Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Top Chef: New York, Episode 8

Down on the Farm

What a fun episode this week! It started off with a bang - I was so excited when Padma introduced Hung as the guest judge. Like the contestants, I figured that he would be presenting some kind of crazy fish challenge. However, I was psyched to see that it was actually a prepared foods challenge.

The contestants had an enormous pantry full of packaged foods from which to prepare a dish of their choosing. I have to say, the stuff they came up with looked pretty bleak. I think Lisa and I did much better during our CVS challenge! Of course, they only had 15 minutes to cook, so I guess that's understandable.

The winner was Stefan with his Baked Bean Soup and Grilled Cheese and Spam Sandwich. That was pretty funny that Hosea basically handed him the win by sharing his Spam. But, he seems like a nice guy. I know I'd have a hard time not sharing stuff if I had extra.

After the challenge, the chefs were broken up into three groups and told that they would be planning a fresh, seasonal meal around their team names: pork, chicken and lamb. What they weren't told was that they wouldn't be shopping at Whole Foods - they'd be visiting a local farm from which they would be sourcing all of their ingredients. This threw off their menus to a degree, but most of them seemed pretty exciting about the opportunity.

Team Chicken was composed of Jamie, Carla and Stefan (who had the immunity from the QuickFire). My initial thoughts were that Carla would likely be escaping the bottom three this week, as Jamie and Stefan are arguably the two strongest chefs on the show. There was TONS of arguing between Jamie and Stefan (which he clearly thinks is sexual tension and she clearly thinks is totally annoying) and Carla was pretty much stuck in the middle. However, when they started planning their menu, it sounded pretty strong. The chicken paillards with the salad looked very tasty and the roast chicken sounded pretty strong too. Stefan's chicken soup looked like it was probably pretty tasty, but soup outside on an 85 degree day? No thanks.

The lovebirds (Hosea and Leah) and Ariane were teamed on this challenge. Was it just me, or did they seem to take this challenge pretty lightly? It seemed like they just threw some ideas up in the air and went with whatever Hosea and Leah thought sounded best. Ariane definitely came off like a pushover. I thought the idea of the braised lamb sounded wonderful, but instead they went with roasted baby lamb and a roasted tied up lamb loin. Huh? And Ariane handled the lamb from beginning to the end, and it seemed like Hosea and especially Leah didn't do much of anything. Leah even pointed out that she really wasn't doing anything.

Team Pork seemed to get along pretty well, and came up with a yummy-sounding, if a little boring, menu. The corn salad with fried pork belly sounded particularly tasty, and then they also made a pork loin. Again, huh? They did make fried green tomatoes, though, which would have made them a winner in my book. I love those suckers.

To nobody's surprise, Team Chicken was named the winner. All three of them, for a change, which was nice. I always think when you have a team victory that the whole team should be recognized. And I think in this case, it was well-deserved.

On the losing end, however, I was VERY surprised at the outcome. I thought for sure that Leah would be the one to go home, seeing as how she didn't do anything (and what she did do was sloppy), but instead they sent Ariane home for her faulty work with the lamb. I guess the lesson here is that you have to stand up for yourself, otherwise it's your own fault if you get booted. It's a shame, though, as I had started to root for her a little over the last few weeks. At least she comes out of this with some great publicity for her business.


Robin said...

I couldn't believe they sent Ariane home over Leah. I think judges usually make good choices, but, in this case, they totally fired the wrong girl. Now I can't wait until Leah leaves - justice must be served.

Classy&Sassy said...

I second that emotion - Leah was the clear choice. Perhaps they kept her around to see what might shake out between her and Hosea...nothing says "ratings" like romance!

HeatherBakes said...

I was so sad to see Ariane go home. Leah totally phoned that one in... but after seeing the previews for tonight's episode, I'm kind of excited that they kept her around. Drama!

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