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Top Chef -- 12 Nights (spoilers)

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  • nosh Dec 17, 2008 07:02 PM
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Thought I'd be first to start the thread, even though judge's table hasn't yet begun. Liked the quickfire -- a one-pot dish is a solid task. I would have given the nod to the paella, which really is a one-pot dish, over the cauliflower with something seared over it, maybe one pot, but two stages with the first part put aside.

What I liked about the episode is how the cheftestants came to the assistance of those who were most hurt by the fridge fiasco. Funny how both of those ended up near the top; really made me feel good. [yes, judge's table is occurring as i type] I'll get out now.

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  1. Agree on both of your comments - the paella is the true one-pot dish. So many of the others were cook one thing, take it out, cook another thing, take it out, cook the third thing, and then put them all on a plate. Stews, paella, chicken pot pie - those were one pot dishes.

    When I saw the previews of people saying the food temps were too high, I knew some people were in trouble. But wow, I'm very impressed that absolutely everyone came together for the two people whose food was ruined and they helped them out. My thought was "there was no way this would have happened in Season 2 with Ilan." Very glad that those two were in the top group.

    And JT was interesting - it sounded like there was more than just those 3 people that they would have wanted in the bottom group. (The deviled eggs comes to my mind - when Tom said what he said - they're just deviled eggs, you're not going to win TC with them!), I was nodding my agreement. I was really surprised that that was what that cheftestant chose to make. But then again, immunity does allow for some easier, less imaginative choices.

    Oh - and I have to say I like the way Jamie and Ariane are still friendly, despite Jamie's loss to Ariane over and over again. Although both she and Eugene are sending out that Lisa vibe from last year with the crossed arms and the "those judges don't know what they're talking about" comments.

    There will be more to comment on tomorrow, I know; those are my first impressions. I'm still not sure who my Top 3 are yet, although I'm beginning to center in on them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I actually disagree with collicchio there. I think that you could make a deviled egg that could win a challenge. IF you made it a unique, perfectly executed, and scrumptuous dish. I think it's possible for a deviled egg to transcend expectations about hors douvres in general. however, those that ariane made did not look like what Im talking about. i think if she didnt have immunity she should have gone.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        RIP Natasha -- I regret badmouthing you.

      2. a few observations:

        When jamie ended up in the top three in the QF, I immediately hoped she's lose, if not only to keep the pity streak alive. Those were some huge scallops though

        Fabio saying he was a "bad boy" so his grandma made him stir the polenta...too cute.

        when fabio drew ladies dancing, I immediately thought do something with "ladyfingers!" The same goes for Eugene, I totally thought calamari rings fried golden would of been good...although a deep fried app probably wounldnt of worked.

        I'm so glad WF doesnt have frog legs for Jeff's sake. i cant imagine that being too popular a dish

        I also loved how everyone came together to help radhika and hosea. If i were radhika, i would of sat in a corner and cried.

        the new judge looks well, harsh. I loved it when carla called out for gail

        13 Replies
        1. re: asiansensation007

          My favorite quote, "When I was six, I was evil." I have a 6yo. Might have to start making daily polenta ;-)

          1. re: momjamin

            Polenta one day, risotto the next. Make sure the kid alternates stirring hands, or one wrist and biceps is gonna get lopsidedly big. (When he hits puberty shift exclusively to the off side.)

            1. re: nosh

              That was too funny, Nosh!

          2. re: asiansensation007

            Me too on the ladyfingers. Golden rings I thought of golden beet rings...

            1. re: asiansensation007

              The new judge is Toby Young. After reading a bit about him, I'm wondering if Top Chef may have jumped the shark. He seems to be someone who is famous for being obnoxious and little else. Not sure Top Chef really needs a Simon Cowell. We'll see.

              1. re: Chimayo Joe

                Hopefully he'll just be there til Gail gets back from the honeymoon.

                1. re: Chimayo Joe

                  Does any television program "need" an obnoxious regular? Not IMO.

                  1. re: Chimayo Joe

                    Does any one know if he has any culinary experience? He seems to be a writer who is famous for writing about being a failed writer.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      It does seem that way, doesn't it? This quote from Vanity Fair's editor kind of says it all:

                      Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair editor: "Those who can't teach, write. Those who can't write, write about themselves —-- in Toby's case, endlessly".

                      Wikipedia says "Toby competed in the Channel 4 TV series 'Come Dine With Me.' He also appeared as one of the panel of food critics comprising the titular "enemy" in the 2008 BBC Two series Eating with the Enemy."

                      Looks like "Come Dine With Me" is a show with amateur chefs competing against each other hosting a dinner party for the other contestants. But it was a single episode in which he appeared in Season 3 and he won it. If those are his "qualifications", it doesn't bode well.

                      I really hope they're not bringing this guy on to be the "new" Bourdain. At least Bourdain's snarkiness has some merit in that he has been there, done that. This guy doesn't seem to have done much of anything.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Oh dear. A guy who won a celebrity cooking show. And they only use a-listers for those don't they?

                        I was reminded of the 'restaurant wars' episode, (cant remember the season) when for some reason they brought in Madonna's brother) All he did was sit there and make bitchy little comments with no real value. Haven't seen him since which is a good thing.

                        While I am hopping for the best I am a little apprehensive about this guy.

                        1. re: Withnail42

                          Just read online the premise for the Jan. 7th show - I'm assuming this description is for the QuickFire, or is Toby sitting in for Gail Simmons and Tony and Jean-Christophe Novelli will both be there?

                          "The epic epicurean odyssey continues with a sweet feat: The chefs must create a sweet dish---without using sugar. Chef and restaurateur Jean-Christophe Novelli is the guest judge."

                          Don't know the guest judge, but based on what I've read/viewed online, it certainly won't be harsh viewing. ;-) Looks like he was on the British version of Hell's Kitchen as "head chef" as well.

                          http://www.jeanchristophenovelli.com

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Novelli is actually a well established UK chef.

                            Wondering why they sudden shift to the UK?

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              agree about the pleasant viewing! :)

                  2. -The soup lesbian lives up to her name. Does she make a soup every episode?
                    -Stefan was nicer than usual, must be the Christmas spirit.
                    -Eugene is chocking big time, that's like 3 challenges in a row that he's in the bottom.
                    -Michelle Bernstein seems very anal.
                    -Judges wondering why the chefs are inhibited in their cooking? LOOK AT THE DAMN CHALLENGE lol. 5 golden rings? 9 ladies dancing? How are you suppost to cook freely and in your style when you have to abide by your "12 days of Christmas" day.
                    -My faves are still: Radika, Jeff,Leah and Stefan.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Evilbanana11

                      I agree about point five. i think they could of gotten really creative if given more time, even with the challenge at hand. Case in point: Jeff. Lords a leaping is not something so obvious like say a partridge in a pear tree or geese a laying. He started freaking out as soon as he found out WF didnt have frog legs so he starts tossing cheese in the cart. 300 people is alot and they have barely any time from conception to execution. To sit there and ponder a clever alternative would of been wasting precious time.

                      That said, I am looking forward to next week. I wonder what sponsor got the shaft since this "freestyle" cooking will be product placement free

                      1. re: Evilbanana11

                        "-The soup lesbian lives up to her name. Does she make a soup every episode? "
                        ~~~~~
                        from the looks of next week's preview, she's now the scallop lesbian.

                        QF - as far as the top dishes, Hosea deserved the win for his paella. Ariane's may have tasted great, but it wasn't a one-pot dish. the second Eugene mentioned cornstarch, i knew he was screwed.

                        EC - where were the "4 calling birds?" i was glad to see the way the chefs banded together & helped each other. of course Stefan's reasoning was completely narcissistic, but at least he pitched in :) i'm glad Hosea got the win, though i would have been happy to see Jeff get it as well - i thought his idea was the most original and inspired. and it was nice that Radhika made it to the top as well, considering the fridge fiasco. Eugene needs to get a clue...take the criticism and keep your mouth shut - i thought Michelle Bernstein was gonna blow a gasket! i'm sick of Melissa, get rid of her already. she's in the bottom three every week. Jamie's still cranky, but you could tell by the expression on her face at JT that she knew what they were talking about with the temp of her dish. she really needs to move on from the scallops, but based on next week's preview apparently scallops are her new "thing." Ariane was lucky to have immunity. she wouldn't have gone home, but she should have at least been at JT with the other bottom performers. deviled eggs? seriously? yawn. and Fabio is starting to worry me, he's not putting out good food anymore.

                        so, is anyone else unreasonably excited about next week's holiday cookoff special? woo-hoo!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          THe holiday cookoff is a repeat, you do know that? Having see it a couple of seasons ago (or was it last season) I do know who wins. But I'll still be glad to see Tre again. :-)

                          And I agree with you - Melissa *so* needs to go. When I saw previews of next week, I saw Jamie and the humongous scallops and thought "Not again!" Doesn't that make 3 challenges in a row? I can only imagine what Lee Anne is saying on her blog about the damn scallops. :-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            i know it's a repeat - which is why i feel ridiculous being so excited about it...but like you, i'll take a dose of Tre whenever i can get it ;)

                            plus, it'll be nice to take a trip down memory lane since the next new Season 5 episode doesn't air until after New Year's (boo).

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Amen to the scallop thing... I think my favorite moment of the entire hour-plus was hearing Fabio say "This is TC, not top scallops".

                              And please let's get rid of Melissa...please?

                              1. re: Daniellabelle

                                Just posted same about scallops.... you beat me to it. Best Top Chef line... ever.

                                To quite Larry David: prettty.... pretttty....prettttyyy funny.

                                1. re: Daniellabelle

                                  Or, can we at least get rid of Melissa's bangs?

                            2. re: Evilbanana11

                              What Christmas spirit? It was filmed last summer!

                              Having snarked that, I am happy that the Boulder chefs are still in the running -- and I am rooting for one of them to take it all.

                              1. re: ClaireWalter

                                I'm pretty sure it was actually filmed a year ago and edited over the summer. That's why the Thanksgiving episode and the Christmas episode were a realistic couple of challenges apart.

                                1. re: gastrotect

                                  Umm, if that was the case, why wasn't it actually Thanksgiving and Christmas during the challenges?

                                  Actually the series was filmed in the late summer/early fall this year. That's why both holiday episodes were out of synch with the seasons.

                                  1. re: rjka

                                    That's my bad. I definitely thought I'd heard they were filming in the fall, not the summer. Guess I can't win 'em all.

                                  2. re: gastrotect

                                    There were lots of comments on various NY-based blog sites (I think Grub Street was one?) as to filming in late August/September time frame. They were asking for readers who might have spied the cheftestants to report back. :-)

                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                      The only problem is that everyone in NY is wearing summer attire, like shorts and t-shirts. Perhaps it was a "Christmas in July" party?

                                      -Kevin

                                2. Interesting problem with the product placement fridge. At first they seem to hint that too much hot stuff went in all at once, which can certainly challenge any cooling appliance. But then they seem to blame someone leaving the door ajar -- somewhat hard to believe. Just before they finished their prep, didn't they show a bunch of quart containers being filled with hot puree or soup or sauce? C'mon, you can put that sorta thing in a walk-in, but enough hot product for 240 times so many cooks into a fridge? That's gonna challenge the best SubZero.

                                  24 Replies
                                  1. re: nosh

                                    Anyone see the previews for next week? Fabio actually made me laugh out loud when he said (about Jamie) this is top chef not top scallops!

                                    1. re: dorian

                                      between that, and Carla yelling for Gail to come back, it was a good preview...and we get the bonus holiday cookoff special. yay, Tre!

                                      1. re: dorian

                                        LOL! I loved that and thought the same. I don't know, I am just not that impressed with most of these chefs this year. Radhika and Stefan seem to turn out the most creative foods. I had hope for Fabio, and Jamie, but my impression of them is dwindling. Maybe it's the lame challenges? I thought the 12 days of xmas was corny.

                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          I think I have spied several sparks of greatness. The challenges have been difficult to showcase what arrows the chefs have in their quivers. I think as the challenges improve so shall the chefs. And for me, if not, I always have Padma. -:)

                                          1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                            You sound more hopeful than I, GFL. I always have..... Tom? Damn, you make out better than me. :)

                                      2. re: nosh

                                        I'm sure putting all that hot stuff in the fridge wasn't the smartest idea. But it is possible that the fridge opened up on its own because it was overstuffed. I think it was last season where they duct-taped a fridge shut to make sure it wouldn't open up overnight because they had so much food in it.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          I think it is possible -- in fact, probable -- that the producers or directors decided to create some excitement by unplugging or turning off the refrigerator. As the late Ethel Merman said, "Ya gotta have a gimmicke," and IMHO, the reality TV corollary is, "Ya gotta have a different gimmick every week."

                                          1. re: ClaireWalter

                                            you know, the idea of producer sabotage crossed my mind at first as well, but i really don't think that was the case. it would have been totally unfair to screw over only *some* of the chefs, and obviously they didn't all have their food in the same fridge. now, had the power mysteriously gone out & affected BOTH refrigerators, i'd have an easier time believing it was a nasty trick pulled by the producers.

                                            the way they showed all the chefs trying to cram containers into every available nook & cranny, it wouldn't surprise me of one of them inadvertently left the door slightly ajar. but as several people have already pointed out, even with the door closed, i'd wonder about the internal temp of either refrigerator with all that steaming hot food jammed in at the same time. that's so *not* safe.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I noticed that the chefs seemed to close one door of the fridge, but not the other and in the moment I wondered how that happened, even as they were rushed to finish. I now suspect it was intentionally edited that way, but I wasn't surprised then to see that the returned to find that the food had not chilled as it should have.

                                              Having just read down and learned the Leanne's blog explained the problem and how the producers helped solve it, put a different spin on it.

                                            2. re: ClaireWalter

                                              Right, Claire. "Everything coming up roses" doesn't make for good tv" (I love Ethel Merman). ;)

                                              Gotta have drama. The producers probably hated the fact that everyone pitched in and helped the two affected chefs. Too warm and fuzy, not enough drama. Fortunately though, the viewing public seemed to love it.

                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                I called shenanigans on the producers in this episode. Too convenient that Radika had the other parts of the duck in another fridge and there was some other pork available for Hosea. And then it was a non-elimination episode? I've read too many behind the scenes stories to believe in coincidences on 'reality' tv.

                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                  If you read LeeaAnne's blog on Bravo, she explained the situation pretty well. Because everyone had put their steaming food into that one fridge, it overworked itself and broke down. The producers thought it wasn't fair that Hosea, Melissa, and Radikha were put at a significant disadvantage, so they agreed to go out and buy new products for them. They couldn't go to WF with the amount of time they had and had to go to a place closeby. They didn't have the brie Melissa wanted, so she ended up with gorgonzola, and Hosea ended up with the pork we saw. I think they brought back chicken for Radikha, but she had already started prep on the duck legs when they returned.

                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                    That's interesting about Melissa's dish because she was criticized for having cheese that overpowered her dish. If she had used brie, as originally planned, she wouldn't have had that problem. I wonder why it was never brought up on the show.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      I don't really know how gorgonzola ended up as the requested cheese. It seems from LeeAnne's blog that she had no idea that brie was the original cheese, only that the type of cheese was too fancy to be found at the local supermarket. Somehow another producer requested gorgonzola. Most grocery stores have some type of brie, so why they didn't try to replace it with a cheaper brie first is beyond me.

                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                        And, why didn't she adjust then, since gorgonzola is such a strong cheese? I'm still surprised no one said anything about it. They talked about the duck legs instead of breast, the pork tenderloin change. This seems to be a bigger issue since Melissa ended up in the bottom three.

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          If she already had everything prepped the night before with brie in mind, I am not sure what else she could have done to adjust. It sounds like Radikha, Hosea, and Melissa were just rushing to have something to serve at that point since they had virtually no prep time. Even though the prep time was increased to 2 hours, I don't know when in that timeframe the new pork and cheese arrived.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Hi chowser -- they did mention on the show that she originally planned on using brie (they showed her looking at a pool of liquid brie in a tupperware container), but that there was gorganzola already stocked in the TC kitchen, so she used that instead. I think the problem was that she DIDN'T adjust to the new cheese, which is why her dish was bad with the blue cheese flavor overwhelming all. That's her mistake, not TC's.

                                                    2. re: Sooeygun

                                                      I don't think the producers would have risked food poisoning by unplugging the fridge--that could have been a major disaster and brought in the health department. They can shut you down for losing power and refrigeration! I was glad to hear the chefs reject the products right away--judging by the amount of food-bourne illness I've suffered over the years in various cities, a lot of restaurants aren't so fastidious.

                                                  2. re: ClaireWalter

                                                    i definitely think this part of the show was staged -- after all, the chefs were only there for an hour to pack up their prep from the night before to take over to the venue. an hour is not enough time to assess the situation, find the new ingredients, do all the prep for the proteins, and cook the proteins...

                                                    1. re: nyc_cravings

                                                      Lee Anne also stated that the "1 hour prep time" was expanded to two in order to give the producers time to buy new ingredients and have the cheftestants prep them.

                                                      1. re: queencru

                                                        i was wondering about that - there was no way the other chefs could have all finished prepping their own dishes AND helped Hosea & Radhika completely re-do theirs in a mere 60 minutes. there was just too much to be done.

                                                        i totally forgot to read the blogs this week. off i go...

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          I kept forgetting to read the blogs as well. Just did so - Lee Anne's was very inciteful. Looks like she spoke with the cheftestants the morning after Tom Colicchio told them no one would be going home. As I read this comment, I knew exactly who she was talking about:

                                                          "I ended up having another conversation with them the next morning. It was true that they had served mediocre food rather than amazing food. My pep talk came from a contestant's perspective, and while I got the death stare from some contestants (cross arms with the back-the-f***-off-look), I think I was able to get my point across to others."

                                                          The death stare and crossed arms and back-off-look? Yeah, didn't Rocco point that out to a certain cheftestant an episode or so ago? It's the Lisa Syndrome all over again.

                                                          Also, I liked her comments about the Top Chef Scallop Gods coming down to smack you on the hand for using them too much. I'm thinking Jamie's gonna get slapped yet again next new episode. :-)

                                                          ETA: Interesting quick interview link that Lee Anne posted in her blog re: her interview with Zagat's:

                                                          http://www.zagat.com/Blog/Detail.aspx...

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Linda, thanks for the link. i LOVE LeeAnne's response to the question about how much input the sponsors have regarding challenges...

                                                            "The money to make television doesn’t grow on trees. I think that’s about all I’m allowed to say. "

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              I know - I *really* wish she was allowed to elaborate a little bit. Does that mean how much product placement is in each challenge? Or actual input into what the challenge entails? I thought that was Lee Anne's and her team's responsibility to come up with them and they and the producers choose which ones are going to be used.

                                              2. my favorite line tonight from Fabio:
                                                "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallops!" regarding Jamie. It was very nice of everyone to pitch in and help Radika and Hosea. And, I give props to the judges to realize that the challenge would have been much stronger if everyone had some help. I'm still pulling for Eugene!

                                                1. Dorian- It was my favorite line too- I completely lmao.
                                                  I'm still pulling for Eugene! Come on.... cook buddy!

                                                  1. I have greater respect for TC now (not that I didn't have a lot before). He finally said what I (and I assume others) have been thinking this entire season: that's it? Deviled eggs? Salad and more salad? Fried halloumi? This is supposed to be Top Chef not Home Cooking with Padma and Tom. Hell, have me on, I'll do you a mean amatriciana and carciofi alla romana. It's a sad testament when we're saying that the paella should have won - it's just paella! Something millions of people around the world make and make well!

                                                    This show has two avenues towards watch-ability: 1) Feature innovative food and techniques. 2) Have interesting characters. It is doing #2 moderately well, and totally failing at #1. Hopefully TC's reprimand will carry some weight and turn these chefs in the right direction. But maybe this season's contestants just aren't that good?

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                                      I think part of the problem is that there is nobody like a Richard, Hung, or Marcel this season. There's no one really pushing the envelope. Even one person like that tends to lift everyone else. I believe Stefan has the potential to be that person, but he seems to be playing it safe, too safe, for some reason. Maybe people are holding back til later in the competition. Dullest season so far.

                                                      1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                        I think it has been dull because: (1) we have not had a chance to see the cooks excel at their own style of cooking yet (hopefully the next episode might fix that); and (2) the challenges have been very restrictive in terms of what the chefs have been able to do. Look at the elimination challenges in the episodes:

                                                        1) The melting pot, which required cooking in whatever ethnicity the chef was assigned.

                                                        2) The New American restaurant challenge, where five of the cheftestants did dessert and they only had two hours to prep when cooking for 50.

                                                        3) Thanksgiving for an army with microwaves and toasters.

                                                        4) The TV challenge, making something that can be taught to a general audience in 2.5 minutes.

                                                        5) The bridal shower, which had a theme and teams (which always cause issues)

                                                        6) The 12 days challenge.

                                                        In three of the challenges, they have only had 30 minutes to shop. The only exceptions were melting pot and Thanksgiving (where they got a whole hour). Why not give them the challenge in the morning, an hour to shop, and 3-4 hours of prep time. I suspect the quality of the dishes will improve immensely.

                                                        Is there any wonder why the dishes have been less than stellar?

                                                        1. re: Jwsel

                                                          I agree that these challenges have gotten totally insane. I don't need rock stars on a show to make food interesting, it's gimmicky. I don't care if a chef can cook in the rain with a toaster and a microwave, give them time and proper equipment to do what they are trained to do. They are chefs, not MacGyver. Just once I want to see Tom participate in a challenge, let's see him make a great meal with a toaster oven.

                                                          1. re: EastRocker

                                                            Good post, I guess Top Chef is losing ratings to dinner impossible. :-)

                                                            Regarding making great food in a toaster oven

                                                            http://aveceric.com/category/gettoasted

                                                        2. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                          That's what I was thinking -- no Blaises, Hungs, or Marcels. Fabio did the spherical olive thing early on and excited the judges, but that's it for "not your mama's kitchen." We haven't even seen the immersion circulator come out this season, IIRC.

                                                          1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                            It may be the dullest in terms of prepared dishes thus far, but I am more invested in the chefs than ever before too at this point. Last night basically showed me something that you just wouldn't see in seasons past with everyone pitching in to help. I have quite a bit of respect for these chefs for their attitudes towards each other this season. Every time I don't like someone (Jeff, Stefan, Jamie) they prove to be decent after all (unlike say Marcel or Lisa), at least for a bit.
                                                            I agree Jwsel on the challenges point. The eliminations have left little room for interpretation or preparation. As a result the risky choices aren't paying off. In fact, at times they have been hurting people, so there has been a trending towards safer dishes. I think next week may change that by the looks of the challenge. And restaurant wars (which is around the corner) should also, hopefully, change the types of dishes. I still believe Stefan, Fabio, Jeff, Leah, and Radhika (as well as Eugen and Jamie) have some surprising dishes in them.

                                                            1. re: gastrotect

                                                              It will be very interesting to see how they do with *no* restrictions.

                                                              But keep in mind - the repeat holiday show is next week, and it doesn't look like they're having a TC episode until January 7th. 12/31 @ 10pm is a Kathy Griffin show.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Oh, damn! How am I going to get through until Jan 7?

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  Eat. ;-)

                                                        3. I know a lot of people seem to agree with Tom's dismissal of deviled eggs, but I don't think the concept deserves dismissing. First, Ariane got 6 geese of laying, so an egg dish was the logical choice. But what were her choices? 250-300 mini omelets? Egg on toast/brioche/puff pastry? Some meat or salad with a fried egg served over the top? All of those are cliched. So why not do a gourmet take on a deviled egg? I don't see why the hardboiled egg "base" is any worse than yet another dish using brioche or puff pastry.

                                                          Moreover, eggs can be done in a very gourmet fashion. Look at Alain Passard's or Joel Robuchon's egg dishes. Passard's soft boiled egg served in its shell would be great at a party, but that wouldn't work for a cocktail party since you would need some cup for soft boiled eggs and a way to serve them while the yolk is still warm. A layered egg dish like Robuchon's could be served in a plastic glass, but the poached egg would have to be warm.

                                                          I'm not saying Ariane's take on a deviled egg worked. However, Tom seemed to dismiss the dish not based on taste or cooking, but simply because it was a deviled egg and not sophisticated enough. But there is no reason why a reimagined deviled egg cannot be sophisticated for a cocktail party. Just because it has a bad rep doesn't mean it can't work. Chicken pot pies are not exactly the height of sophistication, but none of the judges dismissed the mini chicken pot pie outright.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Jwsel

                                                            I had the same reaction to Tom's dismissal of the deviled eggs. I would have included one with caviar or truffles, tho...

                                                            I felt this challenge was not one that allowed the chefs much chance to do "their" cooking, as each had to work within the confines of some very strange requirements. "Eleven Lords a Leaping?" indeed!

                                                            BTW, whomever thought frogs legs wouldn't go over might have been quite surprised. I might, however, have done something with rabbit for that one.

                                                            For the record, I'm pulling for Ariane!

                                                            1. re: Jwsel

                                                              Yeah, I didn't blame her too much for the eggs. People like deviled eggs, it fit into the theme and she's got immunity. Obviously she wasn't going to win with deviled eggs but she wasn't going to lose either.

                                                              1. re: Jwsel

                                                                There has been nothing in any of Ariane's dishes that a good cook can't do. She sticks to the basics, and has shown no creativity (cooking turkey breast, watermelon salad, cooking Radhika's lamb and now this). I think that's what Tom was talking about with stretching and doing more. I think if she had taken deviled eggs and added a twist to it, it might have made a difference but hers were standard deviled eggs. Who hasn't seen a million variations of basic deviled eggs?

                                                              2. Personally I don't understand how Arianne keeps winning.
                                                                IMO, a one pot meal is one where the food is cooked together in one pot, not each component cooked separately in the same pot, then assembled. I think the chefs were using a pretty liberal defiinition for the quickfire.
                                                                Looks like Jamie, Melissa, and Eugene and losing faith in themselves. Gotta pull themselves up by the bootstraps and buck up.
                                                                Loved Fabio. "It's Top Chef, not Top Scallops" When are the cheftestants going to learn scallops are not the best choice?
                                                                Michelle Bernstein should replace Gail. I just love her. She's tough and won't put up with any b.s.
                                                                Deviled Eggs? I agree with Tom, not the way to win Top Chef.
                                                                What's up with Leah mouthing off to Collichio? Most of them need to shut and listen instead of arguing. Take a step back and realize the judges are giving you sound advice.
                                                                Oh and enough with the product placement. I don't think it was appropriate for T-Mobile to be shown so much when Hosea is trying to get an update on his father who has cancer. (Although I'm sure he had a say in allowing it)
                                                                I'm sure it can't be easy to come up with a dish on the fly, but it seems like they're either playing it too safe, or going way off the deep end. Time to make some smart choices, especially concerning who the food is going to be served to. Cater to your audience, right?
                                                                On the other hand, how about giving them better challenges? A dish based on The 12 Days of Christmas? Come on. They might as well have used Rudolf the Red Nosed Riendeer.
                                                                Just my 2 cents.

                                                                1. This season it looks like the show is trying to make things tougher by putting stupid hurdles in front of the cheftestants..

                                                                  The so-called "Thanksgiving" one was really dumb - limiting the appliances, terrible working conditions... And in this mock Christmas episode - they had very limited prep and cooking time to make food for 250...

                                                                  You want good food, Tom? Give the chefs proper conditions to cook it. Stop throwing needless monkey wrenches in.

                                                                  The Show is Top Chef, not Survivor.

                                                                  And agree with others, Steak and Cauliflower Puree is NOT a one pot dish. You give the chefs just 45 minutes to make a one pot dish and you can forget a nice stew or something complex, you are going to get FAST.

                                                                  The parameters made the paella seem like an overachievement.

                                                                  With Six Geese A Laying, Ariane could have also chosen to make something with geese or fowl, she was by no means limited.

                                                                  Poor Fabio, he got a stupid one... I don't blame him for not using Ladyfingers for a dessert or Tiramisu... He doesn't seem like a pastry chef...

                                                                  But what he could have done is made some fabulous little Italian dish and said "Ina mya homeatown we calla theese 'Nine Ladies Dancing." Who'd know otherwise?

                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                    Hahaha, I don't think the judges would've swallowed Fabio's sweet talk about the rationale of the dish... you know Ms. Bernstein would tear him a new one.

                                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                      Agreed on all points. Ariane had it the easiest and I thought she would of chosen goose rather than eggs.

                                                                      Steak over cauliflower is not a one pot meal, period. I was shocked that Martha chose Ariane. I think because Martha wrongly guessed that their was butter in the cauliflower she gave the win to Ariane for stumping her. Ridiculous!

                                                                      Fabio should have selected what dish he wanted to make and then made up some bulls#%t story that in his small village in Italy ladies take to the streets and dance for this dish before xmas.

                                                                      I agree w/ jcattles too, I'm not a Martha fan. Bring back Bourdain or how about David Chang!

                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                        I've never seen a Whole Foods with goose in stock (maybe you can get it through special ordering) and, if they have had duck, it would almost certainly have been frozen and, thus, useless for the challenge given the prep time. I don't recall the amount of money they each had, but goose or duck for that number of people also might have been cost prohibitive.

                                                                        I guess Ariane could have done guinea hen like one of the other competitors or even chicken, but using another fowl does get away from the "geese a laying."

                                                                        1. re: Jwsel

                                                                          Whole Foods must have had duck...isn't that what Radihka made?

                                                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                            But Radhika could have also taken all the duck at WF had as they were cooking for a lot of people.

                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                              Yes, so they had duck, unfrozen.

                                                                              Ariane could have used Cornish Hens, or heaven forbid chicken...

                                                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                Yes, she could have done a lot of different things. But so could have other people. I don't really see what the issue was with her making deviled eggs, especially since she has immunity. Sometimes people want to save their best dishes for other challenges where they don't have immunity.

                                                                      2. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                        What I thought Fabio could have also tried was something utilizing a puttanesca ("ladies of the night") sauce. But, hindsight is 20/20.

                                                                        Although Fabio has underperformed recently, his personality has most certainly "grown" on me and I would hate to see him eliminated.

                                                                      3. One more thing. Do professional chefs never use thickening agents? Why was Martha so upset about Eugene using cornstarch? Especially with the time constraints. Personally, I don't have a problem with cornstarch. I use it when I don't have time to let something reduce on it's own. He could've made a roux as a shortcut, but Martha still wouldn't haved like it.
                                                                        Ughh, I may be the minority, but I can't stand that woman. She is by no means the most important or best guest judge Top Chef could have. I want to see more of Grant Achatz, Michelle Bernstein, and of course Tony Bourdain.

                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jcattles

                                                                          Last nights episode was so confusing to me on so many levels....Why NOT send someone home? Seriously?

                                                                          It just seemed so super staged..the "you can do better food" pep talk, this is your Christmas gift...so generated to create strife and good tv. 3 hours to prep for that many guests? I might have done Hung's salmon cucumber thing.

                                                                          The whole fridge thing seemed odd to me, as well.

                                                                          I'd love to know if the producer's are taking a bigger role?

                                                                          1. re: sommrluv

                                                                            I think they didn't send anybody home because everybody took time away from their own dish to help Radhika and Hosea. So if they had more time, they could have produced better dishes. I'm sure some of the contestants had to streamline their food because they didn't have as much time.

                                                                            I don't think the producers are taking a larger role, but there certainly is a problem with the editing of the show. If you watch the extra footage on bravotv.com, you'll find that one of the people said something like, "I liked Jamie's scallops. Normally don't like scallops as they're a bit slimy." But on the show, it came out like, "Jamie's scallops -- they're a bit slimy," -- or something to that effect.

                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                              A lot of the above questions are answered by Lee Ann Wong's blog.

                                                                              The refrigerator DID fail as a result of all the hot food put into it, not from the door opening. It's obvious from that revelation that the contestants were coached into implying (or stating outright- i would need to review the ep again) that the door opened instead of a deficiency in a sponsoring companies product.

                                                                              Once this had happened, the playing field became unleveled and the judges were immediately alerted that they would be unable to send someone home as a result. The contestants were not made aware of this fact and were instead presented with it as a decision of the judges as we saw in the episode.

                                                                              1. re: Scortch

                                                                                No doubt things would hve been even more lackluster if the cheftestants had gone into the party knowing they all essentially had immunity that day.

                                                                            2. re: sommrluv

                                                                              I'd love to know if the producer's are taking a bigger role?
                                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                              Watch this YouTube video of Bourdain talking about Top Chef:

                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRYglm...

                                                                              He's pretty adamant that, even if the producers came to Tom Colicchio and said "don't get rid of the blonde busty one; she makes for great TV!" he wouldn't listen to them if she was the worst chef that night. It's definitely the judges' decision as to who to ax.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                If you look at the above post by scortch, apparently the producers did something just like that, and to me, they did worse! They made the contestants lie on tv.

                                                                                I have not had a chance to re-watch the whole episode, only a piece, so I want to hear exactly what they say..but to make someone say "someone left a door open" instead of "we jammed too much hot food in the fridge" Is outright dishonesty.

                                                                                Your INTEGRITY as a person is not worth $100,000, exposure, and some perks. And I would worry about hiring someone to my kitchen that would sell themselves for essentially less than a years salary.

                                                                                I did get to watch when Tom revealed that no one was going home...Ariane looked strictly dissapointed. It took me a little while to figure out why...do you think she felt she had 'wasted' immunity if no one went home? She took an easy way out, still got called on it, and still has 11 people in the game.

                                                                                1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                  I think both things were said - I'm pretty sure I heard a discussion of too much hot food put in the fridge. Someone even specifically said when they saw all the hot food going into the ziplock bags and being put into the fridge, they thought about whether the fridge could handle it.

                                                                                  So "being forced" to say one thing, as scortch said, may not be the case. Of course, we're not getting to see all of what was edited out.

                                                                                  And yes - that's a good call on Ariane realizing her immunity was essentially going to unused.

                                                                            3. re: jcattles

                                                                              Martha really bugged me last night...
                                                                              During the QF she picked Fabio's risotto as a bottom dish. Come on! He's been cooking risotto since he was 6. I agree with Fabio's sentiment... Fabio's g'ma would be ashamed of Martha.

                                                                              It's like someone complaining about a Mexican taco vendors tacos just don't match up to Taco Bell.

                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                I think someone said Martha didn't like the fact that the gray-colored polenta matched her hair.

                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                  I thought the same thing--as if Martha knows risotto better than Fabio? I think she's trying to come off as an expert on food when she's not. She's not a chef; she's prepped on how to follow a recipe.

                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                    It wasn't risotto. It was polenta. Jeff did the potato risotto, which she also didn't like.

                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                      So..I've been playing football since I was 5 and that doesn't make me an NFL player.

                                                                                      1. re: rochfood

                                                                                        But you'd probably know football better than Martha Stewart.

                                                                                      2. re: dave_c

                                                                                        Hey, leave Martha alone! I liked that that she was so tough on the chefs--they need a few more ballbreakers as guest judges. I'm with her on the cornstarch as it can add a slimy gelatinous quality to a stew if you're not careful. A lot of Asian restaurants overdo it with the cornstarch. As for the polenta, she has a right to find the color unappetizing and heck, my grandma made some nasty stuff over the years. I've been making Kraft Mac 'n cheese since I was six years old, that doesn't mean it's worth serving to paying customers!

                                                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                                                          Fabio didn't make risotto he made polenta.

                                                                                        2. re: jcattles

                                                                                          I'm sorry here too, I am tired of seeing Martha on these types of shows doing self-promotion. I know thats part of the way these things work but come on, she is not holier than thou and this feeds the hell out of her ego.

                                                                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                            She walked into the room holding her latest cookbook! Of course, cover facing out so everyone can see it. Any other guest judge who's promoting their cookbook just gives it away to whoever wins the EC. But no - Martha's gotta get more camera time for her cookbook.

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              I have to agree. I mean I know she did her time, but she is a convicted felon. No need to throw her under a bus, but must everyone keep acting like she's perfect and promoting her?

                                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                i'm SO not a Martha fan. never was. i know she's talented, and she's made quite a success of herself & her businesses...i won't even weigh on on her conviction, its neither here nor there for me. she's just always struck me as very cold & condescending, and i've never seen the appeal in her food or decorative style. she's always rubbed me the wrong way, and it irritates the hell out of me when people swoon over her.

                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                  Not a Martha fan either, but I liked her on this show...go figure...it's fun to watch them all freak out about her, and she's totally Judge Dread.

                                                                                                  Cornstarch is gross as a thickener, with occasional exception in Chinese food.

                                                                                        3. What's up with them not showing Radikha's QF dish? I am pretty sure this is not the first time they have skipped over her dish, and this time it was so obvious when they started at the station next to hers and did not go to her next. It was also pretty bad editing with "4 Calling Birds" missing when they introduced it with the song. What can I say, I am getting a little bit frustrated with the show.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                                                            I believe they skipped Leah's QF dish, too. I hate when they do that!

                                                                                            1. re: queencru

                                                                                              Actually - if you look at Lee Anne's blog on Bravo's site, she doesn't even mention "4 Calling Birds" as being assigned to anyone. She goes from Eugene's 5 Golden Rings to Leah's 3 French Hens. There's only 11 cheftestants left so I guess with all of the fowl in the song, they thought "calling birds" could be removed.

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                I didn't watch the knife draw carefully but it is possible that there were 12 knives in the block, representing all 12 days, and "4" just happened to be the one left over.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  Is it just me or is a "12 Days of Christmas" an odd choice for 11 cheftestants? It's been seriously bugging me.

                                                                                              2. I think my favorite thing about this episode was Martha Stewart's persistent one-upsmanship ->

                                                                                                chanterelles? Oh, we go foraging for chanterelles every fall.
                                                                                                scallops? Oh, we always go diving for scallops in January.

                                                                                                I'm glad the producers are catching on to the fact that the food has been decidedly unexciting this entire season. I don't think it's been the format of the challenges (every season has had challenges that present obstacles for the chefs - for better or worse, that's sort of the idea of the show, rather than just having a cook-off every week); I just don't think the caliber of the participants is at the same level. IMO, the only people showing much imagination are Jeff, Jamie and Radhika, maybe occasionally Hosea - I think both Fabio and Stefan are highly overrated, just because they're blowhards.

                                                                                                For everyone that thinks so much of Stefan, consider that the dishes he's made have been: veal goulash (QF6); chicken pot pie (EC6); tomato terrine (seemed to be the worst dish of the tomato group) (EC5); huevos rancheros (QF4) (only trick was serving in the egg); minestrone (EC4) (minestrone???); thai shrimp bisque (QF3), roasted turkey, roast beef, onion gravy (EC3), [can't find anything re episode 2], lamb chop and beef kebab (EC1). Does that list inspire anything other than a yawn?

                                                                                                Fabio also seems like he's stuck in the 80s - corn & pepper crab cake w/ chipotle lime sauce; chilean sea bass w/ corn and chard; sesame crusted seared tuna w/ grilled veg; beef carpaccio; pork w/ mango-jalapeno demiglace. Except for one minor fling w/ spherified olives (which Ferran Adria did years ago) this stuff just all seems so dated.

                                                                                                On the other hand, the teamwork of this group and willingness to pitch in and help each other has been very endearing.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                  yes, I snickered at the image of Martha diving for scallops and yelled at my tv, "who are YOU kidding....no way"

                                                                                                  I agree that the food this season has been less interesting than in the past.

                                                                                                2. QF: Although I think a paella makes for a great, festive, one-pot dish, Hosea's paella was not original in the least! It was just a straightforward chicken/chorizo/seafood paella -- he can't win based on just being able to turn out a copycat version of a dish.

                                                                                                  1. one more thing that irked me and hasn't been addressed yet. when Natasha Richardson tried to cut the chefs some slack, saying that it must have been extremely difficult for them to get everything done by themselves for such a large crowd, and with so little notice & prep time, TC made a comment about how "we" (i assume he meant his restaurants) do it all the time with 2 or 3 people.

                                                                                                    really? someone gives you a line from a hokey holiday song and tells you to come up with a creative way to represent it as hors d'oeuvres for 300 people...and then they give you a time limit to do the shopping...AND tell you that you're only allowed to spend 3 hours prepping the food?

                                                                                                    right.

                                                                                                    yes, clients may request themes for parties, and will often try to book a venue at the last minute, but it's still comparing apples to oranges. the challenge isn't nearly the same.

                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                      I agree goodhealth: it would be a lot easier with a staff of X behind you helping out and weeks to plan.

                                                                                                      On another note, I have found some of Radhika's dishes interesting. The one thing I find interesting is in Episode One she claimed that she was going to cook more than just Indian inspired food. So far (and yes one at the suggestion of another chef borrowing from her culture) most (I think all) of her dishes have had an indian influence. For the record I have no problem with this other than the fact she said she would not do it.

                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                        Were we watching the same show? I saw Tom agreeing it would be hard for a single person, when you'd usually have two or three doing the same labor.

                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                          i'm pretty sure i heard correctly, but there may have been two different conversations. i saved the show on my DVR, so i'll check it later.

                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            I heard what you heard Caitlin. that it was hard for one.

                                                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                              i'm really glad you guys commented, because i just went back & re-watched the scene, and you're right. i *completely* mis-heard him. i thought he said that normally 2 or 3 of his guys do things like this by themselves (as compared to this case where you had 11 people preparing dishes), and THAT'S difficult.

                                                                                                              sorry about that...and thanks to Caitlin & AMFM for questioning me - now i'm not annoyed at Tom anymore :)

                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                That's what friends are for!

                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                  too bad you guys aren't around to set me straight in other situations when i stick my foot in my mouth ;)

                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                    if anyone is available for a "remove foot from mouth service", i could use it on MANY occasions too! :)

                                                                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  Wow...I totally misheard him too!

                                                                                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                              What qualified Natasha Richardson to be a judge on the show? Does she have some culinary qualifications that were not made clear? As far as I know she's just a British actress who supports a cause.

                                                                                                              I know they use celebrity opinions if those celebrities eat the food -- as they did with the Foo Fighters and others -- but Richardson was on the Judge's Table. Most of her comments were pretty much contradicted or dismissed by the other judges. I was a little embaressed for her because she was out of her element.,

                                                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                I believe they mentioned that she was an "enthusiastic home cook." Bully Tau for her!

                                                                                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                  Most of her comments were pretty much contradicted or dismissed by the other judges. I was a little embaressed for her because she was out of her element.,

                                                                                                                  -------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                                                                  Perhaps. But one could argue the same point about Padma Lakshmi, even though she has served as a judge for four seasons. Very often, but not always, she continues to "parrot" and mirror the opinions of her more experienced adjudicators (or at least the editing would have us believe so). In Richardson's defense, she gave the appearance of having a sophisticated palate but, again, we have no idea how the TC producers may have edited the footage to her disadvantage.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                                    i'll refrain from remarking about Natasha Richardson's qualifications, as i know nothing about her. she may have the greatest palate on the planet, but she didn't really have anything worthwhile to say.

                                                                                                                    Padma has actually published two successful cookbooks, and hosted a couple of food & travel shows. sure, she's mostly on the show for aesthetic purposes, but she's not a complete idiot when it comes to food.

                                                                                                              2. Radhika is rapidly displacing Leah as the focus of my affection...

                                                                                                                As a result, Mr. Canned Crab is actually growing on me...

                                                                                                                Gareth has to be the next to go -- her uninspiring cooking is a constant reminder of how poorly they cast this season.

                                                                                                                I actually thought the deviled eggs looked good and were a decent idea given the subject matter of the song...

                                                                                                                Eugene really needs to get it together...you could feel them gearing up to give him the boot with the family treatment. On a tangential note, it cracked me up that the judges seem as confused over his ethnicity as we are.

                                                                                                                The actress was painfully out of her league when it came to judging and offering opinions. The editors seemed to strain to find any kind of meaningful commentary from her.

                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                  i know several people have come to Ariane's defense over the deviled eggs, but i still think it was a lame choice. she could have gotten so much more creative...mini frittatas or quiches with caviar (for another play on eggs)...or a dish with gooseberries (she could have even pureed some for a sauce or dressing)...

                                                                                                                  i get that she does standard American comfort food, but she's not going to win this thing by staying in her comfort zone.

                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                    It didn't result in bottom three, but Tom summed it up. She is NOT going to win with deviled eggs.

                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                      LeeAnne stated on her blog that the deviled eggs weren't even that good.

                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                        My first thought was gooseberries. I don't know what the availability would have been but the judges didn't seem too rigid about the chefs following their day of Christmas to the letter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                          WFM carries dried gooseberries year-round. it would have been easy for her to get them.

                                                                                                                          and for the record, LeeAnne said in her blog that Ariane's deviled eggs were "terrible."

                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                            I have no problem criticizing her for *bad* deviled eggs. It just seemed to Tom completely disregarded the possibility that someone could reimagine deviled eggs as a cocktail dish. If he had said something like, "Deviled eggs are not going to win Top Show unless you do something completely original with them, but Ariane did not," I would have been fine with his comments.

                                                                                                                            I still think an egg dish for a cocktail party is going to be very difficult. It did not look like the chefs had much of a way to keep food warm, and room-temperature egg is rarely going to be successful. I guess she could have done mini-quiche or frittata, but I suspect the judges would have considered that extremely cliche.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jwsel

                                                                                                                              I think a twist on deviled eggs would be better but she made regular deviled eggs and variations on that which we all see at any PTA potluck. I agree w/ what you said that he could have added that originality was important but I thought it was implied that regular deviled eggs won't win. They loved Fabio's twist on olives. As for an egg dish being difficult, how much more difficult than topics like "9 ladies dancing" or the ones that the other chefs had to do? This is about being creative and being a chef, not making basic potluck foods. If it were easy, there wouldn't be a point. I think an amuse with raw quail eggs would have been fun to see.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                i thought about quail eggs, but i figured the raw factor would have been too risky - there's no way of knowing how the guests at the benefit would respond to something like that.

                                                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                          raw gooseberry puree? that would have been sufficiently bizarre. Ive never seen gooseberries in a US whole foods, but its a nice thought.

                                                                                                                          1. re: batdown

                                                                                                                            i've seen the dried ones, not raw. yellow-ish cape gooseberries in plastic pouches.

                                                                                                                        3. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                          <Gareth has to be the next to go -- her uninspiring cooking is a constant reminder of how poorly they cast this season.>

                                                                                                                          Which chef is named "Gareth?"

                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                            That would be Melissa -- others have noted she resembles Gareth from the UK Office LOL!

                                                                                                                        4. Not to threadjack, but I am assuming that Christmas Eve Wednesday will not be a new episode? I don't remember them specifying '2 weeks from now' during the clips from the next episode.

                                                                                                                          Onto this episode: great, absolutely great to see them helping one another out.
                                                                                                                          I thought that without the direction on the 12 days, they were almost led to play it simple and Colichio was a bit harsh in ripping them a new one.
                                                                                                                          I liked Jamie early on but its getting a bit redundant and whiny to hear her complain about being 'always second'. Well, finally you were well beyond second.
                                                                                                                          Fabio and Arianne are my current favorites, Hosea is cool too.

                                                                                                                          I haven't read the thread in detail but did anyone else find it HILARIOUS when they called out Jamie on making scallops again. That line "the show isn't called Top Scallop" is right up there with any line on this show's histroy. Classic.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                                            No - see my post above at this permalink:

                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5810...

                                                                                                                            Next new episode is January 7th - and I've read on Malarkey!'s blog and the TC Fan blog that two chefs are being eliminated next time. So I guess that takes care of the fact that no one was told to PYKAG this time.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              That would make sense. I actually got that idea before the episode ended. I believe it was Natasha who mentioned that because everyone pitched in to help that they probably didn't have time to make their own dishes as good as possible. Then she said "something to keep in mind" and the judges sort of nodded in agreement. After that I thought, what if they don't eliminate anyone now and just dump two people next time? It will make next time more stressful, but at least no one can say they weren't given a second chance.

                                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                Ahhh, but will they know that two of them are going next time? Or will that be a surprise? Or will two of them have created something so God-awful that the judges had absolutely no choice but to axe two of them?

                                                                                                                                Inquiring minds need to know! :-)

                                                                                                                          2. I am surprised no one has brought this up . . . could the product placement when Hosea was on the phone w/ his sister be any bigger? It's not enough that they are shoving Gladware and G.E. Profile down our throats at every opportunity, but that phone was just ridiculous, IMO.

                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: mdepsmom

                                                                                                                              that was a really obnoxious one. i was glad i don't have a Sidekick because i would have been tempted to throw it a the TV.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mdepsmom

                                                                                                                                "Oh and enough with the product placement. I don't think it was appropriate for T-Mobile to be shown so much when Hosea is trying to get an update on his father who has cancer. (Although I'm sure he had a say in allowing it)"
                                                                                                                                I brought it up in an earlier post but it could've gotten overlooked as I was a little long winded.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mdepsmom

                                                                                                                                  I think we're largely desensitized to the product placement by now...LOL!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                    i *wish* i was immune to it! i find it so obvious & offensive that it interferes with my enjoyment of the show. but as LeeAnne said in her Zagat interview, "the money to make television doesn't grow on trees."

                                                                                                                                  2. re: mdepsmom

                                                                                                                                    I didn't even notice it until it was mentioned in this thread :/

                                                                                                                                    1. re: AndrewK512

                                                                                                                                      Really? The only more glaring product placement was Natasha Richardson's breasts.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                        Funny.

                                                                                                                                        The only good news about that obvious and obnoxious product placement on Hosea's phone was that no has mentioned what the darn phone was -- and I don't remember either.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                          It was sidekick. mentioned several times in this thread.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                          Yes, must be the same camera guy who kept filming the Chaine de Rotisseurs girl in the blue dress in Season 3.

                                                                                                                                    2. 1) I was really annoyed that only half the items were true one-put dishes.

                                                                                                                                      2) I think Colicchio's criticism of the food as a group is unfair. You're asked to make hor dourves for 300 people, WTF do you expect? I've never had cutting-edge restaurant food that was catered to 300+ people. What's wrong with deviled eggs? If it's good food, it's good food! You just can't expect to be wowed with food given those circumstances. Judges are expecting restaurant food, but I have no idea why these chefs are put in catering challenges half of the time.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: phan1

                                                                                                                                        I agree with the second comment...something about this season just doesn't feel right. It's like the producers are taking the "challenge" portion of it to another level that puts too much restraint on the creative freedom of the chefs. Stuff like that should be saved for Quickfire Challenges, but when it's a social function there should be a little more leeway to let the chef's work their magic. Looking forward to the "no restrictions" episode this week, and Restaurant Wars should be right around the corner.

                                                                                                                                      2. radhika has emerged as my favorite. this was a great episode!

                                                                                                                                        1. I think Ariane went with the most sensible choice. Eggs = Geese a Laying.

                                                                                                                                          No one else made such simple connections. My first thought for 12 Drummer's Drumming was so nicely obvious - DRUMSTICKS. I don't know why they had to go to some crazy lengths to relate the food to the song.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                                                                                            "I don't know why they had to go to some crazy lengths to relate the food to the song."
                                                                                                                                            ~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                            because the idea is to show some creativity and inspiration, instead of defaulting to to what any one of us might easily come up with.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                              Really? I just didn't get that from them. I also don't see why the things one could easily come up with wouldn't show creativity. The creativity would be in the food itself.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                                                                                                the judges are always telling the chefs to do something different or unique and step outside their comfort zones. i hear Tom's voice in my head right now, saying "anyone can throw _________ on a plate..." and i happen to agree. i watch the show in the hopes that they'll come up with something inspired that i wouldn't think of, not the first "standard" that comes to mind. here are the comments about her choice from the blogs:

                                                                                                                                                Tom:
                                                                                                                                                "just because you're cooking to serve from behind a table doesn't mean you should dumb down what you elect to do. There are selections you can make that are just a little better than a deviled egg. I like deviled eggs, but please - you can't expect to win Top Chef with a deviled egg, no matter what you top it with."

                                                                                                                                                Gail:
                                                                                                                                                "And of course I love deviled eggs as much as anyone (perhaps even more than most), but I would never have made them for this type of occasion on a professional cooking show as it showed a lack of innovation."

                                                                                                                                                Lee Anne:
                                                                                                                                                "Ariane's deviled eggs were, well, deviled eggs (and terrible ones at that). "

                                                                                                                                                "dumbed down" and "lack of innovation"...the judges words, not mine. i can practically hear each of them let out a loud yawn after they made their respective statements...and i have to agree.

                                                                                                                                                i'm not saying i could have done any better or come up with something spectacularly original, but i'm not competing on Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                  I disagree, if you pay attention, the quickfire is always a big clue.

                                                                                                                                                  They talk about holiday meals, and simple cooking being good. They don't talk about putting out "creative unique food" But GOOD food, and the food that got them there. Simple food can be transcendant, can be FABULOUS, can have three or four ingredients. But it must be memorable.

                                                                                                                                                  The quickfire was a one pot dish. There is a clue in this. A "simple" or shall we say, deceptively simple?

                                                                                                                                                  When you are doing appys for 250-300, one bite is all you need. Look at some of the food they have raved about in the past...A spicy shrimp from Lisa, or beef tartar from casey.

                                                                                                                                                  Not groundbreaking stuff here, but things that make people happy, and could remind someone of the holidays. That's what they wanted.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                                                                                              i actually think there was talk about wanting them but couldn't find them... but i'm not certain. just something my brain is telling me. it's unfortunately been known to be wrong before.

                                                                                                                                            3. WHat's up with the show -- it seems like its been a few weeks now without a new episode

                                                                                                                                              When does it return with a new episode? Not really any other TV shows I'm watching this season (well shows that I'm keeping up with)

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                I think it is supposed to be back on Jan 7.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                  to their credit it's been 2 weeks - and the last 2 wednesdays were christmas eve and new years eve. likely not a lot of viewers those nights.