So, having blogged about the last episode of "Top Chef" (what feels like months ago), might as well try to keep weighing in for the rest of the season. Spoilers coming up just as soon as I get an aerial view...
Good riddance to Howie, who twice in one episode tried to pull the "You can't fire me because I quit!" tactic. For a second there, I was worried that Padma's haughty line about the judges deciding who goes meant they were going to keep Howie to spite him and prove who's boss, but they sent home the right guy. In fairness to Howie, he had tried to play well with others the last few episodes, and his talking head about shopping at Target was the most likable he's been all season, but it was time for him to go.
I'm of two minds about the challenges this week. On the one hand, I like the idea of forcing the chefs to be creative by putting some significant restraints on what they can do. (I remember surfing past the first season episode where they had to shop at a gas station and thinking, "That's kinda cool" before surfing on to the Yankee game.) And, as a few people showed in each challenge (Brian and Casey in the Quickfire, Casey and Sarah in the Elimination), it was possible to make good food under those constraints, and even to be a little creative. (Though the most creative dish of the night was Hung's sugar cereal diorama; if you're doomed to fail, at least fail funny. Nicely done.)
But the Elimination Challenge in particular felt more like something out of "Hell's Kitchen," something so ridiculous to pull off on its face that it was really just an excuse for the judges to yell at the contestants. The thing that's supposed to separate "Top Chef" and "Project Runway" from the other competition shows is that they're a celebration of talent, and they try to put their contestants in positions where they can show off that talent. Maybe this is just an unremarkable group of chefs, I don't know, but this late in what feels like a very long season, I'd rather see people be able to show off to their best abilities, rather than (as Hung admittedly did in both challenges) just try to make the best of a bad situation.
What did everybody else think?