Top Chef: Please pack you knives and… line?

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September 10, 2009

9:18 AM

This week on “Top Chef” was entièrement française. Let the stereotypes about French cuisine commence!

For the Quickfire Challenge the cheftestants had to prepare escargot in new and exciting ways for guest judge Daniel Boulud. Not only did they have to work with one of the more unpleasant proteins they could find, but, because it was a High Stakes Quickfire, someone was going home. The chefs, surprisingly, knew how to handle these shelled delicacies, with Frenchman Mattin gushing about how he grew up on escargot. If this is how the French treat their children, then I am setting up a Marseille chapter of the Christian Children’s Fund tomorrow.

During Jennifer’s interviews she seemed so downtrodden that I was sure she was going home (since the interviews take place after they know the results). But along with Kevin and Mike I., she was in the top three. She needs to go, because I avoid the last agonizing ten minutes of the show by judging people’s emotions. Kevin won with the purely disgusting idea of bacon jam. I don’t know how you make bacon jam, but I imagine that it is for all intents and purposes the least kosher item on the face of the earth. In the bottom three were Robin, Ashley and Jesse. Since one of them had to go home, they gave them a second chance to make an amuse bouche with whatever was in the kitchen; if it wasn’t enough pressure to have to impress the judges, they now had only one bite to do it. Jesse was sent home, which I was happy to see. The only way I was going to root for her is if she said she was planning on using the money for tattoo removal.

One of the most disappointing moments of the night was when Tom Colicchio messed up the sendoff for Jesse. “Please pack your knives and leave.” “Leave?” It’s “go.” Before, I thought that Padma was just there for eye candy, but now I realize she is paid the big bucks because the phrase is just too much for a chef, with actual culinary know-how, to handle.

The elimination challenge had the cheftestants draw knives, with half the group getting a French sauce and the other half a French protein. I will not begin to know how to spell the actual names for these sauces, but for what it’s worth one was a béarnaise. As an added pressure, they had to cook these dishes for some of the best French chefs in the world, whose names I will not begin to know how to spell; all-in-all, this was not a good night to be recapping “Top Chef.” Kevin not only had immunity for the round because of his Quickfire win, but he also got to eat dinner with the judges and critique his fellow contestants food.

For those who have followed “Top Chef” over the past seasons, you realized from this episode that they are probably the most competent group in the show’s history. Everything they made looked so good, I’m sure even the losing dish would have been better than anything I have ever eaten. The assuredly more discerning palates of the judges found winners and losers, though. Up top were Brother Mike and Jennifer with their rabbit dish and Brother Bryan and Mike I. with fish and béarnaise. Brother Bryan took home the top prize, with Mike I. looking awfully bitter, but because he didn’t complain (on camera at least) I’ll let it slide this week.

On the bottom were Ashley and Mattin with a dish that was — brace yourself — not improved by the inclusion of bacon. Now that your world has been sufficiently rocked to its core, can someone explain how that even works? Bacon improves everything. Luckily, nobody was eliminated because of that horrible mistake. Hector and Ash were the bottom two, and because Hector chose to cut the chateaubriand with a blade sufficient for hacking bamboo, he had to pack his knifes and go — not leave, Tom.

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