An excellent episode with an unhappy ending, there was a lot going on here. The quote used for the title came from Mike, who had a great first half, and a bad second half. Then again, with very few exceptions, everyone had a bad second half. In fact, I can only recall the infamous Restaurant Wars Redux from S3 as a previous episode where Top Chefs had been so bad as they were in this challenge. Ironically, S3 featured Casey and Tre – and both fell to the bottom for the challenge this week.
The challenges were outstanding. In the Quickfire, we finally got to see Tom in action. In a brilliant idea, Tom was required to cook a meal. The chefs then had to cook a meal and beat his time. I think the deck was slightly stacked because Tom seemed to know exactly where he was going, but still, the Head Judge showed why he is a God among Chefs as he banged out his dish in 8:37. Thus, this became the quickest Quickfire ever, and some chefs shined, while others failed. Badly.
The Elimination Challenge was even better. The chefs had to cook the lunch rush for a Dim Sum Chinese restaurant. For those who don’t know, a Dim Sum restaurant is more authentic Chinese food than the General Tso that we get at the corner take out place. It is fast, simple and delicious. You sit at the table, and then the food is brought out on carts thereafter. It is placed on the table on a lazy Susan, in some cases, and everyone chows down.
The key part forgotten by the All-Stars is fast. They did what they do – fancy plating, intricate dishes, etc. They did not seem to grasp that the challenge was not about that – it was how these chefs could manage to make mass quantities of delicious simple Chinese food. By forgetting that the room would be packed and that they needed to churn these things out in great speed and quantity, the diners were pissed and hungry. My favorite part was when Tom had to head downstairs to the kitchen to kick them in the ass.
I must say that I was surprised that the judges actually found dishes good enough for victory. I thought it would be one of those episodes where they elect not to choose a winner. However, they managed to find a few dishes and went with Dale, redeeming his atrocious showing in the Quickfire.
As for the bottom, that really could have been anyone, and once they realized Antonia didn’t actually cook the terrible long beans with Jamie, she should have been sent right back. All four of the others belonged at the bottom, but as Tom and Gail’s post-show comments explain, Jamie’s were bad, but Casey’s was inedible. And that trumps everything.
So, the show gets a whole lot less good looking as the most attractive chef in show history gets sent packing. She deserved it, no doubt, and while most were surprised by the choice, I saw it coming. She got a lot of face time this week, and when the diners were refusing to eat her chicken feet, despite being hungry…it was over. Her doom came from volunteering to work the front and having her dish prep placed into the hands of others. Never a good sign on this show – the others chefs have their own dishes to worry about, and they will always, always, choose their own over yours.
I’ll miss Casey, she left too soon, but move on we must! At least I still have Padma!