Top Chef Rundown: February 12, 2009

This week’s episode of Top Chef had our cheftestants star-struck once again. Famous chefs were everywhere you looked. Everywhere.

The quickfire challenge, to make breakfast for a breakfast loving molecular gastronomist, turned out pretty much as I expected. I thought that Stefan’s dish was actually pretty clever, and it was odd that Fabio’s similar dish didn’t quite make the cut. I do think it’s a shame when the top chef’s try to out-wit the science guys. I don’t know why they think the molecular gastronomists are going to be impressed with the little bit of molecular gastronomy they can pull of. Richard Blaise had this problem–even Marcel made this mistake. The guys who invented the tricks aren’t all that impressed wth your take on them.

The surprise in the quickfire was that Carla won, by keeping it simple and clean, if a little bit whimsical. Her green eggs and ham looked kind of cool and was one of the few dishes that you could actually imagine eating for breakfast. I think she read the guest judge well and gave him exactly what he was looking for. All in all, a very smart move.


The elimination challenge, to cook “last suppers” for famous chefs, wasn’t really all that difficult. Like Hosea said, your death-bed meal isn’t really the fanciest meal, or the ultimate meal of your life. Even the most famous chefs asked for classic comfort foods that everyone should have been able to make. Maybe even with one hand tied behind their back…

Speaking of Fabio…I was impressed with his ability to get everything done with a broken hand. He really just put his head down and plowed through, and didn’t let the food suffer. I worried a bit about his chopping skills (and his other hand!), but he managed to finish the roasted chicken, and finish well.

Once again, Carla kept things basic, and it worked for her. I don’t know how peas could be something so amazing, but she sure did win over the entire panel of guest judges with them.

Leah…should have been able to make eggs benedict. She’s shown some strength at egg dishes this season, and I really thought she’d be able to pull that off. I think I could probably pull that off, though I have no interest in eating eggs benedict, so I don’t see me making it anytime soon. I’ve tried it, and it’s not for me. Her eggs weren’t cooked properly, and she messed up the sauce, which was a pretty terrible mistake.

Hosea’s shrimp scampi was uninspired and forgettable. And apparently, not quite correct. The tomatoes looked like they were thrown together, and scampi can never have too much garlic, so clearly he went wrong. Like just about everything on the menu this week, shrimp scampi is a basic dish, one he should’ve been able to pull off. Especially the seafood guy. Maybe they don’t serve eel in his restaurant, but I’m certain they serve shrimp!

Finally, we come to Stefan. His salmon was overcooked. I could see it from my couch. It looked like “dead” food baked under restaurant heat lamps. I don’t know what the deal was with the spinach two ways, but ugh. Of course, I’d never choose spinach as part of my last meal. Or really much of any meal. If the judges couldn’t tell that the spinach was cooked two ways, I think it’s safe to say that Stefan missed the mark.

Judge’s Table, then, was a bit of a surprise for me. As much as it pains me to say it, as much as I hated Leah…I really think Stefan deserved to go home last night. Nothing about his dish was good, and the judges at least seemed to be split on Leah’s dish. I think overall, Stefan is a better chef, and on those merits deserves to be in the final four, but that’s not how this game is played. If they’re going to judge on that night’s performance and only that night’s performance, then that’s what they should do. Maybe it was just editing, but it sure didn’t look like Stefan deserve to make it through based on that night’s performance.

Fabio deserved his win, though, no contest. At least all his pain and suffering paid off. And look, he can do it with one hand tied behind his back!

New Orleans should be a fun finale location, so I’m looking forward to next week’s show. I think Carla and Hosea are wildcards, and the top two chefs here are clearly Stefan and Fabio (Team Europe). Stefan is more of a technician, and Fabio’s got all the heart, so if it comes down to those two, I don’t know which one will win. I guess we’ll find out.

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2 Responses to “Top Chef Rundown: February 12, 2009”

  1. Mom

    According to Toby’s blog Callechio was the one pushing for Leah to leave. I think it was a good choice since she has needed to go for weeks and weeks.

  2. Teri

    Yes, she sucked. But that’s not how this game is played. That’s not how the show works. Tre went home, because he had the worst night. Even Jamie went home because she was the worst that night…not the worst on the show or the worst left standing…just the worst that night.

    I’m not sad to see Leah go, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure the judges were true to their own guidelines on this one. Collichio is the main proponent of “only judge on this week, not the past,” so I think it’s even worse if he was the one pushing for Leah to go. Stefan was worse this week.

    If you’re going to judge on past performance, that’s fine, go for it. Let’s just stop pretending that you aren’t. And let’s get Tre’s season back for a rematch, because he got robbed.

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