Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Feel Like a Hummingbird on Cocaine - "Top Chef" Season 5 - Episode 9 (Subtitle: It's Called "Top Chef" not Top Slut)

I hate Restaurant Wars. I don't understand why Bravo makes such a big deal about it. It's a crappy challenge - think about it. They make the poor chefs open a restaurant in 6 hours (a feat which normally takes months to years to accomplish), then break apart every detail of the decor, food, and service. It's "Top Chef" not Top Waiter or Top Decorator ("see you later, decorator" - does anyone remember that show?). Yes, the chef-owner of a restaurant needs to make the interior design decisions of his or her restaurant, but they normally have, you know, a trained professional to give them options and people to actually do the design and decorating work. Sure, chef-owners need to train their waitstaff and make sure they know how to carry a plate withour spilling sauce everywhere, but, come on, is Thomas Keller at Bouchon yelling at waiters? F no. This is why chefs have head waiters, who have probably been with them since the first restaurant. And this is why Restaurant Wars sucks. The competition is about cooking, yet people get sent home for lacking front-of-house skills or decorating savvy. BS. I get that these skills are necessary to have, or at least know you need someone to help you out, but there's no need to Radhika and Fabio to be lugging planters around instead of designing and executing the menu. Rant over.

So, Hosea and Leah interviewed at the beginning that they didn't send Ariane home, yet Leah feels sick b/c she's partly responsible? At least Jamie had the balls to throwdown the first "throw under the bus" of the season. I don't know. Ariane and Leah both should have gone home. We went over this last week, moving on.

The Budakkan-sponsored Quickfire Challenge
This Quickfire was pretty uninteresting, right? I don't know what Jeff was thinking with the salmon and puree?

It looked so flat and boring on the plate. And Fabio, I don't even understand what the concept of his restaurant was - lunch cookery? I did think Radhika's looked tasty, but as soon as she won, I was like, "yeah, she's going home." Then I saw Leah win, and I was like, "NO, she's DEFINITELY going home." Could Stephen Starr have picked two worse people to be in charge? I don't think either of them has displayed good (no, actually ANY) leadership all season. I could practically feel the disdain and mocking oozing out of Stefan through my TV.

The Toyota Sequoia/Pier 1 Restaurant Wars Elimination Challenge
Radhika was in charge of Team Sahana, which also included Jamie, Carla, and Jeff. Theme: global/old spice trade. Leah was in charge of Team Sunset Lounge (wtf?) and Stefan, Fabio, and Hosea (they will, henceforth, be known as Team Slut for obvious reasons). Theme: Asian-influenced. And I am not impressed with either concept, but the menus sound good.

The teams the head out to buy decorations and subsequently destroy Pier 1 and spend $5,000 each. This entire segment could have been cut out of the show to have the episode fit in the one hour time frame and prevent me from being angry about blatant sponsorship. Also, I was confused as to why they had to shop for their restaurants BEFORE they saw the spaces they would be decorating. Anyone else?

[Speaking of other things that could have been cut from the episode, HO-sea and Ho-Leah making out (and the added porno music). WTF? I had to pause my TiVo, run to the bathroom, and mainline brain-bleach to get that grossness out of my head. They kissed, ugh, big deal. let's all move on. We watch the show for cooking and random chef in-fighting, not to watch two people lay in a bed together. Call me if Jeff gets naked.]

Anyway, while they were menu planning back at the apartment, it became clear to me that Radhika has no leadership skills (could she have been more passive about doing front-of-house?) and has no business being anywhere other than the kitchen. Which is fine, she seems to be a great cook, but step up and say, "I'm the leader, Jeff do front-of-house, you're hot and the ladies will love you, I want to cook my menu." On the other team, Leah clearly had no leadership skills either, letting Stefan walk all over her, then whining and leaving to have a cigarette. Then making out with Hosea. Ugh. It was pathetic.

The next day there's HO-Leah and HO-sea awkwardness and a pointless montage of the teams shopping at Whole Foods and Restaurant Depot (this also could have been cut out of the episode, thereby making it a 45 minute show). The only drama occurred when no one could find lamb shanks (causing the word "SHANK" to be said more times in two minutes on any TV show, ever, including "Prison Break") and the producers had to re-edit Carla saying "Toyota Sequoia" into the scene.

Finally, the cooking:
Basically, both teams had issues, Radhika put Jamie in charge so she can decorate and gave no input to poor Carla about her desserts or the problems she was having with the freezer. Team Slut couldn't work together because of HO-sea and HO-Leah's lovefest and Stefan couldn't get his parfait to set up, either (but, he wisely MacGuyver-ed an ice bath to make it work (yay! Tim Gunn!)). HO-Leah then messed up her fish by portioning it and then attempting to de-bone it and yelled at HO-sea to redo his sauce. And Stefan cackled maniacally in the corner all the while making awesome sounding desserts - he is a true multi-tasker. Basically, the only good that came out of the cooking montage was Fabio putting on his suit and looking hot. Well, that and "we can serve money ass in a clam shell." WTF does that mean and why do I love it so much?

Apparently, all the waiters on Team Sahana were idiots - where did Bravo find these people? Who doesn't know how to keep a plate level to prevent carefully plated sauce from running all over the plate? Jamie was pissed Radhika didn't train the servers how to do this, but I think they should have know how to do this already. And, it didn't affect the final outcome of the show anyway, so (again), waste of air time. As far as the food goes, Jeff and Jamie both did good jobs.

(This is here because Jeff is hot, even when he makes ridiculous faces like this one)
All the food sounded good ("SHANK" was dropped a few more times), despite the ubiquitous scallop (on a chickpea cake, though, so SOLD!!), and everything appeared to be hot and delivered in a timely fashion. Carla and her desserts were a different story altogether, though, right? I feel badly for her, I think if the freezer had been working, she would have been on her game, Team Sahana would have won, and Ho-Leah would have gone home. As is was, though, the desserts sucked, due to Carla and (mostly) Radhika's apathetic attitude.

Sunset Lounge:
Fabio was adorable and darling and will absolutely be hired to run the front-of-house of my restaurant.

He and Stefan totally carried the Hos' asses on this one. Without Team Europe, Leah would have been knifed faster than she could say "I still love my boyfriend." As for the food, the short ribs sounded tasty, but that cod was pathetic. Seriously, Leah? I know you're off your game b/c of HO-sea, but it's just a piece of fish, for the JUDGES, no less. At least get that piece cooked properly. Stefan's desserts all looked awesome, and I don't even like dessert. I'm not really a Stefan fan personality-wise, but his food is amazing.

I will not be surprised if he wins the whole thing and certainly won't be upset if he does.

Judges' Table:
Team Slut won by a small margin, thanks entirely to Team Europe's charm and sweet tooth. Leah got reamed for being a ho and improperly cooking fish because she was too distracted by HO-sea's hot ass. Team Sahana lost because of Carla's crappy desserts and Radhika's total lack of leadership and deficit of basic interpersonal skills. After some shady editing and a commercial, Radhika gets sent home. Which, given the team that lost, I think is fair. However, it's clear to me (and probably all of you) that Leah has no business being there anymore. She can't cook a piece of fish which she KNOWS is going to the judges and lack the leadership skills to control a kitchen. How on earth can she even be considered for Top Chef?

Next week: All-stars? How is Andrew an all-star? Josie? Is that her name? Why are they dressed in football uniforms? Fabio yells at the guest judge about Italian restaurants!

Side note: Why is Toby still there? He contributes nothing of value to the show. One pithy comment about Elvis Presley and nothing else this week. Does he even know about food? Just because he's a white guy with glasses doesn't make him interchangeable with Ted Allen, Bravo producers.


Miffee said...

I hope Leah catches on fire this week.

iko said...

@Miffee - ugh. Me too. Unfortunately, our wishes didn't come true...