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Top Chef Week Six: We missed a QuickFire, Anthony Bourdain at an avant garde Thanksgiving, and Carlos goes off to drink margaritas

November 23, 2006

topchef_desktop_thumb1.jpgSynopsis…
Well, we have a confession, we only saw the second half of the show. We were in transit to our holiday destination and if you were on I-95 between DC and Richmond yesterday evening, you know what I am talking about. So we finally settled in and got to catch the second half. Le sigh. That means we only saw half the show’s snarkiness, therefore our snarkiness is at half-power. Sorry.

We missed the QuickFire and plunged right into the Elimination Challenge. Through our powers of rapid deduction, we gleaned that half the contestants were sitting this one out and the other half were compelled to make a “cutting edge” Thanksgiving meal in their dorm-like apartment kitchens. Those who were sitting out bided their time drinking, ripping on Marcel, and trying to create drama by telling Frank (a.k.a the “snorting wildebeest”) that he should be really ticked that Marcel dropped his toothbrush on the floor. The wildebeest, sporting a wine glass, pointed his finger at Marcel and talked very loudly. Great drama.

Meanwhile, the cooking. Let’s sum up: In four hours, Carlos made a butternut squash salad (judged as lame). Michael made a turkey canapé (good), potatoes two ways and cheese-wrapped corn (tasty and puzzling), and a cheese plate (who doesn’t like cheese?). Elia made a delicious mushroom soup (er, do other people eat this at Thanksgiving? Is my family missing out?). Marcel made a turkey roulade and cranberry gelee (apparently daring, but dry). And finally, Betty made a pumpkin crème brulee, an espresso and something I can’t remember (OK, but not cutting edge and not crème brulee). Marcel and Elia were judged the best, and Elia won because hers actually tasted good. After more finger pointing, Michael said Carlos should go home, Carlos said Betty should go home, and Betty practically screamed that Carlos should go home. And ultimately, perhaps due to Betty’s decibel output, Carlos was kicked off for preparing a mediocre salad in four hours.

The highlight of the show was actually Anthony Bourdain, who graced the table as a guest judge, inserting a biting wit and humor that made you realize that the show is usually really lacking in that department. So it was a great move, Top Chef, but also a bad move. Unless you bring him back next week… What do you say?

Anthony Bourdain was a quote machine. A sampling of his great lines:
“Its limp and unattractive…”
“What type of crack house are you running?”
“Complete failure of imagination!”
“Just thinking about it puts me into a coma.”
“So perverse that I’m starting to enjoy it.”
“Betty Crocker and Charles Manson had a love child and it’s cooking for me.” (About Michael. Natch.)
“Despite its pure Flinstonian Execution…” (About Michael. Natch.)
“On a cruise with Kathy Lee yodeling on the leto deck…”

Is Betty having a meltdown?

Husband: Yes. I think we’re seeing our kind champion from the first few weeks turn into a Whitney Houston-like diva, sans the drugs.
Wife: I declared that she was having a meltdown during the show. The signs: Shouting that Carlos should be kicked off (at a volume that alarmed the poor, skittish judges), and repeated immature confrontations with Marcel. I think she may look back at some of these episodes and cringe. I hope she gets it together, or it could be a tearful goodbye. In the meantime, a word of warning to Marcel: You don’t want to antagonize a woman on the edge who’s wielding a chef’s knife.

What product placement opportunity do you think they are missing?
H
: Aspirin or one of those over-the-counter hangover remedies that you see at gas stations.
W: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Marcel’s hair products. Is it mousse? Gel? Dippity-do? Dapper Dan? I’m burning to know.

Predictions: Winner? Next off?
H
: I’m still sticking with Cliff since I didn’t see anything he did this week. I WILL NOT pick Michael to be kicked off. I’m ignoring him. I’m going out on a limb and saying Frank might go. His drunken dressing down of Marcel seemed a precursor to a meltdown.
W: I’ll pick Sam to win. Just to vary from picking Ilan again. And I dig Sam’s Samurai ponytail thing. Hmmm…. Hot diabetic samurai. Sounds like a Quentin Tarantino film. Off? Marcel? Why not?

Your thoughts? Your winners? And what did we miss so we don’t have to download it on iTunes while snarfing down turkey and pie?

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6 comments

  1. Love your blog — love your Top Chef roundups even more! This week drove me batty; here are my questions/comments:

    Betty did a total 180. Her anger with Marcel turned her into a bully. Not only did she completely bulldoze the group in the menu selection, but her accusations that Marcel ruined her creme brulee were ludicrious. The challenge was to be INNOVATIVE; she did not allow any ingenuity or creativity. As witnessed by the judges table, Marcel was the only one who was actually bold in presentation and concept. And, again the shrieking and fingerpointing at Marcel when her dessert was a flop was so disappointing. I was pulling for her; but now…

    Elia: What is her beef with Cliff? Did not understand her questioning of Tom; questioning whether he really liked Cliff’s dish. Why else would he have picked it if he didn’t like it? She came off as dubious of Cliff’s skill and more dubious of Tom’s authenticity. (side note: Marisa also made a comment about Cliff’s win in the ice cream challenge — something like, “well, he won for other reasons”). Also, for someone that bitched through the entire challenge and was uninspired by the food, Thanksgiving, the challenge, etc, it’s sad that her soup ended up being a winner. Maybe if she would just be quiet and stop complaining about “American cheese, vending machines, diet food, et al” she would win more challenges.

    Carlos – deserved to be booted. What the hell is a salad doing as elimination competitor? Geez, Micheal came up with three different meals and Carlos spends 4 hours on a salad…and gets defensive about being asked what he did with his time. Good bye!

    Next to leave? Mia or Michael.

    Winner? Sam or Cliff.


  2. Love your blog. You missed a bizarre episode, but, never fear… Bravo will repeat it 10,000 times before next Wednesday. Betty is beyond meltdown. She is a complete psychobitch from hell. Frank is a pscho-something too. Marcel and Mike are ironically becoming the two most endearing cast members this season. Elia rocks, too. Sam is a weasel and instigator. Mia is two-faced. Cliff and Ilan are okay, but, honestly, Betty and Frank are insane. It’s beyond drama. It’s potential evidence in criminal/and/or civil litigators representing Marcel who has been harrassed since he set foot on the set. It’s ridiculous. The show is plummetting.


  3. I asked for more drama last week, and I guess I got it. I also thought Anthony Bourdain was a riot. I didn’t enjoy his book, but I think he’s been the best guest judge thus far. And they loaded the deck by only giving him the bottom of the barrel to cook for him.

    But I still saw an appalling lack of imagination on the part of these “chefs”. They were supposed to come up with something cutting-edge using traditional Thanksgiving flavors. My husband and I came up with 3 solid ideas on the post-Thanksgiving car ride. And Betty’s meltdown was really bizarre, turned me off of her completely. But at least it was entertaining.


  4. My wife and I love your comments. We didn’t get back until Saturday, but I was sneaking on the computer to see what people were saying. It was quite a pleasure to us while we were in a post-holiday food coma.

    I did catch the episode last night off our TiVo. We both thought the effort by the group in the QuickFire wasn’t great either. You wonder if these guys ever really cooked in a kitchen where everything wasn’t pristine and fresh.

    And I agree with Shannon about how cutting edge the meal was. I sit here and look at all the dishes and really only Marcel’s was one where he was doing something I’ve never quite seen.

    Finally, I think we need to petition for more Bourdain. They should make him at least the narrator for the show so that he could be a disembodied voice musing upon the insanity of the group. There ratings would be twice what they were if every week I got to laugh as hard as I did this episode.

    By the way, I didn’t get that far through Kitchen Confidential either. His discussion recounting of the bride on her wedding day made me wonder about cooking at all.

    Thanks for the comments. I’ll see you on Thursday morning.


  5. Holy crap. Betty = harridan. Dang.


  6. This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. We soaked the bird in a brine solution she got at William Sonoma it really kept it moist. OMG, the turkey was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!



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