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Top Chef Las Vegas - Ep. 4 - 09/09/09 (spoilers)

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Daniel Boulud as guest judge - talk about quaking in your boots!

Escargot as the ingredient to use for the QF and there are some who are cocky (Mike I.) and some that are concerned (Jennifer). And as a high-stakes QF, it's not that the winner gets $15K - it's that the loser goes home! Yikes.

Amazing dishes were Mike I., Kevin, and Jennifer and Kevin wins it! I was thinking when Mike I. was shown mouthing off in the confessional early on, I thought the Elves might be telling us something.

Bad dishes - Jessie, Ashley, and Robin - rut-roh! BUT - they get a chance to save themselves - they have 20 minutes to make an amuse bouche out of anything in the kitchen. They all seemed pretty good - but it's bye-bye, Jessie!

Elimination Challenge - classic French sauce, or classic French protein...and Mike I. doesn't know what a lot of them are!

ETA - to fix the 5th guest chef judge Keller, Tourandel, Boulud, Robuchon, and Joho (I haven't heard of him) - are eating at the table for the EC dinners! Holy smokes! And even MORE Holy Smokes is that Kevin won't be cooking AND will be joining them at the dining table!

Pairing up of sauce and protein begins...Jennifer and Mike V. are paired - VERY good pairing! And Brian and Mike I. are paired. And they're off!

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  1. Extremely difficult challenge! Who normally knows how to cook snails. Looking over my book don't know if I even have a recipe.

    Sadly it was time for Jess to go.

    And MIke I. is still talking down to the viewers.

    Got a bad feeling about Ron.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Withnail42

      Agree with the challenge being one of the most difficult QFs I've ever seen. And yes - even Jessie said she just seemed out of place since she got there.

      I'm thinking more bad feeling about Robin. And Mike I. doesn't want to make a traditional Bernaise? WTH? Think about who you're cooking for! But Brian may have a good idea with his eggless Bernaise he's used in the steakhouse...we'll see.

      BTW, just checked the time frame of the show - yet another 75 minute episode. Love when they do this...I think this particular episode should have been at least 90 minutes! LOL

      1. re: LindaWhit

        > Bad feeling about Robin...

        What about the fact that she's been nearly invisible for the first three weeks and now she's gotten more screentime than Mike I makes you say that? ;-)

        1. re: momjamin

          i also have this weird feeling that Frenchie may blow it on this one.

          ETA: i was right! i *knew* Mattin was going to screw up that sauce.

          1. re: momjamin

            LOL! Ummm.....maybe THAT? ;-)

            1. re: momjamin

              Nah, sorry to be a spoiler within a spoiler, but I think I remember a promo w/ her getting into a bit of a fight/tiff w/ Eli. But you're right- I don't have a good feeling at all about that team. The editing did a great job of highlighting it, but yikes, those two just didn't really mix well. Kind of uncomfortable to watch.

              1. re: momjamin

                But Robin's in the middle. Again.

          2. Probable and Almost Certain: Mike I will hang on a long time. He's a good villain for this season. They need him for ratings.

            It was also predictable that Jessie would be eliminated. I don't know if she can cook, but she sure psyched herself out of the running.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chicgail

              afraid ashley and robin are going to psych themselves out next.

              or think it would be interesting if ron or mattin (french trained) managed to mess this one up. hmmmm.... we'll see!

              1. re: AMFM

                I had the same thought about Mattin and Ron in this episode.

              2. re: chicgail

                Put your prejudice aside for a moment. Mike I's not the best but he's still one of the better chefs. He's not there just because he's a good "villain." It's annoying that no one gives him any credit because he's sexist. Good cooking isn't related to one's propensity to be sexist.

              3. Tom C needs to work on his poker face. did you notice his expressions after tasting some of the QF dishes? they were priceless! unfortunately they were also spoilers for some of the bottom dishes.

                i'm glad Jesse went home. she was in the bottom every week, and clearly felt out of her element.

                Ron & Robyn is a pretty underwhelming pairing, but i almost think the elves are setting us up to *believe* they'll tank, when, in fact, someone else will end up going home...

                1 Reply
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Missed those spoilers...but one thing I noticed in the previews for the dinner - what a bonus for Kevin to sit and listen to how they discuss the dishes the cheftestants are preparing for the guests. AND he gets to comment as well!

                  Looks like Mike I. and Brian kicked butt in their course, but Eli and Laurine didn't do that well....Mattin is up with Ashley - rut-roh. The Frenchie doesn't do well!

                  And Jennifer and Mike V. are next....and THEY kicked butt! And here come Hector and Ash...And I'm thinking Hector and Ash will be in the bottom along with Eli/Laurine or Mattin/Ashley.

                2. And Brian wins - and gets to stage for a week at Robuchon's restaurant - WOW. But did I hear Mike I. say that he and Brian shot the idea for the deconstructed bernaise back and forth? Wasn't that Brian's idea?

                  Hector/Ash and Mattin/Ashley are in the bottom. Mattin saying he didn't shoot down the suggested asparagus veloute that Ashley suggested? Wow.

                  64 Replies
                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    ugh, that was such a douchebag move by Mattin. but i think Hector may be going home for the hack job he did on the beef...

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Wow. You're right re: Hector. Damn.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        As the episode went on, I became more convinced that Hector was going to go. He had a real problem with the meat; and Daniel pointed out that it takes an hour to make the Sauce au Poivre and what Ash puts on the plates is not even close to a good sauce. They were doomed.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      Mike I totally rode on Brian's skills. Without Brian telling him how to do the Bearnaise, Mike I would have been toast. Like I said, they're going to keep him around so we have someone to boo.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        OK, I thought I had heard that correctly! I really REALLY wish they wouldn't keep someone around for the drama!

                        And a chuck wagon in the desert for next week's show? And Tom steps away from the table to remove something from his mouth and throw it in the sand? LOL!

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          the chef responsible for that dish he throws out is going to be *haunted* by it!

                        2. re: chicgail

                          I wish the cameras would show Brian's face when Mike I said with a straight face that it was a collaborative effort. That lying sack of used food!

                          1. re: chicgail

                            Funny respnses - I thought it was a collaborative effort, Mike wanted to deconstruct - Brian knew how....also, to advocate for the devil, I think its amusing how everyone thinks Mike's continued presence is purely ratings-based because of their dislike of him. Brian didn't have anything to do with him being near the top of several of the challenges so far....having Daniel Boulud pick his escargot as one of his favorites is an indication that the man can cook.
                            On a weekly basis, I'd a hundred times rather watch what a talented 'villain' can turn out of the kitchen than a likable hack. He's probably high-middle of the remaining pack, but he definitely still belongs there, i'm just saying....

                            1. re: rawdog

                              Well, I see your point but is he as talented as Stefan? Or Tiffany? Or Stephen? I don't know, but I don't think so. The thing that made those "villains" so much fun is that they had a confidence about them that grated on people. I think Mike I can execute, but I think he is far inferior to the V brothers, Kevin, and Jenn.

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                I agree that Mike I's not as good as Kev, Jen, and Volt x2 but I don't think much of Tiffany and Stephen from season 1. Those people are clowns compared to the latest season. As for Stefan, he's not very creative.

                              2. re: rawdog

                                Well, as has been stated in the past, by both Colicchio and many others, keeping someone on TC for ratings does *not* happen. The judges only know the food and what they see at JT - they don't see the hijinks behind the scenes until they themselves watch the show, so they're judging solely on the food that gets put in front of them and what they see when that food it being given to them.

                                I shouldn't have said above my comment about keeping someone around for the drama - I know it's not. Editing is kind of funny that way, though, to make you think that. :-)

                                Agree - so far, his food shows that he still should be there. I just dislike him, his childish pouting attitude, etc.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  I agree with both you guys in terms of him not being up to the caliber of the top four; maybe a notch below - along the same lines of Eli or so.
                                  Terrible disclosure upon being the devil's advocate - I kind of like Mike I., in a skin-crawling, inexplicable way. While I generally can't stand the whole "I'll act like an ass to stand out" mentality, or the past chefs like Stefan, Lisa, Ilan, etc..., watching Mike painfully/awkwardly try to flirt to w/ Jenn and act like a 12 year-old dipshit who can cook is somehow highly entertaining to me. That said, I apparently need to now reassess my life...

                                  Also, was it just me or was the Mike V. and Jenn reciprocal compliment-fest at the judge's table bordering on sparks-a-flying or what?

                                  1. re: rawdog

                                    Rawdog: Agree on the inexplicable Mike I like. I don't know why either. I think he is an ass but at the same time I think he can cook pretty well. Will he be in the final three? No. But he is like the kid at camp who is at the fringes of being in the cool clique and it is entertaining. And to bring the camp analogy along, Mike V and Jen are totally going to sneak off to the counseler cabin and make out.

                                    1. re: lbs

                                      Ha - the counselor's cabin analogy...now that's funny.

                                      Makes me envy these chefs and their lifestyle - i have a feeling if i ever tried to pick up a girl by complimenting her rabbit-butchering skills, it may not go too smoothly...

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        You two make me laugh. Hey, maybe your right after all.My grandmother could kill a chicken for dinner, and grandpa was a butcher, so I guess they were a perfect match.Oh, and she could milk cows and even made a lace tablecloth with peacocks in the design my dad said. Don't find gals like that anymore.
                                        By the way,I figured Hector would be going sooner or later. I noticed he mentioned about latin and carribean food alot,seems he just couldn't get the hang of french food. And shame on Mattin.
                                        He's french so he sound know this stuff blindfolded.

                                    2. re: rawdog

                                      I totally see the sparks-a-flying between Mike V. and Jenn. IIRC, when they were in the stew room they were sitting next to each other and Jenn had her arms crossed over her lap. I think I saw her finger hooked into the cuff of his chef's jacket. Hmmmmm, a love triangle between Jenn and the Mikes?

                                      1. re: dmjordan

                                        "I think I saw her finger hooked into the cuff of his chef's jacket."

                                        You saw that too... I wasn't sure if I saw that or not... I guess I did.

                                      2. re: rawdog

                                        I still think Mike I gets it on with Jen....the Volt bros got better things to do than Jen.

                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                  I thought Brian had done an eggless Bernaise at his steakhouse, but that it was Mike I.'s idea to do a deconstructed Bernaise. I thought he would crash and burn on that!

                                  I was sorry to see Hector go- it can be hard cooking something like a roast in a foreign oven- just knowing when to put it in if the oven isn't calibrated like the ovens you're accustomed to. Ahh well. I know that if we can roast a great beef tenderloin at home a pro should be able to cook it and plate it for 12. If they can do it for weddings....

                                  Mattin instantly went from flying below my radar to coming across as a total jerk who is relying on his accent and bandana to get him through. A French chef should be able to pull off a perfect Veloute.. And the way he threw Ashley under the bus and COMPLETELY denied that he had completely rejected her idea of an asparagus veloute in front of the judges...and his "I'm from France, escargot was like my whole life"... YUCK. I was shouting at the television tonight!

                                  Definitely one of my favorite TC episodes though! :)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    Wow - Tom called Mattin out in his blog about lying re: the asparagus veloute! "I will note that I respect Ashley for not throwing Mattin under the bus when he lied about this at the Judge’s Table … and I think viewers will lose respect for Mattin for lying."

                                    And a note about Mike I. in Tom's blog - it was Mike Isabella's idea to deconstruct the bernaise; he just didn't know how to do it and Brian told him how. The judges seemed to *know* that it was a Brian dish in the end based on the style of cooking.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Ohh, thanks for quoting the blog and showing that Mattin's lie was noted by Tom. Watching the episode I wasn't quite sure if it really occurred like the editing made it out to be- ie that Mattin totally denied shooting down the asparagus idea. But it looks like that's exactly what happened. He's absolutely right- definitely lost respect for him.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I was totally floored when Mattin threw Ashley under the bus. Her stock went up a few points in my book for he way she handled it. IMO Mattin should have been the one to go.
                                        As much as I don't care for Mike this really was a collaborative effort.
                                        Jenn is losing ground for me. All of her plate presentations look very similar.

                                        1. re: Fritter

                                          Re: Mike I. and "collaborative effort" - while it might have been Mike's idea to deconstruct the bernaise, he couldn't figure it out - even during a test plating Mike I. commented that he didn't think it was going to work...whereas Brian was able to make it work. So I still see it more as Brian's dish.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Not to totally jump on the "I hate Mike I." bus but has anyone noticed whenever an opportunity to pair up has come up, Mike I. jumps to Brian? I know they've worked together in the past but Brian's kind of a doormat allowing Mike I. to continue piggy backing off him. Time for Brian to cut the umbilical cord and let Mike I. become a man......yup.....I said it!

                                            I've pegged Kevin and Jen as the top two from day one, with Kevin my favorite. Mike V. and Brian V. would round out the top four unless some dark horse comes along. I just don't think the other contestants are stronger than these four.

                                            1. re: Dee S

                                              I actually would have expected the Chateaubriand to be paired with the Bearnaise.

                                              I imagine Brian may not be shying away from working with Mike I because he's surely a better deal than some of the lesser chefs.

                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                And perhaps he thinks Mike wouldn't be a threat.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  in a sense i think you're both right. smarter and safer to pair with someone whose skills you trust than with some hack who could land you both at the losers' JT...*and* i think Bryan isn't concerned that Mike will outshine him because he's probably confident (and seemingly rightly so) that he's a better chef.

                                              2. re: Dee S

                                                You're actually confusing the brothers. Isabella worked w/ Michael V before, not Brian. He has also been trying to team up w/ Michael V as often as possible.

                                                Even if he is an asshat at times, he makes for interesting tv and can deliver quality dishes. Don't think he'll win but I would like to see him stick around. For entertainment and also food.

                                                1. re: Dee S

                                                  Mike I has tagged along with the Volt bros, it's not just Brian.

                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                              The Mattin/Ashley incident at Judge's Table is truly a case of da*!ed if you do and da*!ed if you don't.

                                              In real time, Ashley got hammered for not saying Mattin was a liar. Tom interpreted her silence as indifference and had negative feelings about Ashley based on that perception. What if her perceived indifference had been enough to send her home? Certainly, lack of passion has been a factor in sending Eve and Preeti home. Now, after watching the show and learning the truth about Mattin, Tom claims he admires admires Ashley's silence.

                                              Frankly, I'm think Tom failed to be a fair and responsible judge. Ashley's body language clearly communicated that she had something to say about Mattin's lie. Why didn't Tom follow up with a question to Ashley? Why did he automatically decide that contradicting someone is the same as throwing someone under the bus? He owes it to the cheftestants to clarify remarks and body language at Judge's Table. He might ignore the information he learns as mere throwing-someone-under-the-bus, but at least he has heard both sides of a story. (The usual remark about the editors not showing everything that gets said doesn't seem to apply here since Tom's blog indicates surprise.)

                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                "The Mattin/Ashley incident at Judge's Table is truly a case of da*!ed if you do and da*!ed if you don't"

                                                In more ways than one. I would wager that they would have been criticizing aspargus in the veloute as well.

                                                1. re: Fritter

                                                  I think it depends on how well it was done. I think there's a good chance the judges would have appreciated the creativity if the team had pulled it off.

                                                  I'd never heard of Mattin's stated rule about not doing green vegetables with veloute. Maybe one exists in classic French cooking (gotta go find my Larousse) -- goodness knows there are all sorts of rules in French and Italian cuisine that are lost on me.

                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                    Oh, now that would be interesting if we found out it was Mattin's rule, not a standard French cuisine rule!

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      I think it's Mattin's rule, otherwise no "self-respecting" French chef would ever serve it! Asparagus Veloute is quite a traditional spring soup in Paris and elsewhere. ;-O

                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                        Ahhh, and it's actually called that? "Asparagus Veloute" vs. "Spring Asparagus Soup"?

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          Being the humble home cook I am, I did the research I always did. A quick google on "Asparagus Veloute" got many many hits, including a blog that referred to the star of a dinner party, namely the Asparagus Veloute soup from Larousse Gastronomique.

                                                          1. re: momjamin

                                                            Ahhh, thanks. I was just Googling "veloute" and the daughters made from veloute, vs. looking for the actual soup made from veloute.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            "Asparagus Veloute" vs. "Spring Asparagus Soup"?

                                                            IIR the classical proportions for making veloute into soup are 50% Veloute, 25% consume and 25% of the product that you are featuring. I guess I need to watch again but wasn't the challenge to use a classic sauce? I wonder how much artistic license Mr. Coq au Vin MUST be made with a Coq would have given the Chef's.

                                                            1. re: Fritter

                                                              That's how I understood the challenge to be as well, Fritter. But if Mike I. and Brian were able to deconstruct a bernaise and still have it be accepted because it tasted like a bernaise after it all went into the mouth, I would think that an asparagus veloute would also be acceptable. After all, Mattin added bacon (too much!) to his veloute sauce.

                                                              1. re: Fritter

                                                                But in France, the soup is called VELOUTE! not soup. doesn't take much thinning to make soup from veloute.

                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                  Simply because Soup can be made from veloute it does not make all veloute soup. The challenge at hand was to make a dish with a classic sauce of veloute. AFAIK that excludes asparagus but certainly not all green vegetables in a veloute sauce.

                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                    Well, it wasn't a strict commandment to do only the classic preparation -- don't forget the deconstructed sauce Bernaise helped create the winning dish. I'm sure they would have been open to it, had it been done well.

                                                                    All in all one of my favorite TC episodes, certainly of this season, if not all time.

                                                        2. re: dmd_kc

                                                          "I'd never heard of Mattin's stated rule about not doing green vegetables with veloute"

                                                          Neither had Escoffier when he made watercress veloute. I don't think the judges would have been thrilled either way with all the bacon Mattin had in the veloute.

                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                            I checked out Joel Robuchon's menu and he has a lettuce veloute on his menu.

                                                      2. re: Indy 67

                                                        I'm not sure where you're seeing surprise from Tom at Mattin lying. He just expressed respect for Ashley for not tossing Mattin under the bus. And how do we know that Tom and the other judges didn't follow up with additional questions? JT is far longer than we'll ever see - often the questions, responses from the cheftestants, and deliberations by the judges goes on for hours.

                                                        Perhaps there were other questions asked that satisfied Tom and the other judges about Ashley. We see one teeny-tiny bit of JT, remember. Editing takes it down to the 60 minutes, more or less, of the actual viewed show. Unless we get to see a separate video of the entire JT, we have no idea what else is discussed or asked or the responses.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          Of course, you're right that there's plenty more that we don't see. We'll never know whether Tom said something to soften his criticism of Ashley for her seeming lack of passion.

                                                          I'm making the point that the editors did Tom a big disservice by their editing choices if they left out some mitigating remarks. They made the head judge look bad. They made the head judge seem less-than-completely interested in understanding the truth of the dish/team.

                                                          If the editors want to ramp up the drama over Mike I's villainy, the credibility of TOP CHEF itself certainly doesn't suffer. However, if the editors cast Tom as someone who doesn't get the best information, that's a counter-productive approach.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            "And how do we know that Tom and the other judges didn't follow up with additional questions?"

                                                            When have the editors of a TV-reality show ever ever ever passed up the opportunity to add "drama" to a sequence? Of course, I haven't seen what's on the cutting-room floor but I'm sure "accentuate drama and product placement" is high on their list of job responsibilities.

                                                            1. re: jbw

                                                              I don't disagree with you re: the drama. But that doesn't answer the question about follow-up questions. Based on the fact that several judges have said JT can go on for hours, I'm going to believe that follow-up questions were asked, but just not shown. Drama over details, I guess.

                                                              1. re: jbw

                                                                Drama over details even when one of those details is the reputation of the head judge? Yikes!

                                                                Perhaps our community dissects the shows more the average viewer. (Perhaps? Nah! Definitely!) Perhaps the average viewer does want drama over details. I'm just reluctant to think Andy Cohen really wants to emphasize drama over protecting his franchise and that means protecting Tom's reputation on the show.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Not to stand up for Mike I. because I don't care much, but he trains and works under the same chef as Mike V. so I can see why they would want to work together, as he has said they have in the past- known is so much easier than unknown.

                                                            And since Brian works in the same geographical area and has gotten a lot of accolades for his restaurant in the DC area he probably earned a lot of respect from Mike I., also they are very guys guys so it works.

                                                          3. re: LindaWhit

                                                            I distinctly remember the conversation they had in the produce section at WF when Ashley brought up the suggestion and Matin said "No, you don't want anything green in the veloute". I thought that he was referring to the clash of flavors, but there they were on the plate.

                                                            1. re: araknd

                                                              Yes, I recall that as well. But did Mattin mean "in the veloute" or "with the veloute"? If it's with the veloute, then the asparagus shouldn't have been part of the dish in any way shape or form, right?

                                                              You wrote "you don't want anything green in the veloute". Based on everything I've quickly looked up about veloute and its daughter sauces, it does look like asparagus would not have been a standard....however, IIRC we did hear that an asparagus-based veloute would have been acceptable to the judges (I'm sure provided it was well made).

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                I'm not sure what the context of Mattin's comment was. Like others on this thread, I was surprised when I saw it on the plate, but it was not the asparagus that killed it, but his overuse of bacon. Was it about the veloute that Colicchio said that everything tastes better with bacon . . . except this sauce or something to that effect?

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  "we did hear that an asparagus-based veloute would have been acceptable to the judges (I'm sure provided it was well made)."

                                                                  In the end this excludes Mattin either way as he over used bacon. Ultimately there should not be any bacon in an asparagus Veloute unless you used a tiny bit of bacon fat for just a hint of smoke. That would still not be a classic sauce.
                                                                  BTW I don't believe we heard that asparagus Veloute would have been acceptable.
                                                                  Tom simply asked Mattin why he didn't incorporate the aspargus into the sauce if he was going to use it.

                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                    I don't recall the words exactly, although I could have sworn later at JT it was said that an asparagus veloute would have been acceptable - I'd have to see the episode again.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      yes I thought that I heard that too. But what's interesting is that it's not "traditional"and I heard more than once, Joel R for one, and possibly another chef, make comments about some of the others sauces not being a true sauce. The sauce Americaine was one they discussed. I wonder now that if even if they'd used asparagus how the French chefs would reacted. When Tom C said that about the asparagus, I did wonder what the French chefs were thinking. Perhaps there was discussion we didn't see.

                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                Mattin is not my favorite cheftestant, but I don't think he understood Tom's statement about shooting down Ashley's idea.

                                                                Maybe I am being naive, but he doesn't speak English that well, and he responds that this was their first shot. So he used the word "shot" in a different way than Tom did. Tom used "shot down" as in killing an idea, and Mattin used it as "first attempt".

                                                                I dunno.

                                                                1. re: tobycat

                                                                  I'm willing to give Mattin a pass as well. He seems like a friendly guy and I'd like to see him get more interview time as his days seem numbered.

                                                                  1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                    We do know that he is a fun drunk.

                                                                  2. re: tobycat

                                                                    Me too, he looked like a scared littke kid pulled into the pricipals office.
                                                                    But he did take control of the dish.... but then Ashley let him. tsk tsk.

                                                                  3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    I believe there was some back and forth. Deconstruction was Mike I's idea but it was Brian who kind of told him how to best accomplish it.

                                                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                      Didn't I say that above?

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        I replied before I read all of the posts.

                                                                        1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                          Should have realized that, as I've done it before. My apologies.

                                                                  4. I cannot believe that there are this many replies without someone mentioning that bacon jam that Kevin made. Oh my god, that sounded amazing, and I hope that there is a recipe for it soon.

                                                                    I'm liking Jen more and more. She just seems focused and together and a good cook. Both of the top teams worked really well together, and it showed in their dishes.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                                      Oh yes, I was surprised no one else (IIRC) used bacon w/their snails, and I definitely want a look at that bacon jam recipe. Wow. And Tom agrees -- from his blog, "Kevin’s bacon jam was so good that while I have never before used any of the dishes that have come out of these challenges, I went home after shooting the season and immediately began working on a bacon jam."

                                                                      Great line from Eli about thinking Joel Robuchon was a myth, that he didn't really exist, like a unicorn. ;-)

                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                        i, too, was surprised that no one else used bacon. when they announced that snails were the challenge, i said "Bacon for the win. no question." my friend who was watching with me looked at me like i was nuts...but i'm not sounding so crazy now, am i? ;)

                                                                        and yes, i loved that unicorn line from Eli!

                                                                    2. Did anyone else think, that if they were doing a challnege to cook for that many great chefs, that they might give the contestants like a wee bit more time to get their plates together? The two teams that were up for elimination, in particular the beef team, were there because they ran out of time. The tenderloin didn't get to set, and they had to spoon sauce on in the final seconds, to the detriment of the final dish. I know this is a competition, and they have to put boundaries on it, but jeez, I can only imagine how much it sucked for the cheftestants to have to hurry their dishes at the end of the ONE hour they had to cook! My dream is that one day, they will have a challenge with like a 1 day time limit, to finish, so as not to force them to cut corners to get things done. ONE TIME, I'd like to see them get at least a 24 hour timeframe to cook. They do get to prep one day and serve the next, so I guess if they want to brine or the like, they can do it, but there are certain sauces that take more than one hour to make. One time, I'd love to see what they could do un-timeconstrained.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                        I think the time constraint is removed for the final 3 cooking challenge, isn't it?

                                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                                          I don't disagree in general, but in Hector's and Ash's case, one of the judges indicated that there was plenty of time for them to have cooked the beef. The problem was apparently timing. It is possible that there was a problem with the oven because Hector seemed surprised that the meat was not ready earlier. You don't have to be a chef to know that beef has to rest. Ash's problem was that the plate could not be sauced until the meat was plated. .

                                                                          1. re: Val55

                                                                            They are also dealing with the infamous GE Monogram ovens. You would think that these guys would know to not take anything for granted, including the ovens.

                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                              Are we SURE they were dealing with the infamous GE Monogram ovens? I can't see Robuchon having them in his kitchen! I'm thinking we just saw the monogram edited in from a previous episode.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                True dat. Once again, the victim of product placement. regardless, you are working in an unknown environment, you need to be cautious.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  " I can't see Robuchon having them in his kitchen"

                                                                                  LOL Not very likely! It looked like an under counter alto sham they were using. I kept wondering why they were using a holding oven.

                                                                          2. Loved this show. Random thoughts:

                                                                            I knew Jessie was a goner, even though I thought all three did a magnificent job with the amuse bouche. Why couldn't they do this well in the initial QF?

                                                                            Did anyone else catch Ron talking about Robin? I thought the camera work was hilarious. One moment we had Ron talking about how he just does his thing and then comically they show Ron cooking and Robin just jabbering away saying nothing. I also thought it was interesting the Robin accused Ron with running off with her escargot and they end up working together.

                                                                            I liked Jennifer's comment about the first person to eat a snail and what motivated him to think that snails would be good to eat.

                                                                            Did anyone else notice Mike I at WF? Mike V and Jenn were rushing about and he was doing the school boy bit with getting in their way playfully and punching them as they went by. That goes to reinforce my assertion that Mike I is still stuck in his adolescent years.

                                                                            Anyone else thing that Kevin's suit looked incredibly ill fitting, as if they bought it for him that day? And how awkward was it for him to sit in the stew room whilepeople were trying to pump him for info on which ones they liked and which ones they didn't like.

                                                                            A chuckwagon challenge. Oh really? I guess no Bearnaise sauce in this one. I hope no one tries to have a raw bar a la Anita Lo in TCM.

                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                              I was glad Kevin didn't say anything in the stew room - how uncomfortable must that have been for him?

                                                                              And who was the person who said "OK, come on - tell us everything they said!"??? Why, I *do* believe it was Mike I., wasn't it?

                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                His suit might have been ill-fitting (I'll bet he doesn't wear it much), but he showed real class by not repeating anything he heard.

                                                                                He is definitely one of my top four:
                                                                                Kevin
                                                                                Jen
                                                                                Brian
                                                                                Mike V

                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  They *did* buy the suit for him that day according to Gail's blog. (Or maybe the day before during shopping/prep.)

                                                                                  And I too, thought he showed class by not repeating everything he saw. (But that pause could have meant he was toying with them, or he was really tempted to find something he could say without giving anything away ;-) I would have said something like, "How should I know? It was all in French."

                                                                                  I loved how Kevin really appreciated the opportunity to sit at Mount Olympus with the gods. "I have all of Robuchon's cookbooks, even the ones in French that I can't read." I could see how some competitors might not fully appreciate the opportunity, or even sneer at French classics. I'm not thinking of anyone specific, but it was great that he was duly in awe, but still able to make some cogent comments that they listened to.

                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                    I think Kevin paused because he was trying to pick his words carefully. But maybe I'm biased since I'm rooting for him!

                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                      yes, but he looked bummed when robouchon said any of those chefs could come cook for him, as if he realized he wished he could have cooked for these people

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        you know, I wondered about that too. On one hand the reward seemed cool to be able to sit and dine w/ those great chefs. On the other hand, it was a bit of a missed opportunity for Kevin and I would imagine he might have sat there thinking about what he would have done in the contestants' places.

                                                                                        I would have liked to hear a few more of his judgements about the other contestants. Maybe an unexpected benefit of the reward was the ability to taste everyone's work to get the measure of his competition?

                                                                                        1. re: mjhals

                                                                                          "Maybe an unexpected benefit of the reward was the ability to taste everyone's work to get the measure of his competition?"
                                                                                          ~~~~~
                                                                                          bingo! doesn't get better than that in terms of sizing up your competition.

                                                                                        2. re: thew

                                                                                          Robuchon is a stern taskmaster in the kitchen, but otherwise, he is a teddybear. Really friendly and fun. His recipes are often very complex, but they always are spectacular. If you love to cook, and don't have "Simply French," you really owe it to yourself.

                                                                                      2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                        Umm I thought Jen was acting just as silly in the supermarket as well - but I saw it as cute and playful

                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                          I actually didn't really see anything wrong with the grocery store antics. The brothers were doing the same thing (as my own brother and I do) and Jen was acting silly herself. I think it points towards that group's general comfort with everything than anything else. Jen and the brothers because they know they are good enough to make it all the way and Mike I because he was cooking with one of the brothers (and therefore in a good situation).

                                                                                          1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                            " I think it points towards that group's general comfort with everything than anything else. "

                                                                                            I agree and actually saw that as more positive for Mike I as the other Chef's seem to get along with him.

                                                                                          2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                            i was so uncomfortable for Kevin in the stew room. that was totally uncool of people to put him on the spot like that and expect him to dish. i thought he handled himself really well. i, on the other hand, probably would have looked [whomever asked] straight in the eye and said, "Umm, sorry, but they actually weren't too crazy about your dish. In fact, a couple of the judges spit it out."

                                                                                            but that's just me ;)

                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                              Speaking of spitting stuff out, it looks like Tom gets up from the table and then spits something out into the bushes next week! Wonder what it could be...

                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                Yes and Padma said "That's disgusting" or and Gail said something horrid too - I think that's the harshest we've seen the judges ever!

                                                                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                  They said something tasted or smelled like ammonia. Seafood in the sun 's my guess.

                                                                                          3. Fun, fun fun! I'm new to this TC thing, but totally enjoying it. I like Jen more and more, loved how playful she seemed during shopping, but so serious when the chips are down. that is one focused chica!
                                                                                            I totally felt it was Jess' time to go, she just totally seemed off her game.

                                                                                            51 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                              Jen is less grating on my nerves, too. Plus she has come out on top every time thus far, so girl can cook!

                                                                                              Kevin rocks. Bacon jam? Guy has serious talent underneath that bushy beard! Love him.

                                                                                              Still not warming to the less personable brother, I don't know his name. The one who won this time. But again, he's a talent though I prefer his brother (name?).

                                                                                              Loved the quickfire. I thought it seemed like they all did a stellar job but Jesse was totally doomed from the first episode, so no shock there.

                                                                                              Kinda surprised they booted Hector...I thought they'd just throw out Ashley since she was in the bottom of the QF

                                                                                              Loved Joel Roubuchon's comments and thought Mattin was such a kiss ass when he introduced his plate in French. I know he's French but whatever.

                                                                                              Did they forget to wind Padma up this episode? she was barely on and when she was I thought she was about to take a nap.

                                                                                              1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                I thought I saw some foreshadowing the second time through when they showed Hector trimming the beef and he was having a hard time with his knife.

                                                                                                Accoring to Tom's blog, the snails were pre-cooked to even the playing field for those who'd never purged snails before.

                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                  Ick, what is "purging snails"? The QF didn't make me want to run out to my garden and harvest some snails of my own, that's for sure. I enjoy them in France, but perhaps they just don't translate anywhere else.
                                                                                                  This was an interesting (non-political--yay!) episode in its focus on dishes and sauces that you don't see much of anymore. Loved the subtitled French from Joel--but did anyone else wonder how he manages to supervise a restaurant in Las Vegas without speaking any Engilsh?

                                                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                    By what I gathered, it has to do with cleaning out their innards so the snails don't taste so...earthy?

                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                      Basically yea. You have to pull the snails out, clean them and the shells (if you plan on using the shells) before moving forward. It also takes a decent amount of time to do, so it would have really eaten in QF time.

                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                        The snails you buy are already prepared for cooking. If you harvest your own, it's necessary to cleanse them by putting them in a container with something they can eat so they will purge the unknowns inside them. When we did this, we put them in a big box with cornmeal for 5 days.

                                                                                                        You do have to pull them out of the shells, but that is to clean the shells. Usually you'll put them back in after they're cooked, for serving, and fill with the escargot butter.

                                                                                                        I like to toss them and the Escargot butter with pasta, and not bother with the shells. Snails are ugly little buggers, but they taste wonderful. ;)

                                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                          I guess I just assumed they wouldn't have used snails that had just been harvested, but maybe the pre-cooked comment should have read pre-purged? I still think it would make sense for the snails to come prepped for a QF though, since cleaning them would eat into precious time.

                                                                                                          I've had them over pasta before, but I did enjoy using the shells the few times I did it that way. Especially since my roommate and I had fun grossing out our other roommates by chowing down in front of them.

                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                            What kind of stuff would you need to purge out of their systems? The snails and slugs in my backyard gravitate toward only the finest organic vegetables, ignoring the weeds. A regular bunch of Chowhounders.
                                                                                                            I can't think of the last time I've seen escargot on a menu in these parts--are they still being served regularly at any restaurant out there?

                                                                                                            1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                              http://www.heliciculture.co.uk/purgin... Grit and potentially plants they eat that are poisonous to humans.

                                                                                                              Starving the snails - PETA will be all over this one if they get wind of it.

                                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                LOL, the snails here go for the same stuff. And the petunias.

                                                                                                                1. re: Old Spice

                                                                                                                  the steps of snail-purging, and recipe for escargots de bourgogne, as recorded in "clementine in the kitchen," is quite simply one of the finest and most hilarious pieces of food writing ever.

                                                                                                                2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                  We used cornmeal. The results were delicious!

                                                                                                                3. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                  Chef June - what do snails taste like? I've eaten many dozens, both in restaurants and private homes, but they all tasted only of the sauces they were cooked with - I couldn't detect any "real" snaily flavor, even when eaten unsauced ("chewy mushrooms" is about as close as I get - at least they didn't taste like chicken!)

                                                                                                            2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                              I was really wondering about the origin of the snails after seeing them in that bowl, because it would be impossible to cook them from live within the constraints of this show. Bourdain's said that every restaurant he knows uses the canned ones.

                                                                                                              I've heard of people cooking them quickly. From the one time I've made them starting from raw, that sounds absolutely disgusting.

                                                                                                            3. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                              I think the most positive thing they said about Mattin was "He speaks French well."

                                                                                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                And he looks like a red guard member from China in his kerchief.

                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                  Boy do we think differently. My first though upon seeing him was "Wow, it's Snap! from the Rice Krispies commercials."

                                                                                                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                    Well, I am Chinese.

                                                                                                              2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                "Did they forget to wind Padma up this episode? she was barely on and when she was I thought she was about to take a nap."
                                                                                                                ~~~~~
                                                                                                                so it wasn't just me! she was totally moving and speaking in slo-mo. she sounded either drowsy or drugged, i couldn't decide which one. i almost expected her to nod off at the table...

                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  Yes! She sounded both drowsy AND drugged! they need to let gail have more camera time...at least she always seems fired up!

                                                                                                                  1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                    NO!!!!! No more Gail!

                                                                                                                    She has improved ever since she came back to the show but she just grates on me.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                      Hahahah Phaedrus--I guess you are team Padma because surely you can't think Tom is engaging to watch!!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                        Tom seems pasty and cranky this season, lacking his usual bearish charm. We need Jay!

                                                                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                          As much as I'd prefer him on the show, Jay unfortunately, won't be on.

                                                                                                                          But that was one thing I had forgotten to note - Toby hasn't been around yet, and we're 4 episodes in! Haven't seen anything about when he's supposed to be showing up.....can't have been visa problems again, can it?

                                                                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                            I think it's so odd that you think Tom seems cranky - because to me - he seems the opposite - (Last year I thought he was grumpy)
                                                                                                                            But this year he just seems really impressed by this lot! To me he seems quietly happy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                              he has appeared to be enjoying himself at certain times, but i have to say, he doesn't look physically *well* to me. others have mentioned that he looks pasty, and i agree - he also looks extremely tired. i noticed it in his Diet Coke ads too. something's just "off" with him.

                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                Funny how many food personalities look downright unhealthy: Paula Deen, Emeril, Ina Garten, Lidia B., Mario Batali--not to mention Zimmern and that cretin from Man vs. Food. Props to Bourdain for keeping his girlish figure.

                                                                                                                                1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                  Speaking of looks...
                                                                                                                                  Last week we were commenting on Richards weird photo on
                                                                                                                                  Bravo's site....
                                                                                                                                  Just now I noticed Jamies picture on her Bravo blog...she looks weird too!!!
                                                                                                                                  She looks like she lost a ton of weight - but really the pic doesnt even look like her

                                                                                                                                  btw - LOL Linda!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                    Yeah, Blais's weird photo is back - wish they'd get rid of that one! Jamie's is a little strange, but not as bad as Richard's.

                                                                                                                                    And Marcel is "guest blogging"!

                                                                                                                                    http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

                                                                                                                                    He's got all of the "buzz phrases" down: Speaking of entering the Robuchon kitchen for the first time: "I remember the first time I donned my whites and entered that brand new kitchen, with my knives sharper than the devil himself, and my nerves more shaken than a fresh Polaroid."

                                                                                                                                    But it looks like he didn't get a copy of the show with the winner of the challenge. He did pick the correct winner, however, but he picked a team vs. an individual....he also named the person in the bottom in his 3 worst as well.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                    Actually, we had this discussion before. In the case of Emeril and Mario, don't forget about how long they have been in the public eye. With the repeats that shows up on FN etc you are seeing them as they appeared over a period of many years. they are actually aging quite well. Now, with Tom, that is kind of a different deal because this happened over a period of less than a year.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                      Mario? Mario has lost a LARGE amount of weight, and actually looks much improved.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                        Seems a lot of them have lost weight. Mario, Alton, Bobby Flay, Rocco DiSpirito.

                                                                                                                                        And good ol' Anthony Bourdain finally has a pot belly. I wondered how long he'd be able to rock the heroin chic look.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                          i think Rocco got into a whole fitness & nutrition groove - he looked pretty buff the last time i saw him, and if i'm not mistaken he's done some appearances on The Biggest Loser to teach them about healthy cooking.

                                                                                                                                          didn't Bourdain quit smoking within the past couple of years? the pot belly may have something to do with that.

                                                                                                                                          Tyler Florence is the other one who's been looking pretty bloated for quite some time...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                            rocco looks like a case of girt certificates for botox exploded in his face

                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                              Yes on Tyler, and I don't think he that old. Early 30's???

                                                                                                                                              1. re: dcdavis

                                                                                                                                                actually, Tyler's 38...but he sort of has a babyface.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                  He had a baby face at one time, but it's gotten very beefy over the past few years.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                      I think he's both - he's obviously thrilled with the caliber of most cheftestants. As Gail said on Wednesday night, the meal they had at Robuchon could *not* have been done by previous seasons' cheftestants - and Tom nodded his head in agreement.

                                                                                                                                      But he gets downright P.O.'d at the stupid mistakes by those who have been told to PYKAG already.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        I noticed he didn't tell the chefs "don't embarrass us" when they were about to cook for the Mount Olympians. I'd say he's feeling OK about this season overall.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                          Yeah you are right about that...

                                                                                                                                          I have to notice if he looks ill in any way

                                                                                                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                            Next week when he spits something into the desert sand. :-)

                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            she said it couldnt have been made by other contestants "at this point in the competition" ie there were chefs of this caliber before, but not this many

                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                              Interesting thought. So you think she is saying that the average talent is up this year but the upper 10% are the same. I can see the interpretation . But I also think that the top 10% in this show is much more together as chefs than some of the others from previous seasons.

                                                                                                                                              So far, 7 have not been in the low end. Five have either won or were in the top. Robin has been "IN" for akk four eliminations. Ron has been in but was in the high end for the first elimination.

                                                                                                                                              Bryan is the alpha at two wins. Jennifer is the queen of the quickfire at 2 wins.

                                                                                                                                              So I see a real quick early stratification.

                                                                                                                                              I think there are more better chefs this season and even the ones that are eliminated aren't all that bad this season.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                      You are not alone. Every. Single. Week....I have to hear my husband gripe about Gail when she is introduced. He can't stand her. He is happy when she is absent.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                                                        i used to hate her but she has really grown on me. probably my favorite judge now. at least seems to care about the food not just about herself and what she looks like on tv.

                                                                                                                                    4. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                                      Better yet, bring back Jay Rayner!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                        I'll second, ot third that Jay Raynor vote.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                          Imagine what fun Jay would have with the upcoming dude ranch challenge...Imagine Jay in chaps and a 10-gallon hat...

                                                                                                                                      2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                                        I didn't think that, just that she was probably very nervous with all those French fantabulous chefs. She was veru carefully choosing her words and nodded in agreement mostly. I give credit to Gail, she says what's on her mind. I do like her better since she's married, she seems a bit kinder with her comments and funny.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                          Gail is looking glowing and gorgeous too, although next to Padma, she looks like a stray escargot. Life must be grim for women who have to spend time in the flesh with Padma.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                        In Gail's blog she indicates there was a lot of partying in Vegas while filming. Maybe they were hung over for this episode.

                                                                                                                                  3. For some reason Mike seemed alright in this episode - no stupid comments that I can remember...
                                                                                                                                    And he seems to get along with the chefs so I think he is less a "villian" and more just a "regular guy" type..

                                                                                                                                    Sorry to see Hector go...I liked him.....couldn't help but think of the Star Trek comment made here a few episodes ago!

                                                                                                                                    Also sorry we didn't hear from Keller too much...

                                                                                                                                    Bacon Jam sounds amazing...

                                                                                                                                    Anyone notice Tom tell the winning chefs they could smile!
                                                                                                                                    They certainly are an intense bunch - especially the brothers - whoa.

                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                      Yes! I loved that Tom said that. A smile wouldn't kill them...after all it IS a TV show and as great as the intensity is in the competition, they act like they are on a bona fide firing line. Lighten up, peeps!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                                        One of my main complaints. Jen and the brothers esp. have so little emotion when they talk about the various challenges. At least Mike I. makes you notice him while the others say something like "I was so nervous" in the most monotone way possible.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                          They are chefs, not actors.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                            You don't say. I'm saying they don't have any personality. If most of the people I knew were being interviewed for those clips, none of whom are actors, you'd see a lot more emotion about the various challenges, outcomes, etc.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                              for this gig they need to to be a bit of both

                                                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                why? the viewers aren't choosing the winner, and the judges make their decisions based on the food.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                  There is also a bit of reality fatigue going on too. The first season of any reality show gave the people on the shows a chance to make thing up because there were no rules. This is wI liekd the first season of the Real World, kind of the grandaddy of this type of reality show. But by this point, most of the contestants are pretty good about their deportment and will only project what they feel they need to project in order get rhough the show successfully.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                    The show is still about entertainment and sponsor revenue. If it doesn't make money it will go off the air. A good Top Chef season will strike a balance between great cooking and great drama so that it's not just us Chowhounds tuning in. That's the reality of it. That said, I think this season has enough personality to balance the wonderful culinary talent.

                                                                                                                                        2. Interesting article about and interview with Jennifer Carroll: http://tinyurl.com/lonhp9 Including a brief comment about Mike Isabella at the very bottom.

                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            The thing that is interesting about Jen is that she talks about cooking in a blue collar, tom boyish manner but then her plates look extremely refined. She doesn't express artistic creativity, she executes.
                                                                                                                                            I didn't like Michael I. at first but I think he's okay now. He is going to eventually sink or swim on his own as his strategy seems to be to latch on to the stronger chefs.
                                                                                                                                            It seems Jesse's Colicchio-on-the-brain syndrome has been passed on to Ashley.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              I love how she basically said: He isn't a jerk, he's just from Jersey. He can't help it.

                                                                                                                                              That's a Philly way of thinking right there.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                "I love how she basically said: He isn't a jerk, he's just from Jersey. He can't help it. "

                                                                                                                                                That is so funny because that is exactly what I meant in my earlier post:

                                                                                                                                                "And he seems to get along with the chefs so I think he is less a "villian" and more just a "regular guy" type..

                                                                                                                                                "

                                                                                                                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                  last week when i offered my interpretation of one of Mike's idiotic remarks, someone commented that it was scary how i seemed to be inside his head. i explained that i simply "know the type" as i was raised in Jersey and i've encountered many Mike I's in my day :)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                    Yep me too - I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and live in JC now....
                                                                                                                                                    the the trouble with these tyoes is that they can come across as dumb and ignorant -but allot of them actually have hearts as big as the state itself - so I reserve judgement

                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                In this interview with Ashley, she basically says she really likes Mike I., thinks he was playing for the camera with his sexist remarks, and he ended up looking a fool.

                                                                                                                                                http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/to...

                                                                                                                                              3. Did anyone else notice that Mike seems to have accepted the fact that Jen is in fact a very good chef and at, or above (in reality), his level? While they were going about their grocery store business his interview was voiced over it and he mentioned the four of them as the class of this season. He even said something like "Us four guys are definitely going to be at the top for this challenge." Lumping her with the boys is probably a sign of respect coming from him. I don't think he's dropped his sexism, but perhaps for Jen he has made an exception at this point.

                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                  I think he is stretching it when he puts himself in that category. Right now I would put Kevin in the top four over him.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                    Oh I would too. By a long shot in fact. But he has a huuuuge ego, so he clearly can't see it that way. I was merely pointing out that he thinks he is among the best and he finally included Jen (a woman!) in that category.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                                                    I noticed that too. It's like he realized she can cook, therefore she is now a 'guy' in his mind. Because, of course, girls can't beat him.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                                      Saying "guyz" in NJ ( I grew up there) in the context of "What are youz guyz doing tonight?" is the same as the use of "Y'all" in the south. It dosn't really imply a male gender in that context.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: saeyedoc

                                                                                                                                                        Normally I'd agree, especially since I use "guys" all the time, but he there was something in the way he said it that it didn't seem to be a normal throw it out there term. Maybe I'm overthinking it though.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: saeyedoc

                                                                                                                                                          I grew up there too, and I would agree, but given Mike's previous comments I don't think he deserves the benefit of the doubt on this. And it's not like he's called women 'guys' before this, at least that we've seen. So far it's been "No girl should beat me" and "That's one less old lady I have to worry about".

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                                            every week I have had to say this:
                                                                                                                                                            Mike NEVER said "No girl should beat me"

                                                                                                                                                            He said "A girl shouldnt be at my level" which does sound obnoxious, but after several viewings - it is obvious he was speaking in termes of her physical strength - and if you watch closely - he was saying it as if to hand it to her - in other words he was impressed by her....It was definitely edited to make him seem more obnoxious.

                                                                                                                                                            Though not too crazy about the old lady comment!

                                                                                                                                                    2. I didn't realize that only women were eliminated up to this show.

                                                                                                                                                      Mike I is riding the coattails of the strong chefs.... which is a legitimate strategy. However, he's so full of himself where he doesn't realize he's a weak link.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm starting to think the chefs are relying on bacon too much.

                                                                                                                                                      Sad to see Hector go... He had good ideas and gave the cast personality. Also, he prepped those tenderloins beautifully... unlike the "chefs" on that HK show.

                                                                                                                                                      1. <Joho (I haven't heard of him) > LInda, Jean Joho is an Alsatian who owns one of the top tables in Chicago, Everest (on the 44th floor of the Board of Trade building). He also owns several casual brasseries called Brasserie Jo. I believe there is one in Las Vegas.

                                                                                                                                                        I have dined at Everest several times for special occasions. I'd much prefer to go there than Charlie Trotters... just my taste. and the food I've had at Brasserie Jo has been delicious and very reminiscent of delicious brasserie meals in France.

                                                                                                                                                        I was kind of sad to see Hector go. I hadn't pegged him among the top five, but I liked him ;( As for Jessie, I think she finally ran out of luck.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks June...Interesting that there is a Brasserie JO in Boston and I never realized what chef was connected to it in various discussions about it. I had read the Chef de Cuisine's name of the Boston location, but didn't realize it was one of several restaurants of the same name. Thanks for the info.

                                                                                                                                                          As for Hector, my feelings exactly. I did like him, but I'm wondering if he just wasn't suited to this style of competition. Jessie most definitely was not.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                            I'm so glad that some of you got that impression of Hector. I absolutely love his restaurant, Pura Vida, in Atlanta, but I was so disappointed to see what he made on the show. I didn't feel like it reflected the wonderful food I've eaten at Pura Vida at all! I think the competition just wasn't the right fit for him. But I will go back to Pura Vida soon for some delicious new tapas!

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                            I had a very mediocre meal at Brasserie Jo Chicago last May, and terrible service, but I won't hold it against him. Loved the atmosphere, though.

                                                                                                                                                          3. What was Robuchon wearing? He looked like a monk.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm glad I won't have to see Jesse's steel zits any more. Great exit line: "The thing I want people to know is that I don't suck this bad."

                                                                                                                                                            69 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                              That's exactly the thought I had--he looks like a monk! I must say the high point of the show for me was hearing him say the word "grenouille." He definitely had a yoda-like presence and seemed to put Padma in some kind of trance. Another high point: Mattin's Frenchy underpants in the outtake birthday scene.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                The random throw in of Mattin's birthday party made me realize (again) how much better this reality show is in comparsion to all the others. The rest of them would of manufactured some sort of drama or focused completely on it. I like that it was just a funny little snippet of the chefs in their down time.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                  True, although the producers love to highlight any squabbles at all over stove space and show them ad nauseam in the previews of upcoming shows. It's a tribute to the chefs that Bravo has so little to work with to gin up drama.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                    I see less of that boring "drama" in each season.

                                                                                                                                                                    I think they must have found from focus groups, viewer feedback, and so on that the audience wants serious cooking competitions, not soap opera or stunts.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      "the audience wants serious cooking competitions, not soap opera or stunts"
                                                                                                                                                                      ~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                      They had that in Season 4, for the most part. So what happened in Season 5 with the Hosea/Leah thing?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know - I don't think they dwelled too much on the "affair"...true they showed a personal scene , and then a few comments on it from each person - but I think we as fans were the ones who blew it out of proportion- it's not like last years season revoled around that drama.

                                                                                                                                                                        IMO

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                          Well, if we'd seen Hosea/Leah acting all buddy and flirty for half the season, then all of a sudden they couldn't look each other in the eye or work together in the kitchen, we'd be wondering what happened.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                          And the chefs have learned that stupid stunts can get them sent home, as in the Marcel beatdown.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                            OMG. I just saw that episode yesterday! That was ridiculous - like a bad high school joke.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                              what season was that incident... I was wondering who took the prize, but it must be one of the first three seasons, because those people don't show up on the bravo seasons 4 or 5 page. who won? I hope it wasn't marcel, from the 2 episodes I saw he was pretty irritating. :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                Marcel was held down by Cliff in Season 2, Ep. 11, and there was a "play threat" to shave his head. Cliff was ousted from the show by Tom, who showed up at their house to discuss it after the producers told him about it. Tom wanted to throw EVERYONE out of the house (as no one really tried to help Marcel, although several didn't participate in the prank) and give Marcel the win, but the producers wouldn't allow that.

                                                                                                                                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_chef...

                                                                                                                                                                                The eventual winner was Ilan. Probably the worst winner on TC.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                  What do you mean probably? He IS the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, I was comparing him and Hosea. Very close second, Hosea is. But yes, I do think Ilan takes the prize on the worst winner.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                      In terms of personality, Ilan and Hosea are a dead tie for the biggest douchebag, as far as I am concerned. In terms of skill, I actually think Hosea is probably a little worse than Ilan. Ilan, at least, seemed to be able to cook his specialty (spanish) well. Hosea couldn't EVEN cook his specialty (seafood). He lost every freaking challenge that included it, and IIRC, was even in the bottom for some of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Seriously though? They both suck. I like to pretend those seasons didn't happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                        I adore the show, but I've really ever only been 100% behind Harold's win. I didn't like Hung, who I felt played the judges like a violin at the end, and Stephanie was delightful -- though I wasn't incredibly impressed overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hung was the most talented contestant on top chef. There was no question that he should have won. Hung also worked under Mike V from this season and you can see how there work ethic is very similar. There skills are fast and refined.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                            "played the judges like a violin at the end..."

                                                                                                                                                                                            I felt that Ilan played the judges and his fellow teammates superbly. He played the game really well.

                                                                                                                                                                                            How I rate the winners...
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Harold.
                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Hung
                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Stephanie
                                                                                                                                                                                            4. Hosea
                                                                                                                                                                                            5. Ilan

                                                                                                                                                                                            However, this season's has many very talented chefs that can easily take the #1 spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                              Except that it shouldn't be considered a "game" like Survivor - who can cheat, lie and steal - a lot of which Ilan did and no one called him on it. It's a cooking competition - who has the best chops in the kitchen. Unfortunately, Ilan's game-playing led him to the winner's circle.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                I really like this season for the lack of "hanging out" scenes. That The Elves are sticking pretty much to the cooking means to me that there is just too much great cooking to capture. Based on that alone, this has to be the best bunch ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In MaryLand (not Maryland but rather my murky headspace), here is my ranking:
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Stephanie (remember she had Richard to contend with)
                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Harold
                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Hung
                                                                                                                                                                                                4. Ilan (may have used his restos recipes but apparently very well)
                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Hosea (nobody from that season deserved the title)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                  i like the hanging out scenes. i like to see the mentality of chefs

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Speaking of the hanging out scenes -
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Last week we saw that it was Martines (sp) bd - I wonder if he got drunk before or after the challenge -
                                                                                                                                                                                                    If it was before - maybe he was awfully hung-over and that's why he did so poorly
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also after re-watching - I honestly don't think he understood Toms question - so i don't think he actually meant to lie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The "hanging out" scenes are now slipped between commercials. It's a smart way to get people not to flip channels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it's a trick to get DVR users such as myself to stop fast-forwarding through the commercials, thinking that the show is back on. It worked on me for a couple episodes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Buckethead

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've gotten to the point where I just skip through those bits because they're worthless. Usually you can recognize the timing is off within about 2 seconds and keep on going. I think it would be more effective if they didn't put something that clearly happened in the first 10 minutes of the EC after people start plating.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                For the most part, I think TC is a lot like the Academy Awards or American Idol. The winner is almost always a disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                With the exceptions of Harold and Stephanie, the winners have pretty much turned out to be "how did that happen?" for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Isn't that because the judges are only "allowed" to look at "their last meal" and aren't supposed to take into account their performance over the entire season or at least their overall talent? In some ways it's a flaw of the system...on the other hand, the whole game is changed if the elimination criteria are significantly altered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: QSheba

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree about the flaw in the system.... For example, TC4 I felt that Richard should have beaten Stephanie hands down, but he choked at the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    However, the "last meal" judging keeps the chefs competing instead of giving up. It's the Superbowl of TC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Richard was fantastic, but "hands down" seems a bit strong. He and Stephanie were both fantastic that season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                    What has Stephanie done post TC that makes her stand out?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't know what you mean by "standing out," but she is opening another restaurant here in Chicago. It's taken longer than anticipated, but money's been a little tight lately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                        My point is she really hasn't done anything of note since winning TC. Her restaurant has yet to open and until she does that she is, career wise, no further then she was before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Which was wondered about Harold too, if you remember. These (Stephanie and Harold), are thoughtful chefs, not looking to slap a name on a concept and capitalize only on Top Chef notoriety.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The difference is which winners are able to make a mark beyond a local level. For that criteria I would say only Hung would qualify.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't 'get me wrong, Harold and Stephanie both have successful mid range restaurants going. However, they're not exactly destination joints doing innovative cuisine. They do solid cooking for affordable prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aser

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Stephanie's restaurant hasn't opened yet. How do you know it's "not exactly destination joints doing innovative food?" Or the price point of her food for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And what has Hung done on his own that warrants "a mark beyond a local level" or "destination joints doing innovative cuisine"? He hasn't. At least Harold and Stephanie have opened or are opening restaurants (as did Richard, although Flip was in the works before he went on the show, I believe). But while Hung said back in 2007 he'd like to open a restaurant in NYC or LV, he hasn't yet done so. Maybe he qualifies - but if he did, wouldn't he have already done *something*?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Opening a restaurant doesn't make someone a top chef. It means you were able to get enough funding to open the restaurant. The best proof of this is that Ilan is close to opening his restaurant in L.A.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm fully aware that opening a restaurant doesn't warrant a top chef, nor that $100K (before taxes) is going to be enough to open a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    However, based on your earlier statement, at least they've *done* something of note or are in the very close proximity of having done something within a pretty short time frame of having won their TC season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Harold won in 2006; opened Perilla in 2007 - reviews were pretty good, and it's had steady business

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Ilan won in 2007; opened The Gorbals in Aug. 2009 (and it was closed a week later for health violations, I understand) - Reviews have been very mixed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Hung won in 2007 and has been a guest chef at various places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Stephanie won in 2008 - she was a chef owner of her own restaurant, Scylla, before selling it in 2007. She working on opening The Drunken Goat in Chicago, IIRC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hosea won in early 2009 - and is still head chef at Jax in Boulder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My comment was specifically directed to aser, who seems to think that Hung is the only one capable of making a mark beyond the local level or doing innovative cuisine, where he hasn't yet done so after several years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think there is any shame in doing good honest food. That was a compliment for them, not a diss as you seem to have interpreted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hung seems to reach more for his dishes, incorporating higher levels of technique gleamed from working at Michelin starred restaurants. I could be wrong but I don't think Stephanie or Harold have that type of experience. It also shows in their food, from what they've cooked on the show to the menus of their restaurants. They still make great food, but more down to earth, less glitzy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At the end of the day you have your opinion and I have mine, formed by my observations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, but Hung hasn't made a mark beyond a local level. So until he actually does that on his own in his own restaurant (vs. doing what another chef asks of him), it's a moot point, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And keep in mind that Stephanie had a finale dish with braised pistachios, which none of the judges had thought of and were amazed by.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          None of the TC contestants have made a mark beyond a local level. Harold's restaurant, no matter how well liked, isn't really particularly original or much of a destination. It is a very solid neighborhood place. but it follows a formula used many times over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If we are going to go by judges comments I believe one of the Hung's dishes garnered praise like, "three star Michelin".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            True re: none of the winners having gone beyond the local level. That one dish does not make Hung qualified to go beyond the local level, IMO. It's *one dish*. Quite frankly, I don't think that any of them will. But Hung has also not attempted to open his own place yet either, whereas two others of the winners have. So they've at least accomplished more than Hung has after their wins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Until Hung does open his own place, and until he does go beyond the local level, I can't agree with the statement that he's qualified to doing so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Stepping back a bit. Is it actually realistic to have these very high expectations of the contestants? Are the knowledge and skills of the winners so well formed to warrant this kind of expectations?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Let us not forget that there is a certain serendipity in hitting it big a la Mario, Ripert, Emeril etc. Most of the winners are relatively young.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Granted Harold's restaurant is small and quaint, which is what I think he wanted. he certainly wanted to have long lasting success, rather than crashing and burning spectacularly a la Rocco. I think all of the winners as well a a lot of the top competitors are still feeling their way through their own road to whatever success that they seek. I think this puts a microscope on their development cycle and it should be very interesting to watch. Now, if we came back in say 10 years and Ilan is still bumming around trading on the notoriety and Hosea is cooking at the IHOP, then I think we have a story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i read last night that Hung is in the kitchen at the new incarnation of what was Buddha Bar in NYC...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/09/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sort of an odd move. my guess is he just needed a job!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        100K only takes you so far these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          $66k (after taxes) isn't nearly enough to open a restaurant. it isn't even enough to open a taco truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Uh yeah, that's what I said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              yes, & i was chiming in. lots of folks don't understand 1) that opening a restaurant takes a grip of cash 2) that banks don't actually generally loan to chefs to open restaurants. they loan to investors. the investors open the restaurant. if a chef can't get an investor on board, s/he has a very hard time opening a restaurant on a working chef's salary, even with a cash shot in the arm like the top chef prize money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              p.s. the investors typically don't care whether a chef's cooking is sublime or not-- they care about their investment, so they generally want to follow a business model which they are comfortable with. a chef that seems too "out there" can have a really hard time convincing investors to gamble on her/his concept.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm guessing the money isn't flowing freely to anyone these days, investor or chef. I'm not surprised it's taken a while for Stephanie to open her restaurant. Even real top chefs these days are really struggling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  agreed. totally.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hung doesn't have the creativity or especially the personality to make a splash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He's a very good technician. I admire his knife skills greatly. He could outcook me in any cooking-school task, hands down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But he serves things like salmon mousse on cucumber slices and gets angry when people tell him it's a cliché. It was a cliché in 1988.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He will never be a star chef. I'd bet my mortgage on that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is your definition of a "star" chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              To me, a star chef has two things: An appealing, media-friendly personality and an approach to food that's identifiable and quantifiable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I found Hung's personality very off-putting, and his food extremely competent, but not inventive. He made a molten-center chocolate cake with raspberry as the dessert to his finale meal. Give. Me. A. Break.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He was up against Casey, a mostly-strong cook who choked, and the better-than-most but clearly not top chef quality Dale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hung won on great execution among a weak field of cheftestants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Using your qualifications I don't think any of the TC winners will qualify as a star chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is Top Chef, not Top Food Network Star!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LMAO! nice one :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Most excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is perfectly fair!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oh, to be clear, i was never a Hung fan. he's got impressive technical skills, but he never struck me as a *passionate* chef. his cooking seems to come from is head, but never his heart...and IMHO, truly great chefs need to do both. he finally gave us a glimpse of something "more" at the finale, but it was too little, too late.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i wasn't voicing surprise that he hasn't "blown up" into some star chef - i don't think that's in the cards for him...and i'm quite aware of how little $100K can do these days. i just figured that with his technical skills and experience he might land somewhere more impressive than Buddha Bar. then again, the restaurant biz is suffering so badly in this economy that i imagine he was just happy to land a gig that doesn't require him to wear a red & yellow polyester uniform with a paper hat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, all the guys participated in that prank, because they planned it. In fact, Cliff wasn't really involved until he turned out to be the only one who went through with their plans. All the others backed out. I could see Tom's logic for getting rid of all of them if he was informed of the whole thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, I wouldn't have called it "participating" by just talking about it. The rules were clear: they could not touch another cheftestant in a harmful way. Talking about it wasn't against the rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              So they didn't participate - only Cliff forcibly removed Marcel from his bed and held him down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              But this was hashed out ad infinitum here on CH during that season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I hate to beat a dead horse...but I wasnt around CH for that debate...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My question to you is - How the heck did Elia get by with her reputation unscathed???
                                                                                                                                                                                                                She was evil and yet people so loved her - up until the very end!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                The way she used to sceme and whisper and giggle with Ilan was nauseating!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Classic passive agressive behavior and yet I feel like I am the only soul who noticed it!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also hated how she never admitted that if that other chick wouldn't have quit - she was going to be sent home ..and she never seemed grateful for that...which also irked me...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Eww I just couldnt stand her!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                (Sorry I had to get that out!!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LOL! Yes, I remember that as well about Elia. Even in interviews after the fact, she never seemed to have recognized that she probably would have gone home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah actually I remember very well from Bravo's site that she definitely had been chosen to go that night...and that thec hef's did in fact did know it when that woman chosse to "resign".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ugh!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And she wasnt a pretty bald woman!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ok great I'm over it now! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Marcel may have been irritating, but Ilan (who won) was the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ilan was the type of person that would instigate and blend back in with the crowd. He didn't man-up. Also, Ilan was trash talking (to Marcel) about his skills and presenting Spanish inspired dishes to the judges which people (on the chowhound and chefs) claim Ilan essentially cooked dishes/recipes "stolen" from his job at Casa Mono.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I fully agree that Season 2 was the worst season of the TC series. The lack of professionalism, maturity and human decency were key for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                              " claim Ilan essentially cooked dishes/recipes "stolen" from his job at Casa Mono."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wasn't a big Ilan fan but I don't see anything wrong with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Season 2 was Top Psychopath. I couldn't bear even to watch the finale. I. Did. Not. Care. It's like the South Park Giant Douche/Turd Sandwich deathmatch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                          let's hope they really have figured that out this time around...because that certainly wasn't the case in Season 5 when they force-fed us the Leah/Hosea showmance drama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                            every time the leah/hosea episodes start, I have to turn it off. they gag me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Monk, or a personalization of Yoda with the same wisdom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. i just realized that no one has addressed the PRIZE Bryan won. how amazing is that?! he seemed truly humbled and awed by the idea. did anyone notice the expression on Mike I's face? he really didn't seem to care that he had missed out on it. i find it a bit odd that a chef of his [supposed] caliber has so little interest in (or knowledge about) classical French cuisine. Joel Robuchon is a living legend in his field - even if his expertise is in a style other than yours, how could you NOT want the opportunity to learn from him?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                      mike was happy for him - more so than his brother was....

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                        that wasn't my point. maybe it's just because i'm so familiar with guys like Mike and i'm reading too much into it, but i got the feeling from his expression that he sort of "shrugged" internally when they announced the prize, as if to say "eh, i don't think i'd really want to spend a week in that guy's kitchen." yes, Bryan's brother was clearly irked, and not just because he didn't win, but because his brother did. (and for the record, i find the whole sibling rivalry thing awfully tiresome.) but Jen appeared to be genuinely disappointed when she heard what the prize was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                          whenever one brother wins, the other looks like he was just told to pack his knives and go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. My top five ( the brothers, jen, kevin, and Michael I) did well this episode.As others have stated in this thread Michael I is not as annoying as before and is even starting to grow on me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't see anyone possibly threatening this top 5. The next best chef is probably Eli but the rest will inevitably be going home.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's also nice to see Jen owning with different proteins for a change, she ain't just a seafood gal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Jesse's amuse bouche looked insipid, a pretty boring dish. She barely put any tuna in it, plus the quail egg was fried to a crisp with a crunchy brown ring. Seeing terribly cooked eggs is a big pet peeve of mine. However, she was the only one to follow the "one bite" rule of amuse bouche.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The top 3 snail dishes were all cooked very simply, just seasoned correctly. Really had no clue what Jesse was doing w/ the fried green tomato + snail ELT contraption. It just made no sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hector had talent but again they're judging solely on one meal. He could've started cooking much earlier as a roast of that size can rest for at least 20 mins. Total failure in time management. I would've switched to another oven if it was misbehaving. There must've been a combi oven there that could've been used to speed things up.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: aser

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I'm sorry I won't be here to represent my people." Yeah, the people who can't roast and carve chateaubriand in an hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. It's early in the season, but there are two cheftestants that seem to be riding coattails..

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The obvious one is Mike I. The other is Eli teaming up with Kevin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                              coattail riding can only get them so far..at some point if they can't hold their own they're gonna be busted. I think Eli and Mike I may have some talent and should refocus their coattail strategy to stand out on their own, if possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. What I liked about Ash is that he took the comments at JT to heart and said it was painful but dead on vs Mike I. who still refuses to believe his dish wasn't good. If you're not there to learn and get better then you should leave. As Tom Colicchio often says when someone is told to PYKaG that they need to know where they went wrong. Even TCM seemed to appreciate the feedback.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ash really rose on my standings when he said that in the stew room and he was absolutely right. All the criticisms were directly related to the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I like Ash- but is that REALLY his name? I mean, c'mon, "Ash Fulk"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That was a mean trick his folks played on him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Is Mattin the only Frenchman who can't seem to cook????

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, OK, he's not a snappy dresser either.