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Friday, May 16, 2008

What are you thinking, "Top Chef" judges?

OK, so it's a couple of days late, but I needed some time to digest Wednesday's episode of "Top Chef" (get it, digest?) because it was so unbelievably disappointing.

First, a disclaimer: I actually watched the third repeat of the show at 11 p.m. and then promptly nodded off during the last five minutes when they revealed the loser. But judging from the frantic text messages I received from both Tom and Sara expressing their displeasure, I figured it was Tourettes-spastic Andrew that got the boot.

We've discussed this on Channel Surfing before, but the judge's paradigm (ooh SAT word) so often feels random because what can often last for hours is condensed into a two-minute discussion for television's sake. Take this challenge in which perennial losers Spike and Lisa landed up on the chopping block for what had to be the 10288th time only to get one more reprieve, while Andrew who has previously won a challenge was tossed out. Should one bad challenge be able to destroy a decent contestant's chances whereas a perennially mediocre chef can somehow eek by with luck?

No doubt Andrew's take on sushi was revolting, but, come on, why does he get docked off for not following directions (he didn't use a whole grain - call the National Guard!) while Lisa and Antonia escaped a similar predicament when they ignored - yes, blatantly ignored - the ingredient they were supposed to include (polish sausage).

On the flip side, with the mediocrity weeded out, you're starting to see Stephanie, Antonia, Dale and Richard emerge as the sure favorites to make it to the finals. Stay tuned for a post next week where Channel Surfing bloggers will pick their favorite chef to win the whole deal with a challenge of our own: the losers will make - er - buy dinner for the winner.

And, it was nice to see Second Season hottie Sam return for a spot as a guest judge. Really nice.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,



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