Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top Chef New York Episode Ten

Before heading out for the day's culinary adventures, Carla laments her poor performance in the last challenge.

She did "dodge a bullet," so someone must have been looking out for her. Or looking to shoot her. Radhika, on the other hand, didn't fare as well, while a certain someone's neck narrowly escaped the chopping block. Perhaps she was distracted by her indiscretions?


Nah, I like it. Plus, once a skank, always a skank.

Later, at the Studio/Kitchen of the Corporately Sponsored, the cheftestants meet today's guest judge, Scott Conant and his training beard. There's something very smug and smarmy about him.

The only reason Hosea got that bit of information correct is because Padma said it first.

This week, we have yet another untimely challenge.

They're going to play a game Padma calls "football squares," which is like Hollywood Squares but not, and sadly, there's no Paul Lynde. She has the chefs each come to the board and write his or her name in a square on a giant grid. The column and row labels are blacked out so they have no idea what they're signing up for.

We see that when Fabio's column and row are uncovered, he gets to work with vegetables and oats.

I'd start watching out for PETA fanatics now, Fabio.

So what's the challenge, Stefan?

"Origional," huh? Bravo really should hire a spell checker or two.

Carla is excited about the challenge.

Everyone rushes around in a panic to prepare something oatilicious. Some seem to panic more than others.

Finally, time is called and Padma and Smug Smarmy Scott have a taste of each chef's preparation. SSS was visibly amused by a certain Italian chef's oatmeal-crusted eggplant rolls, which peesed-offa da Fabio.

Leah, Fabio, and Jeff are the least favorites. Smug Smarmy Scott likes Oat Girl's and Jamie's dishes, but chooses Stefan as the winner. This is his fifth consecutive win, and everyone knows it.

Which one?

Padma then suggests the chefs visit the Glad Family of Products Storage-n-Stew room to check out the "present" that has been left for them. An announcement like that would probably make me too afraid to look. It turns out to be relatively un-scary chef coats with football-style numbering on the back. Woo hoo.

But he's got Gisele. Surely he wouldn't want you. (Leah has a type, doesn't she? Beefy dumb-looking guys.)

Padma then announces the Elimination Challenge - the first Top Chef Bowl!

The not-so-lovely graphic is then shattered by seven loser cheftestants from previous seasons, led by Andrew D'Ambrosi. With him are his boyfriend Spike and Nikki from season 4, plus Andrea and Miguel from season 1, Josie from season 2, and Camille from season 3.

The rules are somewhat complicated. Each season five chef chooses a competitor from among the "All-Star Losers" and an NFL team from among the following: Cowboys, 49ers, Packers, Dolphins, Seahawks, Giants, and Saints. Each pair of chefs will go head-to head, creating dishes based on the regional cuisine of their chosen team. Anyone who loses the head-to-head is eligible for elimination.

Because Stefan won the Quickfire, he gets to choose his opponent and team first. That is his only advantage; there is no more immunity from this point out.

Here's how the pairing broke down:
Stefan v. Andrea, Cowboys
Fabio v. Spike, Packers
Jeff v. Josie, Dolphins
Hosea v. Miguel, Seahawks
Leah v. Nikki, Giants
Jamie v. Camille, 49ers
Carla v. Andrew, Saints

The chefs then have two hours to look over the ingredients they are required to use for each dish and to plan their strategy.

Andrew offers sage advice to Team Season 5.

The next morning, Carla meditates to quiet the demons who threaten to push her eyeballs out of their sockets/borrowed monkeys in her mind. She's determined to win this challenge to make up for her recent near-elimination.

The chefs then head to the venue for the First Hopefully-Not-Annual Top Chef Bowl, the Institute for Culinary Education (soon to be re-named, in true NFL fashion, the Wells Fargo M&T SunTrust Bank Institute). There we find the previously-eliminated and now sequestered chefs have been let out of the house in order to pretend to cheer for their former competition.

There will be a two-phased judging. Toby, Smug Smarmy Scott, Tom, and Padma are round one. Their majority vote scores a touchdown, or 7 points, for the winning chef. Then five audience tasters are asked to rate the same dish; the majority vote scores a field goal, or 3 points, for the winning chef. A running score is kept for each team.

The pairs of chefs have 20 minutes to create their dishes for the judges. The results:

Leah scores 7 points to Nikki's 3. (Anyone else think Nikki has had some work done in the off-season? She looks...weirder than usual.) Hosea gets all 10 possible points from Miguel.

Carla, who I thought was absolutely insane for attempting to make gumbo in 20 minutes (one can't even make a properly dark roux in that amount of time), scores 7 points to Andrew's 3.

Then comes the Stefan and Andrea matchup.

Unfortunately, Stefan goes down, hard. And not on Andrea, who gets all 10 points.

This loss is obviously a crushing blow to the once-Superior European.

Jamie, who thought this might be the challenge she loses, wins all 10 points from Camille.

Jeff faces Josie and loses all 10 points with his overly-complicated dish.

And Fabio goes down to Spike, 3 - 7.

After all the points are tabulated, Season 5 wins by a score of 37 to 33.

At Judges Table, the big winners are called forth: Hosea, Leah, Carla, and Jamie.

Maybe so, but Smug Smarmy Scott choses Carla as the big winner for her amazing 20-minute gumbo. Unlike last week, this time the judges tasted the love. In addition to the EC win, Carla gets a pair of Super Bowl tickets. I hope she likes Pittsburgh (Roethlisberger is a douche) or Arizona! Go Cards!

The big losers are then called out: Stefan, Jeff, and Fabio. Personally, I thought these guys would be the final three, but obviously one of them goes home early.

Smug Smarmy Scott was really harsh and nasty in his comments to Fabio, making the Italian very defensive.

Sorry! Oh wait, you meant Scott.

Although Padma pronounced Stefan's salad "abominable" and Fabio was told that he "failed," Jeff's non-raw ceviche was deemed the biggest failure of all, and he was sent packing. Back to Dildo Beach Club for him!