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Top Chef Sept. 12th. >>SPOILER<<

I have no idea what this week's challenge is going to be I just noticed that in the preview for the episode everyone, for the first time, are wearing ever so glamorous hairnets.

I just hope they do something a little different than 'a black tie dinner for eighty ever so hip and trendy noble prize winners with a budget of $17 using only items found in a magazine store. (This will be followed by shock and dismay at the judges table about how bad the food is. Big Tom C. will throw in his usual something along the lines of 'I would never let a dish like this like this out into my dinning room!')

And this season really seems to be dragging on. Part of me hope there will be a hazing incident so they can throw a whole bunch off and move directly to the finals.


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  1. ::::::Spoilers below::::::::

    OK, you have to admit that making breakfast for Padma in their suite and then cooking on a plane was definitely different!

    And Big Tom C. (with his Kangol cap or whatever it was) said the broccolini was the single worst dish they'd ever been served in the 3 seasons! It was Bourdain who said that the broccolini should never have been served after seeing how it came out of the warming oven - whether it was in a restaurant or on a plane. :-)

    I always get a giggle out of how Tom C. puts his hand over his mouth to stop the outburst of laughing after Bourdain says one of his pithy comments. :-)

    I'm glad that Casey won - her Business Class meal definitely looked excellent! But hello? Look at the prizes she's won - a Mac Notebook and then two business R/T tix anywhere Continental flies in the world? Talk about perfect timing on her wins!

    And C.J. was extremely gracious on his loss. Funny last speech as well saying he'd like to sit down with Anthony Bourdain and have a beer and talk s**t about his broccolini. :-)

    19 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      And who knew a little booze was the way to Padma's heart? heh heh

      1. re: King of Northern Blvd

        LOL! No kidding, huh? She commented more on Hung's smoothie than any of the rest of the food! :-)

        Oh, one other thing - Hung just *pissed* me off when he said to the camera "I didn't break the truffle oil bottle" when he quite obviously knocked it over in his running. And then leaving peppers on the floor outside the fridge door? Arrrrghhh! I'm glad C.J. called him out on the truffle oil bottle.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          Hung did it before on a previous episode, when grabbing seafood. He dropped a live Cray Fish. He looked at it and announced that he 'didn't need' and walked away leaving it there wriggling on the floor. No way would he behave like that in Savoy's kitchen.


          1. re: Withnail42

            That and almost cutting Casey when he was "running with knives" in an earlier challenge.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I know Savoy runs a tight ship. So perhaps Hung feels liberated to be his hyperself.

              From my experience in professional kitchens anyone pulling such a knife stunt would be on the reciving end of a serious 'talking to' from his coworkers. Then spending the next few days telling other people how he 'walked into a door'.


              1. re: Withnail42

                What we'll never know is whether Savoy or anyone in authority in the Savoy kitchen has been watching Top Chef this season. If so, I can imagine that person sitting Hung down for a little post-competion conversation. "Maybe it was all right for you to run with a knife on Top Chef, but here..."

                I have no illusions that Savoy etc. would watch Top Chef other than the fact that an employee is in the competition.

                1. re: Withnail42

                  There was only one instance where Hung held the blade of the knife against his hand to turn from the cutting board to the stove to deposit whatever it was into his pot (a move I've seen many chefs do a million times). Casey just so happened to walk through while Hung was in mid-motion. No one was injured.

                  I think all this Hung was running around with flailing knives is so exgaggerated by the Bravo producers.

                  1. re: moymoy

                    I used the knife incident to illustrate Hung's general tendency to act in a way that is self-absorbed and contrary to the team work in a smooth-running kitchen. If you don't like the knife example, perhaps the shellfish example will do. After all, picking up the dropped shellfish and handing it to a producer wouldn't have taken away Hung's cooking time. If you don't like the shellfish example, perhaps the dropped bell peppers will do. Certainly, picking up two peppers that haven't splattered into a gooey mess isn't comparable to cleaning up the shattered oil bottle.

                    I am not including Hung's failure to volunteer to help CJ or anyone else. I am talking only about Hung's mess-making for which he assumes no apparent responsibility. If I were Hung's boss, I'd make sure he received a reminder about expectations in my kitchen once the unreality of Top Chef is behind him..

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      Why are you personalizing your comments to me?..."If you don't like..."
                      It's a TV show, Hung's not my brother.

                    2. re: moymoy

                      ...So it would have been Cassey fault for walking on to his moving upturned knife?...That's a good one. The fact IS he at that point was being an idiot. That is not something you do in a busy kitchen. Only once? That all you need.

                      And they did make a point of making him go in front of the judges for that very reason. Perhaps that's why it 'only happened once'. They rightly called him on it.


                      1. re: Withnail42

                        Did I say that it was Casey's fault? It happened once, nobody was hurt, Hung reprimanded and as you said, "called out on it"...so what's the problem? People make it seem like he's running around every episode ready to hack off human heads.

                        I get it Hung's a lunatic. Unsafe to self & others.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            I thought Tre's beet cured salmon was the worst dish they ever tasted. I don't know how Brian skated by AGAIN this week...the dude has barely cooked in a month and then serves up terrible "hash" and a humongous steak and gets another chance?

            I didn't mind CJ going but terrible broccolini aside, I thought Brian's food had more flaws.

            1. re: moymoy

              CJ might have stayed had he not plated the side dish. As Bourdain mentioned, it souldn't have never been served in any environment, even prisons! I predict he'll open an eatery called "Vert" serving stacked food, near a beach, and surrounded by bikini wearing fans. He'll be fine.

              In any case it was an interesting challenge. While I've had some great meals on international carriers, these days I don't even expect to get peanuts on domestic flights. It might have been more relevent to most viewers to have come up with meals served in the terminal and carried onto planes since most of us don;t get meals and have to buy our grub and liquids in the post-security sections.

              A few other observations:
              - Lots of fish dishes. Didn't anyone watch "Airplane?"
              - There was a brief comment from a flight crew member about certain veggies they normally wouldn't serve. I thought this was a funny, yet relevent observation that wasn't taken into consideration when judging. If they have a 10+ hour flight, do you want to be serving fare that will result in noxious gasses?
              - I was also suprised the top dish was veal. I love it but also know it's tougher to find these days. It's a highly politicized item and I'd be suprised to see a big service company offering it as a featured item on a limited menu.

              1. re: tastyjon

                I was surprised by the amount of fish dishes as well as the veal. I just can't see that many people ordering the veal and then whatever other dish is available will end up running out before the end of the service. It's one thing to be creative, but you'd think they'd pick a winner with more mainstream appeal.

                1. re: queencru

                  I was really surprised that someone didn't try to do a chicken dish or at least a cornish hen type thing. It seems like more people would order chicken then veal or seabass...something the general public is more comfortable with. But I guess chicken can dry out easily and doesn't seem classy enough. I think the steaks or a lamb give the air of something fancy and deserving of first class the most. I usually order fish when I go to restaurants but out of everything described on this episode I probably would have ordered Dale's if I was on the plane.

                2. re: tastyjon

                  I think he would have probably been saved as well if he didn't plate the dish. They probably would have actually applauded him if he said "I had originally planned on serving a side of brocolini with the dish. But it didn't hold up to the unexpected heat of the ovens so I made the executive descision to not send it out." He might have been saved with something like that.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I find it hard to believe that the broccolini could ever be worst then that disgusting looking watermelon with gorgonzola gnocchi served in Season 2 during Restaurant Wars. I mean I know CJ cooked it to beyond recognition...but the worst ever?

                1. re: Elyssa

                  I agree - the watermelon/gorgonzola whatever-it-was just turned my stomach and the thought of eating that vs. the broccolini is way harder.

                  But Bourdain did say the broccolini was actually a LOT worse than what the cameras showed.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I think they said it tasted something like a swamp weed covered in toothpaste...even if CJ hadn't sent it out he should have made better choices, chosen ingredients that he could anticipate would hold up, liek Casey's cauliflower. If I read that menu i am pretty sure I would have ordered Casey's dish.

                    Chicken is way too pedestrian and boring for 1st class, and unlikely to hold up in the ovens. While salmon supposedly could work, Sara overcooked hers, and as Harold repeatedly points out in his blog, "step away from the salmon"...everyone who has used salmon winds up on the bottom! Salmon pykagged Tre! Chefs seem to hate salmon, too...way too boring.

              3. LOVED! Anthony Bourdain's comments on the hideous purple potato lobster hash!!
                "The lobster had the consistency of doll head"

                4 Replies
                1. re: cowgirlinthesand

                  It was good to see that Hung won more than Padma's book as winner of the quickfire challenger. I'm sure he had been thinking, "Is that IT??" when she handed him her book.

                  I must say that I find some of the judge's comments overly harsh. I realize that the chefs are being held to a high standard, but are some of the dishes really "disgusting", "sickening", etc.? I suppose the hyperbole adds to the high drama, but c'mon now... "disgusting"?

                  Although I did love the "doll head" comment. :)

                  1. re: MysticYoYo

                    Anthony Bourdain and Tom Collichio are like two schoolboys getting together and feeding off each other. Don't you think Collichio's comments were more extreme than normal? I think it's Bourdain's influence. They should not have been sitting together on the plane. ;-)

                    1. re: singleguychef

                      Should have been titled "Snarks on a Plane"

                2. Padma seriously looked like she was going to cry when she had to tell CJ that he was out. I thought his speech was very gracious, though.

                  And Hung couldn't be less gracious. Seriously, he couldn't just admit to knocking over the bottle? He could be more careful anyway running around a kitchen -- I'm sure he doesn't run around the kitchen of the restaurant that he works in with that little respect for the other people around him. Breaking glass, dropping things constantly, and almost cutting someone with a knife (as he did a few episodes ago) just is such inappropriate behavior. I'm sure he's learned better safety skills than that, and it just seems disrespectful the way that he's acting.

                  1. Didn't watch it but read Bourdain's blog...very good explanation of food prep for an airline trip.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: ML8000

                      Sad to see CJ go if for no other reason than he seemed to have at least a personality. Still, it seemed justified and yes, Hung is making it easy for me to root against him. I'm changing my tune now and predicting a Hung/Casey finale. Malarkey, whom I initially predicted a finalist after my candidate Tre got the boot, is really showing his non-seafood limitations of late. I like Sara as well but, Casey's is the banner I'll be flying henceforth.

                      And yes, anytime Bourdain gets judge duty makes the episode that much more entertaining.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        I've been attempting to read Bourdain's blog for about 20 minutes now, and the damn Hotels.com banner ads (two of them on the same page!) keep popping up and down and end up crashing my IE page - frustrating!!!

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          That's too bad - it's great - didn't have the problem with the banner - my sympathies!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I'm still working my way through it...up to Page 8. It seems I have to let the banner ads finish their 4 or 5 pop-ups to be able to read each page of the blog.

                            And as always - loving Bourdain's blog. :-)

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            Switch to Firefox and install Adblock and Flashblock.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I'm on my work PC during the weekdays. No installations without IT's say-so. And it's the only time it happened, so I'm assuming it was a glitch somewhere.

                        2. Have to say I enjoyed the breakfast challenge almost as much as Padama enjoyed her alcohol laced smoothie. Well played by Hung. It was fun to watch. CJ was funny when talking about how nice it was to be woken up by her.

                          I even thought the airline challenge was fun. It seem like they had free run of the place to do what they wanted just had to be careful of the storage constraints. Although did hear about the Chilliean Sea Bass (I thought it was endangered.) it's oil content and moistness. Three times by my count. Brian was very generous about his steaks. They seemed large even for a steakhouse never mind a plane. I also found it funny, when they skirted, around the issue as to why they don't serve brocholi brussle sprouts and cauliflower flights.

                          At least the prize has something to do with the challenge. And what a prize two first class tickets anywhere in the world continental flies. Two great prizes in a row for Cassey. At least this week it was more than one appetizer. Still can't help but feel bad for Sara getting sweet f-all for her win two weeks ago. Right before they started bringing out the high end gifts. Hung even got a book for his quick fire win.


                          1. For some reason I thought last night's episode was very dull. I found myself returning to the book I'm reading long before the commercials started. Well....I did think the breakfast challenge was fun.

                            I think I'm just bored with all these inane challenges. I'd really like it if they would just let 'em cook! Give them each the same protein (lamb!) and let them design an entire meal around it without ridiculous price restrictions.

                            I find myself cheering for Casey. Her last few dishes have sounded/looked great. Does anyone else feel like she's kicked it up a few notches? Does that mean she's been playing it safe/middle of the road? Or, that she's just found her groove?

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Mushroom

                              I agree about looking forward to seeing them "really cook" - i.e., have more of a free rein with ingredients and without these limitations in terms of cost/cooking venues/freezing and reheating/reheating on a plane etc. I feel as if in past shows, there were fewer of those types of challenges - could well be wrong though.

                              Also agree about Casey.

                              Was amused that Padman had her bangs sticking out of her hair net/hat thing ....

                              1. re: Mushroom

                                I agree that Casey has done well as of late. She also did well in the frozen food challenge and a quick fire. Her food seems to not only look nice, but the comments are usually that it was original and interesting, even daring using many flavors on the boat challenge. I can look past the onion chopping fiasco and see that she is turning into a real contender! Sarah has also grown on me. I like her attifude. She goes with the flow and when she messes up, she admits it. I'd like to see Casey, Sarah and Dale move forward to the Final Four. My jury is still out on Hung. He's not a team player. Just when I start to like him, he does something that ruins it for me. LIke not helping CJ, leaving food on the floor that he drops and insisting that 'it wasn't me, but if I did do it, I was unaware'. Gimme a break!

                                1. re: lisamos

                                  Well, Casey did say last week that, since she'd won the elimination challenge and had been doing well, that maybe it was time to pull out all the stops and go for it. Whether it was intentional or not, her "flying under the radar" in the first part of the season may have been a wise choice. She definitely seems to have found her groove. I agree about Sarah - she's grown on me and has a good attitude. And just when I start to like Hung, he pulls stunts like last night. I think he's got talent, but his inability to work within a team tells me he'd be great as someone's personal chef. Dale is good, and Brian has steadily gone downhill in recent weeks. I also believe a Casey/Hung showdown is the most likely.

                                  My initial reaction to Bourdain's criticism was "man, that's HARSH!", but they ARE down to the final six here. He's the perfect judge at this point because we all know he doesn't mince words!

                                  CJ was very gracious in his departing speech, and I have to give him props for that. I do hope he gets that slice of NY pizza.

                                  1. re: phee

                                    I don't think Hung's ego would allow him to work as a personal chef. He needs way more praise and attention than that.

                                    And as Bourdain said - it's not a team competition - it's ultimately an individual challenge, so while Hung was a jerk for saying "CJ didn't ask me for help, so I didn't give it to him", I guess he's right. Just shows what type of person Hung really is, however. And Hung's complete disregard to his fellow cheftestants when it comes down to safety, however, is NOT a good thing.

                                    And Lee Anne's blog said CJ did get his slice of NY pizza.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      I agree with other posters on outcome of challenge and dishes. Although I liked CJ his veg side did look like,"something hidden in Bob Marleys closet". I will miss him and think his crush on Padima and her emotion filled farewell to him was cute. I suspect Brian will be the next to go-that steak was huge for any serving let alone an airplane. I mean how many times have you heard a passenger ask for a "doggy bag" on a flight? It just looked odd to me. But, the most offensive preps I observed were Hung's total disregard for team mates and their safety. Unless he opens his own restaurant, I think he is going to have to be more careful. I wouldn't hire him to cook for me-leaving broken glass on the slippery floor and food, his knife theatrics and general disregard for others would cause accidents in my kitchen. The other sore spot for me was his sudden concern at the end of the challenge in cleaning up his work station while Dale could have used some help. Come on Hung you aren't that clueless-what goes around comes around and it wouldn't hurt to get some positive Karma once in awhile.

                                      1. re: foodseek

                                        I loved how Collichio's comments on the brocollini became progressively worse with every new comment. First it was bad, then it was the worst this season, then it was the worst in the whole 3 seasons!

                                        1. re: krez

                                          that is pretty typical of how judging goes. someone doesn't care for a dish and throws up a little trial balloon: "i didn't like it," "it was bad," etc. then they sit back and wait for a reaction. if someone else agrees with them, they jump back in with stronger comments: ""yeah, that dish was really terrible," "just what was he/she thinking," etc. then the others pile on and it's like sharks attacking chum bucket. colichio does it a little but i think that gail and ted allen are the biggest offenders of the gang mentality.

                                          1. re: xman887

                                            Padma used to do this thing all the time that would crack me up. No matter what anyone said, she would just repeat it, emphasizing different words, incredulously. For example (these are made up)...

                                            Tom: This fish is VERY dry.
                                            Padma (wide-eyed): This fish IS very dry.

                                            Ted: This steak tastes like the bottom of my shoe.
                                            Padma (again, wide-eyed): This STEAK tastes like the bottom of a SHOE.

                                            She used to do it a lot, but not so much anymore. Hm, sounds like fodder for a drinking game....

                                2. re: Mushroom

                                  I think next week will separate the chefs from the wannabes. The challenge is at FCI, and is definitely going to focus on their classical training (or lack thereof). I think we'll see whether or not Casey's chopping problems of a couple of weeks ago were the result of a dull knife, or poor knife skills.

                                  I'm guessing Hung (and NO, I don't care for him at all!) is really going to stand out here.

                                3. This episode had a few great quips that could just barely be heard, and unfortunately I can't remember all of them, but I think my favorite was as Casey walks back into the room after judges table, you can't see Sara, but you can hear her go "What'd you get THIS time?" Priceless, and entirely deserved. Poor Girl.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: dagoose

                                    That was my favorite moment of the whole show! It made me laugh. Just the way Sara delivered the line--like she was happy for Casey but with just enough of a hint of snarkiness. I really hope Sara gets something for her win, even after the fact.

                                    Sorry to see CJ go. But I do think he was getting to the point where he was in over his head. It was his time.

                                    1. re: tachis

                                      I agree -- I figured it'd either be him or Brian.

                                      I give CJ credit for going as far as he did in the competition. Except for the broccolini and that awful green "tuna casserole" (it was him who made that, wasn't it?) early on, he seemed to have pretty good instincts. However, I think it's his lack of actual restaurant experience that was his Achilles' heel.

                                  2. My favorite comment had to be from AB about the infamous broccolini..."It looks like something that was scraped up from the back of Bob Marley's closet." Chef Tom could barely contain himself. Gotta love Tony!

                                    MALARKY is just soooo clueless...like one of the judges said, "I think he just doesn't get it." Hated to see CJ go, but I'm rooting for Casey and/or Sara...the girls ROCK!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: SweetPhyl

                                      Bourdain said in his blog that they even saved some broccolini in a plastic bag for Judge's Table as evidence of how bad it was. But it continued to deteriorate in the baggie (good stuff from Bob Marley's closet would NEVER do that! [vbg]) and in all fairness, they knew it wouldn't be fair to bring out. It would have added insult to injury for CJ.

                                    2. I kind of felt watching last night's episode that Top Chef jumped the shark with the elimination challenge. I mean, come on, how does cooking airline food make you a top chef that help you run a restaurant? I just felt it was silly having them have to go out there and cook with those restrictions and be judge on it. But that's just me. I know some of you will probably think it's a great challenge. I just didn't find it inspiring at all.

                                      Also, didn't it look like Padma was super sad to tell CJ to pack his knives and go? She should have given him a kiss.

                                      34 Replies
                                      1. re: singleguychef

                                        I agree - this challenge, although interesting, seemed like they were just trying to see how miserable and tough they could make it for them. I realize a Top Chef needs to be resilient and work under pressure and be prepared for anything, but Airline Food?? I'd really like to see them just cook. No cramped quarters, no money limits, maybe a reasonable time limit, but lets see who can present the best dish when given the same protein. Lets see how each one interprets their skills. That is what I'd really like to see. No $50 budgets to feed 30 people gourmet finger food.

                                        1. re: lisamos

                                          It almost seems like the producers of Top Chef try not to emulate the open format of Iron Chef (no money limits,same protein, reasonable time limit) It would be interesting to see the final four be given a challenge similar to Iron Chef and see what develops. I would be curious how Hung would perform in front of the judges watching him cook and interact with contestants.

                                          1. re: foodseek

                                            In defense of Hung, just because he didn't help CJ prep doesn't make him incapable and unworthy of being a "top chef." In the restaurant wars, when Sara was exec chef she made a point of saying how helpful Hung was, always asking what next, chef? and then he did what he was told.

                                            Yesterday's was an individual contest, not a team challenge, why is he a bad guy for not helping a competitor? and what's the big deal of breaking a bottle of oil when they had a challenge that needs to be done in 20mins.

                                            As viewers we get drawn into all the personalities but in reality most chefs are not polite to one another in a hot, busy kitchen.

                                            1. re: moymoy

                                              Kitchen safety is a big deal. Breaking a bottle of oil in a kitchen, and therefore getting oil (very slippery) and glass all over a kitchen floor is pretty outrageous for someone who has worked in professional kitchens before. It's not about being polite to one another, it's about showing respect to others who are also sharing the hot, busy kitchen with you, and Hung shows none of that. Not helping CJ prep isn't the issue.

                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                And didn't Casey slip on the oil into the cabinet/table or whatever was holding the pantry items?

                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                  It's not like Hung broke the oil on purpose! And, given that they didn't stop the clock for him to clean it up, I don't blame him for working around the spill.

                                                  1. re: DanaB

                                                    But he was being careless enough in the kitchen in order to break the oil accidentally, that's the whole point. He's been in restaurant kitchens for a while, you can't going around dropping things, rushing carelessly around and knocking over bottles of oil, and running around with knifes in the air when you're in a restaurant kitchen, and that's what this competition is. It's not about working around the spill, it's about having the spill happen in the first place. And hey, I know how it is, I drop and spill things all the time when I cook, but then, I don't work in a restaurant.

                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                      I think it's unrealistic to expect that a contestant is going to NEVER make a mistake and drop something, especially when they have 20 minutes to complete a meal preparation in a competition where they can win $$$$. They aren't working in a restaurant kitchen, and I'd find it hard to believe that the conditions that exist during a quick fire challenge are going to be the same as those in a restaurant kitchen setting in any event.

                                                      Sure Hung is a bit reckless in his exhuberance, but I personally don't think it's a big issue. It's not like he poured out the oil in a petulant fit in order to trip the other opponents -- he accidently knocked the bottle over when they were ALL rushing around to make the 20 minute deadline.

                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                        But honestly, there was broken glass all over the floor. You don't think it's a big issue for broken glass and slippery oil to be all over the floor? Or to be running around a kitchen with a knife held so that he could have easily cut someone else? That's way more than reckless.

                                                    2. re: DanaB

                                                      Why should they stop the clock for him to clean up? I assume that in the "real" restaurant world the clock doesn't stop for those sorts of thing, though I guess they have people whose job it is to clean up.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Ruth, I guess I'm not sure what your point is. They are in an artificial environment, and in a competition. As far as I know, they don't stop the clock for anything. They have 20 MINUTES to prepare a gourmet breakfast. I'm not excusing Hung for accidentally breaking the bottle, but I just don't see what he could have done about it once it was done. Do you really think he should he have quit the game to clean it up so his compatriots didn't hurt their feet?

                                                        And Jasmine, I think you are exaggerating. Hung wasn't running around with knives flailing. Nobody got cut.

                                                        I guess you've guessed my bias! I like Hung :-) But in all honesty, I don't think anything Hung has done has risen even to the level of Marcel. For an annoying contestant, Hung has been very mild. Even likeable.

                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                          Well, I guess he could at least have used his foot to shove the pieces out of the way or something ... not saying that he should have quit or forfeited in order to clean up, but it does strike as a hazard - plus, of course, he took no responsibility for having caused the problem in the first place. I don't have any particular animosity towards Hung generally, just thought it was very unprofessional to leave broken glass and oil on the floor - would it have taken long to throw some paper towels on top of the mess in the interim, for example?

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            Actually, this raises an interesting point about the production company's responsibility to the contestants.

                                                            For discussion sake, let's all agree that Hung shouldn't use his quickfire challenge time to do clean-up duties. But what about the production staff? With contestants in bare feet, sock-clad feet, or rubber-soled flip flops, people were clearly at risk. I wonder if the production company considered sending a non-contestant in to deal with the danger. If the company even considered this option, we certainly saw the result of the decision. Drama triumphed over safety. With a clean floor, the camera man wouldn't have been able to pan down to the dangerous mess continuously. With a clean floor, the contests wouldn't have need to call out warnings to one another.

                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                              It was obnoxious that Hung didn't realize (or said he didn't realize) that he knocked over the bottle (which was shown clearly on tape). He was running around in little footie-socks, so he was in just as much danger from the glass. When they showed Casey slipping on the oil, the glass was gone, so somebody cleaned it up. If one of the other cheftestants cleaned it because Hung couldn't be bothered, I completely see how that would be annoying.

                                                              But I like Hung. I don't see why he should have offered to help anyone the next day, it was an individual challenge, he was done, he was not loafing around--he was cleaning up his station. If CJ or Dale had asked him to help, I bet he would have done it. I don't think he's "That guy" :)

                                                              1. re: kenito799

                                                                Hung is annoying and self absorbed and limited in his talent. I get the feeling he'd kill his mother if it would win him title of 'Top Chef'

                                                                1. re: Lisaannie

                                                                  Limited in his talent? What have you seen that makes you say that?

                                                              2. re: Indy 67

                                                                I'm sure that they had an ironclad release for that kind of stuff.

                                                            2. re: DanaB

                                                              The point is the producers should have stopped tape and cleaned up. People were were not normal protective footwear that they would in a regular kitchen. In fact it might even have been Cassey who moved some items that might have cased the bottle, which was closer to Hung to fall. But Hung does have a history of being careless and running around with knives.


                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                The producers leaving the broken glass and oil on the floor was really weird.

                                                                One of these days somebody's going to get hurt and sue.

                                                        2. re: JasmineG

                                                          I was more concerned about the broken glass. They were all just out of bed, and I know I saw at least one or two chefs in socks or bare feet. It would have taken him 30 seconds to pick up the big pieces and wipe up the oil.

                                                        3. re: moymoy

                                                          Anthony Bourdain had a good response in his blog about Hung not helping out:

                                                          "Earlier in the show, there was some griping that, though he'd finished his work early, he didn't volunteer to help other contestants. Hardly the behavior of an aspiring Mr. Cuddlesworth! But this attitude strikes me as a little disingenuous. At this point in the competition, the contestants should probably stop pretending they're all gonna be co-workers and pals forever. There are now only five left. Ultimately, there will be only one winner. So, really, it's a matter of "Do I cut your throat now? Or do I cut your throat later?" Hung's not running for office. He's there -- like he said from the beginning -- to win. At least he's honest about it."

                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                            I completely agree that the challenge was interesting and required a lot of food knowledge. Hung was successful because he knew the properties of the ingredient...CJ's ingredient choices showed that he didn't know as much about what ingredients would adapt best to unexpected cooking conditions. Casey was successful because she was able to anticipate that the veal would cook just right. If I had tried to make those medallions they would have probably been a dried-out disaster.

                                                            Chefs needs to know how to prepare food in a variety of circumstances, not just with unlimited time and budgets! Anyone who flies wants decent food on the plane, and I have had decent food on several airlines.
                                                            Food sellers around the world produce fantastic food cooked in tiny street carts, canoes floating in canals, from two buckets slung from a pole, on miniscule hibachis, or in cramped hole-in-the-wall kitchens...

                                                            Putting out a varied menu of consistently high quality food in a small restaurant kitchen requires chefs to learn efficiency and work around any number of constraints. For that reason I find the challenges quite reasonable and interesting. As for the post below about Iron Chef--they only have one hour! Hardly easier than many of the TC challenges.

                                                            1. re: kenito799

                                                              You are right that the Iron Chef has a hour window to prepare food. I made reference to the Iron Chef not for the ease of the challenge but the interest for the viewer in seeing varied presentations of similar foods(one item) by the Top Chef contestants. I think it would impact the judges table also and their critique if they watched the chefs during preparation versus a quick walk through by Tom.

                                                              1. re: foodseek

                                                                not to take anything away from the iron chefs, because i think what they pull off is amazing...but you do know they actually find out about the 'secret' ingredient in advance, right? they don't just come up with the ideas for those dishes on the fly during the 'reveal,' they have time before the battle begins to devise their menus & recipes.

                                                                so in that sense, they certainly have more time to come up with something great than the cheftestants do for all of the quickfires, and maybe even some of the elimination challenges. they also have access to a more diverse arsenal of ingredients and equipment.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Good point yes goodhealthgourment and that really wouldn't bother me in one of the TC challenges. For example, if say the last four had an ingredient disclosed to them and they could make out a shopping list without a restrictive budget it may be fun to see what dish they could come up with and we would be comparing apples to apples instead of apples to oranges. No dry salmon compared to a veal.

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    I believe the Iron Chefs receive a list of five possible secret ingredients.

                                                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                      I have read that they narrow it down to two ingredients before the show begins.

                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      I read that the Iron Chef and challenger have a list of four possible "secret" ingredients.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        A friend of mine was a sous chef on one episode of Iron Chef. They were told a couple weeks ahead of time three possible secret ingredients. They worked up menus for all three. Then an hour before taping they were at the studio and were told which secret ingredient they will be dealing with. Gave them time to iron out the game plan.

                                                          2. re: lisamos

                                                            I think that most of the challenges are not really reflective of running a restaurant. It's an hour long show and they just want drama really.

                                                            1. re: lisamos

                                                              You know I'm a little surprised this hasn't been mentioned but flying recently I've seen ads that a number of high end chefs (think Charlie Trotter, Todd English and others) have been consulting on the creation of the first class/business class meals on various airlines---I believe Delta, United and possibly Northwest come to mind (only because those are the ones I've been flying a lot recently from DC to the Midwest). So it's not totally out of the question that these meals are attempting to be redone and made more gourmet.

                                                              1. re: Elyssa

                                                                Cathay Pacific has featured menus by famous Hong Kong restaurants...sadly, however, the food was still pretty bad. I have had pretty good food on Iberia, Mexicana and KLM.

                                                            2. re: singleguychef

                                                              I think it was an interesting challenge because those that did well displayed a variety of knowledge: of ingredients (how much leeway a protein gives you if you over- or undercook it), plating, prepping with saving enough time to heat/cook later (surely that's a restaurant skill), portion control, etc. And it wasn't coach-class airline food -- they had some good stuff to work with. It wasn't just "survive under ridiculous constraints," they put some thought into it. If all the challenges were "reasonable" restaurant challenges, it would be biased toward those who can do restaurant service, er, in their sleep. (Apologies to Tre.) If you strip away the distractions (like being stuck in a hangar in Newark), which admittedly can be demoralizing, it's an interesting challenge. Not my favorite, but not bad.

                                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                                I agree -- this challenge might have been an unusual situation for these chefs but it did test a lot of things they need to know in any cooking situation. Tests are rarely if ever perfect replications of life, they're just supposed to gauge ability, and I think this challenge did that.

                                                            3. Bourdain's blog is always good, but I actually thought Colicchio's blog was very interesting this week. much more worth a read than usual.

                                                              1. A few reflections. What was up with Tom's caps? He must have an endorsement deal. Didn't his mother ever tell him to take off his hat when he eats?
                                                                It is my guess that the airline food deal was part of the sponsorship deal with CO. They give the show free tickets, they get a show featuring CO. In my mind it was a terrible challenge. This season still has not grabbed me. I find the challenges poor, the contestants uninteresting and it has all seemed forced. The only positive side was the large presence of Bourdain.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: phneale

                                                                  Bourdain is always great ... just great. I loved CJ's "Crepe Spice" crack. He's got great one-liners: at the opening of the season he was discussing his testicular cancer and said something along the lines of "I've got one ball and I'm here to cook". Nice to see that someone's got a sense of humor. As for Hung's "I don't care about anybody" behavior, we all know that'll hurt him if he's a finalist (a la Tiffany and Marcel {whom I actually like}) ... also agree that the season seems to be dragging, because it is: it's been held up several weeks for holiday weekends, etc. Let's wrap it up already.

                                                                2. The more episodes I've watched the more I feel like Malarkey is a used cars salesman. Whenever he describes his dish he gets this weird glazed over look in his eyes and announceates his words like an over zealous sports broadcaster. "And here on your left you'll see a beautifually preparred side of rubbery lobster with a hint of butter and over cooked vegetables - a treat for the whole family that I'm sure you will love".

                                                                  While I appreciate Hung's competitive spirit his arrogance didn't bother me until the camera showed him not standing up to clap for CJ and wish him well, when all the other cheftestants did. Not offering a hand to help is compeltly different from not being gracious against a competitor. If a boxer can hug an opponet after a fight or a college football team lines up to shake hands after beating the cr*p out of each other for an hour Hung should have the grace to stand up and wish a competitor well.

                                                                  I really enjoyed this challenge - I'd much rather see space constraints than monetary constraints - the chefs do need to learn how to cook in different enviornments and plan accordingly so I thought this challenge was relevant.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: wingman

                                                                    Didn't notice Hung not applauding CJ. (Maybe he was pissed about CJ's comment about the oil after the quick fire.)And his occasional carelessness in the kitchen bothers me. But his not stepping into help I really don't think is a big deal. It is after all an individual competition. Probably focused on his dish as he should be. He wasn't sabotaging anyone. Hung seems to respond well when told what to do. It's when he's left to his own devices that we get these odd and sometimes disastrous creations. I'm sure if he'd been asked he'd have stepped up. I think the whole 'controversy' was the producers attempt at creating a villain.


                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                      Like I said - his me-first attitude in the kitchen doesn't bother me, it was the lack of respect for someone he "beat" that did.

                                                                      1. re: wingman

                                                                        Sometimes I think the judges are super harsh but I find them funny too. I love AB and I like TC but I've eated at both of their restaurants and have had less than stellar meals at both so it annoys me when they are so critical. They don't run perfect establishments.

                                                                        Anyone see the pic on the front of the NYT Styles section yesterday. Padma and Russell Simmons were looking cozy at NYC Fashion Week.

                                                                        1. re: wingman

                                                                          Hung hugged and shook hands with both Joey & Howie upon their departure and he definitely did not care for either of those two guys. So maybe there is or isn't anything to him not "respecting" CJ than was released on TV.

                                                                          IMO, CJ was the biggest fake on the show. He watched Tre take the fall (and even Tre took note in his exit interview of CJ's lack of responsibility) and threw Brian under the bus when Brian was the sweaty FoH guy.

                                                                          1. re: moymoy

                                                                            I saw Hung moving to either hug or congratulate CJ in some way as they were all taking turns doing that, but the shot changed and it wasn't shown. I didn't notice him not clapping. Maybe he was spacing out in Smurfland at that moment...

                                                                            1. re: kenito799

                                                                              I thought I saw the same thing - Hung getting up to hug CJ. I'll have to go back and check the TIVO (If the husband hasn't erased it yet).

                                                                      2. From Bourdain's blog:

                                                                        "... it would have been funny if the flight attendants had been served Sara's salmon -- with CJ's broccolini -- but with Dale's attention to portion count. That would have been a truly perfect re-creation of my usual dining experience on American Airlines."


                                                                        1. Hung ran away from the table of ingredients so fast that it looked like he was across the room when the oil hit the floor. He turned to see what happened after the crash, but his view was blocked, all he could see was someone (Casey? not sure) standing nearby. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit but I think he honestly felt someone else did it. I also agree that the talk of him running around with knives has been exaggerated. And although it's still suspect in my book, Chilean Sea Bass has made a comeback and has been removed from many endangered lists. I'm not a huge fan of Hung but he's getting a bum rap by some.

                                                                          CJ blew it before he picked up his knife. Halibut and brocolini were both just awful choices for this challenge. Both require fairly precise cooking and won't hold up well to travel, let alone a 10 minute blast in a convection oven. I agree that the blue cheese/watermelon thing looked way worse but CJ completely failed to consider the real challenge. His dish would probably be pretty good as a straight-up meal from the TC kitchen, but the challenge was to figure out a way to present perfectly-cooked food on an airplane, and he failed in just about every respect. Sorry to see him go but he really deserved it on this one.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                                                                            Wait, are people getting on Hung for using an overfished product? It was already in the kitchen! He didn't send the trawler out personally with the intent of devastating the population! He just found, in the fridge, what he knew would work best.

                                                                            Veal doesn't have to be farmed in a cruel way, either, so I don't get why veal is inherently controversial. Hello, lamb is a baby too! Babies taste good, if you eat meat you've got to come to terms with that. Gimmee some suckling pig.

                                                                            1. re: kenito799

                                                                              I wasn't getting on Hung's case about the Sea Bass. I just was curious as to the status of the fish.

                                                                              But I do think chefs have a responsability to not use endangered species.

                                                                              1. re: kenito799

                                                                                I think lamb is also inherently controversial. Not that I have a personal problem with it, I think everyone should eat what they want to and/or feel comfortable with, but I have definitely had friends who considered veal and lamb and anything marked "baby" off limits.

                                                                                Sweetbreads aren't necessarily the most popular dish, but I wonder if any of the lamb/veal haters realize that sweetbreads almost always come from very young animals. Sweetbreads should be on the baby-meat list.

                                                                                1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                  In addition to lamb being one of those meats that some people just don't like the taste of. I absolutely adore it, while my sister would always grumble that it was my choice for my birthday dinner growing up if Mom could find it (back in the 1960s and 70s, lamb was usually only found in Springtime, whereas my birthday is in October). She still won't eat it. And for her, it's not the "baby" connotation, although that does factor into it for her - it's more the flavor of the meat - she finds it gamey.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Lamb also has a stronger, distinct scent that many people can't tolerate. Just the smell of cooked lamb is enough to make me nauseated and I imagine a plane filled with lamb entrees would be a complete nightmare. A lot of people just have smell sensitivity in general and it's best to use food that tends to have more mild smells in order to keep those people from having problems on the plane, especially when you add turbulence/air sickness to the mix.

                                                                                    1. re: queencru

                                                                                      So why so many fish choices then? Same thing - the strong smell on an enclosed aircraft doesn't make sense either. This is where Howie's frequest desire to use pork would have come in handy. :-)

                                                                            2. I haven't seen the episode yet but the previews for tonight's episode have spoiled it for me that CJ is gone. I have to say I've been waiting for them to kick him off for a long, long time! Hopefully I'll catch the airing of last week's episode tonight right before the new one!

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                i typically don't like to wish ill will on people - karmic payback is a bitch - especially not on people i don't even know. but i must confess, i literally cheered when cj got the boot last week. after the way he's been dissing his fellow chefs and throwing people under the bus, it was satisfying to watch him go down in flames.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  I don't wish any ill will on him. It's just a show where people are expected to get kicked off and I thought other chefs have been better than him for awhile. He definitely has dissed other chefs and been quiet when he's done something wrong or hasn't taken the leadership role.

                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                    I honest to God do not understand why people are ripping apart CJ so viciously. As far as I can tell, his only indiscretion was that Tre got sent home instead him. When CJ picked Tre to be the executive chef it made perfect sense to me. Tre is an experienced head chef and gave his team the best chance to win. In fact, I thought CJ was doing him a favor by giving him a chance to shine and maybe win the whole challenge, like Sara did as exec chef for her team. The fact that he dropped the ball (and he did, completely) was no one's fault but his own. If Tre needed help from his line cooks, he should have asked, or better yet, told them what to do. That's a boss's job. Regardless of what the other chefs produced, Tre's dishes that night were all soundly dismissed by the judges.
                                                                                    Based on other posters' comments, it seems the main problem most people have is that Tre went home at all. He was the favorite and viewers are bitter now that he's gone. I liked Tre too--I had him picked to win the whole competition. When he was eliminated, my only disappointment was with Tre.

                                                                                    1. re: ajs228

                                                                                      Yes Tre deserved to go that epiosde but CJ has repeatedly tattled or dissed other chefetstants' dishes or behaviour at the judges' table. That's why I am glad he's gone. I like him, but I thought he had that ruthless competitiveness that a pro athlete has (he played pro volleyball) and I was afraid he was ready to do whatever it took to push the others down. In the end he was brought down by his own poor cooking decisions, which was a better way to lose.

                                                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                                                        agreed..i didn't formulate my negative opinion of cj based on one isolated incident. while i was extremely disappointed to see tre go, as he had been my top pick from day one, my issues with cj go well beyond that. he's managed to avoid taking on any real responsibility in the team efforts, and is always much too quick to point the finger. just last week during the quickfire judging he jumped at the chance to announce that hung had broken the bottle of oil. i'm NOT excusing hung's behavior by any means. it was irresponsible and dangerous, and i thought he could have handled it much more maturely and respectfully. but cj just couldn't wait to 'tattle' on him to padma.

                                                                                        plus, his food hasn't even been very impressive. he definitely overstayed his welcome, and i was glad to see him go.

                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                          I do agree that CJ deserved to be eliminated last week. Anytime a judge calls your dish the "worst in three seasons", that's a bad day. I guess I just didn't see the ruthlessness that others did. He called out Hung on spilling the oil when no one else there did; he stood up to Howie when he took that cheap shot at Sarah (calling her the baby of the group); and he seemed to genuinely get along with the rest of the contestants. To me those are signs of integrity.

                                                                                          1. re: ajs228

                                                                                            i guess it's all just a matter of different interpretations.

                                                                                            some of us viewed his behavior as displays of integrity...others felt he was sneaky, conniving, condescending and snide. to each his own.

                                                                                            at least we all agree he had to go. chowhounds unite! :)

                                                                                            can't wait to see what they have in store for us tonite...

                                                                                            1. re: ajs228

                                                                                              what about making fun of another contestant's sweat while he's on the chopping block? i'm sure that made brian feel all warm and fuzzy inside.