September 27, 2009

Problematizing Paella

Filed under: Top Chef — Chris @ 9:43 pm

I should start off by noting, in deference to Andy, a change in the wording of Rule E. Instead of, “Be prepared to defend your dish at Judges’ Table”—which gives perhaps too much of a hint of Danny/Gene/Mattin-like defensiveness— we will heretofore say, “Be prepared to critique your dish at Judges’ Table.” The idea, as I stated in comments last week, is that you must:

(a) clearly state what you were trying to achieve, so the judges can see you put some thought into it, and (b) clearly state how and why you fell short, preferably with reference to some circumstance beyond your control. You want to be the guy who screwed up, but could do it better next time, not the guy who is oblivious to his own faults.

Moving on to the episode, this might be a condescending way to look at things, but it seems a little, I don’t know, culturally biased to eliminate Ron on the “deconstruction” challenge. I mean, “deconstructed” (actually “decomposed“) food should be an entry on Stuff White People Like. Ron clearly wasn’t with the program from beginning to end (though I wonder if Kevin and Eli’s pep talk didn’t send him off in the wrong direction, à la Tim “I am woeful, Johnny” Gunn).

I’m not even going to count this as a Rule E elimination, because Ron was just so overmatched and overwhelmed, he never had a chance. On the other hand, note that both Ash and Laurine at least got it on the record that essential components of their dishes didn’t make it to the plate (in both cases potatoes, puréed and fried, respectively). This serves as a nice example of Rule E and Rule D (” Be prepared to change your plan”)—it’s always better to send out an incomplete plate then to serve something that didn’t work).

Toby, I'm going to beat you to death with a pie-ell-ur-ah

Toby, I'm going to beat you to death with a pie-ell-ur-ah

It also would have helped if Ron’s paella had been delicious. I’m going to mark this one down for Rule C (“Respect your proteins”), for the overcooked fish.

Predictions: 3 for 6! If that doesn’t sound impressive to you, please check in on my Top Chef Masters posts.

I don’t think Robin will make it to the final, but I think her fellow cheftestants are being a bit harsh in their assessment of her. For instance, it’s really not clear why they think she’s so much worse than Mattin. I think that they just don’t like her because she’s somewhat annoying and are letting that cloud their judgment (see Rule F). On the flip side, Eli and Mike seem to get included in the “deserve to be here” category just because the other, better cheftestants like them.

But none of that matters. This is Laurine’s week to go home.


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