Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Live Blogging - Top Chef Season 5: Episode 10

Unsurprisingly, Jeff is asked to pack his knives, leaving Team Euro intact, just barely. This reality show loss is going to stick with him for a decade? You need to get over it, or you'll just seem pathetic. I have no idea what's going on with next week's preview, and I only see Eric Ripert occupying the guest judge spot. I guess a little mystery never hurt.

The 4 winning chefs, Carla, Jamie, Hosea, and Leah, are in the top this week. Someone seriously needs to send Toby Young back to England. His comments are so inane that they make Padma actually look like she knows what she's talking about. Carla finally gets a win, or a "touchdown," as she says, and takes Super Bowl tickets as her prize. That's a hell of a lot better than the cookbook they handed out a few weeks ago. With Carla's first win comes Stefan's first time in the bottom, but he handles himself with surprising humility. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Jeff, who thinks that because his dish was more complicated, he should win automatically.

Jamie takes on Camille, who I don't even remember, and despite a lack of confidence in her dish, she wins her round thanks to the audience vote. Jeff and Josie go into a battle of Miami-inspired ceviches, and the all-star wins all 10 points against Jeff, although the judges seem to enjoy both dishes. The final duel is between Fabio and Spike, so there should be more than enough charisma to go around. After a healthy round of trash-talking, Spike wins the judges' votes, but Fabio grabs the audience points, which is enough to lead the season 5 contestants to victory. Unlike the past few weeks, no one botched their dishes badly, so the elimination is actually up in the air for once.

After the longest commercial break in history (8 minutes, seriously?), we get some riveting shots of the contestants getting ready in the morning. This is why we don't need super-sized episodes every single week. But actually, they have spent so little time actually cooking this week that I'm getting pissed off. This should be exciting, though. The chefs cook live head to head for 20 minutes, with the judges scores counting for 7 points and random audience tasters' scores counting for 3. Once Nikki says "chicken liver, " I know Leah has this round in the bag, and she proves me right with a 7-3 win. It looks like Hosea is making a corn dog with fish, and I didn't realized that Seattle was so characterized by Asian cuisine, but he crushes Miguel. The battle between Carla and Andrew, turns out to be a bit of a flop, and Carla grabs the win with her flavorful gumbo. Stefan seems positive that he'll slaughter Andrea, but Andrea takes all 10 points, hopefully bringing Stefan's ego down a notch. At least he admits that he's a douchebag, though. A douchebag with self-awareness is just so much better.

So the current contestants each face off against past contestants, with each duo cooking the regional cuisine of an NFL team. Stefan, as the winner, gets to select his team and opponent, and he quickly picks Andrea, probably because she was eliminated twice on her season. Carla is excited to compete against Andrew, one of her favorites, and I'm sure that section of the kitchen will be FULL of energy, maybe a little too much. I don't really understand why Jamie is freaking out about cooking a dish inspired by her hometown of San Francisco, but she better get her shit together quickly.

Another week, another super-sized episode, and the last thing I want to hear about is Leah and Hosea's relationship. You made a mistake, we get it, so please give it a rest already. I love how Top Chef always gets right into the action with the Quickfire, and it's something Super Bowl inspired, but I don't really get it. All the chefs are writing their names on a chalk board and being assigned food groups, but they all end up having to incorporate whole grain oats into their dishes. Carla is noticeably excited, even though immunity has been abolished, because, like OMG, she eats oatmeal four times a week. The challenge seems to drive Jeff to insanity, as he beats some poultry with a frying pan in the corner. He maintains enough sanity, however, to prepare another trio of dishes. Stefan prepares a banana mousse, but he decides to garnish the plate with a whole Rose. Last time I checked this was still Top Chef and not Top Florist, but nice try. Fabio, Jeff, and distracted Leah bring up the rear, and Carla, Jamie, and Stefan lead the pack, with Stefan taking the win, his fifth back to back victory. It must have been the rose. The chefs enter the holding area and find personalized football jerseys, leading up to their elimination challenge, Top Chef Bowl, and their opposition, former all-star contestants burst through a poster in the kitchen. I mean it's more like the Top Chef B-Team, and I don't really get why the current contestants are so starstruck.

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