Top Chef: An Offer They Can’t Refuse

E: Now that the wicked witch – er, Wolverine – is dead, the lollipop guild is starting to turn on itself.  Everyone’s starting to be testy.  Yeah, it’s about that time.

M: Well, to be fair, the wicked witch (Jamie) went home a couple weeks ago.

E: Ha.  You’re so funny.  Jamie wasn’t evil, just whiny, a bad competitor, and a little lazy.

M: Which, in my book, makes her “wicked”, but that’s a topic for another day, and probably one long past.  As for Marcel, he was good for a while, but in the end reverted back to the Marcel we knew and didn’t love.

E: Heh.  Indeed.

M: I think the same thing is happening with Mike Isabella now, where he is reverting back to the troublemaker that he was for large parts of his season, which is bringing a troubling vibe to the group.  I predict that after he goes it will be Angelo’s turn to revert back to his true nature and start sabotaging everyone while he talks about “making love” to his “beautiful” food.

E: I wonder if it was that, or if the editors were just concentrating more on other people?  I didn’t see any effort in Marcel to change as we’ve seen in other contestants.   Are they really getting worse, or were we just not seeing the right stuff before?  On the other hand, a lot of the contestants are still treating the new challenges as a delight, which is so nice to see.  Or maybe that’s just Carla and Fabio?

M: No, I think most of them, notably Tiffany and Richard, are still embracing the challenges.

E: Oh, yes, that’s true.  More positive attitudes.  Some people were excited about cooking Italian food, and some, not so much so.  Some people loved the idea of cooking just for looks, and some thought it was ridiculous.  Maybe this sounds weird to say, but I think Isaac Mizrahi is too quixotic to make a good judge.  I’m not going to say he doesn’t know aesthetics, but still.

M: I think cooking just for looks was ridiculous, and I’m right there with you on Mizrahi.  From the times I’ve seen him in the past, which admittedly have not been on his own fashion show, but on things like The Apprentice, he has been scattered, petty and vindictive.

E: Yeah.  His criterion didn’t make clear sense.  I thought the challenge could be fun (loved Antonia’s Giving Tree) but I’d have been much happier with a better judge.

M: I honestly think that Angelo’s “dish” was horrendous looking, and like one of the other contestants said, it looked like a bag of vomit (why he thought plating food in a bag was a good idea I have no clue).

E: That really made me want to retch, and I don’t think it achieved the look he was going for, either.  And don’t forget misspelling the word crocodile.

M: But I really think he was immediately shut out because he mentioned being inspired by a different designer.

E: Ugh.

M: It was such a crap shoot as to who he liked and why.

E: On to the elimination challenge, and cooking for the mafia.  Who did you think the winner would be?  After the whole bit about blessing her hands, I thought the victory would go to Tiffany.

M: I was really up in the air.  I knew the three guys from the primi course would be the bottom, but thought that based on their comments almost any of the others, except maybe Angelo, had a legitimate shot at the win.  As they were being judged, I thought Antonia and Fabio were slightly ahead, but I think that was partly because they’re Italian, and it just seemed like an Italian would win that challenge.

E: I thought Richard and Fabio had really strong shots, too.  I wish the eventual winner – Antonia, much to Fabio’s disgust -had gotten a trip to Italy, though, don’t you?

M: Bah, I don’t really care about the prizes.  At least they’re not doing the stupid thing where the winner gets a copy of the guest judge’s book.  That was annoying.

E: Yes, that’s true. Those were incredibly lame prizes, the signed cook books.  I’m highly annoyed at the boys for their response to Antonia’s win.

M: I was of two minds.  As I was watching it I was annoyed that they didn’t react for Antonia, and wanted them to be better sports about it.  However, they have been alternating when they call in the top and bottom people, so the guys waiting in the stew room all thought they still had a shot at the win until she walked back in.  At that point they knew one of them was going home, and so none of them were in a very joyful mood, which is not surprising.

E: Yeah, but that’s always the case.  It was the case when you got mad at Marcel for raining on Carla’s parade.

M: It’s not always the case, actually, they keep switching the order of which group they take first, the top or the bottom.  As for getting mad at Marcel, that’s true, but at least in this episode they didn’t totally crush the moment.  Plus, Antonia wasn’t all giddy like Carla was.  That said, they should have been more way gracious, and I am mad at them for that.

E: Now, I’m sorry, but do they think Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain don’t know how to cook muscles?  They know the degree of difficulty, and they take that into account.  I don’t really care if you dream you could have made that just as well.  I don’t care if you think it’s too French a dish for an Italian food challenge. Some of them tried to go fancy, and failed.  So don’t complain about a colleague getting out of the way of the flavor and producing the dish the judges liked the best.  Which is to say – stop being poor sports.  The judges know what they’re doing.  They get to pick, not you.

M: The complaint about “oh, what that person did was to easy” has never held water with me.  Even if you’re doing something that’s considered easy, it’s all about how the food tastes.  Her food tasted better than theirs, pure and simple.  If you could have made something better, then do it!

E: This was absolutely edited to make you believe that Mike was going home.  And bless me if I didn’t feel sad about that, and relieved when he didn’t!  I can’t even stand that I’m writing that.

M: I have to disagree with you on both counts there.  I couldn’t tell who was heading home.  I thought it was going to be Dale, and would have been fine if it was Mike.  I think he’s right on the verge of causing a lot of friction in the group, and won’t last long.

E: Well, he has incurred the wrath of Antonia, the self confessed Black Hammer, so his days might be numbered.

M: Though, as far as we know, he’s not bunking with her, so he may be safe from the Hammer.  That said, I didn’t think he deserved to go home for under-cooking homemade pasta when the rest of his dish was ok.

E: That was apparently what the judges thought, too. It was refreshing that all three knew why they were there, even if Tre kept trying to defend himself. (I love seeing Tom and Tony insist that Tre’d never cooked good risotto,when clearly he did so well enough in his own season to win a challenge for it.)  I can’t help wondering if he’d have stayed if he only uttered a mea culpa.

M: I have to say, I was surprised by that.  I’ve had risotto tons of times, and it has NEVER been loose and spread out on the plate, it has always had a slightly sticky, mildly stiff quality to it.

E: Yeah, now they have me second guessing every risotto I’ve ever eaten, and risotto is one of my absolute favorite things to eat, period.  When I make it, I serve it a bowl.  I know it’s supposed to be creamy, but watery?  Have I been making that dish inappropriately?  What about all the times I’ve gotten it in the North End?  I don’t know.

M: Same here!  Plus, I thought that Dale’s dish was such a disaster that he wouldn’t survive.  I mean, Lorraine Bracco saying that if it were her boyfriend he wouldn’t be getting laid?  Funny, and brutal at the same time.

E: That was definitely harsh.  You know why I thought it was going to be Mike?  I felt like we spent an inordinate amount of time listening to him this episode.  Maybe that’s just because he’s a quotable loud mouth, but that can sometimes be a hint that the orchestra is playing somebody off.

M: True, and I am usually right on that bandwagon, but I wasn’t feeling it this time.  That all said, how great was that restaurant, and all the people in this episode?  I loved hearing the stories, like Bracco letting everyone know that Matry Scorsese’s mom cooked all the food during the filming of Goodfellas.  How fantastic is that?

E: Really really super fantastic.

M: And the owners were just great, the pride they had in the culture and the history of the restaurant, but the respect they had for all the chefs and especially Tom and Tony?  Awesome.

E: Yep.  No question in my mind, this is the best season of Top Chef ever.  The contestants are great, the challenges are consistently fantastic and surprising, and the guests and different cuisines?  Delightful.  Manga, everybody!  And I don’t mean the comic books!

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3 comments on “Top Chef: An Offer They Can’t Refuse

  1. Joy says:

    Totally agree that the quick fire was weird and the elimination challenge was the greatest.

  2. shasas says:

    ok so to chime in.. the quickfire was stupid, but I enjoyed seeing the people who chose to embrace it find a way to enjoy it. Isaac’s judging was SO subjective and inconsistent. He is snarky all around and I really believe the only reason he was asked to appear was to cross-promote his own show. I hope they never invite him back.

    as for the mussels dish being French, I don’t know.. is it? All I know is that I am Sicilian from a family of fisherman and it is VERY common dish for the southern Italian/fish regions of Italy. It is one of the most common foods we eat both as a family and in Italian restaurants.. so, there is no way you could say it was “too French”.

  3. […] We talked about that a bit last week, but the bottom line is it comes down to making good food.  It doesn’t matter if it’s […]

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