HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Discussion

Top Chef-Improv

Richard is a two time winner. Quickfire and elimination. Dale also wins elimination with Richard. I loved this challenge. Playing tricks on them with the loss of appliances and the moving of the service to the house was brilliant.

Perplexed played to Richard's strength. He has shown that he likes making things that look like one thing and tasting like another with the Willy Wonka dish, so this is great for him. And Richard and Dale make a formidable team, they complement each other well.

So Spike finally gets to do his soup, now maybe we can not hear about it anymore. Not a big fan of sweet soups, but I would like to try their soup.

You know, Antonia and Lisa totally missed the boat, the defense was pretty flimsy. Colors and emotions are enough to riff on, you don't need to riff on everything, when it says polish sausage, it is going to kill you to do as you are asked. An dI would have been pissed too if I didn't get the tequila. But they really didn't like the asparagus dish.

Nikki and Spike stays for another week, dammit!!!

And Jennifer is gone. Which is pretty sad because she is a whole lot better than the aforementioned schmucks.

Oh yeah, I think they cut the scene where Antonia threw up in her mouth, as she had promised if Spike got to the top with his squash soup. ;)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Oh my goodness! Jen is gone and Nikki lives to play for another day? No room for a misstep since they don't use cumulative points. Wow!

    2 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      i agree. it is just incomprehensible to me that nikki is still on. i am kindof hoping she does something interesting to make her presence a little less ridiculous, but i doubt she will.

      1. re: Adrienne

        Nikki just got really lucky this week she paired up with Mark, who's a better, more inspirational chef than she is.

    2. Wow, where to start with the Asparagus Boner episode: Two teams of women undone by the most phallic ingredients imaginable; female team slammed for replacing sausage with...fish; guys praised for their pillowy piles of creme fraiche and tofu; last lesbian booted by an asparagus boner....
      Paging Dr. Freud!

      4 Replies
      1. re: newhavener07

        Lisa is gay... so there is still one lesbian standing.

        1. re: smtucker

          Whew! Plus all the homoerotic banter between the guys, despite the tragic loss of the pretty boy. Is it me or has this season got all kinds of weird sexual subcurrents going on? Perhaps I'm missing the out-and-proud-but-not-making-too-big-a-deal of it gay men of earlier seasons. Ted Allen, despite his sausage comment last night, doesn't count.

        2. re: newhavener07

          ! hilarious. i laughed out loud. thank you.

          1. This episode was pathetic. If you don't cook what the challenge dictates you lose, period. I've watched Top Chef off and on since the beginning and the only consistency in the judging is their lack of consistency.

            1. Agreed - loved the "improv" of removing the electric appliances and Chef Colicchio coming into the kitchen only to say "you've got 20 minutes to pack it up and move it to your own kitchen." Great job for whoever came up with this challenge idea!

              When I heard what the words were and who drew what, and when I saw Richard and Dale team up, I knew they'd be part of the top group. Good on both of them.

              Thought that Antonia/Lisa would be in the bottom while they were shopping in the supermarket when I heard they weren't doing Polish sausage and were putting fish on top of their chorizo. Huh? It's nothing like what the challenge said! Why are others booted for not conforming to the challenge in past episodes, but one of them wasn't? The judges continue to be inconsistent in how they judge. I have a feeling the Bravo blogs are going to be slamming about this tomorrow.

              And will someone tell Lisa to *uncross* her arms and stop tilting her head and frowning when she's standing in front of the judges? She is so obviously pissed off, and is projecting so much negativity by her body language, I'd kick her off just for that!

              When Jennifer/Stephanie were deemed the bottom 2, based on the questions asked before deliberation, I had a feeling it was going to be Jennifer....but held my breath until Jen's name was said by Padma. Phew.

              As for Jen, while she might have been way better than Nikki and Spike, at least we won't have to hear that she was doing this for Zoi anymore. Started off this episode (yet again!) that way and she ended the episode that way. Thankfully, we don't have to hear that again. At least not until the reunion show.

              10 Replies
              1. re: LindaWhit

                to me, that sound bite of jen insisting, once again, that she was doing it for zoe, was a flashing neon sign that she was getting the boot tonight.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  That and the "I'm packing my knives -- a bad omen" said cheerfully...

                  1. re: momjamin

                    I remember thinking "Yeah, right... as if they will send Jen home, when Nikki and Spike are still their, slinging that garbage."

                    Gulp

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  I agree with your comments about Lisa. She was so mopey during this episode. Even when Jen was saying her goodbyes. I was actually yelling at the TV when she mentioned (a couple of times) that she got a raw deal because someone got drunk at an improv show and yelled "polish sausage." Blah. I think Lisa is my least favorite now just because of the negativity.

                  1. re: Boudleaux

                    I agree -- I thought they both should have been on the block for their snotty attitudes.

                    1. re: Boudleaux

                      I also think Lisa has beat out the guys in her use of profanity. There seems to always be something that's F**ked in each episode.

                      1. re: Boudleaux

                        I couldn't agree more. I mentioned this thread in my interview with Jen: http://www.chow.com/stories/11077

                        I was especially glad to hear that I'm not alone in thinking Lisa should have been the one to go. Shouldn't negativity play some role in the judging? Then again, if you're eating in a restaurant you never know what's happening in the back. I'll never forgot the time I met the old chef at Falstaff's and he was so rude to me that I decided then and there to never go back. But it's rare that you would even meet a chef if you were just at the restaurant for a meal.

                        Meredith

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        Forgive me if someone has mentioned this, as I haven't been following all the Top Chef threads this season... it's not Lisa's negativity that gets me the most, but it's her greasy hair! What is up with that? It gives me the heebie jeebies (sp?) when I watch her cook, picturing hair grease dripping down into the food! Urp!

                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          Yeah no kiddin. they got after curly top about his hygiene on the tailgate show, what about her personal hygiene. Wear a hat, hairnet or something.

                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            I always think she does her interview right out of the shower and couldn't find a comb.

                        2. Okay, so we have one team that at least attempted the challenge, even though their dish wasn't very good. Then we have another team that basically said, "#@$% you, we're not playing." And the ones who PLAYED BY THE RULES got sent home?! That ain't right.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: revsharkie

                            "And the ones who PLAYED BY THE RULES got sent home?! That ain't right."

                            Agreed. I think judges' (Colicchio's?) defense was the asparagus didn't take center stage, but at least it HAD freaking asparagus in it!

                            Trying to think what would make beer braised polish sausage "high end"...flash-fried onions and cabbage with a sour vinaigrette? Cause anything would be better than the fish dish. Chorizo is NO polish sassage.

                            1. re: charlesbois

                              I think they should have MADE a polish sausage from scratch, adding fish to the sausage itself if fish was a goal (maybe a shellfish sausage with polish seasonings). Then they could have boiled in beer and then grilled the sausage and served it with a homemade dipping sauce and maybe some beer-batter pancakes... it doesn't have to be that fancy so long as there are techniques involved and the product is tasty.

                              1. re: Adrienne

                                You can't really make a polish sausage in the time they were allotted. It requires drying and cold smoking. They could make an analog, but I don't think it would really taste that similar.

                                1. re: vanillagorilla

                                  not if they made fresh polish sausage. there are multiple types. :) fresh would have been very easy to pull off and is, imho, better than the smoked stuff.

                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kie%C5%8...

                                  i definitely agree they should have made their own. fresh would have been a breeze. they obviously don't know that you never mess with midwesterners and their sausage!!

                                  1. re: vanillagorilla

                                    I feel like if they made ANY type of sausage, hand made, they would have been better off. Something resembling polish sausage would have been fine. A a rift on it using seafood would have been fine.

                                2. re: charlesbois

                                  I thought polish sausage and maybe mussels in a beer broth would have worked. And I agree, making their own sausage would have won them points, since its been proven that judges love that.

                                  1. re: charlesbois

                                    Seems they flip flop on these rules. In the past people were sent home because they didn't complete the assignment over a bad dish and in this case the bad dish was enough to send Jen packing even though the other team clearly didn't follow the rules. Although If I heard I'm winning this for Zoe one more time I think I would lose it.

                                  2. re: revsharkie

                                    Yes, I agree completely. Granted they had an ingredient that perhaps was less interesting than the others, but I agree that they could at least have made some sausage. And, Jen and Stephanie were chastized for, among other things, the cheese playing more of a role in the dish than the asparagus, yet the Polish sausage team had fish as the main ingredient. And it was supposed to be drunken Polish sausage and there wasn't much drunkeness about it. Bad call by the judges, IMO, this time, though at least Stephanie didn't get booted.

                                    P.S. I do think asparagus team went way too far w/ the phallic/menage a trois thing.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      I agree that the judges messed this one up.

                                      Antonia and Lisa not only used the wrong kind of sausage but also made a freakin' fish dish. Moreover, there was little alcohol flavor, and most of the dish was the wrong color. I don't think there's any question that one of them should have been sent packing.

                                    2. re: revsharkie

                                      THAT was so absolutely aggravating. COnsidering last week's decision, it made no sense. Jennifer seems better than the other two, and they at least tried to tackle the challenge. I'd probably get far if I was the only one cooking what I wanted despite the rules.

                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                        I totally agree here. But it seems as if the judges decided taste mattered more and even though Antonia and Mopey Lisa half-a**ed it, they at least like how their dish tasted.

                                        I thought it was a bad decision though. I think Antonia or preferably Lisa should have gone home...not Jen.

                                      2. I think the most eye rolling ugghh moment of the whole episode was that pompous richard and his "..I'm really witty," complement to himself. Well, alert the internet folks, another jerkwad who thinks of himself as a god-like phenomenon, never met one of those before---
                                        He makes me cringe.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: charlottecooks

                                          I really don't understand the animosity towards Richard. He seems like a natural-born leader, competent, team player and very thoughtful. I don't think he said that he was really witty as a compliment to himself. I've only watched it once but I don't even think he said he was witty. I think he said his sense of humor is witty -- and he is. He's not a belly-ache slapstick kind of funny -- he has a more of a subtle, dry sense of humor. I think part of the reason for all the hate is his hair.

                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                            The hair is ridiculous, but I love Richard aside from that!

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              He said, 'I'm very tongue-in-cheek and very witty'. However, because there is a cut away from the interview and there is a fairly abrupt end to the sentiment with a quick pause and then onto something about the food, I wonder if a qualifying phrase, like 'in my cooking' was cut.

                                              I don't find his humour terribly dry myself; he strains too much for that. But I don't hate him. He's inventive and seems affable.

                                              I actually feel bad for Lisa. I mean, she annoys me too with her whinging (has she not watched the show?) but when it comes to posture and facial expressions, I wonder if she'll receive a shock. It's easy not to know our own verbal tics and physical mannerisms and how they play. (Goodness knows I don't notice how my hands and arms start flailing when I lecture-- others have pointed it out to me. Don't know how it plays, but suspect I look like a bit of a muppet (in both definitions).

                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                Compared to Mark's one-on-one interviews, Richard's sense of humor is certainly not dry. I, too, don't understand the animosity toward Richard -- I agree with Miss Needle's assessment -- competent, thoughtful (both in his approach to his dishes and his demeanor toward the other chefs), non-reactionary (example: when Spike and Zoi were dissing his Willy Wonka dish in the stew room and he held his tongue).

                                                His comment "I'm very tongue-in-cheeck and very witty" came was in the context of describing the banana scallops and guacamole, and him talking about how writing the menu is a big part of planning the dish.

                                                By the way, that banana guac doesn't seem to actually include avocado. I was confused during the show about whether it did, and no one who's posted about the recipe on the various blogs and board I've read posted authoritatively, but I checked the bravo recipe, and there's no avocado -- the banana takes the place of the avocado because of the similar textures. However, Ted's got a "video tip" about dealing with avocado so you can make Richard's guac (I haven't watched it, that's just the one-sentence info)...I guess I'm not the only one confused.

                                            2. I think although Antonia and Lisa were put among the bottom folks for not properly following the rule set (the criteria they were given was polish sausage) and they decided that was too plebian and to use the "improv" rule and improvise with chorizo.

                                              While at first that did seem to go a bit against the rule, what they said in the other room was brilliant!. They said something to the effect of had they actually followed the criteria precisely, had they given then say polish sausage and beer, then they would have been criticized for not acting like the chefs they are, and would have been criticized for not improvising. Really. They hit that totally on the head! That's exactly the way it would have turned out in an "alternate reality" sorta thing

                                              Amazingly, Spike actually cooked something that demonstrated talent. Who knew it was possible?

                                              Btw, now that we're down to nine .... that suggests to me we must be two weeks away from Restaurant Wars!

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: HarryK

                                                It was up to them to improvise something "chefly" with Polish sausage. The point of these challenges is to test their creativity -- saying "I can't be creative with this ingredient" is admitting you're not a great chef. I bet Richard could have done something with Polish sausage -- or made his own gourmet version of Polish sausage.

                                                Okay, I thought about it for 15 minutes and came up with a Polish sausage-inspired filling, sliced into disks and set into a ring of red wine gelee (instead of casing), with a roasted beet puree (for the magenta), resting in the trough of an endive leaf (like a bun) to balance the flavors and colors on the plate. See ... not that hard.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  Agreed! I can't believe that they stayed when they didn't even use the ingredient given to them. That particularly seems inconsistent given last week, when the reason given for sending Ryan home was that he didn't actually make tailgating food; this seems even worse. That asparagus must have tasted really bad.

                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                    Apparently Ryan didn't follow the rules *and* his food wasn't very good. Whereas Antonia and Lisa didn't follow the rules *but* their food was good -- sending them home would have been only on technicality, and they were lucky that Steph and Jen's dish was as bad as it was. I totally expected something a lot more refined from Steph and Jen, given that their color was also a flavor (orange)...they also could have done something more, say, aphrodisiacal than phallic.

                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                      They could have, but Jen grabbed that phallic idea immediately, and soon they were joking about it... and other potential ideas went out the window.

                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                        It seems that there's really no consistent judging. They change the rules to justify who they want out.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          And yet Tom Colicchio continues to say that it's all about the food as to how they judge. But if they're not sticking to the parameters of the challenge, how can you judge them on the food they didn't correctly make?

                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      Ruth, I was thinking beets as well. Or potatoes, those purple kind, maybe as a pierogi stuffing, and why beer? How 'bout Vodka? Or if you grew up in a Polish Chicago house like I did, Seagrams's 7 or Crown Royal...lol

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Wow, Ruth, I want a reservation at your restaurant!

                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                          I was immediately thinking of red cabbage, perhaps in a foam...

                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                            Choucroute garni w/ purple cabbage. No-brainer.

                                                            1. re: jbw

                                                              THANK YOU!!! I thought of that about 20 seconds after drunken magenta polish sausage was announced. It would have worked perfectly, and the judges love it when something classic is well made.

                                                              I legally have to support Lisa because she is Canadian, but I don't think Jen deserved to go home. They may have gone a bit over the top with the bread, but at least they used the food they were given. I was furious when I saw that fish dish

                                                          2. re: newhavener07

                                                            Thanks. I didn't say *I* could make that, though. Just that it wasn't that hard to conceptualize a creative "gourmet" take on Polish sausage (that would be well within their skills, if not mine). They were actually given one of the easiest combinations of ingredients and emotions, since the emotion was actually food-related. If they were stumped by that, they were lucky they didn't get "perplexed" or "depressed" (I thought making comfort food was brilliant for "depressed").

                                                            This is actually the second time Antonia has flubbed a challange with an abstract theme (the movie challenge being the other). I guess she's just not very imaginative.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              I do like what you came up with. And yes, upon further reflection, they could have tried harder for sure. I was thinking with the right wine they could get the magenta (or close enough) and the drunken in one shot. They could also have made a kind of pate out of the sausage especially if they had made it themselves.

                                                      2. I understand that it's a cooking competition, but still, it seemed like Lisa and Antonia should've been penalized for not following the rules of the challenge. It wasn't a matter of improvising; it was a matter of ignoring their assignment all together.

                                                        Once the decision was made to go with taste, though, I can see why Jen and Steph lost. That dish looked horrible. The menage a trois idea was great and they should've run with just that, not all the additions. And once the decision was made the Jen and Steph were the losing team, it made sense that Jen had to go. That bread was her idea and so was the whole phallic theme. A bit too much in the face for my tastes. A little subtlety would've worked better.

                                                        1. Forty five seconds in and Jen is still going on about Zoi. Instead of moaning about it she should consider her self lucky that she at least got to spend some time with a loved one where every one else had to leave their's behind.

                                                          I can see why Dale exploded at Lisa a while back. She comes across as a real Debbie downer. Always finding excused for her bad performance. Their main ingredient was polish sausage they managed to convince themselves that it was beneath them to use it. Then complained that if they had used it they would have been in trouble for 'bar food'. Fortunately there dish was decent and they got to stay.

                                                          I liked the guest judge Johnny (last name I can't spell) he didn't dis anyones dishes and seemed to have some very good insights during the judging.

                                                          Liked seeing Andrew and Spike working together.

                                                          Interesting to hear Richard refer to himself as witty.

                                                          Jen left with as much grace as Zoi. Saying she was a great misunderstood chef (and was doing it for Zoi.)

                                                          15 Replies
                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                            While not classically "witty", Richard is at least playful in his approach to food - I think that is the point he was trying to make. As for genuinely witty...? He tries to hard but is waaaay too much of a geek to pull it off. Still, I like the guy. He's decent and pretty talented.

                                                            Did anyone notice two things? One: right after the nightclub when they're back at the house, Jen's 1-on-1 seemed particularly tipsy. Two: Dale's indirect compliment to Jen after she was eliminated. Are we seeing a more human side of Dale?

                                                            1. re: Scortch

                                                              I can't figure out if Richard thinks he is witty in an arrogant way or whether he is being self deprecating and ironic.

                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                i think he says he's 'witty' in his approach to food

                                                                1. re: attractivekid

                                                                  I think by "witty" what he really meant to say is "cerebral" and that he just picked the wrong word.

                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                    Hmmm....not very cerebral of him. Just kidding! I think Richard is fantastic - incredibly inventive.

                                                                    His food isn't the kind I go for - but I always, always want to try what he's made (except fo that one mushy salmon dish).

                                                                2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  I'm afraid that what he thinks is witty, I actually think of as bad puns: calling his burger "pate melt" and his company "Trail Blais" or whatever.

                                                                  Despite this, his food consistently sounds really interesting, and I would jump at a chance to eat something he'd made.

                                                                3. re: Scortch

                                                                  i think the folks editing the show really go out of their way to make dale look like an a-hole, but if you look at all of the episodes & eliminations for a few weeks now, dale is always the first person with a big, genuine hug for winners and losers. even though the dale-hates-lisa thing was played up to create drama, i don't think he's the classic jerk they make him out to be. he also seems genuinely saddened when a talented person is sent home, as opposed to spike, who tends to gloat about it. the contestants are really showing their true colors, and dale seems enthusiastic and generally positive rather than whiny and negative (like spike and lisa). he also shares the spotlight when he's teamed with richard and doesn't try to take all the credit for a successful dish, the way that spike tried to do with his and andrew's soup.

                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    Agreed. When I said "a more human side of Dale" I meant exactly what you said, that the EDITORS are choosing to show the human side of Dale.

                                                                    It is my most sincere complaint about this show that they stoop to cheap editing tactics to present a shaded view of the actual people's personalities. But that's the business we call show.

                                                                    I still bet that Spike's a turd in real life, though...

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      Sorry, soupkitten, but I can't forget that ugly fight scene of a few episodes back so soon. I think Dale doesn't need help from the editors to look like a petty schmuck. And big warm hugs can be just as phony as cheek kisses if you practice them enough. And since so many of the losers have been women, perhaps he's got ulterior motives ...

                                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                                        i must be a petty schmuck, then. lisa is so negative and pouty i'd have snapped and yelled at her too. *and* in that ugly fight, dale was arguing with spike because spike was goading jennifer and gloating after zoi was sent home. when lisa jumped in it appeared that she was taking spike's side. sure the editing made it look over the top, but it was a 20 second, heavily edited clip, tops, and jen's the one who kicked furniture.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          100% agree. I don't fault Dale for going off on Lisa....she deserved it!

                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                        Totally agree. Dale got the Hung edit -- even though I think Hung is a lot sweeter than Dale.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I think the way Richard and Dale shared the credit really showed them to be professionals; a top chef should share credit when shared credit is due.

                                                                        2. re: Scortch

                                                                          Dale gave Jen a really nice compliment. I got the feeling that Jen, Dale, and Richard were all pretty close.

                                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                                            I thought Dale was complimenting Jen as well. But, watch the extended elimination clip on the Bravo website. Both Lisa and Antonia didn't think it was much of a compliment. Lisa thought Dale was making it out to be all about him... whatever that means.

                                                                      3. You had to know right off the gate when Richard and Dale were paired up they were going to win.

                                                                        ...and not to many people have pulled off winning the quickfire and elimination challenge, which both of these two have done

                                                                        Richard having immunity could have easily tried to take down Dale (his strongest competitor), but he didn't and they worked as team well together. Especially considering that they had the toughest ingredient, tofu.

                                                                        1. Jen and Stephanie were ripped off... Antonia and Lisa did not even follow the list they were given.. Come on... Dale and Richard win using tofu. Tofu vs Polish Sauage... You'd think a capable chef would work with any ingredient and do something decent. I hate the "I'm too good to cook with lowly ingredients" attitude.

                                                                          Now I need to go read the bravo blogs to see how the judges defend their decision.

                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                                            So far, only Gail and Ted have posted their blogs....and Gail is not sure why Stephanie didn't go over Jen! Oy.

                                                                            I still cannot understand how Ryan gets booted last week for *not* making tailgate food, and Antonia/Lisa are safe this week *despite* not using the key ingredient they were supposed to have used.

                                                                            Loooocy! You got some 'splainin' to do!

                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                              I don't think that the idea of Polish sausage was considered particularly lowly, just the examples of it commonly available in supermarkets. I would tend to agree that they tend to be pretty bad, all fat (not in a good, yummy way), salt, and water. That said, you can certainly use them as a springboard to, ahem, improvise on...

                                                                              1. re: Scortch

                                                                                Other than probably not being able to get casings in whole foods, I'm sure they could have done something with actual polish sausage.

                                                                                In reality, the judges didn't seem that inconsistent to me...just pointing out the shortcomings of the challenge, while falling back on the "it's all about the food".

                                                                                They have to pick two, or at least two teams, it seems. But Antonia/Lisa's food, was good. Ryan's, on the other hand, was not only NOT meeting the challenge guidlines, but not good either. And Jens/Stephs was hard to eat, had too many ingredients, and possibly didn't taste good on top of it.

                                                                                Heck, they could've made vegetable sushi rolls with brilliant orange salmon roe that looked a lot better at plating at least.

                                                                                Is it me, or does Antonia seem to be developing a bit of an attitude problem, or maybe an overconfidence issue? She definately seems way too argumentative and comfortable up there with the judges.

                                                                                Obviously it's editing, but I'm wondering if her protests went too far maybe, or if she had a comment for every criticism, and that's why Collichio (sp) said "if there is a next time"

                                                                                1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                  It is true that the judges always say it's about the food, but I still think that whether a team follows the challenge should be the most significant issue, and here's why:

                                                                                  Let's, for a moment, pretend I'm an upcoming cheftestant for next season. I could do some culinary research until I found the 15-20 best recipes ever created, and then I could just memorize those recipes, and make them over and over again and serve them to everyone I know until they were perfect, and then I could go on top chef and just ignore the challenges and make those dishes for the eliminations and they'd be delicious, right? And perfect. Who could say they weren't? And if the judges didn't care that I was ignoring the challenges, I could win the whole freaking show!

                                                                                  But the whole point of these challenges is to give the chefs a new situation with new ingredients or a new theme or whatever, and to ask them to think on the fly. If they ignore the challenge and make something else, who's to say that the recipe they made, no matter how good, wasn't something designed with either with many others' help or over many months before the show started taping? And then what's the point of the show?

                                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                    'I could do some culinary research until I found the 15-20 best recipes ever created, and then I could just memorize those recipes, and make them over and over again and serve them to everyone I know until they were perfect, and then I could go on top chef and just ignore the challenges...I could win the whole freaking show!'

                                                                                    I think you have just described season two. That's pretty much how Ilan won.

                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      sorry I just saw your two posts...argh don't say ilan...

                                                                                      It's a hard call...if the challanges were totally off base...MAYBE

                                                                                      Some of the challanges involve some thinking under pressure, and putting inanate skill to use, regardless of what you could have memorized.like cooking on the beach over an open fire, cooking room service dishes, the restaurant wars..etc.

                                                                                      I think all of us 'armchair critics' have a huge advantage in how can look at this, from our comfort zone and say..Okay, this is the quickfire, and this is how it's going to play in to the elimination challenge...don't you see this, people, we say, shouting at our tv screen. But we don't factor in tv cameras in our face, nerves, the budgets from previous seasons, working with different personalities, and just boundless hurdles.

                                                                                      Everday poor Mark gets up there, he looks like he's going to pass out from nerves. I'm a very good public speaker, I've even sung at vet stadium, and I was once pulled aside to do a little interview for a small tv station...I totally thought it would be no big deal, and I blanked like a stoner at 3am with no wawa.

                                                                                      It was a huge embarrassment for me. I've done other stuff since, but it's a totally different experience.

                                                                                      1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                        That's a fair point in general, but at some point in the season, having cameras in their faces *all day* and not for a few minutes, they ought to get used to it. In fact, most of them say that eventually they forget the cameras are there and that's how we get to see them making inane comments even when sober, because they've tuned out the lights-camera-action.

                                                                                        I agree with you that Mark has *not* forgotten -- also explains why he hasn't had any ridiculous outbursts.

                                                                                  2. re: sommrluv

                                                                                    actually, WF probably DOES sell casings. At least the one I go to does, they sell freshly made in house sausages. They just don't put stuff like that out on display, not many housewives want to look at fatback and sheep casings in the meat case

                                                                                    1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                      Antonia seems like Antonia. You know she's not going to win, she doesn't have the attitude and the chops. It'll be down to Dale and Richard, similar to last year's show with Hung.

                                                                                      I've noticed Mark is way snarkier now than in previous episodes. Remember his comment about "I came to cook, not watch football"? Seems like he's either doing the Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde thing or the editors are letting him show his teeth more. Either way I like him the less for it.

                                                                                      1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                        i agree about mark's personality transformation. in the beginning he seemed like a pleasant, jovial guy from down under. now he's crankier than a woman with PMS during chocolate rationing...and in the promos for next week he's whining that colicchio doesn't like him. boo-hoo.

                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                          Yeah, I saw that, too. "He doesn't like me." Cry me a river, laddie. You remember the scene on FN's last season "Next Star" when Alton Brown, after reviewing the on-camera performances of the contestants, put his head in his hands and moaned, "Can't we just send them ALL home?" You know none of those people ever made it onto AB's Christmas card list, and I can't imagine too many TC contestants made it onto Chef Colicchio's. Likewise, I doubt Padma is calling up Memo or Jen to console them.

                                                                                          I think the judges are mature enough not to let their feelings for the contestant overwhelm their evaluation of his or her performance. (Influence? Sure. They're human.) Remember last year on TC? Chef Tom had to 86 Cliff after the Marcel Hair Terror incident, and to me it looked like he genuinely regretted letting Cliff go, and would rather have dumped Ilan or Marcel.

                                                                                          I'm waiting for the episode Spike gets dumpered: Margaritas for everyone! Yayyy!

                                                                                          1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                            Editing...we've only seen Mark's statement we don't know the context. It's to have worked as we are talking about it. But we'll find out Wednesday.

                                                                                            In regards to TC2 hair cutting incident Big Tom is on record as wanting to get rid of everyone and give the title to Marcel by default but was overruled by the producers.

                                                                                    2. re: Scortch

                                                                                      They weren't shopping in "supermarkets," they were at Whole Foods. who have a pretty high end version of Polish Sausage... in fact, of all sausages.

                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                        I was going to say the same thing. If they had looked I sure they would have found some very good sausages at the butchers case. It is almost as if they didn't even both to look and simply went on their preconceived notions and bad attitudes.

                                                                                        Dose it seem that Antonia is only now starting to get air time?

                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                          both antonia and lisa stated that the polish sausage and chorizo were "right next to each other" at wfm and *snap* they simultaneously decided to ditch the assigned ingredient and go with the chorizo instead, which they perceived was a classier ingredient.

                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                            I would expect that Whole Foods would have a decent version. However, I was referring to the memory of most of the bad kielbasa I've had (and I've had plenty) and I'm sure that same sort of memory played into their decision-making rather than the actual product available.

                                                                                            I'm not defending their decision, per se, just expressing understanding as to where it might have originated.

                                                                                        2. re: Scortch

                                                                                          Ahem, they are in CHICAGO. If a chef can't locate the best quality Polish sausage available in the US in a "gourmet" supermarket in Chicago she doesn't deserve to be called chef.

                                                                                          1. re: ecustard

                                                                                            I think they're only allowed to source from Whole Foods, as they're a paying advertiser on the show. Even so - in Chicago, I'd have to believe even WF would have high end Polish sausages.

                                                                                            1. re: ecustard

                                                                                              Like I said, I wasn't doubting the quality of what was actually available...

                                                                                              But I'm Polish myself, so what do I know, LOL.

                                                                                              1. re: ecustard

                                                                                                The way those kept going on and on about how bad polish sausage is reminded me of when Erik the Blockhead said there was no such thing as high-end Mexican and Bayless could screw himself.

                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                  Please, please, please, just for the absolute record, I am certainly not denigrating the intrinsic quality of my ancestor's charcuterie. What I am criticizing is the predominance of really lousy (god-forbid, "Lite"), supermarket sausage, particularly the sheer abundance of really awful "kielbasa" I've experienced.

                                                                                                  I have had REAL Polish sausage. Believe me I wish I could have it available always!

                                                                                          2. Don't you love it how they didn't draw knives this time for teams...it seems like everyone paired up with someone who complimented their strengths (except mark and niki who just seem to be leftovers)

                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                              Well, it just seem like they are leftovers because they have no strengths to complement.

                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                yeah, though you'd have assumed that Stephanie and Lisa would have paired together since they've worked 3 or 4 times in the past episodes

                                                                                              2. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                i'm generally among the first to jump at the chance to diss nikki, but i'd like to hand it to her and mark-- their plate looked delicious this week, and it went over very well with the judges. i was *very* relieved that she didn't insist on making pasta again :) but i think they did a good job.

                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                  and I don't think Mark is in the same (low) league with Nikki. I think he's rather been dealt a difficult hand until this one.

                                                                                                  and, Btw, I definitely thought Andrew's dessert looked much worse than Marks in the quickfire... like several turds on a plate.

                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                    agreed. mark is better than nikki (and his food is more interesting).

                                                                                                    i think that the pairs challenges put the chefs in a difficult position, as evidenced by this week's episode: pair yourself with a stronger chef, and you have a better chance at not being on the bottom-- but if you do wind up there, the weaker of the two is the one who's packing home (jennifer). pair yourself with weaker/equal chef, & you have a *good* chance at ending on the bottom and both chefs in the pair have roughly an equal chance of going home. i think for this reason the pairs challenges are really meant to weed out a lot of people who otherwise may have been doing fine in the competition, like jennifer, and it's why so many people are shocked that she ended up leaving when there are obviously weaker contestants still in competition.

                                                                                                    i agree with AttractiveKid's post above that the strategic thing to do for the strongest chefs, or ones who have immunity, would be to pair themselves with their biggest competition, and then tank, trying to sink the other guy. to richard's credit, he appears to have more heart than that-- he cooks as well as he can without stooping to unfair tactics. he seemed very shaken that a chef whose abilities he obviously respected was eliminated this week-- i think that jennifer's elimination has upped the ante, there will be less fooling around from now on.

                                                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                      And the judge's response to Mark's dish was ridiculous -- Pavlova isn't a dessert? Excuse me? What course exactly is it then?

                                                                                                      1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                        I think what he said was that it didn't come together as a coherent dish: "a dessert" -- which I would still disagree with, but that was his complaint, not that pavlovas weren't appropriate for dessert.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                          Interesting, that would make more sense to me at least. Thanks.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                            Yes - my sense was that they looked more like "mignardise" than a proper dessert - looked good to me though!

                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                              I thought they looked good, too!

                                                                                                  2. The judges were dead wrong this time.

                                                                                                    Top Chef is challenging *because* of the restrictions placed on the chefs. It's easy for a talented chef to make good food when given free reign. When you ignore the restrictions, of course your food will come out tasting better when compared to someone who followed the rules. Last night's lesson was: you can ignore the restrictions all you like, as long as someone who follows the rules produces a dish that tastes worse than yours.

                                                                                                    How would the judges respond to the following?

                                                                                                    In a dessert challenge someone makes steak, because they don't like making dessert.
                                                                                                    In a breakfast challenge someone makes ragu, because they think breakfast is low class.

                                                                                                    When you open the door for ignoring the rules, you damage the integrity of the game.

                                                                                                    And Lisa and Antonia need to learn the meaning of improv. If you ask the audience for a location and someone shouts "coffee house" you can't just say, "I don't like doing scenes in a coffee house, let's do a library."

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                      Does anyone other than Lisa, Antonia and myself actually understand the meaning of the word "improv"??? Apparently not. That is the difference between this week's challenge and last week with Ryan. In case anyone else fails to see the importance of it, it was the name of the episode. Geesh!

                                                                                                      1. re: HarryK

                                                                                                        Going to have to disagree with you Harry. The "improv" in this case was to use what they were given - the words, the emotion, and the food item - and improvise **using those items.** NOT change it completely so it didn't even resemble what they were given.

                                                                                                        A comedien/ne doing improv takes what's thrown at him/her by the audience and runs with it, but still stays within the parameters of what was given them. They don't say "No - I don't like that - I'm going to do something else."

                                                                                                        Which is essentially what Antonia and Lisa did. They still had some set parameters that were part of the challenge, and they could riff around those set parameters. But they chose to completely disregard at least one of the parameters and do something else entirely. That's not improv. That's complete disregard of the challenge.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          Right. If it was just "improv" *anything* then what was the point of the three words?

                                                                                                        2. re: HarryK

                                                                                                          Uh, actually, you don't know the meaning of the word "improv." Have you seen an improv troup perform before? The audience always provides ideas and themes to improvise on. A troup that ignored audience input wouldn't last very long.

                                                                                                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                            I'm with you, Morton. Improvisation doesn't mean "free-for-all." Improvisation -- especially Improv Comedy -- is about playing the game.

                                                                                                            Second City's brand of Improvisation (the Chicago/Del Close school) -- is all about the concept of "Yes, and..." You NEVER reject suggestions (or contributions from your fellow actors) out of hand because you don't like them. You accept what you're given, add to it ("Yes, and...") and work with it to create something.

                                                                                                            In fact, Improvisation on the whole could be fairly defined as "accepting what you're given and working with it." (This holds even for Jazz improv: you work within the chord structure and established blues patterns, build harmonic layers, etc.)

                                                                                                            In this case, Lisa and Antonia were given "Polish Sausage." They served fish with chorizo. The term for that in improv comedy is "denial." In this context, that means destructive and selfish rejection of what's being offered. And once you start denying, you can chuck the whole "game" out the window.

                                                                                                            But I've blithered on too much. Jen got hosed. Either Lisa or Antonia should be goooone, IMHO.

                                                                                                            1. re: GapingMaw

                                                                                                              I agree 100 percent. I've had friends in improv comedy troupes and it certainly does not mean free-for-all. I've also worked in group improv dance forms. If the group doesn't work within very specific parameters the effect is terrible.

                                                                                                              What really gets me is that Lisa considered polish sausage to be beneath her as a chef, yet she won a challenge for making bacon. True, it looked like great bacon, but on its surface bacon is pretty pedestrian. Could she not have applied that same creativity to polish sausage?

                                                                                                              (now craving both bacon and sausage and it isn't even 9 a.m.)

                                                                                                              1. re: rweater

                                                                                                                At first I was OK with the idea that Jen's dish lost just because it wasn't as good, but after hearing that a lot of people did like it, and based on the discussion of the rules, I totally agree that the judges screwed up. Lisa or Antonia should have gone. The one caveat is if the judges really had major problems with Jen's dish--if it was clearly worse, then I think that trumps the rule breaking.

                                                                                                      2. From Salon.com:
                                                                                                        "Crafting a menage a trois of goat cheese, crouton and asparagus whilst focusing exclusively on the phallus seems to undo as many decades of feminist thought as Dale's insipid stereotype of male homosexuality did in the last season. The real question is whether Jennifer got booted off for betraying her girlfriend or for betraying her entire sex."
                                                                                                        Okay grad students out there, discuss.

                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                          Oh, and what about the dessert challenge, with Richard winning by disguising a banana as a seafood dish? And the attempt to convert an innocent cake of tofu into a piece of meat by literally giving it a hot beef injection? Geez, this episode could offer fodder for an entire semiotics course in the Yale Dept. of Gender Studies.

                                                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                            i think that anyone who feels "an entire sex" of people was "betrayed," because of an arrangement of food on a plate, needs something else to do. i don't think "decades of feminist thought" were (or ever could be) undone by asparagus--it's a vegetable, not a manifesto.

                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                              Sometimes a piece of asparagus is more than a piece of asparagus--it's a spear of oppression hurled by the patriarchy at the soggy toast of the oppressed.

                                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                STOP!!! my stomach is hurting too much from laughing. Uncle!

                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                  I agree!

                                                                                                                  "a spear of oppression hurled by the patriarchy at the soggy toast of the oppressed"

                                                                                                                  I'll bet that'll appear on a t-shirt somewhere, worn by some trite, self-consciously rebellious college student!

                                                                                                                2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                  ::::::snort!!!!:::::::: Very good, newhavener. :-D

                                                                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                    newhavener07~I humbly request your permission to use this quote in a sig line !

                                                                                                                    1. re: dockhl

                                                                                                                      Yeah, and can I market it on apparel here in Boston? Don't worry, it's not a big college town...

                                                                                                                      1. re: dockhl

                                                                                                                        Sure, no prob. We here in New Haven have to cultivate a sense of humor as we are often asked our opinion of pizza in other cities.

                                                                                                                      2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                        I'm lost in admiration at your use of metaphor. Also I haven't laughed like that in weeks.

                                                                                                                  2. A bit of a defense for Lisa:
                                                                                                                    I do think that either she or Antonia should have packed their bags last night but I think the criticisms of her personality are a bit harsh. I think she is driven and determined and “people skills” may not be her strong suit but she seems to have very good chops in the kitchen. Her problem is that she tries to fight some of the challenges and she needs to embrace them like Richard does. If that message sinks in I think she will be a force to be reckoned with.
                                                                                                                    I also thought Dale going off on her was far worse than anything she said or did and he begrudged her a well deserved win on top of that.
                                                                                                                    The people who finish at the bottom of a challenge tend to be portrayed in the worst light while the happy winners seem to have shinning personalities. Last night was definitely not a shinning moment for Lisa or Antonia but the measure of their character will be how they bounce back from it. Will they continue to complain about the judging and the challenges or will they be ready to take on whatever comes their way? We shall see.
                                                                                                                    In the meantime Stephanie showed she can take her lumps and move on and I haven’t seen anyone else do that as gracefully.

                                                                                                                    1. The episodes do seem to get more entertaining, now that almost all of the "fringe" chefs have packed their knives the food in general is starting to look excelelnt. Richard is just in a totally different place than the other cheftestants. While each chef is talented he seems to be able to hone in his creativity to take his food to a different level. Pairing with Dale who obviously has a great command over eastern dishes just made for a food marraige in culinary heaven. While each of those 2 chefs has a strong belief in their own ability they have shown a willingness to compromise and perhaps have been the best pair in any of the seasons. The great chefs of past seasons, Harold, Hung, Sam, Dale (season 2), and others still tried to push a dish in one direction in team challenges while Richard and Dale allowed the other's strength to come through - it was impressive. I also think at this point Richard has intimidated all the other chefs with his WTF ingredients and ability to make them taste fantastic. It's alot easier to prepare for a challenge when the person will take it literally but Richard has the ability through his knoweldge of ingredients to adapt seemingly any challenge to his strengths.

                                                                                                                      I think what saved Antonia and Lisa was the fact that this was an "improv" challenge. The guest judge was quoted as saying "they took improv too literally." Granted this is a cop out to not send them home but still provides some justifiable excuse, it wasn't as if they served a food that contained no sausage (although chorizo isn't polish) or totally inaproriate for the ocassion (like Ryan); they simply loosely interperted the guidelines they were given and made a dish that tasted ok.

                                                                                                                      Initially when I "orange, turned-on, asparagus" was said I thought of a vindictive orange, not a sexual connotation. Too bad Jen and Stephanie didn't do some sort of spicy orange to pair with a mild asparagus, the sexual connotation is just really tough to do with foods like that - and I think their big miss was the "orgy" of food not just the 3some. We have seen time and time again, sloopy food that doesn't taste good have poeple sent home. I was worried as hell that they would send Stephanie home but thankfully she lived to cook another day.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: wingman

                                                                                                                        Yes! The orange turned on the asparagus in a violent way was how I heard it too! I thought maybe I was crazy :)

                                                                                                                      2. I liked this episode - the winners were very impressive. Spike is annoying, but I can still appreciate that kind of vindication. I agree with comments that the polish sausage was conceptually lame and should have lost. If you're not going to use Polish sausage, at least do something to make the dish vaguely Polish (how about chorizo and fish pierogis with wine braised red cabbage?)

                                                                                                                        1. What do the posters here think about the fairness of using store bought curry as a base in an elimination dish? Certainly the beef tallowed tofu is the centerpiece but pre-made curry is a lot less basic an ingredient than salt or pepper. Reminds me of Bourdain cheating with bouillon cubes in cooking school.

                                                                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                            If it's within the rules, then it's not "unfair," and there are no rules about using pre-made ingredients (unless stated by the rules of specific challenge). Prepared condiments are used all the time. What's really important is how skillfully you use them.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                              I believe Dale also mentioned that he was adding extra ingredients to the curry to increase the flavor...

                                                                                                                              In previous seasons they used boxed cake mix... which didn't go over well.

                                                                                                                              I don't have a problem with using a pre-made product, but to be truly cheffy embellishments should be required, as Dale did with the curry.

                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                heh, i remember that. didn't help that they left eggshells in the cake :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                  Yeah. When you make Thai curry, it's not like you just add curry paste and water -- and boom! You've got perfect green curry. You need to add proper amounts of lime, palm sugar, fish sauce, coconut milk and other things to achieve to correct balance.

                                                                                                                                  And I agree with Ruth -- if condiments are allowed, I think curry paste is fine.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                    You've helped me uncover a gap in my home Thai green curry preparations. :-)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                      Ha. Glad to see I could have helped. I don't think I even want to know what just plain green curry paste and water (or coconut milk) tastes like. : )

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                        That's precisely how I finished one big green tub of Thai curry paste (+ coconut milk). I'm so excited about the next! :-)

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                      Exactly, I think many Thai cooks use prepared curry paste as a base to build fresh curries. The classic Thai curries have a standard set of ingredients (galangal, lemon grass, chilis, etc) and the pastes are time-consuming to prepare. I don't think it is cheating to use them, it's not like spaghetti sauce from a jar, more like using canned tomatoes to make homemade spaghetti sauce.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                      I think it only didn't go over well because there were egg shells in it. I think generally Colicchio, who knows they're not pastry chefs, thought that going with cake mix was a good idea IF they'd executed it will.

                                                                                                                                      That was by far the most unfair challenge they've had in four seasons on Top Chef: putting together a wedding reception dinner, including cake, in less than two days and on a fairly limited budget.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                          They volunteered! And presumably the $$ didn't come out of their pockets. You get what you pay for -- in this case, they got to be on TV, they got to push their agenda (did I mention it was a gay couple? I'm pro-gay-marriage, but just because I support their agenda doesn't mean I don't recognize that they had one), and they got a good story about their "wedding" to dine out (better) on.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                          btw, has anybody noticed the promo for the Top Chef Season 4 wedding episode that's coming in two weeks (after the kiddie episode)? Is it a special or is it a regular episode? Because from that promo, I can tell that some people have not been eliminated.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                            They've been advertising that on Bravo already? I haven't seen it - just the kiddie episode promos for next week.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I actually got pissed off when I've seen that promo. I've seen it twice already. Don't remember the first one but the second one aired yesterday on Step it up and Dance.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                  That means I will never get a spoiler. There's nothing wrong with those dancers that a sausage grinder wouldn't fix.

                                                                                                                                      1. I thought this was a pretty creative challenge and that beefy tofu really deserved to win.

                                                                                                                                        On the whole though, this bunch seems less talented than the groups in other seasons. And less interesting as people. Maybe things will improve as they move on to more fine dining challenges, but so far, I haven't drooled once.

                                                                                                                                        It looks to me that the Richard/Dale combo is quite a bit ahead of the pack, talent-wise.

                                                                                                                                        1. I was more than a little disappointed with Antonia and Lisa's "improvisation as well. The choice of drunk, magenta and polish sausage should have been easy. Why not do a Polish sausage carpaccio style with a brandy glaze and rhubarb salad. Simple and still within the guidelines.
                                                                                                                                          Still I thought the asparagus dish was a little too tongue in cheek and sophomoric to exemplify how a "Top Chef" would approach such a challenge.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: k_chef

                                                                                                                                            <Still I thought the asparagus dish was a little too tongue in cheek and sophomoric to exemplify how a "Top Chef" would approach such a challenge.> but not, I thought, a "send home" dish. I was disappointed in the judges. Antonia and Lisa's dish was so far off the mark, I still cannot believe they let that slide.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                              Perhaps the judges got tired of hearing Jenn talking about 'winning this for Zoi'.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                I understand wanting to win one for your SO who got bounced, but Zoi demonstrated over and over her immaturity, lack of professional attitude, and that she didn't have what it took to be a top chef.

                                                                                                                                                Jen was one of my favorite contestants even though I didn't think she had the talent to beat Dale or Richard. She had a good attitude and provided a great palate-cleanser after watching the more obnoxious contestants, Spike.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                  More so than hearing Lisa's comments regarding what's wrong with everyone else, their ideas and their food?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Icantread

                                                                                                                                                    You know, right, that the judges don't see any of what goes on when they're not around and in particular what's said in the one-on-one interviews.

                                                                                                                                                    BTW, it looked to me like that clip of Jen saying she wanted to do it for Zoi was the same one they used last week. Re-using a sound-bite that was only said once is one of the more common ways that "reality" show editors distort "reality." Some times it's benign: the point is to make for a more coherent narrative from episode to episode. In this case, they wanted to include the fact that Jen was motivated to "win it for Zoi" in the episode where Jen gets eliminated. I've also seen (or heard) it happen in cases where they want to create the impression that the person says something or talks to someone in a particular way on an ongoing basis, which might be true, or might just be the way they want to portray the "character" they're editing for.

                                                                                                                                            2. I apologize if this was already brought up, but did anyone else think that Lisa's QF dessert was verrrrrrrry similar to the berry crumble with fried wontons that Stephanie made during the block party episode? I was sort of expecting something more to come of that, but maybe it was just me that thought it was pretty close...?

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: gyozagirl

                                                                                                                                                I don't think it was brought up here, but that is exactly what I thought of when I saw that. I couldn't believe that she got accolades for repeating another contestant's dish; the other desserts must have not been very good for her to get away with that.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, but the judge who selected her didn't know about the other dish (unless Padma mentioned it), and even if someone did mention it, he hadn't seen it or tasted it herself, so he couldn't personally decide how derivative it was.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: gyozagirl

                                                                                                                                                  I thought Lisa copied Stephanie too! That seems to happen a lot on TC. Andrew making parsnip puree, which seems to be Mark's specialty. Or the endless copying of Brian's seafood sausage last season!

                                                                                                                                                3. I believe the episodes we're watching are already in the can and just waiting to be aired.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm not into conspiracy theories, but it seems very convenient that Tom Colicchio took a break from blogging this week. Quite a controversial week. Also, Padma's blog is not up to date either.

                                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                    Right. These were all filmed months ago. But I agree that perhaps in hindsight, Colicchio is having a hard time justifying this one.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                      i hesitate to even articulate these thoughts i'm having re: jen's elimination, because there were so many factors. i do think that jen & steph's dish suffered from the "surprise" hold-and-transport, heat-and-serve issue-- more so than, say, the squash soup for example. i can buy the judges' argument that when it became clear that this was going to happen, steph and jen should have adjusted their dish "on the fly". . . but their dish's concept imo suffered the most from this part of the challenge. it's fair to penalize for soggy blinis and corn dogs when the hold-and-serve element was established-- but with the improv challenge, the team was under the impression they were doing a fire-and-serve, and had designed their plate accordingly. take away machines: fair. suddenly make everyone pick up and move: more "fair" to some teams than others, i think!

                                                                                                                                                      here goes the stickier part of my observation: i also pick up on the double standard between male and female chefs on the show, which i see in real life. kitchen work is still incredibly sexist in many ways, women must perform about 20% better than their male colleagues in order to be seen as equals, and sloppiness, tardiness, and antics which male cooks can get away with will get a female chef canned. for example, i think that if a female chef displayed mark's sloppiness at the tailgating event, she'd be gone instantly. if a female chef clowned around like andrew, she'd be gone-- yet the judges accept his behavior to some extent, while much smaller attempts at humor by the female chefs (tequila shot) are seen as detrimental to the female team's performance. the judges make it obvious that female chefs are expected to act a lot like stephanie does most of the time-- very serious and grounded, and working a little bit harder than the dudes do. oh, and unlike the male chefs, the females should never get cocky about their abilities or their chances in the competition.

                                                                                                                                                      my observation has its flaws i am sure-- i'm putting it out for discussion, not calling the judges raging misogynists. but i think that jennifer was definitely the top female contender after stephanie, and that in eliminating her this early, the competition seems to be "fixed" so that stephanie can be the only female contender with a shot at the top three (sorry lisa, antonia, nikki-- y'all just aren't that good). i think that if it had been the two top male contenders at the bottom vs. antonia and lisa, the judges would have figured out a reason to send antonia or lisa home. jennifer was dismissed--dismissed as unimportant--rather than eliminated. one female contender for the big prize is conceivable and comfortable for the judges and the viewers-- two are not, evidently. if she were male it wouldn't have happened. if she were straight, it might not have happened. there, i said it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                        The judges don't care about personality, they don't even see what goes on behind the scenes until the episode airs, so I have to completely disagree with you. All they have to go on is how good the dish tastes, that's all. That's what I like about this show and that's what I like about cooking, it doesn't matter who you are, only what you make. Really talented chefs have been eliminated early in the competition (remember Tre last season?)

                                                                                                                                                        You should read Leann Wong's blog on Bravo's site, she gives good insight on each episode and has tasted every dish since she's required to remake them for the website.

                                                                                                                                                        However, it is possible that the producers could have stacked stronger male contestants this season than female (Richard and Dale have really impressive resumes). Did you also know that all of the past winners of TC have been students of the CIA?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                          soup kitten, I was thinking very similarly to you. I think there is a strong double standard. In particular I think many of the guest judges have a bias towards male chefs. I don;' think it is something they are conscious of, but it is there nonetheless. I had a thought for a challenge, switch the "owners" of the dish, i.e., Stephanie serves Richard's dish, Dale serves Lisa's etc. Bet the "guys" dishes which are really the females get scored higher. In European Symphony Orchestras, women who auditioned never got selected, until all auditioners auditioned behind ascreen, so no one knew the gender of the auditioner. Low and behold, many women were selected for orchestra positions.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                                                            if that were the case, then why did two girls win the 'team' challenges in episodes 3 (stephanie/block party) and 5 (lisa/elements), - these challenges were judged by male chefs (wylie dufresne and ming tsai) and if you're assumption is correct, their male teammates would have won instead.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                              It doesn't have to be absolute to be a trend. I think the male over female bias applies more to behavioral things than to the actual cooking though. For example, I did feel like the silly phallic representations were a big part of Jen's getting dismissed, and I wonder if that would have felt less inappropriate to the judges coming from a man.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                she got dismissed because their dish was the worst tasting dish (not to mention worst plated/looking) out of the four and she was responsible for the bread which was the worst component. Stephanie did the sauce and cooked the asparagus.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                I don't disagree with your point, but I wanted to point out that women can be just as biased (or, to put it more neutrally, influenced by gender-based stereotypes) as men. Women, in fact, are often harder on other women than they are on men. I certainly don't see much "girl-power" attitude from Padma.

                                                                                                                                                                I think in particular that in an area like cooking (or the other example, music), which is done by a huge number of people, mostly women, as amateurs as well as in much smaller numbers as professionals, that there's a bias against women because they are seen as cooking out of necessity or as a hobby, and not as people who are making it a serious career choice. For thousands of years, women have been the people who cook day in and day out for their families, while for the most part men only cooked when it was their job. Thus, cooking is looked at as a chore or a hobby for women, but as a career for men. Or to put it another way, Women cook; men are chefs. It's a hard stereotype to break.

                                                                                                                                                              3. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                                                                The "blind" audition has been the norm in American orchestras for years now.

                                                                                                                                                                As for the tequila deal, I would have been ticked because I wasn't served tequila, regardless of whether they were male or female.

                                                                                                                                                                I do think though, that there is a bit of bias against the women. Lord knows Gail and Padma doesn't make up for the slight in their judging.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                  someone can easily argue that Niki should have gone home in the tailgating challenge over Ryan last week because she didn't have anything for the judges - it didn't happen, not because they needed to even out the number of eliminated male/female contestants, but because as the judges said, it was inapporpriate and just tasted awful.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                    I have to agree about the tequila. Seemed like an odd thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                      My issue with the tequila (in addition to not having it served) was that Antonia implied that tequila was Cuban.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                                                                      no offense to the gender obviously more crucial to species survival, but the male guest judge for the kids contest seemed to be biased toward Antonia. Since few of us have tasted or seen any of the cooking from the competitors, our biases get manipulated by the editing and constantly emerge in our commentaries. The assumptions by a few that Richard was gay (on superficial appearance, I can only guess) just one example, and how Stephanie has become favored by some, based as much on her personality as her technical merits, it seems to me. She seems limited in her conceptualization in adapting to the twists in the challenges, and loses touch with where her dishes end up with regards to flavour and appearance.

                                                                                                                                                                      The nominees for elimination have all in their own way either failed to adapt to the specific conditions of challenges, and/or went astray on how their food tasted and looked. Of course the judges are biased, and it affects how they sort out the failures, but I think all the candidates for elimination put themselves there on merit. So far, biases or not, if the food communicates and pleases a critical core or majority of those testing it, the chef doesn't end up a candidate for expulsion.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                      "if a female chef clowned around like andrew, she'd be gone-- yet the judges accept his behavior to some extent"

                                                                                                                                                                      Gotta disagree with you here - the judges don't really see Andrew's clowning because 99% of it happens behind the scenes. Andrew seems to be more professional during food service than when he is back at the house. Not so different from the chef who is a monster in the kitchen and all smiles in the dining room.

                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                      To Ruth's above post about the timing of Tom's blog:

                                                                                                                                                                      Filmed, yes, but certainly Bravo would be remiss in editing them that far ahead of time, especially seeing how, in this day and age, feedback from sites like this can help shape the season in an ongoing fashion. I doubt that Colicchio sees anything assembled much before the episode airs. To do so would potentially risk making his blog wildly befuddling and incongruous in describing show elements that didn't make the final cut.

                                                                                                                                                                      To see just how widespread the last minute fine tuning can get, watch commercial spot teasers for fiction shows that can air up to right before the episode starts and yet contain material not in the final broadcast. The trimming sometimes goes on right until hours before airing!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Scortch

                                                                                                                                                                        That's what I meant -- six months later, having watched the show in its final form, the decision that they made then may seem less defensible than it did at the time, and thus, hard to blog about.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. The strongest impression: Lisa standing in front of the judges table, IN CHICAGO, and proclaiming that polish sausage was something that she would never cook. It gave me head movies of mobs with pitchforks, scythes, torches and bottles of shampoo.

                                                                                                                                                                    It doesn't bother me that Jen got the cut...I don't think she had much of a chance at winning. And that's not to say she isn't better than a few folks still there.

                                                                                                                                                                    It looks to me, as a home cook, that Richard and Dale are the front runners. As a long shot better...Steph or Andrew