Top Chef Tell: Baby Food and BS

Categories: Screen Bites
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This week, Top Chef finally got interesting. That's not to say it wasn't totally bassackwards, but it was almost intense, and I officially started my yelling at the screen. I still haven't gotten the names of all the cheftestants straight, but that time is nearing.

At QuickFire, the chefs found Tom and Padma standing amongst a bunch of baby crap. OK, not actual diaper matter, but toys and green peas and letters blocks and other things associated with tiny little humans. 

And someone was all, "Nuh uh! We better not have to make baby food!" in a well-edited bit of foreshadowing. 

And Padma was all like, "Uh huh! You have to make baby food! Tom and I have babies! Not together, though! Also, you have to make an adult dish out of the baby food ingredients!" Or wait. Might have that backwards. Pretty sure it's solids before puree. 


Anyway, as expected, all hell broke loose and people were lamenting their lack of babies and talking about their babies and wondering about their soon-to-be babies. It was an exciting time full of anxiety and wonder...and weird comments by Creepy Bald Dude. I believe it was he who, when Padma announced it would be a high-stakes challenge with two winners earning $10,000 each, said, "It'd be nice to win 10K. Maybe buy myself something nice. A hooker and an eight-ball, please." Neat.

You gotta wonder about a person who says a comment like that in a talking head/confessional situation. Did the camera operator laugh? If they did, did the guy ask why and then say, "No, I'm serious. Do you know where to get those things?" Or, worse, did he laugh at his own joke and they edited it out?

I wanted to focus my thoughts on Li'l Dude, who said if he won he'd donate the money to two orphanages in Thailand that assist children with HIV/AIDS. I wanted to, really, because I was worried that his charity meant somehow he'd be kicked off after rocking last week. But then Creepy Bald Dude was back. "I don't make baby food. I practice making baby, but not baby food." Yep, totally clear after that. Verdict: He cracks himself up. So gross.

In case you were wondering, there was no indication of what Dallas girl Tiffany Derry was making...or that she was in the room, save for the part where she yelled 15 MINUTES!!! For what I believe is the third week in a row, we didn't even get to see Tom and Padma taste her QuickFire food.

Tamesha and Kenny took the 10 grand, FYI.

Then came the Elimination Challenge. The double Elimination Challenge. The most fucked up double Elimination Challenge I've ever heard of. Allow me to break it down for you:

The challenge involved breakfast, lunch and dinner for Hilton Hotels. The signature menu dish was to be healthy, sophisticated and easily executed in a hotel restaurant. Teams of two were meant to create options that fit the criteria for all three meal times, and the winning dish would be included on Hilton's menus. Seems clear, yes? Not so fast. 

Here's where it gets hairy: It's tournament style. Except not really. Tom said it was tournament style, but really it was more like tournament style in reverse.  Or illogical tourneytimes. All teams participate in the first (breakfast) round with two teams determined safe. The remaining (unsafe) teams head into lunch where two more teams are deemed safe. The three remaining (unsafe) teams head into dinner service after which one team is sent packing knives. Wha huh? Shouldn't the worst team from each round get shuffled into the bottom while the awesomes continue on? 

Seems unfair, right? Especially when you take into consideration that as is, those who compete so well in breakfast that they're safe never get to work with less restricted ingredients that would allow them to show off more skill or flavor profiles other than eggy-hollandaise-hash. Yep, the winning team could be one that sucked ass through the first two rounds and finally got to work with an ingredient that happens to be something they work with all the time and therefore they're really great with it, and everyone likes the food, and they win and knock out a chef I've come to enjoy. But I don't want to ruin the surprise just to vent the hate in my little charred heart.

No, I wouldn't want to do that. Stupid tournament. And yeah, you probably guessed it, our Tiffany was safe after an amazing crab cake in the breakfast round. She headed up that menu -- she had said she was concerned that her partner Tim had been in the bottom so she was taking over and would go home only for a Tiffany Derry mistake -- and owned it. As I recall, the only critique was that it didn't even need the potato hash. But Tiff and Timothy never even got to use their lunch and dinner ingredients. And of course, they didn't win best dish because who could possibly remember a crab cake breakfast after eight other meals and increasing drama?  W. T. F.

But whatever. I was pleased with the appearance of the judging panel if nothing else. Eric "The Hotness" Ripert was back, as were former Top Chef contestants Mike "Irritating But Still Likeable" Isabella, Bryan "Clean-Shaven And Intense" Voltaggio and Spike "I Have No Idea Why I Find Him Attractive"  Mendelsohn. They were joined by Hilton's Beth Scott, Chef Nora Pouillon and Tom and Padma.

Now, I was super irritated that not everyone got to participate in every round and that the worst contestants were considered for the top prize -- which, by the way, included not only the dish's inclusion on Hilton's menu, but also a chi-chi trip to Spain or Italy -- but I allowed myself to get involved in the competition.

And the final round floored me. I was yelling at Jaded Old Culinary Teacher to please listen to Li'l Dude about when to put the pasta in to boil. I was totally sure that the tempuraed horseradish of Kenny and Baby-Man's team was going to get soggy, even though I really liked the idea of tempuraed horseradish. And for no strong reason I just didn't want that bitchy Kelly to win. Frizzy Blonde was fine, but Kelly just irked.

But alas, Kelly and Frizzy Blonde did win for their perfectly glazed spare ribs. Kenny and Baby-Man were safe but barely thanks to their soggy horseradish spare ribs (even though Ripert could barely taste the horseradish, and damn, the way that man says horseradish -- herrserahdiische). 

Jaded Old Culinary Teacher hadn't, in fact, put the pasta in on time, and it was undercooked. Li'l Dude didn't sell her out for it either, but she had to go and say that she questioned his flavors (even though during prep she said she had every faith in his curry). He left with  positivity and she left looking jaded and mean. So not fair. And I think Tom knew it. He praised Arnold for cooking outside the box (squid ink pasta and mussels, anyone?) and following through from conception to final product. Eric said the only flaw was the undercooked noodle. Harrumph.

Thus, JOCT should've gone. And probably Baby-Man. They should've split the teams -- made each person responsible for their own gaffs. Instead, they handicapped the best chefs and gave the least consistent ones more opportunity for success. Dick move if you ask me.

Next week: Yelling indoors. Fighting outside over vegetables. Wind. Grimacing. More team shit and someone knocks something off a prep station. No word on a Ripert-sighting.

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