Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top Chef: He cooked an itsy-bitsy, teeney-weenie, unappealing broccolini

Spoilers for the latest "Top Chef" coming up just as soon as I make peace with my inability to use "Snacks on a Plane" as a subject line because the Bravo people beat me to it...

Who woulda thunk that all of a sudden Casey would be our frontrunner? She's won two Elimination Challenges in a row, and Colicchio and Bourdain have gone out of their way (on the show and in their blogs) to rave about her sophisticated palate. Bourdain's Top Cook vs. Top Chef thing sure sounded like him annointing his chosen one.

And yet Casey (as even she admitted) was agressively mediocre for the first two-thirds of the season, doing just enough to get by while more disastrous chefs/dishes took the hits. Of course, that's a description that could be applied to anyone left not named Hung (when Brian started talking about how the top six are there because they brought their A game every time, I had to wonder if there was some other top six he was referring to). I'm in general not a fan of Fly Under the Radar players on Survivor and I'm not crazy about contestants on shows like this aiming for the middle ground for as long as possible. So I guess that means I'm rooting for Hung to edge out Casey (or maybe Dale) in the final, I suppose.

(And speaking of Casey, was this the first time we saw her hair down in a very close approximation of The Rachel?)

After having some issues with both of last week's challenges, I liked these quite a bit. The Quickfire was a good chance to show off, with only time and the meal type as constraints, and the Elimination was a good balance of real cooking and made-for-TV complications. Ordinarily, I'd get my state pride backbone up after all the grousing about being stuck in Jersey, but I have to say that Newark Airport and its immediate surroundings create one of the most depressing places in the continental United States. (I've picked people up at those hotels around the airport; I'm sure most of them have to have suicide stops on the windows.)

Always good to have Bourdain around, as he manages to be cranky and highly critical in an entertaining way, where Colicchio often (this season, anyway) just seems like this is all beneath him.

What did everybody else think? Is it too early to be predicting the winner and runner-up?


Matt said...

Can we have Bourdain running down the aisles of the plane shouting "That's it! I've had it with this motherf*****g broccolini on this motherf*****g plane!"

greebs said...

First, Bourdain should be on this show every week, and every other show that is even tangentially related to cooking. The man is brilliant.

But in regards to Casey and the Rachel haircut, that's been a feature all season long, though possibly not in her "diary" 1:1 interviews. She definitely sports that look and mildly looks like Jen Aniston (my wife disagrees).

Regardless, Casey is quite likeable, mostly because she seems genuinely talented and humble, two things I'm not sure any other contestant left successfully combines.

Anonymous said...

Casey was definitely middle-of-the-pack for much of the season, but I give her points for not appearing proud of that fact -- I think she was just remarking that she was glad to be at the top of the heap after some struggling. I don't think she was necessarily aiming for the middle in earlier episodes. Even though I like Casey a lot and would love to eat at her restaurant, until last night I hadn't pegged her as a potential winner. But you're right, the judges go out of their way to talk about how talented she is -- maybe she goes further than I thought she would!

I'm surprised the judges haven't seemed more impressed with Sarah, the only other woman remaining. She had a great showing in the Restaurant Wars episode and came close to winning last week's challenge, but the blogs don't praise her nearly as much as they praise Casey. Sarah's misfires have been more dramatic than Casey's though, like the Chicken a la King disaster, the bad dessert in the trio challenge, and last night's crummy couscous. I think those two bad performances early on might have already sunk her chances of making the finals. I think she'll go home next week, and Hung, Brian, Casey and Dale will be our final 4.

Anonymous said...

What was up with Colicchio's flat-hat and bomber jacket? Please, lord, bring back the blue, chef's smock!

Undercover Black Man said...

Alan, dude... your subject line rocks! I don't even watch this show, but I had to read this post... because of the subject line.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe greebs has been watching this show if he calls Casey "humble"...she's prissy, pretentious and far from humble, starting with the bizarre stilted slam of the rather dimwitted Clay..."I'm an executive chef and I KNOW what an amuse bouche is,and clearly he didn't. It's a bite, one bite..." Humble? OMG.

Anonymous said...

I was sorry to see C.J. go, because a) he seems like a nice guy, b) he looks like Bill Walton, and c) it's always hilarious to see him dwarf everyone else in the lineups.

But at least his horrible dish sparked one of the funniest putdowns ever on this show (the part about finiding it in Bob Marley's closet), which just barely edged out the line about a dish "having the texture of doll's head."

Bourdain is hilarious. He displays the kind of wit and skillful putdown that Simon Cowell wishes he had.

nell said...

while bourdain does bring something to the show, i'm missing ted allen fiercely.

casey and dale are my top runners. and once dale mentioned his running of a brunch place in chicago, i couldn't stop speculating as to what it is/was. my money's on Orange. i suppose a quick google search might answer the question, but its more fun to ponder. for now at least.