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Top Chef - Jan 14th - Down on the Farm (spoilers)

OK, the show's only half over, but LORDY I'm hating what an ass Stefan is! He is so egocentric and only thinks about himself, even when he has immunity! (And what WAS Hosea thinking by giving up half of one of his ingredients to Stefan during the QF?)

I'm very glad for the change-up in them being driven up to Dan Barber's restaurant/farm so they have to switch up their menus based on what they can find there. It will be interesting to see how they all deal with the switcheroo.

OK, and I just heard the "in-between TC commercial" with Stefan saying he's the only cock in the midst of all the hens...sheesh.

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  1. first thoughts:
    - Hosea's an idiot for helping Stefan.
    -Jamie's comment about Stefan always thinking he's right...talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
    - catchphrase of the season that's already overused and really grating on my nerves: "honoring the protein."

    Restaurant Wars next week. woo-hoo!

    42 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      A big YUP! on the catchphrase - very tiresome. And YAY! for Restaurant Wars!

      Something else I thought of from early on in the show - Stefan taunting Hosea on the number of wins he had - well, Hosea had one additional win (2 QF and 2 EC, IIRC), according to what we've seen from Wikipedia's info - so Stefan's taunts were all for naught. Just proves what an idiot he is. Way too full of himself.

      I was really hoping they'd give the win for the EC to just ONE of them - and that they'd have given it to Carla.

      Jeff manages to pull out the save for his team - he's a tomato whiz, isn't he? But yet again - he hasn't stepped up and done as well as I had expected him to do in the ECs.

      I'm a bit surprised that Ariane is the one who's told to PYKAG, after Leah didn't really do anything - and what she did was done poorly. I would have been fine with her going home this week (even tho I have her on my Fantasy team). And next week it looks like more canoodling between Hosea and Leah.....I could REALLY do without a whole lot of that!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        The Leah/Hosea thing is making me lose my appetite...and don't they both have SO's at home?

        1. re: QSheba

          Yup. Which is why he said he's trying not to let it turn into anything more. I was impressed by Leah in the beginning, but she's really beginning to bug me. She's weak: she apparently can't go three weeks without a man to lean on, and she's kind of passive and whiny in the kitchen. It looks to me like this week is the start of a negative edit for her -- maybe this is telegraphing that she's going home next week?

          I felt bad for Ariane -- she really busted her butt (as she usually does) and the "lovebirds" just sat back and let her crash and burn then skated on past. Oh well. I'm sure her restaurant has really benefitted from the publicity of her being on Top Chef and that her career will be enhanced, unlike some of these younger chefs who just slink back to someone else's kitchen.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Ruth, if you can get out there, you would really enjoy dinner at Culinariane. But it's a small place, and you have to get a res in advance.

            That said, I was totally surprised that she didn't know how to break down that lamb. I'm sure she learned butchering at CIA, and I can't imagine she's forgotten all she learned about it. That poor lamb really looked a mess.

            Too bad on Leah and Hosea for not coming to her aid -- unless of course, they didn't have the skills, either. I have a feeling we will see both of them get "theirs."

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I agree with you 100%...I kind of got the feeling that Ariane stepped in on everything because the two lovebirds were either too busy canoodling or too afraid to contradict each other.

              Since Leah seemed to do nothing, and Hosea seems to be just whipped by her catty attitude, I definitely think the wrong person got eliminated. I hope she at least reaps the benefits for her restaurant as mentioned above.

              1. re: Daniellabelle

                Ariane even stated in a confessional that she was concerned being paired with the lovebirds when they all pulled Lamb knives. She wondered if they were going to be focusing more on each other than on the food.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            It's a relief to be done with Ariane -- but it will be an equal relief to be done with Leah...

            1. re: LindaWhit

              You really don't like Stefan, I get it. But he just won another QF and another EC. Even though he had immunity, he made the right decisions when it came to EC and who knows if their team would've won if Stefan took a back seat?

              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                It sounds like, however, that he finally did back off on some things. Jamie said they "compromised" - I do believe the soup ended up much lighter than Stefan had originally planned, for one thing.

                With Stefan, it's the vehement "No! We're not changing a THING!" that I take issue with. It's all about him. As Jamie said - he had immunity, and Carla and she would be on the chopping block. He still didn't care. It was his way only.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I'm not a big fan of how Stefan is being portrayed but I understand this is fully in the editors control. They are playing him as the bad guy and it appears are only presenting his evil side, especially with this episode. We have to keep in mind that the editing is driving what we see. I have a feeling nobody is accurately portrayed in the finished product.

                  Stefan seems to have the chops to back up his win. He's got an attitude but I think you have to have complete confidence in your product to run a business.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                They had to keep Leah on for next week's canoodling episode :rolleyes:
                She should have seriously been the one to go not Ariane.

                I am hoping Stefan wins the competition-he has the talent so he can have the arrogance IMHO

                1. re: sugarsnapp

                  Your post doesn't make any sense to me. How would they know at judges' table that Lean and Hosea would be "canoodling" in the future? I'm guessing that most things are shown in sequence so we get to see previews but the judges don't.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    I haven't noticed if TC includes this or not, but there is often a disclosure that the producers have a say in in the judging on many of these types of shows. They would know how they want to play certain relationships, what will make "good television" and what won't, where they want drama, etc. and their input goes into the decisions about who stays, who goes and when.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      They do include a statement at the end.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        But how would the producers know there will be "canoodling" in the future?

                        1. re: KTinNYC

                          Because there was canoodling in the past? I think they have plenty of footage already, just a matter of when to show it.

                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            I'm not big on conspiracy theories and I'm not naive either. I understand that produces will edit reaction shots and show certain scenes out of sequence but I don't think they would manipulate who gets thrown off the show. If this was the case we would surely have heard about it. There are too many high profile judges that would not put their reputations at stake by participating in that kind of chicanery

                        2. re: chicgail

                          This has been discussed repeatedly. That's a standard legal disclaimer to keep the show from being sued by someone accusing them of doing that (as happened with the very first Survivor season). Colicchio has said repeatedly that the producers are not involved in the decision making -- except that when he wanted to send all three of the perpetrators of the attempted Marcel head shaving home, they wouldn't let him.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I think that Colicchio did clarify that since the head shaving thing wasn't a judging situation the producers could reasonably weigh in. I believe him when he (and others) consistently and as strongly as possible say that the judging table deliberations and decisions about who will be sent home are the judges' alone.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      And Leah was the one who had the brilliant idea of deboning the leg of lamb and rolling it up.

                      I did think that Ariane was going to be the one who would go though because she didn't do a great job of butchering the lamb.

                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Anyone else find it amusing/annoying that leading up to Thanksgiving/Christmas they were pretending it was the holiday season..and now we jump back to July in January? They shouldn't bother with the charade!

                      I am also getting frustrated that they don't take into account previous contests- Ariane is much better than Leah and should have stuck around for longer. And I don't know how much longer I can stomach Toby Young's hyperbole....

                      1. re: QSheba

                        They can't take into account previous contests - the guest judges change each episode, so they haven't had a say in previous contests. As Padma said to Toby - Ariane has done well in previous contests, but he replied they the rules were to set previous wins/losses aside and only look at what was happening with that particular contest.

                        I understand it, but it does make it much harder to judge, IMO, as we viewers tend to look at it as an overall contest.

                        Oh - and I noticed the Thanksgiving/Christmas and time traveling back to "summer seasonal" with this episode as well. It would be better if they just worked in the season they were filming in rather than trying to fit it into the viewing season.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I remember Stephan Aspirino saying when he was kicked off, that they should call it Top Meal or Top Dinner or something like that, bitterly. I think I agree!

                          But I dislike Ariane, so whew! LOL.

                          She had to cook a protein, all by her lonesome, and she couldn't do it. Couldn't butcher it, could barely pull the spice rub together, couldn't even tie the roast...seriously? How many of US can tie a roast?? And she owns a restaurant??

                          I'll make a lot of allowances...because it's things I can't do, or I don't know how to do. But breaking down meat and tying a roast...that's like, joy of cooking 101.

                          1. re: sommrluv

                            I am a fan of Ariane and her restaurant, but I was appalled that she couldn't bone out a leg of lamb. She is a CIA grad, and I know they have extensive butchering training there. Didn't she retain ANY of it?

                            OTOH, I couldn't understand either Team Lamb or Team Pork not cooking their meat on the bone... at least some of it.

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            I think it was very interesting that, at least for the first time i remember, the policy on considering previous performance was made clear. In reality it doesnt seem to matter if they can or cannot consider past performance as a factor, but consistency would be nice.

                            In the thanksgiving episode Tom most certainly discussed how Arianne had been doing with the Foos, and while there is no way to tell for certain how much credit she may have gotten for "turning things around" it does seem to be a good argument for including evaluations of the cooks as a whole - namely that it is impossible for anyone but the (brand new) guest judge to NOT consider, in some way, at least, the previous challenges and how the chefs did.

                            Jamies scallop save is a prime example. Despite "not considering past performance" there was an extended discussion of how redeeming her cooked scallop dish was after the botched crudo.

                            I was neither too please nor surprised Arianne went home - clearly there are considerations beyond the judges opinions of the food, so the real question is, why pretend like its a matter of consistency.

                            Speaking of consistency - the "seasonality" thing was a joke. I was getting super upset when Fabio talked about heirloom cherry tomatoes, about the least seasonal thing around right now, until i realized that they had given up on the "its winter in august" charade from the holiday episodes.

                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                              I agree with both you and QSheba that I wish they could take into account past performances, especially with reasons as you stated - all great examples. So I guess it remains our frustration that they don't/won't do so...especially when it does seem like they do in roundabout ways as you noted.

                            2. re: LindaWhit

                              I actually thought Toby's response to Padma about how they are only supposed to consider that one dish or that one challenge missed the point. Padma wasn't suggesting they consider keeping Ariane on because of her previous dishes. She was defending Ariane from Toby's general (and offensive) assessment that Ariane "can't cook." Padma was pointing out that Ariane is, in fact, a good cook and has shown it in the past. Toby, the new guy, was again trying (and failing) to be witty, and Padma was calling him on it. I was glad to see her say something to him.

                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                That was my impression as well. Considering that Ariane was in the top three of the challenge he judged last week, I thought that was really an unwarranted comment for Toby to make. He seems like he's trying to hard to be mean, like that's his "schtick" -- which is totally unnecessary. He's no Tony Bourdain!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  It's clear the Toby knows how to make scathing comments about what he perceives as bad food, but less certain is his ability to appreciate and distinguish extraordinary food.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    Pull up some of his restaurant reviews from The Evening Standard in London, UK. He does a pretty good job of it there, though it doesn't yet seem to have shown up on Top Chef very well.

                                    And, to be fair, it doesn't seem that there's a lot of extraordinary food being produced on Top Chef.

                                2. re: charmedgirl

                                  I picture Toby sitting up late at night with a pencil and paper writing possible quips like "This is lamb disguising itself as mutton." Then when he gets the opportunity to use one, I think it comes off as planned and practiced.

                                  1. re: dmjordan

                                    That's the way it seemed to me, too. I feel the same about Bourdain's sound bites when he is on.

                                3. re: LindaWhit

                                  I also think that if one were going to factor in previous challenges, that Ariane's performance with the lamb would cast her previous work with proteins in a bit of a different light. (With the disclaimer that I haven't watched carefully all season...) It seems like Ariane's best work had been cooking various proteins well. Given her total inability to butcher the leg of lamb, to work it into something she could cook and then to produce an overcooked finished product it may be that in earlier rounds she got a bit lucky that her proteins came out so well.

                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                    She has done three or four proteins very well. I think the butchering was the big problem here as the resulting cuts of meat were poor. Not to mention the improper tying screwed up the cooking process (as it would). I don't doubt that she can cook meat very well. Butchering is another story clearly.

                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                      Maybe it was the editing, but they showed a lot of her wavering with (radhika's) curry and yogurt lamb that she won the previous prize on earlier.

                                      Are these done? What should I do? Can I have some more time? Maybe?

                                      I think if Radhika, and Jamie hadn't told her to get those BACK in the oven, and the rest of the entire kitchen banded together to help them plate, she would have gone down for that protein. They could have easily just let her flounder as Josea and Leah did.

                                      Either it's editing, or she's less of a team player in the kitchen than we are led to believe.

                                      In the sequester house video, apparently at Judge's table (according to Ariane) Leah was asked what she thought of the flavor, and she said "I would like to plead the fifth."

                                      It's a nice nasty quote, but edited out so we think a certain way about her, if it was said.

                                      Tom also said it was the butchering, tying, heavy hand with marinade, and overcooking that made the decision on the meat.

                                      1. re: sommrluv

                                        I remember that episode. She knew they weren't done but was worried about time because Jamie was fidgeting about time (even though she helped convince her to put them back). She knew full well they shouldn't have been served that way and that they should go back in, she was just flustered because of the clock.

                                        1. re: sommrluv

                                          Yeah, like gastrotect above, I don't recall Jamie (or Radhika) being the ones to tell her to put it back in. If I recall, it was Jeff (or maybe Hosea) who said put it back in you have an assembly line to help you plate so it will go quickly. Jamie and Radhika were worried about time and wanted to start plating earlier.

                                          1. re: sommrluv

                                            "In the sequester house video"
                                            Are these on Bravo's website?

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              I think you are right, hosea probably told her to put them back in.


                                              At 28, my memory is crap. LOL. I guess my MAIN memory is, though, is that she has the meat out of the oven, and seemed to be pleading for direction. That was my take. Or what it was edited to look like.

                                              I'm always up for correction! :)

                                              Yes, on bravo's web site. If you click on show, they now have a link on the left where they list all the tidbits..blogs, viewing party, wong way, etc..it's not with the bonus videos

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Yeah, this "protein" thing is really bothering me too. These people can't seem to get past that and recognize that those protein sources are actually meat of various varieties, and not just some generic thing. Each type of meat has specific characteristics, but they can't seem to think about that - didn't Hosea say someting like they got there and saw big trays of protein...no, they saw chickens, lamb and pork.

                                    They really messed up with good fresh lamb and pork, as though they don't recognize the difference between the meat they had and some generic frozen package delivered to their restaurant. That's wierd, given that many of them talk about how they are into the best fresh ingredients... Even I know that if I have a nice fresh young lamb leg, I don't slice it up and pound the crap out of it!

                                    1. re: Dan G

                                      Yes, I was startled by that pounding thing. I kept on thinking, "What on earth is she doing that for?"

                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet


                                      And I'm an idiot for not visiting Blue Hill Stone Barns before moving away from NYC...

                                      1. Stefan is awful and Jamie is awesome smacking him down when he has immunity and doesn't want to change the menu . . .

                                        1. I don't know what you guys are talking about, I love Stefan lawl. Leah and Hosea are getting on my nerves though.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Evilbanana11

                                            I really enjoy Stefan as well...

                                            Bah, Colicchio, Bah!

                                            1. re: Evilbanana11

                                              Ditto, w/o Stefan the show would be a bit dull.

                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                I agree. Stefan is the chef you love to hate, very much like Hung during season 3

                                                  1. re: fame da lupo

                                                    I agree. Stefan just seems disagreeable. Even when he's joking about being with Jamie, it's distasteful - at least to me.

                                                  2. re: Hurner

                                                    I like Stefan and I liked Hung. Speaking of which, I was totally bummed we didn't get to see and hear more of Hung last night! He was on for like 5 seconds, and barely said a word.

                                                    ... I also think my nostalgia and desire to hear more from him stems from the serious downgrade in talent this cast is compared to casts in seasons past. :-(

                                              2. And at the far turn:

                                                Favorites to win -- Stefan (the obnoxious bully), Hosea (the crowd favorite), and Jamie (the bitchy filly).
                                                Possible upstarts -- Jeff and the charming ravioli guy, Luigi or something...
                                                Please -- Carla, Radhika, and Leah.

                                                Despite Ariane's previous success, I'm glad to see her go. She wasn't Top Chef material, and she was saved with her previous lamb dish that was woefully undercooked and then salvaged by everyone pitching in and doing last-minute plating.

                                                I liked this episode a lot. Certainly agree with Colicchio and the host chef that when you have such pristine raw product, best to keep it simple and cook on-the-bone.

                                                13 Replies
                                                1. re: nosh

                                                  Carla might have won, but it's the same very good crust that she's made before.
                                                  Is grilled corn the most innovative use they can think of? That's really sad.
                                                  This season there haven't been that many meals I've wanted recipes for.

                                                  1. re: shallots

                                                    shallots, i think we're all in agreement that these contestants aren't of the same caliber as previous seasons. most of them are pretty forgettable, and none are truly inspiring or in-your-face talented.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      GHG, speaking of in-your-face-talent, I miss Blaise.

                                                      1. re: cher0123

                                                        not just Blais. Harold, Tiffani, Hung, Casey, Sam, Tre, Elia, Marcel, Antonia, Stephanie...they may not have all been molecular gastronomy whizzes, but there was NO question they were/are all talented chefs. the group this season...not so much.

                                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        Yes, they're just not the same. Some seem more talented than they probably are. Boy, Fabio was the one who called out Jamie on the whole Top Scallop thing. But if he pulls out another ravioli dish, I'm going to call him Top Ravioli.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          "if he pulls out another ravioli dish, I'm going to call him Top Ravioli."
                                                          LOL! love it :)

                                                        2. re: shallots

                                                          What would you suggest as more innovative for fresh summer corn?

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            How about a grilled corn pudding? Or souffle? Or fried corn with interesting bacon, etc., etc.

                                                        3. re: nosh

                                                          I liked Ariane pretty well but agree that it was about time for her to go. What did surprise me a little was her sore loser attitude.

                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                            I'd hesitate to call Hosea the crowd favorite, especially after he showed no spine in this episode. I agree (begrudgingly) that Stefan is the favorite, but I'd put Jeff ahead of both Hosea and Jamie.

                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                              Agree. Can't stand Hosea. And I'll go against the pack and say I think he was right to share his food with Stefan. If he wasn't going to use all of it, then it would have been a total jerk move to refuse. '

                                                              I also totally love Jeff. I wish he'd get his act together. I feel like NONE of them are Top Chef material, but out of all of them, he is the one with the most potential to be. Maybe he should have waited a few more years before going on the show. Or gotten out of that hotel restaurant where he works and trained under someone really spectacular, so he could jump to that next level. I really think he has it in him.

                                                            2. re: nosh

                                                              Hosea comes across as a whiny little you-know-what. Either give the Spam to Stefan and don't whine or don't give the Spam to Stefan.

                                                            3. The Judges Blew This One.

                                                              I wasn’t an Ariane fan when the show started, but she kind of grew on me. She works hard, tries new things and might hit the wall now and again, but hits it running full speed. She might not have been the one to win the whole thing in terms of culinary brilliance, but seems to be someone you can count on to give 110%, be it if you work with her, work for her, or hire her to run some kind of business. In short, she has passion and some skills, which I’ve learned is better than having a lot of one and none of the other.

                                                              On the flip side, Leah was useless and while Hosea sometimes has the chops to do great things, both of them failed to support their teammate. Utterly flopped. This is where I think the judges completely failed this episode.

                                                              It's still a team competition at this point. If someone on the team has expertise and they don’t step up, aren’t they less deserving than someone with the cajones to try? If someone on the team can’t acknowledge that they didn’t contribute or own up to their technical contribution the failed dish, should they really be kept in the running?

                                                              Or to put it in practical terms, if you owned a high end steakhouse – took the night off - and one of your staff butchered things the wrong way, you’d have a right to be pissed. But if they were doing so in order to get something done while the rest of the kitchen folded, it wouldn’t be as bad… at least this person was trying. Meanwhile, if other chefs with applicable skills to change the outcome, but who sat back and let the night happen… that’s even worse. Those are the people who kill a business, be it a café or retail store or high tech endeavor. As someone who is hiring, please send me the Ariane types.

                                                              Even more telling is that she didn’t turn on her “partners”, even when her neck was on the block. She could have deferred the judge’s wrath. She could have pointed fingers.
                                                              There’s something to be applauded for those who will take a bullet. The gal has class.

                                                              Again, I don’t think she’d win this particular competition but Ariane deserved the opportunity to lose while fighting. Instead she was eliminated by judges who for some reason to chose reward the employees who didn’t put their skin in the game. In other words, if you don't take risks, don't try new things, don't apply your skills or attempt new ones, or assert talents, you'll be safe and can keep your job.

                                                              Shame of them.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: tastyjon

                                                                It's never been a 'team' competition.

                                                                They might have been divided into teams, but the point is to win...individually.

                                                                1. re: sommrluv

                                                                  But when you are divided into teams you are also being judged as a team. They gave the win to an entire team last night for god's sake, so obviously the judges pay attention to the entire product. I agree with tastyjon here, Arianne shouldn't have gone home. If her teammates know something isn't right, they should step up and make it right. You can't win individually if your team loses, so it would have been to their benefit. I think both Leah and Radhika showed far fewer "chefly" qualities than Arianne last night. It should have been one of them and since the lamb team lost, it should have been Leah. But oh well. Good for Arianne. She lasted much longer than anyone would have thought and she made some quality food while there. Nothing to be ashamed of.

                                                                2. re: tastyjon

                                                                  We all know in Top Chef if you muck up the protein, you're toast. It was rather obvious she was the one to go judging by their comments.

                                                                  I agree overall, Ariane surprised a lot of us with her work ethic, but at the end of the day, her lack of technical skills relative to her age led to her downfall.

                                                                  Jeff seems to be just a little bit short each episode, right on the cusp but just not there yet. I must admit the intro w/ him winking is hilarious yet annoying at the same time, haha.

                                                                  Radhika dodged a bullet this time around, she won't last much longer. I find it funny she constantly cooks Indian yet didn't want to get pigeonholed as "the girl that always cooks Indian"

                                                                  Good thing none of the knives in the block had scallops on them.

                                                                  1. re: tastyjon

                                                                    Effort means nothing on TC. This isn't kindergarten, trying hard is not enough. Any one who has watched the show knows this. Chefs get sent home all the time because they step up and try to make something out of their comfort zone. Tre and his bread pudding for example.

                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                      But chefs have also been sent home for sabotaging teams before. Though not as often. It's not whether or not trying hard is enough, it's about the fact that while she put herself out there, her teammates stood back when they knew they should have helped. You might say it's not truly a team competition but an individual one, but you cannot win individually if your team's overall product fails. It was in Hosea and Leah's best interest to step up and they didn't. At least Arianne did work. Leah did very little and what she did wasn't that good. In my mind a lot of work that isn't great is still better than a little work that isn't great.

                                                                      1. re: gastrotect

                                                                        I think in those instances it was where the judges didn't feel like there was a way to choose between the bad dishes a lone. In this case, the lamb was that much worse than the other options. At some point with Top Chef it ends up being about the food on the plate. If the food is equally good or equally bad, they'll go to another way to make a decision.

                                                                    2. re: tastyjon

                                                                      Here Here TastyJon!!!
                                                                      I could not sgree more or have said it better!

                                                                      1. re: tastyjon

                                                                        If you think sports, she'd be getting an ovation from her fans right now. Granted, we need to take it with a grain of salt and think that the editing is not biased to a certain story this time around, because it would just be so asinine.

                                                                      2. I feel like Josea and Leah totally sabotaged Ariane. They knew she couldn't butcher or tie lamb and they let her go down in flames. If Leah was so great at tying lamb why did she do such a bad job? *rolls eyes* I think Leah should have gone home and not Ariane. I agree with some of the other posters that Ariane is not really a Top Chef winner material but I felt like she does a better job than Leah! We'll all see Leah go either next week or soon enough...

                                                                        I also didn't think everyone on the Chicken team should have won. Snobby Jamie made dry and unimaginative chicken cutlets and she gets a win? Poor Carla should have won! Her dessert looked delicious and was a lot more creative than a breaded cutlet with a salad on top. I don't really understand why the judges were so impressed by the idea of pairing salad with a cutlet. I've seen it on restaurant menus for years. What is so amazing about that?

                                                                        I love Fabio's personality. And I'm also rooting for Jeff to really shine. I keep hoping for him. I like a lot of his ideas but he just can't seem to make them fully work. Stefan's a jerk but at least he can cook good food to back it up.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: junglekitte

                                                                          I agree that Carla should have won this one. She was the only one whose dish was 100% successful in team Chicken. I am shocked at how unimaginative and rote many of the things that the chef are cooking seem to be. I mean, a chicken cutlet with salad? Chicken soup in July. Give me a break... pesto? Huh? With all those incredible ingredients, that was all they could do? Honor the protein? Honr the produce, too!

                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                            As controversial as she may have been, i think if there was to be an individual winner it should have been Jamie. Carla's made the same dish before but without the thyme (though i did think, for a second, that it was going to push her over).

                                                                            The produce was important, but the episode was clearly about the meats. It would have fit the same standards by which Arianne was eliminated - if the worst mucker-uper of proteins goes home, then the only chef who did a good job with the protein should win. Im not gonna say that it was sublimely creative or particularly showy - but given the competition, it seemed like the only choice if there were to be an individual winner.

                                                                          2. re: junglekitte

                                                                            I really thought Jeff should have won the quickfire -- he was the only one who took the ingredients and made something that looked like it could be served in an upscale restaurant. If I hadn't known, I wouldn't have guessed it all came from the pantry shelves.

                                                                            1. re: junglekitte

                                                                              Finally got to view the episode and have passed up this thread to avoid finding out who was sent home. I was hoping against hope that if there was a team win that there could also be a team loss and that all three would be sent packing. But that would muck up Resto Wars so it was just a fleeting hope.

                                                                            2. They probably kept Leah and Hosea to milk the romance angle in future episodes. They make me want to puke.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                                Keep in mind that the judges have NO idea what's going on behind the scenes until they watch the shows like we do. They know only what they see when they're filming. So "they" aren't keeping them for the romance angle at all.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  True, but the producers do discuss with the judges prior to their final decision. It is entirely possible that they can sway the vote.

                                                                                  1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                    Tom has repeatedly said that the producers don't have a say in the final vote. The *only* time it did was when Tom wanted to send the entire group who attempted to shave Marcel's head home....the producers convinced him that would shorten the season by 4 episodes (or however many it would have been) and thus, they just sent Cliff home.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Ah, so the disclaimer they run at the end is pointless?

                                                                                      I've read the blogs/interviews when Tom swears up and down that the producers have no say, but I don't believe they judging is completely impervious to TPTB. Top Chef may not be as bad as some shows, but it still happens.

                                                                                      1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                        but it still happens.
                                                                                        In your opinion. Yes - they talk with the producers. Obviously - the Cliff/Marcel issue is a good example.

                                                                                        But other judges have said the same thing - it is their responsibility to decide who goes home, not the producers'. If somehow it's discovered that the producers have a say in who stays for the "drama", I'm completely done with the show. Any integrity that the chef judges have would be completely destroyed, IMO.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Tim Gunn of Project Runway (same production company and network) has said the same thing- production doesn't interfere with judging of the show.

                                                                                        2. re: pollymerase

                                                                                          The disclaimer is just that -- a legal disclaimer. It's to cover their ass if someone tries to sue them for manipulating the competition. They say they *may* participate in the decision making -- that's not the same as actually doing it.

                                                                                2. I'm surprised to see Ariane go. The "pro" chefs Leah and Hosea burned her.

                                                                                  I thought Leah was the one going home. She complained about Ariane's inability tie a roast, but she did no better. Leah's excuse - She wanted to get the lamb in the oven. Come on now... It doesn't take that long to tie a roast properly. This is Top Chef not Top Stonewaller.

                                                                                  In regards to Stefan, he adds a litle character to the cheftestants. The other chefs are quiet and boring. The Leah-Hosea romance doesn't interest me at all. Now if Stefan and Jaime hook-up... that would be a surprise twist.

                                                                                  Did anyone see the commercial with Stephanie and Betty? Betty was a bigger as* than Stefan. At least Stefan can cook.

                                                                                  Top 3... Stefan, Fabio, Jaime

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                    I *hope* top three is Stefan, Fabio, and Jeff. I can't stand Jamie, although I'm sure she is a good cook...just not very imaginative imo. And her personality...bothers me much more than Stefan's for some reason! I think partly because of her tone/way she speaks...oh well, we'll see!

                                                                                    1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                      That's the three I'd like to see make it to the final.

                                                                                      1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                        Stefan expects to win but when he doesn't, he doesn't whine about it like Jamie. I think Stefan will be in the top 3 but I'm not so sure about Fabio. He's been leading his team and choking. Jeff has been getting more recognition lately. As much as I don't like Hosea and Jamie, I think one of them will be in the top 3.

                                                                                        1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                          Sorry, but I'd like to see Fabio, Hosea and Jamie. Stefan is technically good, but I assert does not stretch himself and is difficult to work with. Jeff has shown "potential," but very little actual evidence that he can perform.

                                                                                        2. re: dave_c

                                                                                          I just find it funny they refer to Stefan and Fabio as each other's boyfriend.

                                                                                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                            Ditto. I love them both, and thought that was hilarious.

                                                                                            1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                              LOL! Team Euro is now the new Team Rainbow!

                                                                                          2. First of all, some consistency in the judgment would be nice. People have talked about this throughout the history of the show. The judges, mainly Colicchio, keep saying that each contest should stand on its own, and at the same breath they talk about how one of the chefs show such imagination and possibility throughout the past and that they just screwed up this once. I personally think it is impossible to separate the two, which is why the judges have such a hard time, so they just need to relax and say anything goes and give up the pretense of being able to separate the past and present for the sake of the guest judges.

                                                                                            I am not a fan of Ariane, but she definitely has grown on me with her blue collar attitude and her work ethic. Like others, I don't think she is top chef material but I think in this one instance, she got royally screwed. Her team mates were idiots, but how about Radhica? Fabio said it when he called her out, you spent an HOUR out of the three they give you shucking corn and roasting it? COME ON!

                                                                                            I also have a real hard time with the chicken cutlet that Jamie made. They rip the pork and lamb team for deboning the meat and yet, when it comes to the chicken they are willing to accept a boned chicken breast? What about the flavor from the bone? I am sure the roasted chicken was delicious because of it.

                                                                                            I thought Whodi Who deserved the win on her own, and what? No prize?

                                                                                            Another thing that has been bugging me is that almost all the judges come from a Eurocentric background, mostly a French cuisine tradition, yet some have shown an understanding and a sensitivity to other cuisines, more so towards the other European traditions than Asian ones. Fine and dandy. So anyone with an Asian, middle eastern, or even a Caribbean background need to know that you are working at a deficit. But these people, particularly Colicchio, in these last two shows have shown a self satisfied attitude about their knowledge of other cuisines that are positively condescending. Last week it was cooking and serving daikon warm, this week it was about serving soup on a hot day. That is done in southeast Asia a lot. You serve spicy hot soup to help you sweat, and the sweating helps the convection coefficient of your skin when a breeze comes up, this is how you cool down. Most westerners don't understand it, but I expected the judges to get it.

                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                              i love soup - even when it's hot. and that soup looked good. especially compared to other things. i don't know though. i thought the chicken groups menu, while not profound looked like i'd at least want to eat/order it. the others really did nothing for me. top to bottom. it's like they are trying so hard that they can't just come up with something great. where was jaime's corn soup then? (not really a repeat but the idea).
                                                                                              i too noticed the lack of prizes - 2 weeks in a row. jaime finally wins some and has nothing to show. if only she was likable, maybe i'd care!
                                                                                              and as to ariane: there were things i liked about her (and definitely don't about leah and hosea) but it goes back to the cook vs chef thing we said about ariane last week. if you really have no idea what to do with a lamb you just can't be top chef. and it wasn't that she made a bad choice even out of trying something like jeff or laziness or anything (which i can't say i love either but...), she just can't do it. not that she can't do it fast but can't do it at all. can't be top chef then. so i think they made the right decision. whether or not she was a great team player or not.

                                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                Team Chicken's work was so freaking boring that it astounded me. Roast chicken, chicken cutlet, chicken soup - really? That's it?

                                                                                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                  What would you suggest as something different and less boring?

                                                                                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                    Most definitely NOT a chicken roulade. ;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                        I don't think of roast chicken as a summer food, not seasonal. Fried chicken salad can be found on any chain restaurant menu. Cold poached chicken? Not different but it would let the chicken stand out and not easy to get right every time. A good basic chicken salad w/ minimal dressing, over all that good fresh produce? Those say summer much more to me than fried chicken cutlet, roast chicken and soup. The hard part with the fresh ingredients is that they need minimal prep to stand out but the chefs needed to do some work. But the ones who did more work, eg pork and lamb, did too much.

                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                          One of the things that someone eating the chicken cutlet noted was the hit of fresh citrus and the greens lightened it up quite a bit, I think. (I may not recall it quite correctly.) It didn't seem to me that it came off as a fried chicken salad as much as it a chicken dish lightened by some bright lemon and peppery greens. I totally understand your take on it, I just disagree that it wouldn't work from a seasonal perspective or that it need be too heavy. I thought the problem with the cutlet was what the judges took issue with when speaking about the pork and lamb teams: they started with (in team chicken's case) a whole animal and took it off of the bone. I think they escaped the wrath because of comparatively better execution.

                                                                                                          The cold poached chicken is a really interesting notion to me. I have to think through how that could work out.

                                                                                                          I totally agree about the challenge of using the freshest of ingredients. It would probably have been less challenging to put out plates of food in an hour than in three hours for those contestants.

                                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                            team chicken also did many variations of chicken. so one WAS on the bone.

                                                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                              I totally would have missed that without the all caps.

                                                                                                      2. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                        Amen! And after Tom gave them that speech about putting your BEST food out there...(and how a deviled egg is not going to give you a win)
                                                                                                        So a breaded cutlet is? Give me a break!

                                                                                                      3. re: AMFM

                                                                                                        In the past, people have gotten prizes that haven't been shown -- I think it depends on just whether they're getting the prize in return for product placement.

                                                                                                    1. Top Chef's are asses so Stefan is best qualified for the job.He has already been an exec chef in LA ( for a long time). His pushiness to borrow ingredients also makes him the top chef.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Adsvino

                                                                                                        I found last night's episode disappointing because I've been defending this season's chefs and last night almost all of them seemed to try to fly under the radar. Most of them took what could have been a very interesting challenge and made it boring.
                                                                                                        Say what you will about attitudes but Jamie, Stefan and Jeff are the only ones who have been giving it their best every week and competing like it matters.
                                                                                                        Radhika: I have the sense she has great talent but her cooking has been timid to say the least. When I look at the menu for the restaurant where she is the executive chef I feel like screaming at the TV, "just cook what's on your menu." I don't know if if she is still nervous or if she's trying to fly under the radar before bringing in her A-game later in the season. The holding pattern strategy has proven very risky in the past so I hope she gets it together soon. From the previews for restaurant wars it looks like she has the dreaded front of the house duties so it will be another week of her not cooking anything. If memory serves correct, screwing up front of the house doesn't get a chef sent packing so I'm still hopeful she will pull out her bag of tricks and wow us at some point.
                                                                                                        I wish Carla had been the sole winner.

                                                                                                      2. Anyone else tired of team competitions? Frankly they protect those who shirk from responsibility, b/c someone who does take on a leadership role will inevitably fail and thus get the boot (a la Ariane). That Radikha and Leah could do basically nothing and stay on the show is amazing.

                                                                                                        Another week of boring food.

                                                                                                        1. Seeing the new judge intensely sitting at JT it finally dawned on me who he reminded me of...with his beady, little eyes, ferried brow, big bald mellon head he is the spiting image of Dr. Bunson-Honeydew from the Muppet Show.

                                                                                                          30 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                            YES!!!! And we have Carla from Fraggle Rock. So who is Beaker?

                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                              No, no! Someone else pegged Carla perfectly -- remember the Runaway Bride? You could see white all around her eyes too. I love, love, love Carla, Fraggle Rock or Runaway Bride and I want her to be my bff!

                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                I'm with you. After the first episode I thought she was downright weird, but she has really grown on me. She is a really warm, straight-forward, stand-up kind of person. I don't think she is the best chef of the bunch, but she sure is the one I'd like to have for a friend.

                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                  I think the runaway bride reference was me LOL! My friends and I call it the crazy eyes:


                                                                                                                  But she's really grown on me too! Carla, that is...

                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                    I too have become a Carla fan. She seems very genuine and not a malicious game player.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                      I like Carla a lot. Obviously we can't taste her food through the television, but she seems a lot less of a jerk and more willing to just do the job than a lot of the other contestants.

                                                                                                                      To the task at hand, I defend Tom on "honoring the food," though he needs a less precious phrase for that. But, seriously, they were at the premier center of the farm to table movement in the country. It's all about the getting the freshest ingredients and serving them in a way that shows that freshness and quality. And what does Ariane do? De-bones the lamb in a horrible sloppy way and then pounds it to within an inch of its life (bad metaphor, but you get that point) in a useless attempt to tenderize it. She missed the entire point of the challenge and did it badly, besides. It didn't benefit from deboning and it didn't need tenderizing.

                                                                                                                      It also makes me wonder what quality of meats she has at her restaurant in in New Jersey if she has to tenderize lamb like that?

                                                                                                                    2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                      Yes, that's it, a_and_w! I'm still laughing. Funny or not, she should have won last night. Everyone is saying how none of the chefs are that talented this year, but then they say that Carla's not such a good chef. Maybe she's better than everyone thinks. I don't know if she will make it to last 3, but I don't see why not. No one -- that's right -- no one (and that includes Stefan) has a lock on this TC. They've all made mistakes and also made mediocre food. Who knows? Whoodie who?

                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                        I agree with you about Carla's cooking. She may surprise a lot of people. Even if she doesn't advance she's a lock for Fan Favorite.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                          She's my favorite contestant. I don't expect her to win it all or even want her to at this point, but she's one of the few bright spots this season.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                                                                                            Maybe we should start a campaign to win her "fan favorite"! Clearly she's a favorite with the production staff: she's gives them a lot of fun material (like when she was calling for Gail to come back) but she's not a drama queen.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                              Yes! But how do we do that? I'm all in favor of making her fan favorite whether or not she wins TC!

                                                                                                                          2. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                            Fan Favorite? Absolutely. She gets my vote.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                              You think so? I don't know about that. She's definitely not my favorite. Although I don't think I *have* a favorite this year.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                don't know if she's a lock but i love her!

                                                                                                                        2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                          Have to amend my pervious statement. Dr. Bunson Honeydew is funnier.

                                                                                                                        3. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                          Actually, I think he looks more like Vizzini from The Princess Bride (Vizzini without glasses, so I'll give you Dr. Bunson-Honeydew on that part). :-) But here's a comparison of all three.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            OK, the fact that you went to the trouble kind of scares me. But, nice work.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                              LOL! Vizzini popped into my mind driving to work (I had just seen part of the movie last week in my channel surfing) and Withnail's post reminded me of it.

                                                                                                                              And I'm a bit bored at work today, so Googling the 3 images didn't take too long. ;-)

                                                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              definitely a melding of the two. very nice. :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  I am so turned off by that snctimoneous twit. He is more in love with his ability to turn a phrase, however awkward, than he is in making an honest assessment of the food. When he remarked last week that the avocado ice on Jeff's plate was like Tom Cruise in some movie, I wanted to throw my crockpot at the screen. The other judges looked at him as though he had just dropped from Planet I'm-so-full-of-myself.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                    He did have a point though. Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder was downright awesome and it was totally unexpected. Having seen the movie, I completely understood what he meant by that.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                      I'll give you that, but the allusion to Englishmen in character roles in movies? come on. I fully expected him to break into a chorus of "I'm so witty, oh so witty; I'm so witty and pretty and bright..."

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                          Haha. Very true. I'm not to big a fan of his to be honest. I do think he is trying harder to sound interesting than he is to be informed. On the flip side I don't think he is all that mean. He might think he is, but I've been unphased by worse (though not in the kitchen admittedly).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                        He is definitely trying too hard. But I can kind of sympathize.

                                                                                                                                        You are air dropped into a situation, replacing someone who is not exactly beloved but not exactly hated either, AND you have to work with two sex symbols: Tom the Bear for the Gay men and Padma the alluring Farah Fawcett for the foodie males who aren't hot for Tom, AND they expect you to be a cantankerous Englishman with a razor sharp wit. I am willing to give him time to chill out. I do think the film references are painfully obscure and forced.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                          Eh, Ted Allen managed admirably in almost the same situation in my opinion. Besides, as is apparent from these posts NONE of us want or expect him to be "the cantankerous Englishman with razor sharp wit." We want him to be a discerning food judge. It seems more like HE thinks he is supposed to be TCEWRSW, hence, the trying way too hard.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                            Yeah, what's really objectionable is that the so-called wit is so labored and forced. Tony Bourdain and Ted Allen are naturally funny, and when they make a put down, it feels spontaneous and genuine, not like a line that's been practiced and tucked away waiting to be trotted out at the first opportunity.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                            Padma is so much more than a Farah Fawcett. A) she's much more attractive, B) she has substance.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                              There is a distasteful substance abuse joke to be made here, but I think I'll refrain. Which kinda makes you wonder why I wrote this at all....

                                                                                                                                              PS In Farah's heydey...eh, I'm not sure Padma beats her. It is close though.

                                                                                                                                    2. I really thought that this was Leah's week to go home with Radkha following in a close second.

                                                                                                                                      The quickfire challenge reminded me of the vending machine challenge from a past season. I have to admit that I was hoping that Hung would be leading a smurf-village challenge. That would have been lots of fun!

                                                                                                                                      Year after year, the proteins [as they seem to be called] can either make or break a chef at judge's table. I admit that I was cringing as I saw all those lovely bones being cut away from the chicken, lamb and pork. Focusing on the lamb group, why choose the leg anyway? Shoulder would have offered so many summer opportunities with the right balance of flavor and texture. I only wish that I had sheet pans of those animals to work from! I would throw a Top Chef party that lingered long past the end of the show.

                                                                                                                                      Team dynamics can always affect a chef's performance. But based on the protein rule [protein always wins or looses a round for the chef] and the weird dynamics between Hosea and Leah, Ariane made a poor choice to be in charge of the lamb. She was clearly the odd-person out and was out on the limb by herself.

                                                                                                                                      I think Leah contributed almost nothing to the group, and is lucky to have skated by for an additional week.

                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                        I too, immediately thought of the smurf village and half-expected Padma to say, "Since Hung showed his expertise in working with packaged foods by creating a smurf village, we want you to show your creativity with these pantry staples." Well, maybe not ;-) But I thought this was the most reasonable of the gas station/vending machine type challenges. I haven't seen canned conch and have never bought Spam, but I do keep canned clams and pasta in the pantry for a quick and easy dinner.

                                                                                                                                        I'm ready for Leah to go. She wasn't just passive with Ariane and the lamb, but there was the interaction with Hosea when he asked "Do you want to make the potatoes, or do you want me to." However he worded it made it sound to me like he thought she should do the potatoes, but she immediately jumped on his offer, "Sure, you can do the potatoes if you want."

                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, I was glad to see Carla stand up for herself by saying she played mediator. She seemed to find a nice balance between throwing her teammates under the bus, and sitting back and letting them ride to disaster. She acknowledged the tension and the strong personalities, and helped make the whole thing work. Without whining, like some others. (I have a preschooler; I don't need to stay up late on Wednesdays to watch adults whine!)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                          I don't know about the shoulder. I would have used the leg AND boned it out, but I would have butterflied it, rubbed it with a Gremolata of fresh Provencal herbs and garlic, and grilled it. I think sometimes the chefs "out-innovate" themselves. Make something you KNOW they are going to love from previous experience and get over it! Too much of this weird combo/prep stuff these days for my tastes.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                            Ah -- my husband does the leg like you describe. Yum. I thought "what??" when the team expressed disdain at the idea of grilling the lamb.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                              I somehow missed them showing the whole proteins...was the leg so big they couldn't grill or roast it whole??

                                                                                                                                              Did they get an entire pig?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                                I think part of the problem with cooking the meats on the bone was how to serve it. As restaurant chefs, they're used to working with cuts that can easily be plated and served. And they didn't want to get caught fussing with carving the lamb and plating it attractively in a situation where they literally can't afford to take a second too long.

                                                                                                                                                I personally would have cooked the lamb the way Chef June described, but then I'm not sure how I would have gotten it on the plate.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                At a place I worked we boned the lamb leg, marinaded and made "steaks" out of it. With good lamb like that it shouldn't have had a problem with toughness, as long as you remove some of the tough connective tissue.

                                                                                                                                                Although I didn't feel Ariane would be a contender for the overall win, I too don't feel that she should've gone home... Leah also had a place in 'butchering" their dishes.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                              SO couldn't help but think of the smurf village. glad i wasn't the only one. :)
                                                                                                                                              i miss hung!

                                                                                                                                            3. some scattered thoughts -
                                                                                                                                              - cooking continues to be weak. Not a single genuinely interesting dish. Pesto and more pesto? These dishes are more dated than Toby's "WMD" joke last episode.
                                                                                                                                              - very disappointing how distressed some of the chefs seemed to be at the prospect of being at an actual farm instead of a supermarket. I can't imagine a better opportunity for working with pristine product straight from the source, and these folks are soiling their pants over not having access to some out-of-season South American asparagus or who knows what.
                                                                                                                                              - I found it odd that they had this challenge at Stone Barn (which really looks like a remarkable place) and had this magnificent spread of fresh produce, and yet the judges faulted all the chefs who chose to work on "side dishes" instead of the main "protein" (which is simply chef-talk for "meat or fish" and is in fact a shorter way to say it). OTOH, there wasn't much effort to do a real knockout vegetable dish - roasted potatoes? Where was Carla, who wanted to do a vegetarian dish a couple episodes ago and then second-guessed herself? Good tart, but still. Jeff seemed to do it best with the fried green tomatoes, but (at least after editing) got very little credit other than a shout-out from Colicchio during the tasting.
                                                                                                                                              - I have a sneaking suspicion that Leah had no clue how to tie a roast either; Hosea may not have either. (I'll admit I fumble too, but then, I'm not in the competition).
                                                                                                                                              - My official nickname for Stefan is now "The Cock".
                                                                                                                                              - Missed out on a great opportunity for TV drama by not naming a single winner this episode, with Jamie and Stefan on the same team and vying for glory. If either had won over the other there would have been much back-biting ... and if Carla won over both, would they find some common ground in their jealousy?
                                                                                                                                              - re Stefan's soup - yes it is not unusual in hot tropical climates for hot dishes to be served on the theory that sweating actually cools the body down. But the focus is moreso on spice heat rather than temperature heat - what is appealing about a chicken ravioli soup, outdoors, in the middle of the day in the middle of the summer?
                                                                                                                                              - Toby - what happened to British wit? This guy is terrible. "Lamb disguised as mutton"? "The pesto is the big bad wolf blowing this dish down"? Oscar Wilde is turning in his grave.

                                                                                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                agfree, agree, agree....

                                                                                                                                                I really want to like this season, but I think making Toby a judge just took away too much judging credibility for me.

                                                                                                                                                Are you familiar with Mel Brook's show, The Producers? Stefan cast in the roll of Franz Liebkind?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                  Are you familiar with Mel Brook's show, The Producers? Stefan cast in the roll of Franz Liebkind?



                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                    picture him dancing with the pidgeons, then cooking them.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                          He needs to have them goosestepping, uh, pigeonstepping first.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                            Stefan proclaiming "You VILL like mein bird!", as he plates up smoked pigoen breast on a bed of red cabbage. Just like Toby remembers fondly from his many dinners in that wooden cabin in the Alps.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                              That was pretty funny, wasn't it? I'm beginning to feel like he should have stayed in the cabin. But Sefan in a Finn, not German, though he did say something about having spent time there -- or am I making that up?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                      "the bland leading the bland" was pretty good though. sure it came off as canned, and wasnt nearly as biting as Joe Biden's "noun, verb and 9/11" ad hominem, but it was decent.

                                                                                                                                                      Toby either spends an inordinate amount of time thinking up these terrible lines and just has no filter or taste when it comes to picking the good ones, or he's being fed terrible copy and doesnt have the guts to tell them it sucks. either way he's that guy who shoots 3/25 in a basketball game and makes a big deal of it when his shot goes down ("uhh, yeah but you just took 12 tries before you hit, dude")

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                                                                                                        "bland leading the bland" is hardly an original turn of phrase either. The Great Google will give you dozens upon dozens of prior uses. Indeed Zippy the Pinhead beat him to it by about 15 years ->
                                                                                                                                                        (with some apropos and prescient commentary on the nature of television programming to boot!).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                                                                                                          Well played with the basketball analogy. It works.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                          Frodnesor, Oscar Wilde was Irish. And yes, some would think that an important distinction.

                                                                                                                                                          Regardless, Toby Young is far from Oscar Wilde. His (TY's) humour reeks of effort. I've read his things, but usually find myself having to take a break, exhaused and battered senseless by his aggressive turns of phrase posing as breezy wit.

                                                                                                                                                          He needs to focus more on the food and less on the not so bon mots. Then again, maybe the editors are only showing these desparate efforts? Or are less sensitive to his cleverer, more insightful comments? (He has been known to have them.) Still, if they were going to go with a Briton demonstrating harsh verbal wit, I'd have far preferred Charlie Brooker. His vitriol (typically directed at television and media t***s) is hilarious and positively brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                            I think saying "British" would at least be historically accurate, in that Ireland was part of the UK then. In any event, he's one Irishman the Brits seem willing to claim as their own ->

                                                                                                                                                            As for Zippy the Pinhead - neither British nor Irish, as best as I can tell. Still witty in his own unique way.

                                                                                                                                                            You seem to be assuming TY would have clever, insightful comments about the food if he'd only focus or the editors would let him. I can't believe they're editing them all out. Having read some of his restaurant reviews, he seems to have mastered the art of writing 700 words while saying more about himself than about the food.

                                                                                                                                                            Which I think is the fundamental problem - his career has mostly been about himself (admittedly so - his website has a cartoon captioned "Toby Young? So you're the Toby Young you write so much about"), and nobody in the US could really give a crap.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                                                                                                              Ah, the question of identity under colonisation-- a topic not to be taken up on a food blog.

                                                                                                                                                              As for claiming I assume TY would be witty if the editors would let him: No. I allow for that possibility, but as I also noted, I have mixed feelings (at best) about his prose, which I find exhausting. As for the US not giving a crap, yes, the US rarely gives a crap about those not in the US. Sometimes not giving a crap is warranted.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                He's not even a critic he seems to write about himself going to various (often dated) restaurants. Occasionally he even mentions the food.

                                                                                                                                                        3. When I was watching it tonight, as elimination approached I realized that for once I actually liked everyone and didn't want to see anyone go. Then I remembered Leah, who isn't exactly super-memorable, and I realized I didn't care if she left. I think the people this season are, for the most part, really nice people. They're doing the best they can with really crappy challenges. I even like Stefan! This show is definitely going down the America's Next Top Model path (I'm guessing I just revealed my age!) and being cheesy (no pun intended), contrived and uninspiring. Does anyone know if other countries have made their own versions? America's Next Top Model has reached new lows but the Australian and British versions are still really fresh. Maybe Top Chef needs a new network in a new country.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I just saw the Top Chef commercial for next week's show - does it really show Stefan and Leah together, and Leah commenting that she never cheated on a boyfriend before? I can only say, 'Ewwwwwwwwww'!

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                                                              It's Hosea and Leah, but yes, it shows that.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                Wow seriously? I'm glad I missed that commercial. That makes me want to puke. I DO NOT want the show cluttered with their relationship BS. If they do cheat on their respective SOs ON NATIONAL TV then all I can say ... I'm glad that I believe that what goes around comes around. That is a terrible, terrible thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                  It may end up being nothing, but it's still stupid. You would think the drama thing an unnecessary selling point considering next week is Restaurant Wars. That should be enough to sell the episode all on it's own. And while lots of other Bravo shows feed off drama, haven't the PR, TC, etc followers proven that the reason they like the talent competitions because of the talent on display and not side drama? Why the need to put it out there? It was never a part of the appeal in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                    There's a certain amount of group dynamic that's interesting in the context of the competition -- like seeing how Leah and Hosea's "friendship" made Ariane feel like a third wheel and may have contributed to the failure of the team. Likewise the weird dynamic between Stefan and Jamie with Carla getting stuck in the middle on their team. But there's plenty more that's just TMI.

                                                                                                                                                              2. This is a tad off topic, but does anyone know if they have announced where the next season will take place? It seems they are running short on good cities and I wonder if they will give New Orleans a shot. In terms of cities that are inextricably linked with food, it might actually take the cake in the States. I feel like they have played out the typical in-the-city challenges (and aren't necessarily replacing them with good alternatives) and a city with an entirely different vibe might kick start the challenges. So, anyone know what Bravo has cooking? I can't seem to find any info on a possible season 6.

                                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe instead of jumping the shark, they could jump the gator ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know but N.O. is a good choice. I think Seattle would be good too.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                      i actually think NOLA would be great but further down the line i think it'd be cool to do smaller cities with great food scenes. Minn/St Paul or Cleveland come to mind. Really I've lived in Cleveland and it's true! :) I'm sure there are others.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                        No they haven't annouced it yet - but they are doing season 6. They probably have a pretty good idea by now, though... there are a lot of things to consider - not just the restaurant scene. Think about weather - filming in NO during hurricane season? No way. Or the viewer inconsistencies with seasons - anyone get jarred when we went from a Christmas show to a nice sunny farm with fresh tomatoes?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                          Portland I hear is a good time too with an up and coming creative class. That usually spells good food. Might be a fun city to check out. Or maybe the southwest somewhere. Austin or Santa Fe perhaps?

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                          Does it really matter where the show is shot? There is occasional local flavor but for the most part, to me at least, the location has very little to do with the challenges. Miami, L.A. Chicago, NYC, it really doesn't seem to matter too much.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                            it doesn't matter that much to the show, i don't think, but it can to the city. i mean how many people were raving about the stone barn/ blue hill whatever it was called place and saying they wanted to go there. some of the smaller places could use that right about now!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                              Well that's part of my point actually. Maybe they need a city where you can't ignore the city when doing the food. In New Orleans food is tied to social activity more often than not. The producers could mine that attribute in finding fresh challenge ideas instead of rehashing some of the played out ones. In a city so hell-bent on tradition it would be fun to see who could step up and create something new that is accepted.

                                                                                                                                                                              It also seems this season they have all but abandoned the challenges that involved the average people in a city. There have been plenty of upscale situations this season, but few street food/pot-luck/children/working folk challenges. To me some of the most interesting challenges are those where they are challenged with serving haute cuisine to people who may be unaccustomed to it and making it work. New Orleans (or St. Paul/Cleveland/Portland) would basically demand some of those challenges again.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                                good points. i have missed those challenges. it's as if they said the foo fighters and natasha whatever's opinions are WAY better suited to judging than block party people! or football game attendees.

                                                                                                                                                                                and portland is a great idea too. or maybe seattle.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm sure that if they chose NOLA they'd find some way to cheese it up to the point of it being unwatchable.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                  The guest judges are often high-profile local chefs. I'd be up for seeing John Besh judge in a NOLA season. (Or any other season.)

                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                                                  But part of it may be where the host would likely want to stay for the duration of the filming since I don't believe that the location informs the cooking except in very small ways (i.e. NY hot dogs, Chicago pan pizza, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                    They film more movies in New Orleans than I can count. Finding good places to stay for contestants, judges and crew would not be the hang up if there was one.

                                                                                                                                                                                4. Personally I agree with the decision to tell Arianne PYKAG. While she may be a great cook she doesn't have what it takes to be Top Chef. I wish they would kicked 2 people off as Leah is just whiny. Enough with the whole love affiar between her and Hosea.
                                                                                                                                                                                  As for the food, I wonder why Fabio chose pesto to go with his ravioli. I would've chosen a simple brown butter with herbs. There is nothing wrong with keeping it simple. Especially given the challenge was to showcase the food from Stone Farm. Another, why remove the meat from the bones? And pork tenderloin? They had a beautiful pig with so many flavorful cuts available. I would've kept the lamb shank, seasoned it and spit roasted it over coals, doesn't that spell summer more than a roulade? Oh & Creme Brulee in the summer? How about a nice panna cotta with fresh summer berries?
                                                                                                                                                                                  Sometimes, the chefs way overthink what they are doing, they need to create the food according the the challenge. I don't believe the judges mind how simple or elaborate, as long as it's executed well. Just my 2 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                    Arianne may have had to go eventually, and she probably screwed up by not asking the entire team who had the most butchering experience... but I don't like the message it sent that you can survive by taking a minimal role.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                      I too do not understand pesto paired with sausage ravioli. Pesto is typically not paired with meat (typical pairings are green beans, potatoes).

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Im glad people on CH have more respect for people like me who DVR the show and watch the next day with the spoiler thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I try to hold off knowing who got kicked off or what happens yet I get an email from Bravo with the spoiler IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Come on, that is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                                                                                                        yankeefan, try changing your e-mail prefs on Bravo's site so you don't receive those updates.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, we went through the spoiler issue a few seasons back, so many of us know to put spoiler in the subject line.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sucks that Bravo screwed it up for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I am appaled that Arianne was sent packing!
                                                                                                                                                                                          Not because she is such a great chef but because the judges were sending terrible messages...
                                                                                                                                                                                          Don't step up, don't work hard, take a back seat - and you can stay because it wasn't who did the work!
                                                                                                                                                                                          What kind of lesson is that??

                                                                                                                                                                                          I was really impressed with the integrity of all the chefs this season - up until this episode.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought everyone had been really supportive of each other up until now.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I was disgusted by Leah's attitude...she let herself down in my eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                          And Hello - am I the only person on this board who thought Stefan was hilarious when he noted he was the only "cock" on the farm LOL!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought loads of folk would comment -
                                                                                                                                                                                          andf only one person before me did -
                                                                                                                                                                                          the guy who said he will now think of Stefan as "The Cock" LOL Great stuff!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                            You know I didn't really think of it much that way before but you're TOTALLY right! They are sending terrible messages. Yes, her butchering skills were unforgivable but I'd rather keep a chef around who works her butt off than someone who shucks 10 corns in an hour or is lazy like Leah!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                                                                                                                              And she knew she'd been screwed -- she said so. It didn't feel like sour grapes but just plain reportage for anyone that had watched the episode.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: junglekitte

                                                                                                                                                                                                This is a tv show that happens to be a cooking competition. If you are using it to learn life lesson than you are going to be sorely disappointed. Ariane could have stood up and said she was not going to cook the lamb but she thought she was up for the challenge and she was wrong

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                  When she agreed to cook the lamb, she was expecting to buy the cuts they'd planned for at Whole Foods. People are forgetting that they had to throw out all their planning and re-do their menus on the fly, which isn't the easiest thing to do. It's even harder when you're working on a team, because you have to take time to negotiate everything with your teammates instead of just going ahead with what you want to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Despite Leah's whining about Ariane's inability to tie a roast, there was no evidence that she -- or Hosea for that matter -- could have done any better. In fact, we know she didn't do any better at tying the rolls!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not disputing that, and if you read earlier posts, I pointed out that it was a cooking SHOW, but the issue is whether, in fact, she did the worst job in this episode and whether there were others, who were also culpable, who skated. If she wasn't set up to fail, then she was certainly given ample opportunity to do so by her teammates. Remember that the tying of the roast was considered to have also been a large contributing factor to the failure of the lamb dish and darling doe-eyed Leah was responsible for that screw up. (Ruth Lafler I am addressing this to KTinNYC's comment -- not yours. I think we essentially agree on this...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                      She was given the opportunity to fail and she took it. Her team mates certainly didn't help her but she didn't do much to help her self.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: junglekitte

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the lesson might be that while it's bad to skate through and not work much, it's worse to do something quite badly that results in bad food being served. Maybe not the best life lesson, but perhaps important when what you're judging is the food on the plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                    NellyNel: "the guy who said he will now think of Stefan as 'The Cock' "........

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Particularly amusing since he was on Team Chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think that's why Stefan said that - he was the only male on a team of ladies - and they were dealing with all hens in the chicken yard. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nelly: agreed on all points, including the cock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Re: Stephan's "cock" comment--hilarious? Not really--in fact it made me throw up in my mouth a little.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Nettie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chef Tom was on Simply Ming over the weekend. Ming's master pairing was ponzu and cranberry. While making a salmon dish with those ingredients Tom mentioned he had never made the dish before but he went through the thought process of how he came up with it. I think it would be beneficial for the Top Chef contenders to get a cooking demonstration from Tom. Not only would it help them with their challenges but also clarify what it is he is looking for when conceptualizing a dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It'd almost certainly be beneficial to the chefs at least for the show and (depending on what you think of Colicchio's skills) maybe to their cooking in general. But it definitely isn't the point of the show and probably actually hurts the show by evening things out slightly instead of having everyone starting from their own places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                                                                              ccbweb, you said precisely what i was thinking. while MANY cooks - not even just the contestants on the show - could learn a heck of a lot from Tom Colicchio, that's not the point of Top Chef. they're competing to showcase their existing talents & levels of skill, not to further their culinary education.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think a smart contestant would at least read Tom's "How to think like a chef" book -- it would help them articulate comparisons and contrasts between their approach and his.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree completely. In fact, any smart person who wishes to cook more and (probably) more creatively and (probably) cook better food should read that book. It's one of my favorite food/cook books. A really well done book.