While I enjoyed this episode, I cannot see this being a memorable Top Chef installment. Why? Because this was a classic Cannon Fodder Episode. Every reality show has one of those, and the trick is to make it interesting to watch in the moment. Cannon Fodder Episodes are ones where it is so clearly obvious that a person who has absolutely no chance of winning the competition is also clearly the one going home.
Eve was so incredibly out of her league in this competition it makes you wonder how she was cast in the first place. Not only did she cook badly in four challenges, but she was wildly uninteresting to watch. She was so boring that she should have been on the Great American Road Trip. Tom’s classic eye roll as she told him that she chose to not fix a problem which was irreparably damaging her dish said it all. There was no way anyone else was going home at that point.
So if the elimination was obvious, what were the primary themes of this Cannon Fodder Episode to make us interested? First, the sibling rivalry. The heavy-handed editing with these guys needs to stop. Why, oh why, do we have to constantly cut to one brother when the other is merely referred to? That is getting boring and tiresome, can you imagine if they made it to the Finals? Plus, while I have liked both brothers, they could use a little bit of a personality infusion. Don’t you think?
Second, was the same-sex marriage discussion. First things first, thanks Show for clearing up my uncertainty regarding Preeti and Ashley. For the record … girls. I feel like an idiot. Anyway, Ashley was pissed that as a gay woman she is being asked to compete in a challenge where teams were cooking for bachelor/bachelorette parties. Because, as she said, she was unable to get married legally, so why should she have to do this. I’m going to have to play the first Bullsh*t Card of the season.
I say this as a liberal straight man that not only supports the legalization of same-sex marriage, but actually has attended a same-sex wedding, but there is a time and a place for this very important and valid discussion. A cooking reality show is not one of them. I know that Bravo is gayer than Clay Aiken singing Judy Garland’s Greatest Hits, but come on. This is just a cooking challenge, I am certain the producers were not trying to offend its gay contestants and its hugely gay audience. To me it looked like Ashley was either being overly sensitive or she was looking to make a political statement. Either way, I felt it was both inappropriate and misplaced.
So, Ashley, I think it is ridiculous that you are unable to get married while morons like Jon and Kate make a mockery of the institution. But, not here, not now. Point noted, let’s move on.
Thankfully, we had two good challenges, some really good looking food and a good guest to buoy the episode and lift it above the usual subpar quality of Cannon Fodder Episodes.
The challenge is to roll the dice on a craps table and whatever number you get is how many ingredients you must use. Cool challenge. Salt, pepper and oil are exempt from the rules. Almost all of the 16 chefs roll high numbers which hurts the challenge somewhat because, while as Hawk says, cooking with many ingredients is hard, it is tougher to make gourmet-quality food with few ingredients.
So, The Top Three:
Jennifer – 9, Salmon with lemon, garlic, shallot, parsley and Jalapeno emulsion. Todd describes it as something “that hits you in the face” but is still “light and delicate,” and Jenn thinks that is exactly how he would describe her, if you know what I mean. Or at least that’s what I gathered from her look.
Kevin – 10, Asparagus and Celery Salad with Fennel Cream and Boiled Eggs. This one looked amazing and sounds delicious.
Hawk – 9, Nitro Gazpacho, compressed cucumbers and toast. Todd sees this as a great twist on gazpacho. Hawk chose gazpacho because of the time constraint and his high dice roll.
Hawk wins and we get the aforementioned gratuitous reaction shots of Bryan. Other dishes of note that were not top or bottom:
Laurine – 3, Asparagus and Leek Soup with Lemon. She had the lowest roll, so we get to see what she made.
Flais – 4, Carrot Soup with Ginger. Also a low dice roll, Flais made the number “4” in carrot shavings on top of the soup.
Ashley – 8, Grilled lamb with apricot mostarda. Padma found it very rare, and boy, it almost looks purple on TV.
The Bottom Three:
Jesse – 9, Scallops with Chimicurri and Smashed Garbanzo beans with toasted garlic. All together now – THIS IS TOP CHEF, NOT TOP SCALLOP! Todd comments on the trendiness of chimicurri, my wife calls it “this year’s pesto.” Jesse fails to sear the scallop and it is bland and mushy.
Bryan – 10, Poached Black Cod with carrot, ginger puree and Daikon radish sprout. This looked gross, and yet another non-Hung Cheftestant fails to get sous vide to taste good.
Eve – 8, Grilled Asparagus salad with raisins, pine nuts and blue cheese. Ew. Just ew.