Monday, June 25, 2007

Culinary Review: SDD wraps up the week in television cooking.

Top Chef was back with a vengeance this week, proving itself again to be the finest competitive cooking show on TV.

The episode started with a theme-driven Quickfire challenge, forcing the contestants to utilize any number of citrus fruits in their recipes as this cycle of Top Chef takes place in blistering Miami, where they do citrus right, evidently.

The dishes covered a wide range in successfulness, and those that fared best combined ingenuity with just plain taste, and the chefs that shone were CJ, and the already irritating dynamic duo of Tre and Hung.

Tre and Hung obviously feel themselves to be above the rest of the competitors and while this very well may be true, it already makes for some lackluster television. I can only imagine (and honestly, hope) that one of them, or perhaps both, get brought down a couple of notches before it's all said and done. End rant. Hung again reigned supreme leaving him any elimination worries that we both know he never had.

The Elimination challenge required the contestants to make classy up some barbecue for a hoity-toity picnic thrown by Miami party-planner extraordinaire Lee Schrager. The chefs were aflutter by this challenge, and chaos ruled the day, as this was the first time that all the chefs had to utilize the same kitchen at once, making for crowded and opinionated work quarters all around.

During preperations for this challenge, we witnessed a very despondent Micah who claimed to be distracted by being absent from her young daughter for the first time, though her cynical co-chefs thought that a more likely excuse for her tears and depression was her poor showing at the Quickfire earlier in the day. While I'm all for the cynicism, especially when it comes to reality TV, it seems to me that the most cynical of her competitors were all single, childless men, so I suggest they keep their mouths shut and keep on cooking.

The day of the barbecue dawned sunny and hot and featured dishes that ran the gamut of the culinary palette. It was obvious early on that while the quality seemed to be there in nearly every dish, it was the appropriateness to the situation at hand that served as the losing chefs' stumbling block.

Standing out among all others from this challenge though, were the emotional Micah and promising Sara N., as well as challenge winner Brian whose homemade seafood sausage proved to be the perfect combination of traditional (sausage) and upscale (seafood).

Not so lucky with regards to the Elimination challenge were a diverse foursome. Tre (who truly let the entire state of Texas down with this poor showing at a BBQ challenge) and Sandee (whose poached vanilla/lobster dish did not pass as BBQ fare by any stretch of the imagination) were two, while Joey and Howie bickered over imagined slights as both dealt with the stresses of knowing how inferior their dishes were and that truly, they should most likely be eliminated.

Luckily for them, however, their lackluster pork and chicken dishes sufficed, because it was BBQ the judges wanted and BBQ they did not get from Sandee. So, see ya Sandee, we hardly knew ye and so ends another episode of Top Chef.

Meanwhile, back at the trailer park that is Hell's Kitchen, Chef Ramsey is screaming at his minions, and all is right with the world. This week's episode featured one contestant obliviously cooking with rancid crab, one contestant taking spaghetti from the trash, intending to rinse it off and prepare it for consumption, and one contestant having to leave the competition due to unspecified medical issues. My money's on syphilis! That said, it was both Joanna and Aaron who were disposed of this week, like so much spaghetti.

All par for the course in the tv culinary world. We'll be back next week with more fascinating foodie fables!

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