Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Top Chef -- I'm Ready for My Close-Up Mr. Colicchio

Unable to find a freelance Top Chef blog, I'm stepping up. Pull up a chair, open a fine vintage and snark with me. Those who want all policy all the time, sorry. And yes, there will be spoilers.

The following I blogged more or less in real time.

The suspense factor in this show suffers a bit from what Roger Ebert calls The Unmotivated Close-up. With a dozen contestants, you can pretty much figure out who the bottom and top will be by whom the camera focuses on in the kitchen and whose in-competition interviews air. As of now, we know almost nothing about Sara N, Casey or Camille (except that the producers went for some eye candy this season) because none has been in either the top or bottom.

This week we have an unmotivated close-up in the scenes from the previous episode. Usually we see scenes of the week’s winner and the chef who ends up packing knives. This week we get a fair amount of detail about Lia who was in the bottom four but survived. As I write this, I’m guessing that she either stages a comeback or she’s heading home.


Again the Unmotivated Close-up is telling. The first interview of the day is with Casey. Casey is one of four chefs who get an interview about how they came up with their dishes. And Casey wins the quickfire.

The problem with Top Chef, in contrast to other reality/contrast shows, is that we in the audience are missing the key information – how stuff tastes. This is a good example. I’m hard pressed to imagine a French toast with foie gras, but apparently Casey made it work.

Elimination Challenge

There’s drama when they pick teams, we have the Howie and Joey pairing that has been the theme of the ads for this week, with the now-immune Casey rounding out the three. More drama as Howie and Joey are ticked off at Casey’s attitude.

And then a hot tub shot. As I mentioned, the producers recruited some hot female chefs this year. Not as easy as it sounds as people who spend all day tasting butter and cream often have the waistlines to prove it. The show has never been about hotties, and the near-hotties in past casts have all taken early showers. Now we have a hot tub in the loft and for two weeks running we’ve had a shot of one or more shapely, bikini-clad female chefs taking a soak. It’s just possible that Bravo wants to move beyond the core gays-and-chicks demographic for their reality slate. And by the way, they teased last episodes hot tub shot. Just possible.

As the challenge plays out, it looks unnecessarily difficult. Not enough money, too little time, no access to a pantry. I mean really, Team Tuna runs out of soy sauce?

Judge's Table

The Unmotivated Closeup comes through again. Lia wins it all. Olive oil poached shrimp sounds intriguing. I may have to check out the recipe.

Wow. In all likelihood someone is going home because of a teammate. Team Tuna is in the bottom because Casey forgot to correct the seasoning in her tartar. The first rule of cooking is Taste Everything. Whatever tensions grew between the teammates before appear forgotten – they are united against the bullying of the judge’s table.

Team Pineapple is in trouble because they tried dessert at Dale’s suggestion but from the sounds of it, he was the strongest of the three. But didn’t anyone see either of the two previous seasons? Dessert is death on this show. They brought on one pastry chef and even she couldn’t pull off a dessert. Of course she was last year’s attempt at bringing on a cutie, which didn’t work on any leve.

And packing her knives is Camille. Since the judges said it was the worst dish of the lot, not a surprising choice. Among other things, she was lead bikini in the last two hot tub shots. It was a close up, but not unmotivated.


redhorse said...

well played close. I enjoy this show, but missed this episode. No issue, I'm sure there's a marathon this weekend.

Michael said...

Yeah, I'm always a week behind since I usually can't stay up that late. Don't mind the spoilers, a good write up.

Village Green said...

I watch this one, but only because Project Runway isn't on right now. I did like the episode where they had all the weird protein -- even though I'm vegan! Actually, watching them handle those things made me very glad I'm vegan!