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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #12 - 01/25/12 (Spoilers)

It's time to PAHHHHH-TAYYYY! Block party, that is! We'll get to that in a little bit. First, they're back in the Stew Room, and Grayson said she would miss Beverly, but others wouldn't. Lindsay is STILL saying that Beverly should have taken care of her dish when she entrusted her halibut dish to Beverly. And Edward was being a jerk about it as well. Charlize shows up in the Stew Room to say thanks and tell them all how much of a nerdy food fan she is.

They show up in the TC Kitchen, and Padma, Emeril, and Cat Cora are there to greet them. Cat Cora is cohost of a new TV show - Around the World in 80 Plates.

Three teams of two are formed by Padma:

Grayson and Chris (Green)
Lindsay and Sarah (Red)
Paul & Edward (White)

It's a speed challenge for the Quickfire. In 40 minutes, they are to peel, de-vein and butterfly 2 lbs. of shrimp, shuck a crate of corn, and make a lb. of perfect fettuccine. When they're done, whatever time they have left after prep, they have to cook a dish using those ingredients. But only AFTER the judges have checked their prep. If approved, they'll get to then cook. There is no more immunity, but the winning team will win $10,000.

Lindsay is first to finish de-veining the shrimp. Paul asks them to check the corn prep, but he's left a lot on the cobs. Chris finishes his corn first. Grayson's pasta is overworked, whereas Sarah's pasta is good to go. Edward asks for a pasta check, and he's good to go. Paul's corn is then approved, and Sarah then gets their final check on the corn. So Sarah and Lindsay are first done with their mise and can cook. Paul finishes the shrimp, so the White Team is ready to cook. FINALLY Grayson finishes her pasta and there are 8 minutes to cook.

All three teams seem to finish their plates, EXCEPT Paul doesn't get their shrimp on the plates while he and Edward were concentrating on the garnish.

The judges try the Green Team first: they make Fettuccine with Toasted Corn, Poached Shrimp, Chili, Bacon & Rosemary. Emeril asks about how the bacon is cooked and Chris admits he deep-fried it, as they had no time.

They then move on to the Red Team's dish: Fettuccine with Corn Milk, Shrimp, Tarragon & Parsley. Sounds like maybe a bit too much tarragon on the dish?

Then it's over to the White Team - and Paul admits he forgot the shrimp. Padma lets out a "WHAT?" Sarah and Lindsay both look beyond pleased. Padma notes that the flavors were very good in their dish and that it's too bad that the shrimp were left off the plate.

So who wins the Quickfire? Paul and Edward are disqualified, obviously. Cat notes that she wouldn't have used tarragon as it's an overpowering herb, but the flavors were good. Both Cat and Emeril were worried about timing on the Green Team's dish, but were impressed that they got it done. The winning team is the GREEN TEAM! Chris and Grayson win one! Of course, Sarah thinks their pasta was better. :-/

For the Elimination Challenge, each person's partner in the QF is now their opponent. Healthy Choice, in conjunction with its initiative, Child Hunger Ends Here, is sponsoring a food drive to support the San Antonio Food Bank. They will serve 200 people at a block party. They will each be required to make a version of the same dish, and the block party attendees will choose their favorite from each pair. Whoever has the least amount of votes within each pair will be up for elimination. They have to decide right then and there what to make as a main dish and a side dish.

Grayson and Chris: Chicken Salad Sandwich and Watermelon Salad
Edward and Paul: Asian Beef BBQ and Pickled Vegetables
Lindsay and Sarah: Meatballs and a Vegetable Salad

Of course, Padma throws a twist - Healthy Choice and their Cafe Steamers line are all about healthier meals and low in fat content. So each chef has to make a healthier version of the dishes they've decided to make. The winner will get $15,000.

They have 40 minutes and $600 to shop. Sarah gets ground turkey; Lindsay's going with ground lamb and veal. Grayson enlist someone in the store to help push her watermelons around the store.

They head out to the CIA kitchen prepping in 2.5 hours for 200 people. Chris makes his own "mayo" using a tofu emulsion, so it's virtually fat-free. Chris is *pre-making* all of his sandwiches, while Grayson is still mixing all of her ingredients and she's running out of time, but Chris helps her out.

They head over to where the block party is, but they're dealing with tons of bees around their dishes. Grayson's doing everything to order, which could prove difficult. Everyone shows up for the party with food donations and then over to each of the chef's set-ups for their dishes. Edward's set-up is a "build your own", but he has to watch the diners and make sure the don't take too much of everything so everyone gets fed. Grayson's got about 20 people in her line because she's hand-building her sandwiches to order. Sarah's also got a long line as well, and Chris is battling those bees. He's allergic so he's trying to avoid them and apologizing to the block party attendees.

The judges show up with their donations, and say hello to Bryan Scott, a TC4 season cheftestant and now a Healthy Choice Flavor Ambassador. They then go over to the tables. Dana Cowin, Food & Wine editor, joins them as a judge.

PAUL: Turkey Kalbi, Eggplant with White Peach Kimchi
EDWARD: Open Faced Kalbi, Kimchi Chipotle Puree, Pickled Cucumber & Daikon on a homemade steamed bun with his pickled veggies on the side

The judges liked Paul's dish in building flavor. Edward's dish has too much bun to meat, and the beef seemed to be hard and dry.

GRAYSON: Chicken Salad Sandwich (on a whole wheat bun) with Arugula, Pickled Red Onion, Feta Watermelon Salad with Pumpkin Seeds (she uses an olive oil mayo)
CHRIS: Chicken Salad Sandwich with Tofu "Mayo", Red Letuce, Watermelon Fruit Salad with Pineapple Ice

Grayson's Watermelon Salad needed a bit of additional flavor. Dana Cowin didn't think that her chicken salad had all that much flavor; and yet the next shot was a block party attendee saying he liked her chicken salad. Chris's sandwich bread was a bit more dried out as they weren't made to order, but Tom liked the curry in it. His watermelon salad was more flavorful.

SARAH: Calabrese-Style Turkey Meatball and Vegetable Salad
LINDSAY: Mediterranean Meatball with Lemon Yogurt, Blacked-Eyed Peas and Quinoa Greek Salad

Sarah's meatball is well received, but Dana's salad only had 2 ingredients. Lindsay's meatball was VERY well received by the judges, lots of flavor, original.

They're in the Stew Room talking about the long lines and whose dishes were healthier. Padma comes in and asks to see Grayson, Paul and Lindsay. And they're in the TOP group! (Already given away in a preview of Tom saying something to Grayson about having to win with a chicken salad sandwich.)

Paul's dish is noted as very flavorful, Tom tells him to bottle his hot sauce. Grayson was noted as making sandwiches to order. Tom asks her had she thought that she could win this making a chicken salad sandwich? He said you have to win this against potential dishes that are more exciting. She replied back "Like a meatball?" He said "Right." She said "Right." She *really* stood up to Tom when she got called out! Lindsay's meatball was liked with the lemon and sumac. And it's PAUL that wins again! He gets $15,000 with his Turkey Kalbi.

Edward, Chris, and Sarah all head into the Judges Table while Grayson says in the Stew Room that she feels she was brutalized. "They wanted me to do more. Duly noted." And she almost feels like she should be in the bottom group.

Edward's bread on his dish was called out as empty calories, and by removing the fat from the short ribs, he's removed the good part out of it. Tom said it was no surprise that Paul's dish beat his out.

Chris building his sandwich ahead of time was what did him in. He did a great job in making a healthy dish, as Tom said, using tofu to make a mayonnaise. But his frozen pineapple ice on top of his watermelon salad was also too icy.

Sarah's meatball with apricot was too mild, and consistency on the salad were what she was called out on.

They go back into the Stew Room. Chris said he hates to go home because he didn't wrap his sandwiches and didn't blend his smoothie. Edward says "Every time you make like your'e going home, someone else goes home!" Chris replies "Whelp...." pats Edward on the knee as in farewell, and gets up and walks away. FUNNY!

Back at JT, Padma says she felt for the cheftestants with 200 people in 105 degree heat. Sarah's meatball was good; Lindsay's was better. Tom said he doesn't get Chris - time and again it's idea, idea, idea, and every time, he can't execute. Cat notes that Edward's dish was chewy and tough, a tiny dried piece of bread, and pickles, and then Tom adds "and a BS story!"

I think it's Chris or Edward going home.

They're back in front of the judges, and Tom reviews each dish. It's all about details, and they have to deliver. Someone didn't - and that someone is Chris - it is his turn to PYKAG. He said he had no doubt he was going home because of his mistakes. Grayson said it's her fault, as the chicken salad was her decision. (No Grayson - Chris could have said NO, he didn't want to make that!) Chris's farewell was great and gracious, and he said as he pointed at Paul "Somebody take him DOWN so he doesn't win the most money on Top Chef! But if you don't, I love you all." :-)

previews - it's PEE WEE HERMAN! YAY! I can't wait! LOL


For LCK, he heads over to the TCK when he gets the note from Tom. But not before he goes to the cast house kitchen for TEN MINUTES thinking that's where Tom is. DUH! LOL He sees Beverly with Tom. He said that Beverly doesn't intimidate him in the kitchen. So it'll be interesting to see how this goes! The rest of the eliminated chefs come in. Awwww, he misses Richie! Nyesha tells Tom that Beverly's strong and could take this one.

And the winner of next week's LCK will go back to TCK and compete to win the entire shebang! They have a mystery box at their station with which to make a dish. During the LCK competition, there will be additional mystery boxes introduced, and they MUST use all ingredients. Each of them have items that are very diverse - lamb chops, buttermilk, cinnamon, pine nuts, parsley, parsnips, marshmallows. Other items added later are radicchio, and then white anchovies. Blech! LOL

Tom comes in and tastes Beverly's dish, and then Chris's dish. He reviews, and decides. Interesting.

And we're done!

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  1. So is Padma's goal of this show to wear as little as possible? Just saying....

    11 Replies
      1. re: FoodPopulist

        What's up with the tablecloth shirt in the QF? I have seen women in Texas wearing it and thought them unattractive, and now its confirmed, there are no redeeming quality in a table cloth patterned shirt/dress.

        1. re: Phaedrus

          Just read Hugh's blog

          "Padma is wearing a boyfriend-style shirt-dress, plaid with cut-off sleeves. Am I the last person on earth to know that she’s dating Larry the Cable Guy? "

          Hugh is growing on me - eyebrow and all.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                +1! that shirtdress was Aweful! Far worse than the plates proffered...

          1. re: FoodPopulist

            Seriously, who is dressing her and why is she allowing it?

            1. re: JAB

              I think she had to do some painting around the house afterward and didn't want to have to change.

              1. re: bobbert

                On the Bravo webpage there's link to the "Looks of Padma" or something like that. 20 or so photos of her outfits.

                For a beautiful woman, she sure has a knack for picking unflattering (read hideous) outfits

                1. re: Bart Hound

                  I still remember that outfit she wore on a past season where she looked as if she had fallen into one of Frank Gehry's most bizzare hallucinations.

          2. re: christy1122

            I thought her goal was to deliver advertisements in a deadpan tone as though she would seriously ever even consider using the products she's shilling. I realize the show has sponsors that pay the bills but I felt like some of her monologues in this episode went way, way, way beyond the norm.

          3. Thought Tom was a little annoying when he went into his OCD mode and kept after Grayson about serving chicken salad at a block party. But thought that she stood up to him well. He called her choice of chicken salad boring, and odd for a block party she replied along the lines 'as opposed to a meatball?' Looks like she actually shut him up.

            53 Replies
            1. re: Withnail42

              I LOVED her standing up to him and him realizing that she got him. And the other judges laughed as well at her retort. Good on her. :-)

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I don't think she can win, but I think I fell a little bit in love with her when she did that.

                1. re: FoodPopulist

                  She's my fave. She's got cohones. Between her frog song, not bashing other contestants, and her willingness to stand up for herself, she's awesome.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    I don't think she'll win the whole thing but I really, really, really want to be her friend and have her make me late night drunk food.

                      1. re: lbs

                        Oh, now THAT I like! (her making me late night drunk food!)

                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                            She should win fan favorite as she's become mine.

                            1. re: JAB

                              She should be a slam dunk for fan favorite

                              1. re: bobbert

                                Unfortunately Malibu Chris remains in the lead.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  By a pretty large margin, too. This is actually the first year I've voted for fan favorite. I think it's because I'm going on the Bravo site for LCK, and hey, I'm already there, might as well vote. She's pretty awesome, her personality also comes out in her tweets.

                                  Oh! and I asked Dakota if the tattoo on her hand was a straight-edge X, and she replied that they are knives.

                                  1. re: kubasd

                                    The "knives" line sounds like PR damage control to me. If they really are knives, the tattoo "artist" should be sued!

                          2. re: Withnail42

                            I thought Grayson was great -- Gail has said more than once that she likes it when the chefs "fight back," and Tom seemed to take her point in good spirits ;-)

                            But overall, this week we're back to "Mediocre Chef," not "Top Chef."

                            1. re: momjamin

                              "But overall, this week we're back to "Mediocre Chef," not "Top Chef.""

                              +1 momjamin
                              And again, I think a lot of it had to do with the challenge. Two hours, one person, 200 people. Oh, and make it healthy. Stunning that we didn't see amazing food. Just stunning. There should really be much, much more difference between these episodes and Next Food Network Star.

                              1. re: debbiel

                                The challenge was ridiculous. "No one's been hospitalized in a couple episodes, so let's make them cook outside again, with ridiculous constraints. Oh, and it's only 105F instead of 110F, so send in the bees!"

                                1. re: momjamin

                                  If you think this challenge was ridiculous, wait until next week when as part of the EC they make the contestants ride around on a bicycle at 105 F. heat. I thought last weeks challenge was interesting and provided good, interesting food. It looks like the Elves could not handle more than one good food episode in a row.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    How do you know what is happening next week John E p tht the contestants will have to ride a bike, etc.?

                                    Do you have an insider link you can share?

                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                      The bike riding was in the preview for next week.

                                  2. re: momjamin

                                    AHAHAHAHAH - "so send in the bees!"

                                    1. re: momjamin

                                      I have been loyal all these seasons, but this episode made me want to give it up. Boring, pointless, and boring.

                                      1. re: momjamin

                                        lol! reminds me of Hunger games.

                                        1. re: momjamin

                                          I laughed so hard when I read this I sprayed soda all over my monitor. "send in the bees" LOL

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            And another +. I swear, I find your recap and the ensuing discussion better than the show most of the time. Absurd challenge.
                                            And hear, hear Grayson--meatballs at a block party????

                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                              I'm done. This is the worst season ever. Linda's recaps are far more entertaining than the actual show, so her recaps will do for me for the rest of the run.. And LCK is far more entertaining, and interesting, than TC. Good grief.

                                              1. re: nikkihwood

                                                Thanks nikki! I will suffer through watching the rest of the season for you all. ;-)

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  You will be nominated for sainthood for watching all of this season, Linda. !
                                                  [regards from a former fellow NE'er]

                                                2. re: nikkihwood

                                                  I'm with you nikki. All those awful team challenges, then one excellent challenge, then back to serving cheap food out in the 110 degree heat.

                                                  And to add insult, they're having Pee Wee Herman next week? And the remaining chefs are riding bikes around the city in 110 degree heat?

                                                  For all we know (and judging by their bios) these may be the most talented chefs ever on TC. But we wouldn't know, because they're not letting them freaking cook! (OK, probably not more talented than the season of Jen, Kevin and the Voltaggio bros.)

                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                    That was a **good** season.

                                                    These people are talented - again, look to LCK.. Elves and Bravo have totally messed this up with inane silliness, and manufactured drama. ugh.

                                                    1. re: nikkihwood

                                                      Agreed, it's really stupid. Anyone know how the ratings are doing? Hopefully they've fallen a bit? (Probably not -- they're probably GREAT, and next season we can look forward to such challenges as a strong-man competition where contestants will be challenged to haul 350 chickens on large platter across a field of steaming risotto...)

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                        And they'll be filming outdoors in Nome in the winter.

                                                    2. re: gaffk

                                                      Can we vote Pee Wee off the island for next week please?

                                                      1. re: gingershelley

                                                        Pretty pretty please with sugar on top?

                                              2. re: debbiel

                                                Agreed. What a boring episode. Sure hope someone(s) at Top Chef notice that when you give chefs a challenge -- and then make it stupid -- the end result is boring. Still glad that Chris had to leave, though.

                                                Can we please have more allowing chefs to be creative v. pulling some dumb a$$ requirement on them after they've had to make decisions?

                                                I eat and cook healthy. But I have no interest in any of the dishes prepared tonight.

                                                You Top Chef people get me for one more season. Life's short. You are dumbing down the show. I have a zillion other options in my teevee time.

                                                1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                                  I was really hoping that Sarah or Lindsay would be the one going home. I'm glad that Paul won, though, and agree with everyone that the cheftestants are really not being given a chance to shine in their cooking. Mediocre Chef it is!

                                                2. re: debbiel

                                                  If they had the same constraints but only had to cook for 10 people, it would've been a whole different ballgame.

                                                  But yeah I agree - this season has seen way too many challenges that really limited the chances of excellent food being made. Seeing the chefs deal with huge volume and/or meager timeframes is fair game, but it shouldn't be almost every damn challenge.

                                              3. re: Withnail42

                                                I think Tom was incredulous that Grayson was talking back. I'm not sure if there's anything less exciting than chicken salad, and this is a competition about exciting food. I'm not saying meatballs are that much more exciting but Lindsay's meatball actually sounded pretty good. Grayson was also knocking "Asian food." I wonder why she went with that characterization. Why didn't she just say kalbi, or Korean food?

                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                  I got the impression that she said "Asian food" rather tongue in cheek, as if the overgeneralization was an inside joke. We've certainly brought it up enough on these boards!

                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                    I was thinking she was reading chow hound!

                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                          Me too--a little jab at those who criticized Beverly relentlessly for cooking "Asian food."

                                                        2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                          Grayson did not knock Asian food, in my opinion. I think she was saying meatballs were no more exciting than chicken salad, was going to comment about the other option, and then kind of smirked with the Asian food comment. I interpreted it as, "Well, okay, his food was more interesting." As far as calling it Asian food, perhaps she was tired and just couldn't remember what exactly they made. Or maybe the whole group has an inside joke going about "Asian food" because of Heather's seemingly frequent mention of it when she talked about Bev.

                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                            I don't think Grayson was knocking Asian food, I just don't think she knew what the name of the dish was that Paul cooked.

                                                            I also think chicken salad was a terrible choice for Grayson to make and even worse for Ugly Chris to agree to make it. The only other time I remember anyone making chicken salad was when Evangelos Menselsohn made it for an EC in Top Chef 4.

                                                            When they were showing some of the clips outside of the challenge I remember Paul and Ed talking and one of them saying all they had to do was to make a dish better than chicken salad. Apparently not, because the way the challenge was set up, someone could have gone home for making what was not the worst dish, just worse than their head to head opponent. I guess that did not happen, but it could have.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              I think Ed was saying even if you're in the bottom, you get to stay if you beat the chicken salad.

                                                          2. I believe we are now contractually obligated to finish every paragraph with the phrase, "Furnished by Healthy Choice."

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                              hahaha...even Chris Jones had to thank the sponsors for winning the quickfire!

                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                And the Glad family of products, transported in a TOYOTA.

                                                              2. Yawn. Oh Top Chef we all once loved, where are you? Hated the challenge. It gave very little room for Top Chef cooking.

                                                                I did like how gracious and supportive everyone seemed to be in the stew room, and particularly when Chris was heading saying good-bye.

                                                                A note on the beginning and the Return of Halibut. Did Lindsey bring it up, or did she only comment on it AFTER Edward brought it up?

                                                                Yay Paul! Love to see him winning.

                                                                I loved Grayson tonight. She cracked us up with her swearing about the challenge and her chats with the folks at WF, and I loved her standing up to Tom.

                                                                I am worried about next week's episode. Are they sending out the top 5 on some sort of scavenger hunt? Cuz that just sounds bad.

                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                  I think it was Grayson bringing up Beverly leaving, and then Lindsay tacked onto the end of whatever she said with the Great Halibut Incident.

                                                                  And it *looks* like they have to use Pee Wee Herman bikes to get around a specific area shopping for something - dinner ingredients or dishes that Pee Wee likes? It looked like Grayson was carrying an aluminum take-out dish in her hand (saying it was hot) because it wouldn't fit in her bike basket! If that's what they're doing, they *might* have jumped the shark. As much as I want to see what Pee Wee Herman would do. A scavenger hunt would just be WRONG at this stage of the contest - just let them COOK without stupid games!

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    I was shaking my head at the whole preview. Such ridiculousness. Such foolishness. How juvenile. How smarmy and repulsive a guest judge. how stupid if they are fostering his stupidness onto the cheftestants and the show. Sigh.

                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                        I'll hold off on jumping to convulsions, because the Muppets cookie challenge in All Stars was better than we feared, but it's one thing to be gimmicky for a QF -- this looks like the EC. :-/

                                                                        But surely there's an air-conditioned venue big enough for cooking and eating and camera crews somewhere in the state of Texas! Cycling around town?

                                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                                          i'm gonna just assume that jumping to convulsions is a damn you autocorrect moment ;-P

                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                            I don't know. Maybe convulsions was the intended word. I could see this next show causing one to fall down in convulsions...

                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        I hope part of the Pee Wee Herman scavenger hunt does not include the contestants going to any movie theaters.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            I'm a huge Pee Wee fan but, seriously, in character on Top Chef? Really? I was annoyed just by the preview.

                                                                        1. Extended judges' table: Doesn't sound like it was even close between Ed and Chris going home.

                                                                          1. can't we get back to the point of the show? its the only show we've seen real chefs cook real dishes that showcase originality/creativity/expertise. i always hated when they do a great season then it reduces down to they try to have the finale in a locale and have it hot/humid/altitude that normal dishes can't stand.

                                                                            1. Agree with the others re. Grayson not knocking "Asian" food.
                                                                              Gotta love her for standing up to Tom.
                                                                              Nice to see Sarah and Lindsay NOT win th QC as they seemed a little cocky like they were shoo-ins.
                                                                              As for the elimination I really thought it wa going to be ed as his food didn't appear to be any tastier than Chris's and at least Chris embraced the challenge by making his dish very healthy. They got rid of Beverly last week largely for not following the challenge and let Ed off the hook this week?
                                                                              Paul is still rocking and probably wins the QC if not for forgetting the shrimp. Talking about shrimp, I fully expected someone to bring up Heather and/or Beverly.
                                                                              Grayson is looking like the weakest one left but I still would like her to be the last woman standing.

                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                Apparently, it wasn't even close between Ed and Ugly Chris going home. Extended judges' table on bravotv.com provides more information. See debbiel's post above.

                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                      I didn't mention his hair, although I do think it is hideous. By the way, his hair is not up in a 'bun'.

                                                                                      I also didn't make up the moniker, Chris Jones did, in the episode where they travelled to Dallas for the dinner party. A female writer at the Houston Press, Katharine Shilcutt, continues to use it in her writings.


                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Personally, I think ugly Chris is much better looking than Malibu Chris, so when you say ugly Chris to me , I automatically think of Malibu Chris...

                                                                                        Speaking of - How the Hell is he winning fan fav???

                                                                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                          I never once actually said Ugly Chris was ugly. I don't really have an opinion of either of the Chris' looks.

                                                                                          I don't believe I've ever voted for fan favorite. Is that something that can be done at the Top Chef website? I would vote for Grayson. We had a cat named Grayson when I was a kid.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            Yep, you can vote on the Bravo website..

                                                                                            I voted for Ed..

                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                      I watched the extended judges table and I still think they disliked Ed's dish as much as Jonsey"s. I think Tom got fed up with the "gimmicks" although I thought Chris's use of the tofu was less gimmicky and more in keeping with the challenge. Ed basically didn't meet the requirements of the challenge and, like in the QF, if you don't follow the criteria it should count against you big time and in this case it didn't.
                                                                                      I happen to really like Ed and am glad he's still in but if you make a criteria that the chef doesn't follow??? The irony is that Chris probably embraced the healthy part of the challenge to a greater degree than any of the others. Maybe, as someone on this thread suggested, they should have had some independent "healthy food" person (how about that Healthy Choice guy?) figure out the caleries, fat, etc. of each dish and factor it into the equation.

                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                        Apparently, trimming the fat off the beef short rib and replacing the rice with a tiny piece of homemade bread made his dish fit the criteria. I bet Ed's dish tasted better than did the tofu chicken salad with not enough salt. Ultimately, I think taste is the most important criteria the judges use to decide who stays and who goes.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Yeah, you're probably right with taste being the most important but come on judges, a little consistency when pairings taste with the criteria of the challenge.

                                                                                    3. re: bobbert

                                                                                      Do LOVE what Grayson did! I'm thinking Top Chef may have jumped the shark. That shark was Tom's snootiness about what Grayson did. Top Chef changed the rules mid-stream. That's fine in some contexts, but not in this one: Taking a dish to a healthy place when the WHOLE POINT OF THE SHOW has been to allow chefs to be creative once certain rules are in place, and then stupidly changing them. Tonight's sponsor did not get their money's worth. The better challenge would have been to allow chefs to get the point at inception. What a waste of an hour.

                                                                                    4. This Week's Thoughts:

                                                                                      - I suspect there will be a few - or many - posters glad that Jonesy finally went home. And it's true that he was probably the weakest chef still around. But I for one will miss him. Top Chef needs contestants willing to step out on a limb with their cooking - whether the result is good or bad, it steers the focus back toward the food. And it also needs contestants who are willing to make fools of themselves on national TV. Jonesy was that contestant. He wasn't the first of his kind, and surely he won't be the last. But one thing that distinguished him was his obvious good nature. Win or lose, he was fun to have around.

                                                                                      - We've seen speed-prep quickfires before, but I felt this one was a little more biased than most. Most involve basic prep, cutting vegetables, butchering meat, etc. The fettuccine element might seem innocuous enough - surely everyone was at least familiar with the process - but consider if the challenge had been to make steamed buns. Or cut daikon with Katsuramuki technique. Do you think we would have heard some complaints from those who 'don't do Asian'? Not a big deal, but still thought I'd point it out.

                                                                                      - I did enjoy seeing Grayson back down Tom. But two thoughts are nagging away at me. One is that Tom was more or less right. Grayson's argument was only saved by the fact that three of the five other chefs chose to make something similarly problematic for a competition. Her dish suffered, at least, from lack of imagination whether or not her competitors decided to make meatballs.

                                                                                      The other has to do with her other comment - the 'or... Asian food' one. I'm not going to rant again about the virtues and diversity of Asia's many cuisines; anyway, I suspect it came out that way mainly because she forgot the word for 'kalbi.' No, here is what I'm wondering: where did these chefs get the idea that making 'Asian food' is a weak move in this competition? Several chefs have made similar comments. And I just don't get it. When has Asian cooking fared badly? Hung won with it (his finale was more Eastern than the rest of his cooking); Angelo was a solid front-runner during his season; Dale was killing it with his Eastern flavors before going home for a cheesesteak; Blais and the Voltaggios were all influenced by it. Even if your personal bias is toward Western cooking, don't these contestants watch this show?

                                                                                      - Just wanted to point out that 2 of the remaining 5 chefs still in the competition came from the bubble in the first episodes. Kinda makes you go, "huh.... ok.'

                                                                                      - Much as I like Ed, you could make a reasonable argument that he deserved to go home this challenge. His flavors weren't well-received AND he didn't really play by the contest rules. Could we assume his flavors would have been even worse had he adhered to the rules a little more strictly? If Tom puts a blog up this week, I'd be interested to read his comments as to why Jonesy went home instead.

                                                                                      Finally - my picks for the rest of the season:

                                                                                      1 Paul. Sort of obvious.

                                                                                      2 Paul. Not a typo. Right now it's looking like a competition between Paul and the rest of the chefs. He appears to be the most talented chef this season. Worse still for the other chefs - he's smart. Aside from a quickfire misfire or two, he's shown solid judgement that holds up to hindsight. I just don't see him making any big mis-steps. And he almost has to make a big mis-step to lose at this point, his advantage is so great.

                                                                                      3. Ed. Based on what we've seen, I think he has a little more diversity and versatility than the other remaining chefs. Not by a huge margin though.

                                                                                      4. Lindsay. Hasn't shown much yet. Probably, most people would rate her chances lower. But for some reason that I can't put my finger on, I suspect that she (more than the others) is holding back her best ideas for a potential finale dinner. Call it a hunch.

                                                                                      5. Sarah. Not super versatile. But seems to reliably makes food that tastes pretty good. And that's very important. I have a hard time seeing her win a finale unless she busts out some glorious charcuterie.

                                                                                      6. Grayson. I like her - perhaps the most charismatic chef left in the competition. But charisma ain't cooking. And I just don't see where she has an advantage over the others above her.

                                                                                      7. Beverly. Like Sarah, she's good with flavor. She also might not have to face any more of the elaborate, ridiculous challenges that aren't her forte. Still has to fight back in though.

                                                                                      8. Jonesy. His best bet to win had been to hover low in the pack but somehow avoid the ax, and then pull an amazing meal out of nowhere in the finale. Now that he's in LCK where he'll have to execute several weeks in a row, his chances are slim indeed. But oh what a story it would make if he won.

                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        While I understand the point you make with reference to Asian food and Top Chef, I still do not think it has anything at all to do with what Grayson said tonight. She was defending herself and needed to make a reference to her two opposing chefs standing alongside her. She couldn't remember the name of Paul's dish so she said Asian. It's as simple as that. It was not a putdown of Asian food in my opinion.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Yeah, but in context she was saying that it wasn't any more impressive or competition-worthy than chicken salad.

                                                                                          I agree that she probably forgot the word for 'kalbi,' but taken at face value, what she said was that 'Asian food' shouldn't be impressive.

                                                                                          At any rate, I don't mean to jump down Grayson's throat in particular. It was just one of many comments dismissive of Eastern cooking this season, and it got me wondering how these chefs ignore that Eastern cooking has often fared quite well on TC.

                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                            I don't think she meant that it wasn't any more impressive than her chicken salad. I think she meant that a meatball wasn't any more impressive. Then she looked at Paul and thought, "well, okay his was more impressive" but just carried through with her argument. Of course, I'm reading into her facial expression, but I thought she had a series of looks like, "Oops...I'm wrong here, let me smile a little so you know I don't mean it."

                                                                                            And there's still the chance that she was instead saying it as a chefs' inside joke because it had been thrown around a bit by one of the now eliminated chefs.

                                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                                              Anything is possible, but I didn't see a whole lot of evidence of your take on it from the edit we saw.

                                                                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                that's exactly how i saw it - an "oh well, my line of thinking isn't holding thru, because, yes, "Asian" food is more impressive."

                                                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                  I saw it as Grayson adding the kalbi as almost an afterthought, so she wouldn't seem to be going solely after Lindsay. Don't want to rile up those mean girls, after all, and both Paul and Ed are usually good sports (aside from Ed getting down on Sarah for her heat stroke).

                                                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                    I agree - I kind of took it, as - "Ooops, I don't want to appear totally bitchy in just calling the meaatball out, so I will also mention Pauls dish - even though I am not even sure right now, what it was...!"

                                                                                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                My first thought with the pasta was a little along the lines of "advantage Sarah" but then remembered Grayson talking about how she liked making pasta and figuring Paul and Ed would be able to make a basic pasta as well, I calmed down about it.
                                                                                                I was just beginning to get on your jonesy bandwagon and then this happens.
                                                                                                Can't argue with you on your rankings the rest of the way especially your thoughts on Lindsay.

                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                  The chef most capable of beating Paul might be the chef who is most willing to gamble and make choices that will either be a home run or a complete failure. I think that Grayson might be the chef most capable of making a wacky, outside-the-box choice that somehow works, but she probably lacks the consistency to get to the finale.

                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    Ed really took that missing shrimp thing well.....

                                                                                                    I also thought Lyndsey wasn't NEARLY as happy about her Sarah.

                                                                                                    I thought Grayson was cheeky, but must have been kidding, or reading Linda's thread and being funny with the "Asian food" comment. But Ed says "all Asian food s healthy". Could that be true? maybe it's a California thing, but I'm not sure what "All Asian food " means.

                                                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                      Maybe someone should sit Ed down and give him a good talking to about how vast and varied Asian food is.

                                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                      "No, here is what I'm wondering: where did these chefs get the idea that making 'Asian food' is a weak move in this competition? Several chefs have made similar comments. And I just don't get it. When has Asian cooking fared badly? Hung won with it (his finale was more Eastern than the rest of his cooking); Angelo was a solid front-runner during his season; Dale was killing it with his Eastern flavors before going home for a cheesesteak; Blais and the Voltaggios were all influenced by it. Even if your personal bias is toward Western cooking, don't these contestants watch this show?"
                                                                                                      They may well have watched past shows - but the poor attitude towards "Asian" food from at least *some* cheftestants has always been there. When Hung won his season he was criticized for his "Asian food" by others. Angelo Sosa was constantly dissed by others in his season, particularly Kevin Sbraga, Timothy Dean, and even Kenny Gilbert. Dale Talde similarly got some flak for his "Asian" cooking. The Voltaggios**, however, escaped much of such criticism because they were never perceived as "cooking Asian" but as modernists who did have superb skills in their own right and who cook WESTERN food, even if they incorporate "Asian" elements.

                                                                                                      ** It may elicit some comments, but IMO I think it also helped that they clearly looked thoroughly Aryan-Caucasian. In contrast, Hung Huynh was chided by Tom Colicchio, even, for "lacking soul" when he cooked Western/French food and Tom C. seemed to expect that he (Hung H.) should cook food that corresponded to his ethnicity, his childhood/upbringing experiences...

                                                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                                                        You're right that the attitude has always been there. But I'm just thinking that after 8 and 3/4 seasons, the evidence that there is no basis for it should be mounting. Instead, I've heard more criticism of Asian cooking this season than previous seasons (season 7 was close though).

                                                                                                        It may indeed have helped that the Voltaggios were Caucasian, though I suspect what helped more was that they also clearly cooked Western food better than the rest of the cast (Kevin and Jen aside). My point was just that they made a couple dishes that were, more or less, Asian, and said dishes went over well.

                                                                                                        I could launch into a bitter tirade about the criticism lobbed at Hung during season 3, what it ACTUALLY means to cook with soul, and why he had more soul in his pinky finger than the hacks cooking against him could ever aspire to, but I'll save that for someone who disagrees with me.

                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          ISTR a similar slam on Ilan Hall for always making Spanish food because it's what he cooked in his restaurant job. I don't think it's a slap at Asian food as much as it's a slap at those who fail to challenge themselves by moving outside the comfort and familiarity of what they've already done.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                            This has been discussed a lot elsewhere.
                                                                                                            For recent commentary, see:
                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8279... and the entire subthread descending from it, including this one http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8279... which addressed the stuff regarding Ilan Hall. Other posts in that subthread I might also mention might be http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8279... and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8279... .
                                                                                                            Additionally, I might murmur that Angelo Sosa cooked *both* Western food as well as Asian fusion stuff, which had Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian/Singaporean, Cantonese, Sichuanese, etc etc influences. I think that showed a far wider range than that of folks who criticized him.

                                                                                                            This CH thread is also of relevance here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793355 .

                                                                                                        2. re: huiray

                                                                                                          I'm not asian and like all food but it's been pretty clear through out the seasons how chefs that specialize in any Asian cuisines are looked down about it especially if the folks making it aren't white folks. I wonder if it has to do with the focus and legitimacy given to classic French and Italian food in culinary schools even Asia? Or if it's just plain old stupidity and bias.

                                                                                                        3. Not a lot of gems in Tom's live tweeting, but he did talk about the exchange with Grayson, writing, "Grayson you kicked my butt." When she tweeted something about "no disrespect" he replied with "None taken. It was hilarious." Other exchanges suggested he knew she got him and he was good with that.

                                                                                                          In reply to someone who asked how they could send Chris home when Ed's food was bad and he didn't follow the parameters, Tom wrote, "Because UT sucked less than Chris's." (I assume UT was supposed to be it.)

                                                                                                          I don't really understand why folks are suggesting Ed didn't follow the parameters. My sense was that he didn't go as far as Chris went but that he did indeed work on making the dish more healthy. He cut out all that fabulous fat from the short ribs, remember?

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                            EXCELLENT reading that my read on Tom was correct - he realized that Grayson had bested him in the chicken salad argument. Very cool, Tom. :-) I did have to laugh at his little grin at the end of their discussion at JT - I think he knew it right then that she got him. ;-)

                                                                                                          2. Too tired to properly comment on the ludicrous episode tonight.... (Top Chef my ass! Mediocre Chef is right) but I wanted to post this link of some funny "Haikus For Our Fallen Samurai Chef":


                                                                                                            1. Chris always seemed like he just needed to turn that corner and figure it all out and he could be a legitimate contender. It would be interesting to bring him back to a cooking competition in a couple of years to see if has learned anything.

                                                                                                              1. A tidbit: Bryan Scott - "The Ambassador of Flavor for Healthy Choice" - or whatever his ridiculous title was - just left a restaurant in San Francisco that I think he'd only been cooking at for maybe a year? Apparently Healthy Choice made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Then again, the spot where he was cooking (Bruno's) seems to be one of those jinxed places that runs through chefs pretty quickly.

                                                                                                                i LOVE grayson. i love how she stood up to Tom, how she doesn't back down but doesn't get nasty. And she was willing to take the blame for her choice of a mediocre entree choice for the challenge. But it was a a BLOCK PARTY - how exciting is it expected to be? She was right - you can elevate a chicken sandwich, and that's what she attempted to do, and that's why she wasn't on the bottom this time. But I also don't think she has what it takes to take her to the very end.

                                                                                                                Sarah and Lindsay's smugness is obnoxious. I was so glad they lost the quickfire.

                                                                                                                Paul has nothing to worry about. It's his. Unless....

                                                                                                                I too am looking forward to seeing Pee Wee, but please - it's not Top Chef's Big Adventure.

                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                  Grayson wasn't at the bottom because she only has to beat Chris. It was a head to head competition. If the top were the three best dishes, I'm not so sure Grayson would've been there.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                    the block party-goers LOVED Grayson's chicken salad. one woman (i know, that's only one) even said that it was her favorite dish of the day. and this was said not TO grayson.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                      I was merely pointing out that all Grayson has to do to get in the top 3 is to beat the chicken tofu salad. Her chicken salad could've been the 5th most favored and still be in the top 3. I'm not expressing any opinion as to whether her chicken salad was the 2nd most favored dish or the 5th most favored dish.

                                                                                                                  2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                    just FYI, it's Ryan Scott, not Bryan. interestingly, there was a Block Party challenge during his season and he was eliminated for a Tailgating challenge. that guy didn't have a prayer against the likes of Stephanie Izard, Blais, Antonia & Dale Talde.

                                                                                                                    but back to this season - i really liked Grayson already, but after that exchange with Tom last night, i LOVE her...and i think it's great that Tom had a sense of humor about it.

                                                                                                                    chicken salad was a weird choice, but they could have made it far more interesting. Chris was onto something with the curry, but once again he booted the execution. how about curried chicken salad in mini whole wheat pita pockets? and Grayson could have done something a little spicy, maybe with chipotle, scallion & some fresh cilantro, and a dressing of avocado and nonfat Greek yogurt instead of mayo. there's plenty of room for creativity even with the strange choice of chicken salad.

                                                                                                                    aside from that, it was no surprise that Paul dominated the entire episode - this is his to lose; i'm glad Chris J finally went home (though i would have been happy to see them get rid of either of the Mean Girls too); and i'm just so *bored* with this entire season.

                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                      You and I were on the same wavelength: go Mexican with a chipotle chicken salad, scallions and jicama and use Greek yogurt instead of mayo. For the watermelon salad, use lime juice, crumbled cotilla cheese and a dash of cayenne.

                                                                                                                    2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                      I think the reason Ryan Scott was the Healthy Choice Ambassador is because he won some kind of on-line Healthy Choice cooking competition of past Top Chef contestants on the Bravo website.

                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                        trying to imagine how one wins an online competition. Did people just vote for dishes with no guarantee they had tried them?

                                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                          I don't know who was judging. They were videos and on-line cooking demonstrations. I didn't view any of them.

                                                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                          He must really have a way with rice and modified food starches.

                                                                                                                      2. It looks like the producers are making fun of their own contestants and this lackluster season. Check out their spoof video called "Mediocre Chef"

                                                                                                                        1. Tom was live tweeting during the show, here are some of his tweets.

                                                                                                                          On the day:

                                                                                                                          It was about 110 degrees

                                                                                                                          On the bees:
                                                                                                                          Could be worse they could be killer bees

                                                                                                                          On the craziness before service:
                                                                                                                          I'm always amazed that the chefs pull it together

                                                                                                                          On Chris' watermelon salad:
                                                                                                                          That's Chris so refreshing

                                                                                                                          On Lindsay's meatballs:
                                                                                                                          It's all greek to me or get me to the Greek

                                                                                                                          On Grayson standing up to Tom
                                                                                                                          Grayson you kicked my butt

                                                                                                                          On sending Chris home:
                                                                                                                          Must be the socks

                                                                                                                          Emeril looks like Tony Musante

                                                                                                                          Chris you Should have hired the bees

                                                                                                                          From @Graysonschmitz:
                                                                                                                          @tomcolicchio wouldn't have had the "meatballs" to sass if I would have been on the bottom...no disrespect Chef;)

                                                                                                                          From @tomcolicchio
                                                                                                                          @Graysonschmitz none taken, it was hilarious

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                            <On the bees:
                                                                                                                            Could be worse they could be killer bees>

                                                                                                                            If you're allergic to their sting, all bees are killer bees. Just sayin'...

                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                              Thanks for the tweet compilation, Phaedrus!

                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                "On Grayson standing up to Tom
                                                                                                                                Grayson you kicked my butt"

                                                                                                                                Not who I was expecting to find in the walk in with Grayson. Was Tom wearing a spiked collar?


                                                                                                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                  Are we getting into dominatrix scenarios now?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                    ha ha. Anyone have photoshop skillz?


                                                                                                                              2. Ed on competing against Paul: Paul will always pull something out of his.....back pocket and best you. Nice recovery.

                                                                                                                                I wonder if they will bring up Peewee's unfortunate "incidence" at the peep show.

                                                                                                                                42 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                  Here;'s the bad thing: the cooking was incredibly dull and I didn't feel the urge to have even one recipe from this show. Here's another bad thing: what was healthy about Lindsay's meatballs? If there's going to say "healthy" is a deciding factor, they ought to give us the fat/calorie comparisons of the two head to head challengers. Just because you put some yogurt in the lamb doesn't mean you've "upped" the healthy factor. And what does healthy mean? Low calory? Low salt? Low fat? beats me.
                                                                                                                                  Here's the good thing. Loved to see how kind Ed was to Paul in the shrimp fiasco. Genuine friendship there. Loved to see Grayson show how you can defend yourself without being a brat: way to go nice Grayson! And I may be among the minority to miss Chris but I liked his insouciance, his spirit of adventure, and his likable wonkiness. He's not Blais but at least he tried to bring some whoppy to the game.
                                                                                                                                  Restaurant week got my hopes up: they cooked and did interesting things. Last week's challenge was the best all year and one of the best ever I thought. This week, we've slid back into early Betty Crocker. Grrr.....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                    I also questioned the "healthy alternative" on Lindsay's meatball. Just goes to show how good Paul is that he actually embraced the challenge and still won.
                                                                                                                                    I stand behind the chicken salad choice. How well they pulled it off was for the judges to decide but I would definitely get psyched if I thought I was being served an interesting or upscale chicken salad sandwich. I think there is a lot of room to be creative there.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                      i can't believe i'm going to defend Lindsay, but she said that her meatball was mostly veal with some lamb. 85% lean veal is actually lower in calories & fat than *95%* lean beef...so it really was a much healthier choice if she used mostly veal. and i was trying to figure out if Sarah used all breast meat, or if it was a mixture of light and dark, because again, that wouldn't be such a healthy choice - 85% lean ground turkey (not just breast) contains nearly 50% more calories and fat than 95% lean ground beef, and *double* the calories and fat of 85% lean ground veal.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                        I'll concede the point on the healthy meatball, you've convinced me. I tend to scoff at the notion of chicken or turkey being better for you than beef to begin with so I didn't really see where any of the dishes were all that much healthier than their traditional counterparts.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                          For the reasons you least and for others I wish the show had stated what they meant by "healthy.:" some people think eggs are "unhealthy" and others conflate all kinds of fat or meat as unhealthy. This is "junk nutrition." Food is healthy when it is fresh, natural (and this includes red meat), has been subjected to minimum or no processing, has no additives, etc. Low calorie doesn't mean healthy either: there's not one thing healthy about fake-processed low cal cheese. Real mayonnaise made with eggs and olive oil isn't unhealthy: ersatz yogurt with fillers and guar is unhealthy.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                            ersatz yogurt with fillers and guar is unhealthy.
                                                                                                                                            but that's not the only option. good-quality *strained* Greek yogurt made with nothing but milk and cultures is absolutely a "healthier" alternative to mayo *if* the objective is to lower the fat content of the dish.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                              Though there are indeed some people who seem to have bad reactions to it, there isn't much evidence that guar gum is unhealthy, especially in the typically tiny amounts its used. The wikipedia entry on guar gum has a reasonably unbiased review of its nutritional properties.

                                                                                                                                              Personally, I tend to agree that we as a culture over-demonize fat and salt and under-demonize sugar and refined starches. But there's still the matter of balance. A fat, even saturated animal fat, may not be particularly unhealthy in isolation, but fine dining traditionally overuses them and serves a lot of calories on a single entree (of course, what consists of 'a lot' of calories depends in part on who it's being served to). Likewise, many Americans eat them in unhealthy quantities and unhealthy proportions of their total caloric intake even if they don't go to fine dining restaurants.

                                                                                                                                              It would be nice if the Top Chef nutrition discussion didn't mainly revolve around reducing fat and salt, though within the context of fine dining I can see why that might dominate the conversation.

                                                                                                                                              Ed made an offhand comment about 'Asian food' being healthy. And while that's far too encompassing to be fully accurate, he's generally right that many Asian cuisines tend to use meat more as an element in a dish rather than the star of the show. More importantly, there is a tradition in many Asian cuisines to use a lot of vegetables in any given dish - considering them an integral part of the whole, rather than a side. Rather than 'healthifying' traditional Western plates, I believe a lot of people would be better off looking to Asian cooking traditions and structuring their plates differently from the ground up.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                Part of the tradition of using proportionally less meats in Asian cuisines comes from the difficulty in getting those meats both due to cost and due to availability. I have seen the proportion of meats in Asian foods increase considerably because they can now afford it as well as able to procure it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                  "It would be nice if the Top Chef nutrition discussion didn't mainly revolve around reducing fat and salt, though within the context of fine dining I can see why that might dominate the conversation. "
                                                                                                                                                  i can't speak for anyone else, but since this was basically a Healthy Choice branded challenge, and their brand identity has always been about fewer calories, less fat, and less salt, i just assumed those were the objectives for making the challenge dishes "healthier."

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                    Weren't they instructed to make a healthier version of the traditional item they chose? Granted, "healthier" means a lot of different things to people so they should have defined it better. What's in a "traditional" meatball that would make it less healthy than the veal/lamb meatball? Was it simply the fat content of ground beef vs. veal/lamb? It just seems strange to me to think of someone saying, "I'm going to start making healthier choices so now I'm going to make my meatballs with veal & lamb instead of ground beef."

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                      What's in a "traditional" meatball that would make it less healthy than the veal/lamb meatball?
                                                                                                                                                      white bread/crumbs (as a binder), and as already discussed, higher-fat ground beef. again, i'm not *personally* saying that lower-fat is "healthier" - it just seems to be the way they interpreted the challenge on the show.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                      That's also a good point. Healthy Choice seems to be mainly about presenting Westerners with familiar dishes but tuning down the fat, salt, and calories. And CAbeer&pizza makes a good point that (at least as far as we saw) the chefs came up with their dishes before being asked to make em healthy.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm not criticizing the chefs - they did what they could with the challenge guidelines and time allotted. But if TC wanted to make a challenge that's really about making healthier food (and I'm not saying they do - I'm sure this one just falls under 'advertising'), another direction would have been more constructive.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                        Except that Healthy Choice meals and the like contain quite a bit of sodium. I do the shopping for a woman newly on a low-salt diet, and she used to eat a lot of frozen meals. They are now out of the picture because of the salt content is on average about 600 mg. per meal.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                                                          just going by their propaganda:

                                                                                                                                                          frozen meals are pretty much always loaded with sodium unless they're specifically labeled otherwise...but i guess back in the early days of HC's reign, 600mg was considered to be a big improvement over the standard 1000-ish mg in meals from Stouffer's, Banquet, Marie Callender's, et al.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                            True enough. Banquet is by far the worst culprit, not surprisingly it is also the cheapest.

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                      I agree. A lot of people think that just making it with turkey automatically makes it completely harmless, but most ground turkey has quite a bit of fat in it. I assume there really were parameters, but they just didn't "bore" us with them.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                    >>> 85% lean veal is actually lower in calories & fat than *95%* lean beef<<<

                                                                                                                                                    How can something that's 15% fat have less fat than something that's 5% fat? I'm confused.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                      coupla reasons:
                                                                                                                                                      - the "lean" portion isn't completely fat free, it's just mostly lean tissue, so any intramuscular fat marbled within the tissue that isn't visible as discrete chunks that can be cut away is still present
                                                                                                                                                      - the *densities* of lean tissue and fat vary among species (and even among different cuts within the same animal), so some contain more grams of protein or fat per oz.

                                                                                                                                                      check out the info from the USDA nutrition database for 85/15 raw ground beef and 85/15 raw ground turkey. if you compare the data listed for each under the "value per 100g" column (meaning the amount of each nutrient present in 100 grams of product), you'll see major differences, even though the weights and lean/fat ratios are the same...

                                                                                                                                                      beef: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/sho...

                                                                                                                                                      turkey: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/sho...

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                      I have to disagree, and I'm really in a snit today about what's being called healthy, please don't take it personally. Today the new "healthy" school lunch was pictured in my newspaper. Instead of a hot dog on a bun, it's a heaping plate of ww pasta with little, tiny meat shreds in the sauce, veggies, fruit, and low fat milk. It's a low fat, low protein, almost all carb lunch, which will drive bigger and bigger appetites and waist lines.

                                                                                                                                                      We need to stop equating "healthy" with fat and meat reduction, it's never proven true, and has yielded terrible results. We need to see quality fats and proteins on plates with lots of veggies and not so much fruit and starch.

                                                                                                                                                      I KNOW you know this, and we disagree about quantity of fats as part of a healthy diet, but we know you can't live without it, and you can't be healthy eating a diet that's focused on removing fats and adulterating their sources from meals. Study after study has found that the healthiest modification is replacement of starches with monounsturated fats, and even high saturated fats for mortality risk reduction and disease prevention.d

                                                                                                                                                      That heaping pile of wheat, with all the sides and the low fat milk loaded with lactose really pissed me off.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        Unless they plan to get those kids moving with a few miles around the track every day, then they may want to carbo load a bit.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                          Not at all. If you carb load, your body burns that instead of fat. If endurance athletes low carb, it takes three weeks in ketosis to adapt to strenuous workouts, and less bonking because you don't deplete protein and fat as readily as glycogen stores.

                                                                                                                                                          The other problem with it aside from disease promotion is that studies demonstrate that a carby meal leads to eating more calories at the next, due to increased hunger/appetite from the hormonal response to the carby meal.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                            In my original reply I was kidding but having been obsessed with endurance events for a couple of decades I've read widely on sports nutrition and there are numerous opinions on the topic and they all seem to have a mountain of research to back up their claims.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                              And some folks who low carb insist they bonk , but instead of eating carbs, they use dextrose in a drink that gets used right away, or power gel. Carb loading, OTOH, comes with a lot of undesirable effects.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                  I wasn't referring to immediate symptoms. Though I had a lot of those for years that I didn't realize were carb related til they were gone.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                          c'mon, you should know me better than that. if you had read my other posts on this page, you'd see that i specifically said i *didn't* equate "healthy" with fat & meat reduction...but that it appears as though the *chefs & judges* did for the purpose of the challenge, and if that was the case, then by THEIR standards the leaner meats were the "healthier" choices.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                            i actually am for higher protein lower carb meals. HOWEVER mcf... 3 weeks in ketosis just isn't a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                              It's a completely healthful state.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                              That's why I said "I KNOW you know this." I'm just tad crazed about the misplaced blame and the equation of lower fat = healthier. It's myth and it's killing people.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                misunderstanding. you opened your direct reply to me with "i have to disagree," and since my post was an explanation of why the lower-fat meats that the chefs used were considered "healthier" options (at least in the misguided/misinformed minds of the Top Chef folks), i took it to mean you had a problem with my position. just had to clarify that it wasn't *actually* my position...even though yeah, i knew that you already knew that :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                  I just took off on the discussion, and your post really collected all the fat substitutions as if that's what makes foods unhealthy. That pic in the paper just drove me nuts.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                            95% lean ground beef..... if I had to eat that, I wouldn't be eating any ground beef. It is DRY, DRY, DRY unless you "beef" it up with eggs.

                                                                                                                                                            Meatballs, imho, were not a good choice in this challenge. Neither for a block party dish (unless it's in an Italian neighborhood, then they'd be using sausage - just sayin') nor as a succulent "healthy" dish. Great meatballs are loaded with fat and carbs. ricotta, bread crumbs, eggs, not to mention 3 meats, traditionally.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                              to be fair they all chose the "food" before they found out it had to be healthy. So you really can't ding them for trying to make a healthy meatball.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                I can't even stand sirloin at 91% lean, unless I'm using it in chili or another mixed dish with other fats because while I don't limit fats, I hate a pot full of grease.

                                                                                                                                                                My meatballs have 6 oz. of pecorino romano and 4 eggs to a lb of 85% lean ground beef. No ricotta and three meats is only traditional in some families... I'm hooked on all beef meatballs after years of making a blend.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                              I wonder if it would really matter how healthy the food was, as long as it tasted good, as with other challenges. Ignore the challenge, make good food--you might not win but you won't go home. Maybe if Ed or any of them had stuck w/ their original plan, they might have been on top. I mean, Grayson used dark meat vs Chris's white meat. It all came down to flavor.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                I don't think healthiness mattered at all when it comes to picking the winner of each head to head competition. Those winners were picked by the diners and not by the judges and I don't think they were told to pick the food based on healthiness. To pick the winner of the episode - I think the judges factor in the healthiness of the food. To pick the eliminated contestant, I think the judges also factor in healthines of the food. In both cases, I think it's used more or less as a tie breaker. If two dishes are equally tasty, then the healthier of the two wins. If two dishes are equally disgusting, then the least healthy loses.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                  I remember when Art Smith was guest judge for the cooking challenge for school kids. He was very serious about the food being both tasty and nutritious for the kids. And if I remember correctly, they did seem to judge the dishes with a little more care put into the nutrition angle. The healthiness factor seemed to be just a lot of sloganeering since they didn't really calculate the amount of salt, sugar, or fat that went into each dish, it was just a hand waving exercise.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                    "just a hand waving exercise."

                                                                                                                                                                    Exactly. Who says turkey is a better choice? It's not always. It depends on whether they ground up the skin in it, which many do, or use dark meat. Unless we make a comparison, who knows whether Paul's turkey was better than Ed's beef ribs w/ the fat cut off, nutritionally speaking. Did Lindsay use low fat yogurt? Grayson said her mayo was olive oil mayo--is that better than other mayo? Oh, she bought her mayo, too. I was surprised about that.

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                              Oh Yes!
                                                                                                                                                              I am Loving Ed!

                                                                                                                                                              That line was great, and I absolutely adored his good natured and good humored response to Paul forgeting about the shrimp!

                                                                                                                                                              I was pooping my pants worrying he was going home!
                                                                                                                                                              I must admit - I was super happy it was Chris - even if I'l miss his hair! :)

                                                                                                                                                            4. A few random thoughts:

                                                                                                                                                              Re Charlize, Grayson nailed it perfectly re her visit to the stew room: "I was a fan before but now..."

                                                                                                                                                              Did anyone else notice Lindsay's reaction to being teamed with Sarah?

                                                                                                                                                              Sarah was a poor looser yet again in re to the QF.

                                                                                                                                                              How did Sarah talk Lindsay into meatballs? But, Lindsay ended up with the winning meatball!

                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                I saw that face Lindsay made as Sarah patted her on the back. It could definitely have been read as her not being all that pleased.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                  I missed Lindsay's reaction to being teamed with Sarah for the QF - what was it?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    she kinda rolled/widened her eyes - it could mean a lot of things, but it sure didn't look like it meant she was thrilled.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                      Even more interesting if she wasn't thrilled, as Sarah's been her biggest defender in the confessional and in the Stew Room.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm waiting for someone to come along and say that it was all editing and none of it ever happened. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                            And instead of the traditional finale, they all head back to South Fork to be told this season never happened.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                          it appeared to me like Lindsey just doesn't like to be touched.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                                                            With that stick up her ass all the time, I imagine she's probably a little sensitive to touch.

                                                                                                                                                                            I mean that in the nicest possible way.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I didn't see any comments on the pairings. Usually, when they are randomly drawn, they show that, so it appears as if the pairings were preselected. Anyone else see the unfairness of that? The pairings should have been random, and if they were indeed random, why not show that to us?

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                                          It may be have been random. When Beverly was paired up with Heather in the team challenge, they actually drew knives. But that part was edited out.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Others have said here already how underwhelming this episode was, how TPTB had gone back to mediocre food in a questionable so-called challenge, with a questionable twist after the cheftestants had thought of what they wanted to do.

                                                                                                                                                                          i completely agree.

                                                                                                                                                                          Contrast this with, for example, that Part 1 of the finale for season 4 on Puerto Rico where the finalists catered a fairly large party for the Governor of PR. Quite different, with higher quality food "built in", as it were. There are similar examples of episodes close-to-the-end where the cheftestants produced food for a large-ish group but under situations where excellent food was almost part of the fabric of the challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. With all the talk about "Asian food" and chicken salad, I have to say that the twist on chicken salad sandwich that screams out to me is to use yogurt instead of mayo, spice it up with some sort of Asian flavor, and serve it as a lettuce wrap. Which isn't anything new, a Google search tells me, but could go off in several directions, such as curry chicken (and Tom liked that Chris used curry) or chicken laab. I wonder if, given more time, Chris could have made chicken salad look like a sushi roll.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                              Nah, it wouldn't allow him to play with sou vide or liquid nitrogen.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. For the record what is considered 'block party' food?

                                                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                Easy-to-eat finger food and not something messy like ribs? Dunno.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                  At our neighborhood block parties, we don't have caterers and people showing up at a certain time to line up in the heat for food. We have a couple grills set up at the central house, and a couple tables set up for everyone to drop their potluck contributions. "Bring something to grill and something to share." (And we do it in late September in New England, so holding up in the heat is not such an issue.)

                                                                                                                                                                                  It's basically a picnic/cookout menu: People bring burgers and dogs for the grill, a variety of salads (broccoli or pasta or potato or "Asian" -- some of which are reasonably "elevated", but I don't remember ever seeing chicken salad), baked beans, sushi (California rolls, anyway), cookies and brownies, a variety of chips, a variety of dips/salsa (some more interesting than others), cheese and crackers.... Never seen meatballs, but have seen wings. Cookies and brownies.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                    People wouldn't bring chicken salad because a mayo-based food sitting out in the hot sun is usually frowned upon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                      yet they bring california rolls? yeah....

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't have a link or anything, but the mayo in potato salad causing illness has been pretty much debunked. It's the potatoes that generally go bad, not the mayo.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                          commercial mayo has plenty of vinegar, and the egg component is neutralized by processing and the vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: moto

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yep, it's not the mayo causing the problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                        And I should receive my invitation in the mail around Labor Day, right momjamin? :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                          LW -- Absolutely -- unless there's a Ripert/Bourdain event in town ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                          And in reply to the comments about the hot sun -- late September, late afternoon, New England. Still have to deal with mosquitos as dusk approaches, but not so much hot sun.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                            I would so dump you in a Boston minute should they be back in town. Sorry, but hey - priorities, ya know?

                                                                                                                                                                                            (And then you could post on NAF about inviting someone to the block party who had planned to bring a lot of food and then decided at the last minute to go to meet up with her boyfriends and how RUDE is that person!)


                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              What are you talking about? My husband would be telling everyone at the block party where I was ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                        While there is no "proper" definition of what Block Party food, is, I will take a basic stab:

                                                                                                                                                                                        The food is often to what someone would think of as Picnic Food, but with some more options since you can often sit down, at a table, with paper plates and plastic cutlery.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Grilled and/or BBQ'd food is not uncommon since someone often brings a grill.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Personally, in all my years, I don't remember seeing any kind of sandwich at a block party (unless burgers are classified as a sandwich). They are not outlawed, of course, but, I have not seen them.

                                                                                                                                                                                        However, Potato Salad or something like that would be a common (side) dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4. TV Guide on-line has an interview with Chris J. Interesting read. He was annoyed about all the Top Catering going on and he explains his hair which is very sweet.


                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow, after reading that it is so clear that the producers, elves or whoever have messed up big time with this season. He is an interesting fellow and we heard and saw very little of it. Only enough to think he was an odd oddball, not an endearing, talented oddball.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Enough with top catering. Hopefully they can salvage the remmaining season.


                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. Seems like a genuinely nice guy, and probably more talented than we were ever able to actually witness. Good luck to him.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought it was cool that after getting made fun of for his hair, it turns out he was just in the process of growing it long for Locks of Love.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Also agreed on the 'Enough with Top Catering' comment. Thanks to lbs for posting the interview.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                                            Well stated by Chris:

                                                                                                                                                                                            "At this point in the competition, it should focus on our style, doing absolutely beautiful dishes, which I think people want to see. It's been Top Chef Extreme this whole season, between barbeque pit wars and chili cook-offs. I thought after the Charlize Theron challenge last week that now we'll really get to shine and show our stuff. And then the next challenge I have to make a chicken salad sandwich. [Laughs] I've eaten one chicken salad sandwich and I've made one chicken salad sandwich, both in the same day. It's not something I cook. Even if we had picked something like meatballs [like Sarah and Lindsay], it's a meatball! Look at what's been done in the past — all those beautiful plates. And they're wondering why some fans are disappointed with the season. It's not the chefs' fault. Give us the opportunity and we'll create a wonderful dinner."

                                                                                                                                                                                            And reading his explanation about his half-pony - I hereby take back everything I said about it. Well, it still *looks* dumb. But the cause is a wonderful one.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, sorry I kept calling him Pebbles.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                                He's doing a great thing in growing out his hair for Locks of Love, but I still think "Pebbles" was cute, not mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for posting that link - I also recommend watching his exit video...

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                A serious shout out to Chris for growing his hair for Locks of Love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I always liked him. Always came off as a decent guy. Coming from Moto I knew he must have some serious cooking skills. He just always seemed to miss the mark. But I loved the way that he tried to put himself out there and never tried to play it safe.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Has Paul had any other brain farts like he had during the QF in this episode where he forgot to add the shrimp? It seems to me that the only thing keeping Paul from winning the title of Top Chef are his brain farts. That, and doing like Ed Cotten did in TC 7 and NOT study up of the cuisine of the locale of the finale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Paul has already won $50,000 cash and a trip to the premier of Charlize Theron's newest film.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Looking through the recipes I think some of us may have been underestimating Grayson. She has put out some very nice looking and interesting dishes. I think her technique may be more refined than she has been getting credit for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  54 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                    'some of us may have been underestimating Grayson. She has put out some very nice looking and interesting dishes.'
                                                                                                                                                                                                    But of the chefs left, who hasn't? I don't recall anyone saying she's a hack or that she's not talented. I just think she's at the bottom end of the final five.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think she's a hack and not very talented. I also think the rest of them with the exception of Paul and Ed are hacks notwithstanding their resumes. They had a chance to make whatever they want and they came up with meatballs and chicken salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                        What would you make given 2 hours and 200 dishes to plate? No grill, no fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like to think that I would come up with something a little more remarkable myself, but I can't ignore the fact that this season has been particularly full of catering-type challenges and slim timeframes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fact of the matter is many of these chefs run good restaurants. They're James Beard nominees and michelin star winners - they've established professionally that they're not hacks. Thing is that doesn't necessarily translate to being good at cooking competitions. I'm frankly not sure if this season is just a little worse at competitions than previous seasons or if the bigger difference is that this season has just structured the vast majority of its challenges in a way that doesn't lend itself to great food. On one hand, I imagine that Blais and the season 6 finalists would have still made some great food anyway, had they been competing this season. On the other hand, this is arguably as prestigious a group of chefs (in terms of their accomplishments away from TC) as any that has competed, and they did very well in the one challenge without all the stifling constraints.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I actually like Grayson but she's really not much of a chef. She's got 2 elimination wins, both in team challenges where I don't think she really shined. In the BBQ win, it was all Paul. Her other win was in the first team challenge. She came in "high" in three elimination challenges, one was a chicken salad win over Chris, another was Restaurant Wars where she made a salad and a dessert, and her other high was also for a dessert in the progressive dinner. On the other hand, she screwed up boar and steaks. She was also in the bottom for the Charlize challenge, she didn't really screw anything up but her dish was still in the bottom 3. She does have 2 QF wins, but the last one is where we saw her screw up the pasta while Chris Jones seems to have picked up the slack. There isn't a single dish prepared by her all season that impressed me - so she's a hack to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's pretty strong, Worldwide... since you can't taste any of it, which means you have no idea of toothsome-ness of pasta, and it's all edited.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes, not just to your comment Worldwide, but.... it seems like NO ONE ever realizes we don't TASTE, SMELL, or see much of the process of these dishes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes, I think I would like a CH elimination contest, with regular contributors cooking, baking, etc. with another randomly selected panel of CH'ers judging the 'cooker's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wouldn't that be fun, and creating another whole playing field for us to judge others?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I see a FN show here...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Certainly on the last QF challenge. I was shocked to find Grayson/Chris the winner since all we saw is Grayson botching the pasta. On the other hand, we know Sarah can make pasta, but Cat Cora apparently doesn't like tarragon. So in that instance, I don't know exactly why Sarah/Lindsay lost and Grayson/Chris won. Absolutely terrible editing and unenlightening comments from the QF judges, i.e., Cat sucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And since when, WwD, is it reasonable for a chef like CC to not like a dish since it involves an herb she doesn't like?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kind of weird... since, lot's of people like tarragon? It is kind of up there with cilantro in divided audiences. Seems to me that no chef worth there snuff shouldn't be able to seperate personal likes, from general like-ability?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                True as you said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I thought she simply said it was too much tarragon. That seems very, very different than not liking tarragon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    She said that tarragon was a strong herb and there was just too much of it in the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It wasn't that she didn't like tarragon. It's that she thought it overwhelmed the flavor of the shrimp. I like tarragon, but I can see how might not have been the best herb choice for that dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Right, it was Sarah (Shrek Jr.) who once again ducked responsibility for a crappy dish and morphed what Cora said into "Cat doesn't like Tarragon."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Grayson didn't screw up the pasta. She had a hard time with it, and Cat expressed concern, but as far as I could tell it came out fine in the end. There was no mention of her pasta being bad in the QF judges comments. Or an I mis-remembering?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You're not. And as for, "all we saw is Grayson botching the pasta," the fact that we saw lots of footage of her having a difficult time with it is simply editing to frustrate expectations. And "I was shocked to find Grayson/Chris the winner" was exactly the result the Magical Elves were going for. It says a lot more about the techniques of crafting this kind of show than it does about Grayson's talent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                              People seem to suggest that her cooking is basic, kind of stereotype midwestern but looking through her recipes I was a little surprised by how impressive the dishes looked. I didn't remember seeing most of them on the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll take stereotype midwestern over stereotype Californian any day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the refined austrian/alsatian/german cuisine she has tried to put forth is a really hard sell in this competition-- it's very opposite tom c.'s (very italian-american) flavor profile palate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it's also a very marginalized cuisine in general in this country, so marginalized that i think everyone currently piling on the "asian" discussion is kinda missing that point. as flawed as the broad-brush semantics may be, going with east asian flavor profiles/"asian food" is a great way to win the big challenges and the big bucks. . . doing other major world cuisines (including italy-italian), not so much. i'd be very surprised if this wasn't discussed among the contestants... i think the meatballs were obviously pandering to the judges' tastes (sarah-italian-tom, lindsay-greek-cat), because these chefs doing their best work in their specialist cuisines seems to land them in the bottom-- it is no wonder, given these dumb "challenges" that some of the remaining chefs seem to be going "safe," to the detriment of the overall quality of the food put forth. and the viewers are bored, and the producers and (arguably) the state of texas are pretty much to blame for that. i think that grayson's frustration with the status quo thus far in the competition reached a boiling point and hence her mouthing off to the head judge about the banality of meatballs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i don't expect it to be a popular opinion, but it's mine. here's another controversial statement, while i'm at it: german food can be awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i love good German food. and i probably haven't even had REALLY good German food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd like to see an entire season of nothing French and nothing Italian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know about an entire season, but how about a challenge where the contestants cannot cook to their strengths. Each of them likely has a fairly easily identifiable cuisine they specialize in, make them do something quite different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I had this idea for a challenge where the chefs have to draw two cuisines at random and create a fusion dish from those two traditions. The pool of choices would consist of cuisines which none of the chefs strongly identify with. (I haven't seen every season, so I hope this hasn't come up.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Although, with this current crop of chefs, I would be amused if they had replicated the horrible Italian-American dinner from All-Stars and made the contestants cook a Chinese dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They actually did that on Top Chef Canada. They had to draw knives twice and each knife had a different country/cuisine on it. The chefs had to make a dish fusing the two cuisines. Some combinations worked and some were pretty tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In TC7 they had a challenge where the cheftestants were to cook food appropriate to, or "inspired by", various countries - chosen from a "map" presented to them in the TC kitchen. They were to cook for folks from those countries, such as diplomatic staff from the embassies of said countries, at a get-together party, and where they were going to be looking for a taste of home, according to Padma Lakshmi.. It elicited a great many comments here on CH about it. I myself was incensed by the criticism leveled at Ed Cotton for cooking duck in the style he did with rubbery skin, something he had learned from his Chinese girlfriend, but something that was panned by Jose Andres (the guest judge) for "not representing China" and for which he was also dragged over the coals by Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons for not rendering it more, having non-crispy skin etc etc. In contrast, the guy from the Chinese Embassy had declared it "authentic" and very good; and folks (including myself) pointed out that Ed's duck seemed like what folks who ate Chinese food would expect in that style, that "rubbery skin" with a layer of fat still there, etc etc, that it was how it would be expected to be...but Tom C, Gail S. and Jose A. seemed to think it was the pits. It seemed startling to me, in particular, that Jose A. seemed to know what Chinese food should be, over what a native Chinese person had declared about his native cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, I was totally incensed about that episode too. I probably also posted that the skin is supposed to be rubbery and why don't the judges know about that etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I realize that these shows take place in a "Western" environment but the judges should know more about Asian cuisine. Not every skin has to be crispy!! They need a judge like Judy Joo from the Next Iron Chef or Ming Tsai to educate them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember that thread, huiray. It was that Tom, Gail, et al wanted the duck "Westernized" vs. cooked the way it was for who the meal was made - the Chinese ambassador (or whoever he was).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  they've done this on Masterchef (I forget which one). But I agree...it's a good challenge and one that I would like to see on Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                +1 on a French/Italian season (I would add Spain too).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You have a point, regarding the lack of recognition of Alsatian food in the US. Mind you, Everest in Chicago serves wonderful Alsatian cuisine and is one of the nicest places to go to as well as one of the *most expensive* places in the States to have a dinner at. :-) I have enjoyed my meals there, BTW. It also has an amazingly deep wine cellar, as well as with regards to Alsatian wines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yet it is a point about a "specialized cuisine" wrt Grayson Schmitz versus the others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the brouhaha about "Asian food" had more to do with the lumping together of many disparate cuisines under the term of "Asian" as well as the apparent disregard of their virtues rather than the marginalization of a specific cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think your last paragraph is right on. I do not believe every time the words 'Asian food' are said together means they are necessarily used in a pejorative sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'd agree that the sort of widely influenced pan-Asian style tends to play out well on TC. It's versatile, often relies on quick cooking times, can make use of a great array of ingredients, and still has the potential to surprise and delight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But 2 qualms with other points in your post:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For one, I'm not sure I'd say that German/Eastern European has fared badly on TC. Right off the bat, Stefan comes to mind as someone who used predominantly German cooking (with a touch of modernist flare and world-scavenging influence) in dominant fashion. And even Kevin Gillespie, who's main style was Southern US, incorporated some notable German influence to his cooking - Colicchio (who people seem to think prefers Italian, despite his frequent criticism of Italian dishes and the general fact that no one seems to win or dominate a season with Italian cooking) listed Kevin's cooking as what he would eat for the rest of his life if he had to choose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Instead I'd say that German cooking has just been under-utilized on TC, perhaps because it is marginalized in the US. But it hasn't fared too badly when it's made an appearance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Qualm #2: I'm not convinced we should consider Grayson's cooking all that German. Take a look at her dishes this season - here is the first page and you can look over her recipes on the next few pages:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I see a little bit of German, just as much French if not more so, just as much American, and then a host of other one-off influences ranging from Japanese to Central American. If anything, I'd characterize her style as New American (minus any modernist tendencies). Which isn't exactly a hard sell on TC; more so it's hard to distinguish oneself, since that style is pretty popular.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sorry if my post was unclear-- my point was *not* that grayson only has facility in only one cuisine, or that she uses one cuisine "in dominant fashion" as you put it-- quite the opposite, in fact. clearly she can execute w seafood well and do new american with a great deal of depth, inventiveness and flair. she also has a background in italian cooking... skimming the recipes is not so helpful unless you realize what to look for--i would not expect her to try to incorporate tequila or chiles into german recipes or go that flavor profile route for challenges that were obviously set-up for texas rodeo food or bbq or crack-open-a-can or whatever. all of these chefs have been really constrained by the challenges, as many folks have noted. i was attempting to give grayson's food pov a little "depth" for some of the folks who imo aren't giving her any credit at all, or maybe who are implying that some u.s. regional/world cuisines do not count. my attempt was to refute the "hack," "boring-midwestern," "unremarkable," etc. comments, because she may well be one of the more versatile cooks in the competition, from what they've all shown us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    when the chefs are allowed to break out of challenge constraints a little, grayson has introduced (or attempted to), many dishes, flavor profiles or garnish elements that reflect refined austrian/alsatian/german cuisine-- and she's done it very fluidly, but as far as i can see she's gotten little or no credit or comment or substantial wins for her efforts... but i think that the merits and execution level of what she's brought forth probably explains why she's still here, when other talented people have been cut out of competition. also, the lack of acknowledgement from the judges may be making her feel trapped into veering away from a cuisine that's in her wheelhouse and may lead specifically to making choices (like the chx salad sandwich) that are puzzling. if you look at grayson's recipes again, i would draw your attention to the well received schaum torte and peach salad with bacon vinaigrette from restaurant wars, the elk w juniper, the german potato salad w the steak, even the pickled beets under the black chicken and elements of the dressing of the chx salad from the last challenge. her bag of tricks is a little deeper, and with more pockets, than she's credited for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my point re: tom c's flavor palate/comfort zone is that it is *notNOTnot* italian--- it is italian-american (spef. east coast u.s.), and they are actually very different. tom's palate/preferences as a judge will actually tend to work ***against*** more (doh!) "authentic" italy-italian cooks (see also sarah getting dinged twice on risotto this season), but he's also made some very questionable calls in the past based on his hangups--erm, i meant preferences/pov. other folks have helpfully brought up the ed cotton/"chinese" duck incident, which is one example. lots of folks might also remember tom lighting up carla hall for making a dish combining tomatoes and peanuts, which to tom was just anathema-- but many folks were shouting at their t.v.'s for tom to try going to a west african restaurant. to me, chuy's elimination this season was the same deal, tom getting hung up on the rules/constraints of one cuisine and applying them across the board when this may not have been appropriate. i do think tom needs to get out of his culinary comfort zone occasionally, or have other qualified judges on hand to balance him out or call him out, otherwise he really has nobody else to blame when talented people come at him with simple plates. meatballs, anyone?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    this season is undoubtably season top short rib/kalbi, as other seasons have been season top scallop, etc. it's this season's cliche, and paul and ed plainly picked kalbi for the block party challenge because it's played so well over the rest of the season. paul's adaptation when the "healthy" wrench was thrown in was quite inspired, ed's much less so-- but they clearly did not see how they could lose by this type of game-playing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Right off the bat, I don't think Grayson is a hack, so we're in agreement there. And thank you for pointing to specific elements of Grayson's food to reference. Interesting. What I gather of your point is that while Grayson's cooking style doesn't lean too heavily on German or any one specific influence, some of her most inspired elements come from that cuisine. Correct? That's sounds reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the record, when I wrote that Stefan used German cooking 'in dominant fashion,' I wasn't saying that his food was predominantly German (though that's true enough I guess) but that he dominated the competition (won a lot) with his German food. My point was just that German food has fared well at times during Top Chef. Tom does indeed seem to come from an Italian-American frame of reference. But that doesn't mean that cooking Italian-American is a smart idea when making him food. Remember last season when they actually had a challenge to cook Italian-American food - many or even most of the chefs had real difficulty cooking food that pleased him. He tended to be more critical of Italian-American food, which IMO shouldn't surprise anyone - that's how people are about the food they grew up with. Frankly, I think you're better off cooking German-influenced food for him than cooking Italian-American food for him, more often than not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Minor points:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - You could be right about a bias against serving salmon with goat cheese in the case of Chuy's elimination. It's possible that someone else deserved to go home more that week - there were other good candidates. But to be fair, Chuy did have other reasons to go home for that dish beside just the flavor paring. By all accounts (including Chuy's), it wasn't executed well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - I seem to remember Tom liking Carla's tomato and peanut soup. Didn't it win that week? My memory could well be faulty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - You're right about this season being Top Kalbi. A little side note about Paul's dish: not too long ago, I made a kalbi marinade for a very lean meat that I then grilled. As you might predict, the meat just didn't take up the flavor of the marinade, despite being sliced very thin - just not enough fat to really take in the flavors. Sort of bland, under-seasoned despite the flavorful marinade... not impressive. So I saw that Paul won with turkey kalbi, I was very curious. And turns out he used ground meat, cooking with all the marinade's flavors incorporated in the pan like you might cook ground beef for an Americanized taco (he also incorporated eggplant to further suck up all that flavor). It was one of those *facepalm* moments for me. But very resourceful of Paul.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't remember whether or not Carla win that challenge, but I doubt it. Tom was absolutely incredulous that she had used the tomato and peanut combo. I remember being baffled by his response, surprised by his ignorance about that combo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She did win with her Groundnut stew, good memory :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That was the challenge at the US Open Tennis tournament, wasn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yep! They did the head to head matchup, with Carla going against Tre. She won a trip to Italy!! Tony Mantuano was the guest judge. Her dish was African Groundnut Soup with Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Adzuki Beans. Sounds pretty darn tasty to me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "but he's also made some very questionable calls in the past based on his hangups--erm, i meant preferences/pov."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          IMO he has, indeed. He is treated like a God by some folks but in my view he has, yes, what seems like a skewed Western/Italian-American palate with personal idiosyncrasies. I question his competence with cuisines other than European/Western/Italian-American/"New American", as I have mentioned in past threads, and which I alluded to also in a post above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He also has what seems like certain personal notions about what proper "salting" is supposed to be. One of the *other* things that have tripped up cheftestants in the past is catering to his notion of what proper salting/"seasoning" is supposed to be. I recall in particular the difficulty that Kelly Liken had (again, in Season 7) with trying to salt stuff to Tom Colicchio's liking. I remember her talking about how she herself did not normally salt stuff as heavily as Tom C. appeared to prefer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For the next elimination challenge, the chefs will be shown highlights of Tom Colicchio complaining about something which seems to bother only him. The chefs will be required to cook something that Tom hates but the other judges love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "but in my view he has, yes, what seems like a skewed Western/Italian-American palate with personal idiosyncrasies."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But who is that not true of? Replace Western/Ital-American with whatever someone is most familiar with. Everyone has their biases and preferences and areas of expertise and areas of comparative ignorance. No matter how well you educate yourself and your palate, you can't escape what you grew up with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If TC was competing for Kelly Liken's judgement, he might say that he normally does not salt so lightly. It's all subjective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, the discussion here is with regards to his position as the head judge of a cooking show purporting to find the Top/Best chef. The sub-discussion also had to do with the way the prejudices of a judge skews the search for food that is superb in its own right, or on terms that are appropriate for assessing it in its own context.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                By the same token, it is always problematic (IMO) when the challenges include food or cuisines far outside Tom's personal comfort zone, in the way soupkitten has already elaborated on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The show is, of course, in reality a game show where the contestants compete to be the cook (not even chef) whom Tom Colicchio likes best. As many have talked about in these threads over many seasons. Many have said repeatedly that in practice one should cook for the judges alone and ignore everyone and everything else. It ought to be renamed "Top Tom's Cook".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "By the same token, it is always problematic (IMO) when the challenges include food or cuisines far outside Tom's personal comfort zone"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But in what way, exactly, is it problematic? People just have to understand that the challenge is not: "make X cuisine well." The challenge is: "make X cuisine in such a way that it is pleasing to the individuals judging you." IMO, there's nothing wrong with that. And anyway I think it is an unavoidable fact of cooking competitions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I addressed your objection in my post in the last paragraph. You should reread it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But in a general sense, I *do* find it problematic. It makes even the notion of having cuisine X as a concept on the episode into even more of a charade. To me. We will just have to disagree on this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, one more thing about that "salting" business - here in the Mid-West, my experience has been that many folks like their food very salty and/or very sweet. Or copious amounts of cheese. In fact, when I moved here from NJ some years ago I found a lot of restaurant food here barely edible because it was so salty. (Alas, my salt tolerance has drifted towards more salty as time has gone on...) I knew former colleagues here who carried around salt shakers to pour even more salt on the already-salty food they got in restaurants. I also recall comments from Mid-Western colleagues about how they found the food in NY tasteless. Someone else from the East Coast might consider food here to be inedible and fault the cooks here for grossly oversalting or oversugaring the food. (Tom C. almost seems more "Mid-Western" in his relatively high salt demands) Vive la differénce and all that, but it becomes an issue if one is judging a cooking show with contestants drawn from different backgrounds and cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tom's preference for salt strikes me as more 'decades spent as a chef' than 'midwestern.' A preference for a good bit of salt seems common, though not universal, for a certain generation of chefs, even on the East coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At any rate, I get the impression that there's some wiggle room in his salting preference. He's a lot harder on food that he considers oversalted than undersalted. And he seems to understand that some very good chefs don't use it as liberally as his preference might entail - I seem to remember him defending Brian Voltaggio during that season's finale as someone who just has a light hand with seasoning as opposed to someone who just didn't taste the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it may just be that he's less sensitive to the taste of salt. People's biochemistry determines how sensitive various receptors are, including ones for taste. My salt requirements and tolerances have varied wildly in the last few years with my bouncing adrenal steroid levels, from craving a lot, to everything tasting hideously oversalted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That may be true, but I'd guess that for the majority of people, how much salt tastes 'right' depends more on how salty the food they normally eat is. Most people seem to be able to build up a tolerance to salt (tastewise) which they can also reverse by avoiding it for a while. In Colicchio's case, he eats and tastes a lot of high end restaurant food which tends to be saltier than home cooking. So to give him that extra oomph, a contestant might be wise to salt just a little more than they would food in a fine dining restaurant (which is usually already fairly well salted). He may well just happen to prefer a little more salt than the average chef to boot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course I don't know the guy and I can't rule out endocrine issues or lead poisoning or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, you're right about the amount of salt sensitizing if it's low, and desensitizing if it's high. But folks also have very different salt needs and cravings based upon a number of factors, such as stress, illness, any number of things. I had the experience of craving salt after two decades not having used it and being very sensitive to it, realy weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The mid-west is pretty big and you used a pretty big brush to paint a pretty big swath. Where specifically did you move to and is that where the restautants are located that use a lot of salt?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ideally, the rest of the judges should be chosen to balance against that. I would love for guest judges who have not just different tastes and areas of expertise but also some real culinary ideological disagreements with Tom, if such a thing is possible, so that cooking for Tom stands the chance of drawing the ire of the other judges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That would be nice. They would also have to actually stand up to him, and not just defer to his judgement, since he's the "Head Judge" and all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There definitely have been other judges who seem to have different palates and expectations. But frankly, I don't think representing all kinds of biases in choosing the show's judges is strictly necessary or always helpful. There are too many culinary points of view to represent more than a tiny portion of them in the judging for any individual challenge. And diversifying up the judging panel too much just puts the contestant in an impossible bind. I don't see what's wrong with the judging on the show having a set of biases, as long as that point of view is understood to be just that - one set of preferences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I prefer watching the chefs labor under difficult constraints where you expect some of them to fail rather than straight-forward challenges where you expect them all to make a great dish. (Towards the end of the season, you use challenges that give the chefs greater freedom to express themselves and their culinary vision, because you don't want people winning by default.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It also makes for more interesting TV if there is conflict between the judges and not just the contestants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              now, i must say that i generally find myself agreeing w tom c's decisions. but he's made a couple judgements after having an over-the top reaction to an element of a dish that really bug me because i think his biases are too much in play. for the most part i think he is a good judge for this kind of competition, but i enjoy seeing other folks at the judge's table who sort of offer an alternate pov. additionally, i would hope that the contestants would have ample opportunity to defend their choices at extended judge's table... so it is possible that tom c's strong personal pov might be balanced out to some extent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              wrt salt-- 1) i don't buy that midwestern food is generally saltier than east coast, and i think both regions are big enough that broad brushes are not useful. size of metro area may be a bigger factor than geography 2) food made for competition will tend to be seasoned and spiced more assertively than regular food, because of the "one bite" factor-- a judge will tend to have only one bite from multiple plates, so competitors will want that one bite to come across w a memorable flavor profile. 3) if food is spicier (hotter) the salt level should also increase to punch up those flavors. see also the "spice level" restaurants that neglect this step when adding chiles or chile oil or whatever to an individual portion of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I still find it entertaining whatever they do, but yes it would be nice to see a dish I would actually want to eat. "Healthy" is also so subjective, yet they all have similar ideas about what that means. Does it just mean it doesn't fill you up or eating the whole dish would not leave you as full feeling? I'm not sure that delivering fat via eggplant is any healthier than via another vegetable that doesn't absorb it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, am I the only one that doesn't find Grayson charming? She seems pretty immature and slightly annoying to me. She's certainly no Evil Queen, but she can be a little snide and just a little too down-homey in w ay that makes her seem a little unprofessional to me, especially next to Lindsay. I did like that she was the only one not to call out Beverly but it's not like Grayson has never shown attitude. I would say Paul or Chris J behaved the best so far. I also don't think Grayson's food is among the best. I think she'll go out soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would choose to work with Greyson over Lindsay any day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                times 100!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                fara, i agree with the first half of your post - i too, also still find the show entertaining. annoying at times, frustrating that they aren't allowed to show their best cooking skills, but yes, still entertaining. i'm sure i'll keep watching. though i do like LCK more and more as a format. That's why Chopped has also slowly become a show we watch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chopped as we know gives the competitors the proverbial level playing field w. set principal ingredients and prep facilities ; it's much closer to 'last chance kitchen', and it's clear that just-ok. cooks can't sneak through the latter as they can in the early or middle rounds of TC. Chopped gives just enough of a snippet of the cooks' personal stories to spice things, and TC has chosen to exploit personality quirks to provide a significant part of the narrative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  other than the fantasy dinner for the Afrikaner-amerikan movie star, this season's more memorable chapters were the bad meals served to very privileged folks in the Dallas homes and overcooked steaks for the cattle barons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Grayson's "Like a meatball?" is now right up there with Fabio's "This 'Top Chef' not 'Top Is-cal-lop'" for my favorite all-time TC quotes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Paul is a beast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Silvestri's recap is up on Eater:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i know it's juvenile, but the whole bit about stoner Paul, shrimp poop, and female bathroom habits had me in stitches. unfortunately, aside from that, the recap was just as boring as last night's episode.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  my favorite line of the whole piece: "...Within the last 45 minutes, she Health Code Violated.)"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. If all the chefs had to make a meatball-centric dish and there was no constraint such as making it healthy, whose balls do you think would taste the best? What are the odds that Chris J. would have tried to do a whimsical twist like making bizarro meatcubes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Just marking my spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have nothing to say other than I only watch the show now so that I can follow LCK. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And, thanks for the recaps, Linda ;o)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. What's with the 'still'? I mean, we don't know the exact circumstances in which this comes up (did someone prompt, etc? And consider that while for you, more than two weeks have passed, for the chefs, this is within days. And days that are entirely consumed by this one thing. It's not like they're going about their days, doing shopping, spending time with friends, and working. It's this competition pretty much non-stop.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I liked Beverly as a character, and also suspect I would very much like her food, I can also appreciate the stressful circumstances that made the others respond in a less than kind way in response to her elimination. She seemed a bit unaware of others, and that can be really frustrating, even in the best of circumstances. I was just having this conversation with a colleague: Someone can be very nice and good at their own work, but when they walk around in a head-in-the-clouds-not-completely-aware-of-others, it can be frustrating and stressful. Such neglect is not necessarily benign, even if not done with malice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, I would have loved to have sampled Paul's dish. Will have to check Bravo website for recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What's with the 'still'?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ? Not sure what you mean, Lizard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And Paul's dish is here: http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipe...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I believe she's referencing your fifth sentence when you describe the mention of Beverly and LIndsay's halibut. I kind of agree with Lizard's 'Beverly has her head in the clouds and is not fully aware of others' observations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ahh....well, I can only recap what I see when I see it. Regardless if it's two days or seven days - Lindsay needs to get OVER the damn halibut. It was a crappy way to cook it, and no amount of butter basting was going to save it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think we may have seen that part of the stew room conversation out of context. I wonder how it came up? A lot of what we see on this program is out of context, especially the confessional comments and facial reaction shots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i agree w this. sarah and lindsay were shown smiling and looking pleased in a context-free cutaway after paul explained to the judges he forgot the shrimp in the qf, but you could plainly see them in the background of the real-time shot, while paul addresses padma, looking pretty bummed, and more empathetic for the dudes, than pleased. i think there is more fabricated interpersonal drama in this season, to make up for the lackluster challenges and cooking. the shot of them smiling while cleaning up their area could have been a reaction shot to... anything, really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, as I said to myself when I heard her instructing Beverly to baste it with butter to make it moist... Terrible instruction led to bad food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Did Lindsay tell Bev to cook the fish until it's dry? I understand that basting dry fish with butter won't do much good but what else can you do? I really don't know what the original instruction was and whether halibut can be moist if done properly that way. Yes, I heard Grayson criticize Lindsay's original instructions. So one of them is wrong but unless you know word for word what Lindsay's instructions were - it's hard to tell who was wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the issue was in the technique in "grilling" the halibut. Halibut is a fairly delicate fish that is not prepared grilled as often as say, swordfish. For sure it can be done and I (not a professional by any stretch) do it regularly. The problem is that it's not very forgiving, it falls apart easily on a grill, and it has to be watched closely - not something you can really do while banging out 100 entrees. I thought Beverly actually did a pretty good job considering that she should probably not have been responsible for BOTH entrees. That was probably what sunk Lindsay before they even got started.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the butter idea was Lindsay's attempt to put some moisture in the fish and maybe try to hide it being a little dry???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Did anyone notice Padma's expression when Grayson was giving Tom a hard time? I think that's when I saw a pretty sourpussed face on her during the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree with everyone that this was a ridiculous challenge with more insane time constraints and working in that oppressive heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I could give a flying F about Pee Wee Herman. (Reminds me of Miss Piggy coming on Project Runway Allstars.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought it was funny when Chris Jones was so happy to see his Richie in the last chance kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          25 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just don't get Pee Wee Herman being on the show. Are we being punked?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe things will make sense once I see the episode, but right now, I think it's silly and disingenuous. Chefs riding around on red bikes. What a joke. I think most of the viewers take food and cooking seriously, and want to see some serious food being made.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm waiting for a sous vide steak and they're serving up pablum.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, is it me or does Tom C. seem eternally pissed off this season? Who peed in his Cheerios?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think it has the potential to be as entertaining as having Cookie Monster and Elmo on the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm *hoping* that's the case, as I noted in my OP. But having seen the previews of the cheftestants riding around in TX heat on bicycles doesn't bode well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What is Peewee's connection with Texas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Alamo was a part of the storyline in his 1st movie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pretty tenuous and obscure. Of course, it could just be that he is available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Does this mean I am the only one who is more excited about this than about Patti LaBelle?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I hope this means there is some movement on the announced Pee Wee Herman movie that is being produced by Judd Apatow. (No word on whether or not he is directing, too.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I AM! not about whatever stupid challenge they concoct for the chefs just because pee-wee's there. but yeah, to see Pee Wee? YESSS! LOVE HIM. and i can't wait for the movie either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed. La Belle and her entourage almost ruined this young man's life. West Point has fortunately changed its mind as is allowing the cadet to graduate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: samlev

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, but he's *still* been busted down to private and deployed to active duty. Only if he gets through 3 years of *that* will he be allowed to return and graduate. HE didn't do anything - Toejam LaBelle's goons are responsible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually Linda, he was reinstated in August without any further penalties and was scheduled to graduate in December akthough I don't have any additional information on that.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Great news on King. Now to see what happens to Patti LaBelle's son and other body guards. I hope they are convicted in criminal court and have to pay major amounts of money from the civil suit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great news even though this young man lost quite a bit of time and these "things" have the habit of following someones military career around. Another example of the police and then the Army getting things a little out of order "Ready, fire, aim!" Anyone who watched that video would have taken about 10 seconds to conclude the kid did not assault anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        VERY good to hear. I was just going on your earlier story, John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wasn't it where he did The Big Shoe Dance?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              no, he went to the Alamo because a fortune teller told him his bike was in the basement, and then he got there and found there was no basement in the Alamo. He did the Tequila Big Shoe Dance at a biker bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i know WAY TOO MUCH about pee wee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I thought that the bar was in Texas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I prefer seeing Pee Wee than Paula Deen. Her being on the show will always be one of the low lights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Wait, is Paula Deen going on? This season?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She was on in Season 8 and I didn't hate it. One contestant made deep-fried mayo. I think making them use a deep fryer was a good idea for a challenge. There should be a pressure cooker challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Eh, Heather's already gone. Can't get rid of her twice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It would still be fun in a future season. They'll cut to comments by a chef who knows how to play the "reality TV" game trying to figure out if enlightened self-interest involves not helping a fellow chef figure out how to use the device because it increases one's chances of winning or helping a fellow chef because it decreases the probability of a potentially fatal explosion and death is bad for one's chances of winning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              TRUTH to preferring PeeWee to Paula.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm kind of sad to see Chris J. leave. My favorite part of the episode is in the Stew Room where Chris is bemoaning his fate and Ed mentioned that every time Chris does that, someone else goes home. Chris departs with an empathetic pat on Ed's thigh and Ed cracks up. I mean TOTALLY cracks up. I watched that part a couple times for the chuckle factor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            TOO FUNNY!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I'd really like for someone to explain Padma's continually baffling fashion choices on this show. One week, she's a cracked-out Pocahontas, the next week she's Dominique Deveraux from Dynasty by way of Forever 21. I don't get it. This week is like tennis hooker-meets-Little House on the Prairie and is entirely too much. TOO MUCH."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This week's get up looked like a tablecloth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Didn't she already wear a tablecloth this season? Oh no, possible fashion faux pas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They may need to dress Tom C and Hugh in a tablecloth to make it look normal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hahaha LindaWhit! I say you post a fashions of Padmi thread, and see if we get that past the CH sensor's.... it is certainly 'not about food', and definetively in the roundhouse of "Food Media and News"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cannot believe that wierd shirt she wore like a dress for the quickfire last week. I was like... ah, Padmi, where is your bottoms? Is anyone ELSE embarassed watching you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Is someone paying Padma to wear their clothing? They monetize everything else on the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I expect to see Padma and Gail dressed in leopard print Snuggie jumpsuits very soon.