February 1, 2007

Top Chef Post-Show

Filed under: Not Tech, Top Chef, TV — Chris @ 7:09 pm

Now, that I’ve calmed down a bit…

I’m still a little perplexed by the decision. Ilan played it safe last week and very nearly got sent home. He played it safe again this week and took the title. According to my sources on the Internets (including Lee Anne Wong), several of his dishes this week and last were more-or-less straight from the menu of Casa Mono (including the bay leaf dessert).

By my count, they each had one miss (Marcel’s salad w/o tear-drop vinaigrette, Ilan’s angulas from a can), 3 strong dishes, and one “meh” (Marcel’s dessert, Ilan’s short ribs). The way the show was cut, I thought the diners were much more impressed with Marcel’s food. And Marcel’s “meh” was at least more creative and interesting than Ilan’s.

Here are the good reasons to send Marcel home that I didn’t hear come out of the Judge’s mouths: the salad course and the missing hamachi showed poor planning and bad judgment (even if the non-hamachi dish ended up being a hit); he’s probably less ready to go open his own restaurant tomorrow, considering his style of cuisine will only work in a high-end fine dining atmosphere and he’s not quite there yet (Ilan, on the other hand, could probably open a successful downtown comfort food joint next week); in short, Marcel is less capable of realizing his grand ambitions than Ilan is of realizing his own modest ones.

Still, it was a completely uninspiring end to the season. They failed to pick the obviously best chef, which was Sam. And they chose a guy who was a self-regarding, small-minded, ignorant jerk. Seriously, I think that his part in the Marcel-shaving incident—notwithstanding the fact that he never laid a hand on him—was probably worse than Cliff’s. Cliff was just physically following through on the logic of the moment, and he did so without excessive malice or force. Meanwhile, Ilan stood by shrieking and laughing, egging Cliff, Sam, and Elia on. He’s the only one that seemed genuinely disappointed that Marcel escaped with his hair. And after several months to contemplate what had happened, he fell right back into bullying Marcel without a second thought.

It makes me sick to my stomach. It really does.

That and the big pile of barbecue I just ate.


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