Commercial Interruption: Pack up your knives and ... er, Happy Holidays!
Thomas: Well, well, well ... it looks like our first stab at "Top Chef" Power Rankings went as smooth as the amateur-hour AIDS benefit dinner -- which also turned into a serious skankfest by evening's end due to Mimbo Jeff and apparent chick magnet, Hosea (ladies, please explain the attraction there). Thanks to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," I learned that abortion rallies were great places to pick up chicks. Who knew AIDS benefits were prime spots to meet straight dudes?
A lot happened in Wednesday's episode, though I was totally distracted by the red AIDS ribbon and couldn't stop quoting "Seinfeld" ("WHO? Who does not want to wear the reeeeeeeeeeebon?"), much to my wife's annoyance. I will say this, though: I'm done underestimating Ariane. Yeah, Colicchio called her out for making deviled eggs. But at this point, she's like the Eli Manning of "Top Chef." You keep waiting for her to make a crucial error, but she steamrolls ahead and beats better competition. Next thing you know, she's being crowned Top Chef. (Shudder.)
Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the episode. I did learn a new word -- vichyssoise -- but the whole "team unity" thing fell flat for me because I have to believe there was some time manipulation involved. In virtually every other challenge, everyone is frantically scrambling, tripping over themselves, wiping sweat from his or her brow trying to get done. On this one, somebody leaves the refrigerator door open and everyone is magically able to pitch in and propel Hosea and Radhika to finalists row. I'm surprised they didn't have time to roast chestnuts, sing some Perry Como and wrap presents for needy children. Oh, that's right ... the episode was taped in July. Bah humbug! Now kick Ostrich Carla off, Colicchio!
I'm also bummed that Fabio is going in the tank. We need-a to keep-a the funny Italian on the show-a! Also, I knew Natasha Richardson was an accomplished actress, but I had no idea she'd be packing her two Golden Globes. Hey-yooooooooo ....
So Boyd, how'd you like the Christmas cleavage in this episode?
Sara: Wow. That commentary should've required a two drink minimum. I could almost hear the rimshots.
Before this episode, I actually enjoyed a deviled egg or two on occasion. But now? I will never touch the food again. Ariane is a hack. Plain and simple. I still have faith that Colicchio and gang will see the light soon. This is "Top Chef," so theoretically, the contestants still in it should be able to do things no other chef can do -- make challenging dishes and most importantly make great food. We all heard Colicchio give his version of a kitchen pep rally -- really, he could've been a lot tougher on them -- so now we'll see if this makes any difference. Next week's challenge is no limits, no holds barred, just make good food. I have a feeling we'll see Ariane back on the bottom -- finally! -- once she realizes making Ma's meatloaf isn't going to hold up.
I'm really sad to see Fabio struggling as well, as he was not only my pick for the winner, but also a supreme delight to watch. The man is hilarious. I loved his comments on Martha criticizing his food. Gene also needs to pick it up -- I feel like he has the skills to make it far in this competition, but overall has been making poor choices. What happened to the gangster attitude, Gene? If you don't pick it up, you'll have to trade those wife beaters in for denim button-ups.
I really thought Jamie was a goner this round -- had they actually picked someone. For someone who boasted that the AIDS benefit dinner held a special place in her heart, I was quite shocked to see her try something so risky as raw scallops ... and as Danny would put it, "splooge." However, I think it was fair of the "TC" judges to opt out of sending someone packing after the fridge incident, especially when the victims ended up with the best dishes. (Sidenote: Can these guest chefs please stop using "Top Chef" as a venue for plugging their latest cookbook?! Ugh. This concludes my rant. Thank you.)
I would've commented on Roz's question -- but I think we've maxed out our euphemisms for the ta-ta's.
Malavika: Holiday spirit, schmoliday spirit.
They should have sent someone home. This isn't "Extreme Home Makeover" or whatever that show is called that comes on before "Desperate Housewives" that I always catch the last five minutes of and invariably makes me cry because they're giving away homes to one-armed cancer patients who live in their car. It's "Top Chef." It's about rewarding those who do well and punishing those who don't. Someone deserved to go home last night, even if they pulled together to help their fellow chefs. One good deed doesn't overcome bad food!
While I enjoyed last night's episode -- mostly due to Fabio, not going to lie -- it was on the whole kind of lame. I'm pretty sure Martha presented Ariane with the Quickfire win because they're both from "Joisey" (Random note: if you want to be entertained and dislike Martha Stewart, I highly recommend "Whatever, Martha" on the Fine Living Network, which is basically her daughter mocking old Martha episodes and trying to poorly follow Martha's instructions for face painting and creating coasters -- trust me, it's hilarious). Then, the whole "someone left the fridge door open" is such a bad attempt at throwing a wrench into the episode and promoting holiday spirit that it forces me to wonder if there's any secret footage of Padma and Tom sneaking into the kitchen ...
Bottom line, the highlight wasn't the food and, no, it wasn't even the appearance of a plunging neckline accompanied by Natasha Richardson (although Stefan's crush on Natasha was pretty funny). It was the fact that somehow Hosea was rivaling Mimbo Muttonchops Jeff for the Cute Chef award via red AIDS ribbons! It was so bizarre, I couldn't help but laugh.
I do agree that Fabio needs to stick around, if just for the entertainment factor. I mean, the preview for the next episode has him saying,"Theees eeesn't a Top Scaaaah-llop, eet's a 'Top Chef.'" How can you kick that off?
Thomas: I tend to agree with MJ. The "holiday spirit" came off as super contrived, and Colicchio's stay of execution just happens to serve as a convenient segue for the anything goes showcase. Not a complaint or an attempt to be cutthroat on my end. The episode was entertaining; the gesture a nice reward for charity. Clearly, there's some dead weight hanging 'round the house, though -- I think they're scared to send Gangsta Gene home because he might refuse to pack up his knives and stab someone instead -- and here's hoping that Ariane is exposed when she attempts to make a bowl of Lucky Charms in the next round.
But, if I could play Deviled Eggs Advocate for a second. Consider this, Miss Chef Boyd-ar-dee: UgFace Lisa made it to the final three by being mediocre and more often than not, flat awful last season. Ariane can at least claim some actual wins after her brutal start. Keeping simple might allow her to, essentially, be ignored by the judges while they focus more heavily on disasters like Jamie's raw scallop. I kinda thought they played up Jamie and Mimbo Jeff being "experimental" as a way to set up their eventual downfall. Risktakers who, frankly, aren't good at taking risks probably will go down in flames faster than someone like Ariane.
Now, the real trap is the anything goes challenge. It should expose her as no better than the ham slicer at Old Country Buffet. BUT, if Ariane survives this, she might be bulletproof until she's up against the real cream of the crop -- which I hope is Stefan and Fabio. Brace yourself ... I'm just sayin'.
Also: All-Star Holiday "Top Chef" battle? Um, awesome!
(New power rankings and big fat zero standings to come next week ...)
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sara Boyd, email@example.com, and Malavika Jagannathan, firstname.lastname@example.org.