January 28, 2009 09:57 PM by DA Southern
Top Chef New York saw a recap of the Restaurant Wars from last week and the elimination of Radhika from the ranks of the aspiring chefs. For once it was not a dessert that did someone in, although Carla knew she had dodged a bullet with hers, but a bad leadership style overall. If one thing Top Chef is, it is always consistent and unless a chef brings their A-game each and every week, they all have an equal chance of leaving.
With Stefan picking up a victory last week and Fabio easily impressing the judges with his charisma, the Europeans are looking to be in the hunt for top honors this season. Carla knew she had dodged a bullet last night and was feeling responsible for the team being up on the chopping block in the first place and Leah and Hosea were both concerned about losing focus in the competition by allowing the kiss they shared to interfere. With the Europeans getting comfortable at the top in the challenges, Hosea said “that will only seven of us left, there is no room for error” knowing that Fabio and Stefan were poised to sprint to the finish if allowed.
The Quickfire Challenge had host Padma Lakshmi introducing guest judge, Scott Conant, introducing what do doubt was to be a football themed Quickfire. For the challenge the chefs were to combine a key ingredient with one of the food groups to determine the winner of the challenge. Padma explained the football square board and the chefs each put their name into a square to determine the different combinations they would have to cook to achieve culinary greatness; and no immunity from here on out.
After the chefs marked their territory, Fabio had one of the best lines of the night when learning that he had vegetables, said, “There is no reason to eat vegetables when you have meat and fish around.” Where was this guy when I was growing up and my mom wanted me to eat the nasty things? The chefs were surprised to learn that they all had to pair their ingredient with Quaker Oats, and poor, Fabio was even more disgusted to have to mix veggies and oats. After the judging, the Quaker Oats challenge ended with Leah, Jeff and Fabio coming up short according to Chef Scott Conant and Carla, Jamie and the perennial favorite, Stefan, impressing the most with heir dishes. In the end, Stefan picked up another win making him the most decorated of the season. While he didn’t win immunity, Padma guaranteed him an advantage in the elimination challenge.
The Elimination Challenge had Top Chef All-Stars from seasons past coming in to cook against the current cast to determine who better overall skills in a football challenge called the Top Chef Bowl. With pride and honor on the line, he chefs were geared up to act like a real team as they had everything to lose in this challenge; not to mention elimination along the way.
The teams were chosen and the current season chefs were against the All-Stars and Padma announced a head-to-head cook off against the All-Stars. The biggest wrinkle was that if the chefs lost their head-to-head then they would automatically be up for elimination. Carla was paired against Andrew; Jeff against Josie, Leah against Nikki Cascone; Stefan against Andrea Beaman; Hosea against Miguel from season one; Fabio paired against Spike and Jamie was cooking against Camille.
Padma announced that the chefs would receive 7 points for winning the judges tasting and 3 points for pre-selected fan taste-testing. Leah and Nikki were out to cook first and Leah scored a touchdown and Nikki scored a field goal for her dish. Hosea and Miguel were next and Hosea scored a touchdown and a field goal, giving the current chefs a 17 to 3 lead in the Top Chef Bowl.
Carla and Andrew were next and Carla’s crawfish gumbo was a hit as she scored a touchdown, but lost the three points from the fans. Stefan was against Andrea for a pretty spicy cook-off and the ever popular Stefan, was out-cooked in a bit with a judges tie, resulting in no points but Andrea got a field goal from the fans, leaving him with no points to show for his team
Jamie vs Camille was the next cook-off and Jamie was hoping her fish dish would win out over Camile’s sweet potato dish. Jamie and Camille tied with the judges, but the fans gave Jamie the 3 points. Jeff against Josie was unique as Ceviche was the choice for both dishes. Josie trumped Jeff, completely wiping him out in the point totals, making it a close score now between the All-Stars and the Season Five chefs.
Fabio vs Spike was last to try to impress and Fabio knew that if he were to lose, the Top Chef season 5 chefs would lose as well. Spike’s Venison took the touchdown and lost the field goal giving the Season Five Chefs the victory 33 to 37. In spite of winning, Fabio, Jeff and Stefan were headed to the judges table, with the possibility of one of the Europeans headed home.
Padma called in Hosea, Carla, Leah and Jamie to find out who was the overall winner for the night. The chefs were really high on all of the chef’s dishes and awarded the top prize to Carla for the challenge and two tickets to the Super Bowl. I guess Carla found her center for this challenge.
In front of the very opinionated judges, all three were savaged by the panel. Fabio was especially combative in his defense of his dish, which is never a way to win over the judges. Stefan’s dish was called “Uninspired” by the judges and Jeff said his dish was probably a bit over-thought and the judges said it was just not as enjoyable as Josie’s dish.
The judges seemed especially hard on Fabio and, of course, seemed to savage them all fairly equally at the talk. In the end, the Europeans were too strong as overall competitor and Jeff was sent packing in the end.
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