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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Commercial Interruption: The tortoise (Carla) and the Hare (-less Stefan)

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email of course, we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Channel Surfing bloggers Sara Boyd, Malavika Jagannathan, Adam Reinhard and no-longer-too-cool-for-us Thomas Rozwadowski are starting to wonder if they should get on the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race Carla bandwagon. Will the tortoise actually end up winning this marathon, or will hare-less Stefan turn the tables on this fable? And what about, er, Faaaabio, the muuuunkey? He may be down to nine digits, but after one magical chicken and potatoes dish, he's back on track! And Hosea ... well, who cares, really?

Sara: More so than ever, last night's episode proved it's really anyone's game. Well, except Hosea, probably. Last night's challenge asked the chefs to prepare a "last meal" for a few prestigious world class chefs. (Cutting it a little close there with 80-year-old Pepin, don'tcha think "Top Chef?" Eeee.) Their last request? Mostly simple, straight to the point, classic dishes, which, of course, makes it tough to figure out who will screw up. Turns out, "TC" fooled me again. Here I was, thinking poor Fabs might be out after a preview showed the Italian Stallion cursing in his native language with bandages wrapped around his hand -- should've known, in "TC" lingo, that means he'll likely win the challenge. And wouldn't ya know? Our Fabs finally gets his first elimination win and a place in the final four. Hooray!

Perhaps even more surprising, it appeared Mr. Stefan, the Unstoppable was headed to Loserville, population: one. Darn that "Top Chef" foolery -- we should've known something was bound to happen when he boasted that he could win this challenge easily, especially after he said, "I know how to cook fish." Overcooked salmon nearly was the death of the European Man of Steel but instead -- thankfully -- Leah was sent packing for her eggs benedict gone runny. (Hey Leah, IHOP called and said they can tutor you on how to cook an egg.)

And who knew ex-model (what?!) Carla had a secret weapon of making peas? Not sure how you could screw that up, but apparently the woman made better peas than the Green Giant. Whatever your opinion of Crazyface, the woman deserves some credit. I can't think of any other contestant who struggled so much -- I called for her head multiple times -- and then clawed her way back into the final four. I almost feel duped. I mean, was she faking being a terrible chef, only to bust out her cooking chops before the finale and throw down some serious BA-DOW-ness? It's like that episode of "The Simpsons" when Homer and Bart get swindled by the carnies! Crazy Eyes Carnie Carla.

So, Adam, what can we expect from this final? Do you think Stefan's nerves are shaken? Will he bounce back? And please tell me -- do you think Carla modeled for Turtle Wax or ostrich eggs? Or perhaps a poster for "Fraggle Rock?"

Adam: Whoa, hang on, did I miss something? Carla used to be a model? As in fashion model? I don't see it. Next you'll be telling me Stefan used to be a Benedictine monk. Or that Fabio was ever not awesome. Or Leah used to be able to cook.

Speaking of which, let's have a moment of silence for Hot Lips Cohen, who apparently isn't even qualified to make breakfast at a retirement home. I'm sorry, but runny egg whites are just not acceptable -- I don't care what ol' Toby Young says. (He's British, for crying out loud. Those people eat baked beans on toast.) I mean, who can't cook eggs? If even America's Next Top Ostrich can come up with something crazy cool like her ode to Dr. Seuss during the Quickfire (which Leah was also on the bottom for), then it's time to face harsh reality. "I know I'm better than the food I cooked," a strangely unaffected Leah said during her farewell. Would that that be true Leah, but you're food is skanky, and so are you. So if anything, you're equal to your food.

And don't you worry none about Stefan the Baby Making Machine. Much in the way TC tried throwing us off with previews showing injured Fabio swearing out his broken-a pinky, only to have the man combat his chicken with a huge freaking cleaver and walk away with a win, I also think this "Stefan has to get his ass kicked" talk from Hosea and Fabs is all a bunch of misdirection. They want us to THINK Stefan will be defeated, but in the end, come on ... that's like betting against a roided-up A-Rod.

That's just my prediction though. Tom, your thoughts? I KNOW you're nursing that huge Carla crush of yours. How do you see the slow-and-steady wonder's chances going into the Final Four?

Thomas: As my wife so eloquently put it, "Wait, was she a hand model?" Yeah, Crazy Eyes slipped that little tidbit past us like it wouldn't be a big deal. Apparently the "Follow That Bird" look was big on the runways in the mid-80s.

But I have to give the Tortoise some loooooooooooooooove. She impressed me at judges' table last week when she actually used her classical training to explain her creation of a dish instead of, oh I don't know, using some generic "I sprinkled in some love" explanation that qualifies her for the insane asylum. She deserves to be in the Final Four more than Leah, though I still have to rain on the ol' Ostrich's parade slightly. That much praise for peas? "The peas were perfection," courtesy of Padma. Really? Peas? Does anyone really get that excited about peas? Wow.

I'm also with Adam on Stefan being exactly where he needs to be. No way was Leah da Ho gonna skank it up in N'awlins. If anything, Stefan needed a slight kick in the pants. His overconfidence is nothing new, and it appeared that he actually thought Jamie was a threat. So he probably did a little sleepwalkin' on this round, which is understandable when your competition is so weak.

I'm wondering if our "Top Chef" original MJ was bothered by the actual challenge, though. Because I was excited by the Last Supper concept, and quickly became disappointed when it appeared they wanted the actual dishes as suggested -- not any level of reinterpretation. I love Fabs. But roasted chicken and potatoes? Doesn't Campbell's make a Supper Bake of that? Push them a leeeeeeetle more towards creativity in the semifinal. Thanks, judges.

Malavika: Theees eees a Thop Chef, not-a Thop... OK, I can't get away with quoting Fabio on our family-friendly newspaper Web site, but in a way, he was right last night when he stated that. Where was the challenge in this challenge? Was it made for... ummm... wusses?

Some of our loyal readers (yes, mom, you) may recall that it was just last week that I waxed poetic about simple dishes. But, come on, we're down to five chefs and the challenge is practically throwing Betty Crocker's recipe book at them? Maybe next week they can challenge the chefs to boil water. Yes, simple is good, but isn't there something as too simple? Love Fabs, but the man roasted chicken and made some potatoes. Leah went home because she couldn't cut it with eggs benedict -- eggs frickin' benedict -- and, yes, even Stefan the master Finn was in the bottom because he overcooked salmon. Man can peel an eel but he can't properly cook salmon? Disappointing all around, but it's no fault of the chefs -- time for the producers to put on their thinking caps and pull out some of those real Top Chef challenges.

My all-time favorite challenge was a Quickfire from Season 2 where chefs were told to create a dish using $10 of stuff from a vending machine. It was brilliant in its simplicity (fried Cheetos and Zingers, anyone?), but the dishes were anything but simple.

While I did not predict Fabio's win, nothing made me happier. Other than seeing Leah go home, of course.

Check back soon for Power Ranking updates!

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