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Jan 14, 2009 06:31 PM

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 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,'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, 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.