This week the Top Chef contestants tackle their next Boston adventure. If you were an avid TV watcher in the 80s (or you weren’t but you didn’t live under a rock either) you’ll notice that this week’s show sends the chefs to a little place “where everybody knows your name.” Chefs were asked to show up at an address that turned out to be the famous bar “Cheers” that inspired its namesake TV show (one of the biggest comedy hits of the 80s.)
Once the chefs arrived they found out they would be cooking for not only Padma, but also Cheers actor George Wendt, who played the beloved character of Norm on the show. As this week’s quickfire challenge got underway the chefs were tasked with using the food supplies in the fully stocked kitchen to make some kind of traditional bar food with a gourmet twist within a half hour. When it came time to judge the quickfire George picked his favorite and least favorite, with Gregory’s screwed up burger being something he mentioned. He chose Katsuji as having the best dish which of course pissed off Mr. “my only goal in life is to get rid of Katsuji so I can be the big cheese” Aaron. Who’s laughing now Aaron? Because now Katsuji has immunity for this week and you have, let’s see…nothing.
Moving on to the heart of each episode, the chefs went to one of the Italian restaurants owned by Top Chef Masters’s Michael Schlow, Via Mata. This week’s elimination challenge required them to prepare a fancy and elaborate three course Italian meal. The meal had to include an antipasto, pasta dish and secondi (seafood) dish. Some chefs were more nervous than others as some were well versed in preparing Italian food while others weren’t.
Divided into four teams, each team member was responsible for making one menu for their team alone. But there was an added element to this elimination challenge that we haven’t seen in the past. Since the chefs were working in the restaurant during business hours part of the competition was to see which team’s menu would get the highest number of orders from the restaurant’s patrons. The chefs on the orange team ended up being the under dogs in this elimination challenge as the other three teams were have their menus chosen time and time again while the orange team stood around taking up space.
The green team was specifically praised for the quality of the pasta dish they made. Each judge seemed equally impressed by it.
There was a panic among the chefs as everyone fought for space in the kitchen to work. As tensions grew little arguments broke out between the chefs. One thing that added tension to the kitchen was that Michael Schlow was monitoring them to see how they were performing, which means he got an earful from some stressed out and bickering cheftestants. Despite all the drama, Katie kept her cool in the kitchen.
As if they weren’t dealing with enough limitations already they had to contend with guest judge Emmy Rossum requires any dish she eats to be free of all gluten (though the chefs were told someone had a gluten free diet, but the person in question was not identified to them.) Richard Blais also joined Emmy, Padma and Tom in dining on and critiquing everyone’s dishes. Katsuji was tasked with creating the needed gluten free dish and he remarked that it is a good thing he has immunity this week, heavily implying that he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to making sure a dish is gluten free.
Tom mentioned that some of the arugula wasn’t prepared as well as it could have been. However, Katie’s dish was praised by the judges as they enjoyed her zucchini and pasta.
As the judges met with Michael Schlow they discussed the highlights and lowlights of the dishes. The purple team received praise from each of the judge’s though they received criticism too. One of the reasons the orange team didn’t do as well as it could have was because the salad left something to be desired according to the judges. James’s seafood salad was criticized by the judges as well. Stacey’s vegetables didn’t go over very well with the judges either.
The pressure was on for this week’s elimination challenge as two chefs were set to be eliminated. This knocks the number of competing chefs from 12 down to only 10. As it came down to this week’s “judgement day” the judges recapped some of the highlights and lowlights. Michael Schlow announced that the purple team beat the other three teams. Their menu was the one that impressed the judges the most. The orange team was once again criticized for the menu they created.
James was raked through the mud by the judges because his dish lacked enough oil to impress the judges in the least little bit. He was then asked to pack his knives and leave, along with Rebecca. Tom said that both their dishes were not original enough or prepared well enough to hold up against the competition. James walked away with the attitude that he was going to go home and keep cooking like he always has.
One thing about this week’s show that I preferred is that there wasn’t as much personal drama as there has been in past episodes. The focus should be on the cooking and the thoughts and attitudes of the chefs when it comes to their experience in the kitchen and how they use that to contribute to Top Chef.
As the season continues I predict we will see more new twists thrown in for the cheftestants to battle. When you have a competition show that has been running as long as Top Chef has you need to keep injecting new aspects into the show to keep it fresh and keep the audience watching it.