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Top Chef Aug 15th.

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While the show has not stared yet I am curios the see what brand new unknown secret friendship will be revealed early on. When this happens I'll spend the next 55 mins. knowing who get eliminated.

That being said I am looking forward to this weeks restaurant challenge.

http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

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  1. anyone want to take bets?

    My bet is on howie - any kind of team challege spells disaster for the team with him on it, and all the weaker people have left by now.

    29 Replies
    1. re: Jeters

      OK, like this is chicken poop. They totally chickened out. I think that the Garage guys really lucked out because I would have dumped them. By the tease, it looks like they will attempt to surprise all, which to me means one of the April guys will go.

      The Garage menu did look like it weighed a ton. And Howie was Howie, again, stubburn and unyielding. Sarah I think tried to make her point to Howie with her statement about taking responsibility.

      1. re: Phaedrus

        I was holding my breath afraid that Tre would be sent home!!!! Over smoked potato is one thing but scented candles??? I would have walked out of that place the second I smelled it. The Garage team looked so happy by the do over and from the clips for next weeks show they have made the best of it. I am crossing my fingers for Tre....I think he is awesome and I felt for him tonight, in the weeds for sure. I hope team April pulls together and kicks butt next week.

        1. re: Phaedrus

          I think the "surprise twist" that nobody sees coming (but should) is that there is going to be a double-elimination next week.

          1. re: DanaB

            I agree. And it shouldn't be a surprise to the cheftestants. Of course, it doesn't really matter whether it's a surprise or not, since there's really nothing they can do about it (unlike, for example, being told you're going clubbing and then having to cook in a skimpy top, skirt and high heels -- I'd like to see Colicchio try it!).

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Thanks for that visual Ruth, I think I just suffered permanent visual cortex damage!

              1. re: Phaedrus

                Not a pretty picture, is it?

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  The women were given clogs. You can see it on the close-ups and blogs.

                  1. re: mojoeater

                    I guess it was too much of a liability issue not to. Still, it's not the same as being able to wear your own shoes, the way the guys could.

          2. re: Phaedrus

            I was a bit surprised by the judges' harping on the heaviness of the meal. This is Florida, where if you went by the weather, you'd never be able to eat a heavy meal.

            1. re: queencru

              Amen to that. I didn't understand the criticism from the judges on that front.

              Tomorrow evening, it will be 110 F degrees in Phoenix and I can guarantee there will be plenty of Mexican restaurants churning out dishes of lard-laden bean, cheese enchiladas, stuffed burritos mounds of carne asada and rich mole sauces.

              If the majority of people were opposed to "heavy meals" in the summer, every Mexican, German, or Eastern European restaurant would close up shop between late May and early September.

              1. re: Seth Chadwick

                How many of those restaurants are not air-conditioned?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Of the ones abroad? I'd imagine quite a few since AC isn't quite as popular here as it is elsewhere. Outdoor eating also tends to be a lot more popular, even in places where it reaches well into the 90s with high humidity during the day (like Thailand).

                  1. re: queencru

                    I was replying to Seth Chadwick. Of the Phoenex restaurants he's talking about.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      more than you think. i live in phoenix, and there are still a ton of places that only have swamp coolers. and they cease being effective over 100 degrees. and during monsoon season.

                      even small restaurants WITH a/c can't keep up with the kitchen and the crowds in the summer. its still sweltering hot!!!!!

                      and pizzeria bianco, the famous spot here with the 4 hour waits - guess where you get to wait in summer for wood fired pizza?

                      you guessed it - outside....

                      1. re: winedubar

                        at least your pizza won't get cold

                        1. re: Brian S

                          lol - true enough :D

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Probably very few. But that doesn't stop people from sitting outside on the patios in 100+ degree temperatures eating items listed above as well as burgers, steaks, etc. Even with the misting systems, the temperature is only reduced by a few degrees, so we are still talking about people who are eating hearty/heavy meals in the summertime.

                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                      Well this Phoenician wouldn't order risotto with foie gras(and CREAM?!), followed by braised lamb shank, and then that crepe with more rich heavy ingredients in 100+ weather so I thought the judges comments had validity.

                      Even beyond the season, locale, temperature issue the menu wasn't balanced! Ugh...I was feeling uncomfortable just thinking about eating all that with nothing offered to counterbalance any of the rich heavy food.

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        I'm not disagreeing that Howie's risotto was a bad idea, because it just sounded bad generally, but I do think that overall there is a different mindset in some areas about the richness of food.

                        However, Florida doesn't get that hot. I live in Tampa and it has never reached 100. Typically the temperatures top out in the low 90s while Miami is a little cooler in the warm months and tends to average in the high 80s in the summer. In April you're probably looking at average temperatures in the low 80s/high 70s.

                        1. re: queencru

                          The average maximum temperature in Miami this April was 83, and the maximum temperature was 91.

                          Whatever it was like outside, they were eating in a garage with TV lights and no cross-ventilation, let alone air-conditioning. April's host was sweating like a pig and not just from nervousness. The cooks may have been somewhat oblivious to that since they were in the air-conditioned studio.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            This is a really valid point. One of the stations in one of the kitchens I manage is impossible to adequately ventilate. Unforutnately, this particular station has 4 fryers, 8' flat top and 2 refrigeration units, all of which add even more heat to whatever the ambient temperature is. When it's hot, that space is not unlike working in a sauna. My employees sweat profusely, as do I if I need to jump in and help during peak periods. The station is serviced by a swamp cooler, which is completely useless in combating both the heat and humidity. I do have some great employees working in that area, but when the station is just too hot their product and service does suffer because they are so extremely uncomfortable.

                        2. re: ziggylu

                          I wouldn't order that menu ANY time! It would be heavy as lead... it was really very unbalanced. Where were the vegetables? Did they really expect ANYONE to be able to get through that much meat and starch at one sitting? They really weren't thinking about the eating experience as a whole when they made that menu...

                          1. re: Kajikit

                            I ate that much meat and starch last night.

                  3. re: queencru

                    Did Padma or whoever specifically say the restaurant should reflect the local environment etc or is that just assumed?

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      A competent chef should recognize that most people won't want to eat a heavy winter meal on a hot day while sitting in an unairconditioned garage. As Bourdain put it in his blog:

                      "Sara M. ... demonstrated as 'chef' of the Garage ... complete obliviousness to the season, the locale, and even the all-too painfully obvious fact that it was bloody hot. First mention of Howie's utterly boneheaded idea for a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Foie Gras should have been met with peals of derisive laughter and comments like, 'No WAY!! Are you OUT of your MIND!!?? That's about as heavy and wintery a dish as you can find on the planet! It'll sit in their bellies like quick drying cement in this heat. Now un-**** yourself and think of something light and seasonal!'"

                      http://www.bravotv.com/blog/anthonybo...

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I think his blog just highlights the differences between a NYC mentality and a Florida mentality. Floridians don't want something light and seasonal 12 months out of the year so we'll eat lamb or other heavy dishes whenever we feel like it. April is actually a dry month for Florida.

                      2. re: Elyssa

                        I don't believe she did say that.

                      3. re: queencru

                        It wasn't just the risotto (overly richened with cream to gild this overly caloric lily), but also the pairing--lamb shanks and (altho this wasn't made too much of during the show) crepes for dessert--that would have made this a heavy meal for a January day in Helsinki. And by the way, did Sara really have enough time to prepare lamb shanks (which usually require slow braising for the best effect--an overnight sit and a reheat does it no harm either)? No wonder they were as tough as nails. Whoever was responsible for this menu should have gotten the boot.

                        1. re: jbw

                          Yeah, that was my exact thought--four hours for braised lamb shanks? Where was her pressure cooker?

                          Sara was the chef, she was responsible for the menu. Barring random strokes of good and bad luck, she and Howie will be the next to go.

                  4. Lame show. Nobody did great. Nobody completely sucked. At least the judges did say one thing with which all Chowhounds would agree: It should come down to the food.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mojoeater

                      This whole season has been LAME, right? Am I wrong, or is the whole concept of this show done/over?
                      I don't love anyone this round.
                      CJ, a bit, but (Tall guy, right ? see, so uninteresting!) for his person-ability/leadership not his food, per se...remember tuna casserole?
                      Its great that BRAVO upped the ante of chef "quality" but the boredom factor is off the chain.
                      I miss sommelier Stephen and yep, shamefully, rappin' Marcel.

                      Why is hippie sugar McBooty, sari sari(sorry sorry) Sara still on? OUCH. Such a bad chef.

                      And BOOOOOOO to the no kicking anyone off tonight!! You should damn well be able to communicate and run the front of the house. its the same as the back, communication and teamwork. doyee. same business, same pressure, just more polite and no stink candles.
                      Customer service is just as important to a managing chef as "cheffery."

                      1. re: mmerino

                        Re your last paragraph - I agree that ideally one person would have all of those skills, but it immediately reminded me of past seasons where contestants were told things like this isn't "Top Sommelier" or "Top Maitre d'" etc. And, as in any business, different people have different strengths, as I was reminded when I saw a piece about Anita Lo, of Annisa, and her partner. They met at a place where they were both cooking, but when they decided to open their own place, after initially contemplating that they would both be cooking, they decided it made more sense for Anita to cook, and her partner to be charge of the front of the house. Apparently Anita is not nearly as outgoing as her partner - as she herself said.

                        So, I actually think it was the right call not to boot Dale or Brian b/c of the front of the house mishaps, much as I abhor vanilla candles anywhere.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I totally agree...and btw I LOOOOVE Annissa! :)

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            precisely. it would have been completely unfair to boot either one of them for foh issues. all i kept thinking about was how many times the judges said during the first two seasons that this isn't "top sous-chef" or "top sommelier"...well, it's also not "top maitre d," and their respective inadequacies this week had nothing to do with food.

                            i hope it is a double elimination next week...they really just need to get rid of howie AND sara already!

                            i'm with 'bubbles4me'...fingers crossed for tre. my money's on him [or brian] to win the whole thing.

                      2. I can't decide if the conclusion of this Restaurant War episode was totally awesome or a total cop out!

                        I was just hoping Sara M or Howie would mess up and get sent home. I was really freaked out they were going to ax Brian MALARKY!! While I think he messed up I kind of feel that its not right to send people home for front of the house issues. I know some people will disagree but this is Top CHEF not Top Restaurater. If you are a kick-ass chef you will hire someone really amazing to deal with the front of the house stuff if you can't handle it yourself. Plenty of chefs...and good ones...do this.

                        And um...I know we always discuss the lame sponsor tie in..but Round Robin!? Really? Hmmmmm.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Elyssa

                          we went from bombay sapphire...to coldstone creamery...to red robin. seems to be getting worse by the week.

                          what's next? waffle house? cracker barrel? white castle?

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            whoever pays

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              No, Waffle House was Hell's Kitchen. :-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                lol!

                          2. When they brought Dale and Brian in, I thought both would go...interesting that they're allowing a do-over. Wonder if Boulud will be there again for that one?

                            I agree with Phaedrus with the heaviness of the Garage menu. Risotto and then lamb shank was too much. And Howie's risotto just didn't look good - a gloopy mess that clumped together! Both Chef Tom and Ted Allen pointed out that they had noticed Howie's pigheadedness re: his risotto - this is the way Howie makes it and that's that.

                            And WTH was up with scented candles? Yikes. Talk about a taste killer.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              This episode was something of a letdown... Just not that interesting, from either a drama or a food perspective. I'm wondering if the 24 hours just isn't enough time. The theme each year in the restaurant challenge is that each team is scrambling to get everything done, and I always think that the flaws end up being more time pressure than "ability" related. Maybe 36 hours should be provided?

                              Given that Casey is teary in front of the judging table in previews for next week, I'm guessing she will be the one to go from Team April...

                              1. re: Garris

                                Look out for the next friendship revelation.

                                1. re: Garris

                                  You never know. She gets teary quite a bit it seems.

                                  1. re: Garris

                                    i wouldn't jump to any conclusions based on those tears. they get sneaky with the editing purposely to throw you off like that.

                                2. What I am curious about is why a few weeks before they promoted the fact that Rocco was on. Love him or hate him he is a controversial chef.

                                  This week the had Daniel Boulud with out a doubt one the best and most respected chefs in the country. Do they in anyway promote his appearance in anyway? NO!!

                                  I don't get why they wouldn't let the viewers know that a a strong culinary personality will be judging.

                                  http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                    Quite simply, because Rocco is now all about the "drama" - which translates to ratings. Rocco's been on national TV, and in the newspapers, and in the gossip columns. Good or bad, people know about him. Get more people to watch when he's on (and now blogging at Bravo's website), the ratings are higher.

                                    Daniel Boulud is all about the food - GOOD food - and most of the U.S. doesn't know who he is. Yes, it would make sense to promote the fact that such a highly respected chef would be on the show for those of us who do know of him or have had the good fortune to have dined in one of his restaurants.

                                    But I guess we know where the promotional marketing heads are at.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      All very valid points. I was just was surprised that they didn't even show his face, even briefly, on the promos. At least give us who like him something to look forward too.

                                      On a side note it was funny to see Hung giggling like a school girl around Boulud.

                                      http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                        Yes, he was a simpering fool, wasn't he?

                                        And Bourdain's blog, as always, is so brilliantly pithy and dead on.

                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                        Because Boulud doesn't have a frozen food line.

                                      3. re: Withnail42

                                        The funny part was comparing the reaction of the cheftestants when they walked in and saw Boulud vs. when they walked in and saw Rocco. I thought some of them were going to jump out of their skin from excitment just to be in the same room as Daniel Boulud. Not so much with Rocco. lol

                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                          Definitely. Hung in particular looked like a love-struck teenybopper at a Justin Timberlake concert. And who can blame him?

                                          1. re: mordacity

                                            Hey...I would probably have a similar face if I were him! :)

                                        2. re: Withnail42

                                          No idea why they DIDN'T promote DB, but as for RS, I feel as though he's going to have a show on Bravo in the not-too-distant future, so he may get more promotion as one of "their own."

                                          1. re: heathermb

                                            You don't have to "feel" as if RS is going to have a Bravo show - he IS going to have a Bravo show. Can't get away from the damn ads on Bravo TV or website.

                                          2. re: Withnail42

                                            Becuase middle America has never heard of Daniel Boulud. If they pimped Daniel Boulud, 50 foodies would go "Awesome" and 500k joe sixpacks would go "Danielle Boo-WHO? Nah, I'll stick "Singing Bee.""

                                          3. Did anyone else notice Casey pressing the daylight out of her burger with her spatula during the quickfire? I thought that just squeezed all the juices out of the burger?

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              I wondered exactly the same thing!

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                I did see that - I thought "HUH? They'll be dry as hell!"

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  She leaned on it...
                                                  I yelled at the TV and scared the S/O who was working.... lol

                                                  I saw that Salmon "Like The Fish" guy formerly from the Food Network's Next Star do the same damn thing on a "How To Make The Best Burger" clip on the News at Noon on Superstation WGN.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    YES! I kept yelling at the television wondering what in God's name was she doing to that perfect piece of meat!

                                                    That's like lesson #1 in grilling: No pressing and don't move it around too much.

                                                    1. re: Elyssa

                                                      maybe she was running out of time and was scared it would be too raw for the judges.

                                                      1. re: jeanki

                                                        Too raw in red meat = Better than overcooked. Period.

                                                      2. re: Elyssa

                                                        I also noticed Tre (and others sometimes) eating with their fingers. I wonder..did he wash his hands before going back to cooking? That was a huge "no no" in the kitchen I worked in. Ugh factor.

                                                      3. re: Phaedrus

                                                        Yeah, I screamed at the TV. I learned not to do that working at Fuddruckers in high school. I would hope they teach it at culinary school.

                                                        1. re: ajs228

                                                          In most of the country, burgers are razor-thin

                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                            Yes, but are they squished down with a spatula from a nice fat burger to a bad flat burger? Or are they put together thin?

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              put together thin.

                                                      4. The thing that annoys me most about the "wars" episode is how much the judges nitpick the decorations/ table settings. Now if they combined contestants from Top Chef, Top Designer and whatever the short lived interior decoratoring show was then they might have a really visually appealing restaurant with great food. You can't tell me that Tom C., master of the subdued hawaiin shirt has decorated all his restauratns without the aid of a designer. I'm lucky I can match my pants to my shirt in the morning let alone make a restaurant look great! It's also interesting that none of the chefs ever understand that there needs to be continuity to the menu. Tuna Tartar, Rissoto and Lamb Shank really don't blend together great - I'm looking forward to the next episode to see what an extra day will do.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: wingman

                                                          I agree completely. I was exceptionally annoyed when, at the end of the judges deliberations, Tom said, "In the end, it's all about the food."

                                                          Gee whiz, Tom. Ya think? Yet you, Padma, Ted, Daniel and the producers were on the verge of eliminating someone because they couldn't design and open a fully functioning restaurant in 24 hours.

                                                          Please.

                                                          1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                            I haven't eaten a restaurant burger in over four years, but we went out to Red Robin after seeing last night's episode, and I was right to begin with: I'll never waste money on a hamburger I didn't prepare myself.

                                                        2. This was one of the worst episodes yet - and it had nothing to do with the contestants. The organization and execution by the producers seemed to be the culprit. First the quick fire challange seemed to lack focus. They were to make burgers that would be on a Red Robbin menu, but had some high end chef judging them? What about some executive chef from RR or someone intimate with RR's vision and food do the judging? So what were the contestants supposed to make - a high end burger that the judge would like or a burger that fits RR's concept and RR customers would like? Scallop and shrimp burger? c'mon that would not sell well at RR unless it was deep fried. The challange would have made more sense if they left RR out of it, but they HAD to get the product placement in somewhere - this time it seemed way too forced and disjointed.

                                                          The elimination challange seemed like there was a clear winning team from what was shown to the viewer - April. Some of the comments that were shown about the Garage team seemed to show that the patrons did not like the food. Why was only one blogger's opinion taken into consideration - why not have the patrons fill out comment cards and use that as a basis - instead of just the one blogger and the judges opinions? Customer satisfaction of all the people who eat at your restaurant is what is all about, not just getting one or two tables right. I've seen people get the boot for lesser or similar mistakes that were made, but it seems with their decision not to kick any one off, that they are trying to protect a couple of people (like howie and dale) to keep them on the show for one reason or another.

                                                          I'm getting real tired of the in between shot mini commercials -like the one that showed the cell phone with one team's faces set up as speed dial contacts.

                                                          23 Replies
                                                          1. re: LStaff

                                                            Didn't they have patrons fill out comment cards in past Restaurant Wars? I agree with LStaff and think this would have been better.

                                                            Better yet---it would have been a lot of fun if they jam packed the place with all foodie bloggers (perhaps a few of us lucky Chowhounds as well). I mean everyone would have nit picked annoying things since they are "experts" but it would have been an interesting little twist and a shout out to the ameature food critic movement.

                                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                                              So, does anyone regularly read the blogger that they featured? I read her blog and I wasn't impressed, but that was a sample of one.

                                                            2. re: LStaff

                                                              The major problem with April was that the service was a mess, and the major problem with The Garage was that the food was too heavy.

                                                              It seemed like it would have been easy for the judges to pick a winner, since there was only one dish they really liked, Hung's appetizer.

                                                              Their challenge was to pick one pack-your-knives loser from several strong candidates. Not so easy.

                                                              1. re: LStaff

                                                                >>>The elimination challange seemed like there was a clear winning team from what was shown to the viewer - April. Some of the comments that were shown about the Garage team seemed to show that the patrons did not like the food.<<<

                                                                I disagree. More than one person (other than the chefs) commented on the over-smoked potatoes that Tre of Restaurant April served for the main course. One diner called it "inedible." Further, the judges thought the oyster amuse was bland and the scallop appetizer overcooked. The only dish from April that got universally good comments was the desert. Plus, many commented on the bad service (missing silverware, Brian's harried demeanor).

                                                                On the Garage side, Hung's tuna appetizer got pretty universal praise, as did the desert. The other two dishes were criticized for being heavy, but there were many more comments as to people just not liking April's food. Other than the delay before the service of Howie's risotto (which had to do with Howie and not the front of the house), there were no service complaints on the Garage side. If the Garage team hadn't made the faux pax of the scented candles, I think they would have won.

                                                                I think that giving them a do-over was the right result -- I think it would have been really unfair to send either of the front of the house people home, and if they were doing it just based on the food, they would have had to send Tre home for the horrible smoked potatoes, since he was the executive chef and sent out an inedible entree vs. Howie who was sous chef and only responsible for a bad second course. The second time around will be MUCH more telling -- now that both teams know what their weak points are -- both food and service-wise -- those that still can't get it together deserve to go home.

                                                                1. re: DanaB

                                                                  Actually, I don't think they would have sent Tre home, I think they would have sent Brian home since he told the judges panel he was, as TC remarked, willing to accept responsibility for the entire fiasco. I thought it interesting that CJ was willing to let Brian take the fall but, when questioned directly, Tre and Casey said it wasn't all Brian's fault.

                                                                  Brian, Tre and Hung probably have the best cooking chops among them, although if Brian survives next week I'd really like the judges to give him a challenge where he *can't* do seafood. To get rid of one of the stronger contenters, who, by his own admission, was working out of his element probably isn't such a good idea.

                                                                  I do agree with whoever said it up-thread, I think next week is a double elimination, and, unless one team totally screws up, I think the weakest members of each team will go. It's time for the obnoxious and insufferable to go home and the top contenters to shake out. And Brian, Tre, Hung and CJ are the top 4 contenters at this point.

                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                    Dont' forget Casey -- she really saved the day for her team by working the front of the house when Brian couldn't hack it. The fact that CJ chose her for his team over Hung also speaks volumes.

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      Casey certainly proved once and for all this week that she is a contender. I think she swept in with grace and professionalism and did a great job. Plus...she's been cooking fairly well.Let's not discredit her too quickly.

                                                                      1. re: Elyssa

                                                                        Did Casey do anything? They needed 2 front of the house people? I can't remember what she contributed. The bad dessert and the bad sorbet?

                                                                        Tre did well in the past but I agree with Bourdain--this week he was largely responsible for the lousy food, he should have been just as much on the chopping block as Brian. And we didn't hear much about CJ's fish but Strong found the sauce nearly inedible and "like algae"...sort of like that tuna casserole he made...

                                                                        The "CJ's cool kids" team looked pretty bad compared to "Hung's reject misfits"...even Howies gluey risotto was said to taste good, even if he cooked it badly.

                                                                        1. re: kenito799

                                                                          I think Casey was in charge of the actual decor for the front of the house, I saw her doing some mopping, and I think she made the dessert.

                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                            Casey was working in the kitchen, but she stepped up to the front of the house when Brian turned out to be a disaster. In other words, she did what they're always criticizing them (including her, last challenge) for not doing on team challenges: seeing who needed help and what needed to be done and taking care of it.

                                                                      2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                        It looked like Team April all hung (no pun intended) together pretty well. Brian tried to take the bullet for the team but none of the others would let him. Dale tried to do the same about the candles for Team Garage. If it wasn't for Sarah stepping up, as she should, and take responsibility as executive chef, Howie would have thrown her under that bus again. Hung looked like he was just out there on his own and not giving a damn about what the team is doing, which is probably his best option, given the team that he is in.

                                                                        I think Bravo is trying for the Revenge of the Nerds effect with Team Garage as the not so cool kids, the misfits, the ones that people don't like all that much: the bulldog, the egotist a la Marcel, the clueless cheesemaker, and the fat gay kid, as Dale calls himself.

                                                                        I also think Tre and Hung are top 2 with Brian and CJ bringin up the second tier with Casey kind of flopping between them and the has beens.

                                                                      3. re: DanaB

                                                                        The oyster amuse bouche was a carbon copy from the raw bar that Brian had last week. He's way too one-note at this point, and if he doesn't do something other than raw seafood (or just seafood), he's gonna get the boot. I was surprised Howie didn't put pork in the risotto. :-)

                                                                        I also agree it's probably a double-elim next week.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          His burger was also apparently a carbon copy of the seafood sausage he made during the BBQ challenge. He even said so. His range is quite limited----hmmmmm should we call him Ilan?? lol

                                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                                            Ilan...now that's just mean..

                                                                            People have been accusing Sara M. of flying under the radar.
                                                                            Perhaps she is but if so then Brian has gone underground. He comes across as a very competent cook, I sure he is, but I don't think that he has won or lost anything he is alway in the middle of the pact...cooking seafood.

                                                                            http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                              Actually, Brian has won both a quickfire and an elimination and been one of the final 3 potential winners in 2 other eliminations. Check out this link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Chef... - scroll down to the bottom where there is a cool little grid showing who's won, lost and/or been eliminated by week.

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                Whoops my mistake. I stand corrected.

                                                                                Thanks for the link.

                                                                                http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                  cool link with that grid - thanks!

                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                    Love that grid. And boy, is THAT ever telling! Howie has 5 Lows, 2 Wins, and 1 "In". (What does that mean - in the middle?)

                                                                                    And Hung has had 3 Highs, but hasn't won anything except one Quickfire.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      OK, being an engineer, I worked up a scoring system. Take it for what its worth,

                                                                                      +0.5 for quickfire win
                                                                                      +1.5 for a win
                                                                                      +1 for a high
                                                                                      -1 for a low

                                                                                      I did this so that a low can be evened out with a high and a win is worth a little more.

                                                                                      Tre +3.5
                                                                                      Brian +2
                                                                                      Hung +1.5
                                                                                      Dale +0.5
                                                                                      CJ 0.0
                                                                                      Casey-1.0
                                                                                      Howie -2.0
                                                                                      Sarah -2.0

                                                                                      So Tre is kicking ass, Brian is up there too where everyone thought Hung was #2, he is #3 by my scoring. Next grouping is Dale, CJ and Casey with Sarah and Howie bringing up the rear. Howies is all feast or famine, he doesn't have one High but he has two wins and five lows, the dude just can't fly under the radar.

                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                        I like it!

                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                          This is brilliant! You're our official scorekeeper for the rest of the season. :-)

                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                            love it! especially since it validates my initial picks...tre & brian have been my top 2 - in that order - since day one.

                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                              Great scoring system! The asterisk is that with two great dishes this episode, I think Hung has pulled ahead of Brian. Tre has to be knocked down a bit, too, for those potatoes and overcooked scallops!

                                                                              2. i thought this episode was totally contrived. you can't tell me they didn't know going into the episode that they were going to do a big ole mulligan for the teams. production schedules, anyone? that stupid clip of padma leaning over to ask daniel if he agreed with the decision was so super cheesey i couldn't stand it.

                                                                                i just think the judging is all over the place this season. why would you nuke a front of the house person when they were clearly trying, as opposed to stephen's disappearing act in season 1? if its 'all about the food' it should have been more on tre and sara.

                                                                                the biggest disappointment of all? seasonal, regional, modern. HELLO you're in florida, and have access to some of the best and freshest seafood. and hung does tuna? you're putting out crap risotto? filet? seriously, i was hugely disappointed that out of 8 people not one person was thinking fresh, seasonal or regional....

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: winedubar

                                                                                  I don't think they were going to nuke the front of the house guys, they just brought them up to represent the restaurants. If they were going to eliminate someone they would have done it differently.

                                                                                  Who should it have been? Bourdain's blog has an excellent analysis.

                                                                                  This episode was very interesting because I thought ALL of the burgers looked delicious. Yet when it came to cooking when it really counts, in a restaurant setting, we got some real information here.

                                                                                  Howie can't cook, despite winning two challenges with very similar pork dishes. Sara M (sorry to say, because I have been intrigued by a lot of her creations) can't cook. Neither of them has an excuse for their dishes or how badly they were made. It was nice that they both seemed to try to get along this time, but the result was still a lousy menu, saved from disaster only by Hung (who seemed to work totally independently--I don't blame him).

                                                                                  Hung produced what looked like the two best dishes of the night, the deconstructed nicoise salad and the crepe. That Boulud liked them both and his burger makes me think that he really can cook. I hope he makes it to the final.

                                                                                  Tre was a mess this episode and I don't see what excuse he has for not sending out those inedible potatoes or screwing up the scallop. He also didn't have to go out and shop for decorations like Hung did, but he performed far worse than Hung. What exactly did Casey even do? Make one crappy sorbet?

                                                                                  I don't like that some cheftestants have to step outside the cooking role and possibly be eliminated for non-food reasons. Scented candles, though, is mind-boggling. Shocking that Hung and Dale could both be so clueless. Did they keep it a secret from Howie and Sara? Hopefully if Dale opened a restaurant he would have at least ONE friend with a clue who would stop him?

                                                                                  I wonder if they will eliminate two people next week. This week, I would have eliminated both Sara and Tre, for the bad menu choices and poor execution.

                                                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                                                    "Neither of them has an excuse for their dishes or how badly they were made."

                                                                                    I believe the judges had nothing but praise for the execution of Sara's dish (I seem to remember a "delicious" and a "perfect"), the problem they had was that the type of dish it was contributed to a menu that was overall too heavy for summer in Miami. As the self-nominated executive chef, she was being taken to task for her for her menu planning, not her cooking.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      For her lamb? I thought they said it was tough, among other things.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        Madonna's brother and the blogger Strong (FWIW) said it wasn't cooked properly. If you are going to make a nice piece of meat you better know how to cook it.

                                                                                    2. re: kenito799

                                                                                      As always, Anthony Bourdain's blog, as you stated, has an excellent analysis of this episode. I gained a new respect for Hung last night, much as I almost hate to say so. I think the man has talent, but his inability to accept criticism and his arrogance have really bothered me.

                                                                                      I literally groaned when I heard "lamb" and "risotto". I can't imagine what they were thinking. And the fact that Tre recognized right away that his potatoes had gone "four minutes too long" should have signaled him to dump that whole idea.

                                                                                      I was impressed that Howie and Sara managed to get along. Team "Garage" had the potential to implode with the personalities involved, and they did far better than I expected.

                                                                                      Brian struck me as someone who had never even SET a table before! While he did so well hawking their goods to the drinking crowd the week before, he failed miserably as a front man. And, agreed, other than the candle choice, Dale showed Brian up considerably for his ability to handle the front. Then again, he did have experience in that area.

                                                                                      I knew they weren't going to boot anyone. There were too many from which to choose! Should make for an interesting episode next week, however. The key will be whether or not any of them learned anything from this week

                                                                                      1. re: phee

                                                                                        Do YOU think Howie would have learned from the risotto fiasco? Nah, didn't think so. How about Sarah? Nope. The rest, probably.

                                                                                        1. re: phee

                                                                                          Phee, I think Brian gets the boot soon, he's doing the Chef's Celebration on Oct. 30th at Terra (wanna go?). If he won I'm not so sure he still be here doing what he's doing.

                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            I had that same exact thought after I read about the Chef's Celebration at Terra. And, yes, I'm in!

                                                                                      2. re: winedubar

                                                                                        > as opposed to stephen's disappearing act in season 1

                                                                                        I was thinking that Stephen would have been able to whip the service team into shape, whether they liked it or not ;-)

                                                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                                                          lol - isn't that the truth..if anyone had a chance at getting the service in line it was him...

                                                                                      3. Not sure if anyone caught this, but the diner with the snarky (albeit probably accurate) comments was Madonna's brother Christopher Ciccone.

                                                                                        http://www.towleroad.com/2007/08/an-u...

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: lawgirl3278

                                                                                          I didn't realize that was Madonna's brother. I thought he was especially snarky and rude, and you could tell he was purposely so. Some comments were a bit uncalled for. (And at a regular restaurant he would run the risk of someone spitting on his food. Just kidding! I know people don't do that. ;0

                                                                                          BTW, maybe the food blogger they invited isn't as well known because he's the only one based in Miami. That would have been fun to be invited, though.

                                                                                          EDIT TO FIX: Turns out the blogger is New York based so they shipped her down. If they were going to send down a NY-based food blogger, why oh why didn't they send down The Amateur Gourmet? One of my favorite.

                                                                                          1. re: singleguychef

                                                                                            I knew that he was a plant of some sort. Too much drama from the guy.

                                                                                            http://meandmyfork.blogspot.com

                                                                                        2. Here is Andrea Strong's review http://thestrongbuzz.com/buzz/weekend... ; seems like the food at April was much worse than the food at Garage from what she ahd to say. Also eater.com has a little tid-bit that other bloggers were invited but the producers backed out for fear that the bloggers would not agree to the "don't write about it until it airs" rule.

                                                                                          Singleguy - Andrea Strong is very well known in NY, she has a column in the Post or Daily News (forget which one) and is at all the local NY food competitions.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: wingman

                                                                                            I found her blog that they read from at judges' table to be obnoxiously snarky for snarky's sake. But she did have a fairly memorable line about Garage's table cloths: "It was like eating off of Billy Idol. And who'd want to eat off of Billy Idol?" My instant response, as a child of the 80s: "I would!"

                                                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                              That's just her writting style - she's always put down whatever she things and has a very "NY attitude" about it. If memory serves she is a former lawyer - if you look through her site she has some great reviews on local Manhattan places that are often recomended by chowhounds.

                                                                                              1. re: wingman

                                                                                                I thought she gave high praise to several items and components of items, when they deserved it...she even said that the good first two items at Garage started to make up for the yucky decor. I don't think she was exaggerating or being "snarky for the sake of being snarky." I completely agree with caffeinated below, however, her blog entries are not really restaurant reviews, just single-visit reviews.

                                                                                                1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                  Did we even see the hummus starter on the show? I don't remember that. Do we know who made it?

                                                                                                  http://www.bravotv.com/blog/padmalaks...

                                                                                              2. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                She praised Bravo and the TV crew very enthusiastically. Perhaps they told her to make critical, snappy remarks.

                                                                                              3. re: wingman

                                                                                                She writes for the NY Post every week and has had some articles in several other well known NY magazines/newspapers. She definitely is more of a "one-time dining experience" blogger/critic though.

                                                                                              4. I think this episode showed up Top Chef's prime -- and inescapable -- defect. YOU CAN'T TASTE THE FOOD. So many of those entrees looked really yummy. That scallop, the grouper, the lamb shank (despite the fact that braised lamb shank is so '90s). But, from reading the blogs, the scallop was rubbery, the fish was flavorless, and the lamb was as overcooked as those odious potatoes. And Hung's appetizer, perhaps because of bad photography, looked like a curious blend of boring and noxious... like raw fish with ketchup. But, reading its description, it was creative and brilliant... and, as a playful deconstruction of a traditional French dish, very much along the lines of some of the food Mr Boulud serves.

                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                  Two more thoughts:

                                                                                                  1) Though they may be unfair to the contestants, these episodes do give really good lessons to all chefs. This one showed, you may think you are the best chef ever, and you may even be correct, but never never underestimate the contribution of the front of the house. The last one showed, semper paratus (always be prepared for anything) is the motto of the Coast Guard but is should be the motto of every chef.

                                                                                                  2) Despite what people said above, this season's contestants are better cooks than on previous seasons. This was confirmed by a recent NY Magazine article which stated that they were deliberately chosen to be so... in previous seasons, many were chosen because of acting ability, appearance, dramatic personality etc.

                                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                    Re: your #2 - I think that's pretty much a "duh" (meaning it didn't need confirmation from NY Magazine) that they're better cooks from the previous seasons' cheftestants, considering their bios. Plus I recall reading that Chef Colicchio asked for recommendations for candidates from the chefs he knew. The caliber was bound to be better.

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      The article had some amusing dialogue from past seasons, something like this:

                                                                                                      Casting Director: This guy is perfect! He's really handsome and has great acting talent!

                                                                                                      Colicchio: BUT HE CAN'T COOK!!

                                                                                                      Casting Director: So maybe he'll learn.

                                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                        Here's that article, unfortunately it's half about Project Runway:

                                                                                                        http://nymag.com/news/features/35538

                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                          Wow, there's some scary stuff in there:

                                                                                                          "The contestants on Bravo shows are not allowed money, credit cards, cell phones, newspapers, magazines, televisions, or Internet access. They cannot make independent excursions without a chaperone; they have to schedule phone calls through the producers, who monitor their every word. They can’t listen to iPods, can’t listen to the radio ... can’t even have sex with one another to pass the time."

                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                            Very interesting that "I'm so humble" Sam was previously in the running for "The Bachelor"! I guess he's been hell-bent on making it reality TV in one way or another.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                              it bums me out to read that bachelor bit...sam was my #2 favorite last season [cliff was #1]. i could be wrong, but i think [hope] that candidates for the bachelor are nominated by other people, so maybe sam didn't volunteer himself for it...?

                                                                                                              btw, did anyone else pick up on the following little gem in one of tom colicchio's interview segments of the article?

                                                                                                              "...says Tom Colicchio, head judge of Top Chef, as he himself simultaneously nurses a coffee and margarita outside his new restaurant, Craft Los Angeles. "

                                                                                                              coffee AND a margarita? together? seriously, what the hell kind of combination is that?

                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                An upper and a downer simultaneously, living on the edge there. Most clubbers do it with vodka and a Red Bull.

                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                  i get the physiological purpose...been there, done that. it's the bizarre flavor combination that gives me pause...

                                                                                                          2. re: Brian S

                                                                                                            LOL! Well, OK that's pretty funny!

                                                                                                    2. The thing with Top Chef is that it believes itself to be a sitcom or other show that should hope for Neilson ratings. They have enough of us to keep it going for the next 50 years, if that is what they want. The need to sensationalize the behind-the-scenes stories, exploit, and thus demand viewers to choose villains or heroes is ridiculous. This is simply about cooking good food, executing your menu and being a great charge to your sous chefs. Moreover, it seems they are no longer looking at overall wins and challenges but merely base it on what Padma thinks or how they are feeling that day, this show is quickly turning out to be a joke. With that said it is the third season and the judges are becoming less concerned about the food and are prematurely kicking out the better contenders. Tre should still be in so should Howie - okay, their styles for commanding their teams were different but having them pack their knives that early was immature on the judges part. The elk show last night, yeah, that really put things into perspective on how I feel about whose still there and I will leave it at that. I only can hope Hung wins, he is technical about his dishes, after all and he is doing this for, you know, his family and all, since they all love food - him and his mother and his father and his cousin and his cousins cousins and I hope it comes back next season with who the fans think should get a second chance. An all-star cast would include LeeAnn and Dave (Season 1) vs Cliff and Sam (Season 2) vs Tre and Howie (Season 3) = that would equal a fare and accurate assessment of talent, although I agree 100% with the winner for Season 1 (Harold). Anyway, that is all my ranting. I just do not understand why there are not more mentorship or advisory comments as opposed to ridiculous reasoning’s for elimination.