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Top Chef - best cut ever (obviously a spoiler...)

I am so glad they kicked Sara off. I couldn't watch her whine for one more second. And as much as other people didn't do their best tonight, NOT bothering to start cooking the food you're serving is a mistake even most rookies wouldn't make -- and only cooking 3 burgers at a time? My mother (who doesn't cook at all) knows better than that.

Also, this is really petty (and is not the real reason I wanted her off) but she kept saying "myself," when she just meant "me." That strikes me as one of those trying-to-sound-smart-and-missing-the-target moves.

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  1. im actually pulling for Howie, although I doubt he'll win I think he is one of the more talented of the bunch deffinatley better that CJ or Casey

    28 Replies
    1. re: Dio di Romanese

      Sara definitely deserved to be cut, but I really don't like Howie...I thought they picked the best dish; that bacon wrapped shrimp & cheesy grits sounded so delicious. I thought the chefs were pretty naive not to realize they were being set up...

      1. re: LANative

        A line from the NEW YORK magazine about the reality shows really struck me in last night's episode. "participants are forced to live in freak isolation from the rest of the world and claustrophobic propinquity to one another. ...but the measures still seem a bit extreme, and their effect, intended or incidental, is to push the contestants to the breaking point." If Padma had simply decribed the elimination challenge from the outset without the unnecessary cruelty of having the contestants promised a night on the town, that would have been a rather straight-forward test of organizational and cooking skills. Of course, straightforward doesn't ratchet up the pressure enough for a reality show.

        1. re: Indy 67

          That made me so mad I wanted to go through the TV screen and wring Padma's fool neck. I'd have been worse than Sara if I'd been one of the chefs.

          1. re: revsharkie

            Yeah, I wanted to go through the TV screen too but that had more to do with Casey's appearance than anger. Mmmmm......

            One thing that has me curious, and I know Miami is a bit of an oasis from the "south" but Tre's grits....INSTANT GRITS or not? They never said anything about it. (I haven't read the blogs, etc. yet). It seems like, if they were instant, this would be a hole in the regional culinary background of the judges' panel. In southern cuisine, instant grits are much more egregious, or at LEAST equally so, than tinned artichokes and some of the other shortcut ingredients that have been used and heavily criticized in past episodes.

            I'm also wondering when we'll finally get a "enough with the ceviches" comment from someone. Every single episode, one of the first comments when the challenge is announced is "hey, how about a ceviche". I was actually expecting a ceviche ice cream. Oh well, as least I got a ceviche out of both teams in the elimination.

            And that Sara M. has got to go. Ugh.

            1. re: revsharkie

              What makes you think they might be instant grits? Was something said that I missed?

          2. re: LANative

            Interesting that after watching the episode, Ted wished they had axed Howie (see his bravotv blog). It was a toss up this time, but it sounded to me like Howie's "Cuban" was worse than Sara's sliders, even if she made them too slowly (did you the shot of Sara carefully, slowly, forming a patty? I would have gone crazy in there!). That's why I thought Howie should have been cut instead. Bourdain deconstructs exactly why his sandwiches were bad (very funny blog entry this week, AB is unmatched on the subject of drunkenness). And they showed some customers saying the sliders "rocked" and Ted liked his.

            However, Howie has made a lot of great food (even if he can only cook one ingredient) while it has been pretty obvious that Sara would be cut eventually. But I think it should have been Howie this time. The next time he torpedoes his team because he simply can't work with others, he better be gone.

            Very interesting that they gave Dale a night off and a date with Govind. He did lose an opportunity to cook and show his skills, but I am sure he was not complaining. Howie's sundae actually looked better to me, but ginger elevates peach cobbler so I am sure it was delicious. I wonder if CSC will offer the flavor in their stores. Not that I will ever set foot in one. [OK, re: the Cold Stone Creamery sasquatch commercial--why do they want people associating their product with some of the most disgusting characters ever seen in an ad? Can we say bad, unappetizing marketing? How can you not think about some of that bikini wax and hair ending up in your sundae? Bleccccch]

            1. re: kenito799

              The only image that I can think of that's worse is Wendy's using the Violent Femmes' song "Blister in the Sun" for a series of ads--if you know the title of the song, you can't help but be disgusted by having it associated with food.

              1. re: Nettie

                it's even worse if you know the lyrics (as i'm sure you do)...

                "...I stain my sheets I don't even know why"

                yeah, makes me want to run to wendy's.

              2. re: kenito799

                I really don't get why Sara was eliminated; sure she was complaining and depressed but that didn't stop her from making good food. Ted Allen commented on her good slider, so did some customers. The only person who complained about her dish was the guest judge for it being underseasoned (which can't be the basis of eliminating someone since if you're pouring out so much food at once you can't go and taste every burger to make sure it's perfectly salted). Her only dish that was bad was the milkshake and it was only Collichio who complained about it. Howie however brought out a bad tasting media noche that wasn't even properly made. If both could not cooperate in a team, shouldn't it go down to the food?

                1. re: digkv

                  I'd say it was her bad attitude and inability to recover from it.

                  1. re: digkv

                    I don't think the overall assessment was that her burgers were great, just not the worst of the food -- but the slow production was also an issue.

                    I think if she had only complained AT the judges' table, it would have been different, but because it really seemed that she let her poor morale seep into her behavior the whole night, it was reasonable for the judges to think that this had an effect on the entire team. Look at Sara in the kitchen vs. Tre -- both of their attitudes obviously rub off on those around them. Howie is guilty of the same thing in this area (i.e., bad attitude that affects those around him), but the way Tom put it was that Sara was just not well equipped to be in this competition -- she fell apart way too easily to be competitive.

                    Personally, I'd rather work with a jerk who gets his own work done than someone a little more pleasant but who whines and needs help and isn't getting their stuff done.

                2. re: LANative

                  Those grits looked INCREDIBLE!

                  I thought this challenge was actually a lot of fun. I like the idea of gourmet versions of comfort food and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to display this form of cuisine.

                  I actually was compiling a list in my mind of what I would make.

                  I feel bad that Sara left but she is the weaker link. As someone said in the past, they are just weeding out at this point to leave behind the group that are the best chefs and therefore will be the hardest descision to let go. But still...the way she went out sucks. Howie...as much as I like to watch him and enjoy him on the show for entertainment sake was just a bastard. There is a way to conduct yourself and he is failing miserably.

                  The thing is though I think Collechio, for right or wrong, recognizes that in this industry being a bit of an ass can pay off and doesn't 100% fault him for it. He is clearly fighting to stay around. But another pork product!?!?!

                  Next time around Howie should be forced to make seafood and Brian should be forced to make pork! lol

                  And btw...mmmmmm CJ how I loved him last night! I have such a major crush!

                  Oh also, the way Collichio phrased his final sentence before Padma gave her "Sara pack your knives and go" line, I thought for sure they were going to shock us all and kick off both Sara and Howie.

                3. re: Dio di Romanese

                  Howie may have talent, but he needs to learn how to work on a team if he is going to make it to the end.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    Howie needs to learn the difference between leadership and bullying. He is totally clueless about genuine leadership skills. On a team challenge, Howie routinely acts like a bully and tries to dress his actions up in fancy clothes by calling them leadership.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      I would be interested in hearing what some of the folks that work in his kitchen have to say. He does own his own restaurant I believe and therefore must have a number of people working under him.

                      He just might fall under the bully chef category. He certainly wouldn't be the only one out there.

                      1. re: Elyssa

                        Owns his own restaurant? Really? Of course, the situation isn't quite the same since as boss he's entitled to consider his word "the law."

                        1. re: Indy 67

                          Ok looks like I got that one a little wrong. He's the Executive Chef at the Food Gong in Miami according to the Bravo website.

                          But still that's a leadership position in the kitchen.

                  2. re: Dio di Romanese

                    Has/can Howie ever cooked anything that wasn't pork?

                    1. re: chicgail

                      Thank you. His slaws are like Marcel's foams.

                    2. re: Dio di Romanese

                      howie can obviously cook, but he's definitely not the top chef. his biggest problem - and joey was right on the money when he metioned it in a previous episode - is that his repertoire seems to be really limited. seriously, how many times is he going to cook pork??? let's see some variety!

                      my money's on tre or brian...hung may be very talented, but he's too arrogant and self-assured - qualities that will likely come back to bite him in the ass. he's shown pretty poor judgement with some of his choices in recent challenges. the guy could benefit from at least a dash of humility.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Not only that, but Hung just doesn't seem to be really presenting the judges with product that wows them - I can't imagine that changing dramatically enough for him to win.

                        1. re: heathermb

                          I had high hopes for him after the geoduck/black chicken but I agree, most of his dishes have either been overwrought or poorly executed so far. But I think he will make something good soon, if he just listens to his monkey.

                            1. re: kenito799

                              ha! actually, it might be in his best interest to avoid monkey-friendly ingredients. after all, didn't he use bananas with the disastrous chocolate 'mousse' he tried to make for the frozen pie crust challenge? not exactly his shining moment...

                            2. re: heathermb

                              i agree. guess who hung shares this trait with? Ilan Hall. and look where he wound up.

                              1. re: batdown

                                aha, and therein lies one of my problems with this show. ilan didn't deserve to win the title last season...nor did marcel. in fact, strictly in terms of culinary skill and performance throughout all the challenges, the final two should have been cliff and sam.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Me too I wonder how far Cliff would have in fact gotten if not for being the scapegoat.

                                  http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                    You know, the conspiracy theorist in me kind think that they may have paid him off after they booted him because he kind of jumped right into the correct answer for Bravo pretty darned quick when they asked him if it was the right decision to kick him off. Either that or Cliff is a REALLY stand up guy.

                        2. I'm rooting for Dale myself. I think he's the good balance of food lover, chef, brave creator, and friendly enough to gain comrades, yet competent enough to lead. Go Dale!!!

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: reubensandperrier

                            i would love to see dale and hung battle it out in the end. but even more than that, dale and brian. those are clearly the two 'good guys' who have demonstrated the most skill, at least IMO. what a great matchup that would be for the finale!

                            1. re: reubensandperrier

                              Brian is starting to annoy me incredibly, I feel like he is a "fake" nice and the dude is just way too energetic all the time.

                              1. re: wingman

                                Oh man if you want a huge laugh regarding Brian you should certainly read the televisionwithoutpity.com summaries of Top Chef.

                                They are hysterical with Brian!!!

                                  1. re: reubensandperrier

                                    I just finished reading them - how many personalities have come out so far - three? LOL

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      TWOP lists 3 different Brians. The craziest one (and I imagine the one on display last night) was MALARKEY!!...always in all caps!

                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                        actually, i think we're up to 5...

                                        (from tvw/op - "latin lunch" recap) "'Brian' wanted to keep it simple with a purely vegetarian tart, 'Bryan' has the sweet tooth and insisted on dessert, 'O'Brian' is a big meat eater and wanted to do something with sausage, and it's 'MALARKEY!' who tends toward a scallop mania."

                                        (and from tvw/op - "guilty pleasures" recap) "And then his voice gets all Joey Russo as a possible fifth Brian takes over and gabbles, 'Yo, yo, yo -- you know?'"

                                        could just be great strategy, maybe he'll wind up as the final two.

                                        the tvw/op recaps are great. i don't even waste my time watching the show anymore. the product placement is much more palatable when it's pure snark.

                            2. Despite which team won and which one lost, one team was going to go home feeling good that night. One team made the best out of a bad situation and had fun. A bad attitude can permeate like a rotten fish.

                              Pass the onion rings.

                              23 Replies
                              1. re: chanterelle

                                I have to agree. Not being able to bounce back just because one wasn't dressed the way one wanted to be in the kitchen seems very inflexible and well, childish, to me. So you don't like to cook in heels? I can see that. Take them off and work in your stocking feet. Or buy a pair of flip flops while you are out shopping...or grin and bear it. But don't sulk about it.

                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  well, i wouldn't chock sara's outfit issue up to just not liking her shoes. i get what she's saying. you break out with the sassy sexy gear expecting to go to a sassy sexy club. now you're cooking in a bright kitchen? to me thats the functional equivalent of having to go in to the office in yer sassy sexy club gear. thats what i felt she was saying. if i had 'co-workers' see me even at a club in club gear? yipes, not good. like casey was saying - keep the two separate.

                                  thats my thought at any rate..

                                  1. re: winedubar

                                    yeah, and then try to be taken seriously. i think that's what she was more upset about. she's young and people will see her as "cute" first before anything else--put her in her normal going out clothes and she's at even more of a disadvantage than when she's in her chef whites, which is kind of a uniform in giving everyone an even playing field. I do think she overinternalized it, but the whole situation wasn't really fair.

                                    1. re: traceybell

                                      Do you think the contestants expected to be able to go out without the cameras following them though? They ought to know better than that. And I respect Casey's position that she separates work and play, but she was clearly willing to go out with the other chefs dressed like that, so it's not like they're only now seeing her dolled up.

                                      1. re: traceybell

                                        I understand all that, but all she did is call attention to the fact by pouting about it. everyone was in the same boat. Had she just acted as if she deserved respect for who SHE was, rather than assume she didn't deserve it because of what she wore, she would have gotten a lot more respect. What the others (and the judges) really saw was that (by her own admission) she wasn't into the competition. They didn't focus on her shoes or her low cut dress (at least when she didn't call their attention to it by pulling on her shirt) ; they focused on her personality.

                                      2. re: winedubar

                                        They were wearing aprons so I don't think the low cut issue is an issue

                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                          but it was for sara, i think thats the point. she felt uncomfortable. on the other 'hound thread on this episode, someone referenced the sexual comments made to sara and casey. hence her issue of working in club clothes vs chef whites

                                        2. re: winedubar

                                          Someone on one of the other threads also mentioned that in her exit interview on Bravo she said she was getting some sort of crude comments from some of the drunk customers. I'm sorry---I know she should suck it up but thats incredibly hard to handle in that industry and on tv.

                                          It shouldn't make or break your performance but it certainly would affect it I imagine.

                                          Haven't listened to the interview yet though.

                                          1. re: winedubar

                                            If I had the prospect of winning $100k, I'd have made the most out of cooking in a loincloth if I had to. It's a bit bizarre to expect to keep the work/life division separate when you have voluntarily sequestered yourself for a reality show. You've pretty much volunteered to not only blend your work and life for the duration of the recording, but to have it shown publicly.

                                            Not much sympathy from me on that front.

                                            While I don't think it was consciously sexist, I do think this challenge was a bit shortsighted. The clothes a woman might wear for a night on the town are probably harder to cook in than the clothes a guy would wear.

                                          2. re: susancinsf

                                            I read in the New York Magazine article that they took everything away from them. Credit cards and money too so they couldn't cheat when they buy the ingredients.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              That's what they would do on Project Runway, which I think has a similar set of producer.

                                            2. re: susancinsf

                                              She was whining about shopping in her heels... I really don't understand why she didn't take her shoes off as soon as she walked in the store and just do it barefoot! I'm sure it would have been much easier to run around the store that way, and it's not like there was anyone else around to complain. As for the top, it's her own fault - nobody forced her to wear a top that revealing! Presumably she chose it for herself... if the cleavage was really disturbing her, a 10cent safetypin would have fixed it at least temporarily!

                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                And something I noticed was in the opening credits, she's ALL cleaveage, and flashing it pretty proudly. Hmmm....

                                                1. re: reubensandperrier

                                                  I don't think that that's fair -- they're told what to do by the producers in their little things in the opening credits, so that's not really her fault.

                                                  1. re: reubensandperrier

                                                    Plus her issue was with being in the kitchen with cleavage, not having it.

                                                    1. re: elizabeththinks

                                                      The entire episode was cleavage -- Sara's, Casey's and damn near all of South Beach. Had Joey made it to this challenge, we would have seen his as well.

                                                      Seriously, while I mourn the fact that lovely Camille -- pineapple upside down "muffin" notwithstanding -- left us far too prematurely, I see it as a battle between Malarkey, Hung and Tre with Tre as your Top Chef 3. Beyond being a talented chef, he -- albeit in edited reality form -- just seems to be a real, levelheaded and balanced dude. How can you not root for a good guy like that?

                                                      1. re: Kris P Pata

                                                        I couldn't think of his name in my other post, but Tre is going to win, IMO. He's the one person who never loses his cool, and his food is consistently imaginative and looks fantastic.

                                                        But, as you pointed out, they can do an awful lot with editing. Howie needs to learn manners, but I am sure that none of his outbursts are EVER left on the cutting room floor.

                                                        But seriously, if someone can't cook a few burgers and make watery milkshakes in club clothes, they got a priority problem. What she was doing wasn't brain surgery.

                                                        1. re: Pete Oldtown

                                                          you are right. tre is very skilled and even keeled. i would like to see him win and go head to head with harold from season one. very similar in a lot of ways.

                                                          couple of comments related to other discussions on this thread:

                                                          - personally, i have no problem with howie. yeah he sweats too much and he can be abrasive & pushy, but i think he has skills.

                                                          - milkshakes: while howie and sara disagreed about how to make them, i think that she made them her way. one of the judges (i think it might have been padma?) commented that there were ice chips in her milkshake.

                                                          - cj: good god that guy is tall. i appreciate his skills and personality but i chuckle when they all stand together - he absolutely towers over everyone. i can see him being a pro volleyball player.

                                                          - hung: nowhere near as annoying as marcel who i think was way fuller of himself. but the guy needs to simplify things a bit. cauliflower in ice cream was bad enough, but seven other things!?

                                                          - casey: very skilled and very hot.

                                                          1. re: xman887

                                                            Didn't CJ say something about "When I used to play ball?" What's his background?

                                                            1. re: mojoeater

                                                              he said he was a professional volleyball player for several years.

                                                              1. re: mojoeater

                                                                He played for Pepperdine as a middle hitter. Played in the NCAA National Championship match in 1998 against UCLA. He sprained his ankle in the second game and that was all she wrote for Pepperdine. He played in Europe for three years.

                                                                The man had game. There is going to be a feature on him in Volleyball magazine in the next couple of months.

                                                    2. re: Kajikit

                                                      Most board of health's don't allow bare feet in grocery stores and it would be suicide to cook in that tiny kitchen barefoot! I think sexism is rearing it's ugly head again on Top Chef with this latest trick. I thought Howie should have gone.

                                                      1. re: ginnyhw

                                                        there's actually some evidence that the producers planned for this...

                                                        http://tc2blogger.blogspot.com/2007/0...

                                                2. Howie is an ass. I don't care how much talent he "may" have; a chef is a leader and he clearly cannot lead, nor inspire anyone to follow him. Sara may not have been a serious contender, but I sympathize with her complaint. Who works in a kitchen in high heels? Is that anything you would really have to deal with in the real world? Don't underestimate the importance of shoes when you're on your feet for hours (And no offense, but working in stockings is totally unrealistic in a professional kitchen). I think that is actually a handicap--though apparently the other contestants made do, and don't get me wrong, I don't think she would have lasted much longer, regardless.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: The Loaf

                                                    Being annoyed about the situation? 100% reasonable.
                                                    Being the only contestant completely unable to cope? Another story.

                                                    1. re: The Loaf

                                                      Either option actually could be dangerous...especially in such tight quarters annnd if she had open toe shoes...yikes. Lucky Hung wasn't in there swinging his knife around. lol

                                                    2. The original comment has been removed