TOP CHEF D.C.: Outside the Lunch Box - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

TOP CHEF D.C.: Outside the Lunch Box

June 24, 2010 by  

During this week’s Judges’ Table, I could have sworn that Celebrity Apprentice or Survivor had taken over the TOP CHEF time slot.  Insults were thrown, fireworks were lit, and we’re only in week two!

Let’s dive in to this week’s episode in three courses, shall we?

APPETIZER: The Biparti-Sandwich Challenge with White House Chef Sam Kass was an ideal warmup for this week’s Elimination Challenge. With an emphasis on health and tasty substitutions, the contestants were broken up into eight teams of two.

The twist, having to work with just one arm each, was a clever piece of production, eliciting humorous moments (such as Tracey’s eagerness to embrace Angelo) and flat out discomfort (“Please don’t cut me!”).  By winning his third challenge in three tries, Angelo and partner Tracey gained a huge strategic advantage for the next event.

First Round of Drinks: Is there something about the name Kenny? I could swear that he and a brute named Wes just gave us a primer of the Angelo/Kenny storyline on MTV’s THE RUINS. If you ask me, the Kenny/Angelo alpha male battle seems far more amped up for the cameras than, say, the sibling rivalry of the Voltaggio brothers last season.

ENTREE: The Elimination Challenge felt very familiar, since I was an avid fan of ABC’s JAMIE OLIVER’S FOOD REVOLUTION.  On the other hand, the fight against childhood obesity is certainly worth more air time.  The concept, forcing the contestants to understand the difficulty of providing tasty and nutritious food on a shoestring budget, forced each team to sacrifice in the checkout lane.

It is reality TV, so we were bound to get some drama, right?  Amanda & Tamesha were the first to score points for cursing in the Top Chef Fantasy Game. I did not see that confrontation coming, but the ladies reached 50% on the catfight meter before their teammates allowed cooler heads to prevail.

Ultimately, this was a feel-good competition, because the children at Alice Deal Middle School were so appreciative of the chef’s skills and creativity. Unfortunately for Amanda & Jacqueline, the judges did not share their young neighbors’ enthusiasm for sherry-braised chicken or sugary, starchy banana pudding.

Second Round of Drinks: I am ADDICTED to the Top Chef Fantasy Game. It enhances the experience of watching the show, since there are points to be scored for smart cooking, judges’ compliments, and outrageous drama! Join our GMMR group using Passcode Tom4388 and hop on board for next week’s episode. My team, Erik’s Benedict, scored 27 points this week, and I’m looking for some competition!

DESSERT: I am still amazed at how cutthroat the Judges’ Table segment was this week.  I am not a Top Chef historian, but the snarky and personal shots being taken by Kenny, Ed, and Amanda were delicious!

In real life, I think people should be treated with respect.  On reality shows, I make an exception.  These folks signed up to be on TV and get exposure, so they are asking for it.

The decision to cut Jacqueline was foreshadowed all episode, as the editors included a mini-biography of her, an ominous warning about dessert makers being doomed, and the flub of serving a pudding with two pounds of sugar.

Thanks to the kind folks at, we can enjoy bonus footage of the judges deliberating between Jacqueline’s pudding and Amanda’s chicken. Take a peek!

A few table scraps before I turn the conversation over to you:

*I may be the only one to obsess about song samples, but the inclusion of Tevin Campbell’s “Round & Round” in the show’s opening theme is a fun throwback

*Arnold’s response to the $130 budget, noting that he spends that much on himself when he dines out, was a jaw-dropper for me. Is it time to give up my humble lifestyle and become a chef? Do they really make enough to support that kind of foodie habit?

*In one of the bumper clips, a student asks Padma, “Can I have a hug?” Since she obliged, I am asking in this public forum: “Padma, can I have a hug, too?”

What did you think about this episode? Who are your dark horse favorites? Will Angelo continue to dominate the challenges, or is Kelly a potential rival?

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2 Responses to “TOP CHEF D.C.: Outside the Lunch Box”

  1. Kim on June 24th, 2010 11:50 pm

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention Angelo clearly setting Kenny up to take the fall! Hope Kenny has his eyes WIDE open now!

  2. Erik on June 25th, 2010 12:16 am

    Great point, Kim! Even Tom had a difficult time putting a positive spin on Angelo’s underhanded gamesmanship. If I have any complaints about the first two episodes, it is the heavy emphasis on Angelo & Kenny. If the focus remains on them all season, it will be difficult for fans of other contestants to feel emotionally engaged with the show.

    Sorry for the omission, and thanks for raising it to start the discussion!