December 10, 2008 10:13 PM by DA Southern
Top Chef New York has been completely turned upside down. Last week Alex went home after some just desserts, the winners of the first couple of weeks, the Europeans, were suddenly not winning challenges and the player who spent the first two weeks in the basement, Ariane, is now at the top of the heap after winning last week’s challenge. Welcome to the crazy world of Top Chef.
Morning broke on the Top Chefs and Melissa was a bit concerned that she almost had gotten the ‘ole Meat Cleaver at the last Elimination Challenge and was a bit reflective about stepping up her game. Ariane was still relishing, no pun intended, ok…pun intended, in her last win and you could see the Europeans steaming in the background.
As Ariane was beginning to feel like she had a chance against the young uns’, Jamie was seen taking about how Stefan was oh, so cocky but that he had a crush on her and kept making her presents. Unfortunately for Stefan, Jamie don’t think he knew she was a lesbian. Oh, those crazy Europeans.
With all of the chit chat out of the way, the Top Chefs were off to the Quickfire and Padma’s next announcement of the Elimination Challenge. Shhh…Don’t tell them, but it concerns cooking for Gail’s wedding something-or-another.
The chefs were surprised to see the lovely Padma all by her lonesome as they entered for the Quickfire. She quickly explained that this was going to be a solo test today and that a chef’s main tool is his or hers ability to taste ingredients by saying, “A well-tuned palette is the most crucial tool a chef can possess.” Padma said they were going to play “Name that ingredient.” Padma had them draw knifes for the pairings and off to ingredient-ville they went. It was surprising how bad some of the chef’s palates were and after all of the interesting guesses, Hosea and Stefan fought palette to palette and Hosea’s taste buds came out on top.
The Elimination Challenge:
This one was another “Close-to-Home” challenge as the chefs had to create a four-course meal for a bridal shower for Judge Gail Simmons. Oh, boy, this one is going to get personal. Padma again had the chefs pull knifes but this time with the phrases, “Old, New Borrowed and Blue” to set up the teams. Padma had the teams stand together and one of the teams of, Jeff, Stefan and Hosea actually looked like they might be good together as did, Fabio, Melissa and Leah. The other teams were, Danny, Carla and Eugene, and Ariane, Radhika and Jamie.
Padma told them she was throwing a Bridal Shower and they were cooking for it. The theme of the first course was “Old,” and was assigned to Jeff, Hosea and Stefan; “New” team was Danny, Carla and Eugene; The “Borrowed” team was Ariane, Radhika and Jamie, leaving the “Blue” team of Fabio, Melissa and Leah, which we hope Gail does not feel after eating their dish. Padma had been a little coy about who her “Girlfriend” was and when the chefs saw who it was, you could visibly see the beads of sweat pouring down their faces. Maybe a tad bit dramatic, but you know the chefs knew they were in trouble if they didn’t produce some great food.
The four teams had Salad, Appetizers, Entrees and Dessert, which has been the downfall of more than one chef this season. With the egos clashing all over the place, several dishes seemed to emerge as favorites, including Blue Fin Tuna, surf n’ turf sushi, Peach BBQ sauce, fried wontons, steak and lobster, just to name a few.
As the day wore on, it seemed that the Old and Borrowed teams had a handle on their courses a bit stronger than the Blue and New teams, but it is a long day of cooking for the chefs and you never know what will happen. Ariane was seen struggling with the lamb and one wondered if her inning streak might have been a fluke.
The confident Stefan was having his own troubles as he seemingly messed up a simple batch of rice. He did some creative “Flavoring” of the rice that may have saved him from the judges wrath, but Tom is pretty sharp and rarely lets an opportunity life that get away.
Danny seemed really out of his element and was not really cohesive in any of his thoughts and looked as though he was ready to throw in the towel at one point.
The chefs got the food served for the very picky crowd and, in the end the teams that seemed to mesh together, Old and Borrowed, definitely seemed to have an edge form what you could glean form some of the reactions of the dinner guest.
In the judges chamber, we had a guest judge from Gourmet Magazine to help the usual suspects of Tom, Padma and Gail.
As anticipated, the judges seemed to favor the Old and Borrowed teams dishes overall and, for the second week in a row, Ariane came out the winner of the challenge. Ariane is now on a hot streak and has put the Europeans to shame and has definitely been underestimated.
At the final tribunal for the chefs who did not measure up, the “New” team of Danny, Carla and Eugene were awaiting the final word from Padma. What was telling in the summation from Tom about how some of the dishes missed their mark, he made it a point to say that messing with another chef’s dish was a bad move, indicating that Danny had probably made a fatal error.
And he had as Padma gave him the “Get your knifes and get the heck out of here” speech, saving Carla and Eugene to be sacrificed another day.
It was a longer episode this week as Gail Simmons had a lot to do to get ready for her Bridal Shower but next week it should be back to normal as Martha Stewart blows into town to shatter some chef’s dream of being the next Top Chef.
Photo Credit: Bravo