Top Chef Masters: I’m With The Band

E: I have to tell you, I was convinced I knew who was going home, and I was totally wrong.

M: I was not convinced, but I was VERY worried for one of my favorites, who just barely survived.

E: I did have a feeling about the cheftestant…

M: STOP SAYING THAT!

E: …who dominated the episode, however.  Traci takes home her first Elimination Challenge win!  Good for you, Traci!

M: I agree, congrats and good show!  But, is it bad if my experience watching Top Chef makes me think that that can only mean she’s getting eliminated next?

E: How much did you hate the 7 minutes in heaven quickfire?  I thought it was kind of fun, actually, although it was again an entire episode of them fighting against really ugly circumstances. But I imagine you were not amused by the punny title or – particularly – the lack of cooking time.

M: Surprisingly enough, I was fine with it in this context.

E: I give up.

M: It’s when they give them some really crappy situation and then don’t give them enough time for it that I get really upset with.  In this case they gave them great ingredients that they are accustomed to cooking with.  When you’re trying to combine licorice with scorpions, or something ridiculous like that, you need more time to formulate a plan.  When you have truffles and every other thing a top chef is used to cooking with, well, you have to challenge them somehow, so seven minutes was the challenge.  And yes, I am fully aware that I get NO points for consistency.

E: As long as you can admit that… As far as the Elimination Challenge goes, I really didn’t get the impression that anyone did particularly well.  The judges were rather snitty.  Thank God for Gail Simmons and for Maroon Five!

M: I loved the argument over the potatoes, not that I even remember who made them.  I thought that really underscored the episode perfectly.  You had pissy James Oseland being his pissy-est, Adam Levine fighting with one of his band mates to defend the potatoes, and Gail bringing some semblance of sanity to it.

E: There was a point, where they showed Alex discussing how much he was doing in the kitchen – that he was, possibly, probably, doing too much – I feared for him.  He seemed to have host Curtis Stone solidly in his corner, however, just out of props for doing so much.  And then it was clear to me that Celina would not be the one going home, because as much as they wanted to play up her unmatching couscous and spinach pie, they all loved her corn soup.  And Floyd had made this boring steak and utterly pedestrian salad.  (Really?  A salad?  And he couldn’t even watch the pasta?  What’s up with that?)  I thought for as much as they hated that overdone pasta, Alex’s popular tapioca and brave vegan enchilada would have saved him.

M: The enchilada takes me back to my gripe about Oseland.  Really, his complaint was that a vegan enchilada didn’t have a true enchilada texture?  Enchiladas are filled with meat and cheese, and Alex made an apparently tasty one with no meat or cheese?  On a freaking tour bus?  How do you take that into consideration and still complain about the texture?!  As for Floyd, I was REALLY worried that he’d get the ax.  The comments about the salad, while harsh, actually seemed spot on, as opposed to a lot of their other critiques, and the steak was bland, so he really didn’t do much.  I’ll miss Alex, but I’m glad Floyd survived.

E: I like them pretty equally – and both a lot – so I was bummed. Were you as annoyed as I was at the way the judges ripped into both teams at table but praised the winning team to their faces? I mean, I thought they hated Naomi’s mushroom mashed potatoes.  Just for example.

M: I was annoyed at the ripping at the table, not at the praising.  At the end of the meal Maroon Five all said that the meal was pretty incredible, and the judges were all nodding in agreement.  It’s one thing to criticize, but its another to over criticize, and that’s what it felt like in the end.  You gave people 3 hours on a tour bus to cook an insane menu, and they did a pretty bang up job in general, tone it down a bit folks.

E: Word.  Would you remotely have guessed that both teams would do breaded turkey cutlets?  I was a little weirded out by that.  I mean, clearly they couldn’t do a whole turkey in that tiny oven in three hours, but still.

M: I was really amazed by how similar the menus were in general.  They get “I’m from Nebraska” and they both do a corn soup.  They get “I missed Thanksgiving one year” and they both made breaded turkey cutlets.  They both made spanakopita, and I’m blanking now but there were two other dishes that were nearly identical.  Crazy, but it must have made for easy judging.

E: While we’re on the topic of turkey was that not the most ridiculous rider/menu ever?

M: Soooooo ridiculous.  One of them asks for a holdiay, another for a state, and not to be trumped, Adam Levine asked for an entire country (Japan) AND a steak.  I thought turning that into a Japanese steak was brilliant, and well executed.

E:  Agreed.

M: Lastly, I have to say, I loved the reference to Hubert Keller draining his pasta in the shower, it’s nice to know they know who/what has gone before them on this show.

E: Even if it turns out they couldn’t collectively cook pasta on a stove…

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