as anything, I can only deal with so much chirpiness at a time -- I like the professional critiques that the judges hand out (in more detail on the blogs) when they explain why they made the decisions they did, and what was outstandingly good or bad about each dish.

                                  Anyway, I keep waiting for Bravo to cull out all the chefs that shouldn't be there -- too many this season. Tom's definitely losing patience with this crew...dontcha think they would have taken some tips from last season, besides general cooking skills...like how important it is to make people want to work with you? Do we have a show full of Tiffanis?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: momjamin

                                    I love the comment Bourdain gave to Tom in the preview.."what kind of crackhouse are you running here?"

                                    Did anyone listen to the interview that Emily gave on chow.com? Some insight on the editing & what really goes on.

                                    1. re: sugarbuzz

                                      I love the comment Bourdain gave to Tom in the preview.."what kind of crackhouse are you running here?"

                                      I can't wait to see next week's episode with Bourdain as guest judge. :-)

                                      And I did listen to Emily's interview...and she's got more sour grapes going on than I could have imagined. I have family members in the film business, so I know what goes on after actual filming is done (editing, etc.), I just think she's pissed she was made to look bad. Sorry, but that's what you signed up for, even if you didn't think you did. It's not like this is the FIRST reality show on TV; even if you didn't watch last season's TC (as Emily said she didn't), it's (reality shows) have been around long enough to give anyone a clue as to what "TV reality" is all about.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I think it comes from people just not being in tune with themselves -- if anything will bring home your flaws, being on reality t.v. will. If you have ANY foibles, weaknesses or idiocyncracies, t.v. will exploit it. If you are not ready for serious personal examination, don't go there. I don't think I could handle it, personally.

                                  2. anyone notice that the judging seems to be a pack mentality. the critisism starts out favorable to mild with a few issues but them tom or the guest judge will pipe in something a bit harsher and padma or the food and wine chick will jump on the band wagon and start piling on because the other two pros found soemthing that they did not like. they lose credibility with me for this.

                                    1. A piece on Marisa Churchill in San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer's blog:


                                      "Churchill says the show is about 50 percent reality. She realized early on that she was being typecast, and most of her remarks were edited to strengthen that characterization. What is real, she says, are the cookoffs ..."

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        wow..some of those comments about her are scathing! 50 percent reality or not..when that many people hate you it's not just becasue of the way you were edited.

                                        1. re: sugarbuzz

                                          If a lot of people take what they see on TV at face value, does that make it true?

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I don't think it's that. You just know when someone is being a phony or is just a bitch. That's just my take. The second I saw Tiffani on Season 1 I hated her instantly.
                                            Some people just come across as unlikable & unfortunately for her she is one of those people.

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I really think she's delusional. The woman claims to be a pastry chef and cannot make a panna cotta. I think she should take some time and try to become a better dessert maker (because she ain't a "pastry chef") and quit focusing on her self-imagined sexual appeal.

                                        3. Wait, isn't Marisa the one with the pin-up calendar? That's plenty to hate here, and noone edited that.