Top Chef: Chefs not home on the range

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September 17, 2009

5:26 PM

During “Top Chef,” Bravo has so many annoying texting surveys, I never pay attention to a single one. Well, turns out I missed the only one in six seasons I would have ever waned to do. The producers allowed the fans to choose the Quickfire ingredient for this week. Apparently the Top Chef audience is full of masochists, because they had to cook with cactus. Like with any time there is a difficult ingredient, some embraced the challenge and some floundered. Most of the chefs tried to just hide the cactus in the dish, and when they got to Ron’s plate they actually had to ask where it was. Mike I. won the challenge, and got $15,000 for it because it’s Vegas baby. Oddly enough, Mattin placed in the top without even knowing that cactus was edible beforehand. Contemplate that. Could you ever possibly be handed an item you didn’t know could be eaten and make a dish?

For the elimination challenge the cheftestants had to cook for cowboys out in the desert. In the ultimate yuppie moment of the week, they had to walk like lost lambs through the desert, holding their bags from Whole Foods. Like a freshly unwrapped leftover, they no longer had the protection Glad offers (little known fact: Glad requires that any analogy involved in “Top Chef” features a member of the Glad family of products). After complaining about how hard it will be to cook food in an environment that does not look like the kitchen of the gods, one of the chefs complained that this isn’t even an environment fit for food. Do they realize that just because you can’t tempura everything in the desert doesn’t mean it is unfit for food? No, they don’t.

All of the contestants seemed to work well with the challenge. Nevada is bad enough in air-conditioned casinos, so just the idea of having to work right next to an open flame, outside and in the middle of the day, had me checking for pit stains.

By the time the cowboys actually received the food, it had gotten just as pretentious as it normally is. I wish the producers had chosen to show the actual reactions of the cowboys, as opposed to the ones that we actually got. I’m sure quite a few of them were not pleased when they saw the food they were being served. When Robin said that a hearty romaine salad could be just as filling as steak and potatoes, my heart sank a little bit for them.

At Judge’s Table I was thankful to see that none of the ceviches did well, because we do not need to reward that kind of behavior. Brother Bryan was this week’s winner, with Laurine, Ashley and Brother Mike placing high. In the bottom were Robin, Ron and Mattin. Ron really should have gone home, because there was no way that coconut milk and seafood could be satisfying after a day on the ranch. But sadly, confused running of the bulls participant Mattin went home. I will miss him only because it means I can no longer write that in this blog.

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