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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #15 - 02/15/12 (Spoilers)

Just whistle while you work (de-de-de-de-de-de-deeee!)
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune (de-de-de-de-de-de-deeee!)
It won't take long when there's a song to help you set the pace
~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh. Wait. We're not supposed to whistle! The chefs are in Whistler, BC. Silly me. :-) And we're at the beginning of the end - a pre-finale, so to speak.

The chefs arrive in Vancouver, and Sarah says the different Sarah who showed up in Vancouver is going to be a "nice Sarah". So she obviously knows she was a beeyotch in Texas! LOL They get into the Toyota and find a letter from Padma telling them to head up to Whistler and meet them up at the top of the mountain.

While driving, Paul asks Beverly how LCK was....and when she begins to describe it, Sarah calls out "Look at that tree!" Totally disrespectful. Guess that nice Sarah was left at the airport, huh?

They take a gondola up to the top of the mountain; it's windy and cold - 5 degrees! Padma and Tom are shown practically being blown off the mountain. Tom notes that Whistler was a prominent venue in the 2010 Winter Games. So Padma notes that it's an appropriate place to have the Top Chef Culinary Games. Only three will move on to the final round.

Three events - each event's winner gets $10,000. First event will be to create a dish while on a moving gondola from peak to peak. Paul says he gets motion sickness and he's concerned. When the gondola reaches the other peak, they'll have to jump out, get a new ingredient, and use that ingredient in their dish. They'll serve at Steve's Restaurant in Whistler.

They hop into their individual gondolas and find the ingredients with which they get to cook. Paul goes with lamb chops, Sarah doesn't know at first but later we find out she's using chorizo, Beverly's going with a salmon tartare, and Lindsay realizes that cooking at a higher altitude is more difficult, but goes with salmon.

Paul jumps out to get an ingredient - he takes wasabi paste. Sarah takes prune juice for a glaze; Beverly takes horseradish, and Sarah also grabs the horseradish. Paul's gondola arrives at the place to serve, and he's not happy with his dish, but he's got to go with it.

Padma introduces the guest judge - Gretchen Bleiler, professional snowboarder, Olympic Silver medalist. Tom and Gail are there with Padma and Gretchen.

PAUL - Seared Lamb Loin with Curried Mushrooms & Wasabi Crème Fraîche with a Juniper Gastrique

SARAH - Chorizo Sausage with Onions, Prune Juice, Gooseberries & Pickled Mushrooms and Almond

BEVERLY - Salmon Tartare, Anchovy Horseradish Crème Fraîche & Crispy Capers

LINDSAY - Seared Salmon over Red Quinoa "Risotto" with Chorizo and Horseradish Vinaigrette

The judges reviewed all of the dishes; Paul's meat was a bit unevenly cooked, but Gretchen liked the wasabi with the lamb. Sarah's dish didn't have enough prune juice, but Padma liked the gooseberries. Gretchen liked the crunchy capers, Tom liked the horseradish with the tartare (and a look from Sarah at the compliment), and Gail liked the knifework. Lindsay's salmon was well received by Tom and Gretchen.

The judges grade the dishes, and Padma reminds them that the winner will win $10,000, but ALSO they'll be the first person in the final round - so they won't have to cook in the next two rounds. Paul came in last; Sarah took third place. And the winner is? Lindsay. (And Sarah is VERY pleased for her, of course!)

They head to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and discuss what is needed to win. Sarah claims that she doesn't underestimate Beverly. The next morning, the three of them go to the Whistler Olympic Park. Padma introduces John Montgomery, the Canadian Olympic Gold medalist in Skeleton. In this event, they'll have to move quickly, just as those who compete in Skeleton do. Their pantry is encased in blocks of ice!

They have one hour to thaw the ingredients and make it into a dish. They have ice picks and they're off to try and chip out the ingredients. It's funny to watch them chipping away - both Beverly and Sarah realize it's very Psycho-like. Paul gets the crab legs, and Beverly gets scallops. Paul ends up helping to break the ice blocks for Beverly and Sarah - he says "This challenge is about the food and not about the number of ice blocks you can smash." Beverly ends up spending almost 30 minutes to loosen her ingredients.

SARAH - Pea and Spinach Soup with Turmeric, Almonds & King Crab - they like the flavor, but Gail thinks the almonds are a bit heavy since the soup is so thin.

PAUL - Poached King Crab, Toasted Almonds, Mango Chutney with Orange Marmalade - Gail liked the mango/crab combo, but the mango was a bit frozen.

BEVERLY - Seared Scallop with Red Wine Reduction, Bettered Peas, Corn and Couscous - John Montgomery asks if Beverly was thinking about any of the other cheftestants - Gail said "I'll bet she can think of 1 or 2 people!" LOL Gail was impressed with the sear on the scallop, but the sauce was heavy. Padma said the couscous was done correctly.

And PAUL WINS the 2nd round!!! Woo hoo!!!! So it's Sarah against Beverly - which is what Sarah was concerned about!

The next morning, Sarah and Beverly head out for their final competition. Beverly notes she was bullied throughout the competition, so it feels right to go against Sarah in the final round. They walk up to see Padma with a gun in her hands. Padma introduces the guest judge - Olympic Gold medalist and one of the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Cammi Granato.

They are in a culinary biathalon. They will have to cross-country ski along a course through the trees before they return to the shooting range where they shoot for their ingredients. They get 10 bullets to get their ingredients. Once an ingredient is shot, it's no longer available. As soon as they've got their ingredients, they will cook and serve their dish. Padma asks them if either have shot a gun; Sarah has, Beverly hasn't. Nor has Beverly skied either.

They run to strap on the skis and head out. Beverly gets into the lead very quickly, but then starts falling as her skis cross. Beverly gets so far ahead that she's already turned around on the course. Sarah takes a few headers into the snow, but Beverly reaches the shooting range first.

(NOTE - the skiing biathalon part? Just completely STUPID! This entire episode was STUPID! Just have them COOK, for crying out loud! Bravo? Magical Elves? Tom Colicchio? Please STOP with the stupid challenges and get back to JUST COOKING!!!)

Beverly's ingredients are Arctic Char but then misses her next 4 shots. She then gets Celery Root, spends 2 bullets for Winter Truffles and Fennel. She finally gets Beets on her last bullet.

Sarah misses her first 3 shots for Rabbit and finally gets Rabbit on her 5th bullet and gets Cabbage next, and then Hazelnuts, and lucks out and gets Cherries on her final bullet.

They both run into the kitchen and immediately start cooking. Sarah realizes that Beverly's on her game, having won LCK. Beverly is concerned that the kitchen doesn't have coconut milk or lemongrass, her usual flavors. Sarah gets pissed off that Beverly comes over to use *her* electrical plug for the blender. "Beverly, really?" They both finish plating in time and bring their dishes out to the judges.

BEVERLY - Slow-roasted Arctic Char with an Onion & Beet Compote, Celery Root Truffle Purée, and Fennel Salad

SARAH - Braised Rabbit Leg and Heart with Cherries, Hazelnuts & Sauerkraut Purée

Both chefs remain in front of the judges while they try their dishes. Tom asked Beverly her thought process on the evolution of the dish. He liked the flavors, but thought it was slightly overcooked. Gail thought the earthy flavors were perfect. Tom said to Sarah that everything worked nicely, saying that the braising of the rabbit leg was a risky move. Cammi said it was full of flavor, while Gail thought the rabbit was a bit tough.

They leave the dining area, and the judges deliberate. Sarah's dish was well received - they could taste the cherries and sauerkraut purée, Tom liked that she included the heart, Cammi liked the simplicity. Gail said that Beverly's dish was smart pairing the seafood with earthy flavors; Gretchen liked the beets and onions with the fish; Tom thought the char disappeared because it wasn't seasoned enough.

So - slightly tough rabbit vs. slightly underseasoned char. I have a feeling it *might* be the underseasoned char that does Beverly in.

In the "in-betweener", Paul and Lindsay come into the kitchen before final judging to congratulate Sarah and Beverly on their last round. Lindsay notes that she and Sarah have a special bond and she hopes that they're together in the finale. Paul says he loves how Beverly just won't go down, that she's fierce.

(And Sheila D. from Lexington, KY wins bonus points for her Fan Favorite yet AGAIN! LOL)

They're back in front of the judges. Tom reviews both dishes, and Padma announces that Beverly is asked to pack her knives and go. DAMMITALL! Sarah gets into the finale. She and Sarah give a hug, and Padma seems REALLY upset to see her go, and Tom also is slightly teary-eyed to see her go.

Back in the kitchen, Sarah gives Beverly a big, long hug as she's leaving, telling her that she's amazing; she's glad she got a chance to cook with her, and that she'd see her in Chicago. So perhaps they ARE somewhat friends and the damn Editing Elves were leading us all along!

Previews for the finale show Anita Lo as one of their special sous chefs (my assumption), and Padma noting that only TWO of them will move on to the finale! So they won't have a 3-person finale this season!

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  1. this is just pure comedy :)))

    edit: the skiiing

    1. I am seriously disappointed...this is supposed to be a show about chefs showcasing their culinary skills. Really?

      35 Replies
      1. re: LiveRock

        It has been in the past; definitely NOT this season, LiveRock. Note my comment above in the middle of the final challenge - let them get BACK to cooking and stop with these stupid games!

        1. re: LindaWhit

          I am compelled at this point to type "Top Chef Survivor." How utterly stupid.

          Thank you, once again Linda, for taking the hit for those of us who gave up on the season.

          I'm disappointed that Beverly went home. go, Paul!

          1. re: nikkihwood

            Yeah, Top Chef Survivor would definitely be a good way to describe it. But I'm still floored that there are some who aren't watching but just reading my recap. Thanks! LOL

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Your recap is better than the time I waste watching good chefs spend most of their time in stupid gaming instead of head to head cooking challenges.

              1. re: mcf

                I agree. I should stop watching the dumb show and just read Linda's recap, which is far more entertaining (and intelligent).

                This was the silliest episode ever.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                You are most welcome! The recaps are terrific, and until I gave up,, it was a a challenge for a WestCoaster to not click on your thread before I got to watch each weeks' show.

                Reading your thread' each week and the intelligent and entertaining comments is great fun.

                I've gotten an hour of my life back for a few weeks. haha. I'm sorry that you will still lose some of yours. But we so appreciate it. !

            2. re: LindaWhit

              Nearly every challenge this season has been contrived, promotional and just plain silly. What a shame that these really great chefs have had to deal with the foolishness of everything from the Real Housewives of Houston to PeeWee Herman to last nights embarrassing faux Olympic challenges. These people are accomplished chefs out to demonstrate their skills, but were treated like yoyos out to play in ridiculous situations. A very disappointing season from every perspective.

              1. re: chicgail

                Well stated... if they bother having another season, I really hope they get back to what used to make this show worth watching. I'm no longer feeling any excitement about TC night nor loyalty to the brand/show after this ludicrous season. And WHY are we having athletes judging food at this late date, especially??

                1. re: mcf

                  I'm with you. I'd have to see some compelling promos next season to set my DVR to "record season".

                  1. re: chicgail

                    Hear, hear.

                    Last night was particularly trying. Obnoxious, even, in its inanity. Sigh. Each of the three stages were ridiculous and increased in absurdity as they went on. The gondola-thing was headshake-inducing but tolerable; the ice-picking was ludicrous and preposterous; and the biathlon was beyond incredulity.

                    /rant/

                    What if Paul Qui *had* become motion-sick and threw up and fell down dizzy, unable to continue? What if that ice-picking-and-smashing scene (what does that have to do with cooking?) turned into another ER-scene, with heart attacks, smashed/bloody/pierced hands? What if that biathlon farce (with one out-of-shape person who had used a gun a long time ago but never skied; and another very slightly built person who had never used skis and never used a gun) incurred yet more medical scenarios instead? I didn't even find the tape of their fumbling and struggling on their skis and flailing around funny in the least, even though it did involve Sarah G.; or the shooting hoo-ha; rather, it was anger-inducing in that they would *still* be subjecting people who were chefs there to do COOKING in the run-up to the finale to humiliating physical endurance and skill tests better showcased by trained and specialized athletes - whom they paraded as their ridiculous guest judges. Why, do they think all chefs should be able to ski through the woods and shoot their own game? Or be able to survive on the tundra like eskimos? More power to chefs who *can* do such things - but the show is NOT supposed to be about that. At least not what it once purported to be.

                    Oh, and toss in a few random brief snippets here and there of what looks vaguely like cooking.

                    I really wish that wind had actually blown Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio down.

                    /end rant/

                    1. re: huiray

                      Nicely ranted, huiray. And 110% accurate.

                          1. re: huiray

                            +1 I also wonder if the shenanigans this season will affect the caliber of chefs that try out in the future. I can't picture the Voltaggios or Kevin participating in these stupid challenges.

                            1. re: dmjordan

                              Never thought of that...I wonder if the producers have! Hate hate hate this season. Had to re-watch season 1, just to remember how it used to, and was supposed to be!

                              I remember when LeeAnne was challenge coordinator, and she said she tested each challenge and if she could do it, it was fair game. Doubt the current dorks do that....someone said they thought the challenge dorks were on crack, personally, I think it must be (bad) acid.

                              I also think Tom is just calling it in, has favorites, and just does not care any more. That makes me really sad....

                              Last rant, TC is one long boring, stupid challenge and infomercial with a teeny bit of cooking thrown in.

                            2. re: huiray

                              Why not just watch Chopped? I mean do you even like the show?? I watch the show to have a little fun. Thats what I find the challenges, not ludicrous and preposterous, but fun. This is not a show about finding the best chef despite everyones wishes. Its about finding a person who is the best at Top Chef the television game-show and producing great ratings. It is what it is. Have some fun.

                              1. re: ThoughtForFood

                                I'm so on the fence on this.On the one hand I agree the challenges here were pretty over the top, but heck, I also found myself amused! It is what it is. Fair? No. But the "stress" in wondering whether they will actually manage to shoot to get an ingredient does add some drama which wouldn't otherwise be there. You are right- it is what it is.

                                1. re: DGresh

                                  I have to agree, completely.... I was entertained.

                                  I have always admitted that I like a bit of the drama, because it helps me cheer for one person over another.

                                  It's like hockey - if I am watching my favorite team (NY Rangers!!) - I wholheartedly enjoy watching the game and cheering, but if I am watching two teams who I no nothing about/have no invested interest - then I can't find any enjoyment in watching the game.

                                  If I know nothing of these chef's personality, I would find no interest in watching the show.
                                  Now, if I was a judge and was there, and tasting the food - it would be completely different.

                                  so....I'm also on the fence on this one.

                                2. re: ThoughtForFood

                                  Chopped has those snarky sour condescending judges, especially Alex Guarnaschelli who is pretty insufferable.

                                  Top Chef *used* to be much more about the cooking. Seasons 4 and 6 for example as compared with this one were so different. Many folks on these boards, including me, have commented about how TC is a reality game show etc etc - but have also decried the increasing drift towards a form where cooking is but an afterthought, if it is even there at all. Including on this very thread. Perhaps you missed those posts.

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    +1000 on the Chopped and Alex Guarnaschelli comment. I can't stand that woman.

                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                      Look up sourpuss in the dictionary and there's a picture of her.

                                      1. re: bobbert

                                        Don't want to see her sourpuss, not even if I have to, and I don't have to.

                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          She's the main reason I routinely flip back and forth, sometimes just refusing to watch Chopped at all. I'll usually stick around if Aaron Sanchez is on the panel, but Alex can sometimes cancel out even him. She's just horrid!

                                          1. re: KailuaGirl

                                            Alex is neither horrible nor a sourpuss. She's directed to be that way.

                                            1. re: chicgail

                                              She should easily win an Oscar or, I guess, an Emmy. Either her or the director because she pulls off a great sourpuss.

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                I've read multiple interviews where the judges say that they hate having to be so.... awful to the chefs. They are told to be mean and to be "sourpusses" because the producers think it makes for more dramatic television. AG gets so much hate because of it, when that is not reality.

                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                  I guess Alex is just the best of the bunch, then.

                                                  1. re: kubasd

                                                    that is so fucking stupid it makes me never want to watch that show again.

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                      I boycotted the show for a bit, but now when I watch it, I can't help but chuckle a little at the stink-eye face she makes

                                                    2. re: kubasd

                                                      If that is the modus operandi for the show, then I surely don't have any interest in watching it.

                                      2. re: huiray

                                        Thank you, huiray! You took the words right out of my mouth. I was fuming the whole time I was watching last night. If they keep doing this in the next season, I'm done with Top Chef. It's humiliating to the contestants and also to us, the viewers.

                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                      Seriously stupid! I'm starting to think Top Chef Scallop might be a good idea. Certainly beats Top Chef Skeet Shooter.
                                      I was sad to see Beverly go, and even more upset that Sarah got into the final three. It will be nice to see Anita Lo next week. I wonder who else will be there as sous chefs.

                                      1. re: KailuaGirl

                                        Pausing my DVR, I saw Floyd Cardoz. There was an East Asian guy there as well but couldn't recognize him.

                                  2. Went over to Bravo to see if any blogs were up and read Hugh's blog here:

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

                                    Funny as usual - loved these comments:

                                    "Lindsay is pretending this is like hunting gator in a Jon boat in the Okefenokee swamp. She is dressed like a Bond villainess, white turtleneck with black hat, making this gator hunt more interesting."

                                    "The ingredients are in ice blocks. This is a Canadian traditional joke that we play on Americans, much in the same way of us giving you Corey Hart and Bryan Adams. "

                                    "The timer goes off, and Beverly clutches her temple like her dark overlord wants her to return to base. The voices are strong with this one. "

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Thank God for Hugh! This was such a stupid episode....

                                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                                        I actually made a phone call I knew would be long during this episode. It was ridiculous. Why would any of us care if these final 4 can ski and chip ice away from their food? Might have been a clever bit when there were still 10 of them, but the final four??
                                        My boyfriend had JUST been talked into watching this show and he is now questioning my judgement from this one show. And he watches Gold Rush, folks! It was useless. ;))

                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                        Have you (or others) read the comments on his blog, as well as those of Gail Simmons and Team Top Chef?
                                        "They" (i.e. Colicchio & Co.) supposedly read them. Do TPTB?

                                        1. re: huiray

                                          The comments on Hugh's blog? No, I haven't read them. Why?

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Basically all of them slam the show or episode, some pretty hard. The comments on Gail Simmons blog I think are even worse than those on Hugh Acheson's.

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              Good. Hopefully TPTB will realize they've screwed up with their viewing public.

                                      3. So, I actually watched 10 minutes of Andy Cohen's show, and had to laugh at the Honey Badger's voiceover guy (Randall?) doing a Bev version. Anyone else catch it?

                                        18 Replies
                                        1. re: momjamin

                                          the randall video was more entertaining than most of this season.

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            I totally fell asleep while they were chipping the ice and came here to read Linda's recap ...

                                            But now I learn that I missed a honey badger VoiceOver ?

                                            Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              Umm....what's the Honey Badger? I can't abide Andy Cohen, especially how he's become on his own show, and have no idea what you're talking about.

                                              Can sumbunny 'splain to me? Get it? Bunny? And Sarah cooked rabbit? I crack myself up sometimes. Not this time tho. Lame-o. :-)

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Viral video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHM.... Randall's voice has become an internet meme, and they put together a bunch of clips of Bev with his voiceover. I'll post that clip if I can find it.

                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                    Ah... that was it? Thanks. I did see it but thought nothing of it except that it was a slightly idiosyncratic collection of vignettes and the voice-over was some unrecognized dude with a funny voice and a slight snark in the comments. "Honey Badger" stuff – sorry, still meaningless to me and sorry again but I don't get its humor. Just me. Anyway, I walked away from WWHL basically after that. Andy Cohen and L'il Kim (Who's she? Oh...some singer) were hard to watch with Cohen being even more of a Flapper than normal.

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      The honey badger is one of the most popular viral videos of all time.

                                                      With a good reason! Honey Badgers are pretty badass!

                                                      Heather was a honey badger

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        The honey badger stuff annoys me because now folks who've never even seen a honey badger in a zoo keep trying to tell me how much this that or the other thing is like a honey badger.

                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                          I can definitely see how it gets overplayed VERY quickly. I see Randall has a book tour. Yeah, I think I'll skip that. :-/

                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                            My tennis team became honey badgers because we take what we want.

                                                            our motto is be the honey badger, not the cobra!

                                                          2. re: huiray

                                                            Well, if you've been living under a rock and haven't seen the honey badger video, then I guess it wouldn't make any sense. Just to explain: you know how nature programs are always narrated by a serious man with a serious professional narrator/actor voice? Well this guy took some clips from a show about a honey badger and did his own narration in his funny voice with his snarky comments. And it's pretty silly. But a take off of a take off isn't funny if you don't have the context.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              So I gather. Thanks for the explanation.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                I have been living under a huge hunk of Sioux Quartzite so I have not seen the honey badger video. After reading you description, I guess I have not missed much. I have a habit of avoiding the masses with their internet adventures.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  My demographic definitely lives under that rock (or at least DH and I do) so I had to look it up. Now I get it, I guess :) I texted my DD at college and of course she knew about it. And then asked "*Why?" Guess she couldn't see any reason for dear mom to need this knowledge!

                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                    We must be in the same demographic. The one that doesn't watch you tube videos. The one that asks our college kids, and our kids ask "why"? We were talking about "memes", and son said, "hmm....I thought it was a you-tube video".

                                                                    I still haven't bothered to watch it......(crawling back under rock....)

                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                      I watch youtube videos - on occasion - but still have not bothered to look up this Honey Badger video. I think Ruth L's description is sufficient for me.

                                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                                        Yeah, it's a "I've seen it once; I don't need to see it again in slightly different ways."

                                                            2. re: momjamin

                                                              "Honey Badger don't care; Honey Badger don't give a shit!" OK, pretty funny! Off to see Bev get honey-badgered. :-D

                                                        2. It's interesting that Tom noted that Bev usually cooks "Asian," but he doesn't know that the reason she didn't is because she didn't have those ingredients. I can only surmise that Bev doesn't know much about flavor combinations other than those she already knows, which are predominately Korean, Chinese, and Thai. So she sticks to cooking "Asian" and does it well, but when she can't do "Asian" and when no one has picked the flavor combo for her (think Nyesha in LCK), then she stumbles. Ultimately I don't know why she lost to Sarah. It could've been the components didn't mesh well, or something else entirely. In any case, there's so much tension/drama with her on the show, and the bizarre challenges, makes this season really annoying to watch.

                                                          72 Replies
                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                            it didn't seem like she stumbled at all, did it? she did very well, they had to nitpick, in the end, to find the winner.... slightly undercooked fish, as opposed to slightly tough rabbit? i thought they were actually appreciating her effort and mostly success at going out of her comfort zone?

                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                              agreed. the judges' comments all indicated that Bev nailed the flavors of the vegetables, and were impressed with her pairing of their earthiness with the fish. not sure how WWD could take that to mean Bev "doesn't know much" about flavor combinations outside her usual comfort zone or that she "stumbled. in fact, when Tom noted that she strayed from her standard MO, he praised her for doing so successfully.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                Watch the extended judging. She used strong flavors which may have clashed and also obscured the fish. I was reading between the lines and generally right.

                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                  actually i'll take your word for it - i have no desire to watch any more of this dreck.

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    You're not a masochist? Heck, I thought we all were, especially since we come here afterwards to argue about stuff that we can't taste and support/degrade chefs based on some highly edited footages.

                                                              2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                Bev's was under seasoned as well which I believe was the deciding factor.

                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                  right, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know about flavor combinations, it just means she didn't use enough seasoning. a simple mistake. and one that cost her. she's made simple mistakes in her asian dishes too. all the chefs have.

                                                              3. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                I think Tom has said all along that Bev really knows her flavors. The final elimination came down to a tough protein or an underseasoned one. I don't think anyone implied that she didn't meld her flavor combinations well. In fact, I think it was the opposite.

                                                                I was a little surprised it didn't go to Bev with Sarah not cooking the rabbit well versus a slight seasoning problem, but Tom clearly likes Sarah. I guess in the end, Tom and the guest judge had more of a say than Gail and Padma who both seemed to prefer Bev's dish. I'm only disappointed because I cannot even with Sarah and her drama. She irks me more than Betty (season 2), Lisa (season 4?) and Jaime (all stars) combined. Which how? And yet, every time I think I'm being harsh, she does something else that is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

                                                                I can't blame editing on the fact that she interrupted Bev when they were in the car to say "Oh, look trees!" while on a mountain top. Or that she complained about the number of shots she got because somehow Bev had more? What the hell with her?

                                                                All I can say is that Paul had better win the whole thing because what with what he's done this entire season and his amazingness in helping both Bev and Sarah get their ingredients in that RIDICULOUS ice block challenge (so much for fresh ingredients and not using frozen seafood), he is now my favorite cheftestant ever.

                                                                1. re: Kalee

                                                                  AGREE on the interruption in the car and her beeyotching about getting more bullets than Beverly. REALLY, Sarah? You REALLY think that the producers are going to do that? Stupidity personified.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Did you see the look (smirk?) that she gave Lindsay behind Beverly's back after she did it? Clearly, it wasn't an accidental interruption. Meh, all the kindness towards Beverly from Sarah and Lindsay after she's asked to PYKAG seems really, really fake....at least to me.

                                                                    1. re: yummfood

                                                                      Missed that, but not surprised. The "nice Sarah" lasted all of a few minutes on the show.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        Nice Sarah will be miles ahead of many people posting here. The nastiness is so overwhelming that I have to stop reading the commentary. It's really quite sad, actually.

                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                          Given that the show has totally sold out to every conceivable product placement, cross-promotion and profit-increasing event, why do you find it so surprising that the Elves created a "storyline" that turned Sarah into a mean girl. Maybe she was and maybe she wasn't, but at this point it appears that the producers would encourage and accept anything that would increase viewership/botton line, regardless of whether or not it actually happened.

                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                            True.

                                                                            After reading this article,
                                                                            http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news...
                                                                            it appears that the two women would have been told they had five bullets and then had to complete more laps on skis before getting another five bullets. But they had taken so long to that point that the bullet count was increased to ten on the fly.

                                                                            Hence Sarah being confused about hearing more bullets than five, and then her words and meaning were twisted in the editing process.

                                                                            This made me curious to go back and re-watch the first few minutes where Sarah appears to interrupt Beverly with the trees comment.

                                                                            The changes in background scenery make me wonder if that was really a continuous block, or yet more editing to suit the production's storyline. During that exchange, the scenery changes from open to wooded very quickly.

                                                                              1. re: souvenir

                                                                                When I saw the 'look at that tree!' scene live I thought it might be editing by the Elves and knew Sarah would be called a b*tch once again, but I only saw the scene the one time. I too believe it is distinctly possible it did not happen the way we saw it on TV. There was a reaction shot somewhere in the episode too that was there to make someone look bad and yet we don't know if it was real or not.

                                                                              2. re: chicgail

                                                                                I don't find it surprising that there was an attempt to craft Sarah as mean girl. What surprises and disappoints (although clearly it shouldn't) is how readily so many here buy into that characterisation with absolutely no critical thinking. While I can see how this could be done, particularly after the Restaurant Wars episode in which some people articulated their frustration with Beverly's scattiness and tendency towards self-absorbtion, I think the construction has appeared forced. More notable has been the wilful disregard of other contestants' similar sentiments. That combined with declarations of 'beeyotch' as well as nasty slams on the character (and appearance) of women has made this really ugly-- and has had the comments come across as mean girlish far more than anything Sarah and Lindsay have ever done. I'm glad you're aware of the producers' creation of characters and narrative as we all should be; I'm less glad that people here can watch this and sense anything beyond that. I'm also not thrilled by the lack of critical engagement with the construction of the programme or the responses to it.

                                                                                Full disclosure, I think all appear to be fine chefs and I would be delighted to eat anyone's food; I have no favourites, just a distaste for nastiness.

                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                  I think everyone, or most people anyway, understand that the edit creates and exaggerates character flaws, takes comments out of context, manufactures scandal, etc. There has been plenty of discussion of the techniques used by the show's editors to create drama and narrative in these threads for as long as I've been reading em.

                                                                                  Thing is, these threads are here to discuss the show, the narrative, the characters. And it's tedious to include a disclaimer in every post that the editing is biased and thus not truly representative of the contestants as people IRL.

                                                                                  In a sense, it might help you to think of the on-screen contestants as characters in a narrative... and the commentary in these threads as comments about those characters. Walking up to sarah on the street and calling her a bitch is a terrible thing to do. Calling her a bitch on a thread about the show (which she willingly signed up for, presumably knowing that she might get a villain's edit) is not the same. Her 'character' was, in fact, bitchy. Is real-life Sarah? We don't know beyond a semi-informed kind of speculation. But that's not what the discussion is about.

                                                                                  While it is indeed useful to think critically about how 'reality' TV portrays or distorts reality, it is also important to think critically about what's actually going on in a thread discussing a 'reality' narrative.

                                                                                  I do agree that some of the comments about people's appearances have gotten unpleasantly crude at times. Forgiveness is granted (at least on my part) for any especially funny or clever comments about hair or clothing, though.

                                                                                  I also agree with you that all of these contestants look like excellent cooks IRL. I don't think it's clear how difficult competition cooking is to people who haven't competed.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    This. I think everything that's said here is with the understanding that what we see may not be an entirely accurate representation of what actually happened. But at the end of the day, we can only react to what's shown onscreen, because otherwise, what's the point of talking about the show?

                                                                                    1. re: piccola

                                                                                      Until this season, I would have agreed with this. There is something about this season's editing that has been so ham-handed that I feel differently. I'm hoping this all can be chalked up to the everything's bigger in Texas approach, and next season will become more subtle.

                                                                                      I also wonder who is filling the Lee Anne Wong staff position. Perhaps they have not found a good fit yet and are filling in with staff from other reality show productions.

                                                                                      1. re: souvenir

                                                                                        i agree (Souvenir's post). in past seasons, contestants' personalities were allowed to come out more organically w confessionals, funny moments were allowed to happen, everything seemed more balanced. most importantly, there was much more focus on the *food* and the *cooking.* this season it seems like personalities or characters are engineered from the get-go-- but it is so "ham handed"... it winds up not making sense-- like when everyone was led to believe that sarah and bev despise each other, then it's like, oh wait, those two are hugging now? inconvenient details that don't mesh with the contrived & manufactured conflict of personalities and the "good guy/bad guy" edits are left out, so folks see the reaction of some contestants to the actions/statements of others, but not the context in which it would make sense. all in all it just looks like the show has lost touch w its original fanbase and is dumping them(us) in favor of another demographic, and the ad bucks that presumably come with those folks... but not if nobody watches the dang show.

                                                                                        so it's sort of a little less compelling than watching a badly dubbed anime segment chopped down to fill a half-time slot.

                                                                                        and there is virtually zero focus on the food or cooking

                                                                                        and-- not to overly belabor this point-- but in the future, contestants would be nuts to potentially open themselves to the sort of exploitative editing that is so overt this season. i expect to see less talent (& a roomful of """chef tyler stone"""- types) next year, to see respected (top chef masters level) chefs and restaurateurs be less willing to associate with the show as judges, and for myself, to not bother watching, at all.

                                                                                        tom c.'s media silence is pretty telling. show's got some major integrity problems right now. how are the ratings going, i wonder?

                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          Who's Chef Tyler Stone? Curtis? He's a sham, IMO. But Tyler Florence cooks.

                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                            chef tyler stone is the "personal chef to the stars" that you may remember (or may wish to forget), from the very first episode this season, where the big group of chefs were awarded coats, sent home, or put "on the bubble." he was very young and conceited, and mangled the butchering early on, affecting grayson's cut of loin. tom sent him packing, despite his cosmetically enhanced smile.

                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                              That should have been a forewarning of how this season was going to go except that he was summarily dismissed for being an inept jerk. I do wonder what Tom thinks of all the nonsense this season.

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                AH, yes, thanks. He was uber obnoxious and inept.

                                                                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                              Thank you souvenir and soupkitten. I'd also clarify that the lack of critical engagement with what's 'onscreen' or the inability to consider the manipulations that do seem so prominent, strike me as disappointing and naive. The fact that these so often lead to nasty claims about characters is also troubling, because even if these people have submitted themselves to become characters for a programme, it would be decent of viewers to remember that there are real people beyond that representation and to rethink the level of vitriol they use. They are characters on a story we are watching, but because this is a non-scripted programme using non-actors (who perform versions of themselves) some consideration of the real-world effects of such nastiness would be nice.
                                                                                              Plus, I still can't get over the gendered aspect of these characterisations that accompany braying cries of 'beeyotch' (really?) and other unpleasant epithets...

                                                                                          2. re: piccola

                                                                                            From what I have read on these threads I don't believe more than 20% of people watching and posting here has any idea of what the video and audio editors can do to manipulate what we see on these programs.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              Reality shows are scripted - scripted - before they are shot. The producers know what they want. They set up situations, ask the right questions and provide enough footage so that the editors can produce the final product as it was preconceived.

                                                                                              I agree with soupkitten than this heightened drama and product placements and contrived situations and exploitive editing would discourage many self-respecting chefs to consider participating.

                                                                                              The ratings may well be up, but the quality is in the toilet.

                                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                The ratings may well be up, but the quality is in the toilet.
                                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                indeed. Charmin would be the perfect sponsor for this season.

                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                  "Charmin would be the perfect sponsor for this season."

                                                                                                  Ugh. Think of the product placement..."After we got out of the Toyota, I headed to the bathroom to enjoy the go with my Charmin bathroom tissue"

                                                                                                  1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                    Too bad all the soap operas are getting cancelled or they could plug all the drama going on with the drama going in in the show. I can see Susan Lucci going head to head with Heather and/or Sarah as the head drama queen.

                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                      which pales in comparison to the drama going around here:
                                                                                                      "oh how they've ruined MY show"
                                                                                                      lather, rinse, repeat.

                                                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                                                        and you know, we're all (apparently) still watching the darn thing, and commenting on it. As I suspect we will next season regardless.

                                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                          actually, i don't plan to watch next season unless i know one of the competitors and want to show my personal support for them. otherwise i'll just keep an eye on the general reaction to it. if it sounds like they've returned to something more akin to the good old days perhaps i'll rejoin the fray at some point.

                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                            You're going to leave me ogling AB and ER all by myself? ::::sniff, sniff:::: (If either show up, that is.)

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              But...but...there're all those other muscular, bronzed studs that would be (postulatedly) showing up... :-) After all, AB and ER are only going to be a subset of the "cast members" that TC seems to be headed for... :-P

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  Heh - I said "postulatedly" - so we'll just have to wait to see what hunks turn up in the cast, won't we. :-)

                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                It's a sign LindaWhit ... come back to your true love. HK

                                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                  No way, no how, Firegoat. Ain't happenin'.

                                                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  you should be happy you get them all to yourself! i don't need eye candy on TC, i get my weekly fix on H5O ;)

                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                    um, ahem. i'll be right there behind you, trying to edge you out.

                                                                                                              2. re: linus

                                                                                                                Nobody will actually watch the show. Instead, we'll all just comment on how the show is now so awful that we don't watch it.

                                                                                                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                  Well, I'm not going to recap if no one's going to watch!

                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                    I'M GOING TO WATCH LINDA!!!! PLEASE DON'T STOP THE RECAPS!! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE.... ok, you can have AB and ER all to yourself, ok? I'm completely done with them! please, just please say you'll keep recapping... oh please oh please... *whimper* *sniff*....

                                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                      ::::Giggling:::: Well, 17 episodes makes for one tired LindaWhit. So I do have to say I'm glad next week is IT after the Finale Part 1 last night. Other than the Reunion show (will have to check to see if that's the following week).

                                                                                                                      And what chowser said below - we KNOW what the show *could* be, having seen it in several seasons. So to see it go back downhill to TC5-level antics is disappointing. I hope wherever they choose to film next year (Portland, OR or Boston, MA) they STOP with the stunt Quickfires and ECs and just let. them. cook.

                                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      I'm watching. Crazy me, I actually still enjoy the show.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                        I'll still watch and am still enjoying the show. I just think it has been, and could be, so much better w/out the unnecessary drama/unrelated stunts. OTOH, it's still far better than most other shows out there,

                                                                                                          2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                            Your point is why I never put too much stock in the comments made in the confessionals. How many times and ways is a question asked to elicit the desired response?

                                                                                                2. re: Lizard

                                                                                                  Sarah was edited to show meanness (eg many of the comments people have posted here). People have commented negatively on that so you, in turn, post negatively about people who post negatively about Sarah. How is your comment different from other posters comments? I have no horse in this race since I haven't commented on Sarah's behavior here. Calling others "quite sad, actually" is as bad as most comments about Sarah.

                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                    Isn't that a little pot/kettle-ish?

                                                                                                3. re: yummfood

                                                                                                  Yeah, that wasn't kindness, just spontaneous outpourings of relief that they no longer had to compete against her because on most days she outcooks them both, and while annoying as heck, isn't mean.

                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                    That's what I got as well. Relief that it was all over as opposed to sincere kindness.

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                      Totally agree. She was so afraid to go head to head with Bev. She didn't even mention going head to head with Paul, who in my opinion is the better chef.

                                                                                                      1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                        It is probably because she would have no fear of shame in losing to Paul.

                                                                                                    2. re: yummfood

                                                                                                      Ugh. Yeah, Sarah's nice comments at the end seemed totally fake. I actually used to like Sarah a lot at the beginning of the season -- until she decided to follow evil Lindsay's lead and her very ugly side came out. Do not like. Maybe it's editing elves, but I don't think so.

                                                                                                      I'm now rooting for Paul, who seems like the nicest guy ever and a wonderful chef to boot.

                                                                                                  2. re: Kalee

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

                                                                                                    I just watched the extended judges table. It clearly shows that Bev mixed too many flavors and not all were complementary.

                                                                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                      I watched that and read Gail's blog. Looks like Bev also had a plating slip up on Gail's plate.

                                                                                                      1. re: Kalee

                                                                                                        Bev's was undercooked and under seasoned.

                                                                                                        1. re: Kalee

                                                                                                          Paul is the Mother F...ing man. If anyone has any doubts as to whether he would have taken the car or not, let that be put to rest last night. If he was going to win, it was going to be what he considered fair play and not because he's better able to chop ingredients out of ice better than the other contestants. The show has even jumped the shark for the contestants.

                                                                                                        2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                          I believe Beverly lost to Sarah because the producers felt the show needs an antagonist going forward.

                                                                                                            1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                                              Sarah isn't an antagonist with respect to Paul or Lindsay. If your theory is correct, they would've kept Bev because she's the one that doesn't get along with others.

                                                                                                              1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                                                Check out the link to the extended judges table in a post above this one. The producers do not choose who stays and who PPYKAG.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                    Anthony Bourdain, who I believe had a falling out with TC so has no reason to defend them, except for his own integrity, said unequivocally that producers make absolutely no decisions when it comes to who stays and who goes. the judging is completely on the up-and-up, and no considerations of what makes good drama ever comes into play.

                                                                                                                  2. re: silvergirl

                                                                                                                    If you want to come up with a conspiracy theory, you might as well say that the second challenge giving the advantage to someone who is physically stronger and get at more ingredients was intended to give manly Paul the advantage if he didn't win the first challenge in order to maximize the probability of a female-female catfight in the third challenge.

                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                      That conspiracy theory doesn't really sound too crazy.

                                                                                                                      1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                        I admit to wearing a tinfoil hat. It's in my nature. But Top Chef just makes me sad this season.

                                                                                                                      2. re: silvergirl

                                                                                                                        If that's the case, they would have kept self-professed BFF Lindsay and Sarah vs.Bev and gotten rid of even keeled Paul. But, then that's what was said about Heather and she left much earlier.