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Apr 9, 2008 08:09 PM

TC #5 The Beatdown

Ack, what an ugly little postscript to what had been a decent episode. How are we supposed to like any of these people after that?

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  1. That said, what would have done for the earth challenge? I'm thinking truffles, but perhaps they're not available at Whole Foods.

    7 Replies
    1. re: newhavener07

      I would have done something that involved root vegetables. I think the mushrooms would have been fine without the rosemary as a component, but frankly, "earth" screams vegetarian to me... though there are some rodents that live in the earth, technically ... that's just not what I'd be looking for in a dish that represents earth.

      I'm surprised the air team didn't whip anything on their plate.

      1. re: Adrienne

        I thought a roasted vegetable or mushroom dish with polenta would have been great. They could have done a shot of the soup as well. (Although I had to agree with Antonia that just one bowl of soup would have been weird). But soup and something else would have been great. Perhaps a trio of mushrooms---3 different arrangements and the soup could have been an earthy and delicious mushroom soup.

        1. re: Elyssa

          I had similar thoughts about the choice of dishes for Earth. Mushrooms in several guises would have been very earthy.

          1. re: ChefJune

            I think that if there's one lesson from this season, it is DON'T USE MUSHROOMS!

      2. re: newhavener07

        Actually, what about someting with one of those super-pungent French cheeses? Seems like the TC chefs don't use much cheese in their dishes, I wonder why.

        1. re: newhavener07

          Ya besides Sara from last season. I thought it was great how she used homemade cheese whenever possible. But then again, her whole dream was to open a cheese farm in Jamaica. :)

        2. re: newhavener07

          Definitely Truffles - Truffle oil - or Roasted Baby Root Veggies! They totally missed the concept of representing Earth - the Squash Soup did sound too simple - but would have better aligned with the theme.
          I think Johnny Depp wannabe, err, I mean Spike's days are numbered as it is - he's pretty consistently near the bottom and his attitude and ultra coolness are wearing thin.

        3. If that hadn't been right after the judging and after Zoi's elimination (as far as Jen's reactions), I would feel more inclined to agree. However, that just shows how much emotion can get invested in a competition of this nature. I wasn't surprised to see that sort of pissing contest going on, I'm sure its happened before. In the grand scheme of realit... oh, sorry, "unscripted" television... it was mild and not at all unsurprising, knowing the personalities. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as disrespectful and childish as anything I've seen on any number of other shows.

          However, I need to jump in with something totally shallow and superficial myself for once: Can we say that Nikki may have created a new hair look to rival the "faux-hawk" for TC styles? The "Bram Stoker's Dracula" 'do?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Scortch

            Hahahaha I was also totally obsessed with Nikki's "Amy Winehouse Giant Bump" do. I couldn't take my eyes off of it!

          2. I can't believe the judges wimped out and defaulted to the 'Crowd' decision, attacked the earth team, when Richard left scales on the fish... disappointing. If richard did not have potential, they would have jettisoned him in a heartbeat. Like I said, disappointing.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Mr Conlin

              Agreed. I really don't think they wanted to kick off Richard just yet. They say they judge the contestants challenge by challenge. For the most part, I agree. However, when it's really close I think they do take other factors into account -- like tonight's episode and when they kicked off Erick instead of Zoi. And I'm definitely sure they kicked off Ken in Season 1 for reasons other than his food.

              1. re: Mr Conlin

                At the table though they said overall the earth dish tasted the worst. And anyway, I am very pro-crowd, per the #4 thread, I think they don't take the crowd's opinion into account enough.

                1. re: Mr Conlin

                  I thought they agreed with the Crowd that it was the worst dish - i.e., independent of the Crowd's decision?

                  1. re: Mr Conlin

                    Chef Tom was pretty clear that lack of seasoning is a worse sin than just about anything else, which must include inadequate fish cleaning.

                    But also, team water's concept was there even if execution failed, but there was no earthiness in the team earth dish.

                    1. re: Mr Conlin

                      Well, they said the crowd's choice would figure in their decision. Plus, altho they judge each challenge on its own, they can't forget that they'd seen Zoi in the losers group EVERY SINGLE TIME so far! time for that whiner to hit the bricks.

                      Richard lucked out.

                    2. Can anyone answer the dispute over whether or not Antonia agreed to prepare soup even though she wasn't impressed with the choice? I absolutely can't reconstruct whether or not she merely criticized or adamantly refused.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: Indy 67

                        Yes, I can. On first viewing I was right there with Spike. I thought she'd refused. Then I watched that part of the episode again and indeed she said (paraphrasing), "If you both really want to make butternut squash soup, then I'll make butternut squash soup."

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Yep, she sure did agree to make the soup. They vacillated, and, IIRC she didn't even push hard for the carpaccio. And who the hell is Spike to go off on her for that after his push to make a Vietnamese dish last week when Manuel clearly didn't put up a fuss?

                          I must give props to Jen for saying to Spike he was trashing his teammate when he went off on Antonia, despite how she must have been feeling at the moment. And I also have to say Zoi was much more gracious about losing than I thought she'd be.

                          1. re: phee

                            The post credits outburst made *much* more sense in time sequence than it did as teases in the show. Jen was one outburst, after her girl got sent home and that jerk Spike was still there and talking sh*t. Dale was a different outburst, because he was bitter about her miso-bacon and so sick of Lisa talking to him, ever. So her telling him anything about anything was his cue to vent.

                            Spike continues to be a super jerk, now a lying superjerk since Antonia clearly said she'd made a kickass soup with them if that's what they really really wanted. After pushing loser spring rolls last week, he shouldn't talk.

                            Pleased to see Zoi go, with overuse of restaurant-trite rosemary,
                            and The Hair was the most interesting thing I've seen from Nikki.
                            They totally found a way to keep Richard, cutting him slack based on previous performance. I think that's okay - one outrageous flub really shouldn't kill you at this early stage, if everything else has been in the top tier.

                            1. re: pitu

                              Dale was simmering with frustration and annoyance with Lisa so it is understandable that he was really mad when she ended up winning. His outburst was embarrassing though, and seemed fueled by alcohol to me. Note that the dish won because of Stephanie's perfect preparation and seasoning (again)...yet she was not angry at Lisa for getting the win. Stephanie is amazing, consistently excellent, we better see her in the finals. Dale's outburst shows his own insecurities more than anything else. It was impressive that (with Stephanie's low-key leadership) the team, with all its course-changing and conflicts, pulled off an excellent dish.

                              Richards mushy, scaly fish sounded awful but there must have been some redeeming qualites to the dish...I bet Mark's parsnips tasted great even though Colicchio found them irrelevant or whatever he was getting at when he was trashing Mark.

                              Spike was just all over the place with hate--there's no reason why he couldn't have done a shooter of soup alongside the beef, squash is cheap, it was his fault (1) for not insisting and (2) for not telling Antonia, "you have immunity so we are going to make the decisions here". So attacking and blaming Antonia just seemed ridiculous. AND rubbing Zoi's elimination in Jen's face. Still, I don't mind at all that Zoi left...she has made bland tasteless pasta salad and now mushrooms. I am sure she's a good chef, but she couldn't hack it in the competition setting.

                              1. re: pitu

                                I actually agreed with Dale's outburst. Lisa was incredibly negative throughout the day. And if he's like me, that's a difficult person to work around and be around 24/7. Perhaps he shouldn't have butted his nose in but she seemed to have a million opinions and no mute button. If you work differently then that, you are bound to brew. I could see how he would be pissed that she was complaining the entire time and only smiled when she could take credit for something. I'm sure it was frustrating. But I didn't taste the dish, so I don't know if the bacon was really the star and most inovative thing on there or not. If so, she deserves the trip.

                                What I was a little confused about was Jen's reaction to Dale. It looked like she was almost cheering him on or something. A little strange.

                                Spike is a rable rouser and a bit of a jerk. He's been lucky. That being said--Zoi was bound to go eventually. She just hasn't been performing very strong.

                                I also agree that Stephanie is a rock star and I always look forward to see what she will create.

                                1. re: Elyssa

                                  Agree. While I didn't really agree with Dale's outburst, I understand why it happened. Even Gail noted on her blog that all the judges noticed Lisa's negativity. I've been in situations where I've been surrounded by people like that. It's not fun. I too have wanted to burst out like Dale but held it in. Ah, the self control ...

                                  Also was really confused with the Jen/Dale thing. Perhaps it was editing. Or perhaps Jen was so frustrated with the whole Zoi thing that she was looking for a fight, even if the fight didn't have to do with her at all.

                                  I never liked Spike. Can't stand how he says that he's too nice of a guy. He even said something like that when he was up on the chopping block last week with Memo -- that he's not that type of guy. People who generally say things like that usually aren't very nice and a big phony. They just like to hear themselves talk and pat themselves on the back.

                                  I'm glad that Zoi left. Her days were numbered and she seems like the biggest whiner -- how nothing is her fault and there's always an excuse. She can't take any responsibility. She seems like a nice person to know, but I probably wouldn't want to work with her professionally.

                                  And Stephanie is indeed the Lee Anne Wong of Season 4, perhaps with Steph being a better cook. She knows how to mediate the difficult personalities and get the work done. Lee Anne is a bit more assertive, but I think Steph can hold her own. She's A+ in my book.

                            2. re: MplsM ary

                              I believe she said "If you both really want to make butternut squash soup, then I'll make an f--'ing good butternut squash soup with you."

                              We never know what editing has done, but it seemed to me that she really explained her thinking to the team about why she wanted to do carpaccio and Spike didn't really do the same for his soup -- which I agree with him and the judges would have been a better idea, but I think he really needed to explain his thinking to engage Antonia about it. As far as her anti-soup comments, they definitely could have spruced it up a bit with flavored craime fraiche, some kind of fancy mandolined deep fried vegetable to garnish, floated brandy, etc, and it wouldn't have to have been "just soup."

                              1. re: Adrienne

                                Yes. I am now totally craving butternut squash soup, dagnabbit. With all the trimmings and nice biscuit sitting daintily beside it.

                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                  I guess I'm sick of butternut squash soup in general, find it bland and trite and definitely not something I want to eat in the summer--wasn't TC Chicago filmed in August?

                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                    I agree that the season was off for butternut squash soup but disagree on it being trite.

                                    Mushroom soup (as has been already suggested) was a proven winner, (Elia). Perhaps that would have been more in keeping with the season and the Earth theme. And, yes I've had soup in August. In Chicago.

                                    1. re: MplsM ary

                                      My first thought on hearing "butternut squash soup" was that it was trite. When there are several brands of tetrapak butternut squash soup out there, it's clearly gone well into the realm of "stuff that used to be innovative but is now mainstream." Plus, it's easy enough to make at home, so to wow a crowd at an upscale event they would have had to add some jazzy accompaniments and execute it perfectly.

                                      I thought mushrooms were a good idea for "earth" -- they just weren't executed well.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        I agree on trite...and I was kind of mystified as to why butternut squash would be an "earth" vegetable. It's not a root!

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          I don't how you could jazz up something I buy at Trader Joe's in boxes to the point where it would be acceptable anywhere but at a coffee shop at this point. Perhaps a caviar foam in the form of a fog?

                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                            "Perhaps a caviar foam in the form of a fog?"

                                            Sorry, but you're firmly in air territory there!

                              2. re: Indy 67

                                If you read Gail's blog, Antonia says in front of Spike that she would agree to do the soup. It was done in quite a passive manner. I remember that part. Gail also mentions that during an interview, Antonia said that she won't make the soup. I don't remember seeing that part (though it could have been there). Bravo may have edited it out.

                                1. re: Indy 67

                                  She didn't adamantly refuse. She said if they wanted to make soup she would make the best damn soup she could, or whatever she said. Root vegetables would have more sense, as others have said.

                                2. 15 minutes??? 15 Minutes??? Are you f-ing kidding me?

                                  15 minutes to conceptualize a 1st course for 80 people? Never mind trying to figure out how to execute it - geez!

                                  H#ll - I'm bringing the appetizer to Dinner Club on Friday and I've spent a week and a couple of trial dishes trying to decide on my dish - and the stakes aren't nearly as high (actually there are no stakes at Dinner Club) - but still!!

                                  I know in past seasons the judges have talked about how a chef sometimes find themselves in a situation where they need to think on their feet, adapt, work on the fly, blah, blah, blah - and that's why these "timed" challenges happen - but the keyword is SOMETIMES - let them cook!! Grrr...I'm annoyed.

                                  That being said...the team that won required the least amount of time to prepare - so what the h#ll do I know?

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: Mushroom

                                    Yes, 15 minutes is all you get when you sign on to do a game show.

                                    1. re: Herm

                                      Sometimes you don't get much more in real life. I can't even tell you how many times when I was still working for hotels some one would drop the ball and I'd find out the same day I had a function. It's part of the territory and an excellent test of a chefs skill to think fast and execute well.
                                      At least one team didn't finalize until shopping so I'd say in reality they had a lot more than 15 minutes.

                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                        I'd say in reality they all had the same exact amount of time. Team Fire just used it more productively by conceptualizing 2 (or 3?) different dishes before settling on their winning dish. The others all had the oppurtunity to do the same.

                                        In regards to "real life" - I'm not in the food service industry so I probably have no business commenting on timeliness issues. My husband says I'm not happy unless I'm fired up about something - if that's the case - I was delirious on Wednesday night.

                                        I would just enjoy the show more (even though I still absolutely love it) if some of the challenges weren't so ridiculous - at least ridiculous to me. These team competitions are also getting on my nerves. My favorite episodes are the ones with individual competitions and with as few "rules" as possible. Just my opinion. And....I still religiously watch the darn show - even when it annoys the heck out of me.

                                        1. re: Mushroom

                                          well the ability to think and cook "on the fly" is probably the intangible thing that makes some people great chefs and not having it is what makes others just good cooks. the challenges do seem to test for "on the fly" decision making and execution, and the bonus is that it makes for good viewing. the team challenges also make sense to me because in real kitchens you have to work with others, and maybe they suck as human beings, but they can really sling pans. . .

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I completely understand why there are Team challanges (and actually enjoyed the heck out of the zoo team challenge). It just seems like there have been an awful lot of 'em and I'm ready for some individual creativity.

                                            1. re: Mushroom

                                              i hear you. i actually wasn't sure if we were agreeing or disagreeing. re: chefs getting time to shine individually--i think it's still early on and they're not done ejecting baggage yet :)

                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                              I'm OK with the cooking on the fly and with team competitions, but I decided after watching this show that there are some challenges that I don't think are interesting, and don't indicate to me what makes a "top chef". One of those is catering challenges--it seems like it takes certain skills to get 80 servings of something ready at the exact same time. In previous years when they've had people with catering experience, they do better at this type of challenge (I'm thinking CJ last year was in this category, but it doesn't seem like there are cheftestants with as much catering experience this year). I don't think that those skills tell me that person would be a top chef; it just tells me that they would be a top caterer.

                                      2. re: Mushroom

                                        Agreed about the absurdity of time with a conceptual earth-air-wind-fire idea to work out. But those with the best skills - Stephanie - manage to pull off whatever they do.

                                        1. re: pitu

                                          Agreed. I continue to be impressed by both Stephanie's skills and her demeanor.

                                        2. re: Mushroom

                                          Didn't the fire team actually take the most time to decide having worked it out as they were shopping (initially thinking carpaccio and scrapping that b/c Earth was doing it)? So, IIRC, 15 minutes was NOT enough time for the winning team to conceptualize their dish. BUT, they clearly showed the ability to think on their feet and revise their plan as they gained insight into the other teams' plans.

                                          1. re: Mushroom

                                            As a side note to my original posting...and a bit off topic....I decided on a marinated goat cheese appetizer for Dinner Club. I didn't try it out before hand because I've made similar dishes before. I made it last night and marinated it overnight...however something wasn't quite right about it...but I was too busy to worry about it much. About 4:30 tonight (2 1/2 hours before I leave) I suddenly realized I had made the dang thing with feta cheese not a soft goat cheese like I was suppose to! My attempt to fix it has resulted in a crostini spread with all the appearance of wet dog food - it is a disaster.

                                            The moral of the story......the fact - that in 15 minutes - these Top Chef contestants can come up with an idea (and execute it) at all - let alone do it well - fills me with awe - I can't even do it in a freaking week!

                                            I'm going to pack my knives and go.....