Thursday, August 09, 2007

"There's a really fine line between being competitive and just being an asshole.": Two weeks of Top Chef

Meanwhile, back on Bravo, Top Chef continues down the slippery slope of corporate whoredom with two episodes chock full of product placement. Last week, the quick fire challenge entailed a knowledge bee of sorts. The contestants were tasked with identifying certain ingrediants by sight or taste depending on the item. I admit when this challenge began, I was intrigued, as the ingredients varied from mundane to exotic and I was interested in seeing the breadth of the chefs knowledge. Yeah, unfortunately that didn't happen. In general, the chefs came up lame in this challenge with the vast majority getting eliminated upon their first try. Ultimately, it was Casey that showed her prowess and gained immunity for the episode.

As for the elimination challenge, guest judge Rocco DiSpirito informed the contestants that they needed to pair off and plan out a meal that could be frozen and marketed as a BERTOLLI MEDITERRANEAN STYLE MEAL! That's right, from frozen piecrusts to frozen meals, truly Top Chef is the height of the culinary world. But I digress ... DiSpirito also informed the kitchen that the winners of the challenge would receive a trip for two (each) to Italy. Because obviously going to Italy would help a person hone their, um, flash-freezing technique?

What we learned early on in this challenge was that the key to success was to quick freeze all of the elements seperately so that upon cooking, you weren't left attempting to defrost a frozen pasta brick. Despite this knowledge seemingly disseminating throughout the kitchen, it was only the pairing of Tre and CJ that acted upon their knowledge. Working less successfully as teammates were the couples of Howie and Sara M., Joey and Hung. As one could probably forsee, Tre and CJ easily win the elimination challenge and the trip to Italy, while it is an extremely weepy Joey sent home.

Moving right along ...

This week's episode started with an absolutely thrilling challenge involving COLDSTONE CREAMERY ICE CREAM! The chefs were instructed to make up some of their own mixin's to add to COLDSTONE CREAMERY'S Sweet Cream ice cream. Now, since most of the chef's aren't complete morons, they went with fruits and other complimentary flavors to add to their ice cream and got on famously. Of course there were those that went down in flames. There was Casey who incorporated, well, something gross that actually made guest judge Gorvind Armstrong shudder. Well played, Casey. And then there was Hung. Poor Hung decided to go the way of Season 2 contestant Marcel (he of the ill-advised foams) and whipped up a white chocolate cauliflower foam along with a variety of other "texturally interesting" ingredients. Yeah, that went over well.

Needless to say, Hung and Casey were the big losers while Howie's flaming berries and Dale's peach cobbler stood out from the crowd in a more positive fashion, with Dale winning immunity. Now, let me take a minute and talk about how ungodly annoying Top Chef's product placement has gotten. As if it wasn't enough that we had the GE KITCHEN and the GLAD FAMILY OF PRODUCTS, but now every episode we have BOMBAY SAPPHIRE or COLDSTONE or BERTOLLI. Seriously, we see the commercials, we know who your sponsors are! Beyond that, if we're going to be this ridiculously obvious about it, why not just rent out a couple of muppets, slap a color and a letter on there and air it on PBS. Honestly, if Top Chef is going to treat us like children, they might as well give us Prairie Dawn instead of Padma.

End Rant.

Now where was I. Oh right, so after Dale wins immunity the chefs are informed that there isn't an immediate elimination challenge. Instead they get to get all hooched out and get DRUNK in Miami. And of course they all fall for it. I mean, really? Have these people ever SEEN a reality show before? IT'S A TRICK! *sighs* Anyway, they all get dressed up and excitedly pile into the limo only to be surprised outside the club with a couple of mobile eateries and instructions to divide into teams and start cooking for the after bar. Which takes me to another rant. While I feel like the contestants should have been savvy enough to suspect something fishy was coming, I think it's completely unfair to do this to a coed group of chefs and here's my completely non-sexist reasoning. The fact of the matter is this: women and men have completely different "bar-hopping" wardrobes. Men wear nice pants, a nice shirt, I dunno, shoes? Women wear 4 inch heals, strips of fabric for a top and sometimes pants. I'm not saying this is right, but it's how it is. Nay, it is what is EXPECTED of women on the club scene. So when I saw teary-eyed Casey and Sara at the site of the challenge, I couldn't blame them. Clipping around a tiny kitchen in hooker heels with my boobies exposed to the elements (in this case, a deep fat fryer!) would really put me off my game as well. But, well, I guess I've run out of things to say about that. Other than I think it'd decidedly unfair.

Ok, really this time, where was I?

Oh, so the teams were CJ, Casey, Howie and Sara N. pitted against Tre, Brian, Hung and Sara M and the chemistry problems on team 1 were obvious from the start. While their after-bar menu seemed more appealing, what with sliders and milkshakes, it just didn't gel for the judges. Indeed, it's Tre that wins the challenge by utilizing cheese grits and bacon wrapped shrimp while Sara N. is sent home after Howie sells her out and the judges find her personality lacking. Next week looks fun with the restaurant showdown, so let's hope its not as product-whorey as the last few episodes.


Carrie said...

"and sometimes pants." Ha, and oh so true. I totally felt for those girls, having to cook in heels and skimpy tops. However, Sara deserved to go home simply for putting ice in the milkshakes. Ice doesn't belong in milkshakes!

Bianca Reagan said...

Boo for being unfair to women. Hooray for Tre, because I like him. No, it's not just because he's black.

Libby said...

Agreed, ladies.

Carrie, Sara was totally just dead weight, so I'm not sorry she's gone.

Bianca, I love me some Tre, but I think my fave is CJ ... and no, it's not just because he's white. LOL.