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Top Chef what the %$@#!!!

CJ and TREY win and they get a trip to Italy. Cassey finally wins one and she gets a laptop. In between Sara wins and she gets NOTHING!!!!!! If I was her I'd be PISSED!

Not to take anything away from the other winners but CJ and Trey worked as a team creating, over the course of two days one frozen pasta dish. Cassey won for one cold hors d’œuvre. Sara won when she took on the role of executive chef and all the responsibilities that went along with it. She did multiple dishes. Managed a service and was able to keep two unruly teams mates in line. Other winners at least got books, wine or opportunities to spend time in guest judges kitchens. I could not believe it when Padama pulled out the laptop. Good for Cassey but I feel bad for Sara.

On a side note I found this episode was quite dull.


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  1. Exactly what I thought when I saw Casey win the laptop - What About Sara????? Totally sucks that she didn't seem to get anything.

    And I didn't find the QuickFire dull - the guest judge was pretty funny when he saw Hung's "aerial view" dish, and the rest of the cheftestants all seemed pretty relaxed throughout most of that challenge.

    When I heard how many canapes they were serving for the party, I thought they were making too many. And Howie's duxelle and crostini thingie? Ye Gods - Hung was right - it looked like dog poop!

    Surprised at Howie attempting to pull himself out of the game; even MORE surprised to hear Padma say it was the judge's decision, not his. Then why did they allow Otto to remove himself from TC2 last season?

    And finally - previews for next week - they're traveling somewhere - and Anthony Bourdain is back as guest judge - woo hoo! Can't wait to read his blog tomorrow morning.

    20 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Then why did they allow Otto to remove himself from TC2 last season?
      Umn, yeah seriously -- on both seasons 1 and 2, contestants took themselves out (Otto & Mia), but this time Padma answers Howie in this nasty tone as if he's a moron. I'm liking Padma less and less. She was not hired for her biting sarcasm and I don't understand how she decided to behave that way.

      1. re: Adrienne

        I'm glad I'm not the only one who found Padma rather nasty this week. I'm liking her less and less too, especially the little faces she makes when she doesn't like something (my grandma would call it "cara de fuchi"!) like it's a little too over the top or over-dramatic for the sake of the cameras.

        Also, didn't like the tone of the guest judge in the quickfire. Found him really rude and off-putting.

        1. re: tachis

          I was SO thinking the same thing! Not just Padma, but all the judges were particularly harsh this episode. And, IMO, undeservedly. As Brian said, the guests enjoyed every dish. In past episodes it appeared that less desirable dishes took less criticism. In last nite's episode, the judges came across extremely arrogant to me.

          Other commnents - I think Hung is hanging by a thread. First few episodes, I thought he showed true talent, but he just doesn't seem to have the wow factor (although I liked his quickfire dish!). I think he really needs to pull out all the stops if he wants to be in the top 3. Has he ever won a quckfire or elimination? Lastly, so glad to see Howie go - every week it was the same old story with him. Good riddance! Oh! And can't wait for Bourdain!

          1. re: tachis

            It was like they all had PMS...

          2. re: Adrienne

            Oh ya Padma certainly has taken on a much more bitchy tone this season. For comic relief you should check out televisionwithoutpity.com's recap of Top Chef for their treatment of Padma. They usually say she just parrots what other people will say in a bitchy way.

            There have been several times when Chef Collochio has even told her she was a little severe on her criticism. One time I remember in particular was during the Telemundo episode when she said something (maybe Lia's?) was "inedible" and Collechio said "I wouldn't say it was inedible...that's a bit harsh. But perhaps flavorless."

            1. re: Elyssa

              I thought I even heard her tell some some something along the lines of 'It tastes a lot better than it looks'

              I do remember a few weeks ago when Dale mentioned that his sense of smell wasn't the best she said something along the lines of. 'It's strange that some one with a bad sense of smell would wconsider them selves a top chef.' While the nose is an important part of the tasting process it was a bit much coming from a glamor model with a badly scared arm. If anything I would have thought she would have a little compassion/respect for someone dealing with an obstacle. But apparently not.


              1. re: Withnail42

                Well, Padma's scarred arm isn't exactly her fault. But I think Dale's deficient sense of smell is, at least in part, due to his being a smoker. He could change that.

            2. re: Adrienne

              Howie's behavior totally reminded me of someone who gets called in to the boss's office, knows he's about to get fired and quits instead.
              But as for Padma - ugh. So sick of her! At last season's finale in Hawaii, she was saying how she was getting irritated by the poi at the exact second that the Hawaiian chef was saying how well-made it was. and he totally brushed her off. She needs to be brushed off a bit more often! So high maintenance.
              And who the heck was that guest judge? A total jackass.
              Agree about Sara, she should have gotten something.
              Bourdain, thats going to be great...I'm travelling next Wednesday though so may miss it. Oh well...theres always the numerous replays.

            3. re: LindaWhit

              I'm thinking there must have been a decision after Otto and Mia last season, that the contestants couldn't offer themselves on the chopping block. Padma was very quick and blunt in her response, without seeming to look to Tom for backup in a decision.

              1. re: momjamin

                Maybe after the last time when they immediately accepted Mia's self-removal, the producers told them not to let it happen again. But it was still unnecessary to yell at Howie like that.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I feel bad for Sara as well. She got a little screwed over on that one.

                I thought this Quickfire was awesome....tons of entertainment value. It reminded me of the vending machine challenge which I actually liked. I think it shows how far these chef's are willing to stretch themselves. And of course Hung had to blame everything on the Guest Judge for not understanding his "food art." Still Hung cracked me up on this one...he certainly never holds back.

                The best part of this episode for me was the fact that a good friend of mine was on the yacht for the party. He was one of the guys complaining about how they didn't get any chocolate mousse yet and were really looking forward to it. lol He said he actually really, really liked Dale's yougurt thingy. His other favorite was the ahi tartar (I believe they called it poke though) that Brian (MALARKEY!) made. Which is interesting because it shows how different the judge's pallets are compared to the general public (mind you a well fed, stylish general public.)

                I mirror LindaWhit's excitement at the return of Bourdain!!!!!

                1. re: Elyssa

                  Very cool your friend was on the boat for the event! But the look of that "chocolate soup" - ick - I agree with the decision not to serve it.

                  And AB doesn't disappoint in his blog at ALL. LOVED it! First, I like that he's calling Brian out on really not cooking ANYTHING over the past few weeks. But his last blog paragraph portends a fun show next week - the man can sure write. :-)

                  "I should point out, by the way, that I'm guest judging again next week. Which means I know what happens. And while I am precluded from discussing future broadcasts by a confidentiality agreement rivalling the NSA's in the severity of its penalties for unauthorized disclosure, I can reveal this: There will be a SlaughterFest of Horror, an Orgy of Bloodletting, Partial Nudity, Flammable Liquids, Unspeakable Misuse of Power Tools and Small Woodland Creatures, and the Plaintive Wailing of the Doomed. It will make Altamont look like Lilith Fair."

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    With THAT description I may not miss Tre so much! LOL!

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      AB blog might be more entertaining then the show and in fact I only skip by the show but I read his blog. The guy can turn a phrase.

                    2. re: Elyssa

                      I found it interesting that after Brian said in the quickfire that he didn't do the canned seafood because Collichio always says that he only knows how to do seafood, then he goes and does ANOTHER tartar in the elimination challenge!

                      I am glad that Howie is finally gone, though. And that it looks like Sara has been doing well, she didn't seem like such a great cook at the beginning of the season, but she's really been hitting her stride.

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Agreed about Sara especially since (besides the Casey's carpaccio), the only "good dish" was CJ's seafood sausage rip-off from Brian.

                        I hope she wins (or hometown boy Malarky)

                    3. re: LindaWhit

                      Pulling Howie after Padma said it was the judges' choice was kind of like, "I'm breaking up with you." "No you can't, I'm breaking up with you first." And I thought Howie would make a little chop thing last night.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Agreed! I was so pissed when Padma said it was the judge's decision, every other time it hasn't been, and she said it in a tone that implied "Umm nice try..."

                        Some people I was watching with thought Howie was copping out by resigning himself before he got the boot so that he'd look dignified, but I thought it was a decent thing for Howie to try and protect Brian. I think he got to the point where continuing wasn't it worth it for him anymore because he just kept getting beat down. Funny that they let him go just when he decides to be a team player...drama factor?!

                        1. re: Chew on That

                          I agree & think Howie was just fed up with the negative feedback. After that beatdown they got for food he thought was good, I think he just no longer cared what they thought. It was a funny situation for sure.

                        2. re: LindaWhit

                          When the Howie thing happened last night, and when they eliminated him, I first thought it was sad, then funny: "I quit." "You can't quit, you're fired!!!"

                        3. I am sorry, when did Sara win????

                          I am more upset that the judges never keep in mind what the challenge was. $350, give me a break.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: strephking

                            She won the 2nd Helping of the Restaurant Wars challenge. (The hard opening night). Check out this link - click on Episode 10.


                            ETA: How the HELL did Wikipedia get tonight's episode info (Episode 11) up there so quickly! They must have someone editing as the show was going along!

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I totally forgot about that. I guess she had to be thankful that she wasn't eliminated????

                            2. re: strephking

                              Sara won the restaurant challenge two weeks ago.

                              I do need some clarification was $350 per person or for the group?


                              1. re: Withnail42

                                It was total for the group.

                                Maybe Sara didn't win a prize because they had to do a second take on the restaurant wars? It did seem unfair.

                            3. I did not mean to sound arrogant or cocky, and I am not even a cook. However, besides the very uncreative theme (catering again? Hors d'oeuvre again?), I couldn't help but kept thinking: These things seemed like what we - everyday cook or even part-time cook who like to entertain - can prepare easily at home. A challenge for Top Chef? Errr...

                              1. Random observations:

                                The Glad trashbag placement in the beginning made me laugh...the big logo emblazoned on the side...Why cant I buy such cool trashbags as those. I'm sure all the neighbors would want to know what kind I use whenever I set out my trash on trash pickup day. Why cant I advertise to my whole neighborhood what superior trashbags I use? The Rav4 shots and mention were also pretty obvious.

                                I LOVED it that howie didnt serve his quickfire and sara and casey threw the dessert away...Colicchio has always said if it sucks, dont serve it...I was anxious to see if he stood behind his words. And to his credit he handled it very well. However, if casey and sara didnt have another dish, I doubt their "integrity" would have been recieved so favorably.

                                Hung's quickfire dish was awesome! The "screw you" mentality kind of reminded me of Mike's phallic cheeto dish. But obviously Hung wasnt so flagerent in his mockery.

                                However, Hung's elimination dish (cucumber thing) was so BORING! My monkey coulda made that...

                                I really didnt think everyone had such a bad deal when Padma announced the Aisle
                                challenge...I shop at Price Chopper sometimes and really, there are some good things tucked away in those shelves...I mean Hung could have used oatmeal or pancake batter (something deep fried in pancake batter could be really yummy). They all acted like you had unleashed them in a convenience store or something. Just because it wasnt mooing five minutes ago doesnt mean it is crap.

                                Casey made a comment when taking on dessert that to win Top Chef you have to take risks. I beg to differ (Tre, anyone?). To win Top Chef one has to make mediocre dishes long enough to let the more ambitious self-destruct. (Exhibit A: Ilan)

                                I liked the extended judges table conversation...Although it was obviously still edited, they showed significantly more conversation than normal. I thought it was rather enlightening...

                                I was surprised at how many dishes they were trying to pump out with only 350 dollars. However, if they only had 3 dishes (as Colicchio suggested) they would have gotten slammed because this is an "hordourves" (sp!) party. (If I remember correctly, last year during the hor dourves challenge, the losing team got in trouble for the lack of dishes)

                                Howie bowed out not necessarily for the sake of the "team" but as he said very clearly in the back room..."i'm in control of my own destiny" He smelled his own demise and wanted to "quit" so as not to be eliminated by the judges. I think he might have unresolved control issues.

                                I was glad casey won, but I felt kind of sorry for sara. She won the last elimination and got jack squat! CJ already has a trip to Italy...so no sympathy for him! She oversaw a whole stinkin kitchen and got a big pat on the back....Yeah, it was a redux, but she was the executive chef BOTH times--she wasnt riding the coattails of another.

                                Does anyone think Colicchio recycles phrases?? lol such as "If your not putting out your best, what are you waiting for" or something to that effect. But I know that it's exactly what he said again and again last season.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: asiansensation007

                                  <I liked the extended judges table conversation...Although it was obviously still edited, they showed significantly more conversation than normal. I thought it was rather enlightening...> I'd like to hear the producers' pronouncements.....

                                  I believe they have a whole lot to do with who stays and who goes.

                                2. Agreed about Sara. Heck, maybe she'll wind up becoming Top Chef, and not winning anything for the last elimination challenge won't matter. Funny thing is I'm liking her more, and her talents are finally showing through. Trey's gone, so there went my long-standing favorite. CJ totally pissed me off the previous two episodes with his CYA tactics. Hung, while having some moments of brilliance, simply cannot take criticism - constructive or otherwise. Casey, Brian, and Dale always seem to slip in under the radar when they do poorly. I find myself not really caring who wins at this point. But with Bourdain making an appearance next week, I'll be tuned in for SURE!

                                  I have to agree with the judges this week, however. They truly would have done a better job if they'd used their money to do less variety with more creativity.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: phee

                                    I have lost my fever for the show because Tre is gone.....just is not the same. That being said I thought the guest judge at the Quick Fire was funny as hell when he saw Hung's dish...he said what I was thinking. Hung's reaction was priceless...."I knew I was not going to win with such a close minded judge" shut up Hung! (cough) jackass.

                                    1. re: phee

                                      When is CJ going to get what he deserves??? Why aren't the judges calling him out on yet another shrimp-scallop sausage (remember he served it as a burger for Boulud in that quickfire), a recipe that he stole from Brian??? How can the judges not notice this endless parade of ground-up shellfish??? Harold's is the only blog that even mentioned that.

                                      I am so sick of CJ, especially after his little talk at the beginning of last night's show about how it "sucks" that Tre is gone. Tre is gone pretty directly due to the way CJ set him up and didn't back him up.

                                      Completely unfair that Sara got nothing for her win! Her tomato bread pudding sounded awesome, but then so did Casey's dish. Both of them are showing that they really know how to cook. I hope at least one of them makes it to the final.

                                      Bourdain is a great writer. My favorite quote this week: Hung has become "much more the puppy that eats your sneakers these days than the viper in the woodpile."

                                      1. re: kenito799

                                        Several people have posted on Ted Allen's blog about Sara not getting a prize for winning her Restaurant Challenge two weeks ago....hopefully, SOMEONE will address it!

                                        1. re: kenito799

                                          Bourdain's take is pretty interesting about Hung. Basically go for the mediocre and play to the audience in a case like that. salmon on cucumber is perfect, no one loves it, no one hates it. Perfect. Same thing wioth CJ. Stay alive with mediocrity.

                                          1. re: kenito799

                                            Aha, in their Bravo blogs today, Carlos shares my annoyance with the seafood sausage, and Lee Anne mentions it's overuse this season as well. Colicchio is back, too, and has a very well-written entry that also addresses Tre's elimination.

                                        2. I think what surprised me so was that Top Chef has never met a product placement they didn't like. An opportunity to use one is never missed. Then when Cassey (the cute girl) finally wins suddenly out of nowhere this computer is produced. No lead in, build up no close up product shot simply congratulations 'Cassey here's a new lap top'.

                                          To add insult in injury Sara was also on the short list of top dishes for that event.

                                          Additionally it was goo to see the return of the old Hung with that very odd dish he produced for the quick fire. I still don't know what he made. But it didn't matter because the judge was 'narrow minded.'


                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                            I forgot to add last night that when I saw Brian's aisle (FULL of canned tuna and other seafood!) I said "Not again!" but then he turned around and saw the Spam. Good for him. His QF challenge dish actually looked VERY good and something I'd eat. And it didn't have any seafood in it. :-)

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              It DID look good, didn't it? And I don't even like Spam!

                                              1. re: phee

                                                Cue Monty Python..."I don't like Spam, I don't WANT any Spam"

                                                1. re: coney with everything

                                                  Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam...

                                                  Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...

                                                  Waitress: ...spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam...

                                                  Vikings: Spam! Lovely spam! Lovely spam!

                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                I just loved how glorious he made it sound..."SPAM"!

                                                1. re: rumgum

                                                  No, it was 'SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!"

                                                  I was so worried Malarky was going to go this episode. Glad Howie went, I can't imagine this season without his spazzy antics

                                            2. I am growing tired of every challange having severe money and time restraints - fine for quick fire challanges and the occassional elimination challange - but I want to see how/what these people could do if they weren't so cash and time strapped. The producers who come up with these challanges are ruining the show for me this year - the challanges just seem to be boringly similar.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: LStaff

                                                The problem with that is that Top Chef is ultimately more about drawing and entertaining viewers than picking the chef who really makes the best food. The effects of the time and budget constraints are visually obvious, and make better TV than seeing a relaxed chef calmly making the world's greatest risotto. I would probably prefer to experience the risotto instead of the rushing around if I had my pick, but until TVs come with taste modules that's not really an option.

                                                1. re: LStaff

                                                  I totally agree. The reason why none of the chef's have been consistently good is because they are all cooking with one hand tied behind their back (so to speak). I wish there would be one challenge where they each made a main dish, with a budget that didnt constrict their options, and just make it about creativity and taste, rather than playing the little cooking games they lay out every week.

                                                  1. re: batdown

                                                    Literally - if you remember the quick-fire egg challenge! Although, that was actually the Season 1 vs. Season 2 all-star episode...

                                                  2. re: LStaff

                                                    Yep. This is my issue also. Let the chef's go wild sometimes, especially if the event that the challenge is cooking for would allow it. If you're cooking for the elite or ultra fashionable, you're not going to have to sacrifice your goat cheese. Don't force them to get creative but allow them to get creative. The chef's still have the opportunity to take the easy route and use something like Wagyu beef but do nothing really interesting with it. Obviously, the producers think the drama of screwing up or putting out a dish that is crap makes for better television.

                                                    1. re: LStaff

                                                      If they did that they would just be doing take-out from the resto the chef works in.

                                                      And didn;t they have that opportunity with the reso double-header and they failed miserably on three of four attempts. Even with no money constraints they brought in scented candles. DUH?

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        Scented candles have nothing to do with peoples cooking abilities.

                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                          two points:

                                                          1 - they had the opportunity to show their stuff with the two resto challenges and they failed in all but a few aspects
                                                          2 - they are not there as line cooks but proving what they can do and serve and as every judge stated with the scented candles, it was a major faux pas.

                                                          and the last point is, it's a REALITY SHOW for entertainment purposes, not the Food Network or a DIY video from the Library created by the CIA.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Comment was about allowing the contestants the opportunity to show their culinary abilities unrestricted. While not disputing the bad purchase of scented candles it still has nothing to do with one's cooking abilities.

                                                            In theory they should never even be an issue with the judges. Nor should the black table cloths or any other FOH issue because how many times have they said 'it's all about the food'?

                                                            The last point is what does The Food Network have to do with this?

                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                              they may say that at times, but the reality is that top chef has been on for 2 and a half seasons, and the contestants should know that it's not just all about the food. obviously the criteria for top chef (imposed by the show these contestants signed up for) includes more than just raw cooking skill, hence the lack of challenges that only assess pure cooking and menu design.

                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                              actually, given the current quality of programming on the food network i'd say it's pretty much equivalent to a reality show at this point :)

                                                            3. re: Withnail42

                                                              maybe not, but putting them on the table is a pretty ignorant & totally amateur move. any top chef should be well aware of how crucial the sense of smell is when it comes to taste.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Agree 100%. In no way am I trying to justify the use of the candles. Just saying that particular bad choice has nothing to do with his cooking skills. What ever they might be.


                                                        2. Jfood finally had a chance to catch up last night and little jfood is hooked as well. Very fun watching with a 22-year old.

                                                          Jfood understands that the reason Howie wanted to take himself out of the competition is that he and Padma were actually an item in South Beach. Then the paparazzi’s caught them in an uncomfortable position in a RAV-4 and Howie tried to exit with a Glad super tough bag over his head. That’s why she was so mean to him last night. Quite a visual, don’t you think?

                                                          Now back to the show, and jfood apologizes if he has episode-creep as he watch two in a row but will try to stay focused on the Yacht-capade.

                                                          q Jfood loved the aisle-challenge. Hung was consistent in his “it’s theother Jfood thought the challenge was interesting. Loved the idea of appetizers for a challenge. Jfood believes that at most Bar Mitzvahs and Weddings, the apps are the best part so he was very keen to watch.
                                                          q Quick Fire – Howie showed jfood a lot by not serving his dish, since loosing is not held against him and would probably not be a factor in the Challenge. Oh great SPAM won. But given the alternatives, it really did look good and jfood wonders how many downloads the recipe will get. Hung Baby, this ain’t mapquest. You were done in jfood’s book when you started grinding the cereal. Should have grabbed some hotels from the Monopoly set to add as well. Others were nicely done and love the salt mistake, takes guts to admit it. Nice editing.
                                                          q Brian stepping-up as “leader” was the only path he could take. Then he punted big time by saying he was leader but not in charge. Someone please buy him a thesaurus.
                                                          q They had a $350 budget for the team. Why did they focus on each person having a subsidiary with only $50. Failure immediately on Brian’s part. When he gets the thesaurus have him look up the term “synergy”.
                                                          q “Beautiful people”? – Not. How about ill-mannered slobs. Did you see them fill their plates like the midnight buffet on a Disney cruise? They had less class than the drunks a few weeks ago at 3AM. And can someone check the ID of the host. He looked 12-years old.
                                                          q Appetizers in the shape of cigars in South Beach – Howie should have been eliminated just for that stupid idea, what did they edit, a ice sculpture of Castro? Howie, you’re from the ‘hood, you took stupid to a whole ‘nother level. Let’s substitute yogurt for Goat Cheese. OMG, what a dumb swap. And taking one for the team was not a good idea with seven chefs left. The carpaccio looked great, the fish sausage was a fantastic idea and then the Hung-meister shows up with a canapé from jfood Bar Mitzvah in the 60’s. OMG you’re kidding?
                                                          q Loved the photo-ops of the empty dishes on the deck.
                                                          q Howie under the Bus – Did anyone else notice that his sweat factor is down? Jfood thinks he’s dehydrated and it effected his cooking and his thought process. But then again he was not cooking pork this week. Jfood gives Howie major kudo points for stepping-up (Brian please take note of what a stand up guy looks like).
                                                          q End result – Jfood disagrees with kicking Howie off this week. It should have been Brian. There were more than enough bad apps served and to single Howie’s out was not fair. Brian on the other hand failed miserably as the leader. From his first “Is everyone OK with this” to his “I was the leader, not the Executive chef” comments, the weenie factor should have come into play.

                                                          1. I gotta say...I laughed so loud last night seeing hung describe Howie's mushroom tarts. LOL!!!!

                                                            I was also thinking about Sara last nigth after Casey got the laptop. She had the toughest challenge to date and got NADA!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: amanda3571

                                                              I hope Sara wins. She was very assertive but not mean in the kitchen, telling Howie (I think) to remake the meat that was too rare, not letting him bulls*** her about "resting".

                                                              She stepped up in the leadership role. Others who were supposed to be leaders failed. A "Top Chef" needs to have management skills in addition to cooking.

                                                              1. re: coney with everything

                                                                I'm 100 percent sure that telling both Hung (something he'd been responsible for wasn't crisp enough) and Howie to "do it over" was what won for Sara last week. Colicchio is always telling them two things: be a leader and don't let something go out of the kitchen that's not done the way you think it should be, and that was an example of both.

                                                                A chef can't personally prepare every plate that goes out of the kitchen -- most "top chefs" rarely cook at all: they supervise their sous chef and line cooks and do quality control to make sure everything is up to their standards. When do you think the last time Colicchio actually worked the stove in his restaurant was? Clearly it's not very often, what with all the things he's involved in (restaurants around the country, Top Chef, etc.). I bet his chef de cuisine would be shocked if Colicchio walked into Craft one night and actually wanted to cook!

                                                                I agree with everyone who likes the way Sara is stepping up as the competition progresses. Not only did she win the elimination challenge last week, but she was personally responsible for her team winning the quickfire with her mad onion-chopping skillz.

                                                            2. I agree a really boring episode last night - although I did love the cocktail waitress at the party - MY GOD!

                                                              I think Howie was denied in his request to bow out because he was looking to come across as the "good guy" he was quitting the show without reason, basically because he knew he was going to be eliminated. Mia and Otto each had personal reasons to leave the show; if memory serves Otto quit b/c of the orange incident and Mia because she couldn't take it anymore. Howie was looking to quit so he wouldn't be "fired" in a last ditch attempt to come off as something other than an oaf.

                                                              I would like the cheftestants to have a challenge where they are not allowed to cook seafood or serve anything raw. I want to see these people cook and cook interesting dishes - far too many dishes have included salmon or tuna this year - if you're going to do fish at least give me something that isn't on every second rate menu in America; you're in Miami for the love of god, give me grouper, mahi mahi, aligator tail or something inventive if you're going to go with fish - even a wahoo would be a welcome dish at this point.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: wingman

                                                                Totally agree--the ingredients have been way too pedestrian when given the choice. That was a legitimate knock on Tre--choosing filet mignon and salmon TWICE. Enough with the scallops already. How about some rock shrimp? Seasonal, local, delicious.

                                                                1. re: kenito799

                                                                  i agree but they are at fresh market week in week out with no money. so... it's not like options are totally endless.

                                                                2. re: wingman

                                                                  Remind me of the orange incident. I don't think I've seen all the episodes of the 1st season (I wish they showed these on repeat but they never do) but I do know who Otto is.

                                                                  1. re: Elyssa

                                                                    It was lychees, not oranges. The store where they bought their ingredients apparently had neglected to ring up a case of them and while they were loading up the "Rav4's" he mentioned that he wasn't sure if they had been paid for. One of the other contestants revealed this to a judge during the cooking period and he made Otto take the case of lychees back to the store. Otto took responsibility for his team's loss at the judges table and eliminated himself from the competition.

                                                                    1. re: LabRat

                                                                      >>[W]hile they were loading up the "Rav4's" he mentioned that he wasn't sure if they had been paid for. <<

                                                                      In my recollection, Otto was a bit more responsible than that -- he knew they hadn't paid for the case of fruit while they were still at the store, but didn't say anything until they got back -- like he was okay with "stealing" the fruit. Another contestant thought it was wrong and told the judges during the cooking period and Otto copped to the error in judgment, returned the fruit, and then did take the fall at the judge's table.

                                                                      Mia on the other hand wasn't going to be eliminated her week, somebody else was going, and she volunteered to go instead because she was fed up.

                                                                      As for this episode, Howie had no excuse to quit -- he just tried to "reject first" since he knew he was going down. I'm glad the judges didn't let him quit -- what a poor sport!

                                                                      I loved Hung's dish during the quickfire -- since there wasn't anything on his row that he could make into something gourmet, he just went ahead and played with his food. I'm sure he knew he wouldn't win, but it was fun to see.

                                                                      As for the elimination challenge, I think they should have edited the number of dishes they made, but can totally relate to the dishes they did end up making due to the budget constraint. I'd be interested to know if everyone at that party was able to taste Casey's carpaccio dish -- I can't see how she possibly could have made 60 appetizers with her budget of $50. It looked to me like she'd only bought one filet. Given that the judges called them out on running out of food, I think that should have been more of a factor at judge's table. At least with Hung's salmon canape, he could make a lot of them with the given budget. Although his dish was boring, at least it fed the crowd. If they wanted them to use higher-end ingredients and get more creative, they should have given them more money.

                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                        If everyone gets one piece of carpaccio, its fairly easy to make due with slightly more than 1 lb of beef. each piece looked like the thickness of a salami, so you can easily get 60ish slices from 1 - 1.5 lbs of beef. For instance, I bought 1/4 lb of lomo curado the other day and got maybe 20-25 slices of lomo.

                                                                      2. re: LabRat

                                                                        Interesting! Thanks for filling me in. Didn't mean to highjack the conversation with Season 2 Lychee talk lol. They really should do a REAL marathon with all the episodes from all the seasons.I haven't seen a large portion of the Season 1 episodes either.

                                                                      3. re: Elyssa

                                                                        My recall of the "orange incident", if this is what is refered to, actually involved a box of lychee. After shopping with a budget-Otto was loading up the car and remarked to Marisa that he didn't think the cashier rang up the lychee. She as team leader could have returned them at that point but did not, Once back in the kitchen, Marisa becomes holier than thou and rants to Elia -who also joins in on the finger pointing labeling Otto more or less dishonest and a cheat. Ironically, the lychee were for Marisa and a dessert she and Elia were preparing. They made such a big deal out of it that Otto returned the lychee to the store. At judging, time when team Korea was the losing team-Marisa and Elia blamed Otto for the loss. In my opinion, the failure of Team Korea had little to do with Otto but he did bow out and the judges accepted his resignation.
                                                                        I think it was the episode that turned me off both Marisa and Elia. I never did warm up to either one.

                                                                        1. re: foodseek

                                                                          That episode was when Elia started to show her true colors and her ability to tattle tale and blame others.

                                                                    2. In regards to the chocolate mousse dessert, I believe I heard in the narrative that they Casey and Sara poured cream into the boxed mousse.

                                                                      Did anyone else catch that? Wouldn't it have been better to fold in whipped cream than adding cream and hoping that it would thicken the soupy mousse? Maybe I misunderstood/mis-heard the narration.

                                                                      Of course, when the suggest to whip the mousse with the hopes it would thicken, we knew it would liquefy. Where's Marcel and his alginate when you need him? lol.

                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                        I heard the same thing - they didn't fold in whipped cream, they added cream - which didn't make sense at ALL to me. Of course it would collapse into chocolate soup!

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          I thought they might try asking Dale to beat some stiff whites and fold them in, but maybe they didn't have any extra eggs around. Or yeah, maybe they forgot about that folding thing...

                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                            the only folding jfood saw was Howie and Hung, like two cheap suits.

                                                                        2. re: dave_c

                                                                          I can't believe they were going to try and use BOXED MOUSSE in the first place - shudder. That sounds just awful. Mousse is not that hard to make, as Hung would say "even my monkey could make it." But seriously, they could have done a great dessert that wouldn't take too long (I think time constraints were the reason for the box decision). Chocolate covered strawberries come to mind...

                                                                          1. re: heathermb

                                                                            How about something with tropical fruits, diced mango, key lime, coconut? I was at a party and had a simple fruit salad made amazing by dressing it with a light syrup scented with vanilla, allspice and black pepper. You could use hibiscus in the dressing, like the Mexican jamaica drink, garnish with mint. Or Bombay Sapphire! Add a juniper note. Why am I not on Top Chef? It could be served on those Chinese soup spoons (overused but really convenient for this type of party, and Casey and Brian both used them).

                                                                            They were lucky that mousse didnt work...yet another doggie-poop dish on pastry would have been awful and would have seriously detracted from Casey and Sara's successes last night.

                                                                            1. re: kenito799

                                                                              think your forgettingthe budget. they bought the mix for economic not culinary reasons. Yes your selections sound good, but can you deliver them for the price of mousse in a box?

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                fresh fruit = cheap! one vanilla pod is all they need, could they use spices from the pantry? Doubt it would cost much...

                                                                                1. re: kenito799

                                                                                  Don't think the issue here is budget with either one of them. Fruit salad, great idea, but you need a fork to eat it, plus macerated it's drippy and messy to eat. Easily rectified by a short (but intense) maceration, followed by air drying and being stuck onto a pick, which gets rid of the mess and the need for a fork. By sweetening the fruit you also eliminate the need for a "dessert", especially if you have the fruit be a stationary appetizer and set a bowl of chantilly creme enhanced with some booze next to it. Fruit kebobs definitely time consuming to prepare and cliche, but on any buffet fruit is almost never left over. Plus if you've got your production done ahead of time you just stick all the picks in a pineapple(s), platter and garnish the pinas, put it out and let it go. Would provide ready food when the other, more exciting apps run out and the kitchen can't replenish fast enough.

                                                                                  Okay, so you don't want fruit kebobs? Cut some puff pastry into triangles or rounds, a dab of mascarpone, a smidge of honey or agave nectar, a slice of mango, seal, slit, cream wash, sprinkle with sugar, bake and serve.

                                                                                  A little blue cheese goes a long way, Dale could have used it instead of goat cheese in his gourge cum porfiterols. Or better yet, how about a blue cheese and chile cheesecake baked in a sheet pan and cut into diamonds. Purchased pie crust can be turned into 2-bite empanadas, and in a nod to Miami's Cuban population, filled with picadillo and served wtih a lime crema. Picadillo not upscale enough? Sub in some filet mignon for the ground beef, add carmelized onions and mushrooms and some smoked paprika or chipotle.

                                                                                  Brian could have saved Howie's crappy duxelle by turning it inside out. Spread the duxelle on the puff pastry, collect all the unused vegetables from the other chefs, grill off what you can, top the duxelle with the grilled vegetables, wrap and bake. Bite size vegetarian Veggie Wellingtons. But, sadly, it appears Brian learned nothing from Tre's demise and didn't taste and didn't assert his authority. All the production should have been completed prior to the start of the function. Not possible in this case since they had too many items. And Brian should have been expediting the movement of food up the stairs and making sure that no app station ran completely out. He also could have avoided the buffet table stampede by sending Casey and Dale (who we learned in the resto challenge has good FOH skills) out with the passed apps, at which time they could have discretely begun telling folks other selections were available at the buffet table. Yelling "come and get it" in the middle of the boat is rather tacky.

                                                                                  Yeah, Hung's Cucumber/Smoked Salmon app was very retro, but it appeared to have been done well. It was used as a passed app., which should be easy to pick up and eat and not fussy. It was also well within budgetary and time constraints. Hung's time management throughout this contest has been very good.

                                                                                  $350 for food for 60 is doable though tight. The labor - very expensive labor at that - was free and skilled, something of which most caterers don't have. Yep, Brian made some poor choices, and so did the rest of them. Their biggest single problem was overthinking the event and shooting themselves in the foot.

                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                    Nice ideas! My idea with the fruit salad was a single mouthful on a Chinese soup spoon, the way Casey served her beef carpaccio in broth, and Brian served the tartare. You could add any type of cheese or flavored whipped cream on top...I think adding savory spices would have been interesting to the judges. Or gone the chili and lime on mango route for a classic Mexican combination. Also avoid another pastry/bread item.

                                                                                    Completely agree that Brian should have edited Howie's mushroom dish and it could have been done easily.

                                                                                    1. re: kenito799

                                                                                      Yep, Chinese soup spoon would work for fruit salad too, I liked the spicy/savory suggestion you made and thought it would go well with tropical fruit. But pick or spoon, both are running the risk of being pedestrian these days <sigh>. Effective, but done to death. And since Brian wasn't monitoring production and plating very well, it would have been 3 items in a spoon. I'm sure the panel would have knocked them on that as well.

                                                                                      Several other things that wouldn't have been budget busters are:
                                                                                      - arancini
                                                                                      - mini grilled cheese, mini-apps have had their day in the sun, but these are easy and who doesn't like grilled cheese, especially if you use artisenal breads and cheese
                                                                                      - small flour tortillas can be cut into quarters, rolled into cones and filled with anything -- even hungs infamous smoked salmon mousse.
                                                                                      - Tre's bacon wrapped shrimp, in a smaller size, could have been trotted out again
                                                                                      - Penelope Casas has a recipe for a fig and Spanish chorizo tapa in her Tapas cookbook that is dynamite. Bottled figs and Italian sausage can be substituted if needed and the sauce served with it is easy and inexpensive. This is a deceptively simple app. with a big payoff in flavor.

                                                                                      For dessert, packaged brownie mix can be enhanced with all kinds of add-ins, or simply kicked up with the addition of flavored extracts, like peppermint, coconut, butter pecan, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips. We haven't seen it but the upscale grocery in which they do most of their shopping must have a full service bakery. Purchased macaroons or Italian-style cookies area great base. Melt a bag of chocolate chips with a stick of parafin and you can dip anything. Sugar or shortbread cookies could have been spread with an expensive preserve (because a little goes a long way) and dipped in chocolate. Easy to serve and satisfies a sweet tooth. Mini muffin tins make great dessert apps. Lined with puff or pie dough then can be filled with almost anything and bake quickly.

                                                                                      And let's not forget the ubiquitous nuts and olives. If the store had an olive bar, a small assortment of different flavors of olives is an easy "fill-in" that you can put out and forget. Nuts can be sauteed and seasoned with almost anything and, like olives and fruit, are a general purpose, cover the bases, type of snack that helps support the bigger players on the tray.

                                                                                    2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                      DD..altho both gougeres and profiteroles are made with pate a choux, they are NOT the same thing.

                                                                                      and yes, imho,Dale should have dumped the chicken dish, bought the goat cheese and made the gougeres the way he intended.

                                                                            2. re: dave_c

                                                                              i thought casey said they did fold in whipped cream...? either way, it's a good thing they decided to toss it. man, that stuff looked awful.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                We need someone with TIVO access. I also thought she said whipped cream.


                                                                            3. On another note -- where has Gail Simmons been? She hasn't been around for at least 4 eps -- wonder what's up w that.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Silverlaker

                                                                                I, for one, am not complaining about her absence.

                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  I've been waiting to hear yet again how she likes her eggs.


                                                                                2. re: Silverlaker

                                                                                  She did blog about the episode on Bravo's site, but it was more of a list of canapes/appetizers from F&W's website that would have "worked better" than what was actually served. http://www.bravotv.com/blog/gailsimmo...

                                                                                  And one more note about the blog - I love Ted Allen's comparison of Howie to the 1970s book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. :-)

                                                                                3. Forgive me if I somehow missed this in someone's post, but I gotta say I'm a bit confused with the logic behind the elimination (although I think Howie should have gone long ago) I don't understand eliminating Tre since he was the "leader" and needed to be held responsible for a failure, but in this episode, Brian was the "leader" (but not head chef, according to him) and got to stay.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: pfarrell

                                                                                    I think they also did not like several of the dishes that Tre made in the episode in which he was eliminated. Several judges said the salmon dish with beets Tre made was awful. I think Brian's dish was more "middle of the pack" so they decided to let him stay since the judges and crowd liked Howie's food the least this week.

                                                                                    1. re: pfarrell

                                                                                      Tre's got kicked off mostly because at least two of his dishes were inedible, the salmon dish and the bread pudding plus he didn't score very well for his blue cheese tenderloin. Not to mention he showed no control/fire in the kitchen. Brian at least had that part not to mention both of Howie's dishes were the worst things out there. When Tre was kicked off no one bombed miserably like Howie did with his cigar and the mushroom duxelle.

                                                                                    2. First,what's up with the laptop and Sara gets nothing for her win of being executive chef? I think Sara should have won because while the carpaccio was good, nothing was cooked. Sara took the time to make a tomato bread pudding. I think her win the last time has given her the confidence to show her badass skills in the kitchen. I felt for her. Howie go home! Even though I did warm up to him this episode, he continued to think his shortcomings were acceptable. Those mushroom duxelle things? I hate mushrooms all over again.And please give these chefs a budget! If you want them to wow you give them some cash to do so. How much better would that tomato tart have been if it had been made out of heirloom tomatoes? Carpaccio? How about Wagyu or even Ostrich? Deviled eggs made of Quail eggs? Something drizzled with truffle juice which is as expensive as rent on the LES. Brian probably saw the catering episode where they ran out of apps and wanted to do more. But I wish he'd really taken the leadership role and demanded excellence in the dishes. Maybe 5 instead of 8. Dale should have chucked the chicken salad in favor of the goat cheese. Insisted on it. Hung? what are you doing? Where is his creativity that he brags about? Brian pulled it out with a Spam recipe I might try, it was beautiful. And CJ? FTP! Seafood sausage again? At least it worked in the context of things. Casey's carpaccio was great but her lack of chef love in the kitchen bothers me. She will throw ANYONE under the bus. She knew the other Sarah was strugglin with the burgers didn't even help. Admitted she was clueless to her surroundings. Bourdain is right, she is dangerous because she is cunning. Now that Tre is gone I'm looking to Sara. And why was Sara showing everyone else's dishes? Read Bourdain's blog on Bravo. Brilliant! Dead on! Give Sara some kick ass chef's knives or something....

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: sharonm

                                                                                        I think when push comes to shove Sara will show true tenacity. She's the dark horse of this show...when has she made anything bad or done anything stupid? Hung, Brian, Casey, CJ, better watch it, Sara is going to be hard to beat.

                                                                                        1. re: kenito799

                                                                                          I am beginning to like Sara also-earlier I wasn't so sure of her skills but I think she really turned the corner for me with her onion chopping zeal compared to Casey's performance. Oh, and if Bravo doesn't step up and give her a prize I will be disappointed. Maybe she should have received the Apple prize and Casey a set of sharp knives-just a thought.

                                                                                      2. I can't believe how worked up people are getting about Sara not winning a prize. The prizes this season have consisted of Bourdain's books, the chance to cook in the Hamptons, a bottle of wine. These are all crap prizes. The trip to Italy has been the most valuable prize by far. The Macbook isn't worth more than a couple of grand give or take a few hundred.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                          Books are maybe lame prizes but a computer worth "a couple of grand" is a lot more than exactly $ZERO! And Lia gets to go cook in the Hamptons, not a bad prize at all.

                                                                                          I also think it's weird that Casey got a random prize that had no connection with the guest judge. I guess there was no other place to stick that prize in. And that Bravo wasn't able to milk any more prizes from any sponsors (I guess a lifetime supply of Glad plastic bags isn't so thrilling).

                                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                                            Lia doesn't need to "cook in the Hamptons" for satisfaction. She cooks at Jean Georges every night!

                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                              I'm not sure how getting to cook near the beach is such a great prize when your job is to cook.

                                                                                        2. I was wondering the same thing; esp after all Howie won was a bottle of wine.

                                                                                          Re: Sara- lets not forget that her win was on the "second night". Perhaps since there was not a true winner and both teams got a redo, there really was not a reason for a prize,

                                                                                          1. SPOILER...

                                                                                            Did any one else hear Sara say "Well, what did you win this week?" to Casey after she won again and was given another amazing prize? Sara knows she got the short end of the stick.

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: adido

                                                                                              Yes, I heard that as well. And she was incredibly gracious in congratulating Casey on her win and prize.

                                                                                              I really wish Colicchio would respond to the issue on his blog (which doesn't seem to be up yet). There were many people who asked about it in last week's blog posts.

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                It should be addressed by that producer and his blog. I too thought Sara was extremely gracious considering.

                                                                                                And with Cassey winning an even better prize this time (even Hung got something) it makes me think what the %$@#!!! even louder. At least this time it was expected and in keeping with the challenge not just a seemingly random big ticket item appearing out of the blue at the last second.


                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                  the only explanation i can think of for that seemingly random prize is that apple must be a new or silent sponsor, and this was the only way to sneak in the product placement. after all, it's not like padma can be as obvious about it as when she says 'get in your rav 4s' or 'all the food must be packed in your glad containers.'

                                                                                                  i can hear padma now. 'thanks for a great challenge today, chefs. go get some sleep - you're gonna need it! we'll see you tomorrow. and now we're off to update our blogs using our apple laptop computers.'

                                                                                              2. re: adido

                                                                                                Update on Sara's prize- Wikipedia says that Sara gets a pantry fully stocked by Town & Country. Sara revealed that in her online interview on "Watch What Happens" that followed the episode.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  nice! I wonder why Town & Country didn't get their online product placement?

                                                                                                  1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                    Perhaps because they didn't pay enough for said placement? LOL (probably editing - and/or the fact that the guest judge didn't have anything to do with the Town & Country? (That I'm aware of.)

                                                                                                    And what is Town & Country? I know it's a magazine, a Chrysler car, an inn in Conway, NH, and a surf shop in Hawaii, among other things. :-) But can't seem to find anything about a gourmet shop or a market?

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      Hi Linda!

                                                                                                      Actually "Town" and "Country" are the names of guest judge Geoffrey Zakarian's two restaurants in NY; it's curious why Sara's prize was never mentioned....

                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                        Thank you Rubee! The way it was listed at Wikipedia I thought the name was an all-together. :-) But then again - if Sara's getting a pantry stocked by a restaurant, how can that be?

                                                                                              3. like Amazing Race - one team wins, the nome sends them to a 10day trip to France another wins, they get, at best, a 1/2 massage by the Indian children .. aim to win each time, is the message :)

                                                                                                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.