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Top Chef - D.C. - Ep. #6 - 07/21/10 (Spoilers)

So, what's in store for the cheftestants this week? Hmmm...Andrea's said in the last two ECs, she's been in the top, so she's in "a good place". Rut-roh - is that foretelling what's going to happen to her?

Michelle Bernstein is guest judge for both the QF and EC....and some "different" foods are on the table (i.e., food items not on the dinner table every day throughout the U.S. <g>). And it seems Andrea and Michelle Bernstein are local rivals. Even more rut-roh! LOL The choices of foods are:

Foie Gras
Crocodile
Frog's Legs
Wild Boar
Llama
Duck Testicles
Ostrich
Rattlesnake
Duck Tongue
Emu Eggs (I know I'm missing one, but I can't remember it!)
And thanks to bignickpsu, he reminded me below that the final choice was Yak. :-)

They draw knives to see the order in which they choose their food and they start to cook. But SURPRISE! Padma comes in 10 minutes into the challenge, and asks them ALL to take over the proteins to their left...what fun....and frustrating for the cheftestants! LOL

Those in the bottom group? Stephen (Frog's Legs), Alex (Ostrich), and Andrea (Wild Boar). So would Michelle Bernstein really throw Andrea under the bus because they're local competitors with their restaurants? I hope not. But interestingly, Andrea's getting a LOT of camera time....Elves, are you hinting?

And in the top group? Kelly (Emu Egg Omelette), Tamisha (Duck Tongue), and Amanda (Llama). And the winner? It's Kelly! And she has immunity for the EC.

And now on to the Elimination Challenge - cooked in the TC kitchen but served elsewhere. And what do they have to do? A cold entree. They're divided into two Groups - A & B. Each group will serve to the judges and the other group's cheftestants - a judging of their peers. Kelly will eat with BOTH groups (and doesn't cook for this EC). They get a short ride on the U.S.S. Sequoia, used for strategy meetings by Pres. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, among its many uses while in service. But where are they finishing their dishes the next and presenting/eating the food? Didn't catch that.

Each chefestant judging group will pick one top dish and one bottom dish from the group they're judging.

While they're sailing, Kevin notices Angelo giving ideas and help to other cheftestants and speaks to Kenny about it. Kenny wonders if Angelo is looking to manipulate other chefs' insecurities. Hmm.....didn't several of us say that last week? ;-)

And back from commercial and poll question (which is "would you ever eat duck testicles?" My response would probably be "if I didn't know what they were, yes, I would! LOL) And the focus is on Andrea yet again, as well as Angelo's discussions about dishes with other cheftestants. Angelo himself brings that up in a confessional - he says rumors in the house are that he's playing tactical games...he says all he's doing is playing to win. Ummm, wouldn't that *include* tactical games, Angelo?

GROUP A - Amanda, Kevin, Kenny, Alex, and Ed. Kevin is up for the winning dish, and Kenny's dish is voted the worst.

GROUP B - Tamesha, Angelo, Tiffany, Andrea, and Stephen. Tiffany will be up for the win in Group B, and Tamesha is up for elimination. Interestingly, both Tamesha and Stephen's dishes weren't well received by the cheftestants - and they were "helped" by Angelo. Yet another Hmmmm......

Interestingly, in the Stew Room, Angelo tells Kenny that they were all in agreement that Kenny's dish was worst in Group A. Obviously, Kenny wasn't too happy about that! Padma asks Tiffany and Kevin to come in to JT. Chef Colicchio says the judges were in agreement with their peers as to their dishes being the best. And who's the winner? Kevin wins! He gets 6 nights at Hilton Hawaiian Village...that'll be a nice vacation for his family!

Padma asks them to send back Tamesha and Kenny. So I guess all the foreshadowing about Andrea was all for naught. :-) Hmmm, Padma's query to Kenny as to why he thinks he's there in the bottom? Kenny says he thinks it's because some of them are threatened by him...but Michelle Bernstein steps in and says that if she was to talk about the 17-25 components of his dish, it would "take until the end of the show." Could this be the end of the rivalry between Kenny and Angelo? I don't think so...I think it's Tamesha told to PYKAG.

Yup, it's Tamesha. Sorry to see her go. And Tiffany calls out Angelo in confessional about him having a lot of say in Tamesha's dish and that Tamesha should have had more control over her own dish - which Tamesha also said in confessional. She appreciated Angelo's mentorship, but realized that she should have had more control over her own dish.

And next week? They take over the Palm Restaurant...and Alex seems to abscond with the pea puree that was meant for everyone...and he's the only one to have it on his plate!

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  1. Hated hated hated this format. I'm not saying that the cheftestants didn't pick the appropriate "worst"dishes. I just think it would have been too easy for them to pick the folks strategically. Perhaps in this case, those two options meshed. I just don't like the potential for game playing having way too much influence on the week's outcome.

    I also did not like Bernstein in this episode. Maybe I was influenced by Angela.

    1. I think the missing one in the QF was Yak...

      1 Reply
      1. re: bignickpsu

        THANK you! Edited my list to add. :-)

      2. In other seasons they've never let the contestants in effect vote someone off the island. This is the second episode this season where unusual rules allowed strategy and game-playing to trump the cooking. Never done in previous seasons. Perhaps someone in Bravo decided that this will boost ratings.

        Bravo is very sensitive to viewer reactions. They monitor chat rooms and tailor their show to meet fan's postings.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/bus...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Brian S

          I'm pretty sure this has been done in at least one previous season. For some reason, I thought I remember comments from Stephan in the same type of challenge in Season 5.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            I agree with Brian S on this. I was going to post the same thing. I don't remember Stephan's comments, not that it didn't happen. I do remember the Miami episode where Joey said that this is a Howie dish in a blind tasting. They are really playing the drama card this year, the whole Angelo conspiracy theory has been touched on multiple times.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              They have done this type of switch before, but the cheftestants were not the ones determining best and worst, just giving opinions.

          2. re: Brian S

            "Bravo is very sensitive to viewer reactions. They monitor chat rooms and tailor their show to meet fan's postings"

            strongly disagree, how in the hell could someone like hosea win?

            1. re: epabella

              Tom Colicchio always seems to defend Bravo but if Bravo forced him to accept a winner of Bravo's choosing he would pack HIS knives and go and never come back.

          3. It's Andrea and Michelle who are rivals.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Trip Klaus

              Thanks - don't know why my brain got hung up on "Angela". :-) I've fixed it in the OP.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Clearly Angelo must be whispering in your ear as well.

                1. re: Trip Klaus

                  Ick. ::::Grabbing the Q-Tips:::: :-)

            2. My family and I watch the show faithfully, but this is the first season where I feel like the producers have mailed it in, decided to be more like other "reality' shows. Last week's challenge was ood - no details at all, go ... - this week's was actually worse. Survivor Chef might have been more interesting if they'd made the dishes anonymous, or mixed up the names. I'd be happy with less intrigue, more talent.

              2 Replies
              1. re: paddys9

                I too thought it would have made more sense to have the guys cook their dishes and not let the judges know who cooked what. And agree w/ dmjordan that the switch in the quickfire was dumb. I'm surprised more people didn't go right for ostrich or wild boar which are pretty common these days.

                How much did Angelo really influence Tamisha with that dish? I know he was yapping a lot but did he suggest those combos at all? I thought it sounded horrible. Not a huge fan of fruit and fish anyway, but those scallops drowned in the rhubarb sauce just looked horrendous.

                1. re: Joanie

                  It didn't seem Angelo had much direct impact on Tamesha dish. They don't show Angelo actually affecting Tamesha recipe, compared to Stephen who got Asian ingredient advice from Angelo. So I think her gripe was more that his feedback failed her. He may have been complimenting her dish when she asked for his feedback, or given her failed direction when she had to choose between 2 directions to take. There is risk when you have competitor taste testing your dishes... like we saw Alex admit to not giving Amanda complete feedback. Goes to show you can't full trust your competition's feedback -- they where working in the kitchen with the group of 5 that they where going directly against for top and bottom consideration.

              2. I didn't like how they switched proteins in the EC. What? Cooking duck testicles wasn't challenging enough? Also, this was the third and fourth time that Kenny made something 2 (or more) ways. Maybe he should just master one way first.

                1. i hate to say it, but this is definitely the least enjoyable season of TC for me. i agree with those who have said that they need more *good* cooking and less game play, and tonight's EC format sucked. i was sorry to see Tamesha go, because i was hoping it would be Amanda...something about her just doesn't sit right with me, and i'm SO sick of seeing her use alcohol in at least one dish in every episode.

                  i, too, thought Andrea might be in trouble based on the clips...and Michelle Bernstein has always rubbed me the wrong way, but she was even more of a beeyotch than usual tonight!

                  38 Replies
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Tamesha had to go for her dish. It was completley disliked by everybody. I think Amanda skated by with all the cartliage because of the universal dislilke for Kenny. I agree with everyone's disappointment in this season. They need to get back to their roots next time, and tone down the drama.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      I was wondering if it was just me, but YEAH Michelle Bernstein grated on my nerves the whole show. She seems very egotistical.

                      1. re: eviemichael

                        Dragging up a chef from Miami to a challenge in D.C. who just happens to be the arch nemesis of one of the contestants is way beyond bogus. (I guess there is no left that's qualified in D.C., huh?) What Bravo has learned over the course of their sparkling programming is that nothing, but nothing, beats a good catfight.

                        1. re: carbonaraboy

                          I think Michelle must be pretty good friends with either Tom C or the producers because she's a guest judge quite often. It's funny that she actually judged a very similar challenge on Season 2 with the offal challenge.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Maybe she is the leading authority on offal in the US?

                            I agree, they really should embrace where they are filming and try to use chefs with ties to the area.

                            1. re: viperlush

                              i third that...they should absolutely use local chefs instead of out of towners...unless, of course, it's someone like Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal or Thomas Keller or something...

                            2. re: Miss Needle

                              It just struck me as a scantily-clad excuse for stirring the drama pot. I mean, who's next as guest judge -- the bully who gave Angelo wedgies in high school?

                              1. re: carbonaraboy

                                No, but they do have the guy who stole his college girlfriend as a contestant.

                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                Michelle Bernstein has been a guest judge a few times on Top Chef and makes her way around the food television circuit, so it's not likely she was brought on for teh dramaz. It's interesting to me that her legitimacy as judge is questioned (and diminished as there only for drama) whereas Jonathan Waxman was accepted as judge without question even though he, too, is not local.
                                That said, I agree that it would be nice to see the local talent showcased at the judges' table.

                                1. re: Lizard

                                  I vaguely recall that this isn't the first time that people on Chowhound have questioned her as a judge.

                                  1. re: viperlush

                                    So yes, there seems to be a particular animosity directed to her, then.

                                    1. re: Lizard

                                      What's the basis for the animosity towards Michelle Bernstein? I don't remember the earlier posts.

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        I was referring to the posts here. Viperlush was referring to the earlier posts so you might want to ask him/her.

                                      2. re: Lizard

                                        <It's interesting to me that her legitimacy as judge is questioned (and diminished as there only for drama)>

                                        I took this to mean that you were talking about just this episode and her legitimacy being questioned solely on her previous relationship with Andrea(?). I was trying to point out that her appearance/attitude on previous seasons also has led to criticism.

                                        Top Chef Las Vegas
                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6545...

                                        1. re: viperlush

                                          And I appreciate that because it goes to show what I suspected: an underlying animosity in search of an excuse, and more importantly, an excuse that failed to hold up (drama, out of town judge).
                                          And James, you'll catch nothing from me. While it would be nice to have her respected for her contribution, looking at attractive people is significant part of television. It certainly explains some of my programme choices!

                                          1. re: Lizard

                                            Whoa there, Lizard. Who decided that the "excuse" of drama failed to hold up? You? Fact is, neither of us know, it just opinion and observation on our part, and I'm finding hard to follow your trajectory here. Are you saying that the Bravo producers are so uninformed that they didn't know of the animosity, and that this was not a factor in the decision? Also, how is pointing out that creating artificial drama and the desire to see more local judges impugn Ms. Bernstein's credentials? There's no connection, unless you're the overly defensive president of the Michelle Bernstein Admiration Society.

                                            For the record, I found Ms. Bernstein's comments as cogent as most guest judges.

                                            1. re: carbonaraboy

                                              Easy there, Carbonaraboy! I don't mind the critiques regarding the desire to create drama-- although doing does make me want to say 'Pssst. It's Top Chef'-- nor do I mind the desire to see more local chefs. I thought I made that clear, but apparently not.

                                              What I was observing was a heightened attention and critique to this issue-- despite the fact that chefs with previous relationships to contestants and out of town chefs have been brought in before with far less scrutiny. It struck me as out of balance and notably hostile. And I say that as a person with absolutely no interest in Michelle Bernstein.

                                              It was then interesting to learn from viperlush that this kind of questioning of Michelle Bernstein had surfaced in comments regarding her prior appearances.

                                              To me, this began to suggest a pattern, and an emotional response to Michelle Bernstein that existed beyond these critiques (which I accept, save for that they did not emerge, say, when Jonathan Waxman was brought in to judge).

                                              I've really spent far too much time on what was a throwaway observation about hounds responding quite strongly to this particular judge. True, I found it curious and appreciated some of the feedback, but some of this, including what strikes me as quite the bristling retort, makes me realise I realy should stop procrastinating and work on my project!

                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                Yes, you are right, Lizard. It's tempest in teapot. I just feel that in the world of reality TV, there are no coincidences.

                                                Good luck with your project.

                                    2. re: Lizard

                                      There was a local chef.. older lady who ran some slow food locavore restaurant. But she didn't say anything, and certainly wasn't treated with the respect that guest judges are usually given. ... Looked it up, it was Nora Pouillon. There are a couple of throw in locals like the pie challenge pastry chef, the Whitehouse chef in the cafeteria challenge, the prior TC contestants sitting in during the Hilton challenge. The local farm challenge where the invited local chefs guests got 0 airtime. But yeah, these examples only go to show that there isn't much effort to include local chefs.

                                      1. re: dach

                                        Carla from season five works out of DC. I wonder if she will show up at some point.

                                        1. re: smkit

                                          i actually thought of Carla when Tamesha went home last night - letting another chef dictate the direction of your dish didn't work out so well for either of them.

                                      2. re: Lizard

                                        As far as local judges go, a couple would a few would be nice, but I also like to see peolple I recognize. I had no problem with Michell Bernstein, and I may catch it for this, but she is easy on the eye to me.

                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                          Well, I'm a completely hetero female and could not take my eyes off that cleavage, so I don't wonder some people liked her! I don't even remember a word she said during that portion of the show!

                                          1. re: Parrotgal

                                            Maybe that's why I didn't remember her being overly critical. I'm going to re-watch it because my wife hasn't seen it. I'll try and pay attention to what see actually says, instead of the cleavage, but I may have to watch it three times.

                                  2. re: eviemichael

                                    But her hair looked so much better than it has on past shows.....

                                    1. re: eviemichael

                                      Michelle Bernstein is horrifying. One reason why some chefs should not be on TV is that it may make people less likely to eat in their restaurants. I would never spend a penny on her food based on her poor behavior, even if I heard it was outstanding (I have heard it is good for Miami, which is very different). If you have an attitude like that, then you should just shut up and cook.

                                      1. re: cabking

                                        Horrifying? A little bitchy maybe, and probably with the background she has with Andrea (or whatever her name is), should not have been judging, but she wasn't THAT bad was she?

                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          I just caught the rerun, and it's so hard to tell what really happened, because it's all edited, but it seemed to me that Michelle was a little tough on Andrea. Could have been the editing, though.

                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                            seemed to me all the animosity was from andrea from michelle, and not the other way around. sour grapes.

                                          2. re: Joanie

                                            Her condescension was incredible, especially given her "accomplishments". It's not like she's Thomas Kellar or Alice Waters (both of whom are seemingly nicer and more humble than Michy). So she can make good food... ...that doesn't give her carte blanche to be unpleasant without consequences. And yes, James, she is easy on the eye, which buys her a lot of good will, I bet!

                                            1. re: cabking

                                              Seriously, I did not see how she was being horrible, although I can appreciate that she was abrasive. Still, this hostility seems really weird to me. And I say that as a person who fully appreciates the 'brick to the head' impulse.

                                          3. re: cabking

                                            I watched the QF again and didnt really see anything wrong - she was no more critical to Andrea than she was to Angelo's dish. Something tells me Andrea sees Michelle as her rival but its not the other way around.

                                            Also what does 'its good for miami' mean? do you think she wouldnt be successful in another part of the country? im not picking just looking for some clarity.

                                            1. re: Alex318

                                              I agree.

                                              I think the "rivalry" is all in Andrea's head.

                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I noticed that in the EC, where the judges usually make no comments when tasting the food, Michelle made negative comments about Andrea's dish. Unless comments are always made and are edited out to add more drama.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Some folks on TWOP have noted that Amanda reminded them of the not much liked Leah from a few seasons back- a lot of failed dishes but she skates by because one or two people screw up worse, does not seem to plan her dishes well, and even physically resembles Leah to some degree.

                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                              From her interactions with other chefs (the least doctor-able-by-editing aspect of the show), I suspect she's quite a bit more of a pill in person than Leah is.

                                          2. After the last season, which was great, this one is getting on my nerves. IMO this is the worst season. I feel like I am watching a cheesy reality TV show. In past seasons, I learned things and looked up recipes and I even went to the website to see their restaurant recommendations. This season, I don't care what any of them think really. I also don't care for the two formats that let gamesmanship come hugely into play and i don't even know whom I like as I feel it is too edited. I am really close to not watching it anymore. It seems more about TV and less about cooking now, but that is just my feeling.

                                            I just want Kevin, the Voltaggio brothers, Jen and Eli back. Name one character on this season you like as much as any of those? But it isn't possible to bring them back, so I hope Kelly wins. I just hope they edit her into the show more.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: smkit

                                              Yes! And tonight's episode took the cake, it was like Survivor meets Fear Factor ("We voted off Miss Duck Tongue!") It's not a game of skill anymore, it's entertainment. Waaaa. Why does everything have to be so dumbed down? My heart is a little bit broken..

                                              1. re: runwestierun

                                                It's not only gone boring, it's nasty. Watching those contestants dis each other strategically was not worth my time.

                                                What I wondered was whether the judges actually agreed with the cheftestant/judges assessments of each other's food or if they were instructed to take them and pretend that they were their assessments as well. Even the (real)) judges -- especially Tom -- looked just plain bored.

                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                  "What I wondered was whether the judges actually agreed with the cheftestant/judges assessments of each other's food or if they were instructed to take them and pretend that they were their assessments as well."

                                                  I don't think that Colicchio would allow that (the cheftestants' opinions/choices being accepted over the judges if it was obvious they were choosing someone strategically vs. having the worst food). I'm going to have to believe him on that point. And his blog says to trust him that Amanda's dish wasn't worse than Tamesha's AND that Kenny's dish was the weakest in his group.

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

                                                  He says that Tamesha's unseared scallops, sitting in the rhubarb jus, were congealed and unappealing...no one wanted to eat it. If her dish hadn't been such a colossal failure, however, Kenny would have been outta there.

                                                  ETA: Interesting comments at Tom's blog:

                                                  Maria from MA says "I found myself getting annoyed by this episode. This is a cooking competion so let the chefs cook! Stop these group challenges and twists. We're losing the cooking tips in exchange for gamesmanship. What made this show standout was that it showcased talented chefs, please don't exchange that for backstabbing and plotting."

                                                  losing the faith says "If anyone's reading, listening, or cares over at Bravo- I think the consensus is pretty clear....Top Chef, although a competition, isn't about scheming or playing mind games to get to the top. It's about being the best at what you really love which is...FOOD. Sadly- i feel like you've forgotten that. Please go back to your roots- otherwise...I can think of 10 other cooking competition shows with subpar chefs I could watch instead. "

                                                  Very, very true.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    So are we to believe from that that the opinions of the cheftestants were shared by the judges? Again, it may have been the editing of the magical elves, but it sure sounded, especially in Angelo's group, that they were out "get" one chef -- in this case Kenny.

                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                      That's what it sounds like to me, per Colicchio's blog. Yes, it did sound like they were out to "get" Kenny - and even Kenny said it to the judges as to why he thought he was picked.

                                                      But if Tom's saying that Kenny's dish was WORSE than Amanda's in his group, I'm going to believe him. We weren't there to taste it. As Colicchio said to Tiffany (or whoever commented about potentially putting Amanda in the bottom spot over Kenny), was it the execution (leaving cartilage in her chicken gallantine) or the overall flavor? I think it was decided by all that the overall combination of Kenny's dish that put him in the bottom.

                                                      Colicchio said "It was also quite interesting to hear our chefs comment on the food of their peers. While they sounded harsh, and while it seemed as though the members of the second group were being strategic in selecting Kenny’s dish for elimination, they were actually generally fair-minded, usually correct, and most certainly correct about Kenny’s dish, which, despite his posturing, was the weakest in his group. And yes, it was weaker than Amanda’s cartilage-laced Chicken Gallantine. Please trust me on that."

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        As soon as they said slimy okra on Kenny dish, it sounded bad. Okra slime does not figure in my idea of fine food. Okra by itself I can tolerate. But as part of a mixed dish, I don't know.

                                                      2. re: chicgail

                                                        chicgail, BTW - by no means do I think that Amanda's going to win or deserves to win...she just hasn't shown the right stuff. Kenny's been in the bottom or in the middle "safe group" more than he's been in the winning side of things (despite him thinking he's been on the winning side more often). So I'm not sure if he'll win either.

                                                        At this point, Kelly is looking to be one of the better cheftestants this season.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I would guess Tamesha main annoyance is probably Amanda staying longer than her.

                                                          But Amanda isn't clueless about cooking, it's more she's rough around the edges, and acts flaky princess.

                                                    2. re: chicgail

                                                      I agree. I am finding this season absolutely detestable. Last season was a joy to watch as they cast incredibly talented chefs. This season feels too "cast" for me -- like they were trying to incorporate a cast of characters, without regard to actual talent. I haven't been impressed with anyone's ability -- it's all fusion-ish bistro food with a myriad of seemingly disparate ingredients, and the cattiness in the group is beyond grating. They should all pack-their-knives-and-go and start fresh with a new group.

                                                      1. re: chompchomp

                                                        you know it's bad news when you find yourself comparing top chef contestants to the one's on survivor. or worse yet you start comparing the challenges to EC on survivor. i and that michelle bernstein definitely not a nice person. ugh. i'm hoping they get back on the saddle next season b/c this is not good. the food looks ok but nothing spectacular.

                                                        1. re: chompchomp

                                                          And yet these "characters" are much less interesting and appealing or repellant than previous seasons. I'm just bored by all of them. Kind of like the last few seasons of Project Runway. One more chance, TV people!

                                                  2. I agree with the other comments that there's too much "game" playing, and some of it may be set up by these Survivor-like challenges. Remember Blais -- his "game play" always impressed me. I think it was in one of the specials where he got to articulate it more -- always looking around, always thinking, what could the challenge be, why did Padma say it like that, so he wouldn't waste time spinning his wheels when the challenge was revealed. *That's* the game play I like to see, not sabotage and otherwise throwing the competitors under the omnipresent bus. And has anyone this season said, "I just want to cook" vs "I'm here to play the game"?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                      Blais is a PERFECT example of the type of game-play I'd like to see - he was only making sure he could do his absolute best in the challenge.

                                                      More COOKING, less bullshite, please! :-)

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        Richard Blais was a class act and it showed. No one in this group gets that kind of mention. One of them will win, but none of them is notable -- either for their character or their cooking.

                                                    2. The EC hit one of my pet peeves, and I don't even remember whose dish it was. But "chilled cucumber vichyssois" [sic]. Vichyssoise [note the final s is pronounced, as it's followed by an e] is a chilled potato leek soup; it's not a generic name for any cold soup. Maybe you can argue that "olive tapenade" or "basil pesto" are not redundant, maybe there could be such a thing as a "walnut tarragon pesto," but to see vichyssoise misused in this way really grates on me. They did this in that show about the former drug dealing mentor chef last year, too, except that time it was, I think, avocado "vichyssois." Grrr!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: kleine mocha

                                                        <"olive tapenade"> could not be redundant, because it's the capers ("Tapena" in Provencal dialect) that make the dish Tapenade. Just a point of information from someone who's been teaching Provencal cooking for 24 years. ;)

                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          Thanks, ChefJune. I didn't know that, though I do know that a pissaladière is named after a local fish and NOT what you might be forgiven for assuming! So would you feel it was okay to make a "pepper tapenade" and so on?

                                                          1. re: kleine mocha

                                                            Tomato tapenades are rather common in Provence, too. As long as the capers are there and the pounded technique, it qualifies as tapenade. Yes, Pissaladiere's name comes from the anchovies.

                                                      2. Did anyone else notice that immediately upon tasting Kenny's dish, Angelo started dissing it? and he continued to diss Kenny and not comment on any other dishes negatively? Not for nuthin' but that certainly encouraged the others to chime in. Andrea was (IIRC) the only one to call attention to the cartilage in Amanda's galantine.

                                                        imho, Angelo is VERY transparent in his intentions to manipulate the group. I am disliking him more and more. Soon, it won't matter to me whether he can cook or not. He is making Spike look like a nice guy!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          I did notice that. But keep in mind, the editing elves could have edited the comments JUST to show Angelo dissing Kenny just to keep the "rivalry" alive in our minds and completely ignore any other comments, good, bad, indifferent. ::::Blech!:::: on them if they *did* do that!

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            They are going all out to script Angelo as master manipulator angle. They kept flashing to shots of his solemn face as every one on his teammates put Kenny at the bottom, like it was all his plan coming together. And when Tamesha was eliminated in the stew room saying her good-byes there is a shot of Anglo almost grinning, standing quietly in the back. I find it amusing how heavy handed the editing is.

                                                            1. re: dach

                                                              It took me way too long to realize that when they cut to someone's "reaction" to something, that could have been filmed at any time and just edited in. (I know, duh.) Made me stop judging people too harshly. But if they say something, they know they're saying it to a camera, and some things are nearly impossible to misinterpret.

                                                        2. Am I the only one who found it odd that foie gras and frogs legs were lumped in with ingredients that are much less commonly used?

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: donovt

                                                            No, you're not, donovt, and it occurred to me that it is almost unfair to offer such widely differing ingredients--almost wanted to see handicaps offered to those with ingredients such as duck testicles or toungues. Seemed a bit lame after all that for Kelly to win with an egg/omelette, which after all is less exotic than almost all the other ingredients, and not exactly an original approach.

                                                            1. re: kleine mocha

                                                              True. However, the look on Angelo's face when he found out what "duck white kidneys" are was priceless ;-)

                                                            2. re: donovt

                                                              No. I would also say the emu egg, ostrich, boar, and possibly rattlesnake aren't that odd compared to duck tongue, duck testicle, llama, and yak.

                                                              1. re: donovt

                                                                No, you're not - even MORE odd that wild boar and ostrich were also included. I can buy ostrich steaks in my local supermarket and BJ's Wholesale Club, and I've been served wild board in several restaurants.

                                                                1. re: donovt

                                                                  I also thought the boar isn't all that odd. It's eaten plenty in Europe and rural/Southern United States. Alligator could even be argued to be less awkward than the rest for its use along the Gulf Coast.

                                                                  1. re: gastrotect

                                                                    They had crocodile, not alligator. Not quite the same.

                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                      Not to go off topic, but how different is the preparation/flavor of crocodile and alligator?

                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                        Actually we had crocodile at the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi, one of those places where they slowly grill meats over wood fires and then bring the various things around until you put your little flag down. Among the six or so things we were served, we liked the croc and the zebra best. I think the croc may have been marinated in something and then grilled, but it was tender and more flavorful than any alligator that I've had (on the 2 or 3 occasions that I have had it). Nonetheless, I suppose, if it's something you've never cooked, that's the point of the exercise, to randomly provide an unfairness. A fair test would have each chef given the same ingredients, and have the resulting dishes rated by a panel who didn't even know who the participants were, and who were given precise criteria to evaluate the dishes by. It is not for no reason that at the end of the show, that they run the that chefs chosen to leave, are determined by the panel, the producers and the Bravo network.

                                                                        1. re: junescook

                                                                          A fair test would have each chef given the same ingredients, and have the resulting dishes rated by a panel who didn't even know who the participants were, and who were given precise criteria to evaluate the dishes by.
                                                                          ~~~~~~~~~
                                                                          THIS idea I like, junescook!

                                                                  2. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Even the exotic food challenge was dull but not as dull as Michelle Bernstein as a judge. She made Padma seem like a contestant in a cheerleading competition. Anyway, as far as the contestants are concerned, Kelly definitely seems to have potential. The elimination challenge was insulting to our intelligence. Were the judges too lazy to judge? Did they think we'd believe the contestants' opinions were objective, not biased or part of a strategy ( cough, the get rid of Kenny plan)? I guess they weren't too biased because the judges, the lazy, insipid judges agreed with the contestants' picks. Or did they? I don't think Tamesha should have gone. If Amanda's dish had that much cartilage in it, maybe she should have gone. Especially after her big carrot incident in the minestrone last week. Another sour note: Andrea on Bernstein. Ok, so they both have restaurants in the same city. One is clearly more successful/famous than the other. But the bitterness...sheesh. It did give the episode a bit of different drama for a change, though. All in all, though, lame.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                      I wonder what would have happened if the "real" judges clearly disagreed with the competitors' choices/if the competitors' choices were more clearly a conspiracy and they were choosing dishes that were actually just fine?

                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                        That's what I was hoping would happen. You know, to keep the show interesting?! But maybe they were fair, if not impartial. Who knows? This episode just didn't work for me.

                                                                        1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                          I agree with both of you. I was hoping the contestant's pick for top/bottom would be coupled with judge's pick for top/bottom and there would be some lively discussion at JT.

                                                                          This episode seemed like a sell out.

                                                                      2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                        'Did they think we'd believe the contestants' opinions were objective, not biased or part of a strategy ( cough, the get rid of Kenny plan)?'
                                                                        ____________________

                                                                        I for one think many people are a having a hard time putting themselves in the contestants' shoes and are thus viewing the judging of this episode a little too simplistically.

                                                                        It seems to be no secret that at least contestants like Angelo would like to see Kenny go. But at the same time, the contestants know that a lot of industry people watch Top Chef - the contestants do themselves no major favors by getting to the finale but coming off as a weasel (see season 2). And while some/many of the contestants are too quick to sell out their image to further their advancement in the contest, they still seem cognizant that they are on film.

                                                                        The perfect example was when the first group started getting critical of Kenny's dish. Several chefs chimed in before Tom implied that he disagreed and the other chefs seemed to fall quickly in line supporting the dish and eventually nominating it for the win. Because they couldn't be seen on national television panning a dish that Coliccio liked. (Notice that this is often also how it works with regular judge's panels? Tom almost always makes his case and gets his way because his opinion is too respected to publicly disagree with). The presence of the judges and cameras mitigated the most obvious strategy, and I have no doubt that Kenny's dish was bad. At the same time, if Kenny's and Amanda's dish were equally bad (or close enough), it would be no surprise that Kenny was the one sent to the judge's table.

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          "The presence of the judges and cameras mitigated the most obvious strategy, and I have no doubt that Kenny's dish was bad. At the same time, if Kenny's and Amanda's dish were equally bad (or close enough), it would be no surprise that Kenny was the one sent to the judge's table."

                                                                          Most of the "strategy/conspiracy" theories here focus on eliminating the best chefs (and Kenny with a poor performance almost made it possible). But there's also a strategy to protecting the weakest competitors. As noted above, Amanda (and Steven) are still standing upright.

                                                                          1. re: jbw

                                                                            Good point. We've seen Angelo appearing to try to help out some of the lesser chefs already - they made a big deal of it in this episode (though I don't really think Tamesha was a particularly weak chef or that that's why Angelo was helping her along). It's probably a better strategy than openly gunning for the other top contenders because you come off as less of a jerk in doing so.

                                                                            All that said, I suspect Amanda and Steven are still around more because of luck and their own frantic scrambling than because of the diabolical schemes of other contenders/producers/network executives/padma's evil telepathic infant.

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              "We've seen Angelo appearing to try to help out some of the lesser chefs already :::::snip::::::: It's probably a better strategy than openly gunning for the other top contenders because you come off as less of a jerk in doing so."
                                                                              ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                              And yet, Angelo's done that as well with his mountain gorilla chest-pounding with Kenny. So does that make him a bigger jerk for doing both? :-)

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Certainly less savvy. If all he did was help out his weakest competitors, I doubt anyone would be questioning his character, even though that would still work in his favor strategically. But given that he has already presented himself as a bit of a jerk via chest thumping and game-playing, every time he gives one of the weaker chefs a tip or workshops a dish with them, his motives are in question.

                                                                                Angelo is obviously very competitive and a bit cocky, both qualities I can forgive in a talented chef (I was a big fan of Hung in season 3 and even more so Michael Voltaggio last season). But his apparent willingness to play games in order to sabotage his closest competitors puts him in a different and less forgivable realm, and is counterproductive to his career IMO.

                                                                                Did you read Richard Blaise's "Chicken and Egg" blog entry a couple seasons back? Seems applicable here.

                                                                        2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                          Like Season 5 (mediocre cheftestants with boring personalities needing "drama" to drive the show) with worse challenges. No one to root for, really, although I kind of like Kelly and Andrea. Must've been one heck of an omelet!

                                                                          1. re: cabking

                                                                            I get the feeling that, while we see Kenny and Angelo going on about their great technical skill, Kelly does have impressive technical skill - her dishes have been repeatedly praised as perfectly cooked. Given that, plus how much they like her flavors and judgment, it's clear that once you look away from the Kenny-Angelo chest thumping, she is one to watch.

                                                                        3. Since I was on vacation, I wasted a few hours yesterday watching Bravo's reruns of last season's final few episodes. The V brothers, Kevin, Jen, Eli so far superior in knowledge, technique and creativity to this season's crowd that you simply cannot compare them.

                                                                          Even Ash who came back in the finale as a helper would eat this cast for lunch.

                                                                          Bravo did not help itself by re-airing last season only hours before giving us badly cooked scallops in rhubarb sauce.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                            I think this is the group that we can threow out the reservstions and bring in Gordon Ramsey to set them straight. Can you see Ramsey go after Angelo or Amanda? I would pay to see that.

                                                                            "This is bollocks!" he would say. You're F___ing wasting good air!" as Angelo/Amanda sobs uncontrollably.

                                                                            Then maybe put Marco Pierre White on the right afterward.

                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                              <<Bravo did not help itself by re-airing last season only hours before giving us badly cooked scallops in rhubarb sauce.>>

                                                                              I'm not sure I can imagine WELL cooked scallops in rhubarb sauce. What was she thinking? Was it Angelo's idea or hers?

                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                By the same token, the minute I heard Kenny say he was doing a cold lamb dish, my first thought was "oh-oh." Lamb is fatty. My impression of virtually any cold lamb is that it's greasy and congealed and disgusting. I don't remember that criticism of his dish, but I have no idea how one would do a cold lamb dish to avoid the cold fat impact.

                                                                            2. I was so looking forward to this season since I live here but ho hum doesn't begin to describe how bored I am.

                                                                              Maybe they can bring Bourdain in to light a fire.

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Manassas64

                                                                                Bourdain was shown in early previews as someone who will be judging (oh joy! oh bliss! if both he and Ripert are on the same episode!), so we will see him at least once.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  I like Bourdain. Maybe they should have the cheftestants cook while impaired by alcohol. It couldn't make the show any worse.

                                                                                    1. re: smkit

                                                                                      Yes! that's it! Bring Bourdain and bring the booze! maybe it will help to lighten some of those judges up too. sheesh.

                                                                                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                        In Bourdain's new book, he talks about Top Chef, and his experiences on it, and he swears that as long as Collichio is on the show as a judge, the food that is made THAT CHALLENGE, is the only criteria the judges use to determine who goes home. I thought Kenny might for his cold lamb (shudder), but Tamesha would have been better off toning down the spice and doing the scallop as a sashimi, instead of the half cooked half raw thing she presented.

                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Yes!

                                                                                      I thought Wolfgang Puck was hilarious when he was on, too. Throwing the donut was the best.

                                                                                      1. re: Manassas64

                                                                                        Puck was really one of the best guest judges they've had. He was personable and amusing, but also very fair and thorough in his critiques, I thought.

                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                          I agree. I love him on HSN. He is one hot mess, especially when the train derails after being on for 24 hours. You never know what he's going to say or do. His last visit, hour 22, the wheels came off and they had to use the dump button. A good time was had by all.

                                                                                          Everyone's favorite Wolfgang moment was earlier this year when he dropped a whisk and it appeared he just picked it up off the floor and put it back in the pot when he didn't think the camera was on him.

                                                                                  1. To those who wish this season were different, gave cooking rather than game-playing top priority. Bravo doesn't read Chowhound. But they DO read comments left on their own website, e.g. comments left on Tom Colicchio's blogs. And they have been known to change their show based on these comments! Or so the New York Times says:
                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/bus...

                                                                                    So why not leave a comment on the Top Chef website?

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                        That is funny you mention that. After I left my comment here, I went to the Top Chef blog to do just that and realized the comments were in line with what is being said here. I hope they do read it.

                                                                                        1. re: Brian S

                                                                                          Just out of interest, here is the long detailed application form that would-be contestants for this season had to fill out. It appears to select for creativity and talent.

                                                                                          http://www.bravotv.com/media/files/ca...

                                                                                          Still I remember the story the Times had a few years ago. I don't remember it verbatim but it went something like this:

                                                                                          Bravo producer: This guy is the perfect applicant! He is articulate, looks good on camera, and interacts well with other people!

                                                                                          Colicchio: BUT HE CAN'T COOK!!

                                                                                          Producer: So maybe he'll learn.

                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                            Just looked at the comments on the latest Colicchio blog and they overwhelmingly reflect the sentiment of one commenter who wrote (in caps) "MORE FOOD LESS DRAMA!"

                                                                                            1. re: Brian S

                                                                                              I saw that yesterday as well. Unfortunately, as most of the episodes are already filmed and edited for airplay, I don't think that's going to happen this season. :-(

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                Sadly, I think you are right - at least going by the previews for next week, with Alex bogarting the pea purée and a third contestant blah-blahing about Ed-Tiffany relationship shenanigans. Blech.

                                                                                          2. Glad to see that so many others found this episode distasteful. What were the producers thinking with that elimination challenge? "Gee, lets show the ugly, competitive side of every contestant, leaving viewers no one to root for." It was like Lord of the Flies, with a sprinkling of rhubarb jus. I'm pretty much done with this season.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                              OMG, best. line. ever.
                                                                                              @newhavener07: "It was like Lord of the Flies, with a sprinkling of rhubarb jus."

                                                                                            2. As I'm reading these comments about how this season sucks, it just dawned on me that I think this is the first season (aside from Seasons 1 and 2) where Lee Anne Wong isn't producing. I think she had a hand in the casting and designing the challenges. Maybe that's where the show is going wrong.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. Esquire's "Eat Like A Man" interview with Chef Ripert about last night's episode:

                                                                                                http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for...

                                                                                                1. Isn't anyone else surprised that no one prepared ceviche for the cold dish? That was rather ubiquitous last season and would have seemed to fit the criteria much better than some of the cold meat dishes that were served.

                                                                                                  Also, I'm in complete agreement with so many of you, this seems to be a rather dull season. I really have to make an effort to remind myself that it's coming on, rather than waiting in great anticipation. I do think we were spoiled by last season.

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: lisavf

                                                                                                    I know, lets have a ceviche challenge followed by a scallop challenge. Just to get them out of the way.

                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                      Do NOT give them any ideas, Phaedrus. ;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                        How about three teams, the other teams vote on the opposing team's dishes, non-blind, and they have to do ceviche 3 ways, scallops 3 ways, and testicles with foam 3 ways -- and then Padma makes them rotate and finish each others dishes up on the hot roof of the Hilton. Maybe give them a microwave.

                                                                                                        Judges: Bring back Toby Young, Michelle Bernstein just because, and throw in whiny James Oseland from Top Chef Masters too.

                                                                                                        1. re: smkit

                                                                                                          What are ya doing, smkit, trying to sink the TC ship?? Bring back Toby Young AND throw James Oseland into the mix? That'll do it. :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              It sure is getting more like Big Brother, though isn't it. Maybe they could elect a head of kitchen each week to find new and unique ways to torment each other. Or maybe just drop the cooking part all together and let them scheme each other off the island.

                                                                                                            2. re: smkit

                                                                                                              Then I will lobby for the addition of that little gremlin GAEL GREEN!!

                                                                                                            3. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                              They've already had the puree challenge (aka the baby food challenge) and that doesn't seem to have stopped the purees from appearing or gotten them out of the way. So unfortunately, I think we'd still be stuck with scallops and cerviche regardless.

                                                                                                          1. I thought what they should of done for the EC is after everyones dishes had been tasted and commented on, the judges should of picked the two contestants with the worst COMMENTS about the dishes to be up for elimination. So everyone cooks their heart out, but the chefs are judged on how accurate and fair their comments about the other chefs are. This way, any game playing would of got people kicked off:

                                                                                                            "contestant, if you really thought nemesis dish was worse than shitty dish, your palate is not good enough to be top chef. goodbye."

                                                                                                            1. Okay, as a biologist, I just can't let this one go. Testicles are those things that male mammals have hanging down between their legs. Testes are the actual male reproductive glands - in other words, the kidney-bean shaped organs which were being served last night. Singular is testis, plural testes.

                                                                                                              Thanks, class is over now.

                                                                                                              1. was anyone else struck by the seeming change of Tamesha from last week to this? Last week she was all about her strict Christian upbringing, treating everyone with respect, soft-spoken. This week she was "bleeping" like a sailor-- still soft-spoken, still (more or less) respectful. But I was kind of surprised. I also think that Kenny must have had some "prior performance" points this week to avoid getting voted off (even if Tamesha deserved it, which apparently she did). I agree I didn't like the potential for mischief in this format.

                                                                                                                1. I was surprised that Kelly won with her omelette, but I know nothing of cooking with emu eggs. are they that different from chicken eggs, aside from their ginormous size?

                                                                                                                  Tamesha's dish just sounded bad to me, and Kenny's was way too complicated.