December 19, 2010

Faking It

Filed under: Top Chef — Chris @ 7:20 pm

Not much to say about Top Chef this week. The Elimination challenge was interesting but unfair, for a couple of reasons. First, Wylie Dufresne probably spends weeks or months working over a dish before he puts it on the menu at wd-50; can you really imagine anybody in the world meeting his standards with just a day to think about it and a couple of hours in the kitchen? Second, there’s a real mismatch between contestants and styles of food—Angelo was clearly in a much stronger position going into this challenge than Fabio was (even if Fabio’s whining about how impossibly difficult it is to cook French-Vietnamese fusion cuisine instead of pasta pasta pasta is irritating and dull).

Angelo snorts some heirloom tomatoes

That said, some of the contestants managed to acquit themselves well against long odds and others just choked. Carla smartly made a pretty traditional plate of shrimp and grits, attractively plated. There’s no chance that dish would ever appear on the wd-50 menu, but I’m sure it tasted good. Dale T. made a similar play: a solidly delicious dish that basically ignored the parameters of the challenge (how exactly is dumpling soup avant garde?). Both bets paid off: you don’t go home on Top Chef if your food tastes good (unless the next guy’s tastes better); and you can always win if your food tastes great, even if you kind of cheated.

Stray thoughts:

  • Angelo: If an Italian thinks your pants are too tight, your pants are too tight.
  • I can’t think of the last time I wanted to eat a Top Chef dish as much as I want to eat Dale’s dumpling soup.
  • As I predicted, it’s not looking like a good year for The Rules. I don’t expect to see many pasta salads from these chefs.


  1. Hmm. Well, you say the results were “unfair” but in fact the person that you say had a distinct disadvantage (Dale T) WON the challenge so I’m not sure how unfair that was. Meanwhile, the two people who got cut were dinged precisely for failing where they should have succeeded (Dale L with American cuisine + whimsy; Stephen for fine dining Italian). I also think that Fabio was saved b/c it was recognized that he was out of his element (although he is almost always out of his element, unless he is doing Italian food). It’s the nature of all challenges that they will favor certain chefs over others. I don’t see how this one was any less fair than previous challenges. I also think that getting the restaurant of your choice can also sometimes work against you. Yes, Ma peche was right in Angelo’s strike zone, but it still required focus and skill to hit it out of the park,

    Comment by vncntdl — December 21, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  2. I agree that the restaurant assignment can be a mixed blessing. For example, Marcel obviously psyched himself out a bit—I assume he didn’t want to be a pale imitation of Wylie Dufresne right in front of Wylie Dufresne.

    Comment by Chris — December 22, 2010 @ 9:47 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: