TOP CHEF D.C.: Cold War - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

TOP CHEF D.C.: Cold War

July 23, 2010 by  

My appetite has not matured since my childhood. Despite my preference for chicken fingers over chilean sea bass, however, I do appreciate the construction of entrees that foodies enjoy. TOP CHEF has been a DVR favorite of mine for the past two years, but my appetite for the show is waning. Padma & Tom are bringing their best efforts to Season Seven, but the contestants are as unappetizing as the proteins used in this week’s Quickfire Challenge.

After Season Six introduced America to distinctive characters like Kevin, Jen, and the Voltaggio brothers, my disappointment with this cast may simply be one of comparison. I want to root for someone to win each week, but I also appreciate a good antagonist, provided that person is respectful of their rivals. That is why I am souring on this season.

Say what you want about Michael Voltaggio’s competitive spirit, but he was rarely petty. If last year’s winner was the Michael Jordan of Top Chef villains, Angelo Sosa is the Lebron James, unwilling to accept the challenge of winning the competition on his own accord. Angelo is better suited to play Survivor than compete in a kitchen full of skilled contestants. I am tired of his talking heads and the unnecessary level of psychobabble he brings to each episode. Instead of being the chef I love to hate, Angelo has hijacked the show, turning it into the last option I choose on my DVR.

Enough rambling! This week’s episode simmered with tension and gamesmanship, but the chefs’ work product was the best of the season.

Appetizer: Andrea Curto Randazzo, the owner/operator of a Miami restaurant, was not pleased to see guest judge Michelle Bernstein arrive to evaluate the Quickfire Challenge. Bernstein, a James Beard Award-winning chef, also owns Michy’s restaurant near South Beach (perhaps that’s where LeBron is taking his talents) and Randazzo was immediately psyched out by her presence. The producers inserted a video package that positioned Andrea as Michelle’s equal, who stepped back professionally for the sake of raising a family. Based on the response to Andrea’s food thus far, I think there may be more legitimate reasons for their differing levels of success.

First Round of Drinks: I miss Arnold already. He may have been a step below the others in experience and sophistication, but his onscreen persona was entertaining. Is it too early to nominate him for the next Big Brother house?

Entree: The Elimination Challenge pitted the remaining contestants (except for Kelly, my current favorite who won immunity in the Quickfire by making an omelette out of Emu Eggs) against one another in teams. The Cold War premise was an appropriate backdrop for the played out rivalry between Angelo & Kenny. Once again, their battle for alpha male status overshadowed the merits of each chef’s dishes. Evaluating their colleagues’ work for the first time, Angelo’s team made a strategic decision to put Kenny up for elimination. The spirit of the competition was to put the contestants into the judges’ shoes, and they failed to embrace the responsibility. Kenny’s team, to their credit, worked in a much more professional manner, nominating a winner and loser based on flavor and artistry.

Dessert: Judge’s Table was far less contentious than in previous episodes. The two best dishes belonged to Kevin & Tiffany, underdogs who were genuinely excited to be recognized. Neither appeared to lobby for their own dish over the other, and Kevin’s victory was graciously received by Tiffany. On the flip side, Kenny did a poor job of explaining his place on the chopping block, particularly after guest judge Michelle Bernstein openly criticized his dish on the merits. Kenny’s rise as an audience favorite may take a hit after his defiant tone in this sequence. The ultimate victim was Tamesha, who lost both her place in the competition and an ongoing flirtation with Angelo. Will she figure out Angelo pushed her in the wrong direction?

Here’s an extended look at the deliberations at Judge’s Table, with more discussion of each dish nominated for elimination.

How are you enjoying Season 7? Do you have favorites among the chefs? For longtime fans, where does this season stack up in Top Chef history? Who else will emerge as a dark horse candidate over the coming weeks?

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