Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Chef Last Week: No Surprises

I did get a chance over the last couple of days to review last week's episode with my laptop behaving reasonably well. This now, then last night's episode later tonight.

Right off we get some ominous Unmotivated Closeup of Sarah N, particularly about her Achilles heel: working slow in the kitchen. The five minutes I considered cooking as a career ended when I got honest about my slow, clumsy knife work. Sarah has real problems getting the food done and out.

Howie lets us know that Joey and he “could only get so close” because it’s a competition. Nice to know Howie isn't going to let a little thing like basic human emotion get in his way.

Theme: Guilty Pleasures.

Quickfire. Sponsored this week by Coldstone Creamery.

Soon as I see someone cutting cauliflower, we know we’re in trouble. And it’s Hung. No surprise there. Hung is not just any monkey, he’s the monkey who puts cauliflower in ice cream. He says he wants to “refresh the palate.” Certain phrases carry portents of doom on this show. Like “I’m not a pastry chef but there should be dessert with this meal.” Or, “Chef Colicchio, try my pannacotta .”

To that we can add “I wanted to refresh the palate.” Only once have two contestants been knocked out in the same show, and they were trying to “refresh the palate.” Word to contestants – leave those palates unrefreshed.

Casey tries to put Serracha in ice cream. If you haven’t had the pleasure, sriracha is a Vietnamese chili and garlic sauce. It is hot chili, vinegar and garlic. I’ve had hot pepper jelly on ice cream before and it’s delicious. But garlic and ice cream is a match made in Hell.

And Chef Armstrong shudders. It looked like one of those trying-to-keep-it-down shudders.

Hung once again lost because he’s above the rest of us. He understand putting cauliflower in

Elimination challenge. They are “off the hook.” Going to enjoy Miami nightlife.

OK, I’ve seen the previews and everything, but how can these guys see the twist coming. Have they never seen a Bravo competition show? These shows all pride themselves on the “twists.” Nope, everyone is taken in.

Oh no, some more up close and personal with Sarah and Dale. Another kiss of death “X and I have become very close.” Bye-bye X.

So here is the twist. Padma and Govind Armstrong and the knife block.

Commercial break and the show is tying the winning quickfire dish to a Bombay Sapphire cocktail. In case you forgot they are a sponsor. Wonder what Bertolli frozen entrĂ©e it goes best with? Mmm, don’t know, but there’s the Bertolli commercial right on time. And Rocco flogging his cooking show contest.

Back to the show and Sara M. tells us that Sarah N and Casey are pissed off that they are dressed in going-out clothes and showing cleavage and have to work in the kitchen that way. Don’t you wonder if Padma had this idea, given the grief she gets for wearing club clothes in the kitchen? Of course, she doesn’t have to cook in them.

So Black Team gets it together and Orange Team is all verklempt. Apparently Sarah N is verklempt because she’s wearing high heels in the supermarket. Or something.

Oh, here’s a surprise. Howie is cooking with pork. Why is the Jewish guy so stuck on cooking pig?

Honestly, I didn’t see the horror in Howie talking to Sarah about the milkshakes. She’s all sad about his “demeanor” but her demeanor says she is going to break down and cry if you don’t agree with her. Then she gets all confused about the top of the blender. And by the way, Howie's right. Ice in a milkshake will water it down.

You know a team is in trouble any time Colicchio has to wait for food. He just stands there slow burning and basically game over. And the Cuban guy who didn’t like the Cuban sandwich is a grim sign.

Judge’s Table

Ted is back on the panel. And he likes bacon.

Colicchio seems to have a thing about chicken. This is the second time he’s described a mass-produced chicken h’ors d’ouvre as “lousy.”

The only surprise about the winner was Tre over Brian. Tre had the better food, Brian was the salesman. That’s gone either way in the past (see Betty in last year's Asian-themed catering challenge).

Now the loser team. Casey and Sarah are sad about being in fancy clothes and showing skin. Sarah looks like she wants to lose. When she says she cooked the sliders, she looks apologetic.

I find everyone’s claims that they didn’t know about the problem with the food getting out to be disingenuous. Colicchio stood there for who knows how long, but everyone is now shocked to hear that there was a problem. Please. CJ says he thought going up there when the burgers weren’t coming out fast enough wouldn’t have made the situation better. I tend to agree. Sarah looked like she was one mean look away from a complete meltdown. That, I think, was the problem.

It comes down to Sarah and Howie. They build it up like there may actually be a close decision here, but they've always picked quality cooking over quality teamwork. Sarah goes home. The producers stocked the show with pretty ladies and now they are almost all gone.

And yes, Howie was an asshole. But Sarah’s problem isn’t that she was too nice. It’s that she’s too slow. Sarah being next up to pack her knives was the least surprising turn of the night, which is saying something.