Thursday, August 02, 2007

Top Chef: The Cooking Bee

Well, why not? America seems to love the spelling and singing varieties, so surely a cooking bee is the next step? That was this week's Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef: a competition presided over by Padma and Rocco DiSpirito challenging chefs to identify foods and utensils by sight and taste. (Not the utensils by taste. Not that we saw, anyway.) I wonder if we can now expect The Culinary Bee, hosted by Rocco DiSpirito, coming this fall to NBC?

The Elimination Challenge this week required the chefs to pair up to create frozen pasta dinners, and I'm guessing that the episode was super-sized just to contain all the drama, because that's what you get any time you require the chefs to work together. Oh, sure, a couple of teams – CJ and Tre and Casey and Dale – worked perfectly together, and ended up in the top two at judging because of it. But the most time was spent on the bottom two teams – Hung and Joey and Sara M. and Howie – because they got along so spectacularly badly. Things got so bad that judging turned into one big argument – more so than usual, that is. Brian and Sara N., the last pair, had style differences, but worked through them, because you can't stop Brian when he gets a full head of steam. If you heard his recitation of all that he did while Sara N. was cutting peppers, you know that either Sara cuts peppers really slowly or Brian is stuck on fast-forward.

Everything came down to IQF, individually quick freezing, which is apparently obvious enough to have an acronym, but not so obvious that any team but CJ and Tre, not coincidentally the winners, did it. Hung thought about doing it, but didn't. (It was a bad week for Hung all around, what with the mushy pasta, being chosen among the worst, and getting eliminated from the cooking bee due to hubris.) His partner Joey, who had ironically interviewed at the beginning of the episode about throwing people under buses and over balconies, got tossed over the balcony himself. Not because he didn't listen to Hung, because Hung got blamed for that, but I guess the judges thought that the Italian guy should have done better with the Italian challenge.

By the way, if any of you should ever end up cooking for Tom Colicchio, please note that he's not keen on tinned artichokes. He only mentioned it about three times and got all up in Dale's and Casey's grills about it at judging, even though they were there for doing well. So, you know, keep that in mind, if he should show up on your doorstep expecting dinner.


ArtfulSub said...

Tom's judging this year has been absurd. Maybe he has too much on his plate.

Remember when he axed Sandee because she "didn't barbecue anything"?