Friday, January 16, 2009

In Which I Honor the Protein: Top Chef Season 5 - Episode 8

Alright, I had high hopes for this episode based on the previews...what's not to like? Hung returns? Awesome. Jamie and Jeff turning their noses up at processed foods? Brilliantly snotty. The chefs going to a farm (which I correctly assumed was Blue Hill Stone Barns, also know as the place where I would like to live and work)? Fantastic. The possibility of the chefs having to slaughter their own protein for dinner? And the killing being shown on cable? Even more awesome.* Jamie and Stefan calling each other douchebags? A level of awesomeness not attained on "Top Chef" since the smackdown of Marcel in the restaurant supply store during Season 2.

But, honestly, I was a little disappointed with the results of the challenges. I mean, overall, I think the concept of the each challenge was good (well, to be fair, one was INFINITELY better than the other), but the chefs and judges kind of let me down.

The SPAM/Turkey SPAM-sponsored Quickfire Challenge:

OK, they HAD to have a challenge where the chefs could only use crap, right? I mean, they always have those challenges, the vending machine challenge, the Swanson broth challenge...but, I found it quite interesting that the only thing they actually showed the brand name of were the GE ovens. The whole show is one big commercial food f***, why stop with this challenge? Maybe the companies weren't too keen on their products being referred to as crap? It's kind of funny how the sponsorships work, right? I mean, just last week they were extolling the virtues of diet Dr. Pepper, now they won't show the label on a can of Goya beans? Regardless, Jamie and Jeff's expressions were hilarious when the ingredients were finally almost made the conspicuous lack of product placement worth it.

I think Jeff did the best job - his food was visually appealing and apparently tasted good. I was kind of mad Hung didn't pick him for the win, but I guess Stefan's tasted better. As for Jamie, WTF was she thinking? Radhika, too. What the hell guys? I know it's canned stuff, but there's no excuse for acting the way they did about it. I know all restaurants have cans of stuff around. And, chefs cook all night in their restaurants, I'm sure every single one of them has some frozen food, cans of black beans, and a few boxes of mac and cheese lying around for a quick meal when they get home. I was actually a little offended by the chefs saying, "Oh, this is fine for the home cook" or a "housewife." The hell? I think Ariane even said in her exit interview that Gene made SPAM at the apartment when he was on the show for a quick meal. To be fair, most chefs would probably only use a few canned or processed ingredients and liven them up with good, fresh stuff, but, come on guys. It's a challenge you know you were going to have, suck it up and plan for it.

The beautiful, completely product placement-free, Elimination Challenge:
How amazing was that farm? Really? I would give a lot to be able to go up there at the end of the summer, just grab whatever I could and spend the day cooking. I wanted to frolic naked through that tomato patch with a salt shaker, bottle of olive oil, and about 10 baguettes. Preferably with Fabio and Jeff there, too:

What an amazing opportunity for the chefs, and they all seemed to appreciate it, especially after the craptastic Quickfire. I imagine it was tough for them to adjust their menus based on what was available, but, when all the produce looks like that, I guess it's not such a bad thing.

Team Pig - I had high hopes for this team. I've made my love of Jeff pretty clear, as well as my love of pork, so they were my favorite going in. Radhika pissed me off with her snail-paced corn grilling (she didn't even look like she cared), but Fabio making pasta kind of made up for it. I'm a little upset they didn't do better in the end. I feel like the pork loin and ravioli were probably pretty good, it's just that judges expected things to be a little more simple and pig-flavored. Those fried green tomatoes looked fantastic, though, as did the side salad that apparently took three hours to make.

Team Chicken - Poor Carla. Seriously, she didn't deserve to be in the middle of that crap. Whatever weird, faux-sexual-tension thing is going on with Stefan and the person he thinks Jamie is is really disturbing. But, those bitches pulled it out though. I absolutely think roasted chicken is the best way to showcase a fantastic piece of poultry and Jamie's paillard was perfect for the season. And, for a second, can we talk about how awesome Carla's tart looked?

Look at it. Yum-dash-O! She really should have gotten the win all to herself, if only for putting up with the other two jackasses.

Team Lamb - What. The. Hell? Hosea and Leah's relationship is gross. I'm sorry. Don't they both had significant others? Can't you keep it in your pants for three weeks? I'm no fan of Ariane (in fact, I predicted she would go out the way that she did, just on the wrong week), but at least she stepped up and tried to do something, her team just totally bailed on her and, if I may employ the most over-used "Top Chef" expression ever, threw her under the bus. Leah, you're an idiot. Own up to the crappy job you did and admit that you did nothing. Hosea, admit that you're a cheater and a passive f***. Ariane, learn how to butcher and prepare lamb. I think Ariane A right choice to send home, let me explain. The point of the challenge was to "honor the protein," which she, and she alone, did not. Nor did she ask her team for help when she realized she was in way over her head. That said, Leah should have been sent home, too, for admitting that she knew how to butcher and tie lamb, but left Ariane to flounder, which she did basically nothing. That's unacceptable in any job, right? You help people who need help, bottom line. Plus she's just annoying and will clearly not win, so she might as well go home, right?

Next week: Restaurant Wars! Which is actually my most hated of all the "Top Chef" challenges, but more on that next week. Also, Radhika has a nervous breakdown.

P.S. WTF was Betty doing in that commercial/product placement crap with Stephanie? Poor Stephanie...I bet she tried to return her win after realizing she'd have to be in the same room as that crazy ho.

P.P.S. Stefan whispering "cock" was the best moment (hands down) of the season so far.

*Note: I love animals, I'm not all about hurting things unnecessarily or anything, I just think it's important that people realize their meat doesn't come from a Styrofoam container in the back of the grocery store.


Beth said...

Carla definitely deserved it, totally agree. And Jeff deserves a win, I'll keep my fingers crossed for next week! I suppose Blue Hill is going on the list of possible future missions?

iko said...

@Beth - I think we HAVE to plan a trip to Blue Hill - sometime over the summer and tomatoes are in season!

Beth said...

From my inside information, I hear that the best deal is to eat at the little cafe, not the main restaurant, because it all comes from the same kitchen and the cafe is significantly less expensive.

iko said...

@Beth - good call, cheap, but also delicious food is my favorite! Maybe I can try to finagle a job while we're there too...