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Top Chef 2 episode 6

Tony Bourdain was the best part. "What kind of crack house are you running here?"

Ilan's dish was amazing. He did that in 15 minutes?

The worst thing to me about this episode was that in the elimination challenge we didn't get to see the best contestants' food.

I have to wonder how different the contestants' experience is compared with the edited version we see. Last week the judges kept hammering on the theme of "why not make one thing that's delicious," and here they go again with the duos and trios. And only Marcel actually paid much attention to the assignment.

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  1. I was surprised to see Bourdain there. Top Chef seems like just the sort of ridiculous enterprise he would criticize.

    1. The judges looked so embarassed. I could not get over Betty's reaction during the judging. She just snapped!

      1. I think that about 10 out of the original 15 contestants don't get it, and they are so not "top chef" material. I agree with Robert, consistently, from week to week, they ignore the instructions, and either let their egos run rampant with their dishes, or just cluelessly do something that they are comfortable with (i.e. sort of capable of executing).

        On the other side of the coin, Marcel just gets too carried away with trying to be a "high end, cutting edge chef". I agree his turkey roulade dish could have been a winner, as Tom had said, he should have wrapped the roll in turkey skin (and maybe even slipped a piece of bacon under the skin). Did he poach or roast the turkey roll (I would have roasted). I also would have served the turkey garnished with a compote of cranberries kicked up with some jalapeno chilis (anything to make it "out of the ordinary"). It was Marcel's to win, but he gets too carried away with trying to emulate what "cutting edge" chefs come up with in terms of the "current fad" (didn't he mention that he was hampered by not having one of those fancy new slow simmering devices, and didn't he through some "foam" in there). Marcel needs to concentrate on basic cooking, and forget about playing with the "chef toys".

        I am through with Betty. Her excuse that she just does comfort food identifies her as just a cook, not a "top chef". He constant attacks on Marcel have gotten really old, at least, (not in recent episodes) she hasn't seemed to shamelessly mug for/play up with the judges.

        The salad guy (Carlos?) was obviously the one who was going to get the ax this week, this is supposed to be about the top chef, where you put out your best product every week, his strategy to just get by in the middle of the pack was his undoing.

        A final thought, the contestants are really foolish when they do not work together when they are teamed up. Maybe the producers do something to foster their contentiousness with each other, but if they fall for that, they are sabotaging themselves. When they are teamed up, they need to COLLABORATE with each other, and try and help each other, working together as a team they will have more success. Work together, and at the same time do your best with the dish you are executing, that way you have a better chance of not being eliminated, and just maybe, when it gets closer to the end and down to the last few contestants, it will be about cooking, and they can all shine and maybe the best overall "top chef" will prevail.

        Alas, all of this is wishful thinking, this is a TV show, and the producers will do everything they can to draw eyes and sell commercials, whether it results in good cooking or good "drama". So, of course, we can't take any of it seriously, just look at it as an "entertainment", afterall, the next real "top chef" will have possibly graduated from culinary school, and then worked for years apprenticing to real "top chefs", working horrible hours, for low pay, doing endless prep work, eventually working their way up and learning from the bottom up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChinoWayne

          I think the beef between Betty and Marcel is 99% the invention of the editors who juxtapose things taken out of context in order to create that "drama." I hit the skip button when they go off on those tangents.

        2. I know, I couldn't help but wonder about the editing when they all clearly ignored the comments last time and still made duos and trios, etc. instead of just doing one thing really well. I kind of (just kind of, mind you) feel sorry for Mike because he just doesn't get it... he really was convinced that he was doing so well because he made six things so-so!

          And is it just me or is turkey roulade really that avant garde?!? I've seen Rachael Ray do a turkey roulade for goodness sake!! I mean, I get it, nothing was really inventive on the table, but praising Marcel for this avant-garde turkey roulade was just silly!

          And, for my closing comment, DOWN WITH BETTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ugh!

          1. apparently, there are 2 of these up and running...

            i didn't see last season, so i'm new to it, but am unimpressed. i realize it's "reality" tv, so by default the characters prone to histrionics get more airtime.

            that being said, the cast keeps making the same rookie mistakes every week. didn't carlos remember tc calling those girls out on having all those hours and "just" making salad? didn't anybody remember the dinner at social where all the judges criticized the plated duos and trios, and wanted just one delicious focused assembly of components? didn't anybody remember how not having a team leader led to chaos?

            except for marcel (i agree he's a punk) not one person thought outside the box for this challenge. twice-baked potatoes? gimme a break. the only reason elia got to stay was because her soup was the only remotely palatable dish.

            cheese AFTER dessert? it wasn't anything better than supermarket cheese and the presentation was like a kid did it.

            frank's fake threats? dude, if your deodorant and toothbrush are on the kitchen counter, um, ew...

            i am so over betty. she's shrill and acting like marcel is the devil. her desserts crash every time. "i do comfort food." ack.

            what kind of joint does mike work in during real-life? he did some time at a friday's and that food is better than anything he's plated.

            bourdain was a much needed bolt of humor. at this point i'm watching just for the guest judges.

            1. Yeah, season 1 was much better. Carlos' performance the past couple of weeks was really disappointing. Who closes a highly rated restaurant to go on a realty show to play it safe? Granted, he got screwed out of an immunity two weeks ago and Betty really should have been dumped this week but he dug his own grave.
              I think his performance will actually bite him in the ass and kill his restaurant.

              1. Bourdain was obviously there at Tom's request. Some of his comments seemed pre-scripted to me, too. Although calling Marcel Astro Boy made me spit chai.

                Marcel is a twerp, him and every other thermal inversion blah-bi-di-blah 22 to 26 year old idiot line jockey. I'd like to ship him over to Gordon Ramsey's show "The F Word" on BBC America. That'd knock the cocky out of him.

                It is so clear that Ilan, Cliff, and Sam are actually, employable talent. The others don't deserve their own hot dog cart, let alone restaurant. Let's face it: the interesting people generally make the interesting food.

                Those who got stuck cooking for turkey day? None of those people are interesting to me, ergo their flacid food. Marcel's food may look better, probably because he had better culinary training. But he still talks out his you know what and should have had the sense god gave a goat to wrap that roulade in call fat. And when he pulls out the molecular gastronomoy crap? Can you say compensating and insecure?

                1 Reply
                1. re: maggie

                  Were we watching the same show? They were told to do a "cutting edge Thanksgiving" and Marcel did as told. When asked how he felt about his dish by the judges, he immediately stepped up and told them the ways he wasn't satisfied and would change his dish. And it's CAUL fat.

                2. All the judges recognized that Marcel was the only one who followed the assignment. From Colicchio's blog:

                  "Marcel’s turkey entrée was the only dish that met the criteria of traditional thanksgiving flavors reinterpreted in a cutting edge way ..."

                  From Gail Simmons's blog:

                  "Marcel ... finally was able to put his mad-scientist theories to work. ... No one could say he was not cutting edge, especially in relation to his competition."


                  1. I think Betty should have left as she did a lot of un-cheflike things. a) she sunk the ship by rejecting the ideas of others b) she blamed others for the bad creme brulee. If she knew what she was doing she would have got it right. c) she's unhinged, too unfocused. With this behavior no one would want to work with or for her.

                    23 Replies
                    1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                      I think Betty showed her true colors this week. I was shocked at her behavior at the judge's table. She completely threw Carlos under the bus for no reason other than he had called her out at another challenge. Talk about petty. Then she had the nerve to blame others for her creme brulee. Worst, she started ranting on Marcel for no reason whatsoever.

                      1. re: AmblerGirl

                        She didn't want to say anything at first, and didn't say anything until after Mike did. When she finally did it was so exaggerated it seemed like bad acting.

                        This is the sort of thing where I don't trust that the editors gave us an accurate picture of what really went on.

                        1. re: AmblerGirl

                          Not only did Ugly Betty throw Carlos under the bus at the judges table she went back to the room with the other contestants and tell them she thought Marcel should go.

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              It didn't carmelize. And she did half of them herself -- those didn't form crusts either so her blaming other people was not only rude, it was transparently untrue.

                              I hate her.

                              1. re: Adrienne

                                That sounds ridiculous. Can't burn sugar?

                                1. re: babette feasts

                                  The problem was that she'd sprinkled chopped hazelnuts on top and they burned. Apparently there wasn't enough time to redo.

                                  A more careful cook might have made extra and done a trial.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I don't understand how they could burn the topping WITHOUT burning the sugar.

                                    Also, they were all in separate portions so she really really screwed up by not doing a test brulee -- how can you make the same mistake a dozen times in a row?

                                    1. re: Adrienne

                                      When you blowtorch cane sugar, it turns to yummy caramel, but when you blowtorch chopped hazelnuts, they turn to nasty ash.

                                      If I remember that scene right, she didn't realize the problem until she'd torched them all. She had time to scrape off the burned stuff but not to redo.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        God, I need a raise. Clearly pastry cheffing ability is much more rare and valuable than anyone realizes! (I know she's not a PC, but still). She should have caramelized the sugar on the stove, stirred in the nuts, cooled it in a thin layer or maybe stretched it as it cooled to get funky shapes and forms and combined that w/ custard. OK, I'm signing up for this show next time.

                                        how can you make the same mistake a dozen times in a row?
                                        --overconfidence, worrying too much about getting it done and not enough about whether it's going to be good

                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                          What would you have done for a "cutting edge" version of pumpkin pie given the time constraint and the limitations of that kitchen?

                                          My first thought would be to do a Daniel Patterson sort of thing, candy the squash, present with toasted seeds and a cube of gelled whipped cream, and drizzle with essential spice oils.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            This might have been the time for her stupid napoleon idea!! ;-)

                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                              Haha, I had the same thought. RL's idea sounds really yummy though, and I was thinking that a cutting edge pumpkin dessert should in some way feature a piece of actual pumpkin or squash in whole form (I hope I'm picturing what you described correctly).

                                              Although I definitely think most of these chefs ignored the challenge rules, I also don't think the creme brulee idea would have soured the judges so much if it had worked. Changing any standard recipe to pumpkin would probably have been fine (pumpkin tiramisu, pumpkin galette, pumpkin profiteroles, pumpkin filled truffles, pumpkin whatever) if it had been delicious. Look at Elia -- nothing really cutting edge about her soup, it just tasted good.

                                              1. re: Adrienne

                                                Hmm, yeah, napoleons are always fun, and some nice caramelized puff pastry would be good, although I prefer fillo myself. Or thin sheets of chocolate. Candied squash cubes are a good idea, I also like candied orange or grapefruit zest with pumpkin. Maybe throw in a more savory element, like curry, or dark beer, or molasses.

                                                I suppose I might have done something like:
                                                pumpkin panna cotta and fillo napoleon, tangerine buttermilk sherbet, stout reduction
                                                pumpkin beignets, chai sabayon, candied pepitas
                                                creme brulee trio: pumpkin caramel, pumpkin curry, pumpkin white chocolate

                                                The creme brulee idea isn't bad, it just sounds like Betty doesn't know much about how pastry actually works - but this is not uncommon among savory cooks. I agree with Adrienne - take anything that's not actually pie, do it well, give it a little unexpected twist. Because it seems like they don't have the 'cutting edge' equipment, so they were really just looking for 'modern'.

                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              My first thought was a cannoli. Spice up the dough/shell with cinnamon, make the filling of mascarpone, pumpkin and spices and instead of chocolate chips, use crumbled gingersnaps. Just not sure if it would work in reality.

                                              1. re: QueenB

                                                1. that sounds amazing
                                                2. chocolate chips taste surprisingly good with pumpkin

                                                1. re: Adrienne


                                                  I really wanted to work the gingersnaps into the recipe. My second thought was the same thing, but making the cannoli shell with a gingersnap flavor.

                                                  It's funny, when I watch this show every week, I always try to come up with my own recipes for the challenge. I feel a little better knowing I'm not the only one.

                                                  1. re: QueenB

                                                    Oh man, now we have to start posting what we would have liked to make in response to these challenges :)

                                                    1. re: QueenB

                                                      I'm with Queen Bee. Love to think of recipes for the various challenges. I was surpised everyone except Marcel played it so safe. Carlos, that salad? Betty what were you thinking? the twice fried potato thing, trio? Turkey,cranberry sauce, dressing, sweet potatoes,mashed potatoes,green bean casserole, that ambrosia, marhmellow thing...so many cool foods to rift on, so sad this episode...except for Bourdain's comments!

                                                      1. re: sharonm

                                                        Oh man, I would have LOVED a riff on ambrosia. Maybe a semi-fredo. Marcel could make a foam for it.

                                                        1. re: amkirkland

                                                          I had the idea of a Pavlova-like dessert with pomegranate seeds and pieces of diced and candied pumpkin scattered about. Maybe some candied lemon and orange zest. It could be a very flexible dessert, adding/taking away elements.

                                  2. re: babette feasts

                                    And also, as Coldicchio pointed out over and over, it wasn't really creme brulee at all. Just pie filling with some crap on top.

                                    1. re: Atomica

                                      A few weeks ago I had brough up that i had gone to a very nice dinner in Walnut Creek, Prima, and that I had a pumpkin brulee. I was so disappointed becaue the dish was so shallow there was hardly in dessert. I have ordered brulee many many times, I love the cremy texture and the crunch, but this was off. It was not true pumpkin, vague spices, not noteworthy.
                                      My fave brulee ever was in vegas at the Drais, and it was grand marnier. Awesome.

                              2. It was so odd and uncalled for because Marcel was in the top two and was not even being considered for elimination.

                                I agree Marcel is annoying but he is really unfairly picked on. I thought the other chefs really picked apart his turkey during the elimination challenge. They seemed to go out of their way to criticise him to the judges.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: AmblerGirl

                                  From the producer's blog: "... It was during the shooting of this episode that we on the production team started asking each other, 'Why do they all hate Marcel so much?' ... you have seen that he can be cocky and annoying, but it just doesn't seem to correlate with the level of hatred directed at him. ... My theory is that living communally under the strict control of the production team has reduced the chefs to a bunch of kids in camp egging each other on to bully the unpopular brainiac. Pretty soon they'll be flushing his head down the toilet ... mark my words."


                                2. Thanks for pointing that out Robert. Reinforces my feeling that it's a 'cool kids' vs 'the nerds' situation going on.

                                  This was truly an awful, awful episode with so many of the chefs serving up heaping portions of disappointment not only culinarily, but personality-wise as well.

                                  Frank: Loud, fatass drunk with a penchant for violence. Great.

                                  Betty: Certifiably insane with a fake, Joker smile. Her control issues don't help either. I blame her for driving the entire team into the ground with her endless planning and shutting down of ideas.

                                  Sam: Shit stirrer for no apparent reason. His "oh if that were MY toothbrush..." speech to frank was simply incomprehensibly meanspirited towards Marcel. His cocky "I am a sexy chef" aura is grating as well.

                                  At this point, I am rooting for a Cliff, Ilan, Marcel, and Elia final four. Marcel I actually could take or leave, but just because he's being ganged up on makes me like him more and more. He seems more like the young braggart talking a bigger game than what he can show, but at most that's annoying. Some of the these other people are downright vile to me. As for Elia - I dig her accent, I dig how she stood up to Tom C, and I dig how she stands up for Marcel. Add all that, plus throw in a dash of "fun crazy" as opposed to Frank's "scary crazy" and she's got my vote.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: fascfoo

                                    Elia was the only fun in this episode for me, outside of Bourdain cracking wise. I think she is hilarious (on purpose) and talented.
                                    Her beautiful pout, "I'm thankful that Tom Colicchio is my judge" had me howling...

                                    I predict Sam's downfall will be a group challenge where he gets caught up in his instigating. That's how they're setting it up anyway . . .

                                    1. re: pitu

                                      We had to rewind ten times before we figured out what she way saying!!

                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        Closed captioning! I use it all the time.

                                    2. re: fascfoo

                                      What is with her accent? Sounds like south american/mexican trying to be french, although it is pleasing.

                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                        Well-educated upper-class Mexican who studied and worked in France for several years. She's likely spent more time speaking French than English.

                                        1. re: stevuchan

                                          She was born in DF, worked at L'Atelier in Paris and opened the vegas branch. Her last name sounds a bit middle eastern to me and it could be that she is a descendent of Lebanese who immigrated to Mexico a la Selma Hayek.

                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                            Yes, it's been revealed at some point that Elia is of Lebanese background, and her culinary training was in Paris, but not only at Joel Robuchon. I read the Top Chef forums at televisionwithoutpity.com, so I have found out more info on the contestants (or "cheftastansts" as they refer to them) there than just from on the show.

                                            The bios at bravotv.com are fairly useless, but says she has "has earned 34 different culinary degrees and specializes in everything from French cuisine to chocolate making," but the discussion on TWOP has concluded that she earned a basic culinary degree and took certificate courses in a bunch of other things, which range from one day to a couple of weeks.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                              She is of Lebanese extraction. If you Google her full name Elia Aboumrad Harfuch it turns up some interesting stuff (mostly in Spanish), such as that her mother's both a well-known plastic surgeon and a society-pages regular.

                                      2. I find Elia to be extremely annoying, all her food seems boring and she is so whiny. I was dissapointed that Michael didnt make the Turducken Lasagna, that was a great idea for the challenge.

                                        1. Why is Marcel so annoying (obviously these season's Steven) - have you noticed his hair. That alone is bizzare. Even though he does seem to have the training, and I agree, he was the only one who even tried anything remotely cutting edge, he never quite pulls anything off. However, I don't find him nearly as annoying as Steven was - I think Marcel is just wierder. I think Cliff, Sam and Ilan will be in the final three. No one else seems remotely top chef material. Just like last season, it was pretty obvious that Harold, Tiffany and LeeAnn (did I get the name right) were going to make it to the end.

                                          1. Marcel's rising status can be seen in his moniker -- few are referring to him as Wolfman or Wolverine anymore. I hope they fluff his hair more and increase his eye-makeup for the upcoming episodes.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: nosh

                                              Astro Boy came off relatively well in the second half of this episode since the elimination challenge played to his relatively narrow interests and the other four all had meltdowns. He's still not much of a contender.

                                              1. re: nosh

                                                seems like the heat-meiser was cast as this year's steven. i thought steven was very annoying last season, but i grew to appreciate him as the show progressed. comparing the two, i think steven is a much more skilled than the wolverine and can cook circles around him.

                                              2. To me it's pretty clear that they are editing out how annoying astro boy is. I find it unfathomable that everyone in the house hates him that much b/c of his hair. His hair isn't all that weird btw - not much different than Illan's faux-hawk there's just more of it.

                                                I'm pretty sure that whenever their around drinking he always has a hey look at me story and the contestants really just want to see him get his a** kicked.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: wingman

                                                  Robert pointed out the blip from the producer's own blog up above illustrating how the producers THEMSELVES don't understand the level of hatred directed towards Marcel.

                                                  From the producer's blog: "... It was during the shooting of this episode that we on the production team started asking each other, 'Why do they all hate Marcel so much?' My theory is that living communally under the strict control of the production team has reduced the chefs to a bunch of kids in camp egging each other on to bully the unpopular brainiac. Pretty soon they'll be flushing his head down the toilet ... mark my words."


                                                  1. re: fascfoo

                                                    Granted but are the producers there 24/7 or are there times when the cast is alone (non cooking related). I just gotta assume he is a huge p in the a to deal with on a daily basis.

                                                  2. re: wingman

                                                    Because of his hair? Who implied that? No, it may be because they think he's a snob, or, as Betty keeps saying, "selfish" (like that's so evil or something--I don't get it). I find him very likable. He has a lot of potential.

                                                    1. re: Atomica

                                                      There are people on this board who keep comenting on his hair and calling him wolf man - it was sarcasam. I personally find him a little know it all who can't admit when he screws up and doesn't know how to improvise.

                                                  3. I thought the episode was pretty interesting. What five or six courses would you guys offer?

                                                    1. I found this elimination challenge so odd in that all contestants weren't participating. Why would they give immunity to 5 people and force the other 5 to duke it out? I don't think I'd be in much of a collaborative, positive spirit if I was put in that situation. It's no wonder the meal turned out as awful and disjointed as it did.

                                                      I'm liking Elia more and more and can't stand Betty more and more. Elia's dish looked good, but I wish she had presented it in a more unexpected way or added an unexpected twist. I don't think she'll win in the end, but she has alot of personality w/o irritating me.

                                                      I'm rooting for Elan or Cliff at this point.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                                        I find it interesting to read Tom Colicchio's blog on bravotv.com and I found his podcast/interview on Chow somewhat enlightening, though I don't like him much on the show. In the Chow interview, he said the the producers, who aren't chefs, come up with the challenges. So in the case of this episode, it was the producers' idea to have five quickfire winners and force the other five to cook. And Colicchio says in his blog for the episode that Cliff's quickfire dish wasn't a standout, but it was better than the other four, and he had to pick five contestants. FWIW, I don't think the five got immunity for the next challenge - that would be truly unfair.

                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                          I realize the 5 didn't win immunity for next time, but they received immunity from the elimination challenge that followed. In the past, winners of the quickfire still participated in elimination challenges. I think this challenge was crafted very poorly and set up the "losers" to be demoralized even further. Of course, some will say that they should rise to the challenge and be even more motivated to succeed, but it would be really difficult w/ all the negative energy around.

                                                          The producers this time around really seem like they want the chefs to fail, and I feel like there's so much editorial manipulation that I don't trust much of what I'm seeing. Season 2's excessive focus on drama and increased product placement is really annoying. Padma is a slight improvement; I like the guest chefs; and even Gail seems more appealing this time around. I don't expect Colicchio to be a Tim Gunn, but I don't care much for his TV personality.

                                                          I do like reading the blogs on Bravo, particularly Harold's. I'm really glad he won last time.

                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                            I agree that the episode was a poor idea. I was really hoping to see some of the "winners" jump in the kitchen with the others to help out.

                                                      2. Well said Carb. Made no sense to give immunity to 5. Very random. TC was looking ti get rid of Carlos. Unfortunately, Carlos did nothing to help his cause. Regardless, the quick fire challenge was rigged and the elimination challenge was silly. Betty blows...

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Sobe

                                                          How do you figure the quickfire was rigged?

                                                          1. re: Sobe

                                                            I agree with the comment that this episode sucked because the five worst chefs did all the cooking. i'm saddened because the thing that initially drew me to this show was the FOOD not the DRAMA. i.e., the sushi challenge...we never even got to see what josie made, but we they spent at least 2 minutes on her saying how she knew the flavors and that was her thing.

                                                            as far as innovative thanksgiving ideas, i'd say it was a tough challenge. i perused the web for some 'gourmet' thanksgiving menus and didn't really see much. i think this challenge would have been great if they had been able to master the execution...

                                                            p.s. i loved bourdain's comment about mike's 'flinstonian execution' of his dishes. :o)

                                                            1. re: soypower

                                                              The Flinstonian comment had us howling! Bourdain was the one bright spot in that episode.

                                                              1. re: soypower

                                                                Cutting-edge contemporary cuisine requires special equipment, such as recirculators and inkjet printers, and ingredients not found in a typical larder, such as edible paper and guar gum.

                                                            2. what happened to last night's episode?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: ceeceee

                                                                I read that there's no episode this week.

                                                              2. I was wondering if they have some sort of basic recipes to work with. Such as the ice cream challenge. Cliff said he had never made ice cream before so how would he know the right proprtions to use?

                                                                1. Why no new episode last night? Are the countless replays on Bravo during the rest of the week not enough? Thanksgiving break doesn't explain it -- they aren't competing, filming, and editing in real time. Bad form, Top Chef producers.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: nosh

                                                                    They're not competing or filming in real time, but they don't necessarily have all the episodes in the can yet.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Yeah, they probably spend much more time in the edit room than actual video taping.

                                                                    2. re: nosh

                                                                      which brings up my second biggest peeve with this season.

                                                                      does the disconnect between when they're staging the show and when it's actually being shot irk anyone else? it's a reality show, what's with the false timeline? i really don't need a thanksgiving episode when all the behind-the-scene stuff repeatedly makes a point of telling you the show was shot on the west coast & hawaii during a very hot summer. it's fine for scripted shows to showcase the holidays and what not, but it just seems ridiculous for a reality show to do it, especially when it's so obviously not that time of year when they're shooting.

                                                                      i mean, part of the path to becoming a great chef is to realize that fresh, seasonal, regionally-available food is the canvas you paint on. so why are the contestants being forced, during a heat wave, to prepare heavy, tgif-friendly fare? or a 4-course turkey dinner? the ones who have actually tried to prepare seasonally appropriate food have been penalized for it. (think sam and the fruit salad for the tgif challenge, they gave him kudos for flavor & execution, but didn't think he deserved to win because it wasn't an entree, at least by tgif standards.)

                                                                      just to round things out, my biggest peeve is with poor quality of contestants this season. there are a few with the skills and drive to be there, but the rest are just filler, and seemingly not even up to the standards of the also-rans from last season.

                                                                      the last major source of dissatisfaction for me with this show is the tendancy this season for the contestants to simply ignore the parts of the challeneges they don't want to do. next season, i think the producers should spell it out from the get go that if the rules/requirements of each challenge are not met, it will result in immediate disqualification. if that means, as it might have this season, that a goodly portion of the cast would have gone home in a single episode, then so be it. it just means the producers will have to be flexible. for instance, if they lost a bunch of people early on, they could restyle the last half of the season as a series of iron chef cook-offs without a weekly elimination. or they could put each of the remaining chefs in charge of the kitchen and a challenge each week to see who can really run the show. this season would have been better if the latter suggestion were followed with, say, elia, sam, cliff & ilan (+ maybe a couple others) each taking the reins for a show

                                                                      1. re: mark

                                                                        If they eliminated everyone who didn't follow the assignment, Marcel would have won last week, and the season would be over.

                                                                        It works best when there aren't any arbitrary rules. Give the contestants a theme ingredient or a limited pantry, and let them make the best food they can before the clock runs out.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          actually, that would leave marcel plus the five who "won" the quickfire; so there would still be a cast.

                                                                          and if marcel were to win because he was the only one who followed the rules, then so be it. it just means he's better at playing the game; and let's not kid ourselves, a game is just what this is. this show has little to nothing to do with becoming a real "top" chef in the real world.

                                                                          1. re: mark

                                                                            Maybe there would have been a few others left. Sam and Elan would have been eliminated in the TGIF challenge.

                                                                        2. re: mark

                                                                          ....it's cheaper to do 'contest-ainment' than a real challenge between chefs with chops. The weirdos come out of the woodwork at audtitions, and they pick a good assortment of them, that's for sure. Plus the producers don't have to know much about the subject.

                                                                          Bourdain must have been repaying a called-in favor.

                                                                      2. I'm pulling for Cliff and Ilan. They seem like decent people who are skilled chefs with the ability to adapt to different tastes.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: glutton

                                                                          I like Cliff and Ilan too, but I'm really irritated by no one really seeming to take on any kind of leadership role that is a requirement of a top chef...everyone realizes that taking on a leadership role means it's their a** on the chopping block, so everyone just seems to be shirking any kind of initiative. But I suppose season two of any reality/competition show loses a bit of integrity as the pool of applicants becomes more savvy on the strategy of the show...:o(

                                                                          1. re: soypower

                                                                            One easy solution would be to give immunity to two contestants in the quickfire, and then make them the chefs of two teams.

                                                                            If the producers spent more time thinking about food and cooking and less on personality conflicts ...

                                                                            1. re: soypower

                                                                              This is purely speculation, but I have a feeling that Cliff can be that type of leader. The show has not demanded that he do that -- it's a risky strategy this early on -- but I think he will emerge in that role as the field gets smaller. As far as Ilan's leadership, I will admit that this would be my one concern about him. He's quite content to cook independently and be an interested, supportive castmate, but will he be able to manage a kitchen, which is ultimately what a chef does? Management requires a willingness to have a conflict, a willingness to be in an uncomfortable situation, etc. Will he do that? I hope he does because he truly seems like a decent, talented person.

                                                                          2. don't get me wrong I really love watching this show, but,
                                                                            Has anyone watched Elia's video onthe Bravo site???? Tony Burdette? What the heck? and then theres the "I know and they know, that I know that I know.....circles.
                                                                            What a joke.

                                                                            Elisa, if I recall has in the past voiced her opinion that she has no problem with Marcel, yet she went to him and confided to him that the others talk about him. Thatta girl. Keep Marcel unfocused. What is that they say? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

                                                                            I listened to her on the Bravo site, and she makes no sense. To me it doesn't matter where she was trained, if the best she can do is mushroom soup when asked to do something cutting edge,then whatever. While interacting with the others she wants to play both sides of the fence. I consider her to be a major game player. And Betty who is too self absorbed, by either trying to act like a phoney princess in front of the judges, or a major blow wind to Marcel, surely will miss what is going on. I will bet that Elia will surely throw her a sucker punch. Wise up Betty and get over yourself already. After she is done with Betty, her good friend Marcel is right behind her.( Remember Otto)

                                                                            While shopping for the dinner, and if I recall correctly, Carlos placed a call to her at the grocery store about where to find the Queso. I wonder if she was helpful with his salad choices???

                                                                            Mike and Frank, need to be careful. And during the cooking this is when Marcel could of shined. He commented on the two potatoes. It appears that Mike and Marcel get along. Why didn't anyone review the menu choices? Anyeay, Mike and Marcel and Frank fall for the same instigation tactics and let their emotions get the better of them.

                                                                            but watching all of this, for my money it will be Sam that will outwit Elia. Once can only hope.

                                                                            Well here I go, with another thing that irked me. While Anthony Bourdain had Carlos' neck in the noose about what he did for for 4 hours, I thought about this. I guess, Elia had to go grow the shrooms for her dish, and Betty couldn't get the can opener to work for the pie filling and then of course had problems with the powdered chocholate container for her cutting edge creme brulees.
                                                                            It is just too bad Carlos couldn't think on his feet, after reading all of Anthony Bourdain's books, this poor display of leadership only surpassed by his silly comments were just too stupid for words. And congratulations to all the other dummies that sat there alongside him at the dining table who agreed with him at the table, because after all he is Anthony Bourdain. How's that song go, "If I only had a brain".

                                                                            Just my opinion...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                              I think Elia's main weakness is that she's only 23.

                                                                              When she decided to make the soup she was in a funk because she knew her dish was better than Cliff's. Read Colicchio's blog:


                                                                            2. I had read his blog yesterday. He contradicts himself here, when she questioned him on screen, he said Cliff's dish was "very good, you had to eat all of it". And here he writes, "Cliff’s dish and found the flavors wanting, and couldn’t fathom that I disagreed (for the record, Cliff’s dish didn’t blow my mind, but it was better than the five that lost).

                                                                              Aside from that, I don't see how mixing a bunch of canned gook, and then not winning for "the best dish" when you are a professional chef could put a person in a funk? I mean really, and to qustion a judges opinion? Palates are palates, and we are all different, she just face it, missed the mark.

                                                                              And anyway are they going to weigh that excercise heavily? I don't think so, that was not even cooking.

                                                                              I disagree, she is at the advantage at 23. She can certainly make that work for her, much more so than Betty who is so set in her ways, and Mia who doesn't have the skill. Elia's moodiness will be her achilles heel. And Marcel being easily distracted will him too, they are both are brilliant and are losing sight of why they are in this competition in the first place. The dynamics evolving are turning this competition into a personality contest, and they have all eluded to that.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                Yeah, but I didn't really believe him when he said it was good either... he wasn't very convincing.

                                                                              2. Seriously, what's wrong with me? After reading the posts here, I'm embarrassed to say I'm pulling for Sam. I love a good lookin' man who can cook.

                                                                                And what's up with Gail, the Food & Wine judge. Does she bug you as much as me? She's got no personality.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Kwsty

                                                                                  You can tell by some of her comments that she's attentive and smart, but she looks sort of drugged. Too much botox, maybe.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    Your right. Even when she's happy with meal, you could never tell by her expression. Blank Slate.

                                                                                2. Don't you think though that Gail actually was one of the few that gave her OWN personal viewpoint. She said she enjoyed Mike's potato, while everyone else was dogging him?

                                                                                  I think Sam will go far, but Cliff is the one I am waiting to see pull a rabbit out of his hat. He is keeping a low profile all the while being very much a gentleman.

                                                                                  What is that thing in Sam's hair?

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                        I'm sure the signature hairdos are the producers' idea. They want to make the characters easily distinguishable and add some gratuitous visual interest.

                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                          Really, that is a good point, I'm sure you're right. They are certainly all different.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            If that's the case, Elia will be giving the producers a surprise a little later on.

                                                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                  She'll be pulling a "Felicity" by cutting off her hair.

                                                                                          2. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                            It's called a "SHMATAH"!

                                                                                            Trans. from the Yiddish.....a RAG

                                                                                        2. Top Chef has really been disappointing me this season. They seemed to have upped the drama factor (strange, considering the whole Tiffany-Dave thing from Season 1) and the chefs are so often making just crap. I've hardly been able to watch. Since ther ewas Anthony Bourdain maybe I'll try that episode out, but I hope it's not like the rest of them.