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Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.5 April 9, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
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9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, Richard continues to rock it. Also, Manuel & his utter lack of personality goes home.

10:00 – We open in the apartment. I don’t think we’ve ever learned anything interesting in the apartment shots. It would have been more interesting if they were actually living with Rocco DiSpirito. Is there some way we can still arrange this?

10:03 – Quickfire time. Padma introduces Ming Tsai, the guest judge, & the Quickfire challenge, which is the annual blind test. They taste two of the same item and have to choose the better quality item. During the tasting montage, the chefs talk about how to tell quality (i.e. more fat on bacon, more flavor, etc). Stephanie comes in last & says she’s used to not have immunity. Ryan & Jennifer tie for second & Antonia wins the Quickfire & immunity.

10:08 – Padma introduces the Elimination Challenge, which will be cooking first courses for a Meals on Wheels high-end event, which is themed in elements—Earth, Water, Air & Fire. They’re working in four teams. I know it’s easier to do team challenges while the group is still this big, but it’s getting old. Wait, I know how to solve that problem! How about not starting with 16 chefs?

10:09 – Team Water include Andrew the Complainer & Richard the Golden Boy. Dale suggests deviled eggs for Fire, but Lisa hates the idea & based on the promos, this is not going to end well. Poor Stephanie & her lack of immunity is stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, Antonia, & her immunity that Spike refuses to let us forget about, shoots down Team Earth’s squash soup idea for not being high-end enough & being hard to serve for this many people. She then does that thing where she says she’ll do it just because she wants to look like a team player, but makes it clear she doesn’t agree with it at all. Predictably, Team Earth agrees to a different dish.

10:15 – Product placement shopping time. Team Water is once again using one of Richard’s random techniques. Meanwhile, Team Fire is bickering away & doesn’t know what they want to do. As they keep talking about choices, Lisa says about 14 times that she doesn’t feel comfortable with what they’re doing. Eventually, even Dale stops fighting with her & is now in complete Chill-Lisa-the-Hell-Out mode. They eventually get her to agree to cook a dish, seeing as how they are on a reality show called Top Chef & all.

10:16 – Antonia & her immunity are also not making friends. Spike wears a ridiculous hat in his interview while he complains that she shouldn’t be bossing them around because she has immunity & therefore has nothing to lose.

10:19 – Back in the kitchen, food frenzy begins. Team Water is doing some kind of salmon, salad, faux caviar & their dish involves cooking in vacuum bags, because Richard is incapable of just cooking like regular people.

10:21 – We see a series of shots of Lisa’s complaint parade. She is freaking out & is generally unhelpful & annoying. Everyone clearly hates her. Meanwhile, Ryan screws up & uses all the pomegranate juice & Team Air has to improvise for the drink that Nikki has once again put on the menu. Red flag.

10:23 – Spike lies through his teeth at Tom C that it’s a pleasure working with Antonia. Tom doesn’t seem impressed with Team Water’s complicated Richard-charm-ed explanation. In interview, Tom says that Team Water is overconfident & will probably make a mistake. Way to have confidence in your contestants, Tom.

10:30 – Team Water is nervous because all the other teams are plating already. Richard doesn’t want to plate yet because his dish is really complex, or something. As they are trying to decide, they suddenly realize there are scales on the dish. Ooooh crap.

10:32 – As the servers take out the dishes, Andrew interviews that Richard assured them that there were only a few scales on the salmon. Chances are, the judges won’t even get them, right? The judges try Team Water’s salmon & guest judge Ming immediately gets scales in his mouth. Touche, Richard. We see guests say they like the shrimp & the bacon. Tom C decides this week, he’s not a fan of Nikki’s cute little drink. Also Team Earth totally fails to do anything earthy.

10:38 – This week’s text vote: “Which contestant should get a spanking for being difficult?” WHAT?? What Bravo intern wrote that as an April Fool’s Joke & somehow it actually got through?

10:41 – Stunningly, Step It Up & Dance has not been cancelled yet.

10:42 – Padma calls Team Fire to Judge’s Table. They are the favorites. They cleverly spin the bickering as collaboration. Padma says that the winning chef gets a trip for two to Italy. Sweet. Ming announces that Lisa wins because of her bacon technique. Dale is not pleased. In the interview, he complains that Lisa complained the whole time & only did bacon & gets a trip to Italy. Dale is bitter. Interestingly, this interview made me really like Dale.

10:45 – In the back, Lisa sends out Team Earth & Team Water. Richard takes responsibility for the disastrous salmon, but says that he was happy with the texture. The judges really, really weren’t. Also, Mark completely fails to explain why there was parsley on his dish. Team Earth’s bland dish of blandness faces the music. Everyone says they tasted the food & liked it. Zoi especially over-claims that her awesome palate totally tasted the dish & it was totally awesome even though the judges just got done telling them the whole thing was a bland dish of blandness. Man, isn’t this like the 19th week in a row Zoi has a) failed to cook anything good & b) become annoyingly defensive in judging? Spike totally calls out Antonia for voicing her opinion despite having immunity. But you didn’t have to listen, dude!

10:49 – Judging. The judges can’t forgive the scaly fish, but Team Earth scored the lowest among the guests. Who goes, Spike or Zoi? Tom C says Zoi’s mushrooms were the worst part of the dish & Ming is confused as to why she felt the need to insist that her palate was awesome. I’m confused about that too, Ming! Ming & I are totally on the same wavelength.

10:52 – I still don’t know what Smart People is about.

10:56 – Back from commercial, Tom C’s self-esteem destruction speech is shorter tonight. Team Earth was the worst dish…& Zoi FINALLY goes home! Good. Maybe Bravo will stop shoving the lesbian non-sub-plot down our throats.

10:57 – In the backroom, Jennifer can’t believe it. Let’s be real, those two never had a chance of seeing the final three. Plus, it was obvious Zoi wasn’t a very good chef & probably only got on because Bravo saw a boring lesbian sub-plot idea. We see Zoi leave, & then weirdly, we’re back in the backroom & Spike & Antonia shout at each other about how they should have done the soup. Spike insists that Antonia said that she wouldn’t do the soup & Antonia, awesomely, yells back that it’s on FILM, sweetheart. Touche, Spike! She did kinda say that she’d do the soup. And then, Jennifer jumps in & says that they just put their teammate in the ground. And then Dale jumps in & says something un-important. But then, Lisa jumps in & says something like that Dale’s not helping. And THEN, Dale FREAKS OUT. He was clearly waiting around for some excuse to scream at Lisa & since they won, there wasn’t really an appropriate time earlier. Hey, look, Lisa is annoying, but this was a slight overreaction, I feel. Speaking of overreactions, Jennifer kicks a chair into the wall. Annnnd scene.

10:59 – Next time on Top Chef, Lisa & Dale continue to hate each other. Nikki continues to act clueless. Some of the guys continue to take bubble baths together…wait a second. Am I watching the right show?


1. curious - April 15, 2008

Well, maybe the producers decided there wasn’t enough spice in the cooking … so we get backroom fisticuffs instead. Zzzz.

I don’t know about Dale – he had a point about Lisa not really deserving the win (which she didn’t–she wasn’t a team player, and she worked as hard as she could to do something individual in case the team effort fizzled), but Dale complaining about it being “just bacon” was whining. Didn’t he hear Ming say he’d never seen that before? Get over it dude.

Speaking of get over it, Spike, Andrew and Jennifer all need a good healthy dose of GOI. To be fair, it was understandable that Jennifer would be upset. Whichever of the Zoi/Jennifer pair was left standing was gonna be bitter about the other leaving. But Spike and Andrew? Oh man.

Andrew’s safety net is that someone else on his team always screws up more than he does (this week, Richard’s scales were a HUGE gaffe and would have certainly sent home anyone but the show’s designated Golden Boy).

Spike spends more time on his hat than on his food. He goes ballistic over the soup-vs-whatever decision BUT COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT. Tom C couldn’t have been clearer: You’re not here because you didn’t choose soup, you’re here because you did a crummy job on what you DID chose.

Bad news for the upcoming shows: Although the producers clearly love the fiesty drama boys, they can’t cook. Stephanie and Antonia, on the other hand, can cook but don’t have the hysteria. Golden Boy used up his Get Out Of Jail Free card tonight, but he probably won’t mess up again. Dale has skillz, but not as many as he thinks he does. Ryan and Mark are both cannon fodder–not producer-friendly drama kings but not judge-friendly chefs either.

So finally … what’s up with Nikki? We never see her do much of anything, but she never shows up on either the winning group of the risk group. The producers never show her at all. I’m guessing that the very first show that they start doing her life story and a bunch of back-at-the-apartment features … she’s toast.

2. Amy - April 15, 2008

@curious Thanks for your thoughts! I pretty much agree w/everything you say. Nikki’s is totally toast. Do you get the feeling the talent level across the board is kind of not that great this season?

3. curious - April 16, 2008

Until I buy a TV with smell-o-vision, it’s really hard to get a sense of what these cooks are producing. (Unlike Runway or Dance or even Idol where you get to see, or hear, for yourself.) But I’ll admit I’ve thought that same thing every year (that the “current season” crop is worse than before), and then by the end of the season I always get tricked into thinking that the last three or four contestants are really good. 🙂

Ont thing that makes me thing the chefs this year are actually producing good-tasting food (although you’d never hear it from the producer-edited judges): In seasons past, almost every show had at least two *disasters* to choose from. Uncooked chicken, rock-hard pastry, whatever. But this season the judges are already dipping into things like “over-selling your dish” and “not speaking up” as potentially-fatal flaws. I’m guessing the food is actually pretty good, even though the segments they televise don’t actually convey it.

Things I’ll be watching for tonight: So far, the first group that Padma calls backs is ALWAYS the winner. But the contestants are *always* surprised. Will they ever get the hint?

Thanks Amy!

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