Commercial Interruption: "Foo" for thought
Thomas: There were a lot of reasons to love "Top Chef's" latest rocktageous episode, though deep down I feel the Foo Fighters were slighted by being placed third on the headlining marquee under Swanson Broth and the Butterball Turkeys (in-your-face plugs all around, though I have to wonder, how did they thaw those birds in time?)
And even if every Foo Fighters album since "The Colour and the Shape" sounds exactly the same, I've loved Dave Grohl's sardonic brand of humor dating back to his Nirvana days. The Foos were great additions to the judging table, especially Taylor Hawkins delivering the now classic "barf-ait" line about Jeff's pumpkin foam parfait disaster. It's always good to toss a few everyday folks into the mix, or people who can simply view food for what it is and refuse to enjoy say, stuffing because it has some nasty figs in it. That's speaking my language.
And poor Richard. "Team Rainbow" is apparently the kiss of death, with two members felled before the season's even picked up steam. To get bounced while making S'Mores -- his only responsibility, I might add -- yikes. That campfire treat is ruined for life thanks to the gob of saliva that he placed on top. Yum. I didn't ask for hepatitis with my ganache, thank you very much.
Speaking of kisses, our favorite commenter, Ms. Quarter, astutely pointed out that Fabio/Luigi planted a big one on Leah at the Foo Fighters concert. I suppose this is a better development than Fabs constantly kissing Stefan Dougherty's head, but with Richard's "nice rack" comment also making the episode, is it safe to say that Leah is fiddling with a few rolling pins on the side? I suppose Fabs could have been all, "Woo-hoo, they're playing 'Everlong!'" and got a little handsy, that's all. Hmmmm ... bromance AND romance. Those Euros know how to get busy. Also, I have to give props to Melissa Lee Roth's '80s-era dance moves during the Foo concert. I was hoping she'd break out the Tiffany hand jive for good measure. Probably the highlight of the episode for me.
So Boyd, have we established some clear favorites a few episodes in? Did you dig the inclusion of the Foos? And finally, what the heck is up with those mini-scenes that quickly cut to commercial -- you know, with Danny/Turtle choking down some peanut butter and drawing Jamie/DJ Tanner's ire? Those really mess with my head.
Sara: Dear Lord T-Roz, when will you learn that one question for a blogger is enough? I need room for my witty banter and playful jabs, c'mon!
So to answer your first question, yes. Even though there are plenty of chefs -- and I still can't remember what their names are -- I think it's safe to say the weeding out process has begun and we can start to make guesses on who could be in the finals. Clearly, Stefan Dougherty is one of the judges' faves and I think we've seen an impressive showing from his Euro Duo counterpart, Fabio-Luigi Affleck. Unlike the judges, I am not convinced that Ariane (aka: Madam Cries Alot) has redeemed herself after making a turkey. Having just completed my very first turkey -- and without burning my apartment down, no less -- I can say with confidence, it ain't that hard. The fact that she's made two inedible dishes so far -- let's not forget the spewing-into-napkin fiasco -- I would bet we'll see her back on the chopping block soon enough. As far as I'm concerned, the other contestants seem to blend in somewhere in-between.
And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of the Foos, but got quickly annoyed by Padma's incessant need to only refer to them as "Foos." I agree -- having a "judge" of sorts who can simply say, "This tasted good" or "I think dude spit on my S'More" is helpful and enjoyable. It lets us little people who -- gasp! -- don't know what apple chili chutney tastes like understand what makes the cut.
(Sidenote: If Ms. Quarter is correct in spotting a possible "Top Chef" romance, Mr. Fabio may have a few things to explain to a curly-haired woman who appeared in a lip-locking bridal photo with the Italian Stallion and later, what seems to be an engagement photo with the Euro King. Hmm ... those snarky Europeans and their "It's culture -- we kiss everyone!")
I can't address those wacky sneak peaks into "Real World"-esque drama, but I can say that I enjoy them -- as much as they confuse me. I suspect DJ Tanner has a list a-brewin' of chef contestants she'll take down a peg ... and no Uncle Jesse to play referee. Actually, I'm not really convinced with Richard gone that she likes anyone in the house. Ah, the cheese that enjoys the company of other cheese now stands alone.
So MJ, who are your favorites and what can we expect for Wednesday night?
Malavika: Thank you, Sara, for including just one question (it's Monday, brain cannot process multiple-part questions).
First -- and this is thanks to sometimes guest-blogger Kelly McBride who rightly noted that if "Top Chef" were, in fact, already taped prior to last week, this "Thanksgiving Dinner" would have taken place sometime in July, which is kind of weird -- they're cooking outside in New York and it starts raining in late November? I think not.
I thought the Quickfire Challenge -- in which chefs were told to recreate a dish from the "Top Chef Cookbook" (yay, product placement!) and then 15 minutes later, told to turn the dish into a soup -- was a fantastic one. Although the main challenge itself was not terribly exciting, despite the numerous curve balls, the choice of judges was -- to quote Bill and Ted -- most excellent. Personally, I think Dave Grohl should replace the insipid Ted Allen on the judging staff. "Queer Eye" is soooooo 2003.
As for the extracurricular antics of our chefs, I'm torn. While I'm entertained by the possibility of budding romances/weird potential three-way between Stefan, Luigi and Leah, I hope "Top Chef" sticks to its food-first attitude that makes it stand out in the reality TV world.
My favorites continue to be the standouts: Stefan, Eugene the non-gangster, DJ Tanner and Leah.
What's interesting is that you saw Leah pick the more talented chefs for her winning group-- many of whom I think will end up in the final rounds -- and that's a fact our favorite banana-scallop-makin' Richard Blais notes in his blog entry on this episode. "Leah stacked her team. And I say this not as a fact I know, but one that I trust in her choices. As a viewer, we can form opinions and make guesses, but trust me, the contestants, who spend every moment with their competitors know exactly at this point who's got skills and who doesn't."
I think Wednesday night, we're going to hopefully see more weeding out of the whiners (please god, someone get rid of Carla Ostrich!) and pretenders. My vote is for Ariane. Turkey or no turkey, she needs to take her stuffing and leave. Who do you want to go home?
Thomas: "Cougar" Ariane being gone is a given at this point. It's simply a matter of which chefs -- like Weepy Richard -- choke before her and lose any remaining pride they may have had. I can't say anyone has emerged as a villain at this point. Mimbo Jeff is probably my least favorite, for reasons I can't really explain other than he's too ... pretty. I like Fabio's goofiness. Stefan has some mad cooking skills. Jamie might be my favorite contestant because she's smacked down Danny and appears willing to take on Stefan if he gets too holier-than-thou. She's got attitude, but not "cross armed, don't dare defy me" Lisa 'tude. Plus, she makes a bad-ass soup!
I say keep Leah on because well, a good rack is reason enough (could we please see more of Gail Simmons' rack, too?). I won't weep if Crazy-Eyed Carla is sent packing, though Sara's Sesame Street reference seems too good to blow after only a week or so. She needs to stay for that continued amusement alone.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sara Boyd, email@example.com, Malavika Jagannathan, firstname.lastname@example.org