Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Chef: Restaurant Wars Episode II: Attack of the Ciccone

Previously on Top Chef: the judges were extremely disappointed in all of the contestants, a blogger and her snippy friend ragged on the chefs' slapdash restaurants, and no one went home, because the judges wanted them all to do it again, but right this time, dammit!

The great Top Chef do-over started out with a mise en place relay Quickfire, in which each team member was assigned a different prep task, and the team that completed all of its tasks first won. Shockingly enough, it was The Garage, or, as Dale called them, "The Bad News Bears," who pulled out a victory, thoroughly trouncing the other team with their lightning-fast knife and whip skills. It only helped The Garage that Casey is a very slow chopper. Comparatively, of course; she'd still smoke me in an onion-chopping contest, but both Sara and Hung were finished with their tasks by the time she finished chopping her four onions. The Bad News Bears were rewarded with extra shopping money and the help of a mystery sommelier.

And who was the Super-Secret Mystery Sommelier? I'll give you one guess, because if you didn't know it was Stephen from season one the minute they first mentioned the word "sommelier," you clearly have not received enough Top Chef conditioning. Stephen only showed up long enough to have one, maybe two, montages of "blah blah blah Stephen won't stop talking," and he also sabred a champagne bottle. Okay! Thanks for coming, Stephen! Bye!

Meanwhile, everyone got the help – whether they wanted it or not – of interior designer Christopher Ciccone, the blogger's snippy friend of the night before and brother of Madonna. Dale called him one of the most annoying people he's ever met – and think about the people he's met on this show. Not naming names, just saying. It was probably wise of the chefs to just let Christopher do whatever he wanted to their restaurants and not argue. After all, they had to worry about the food, and not getting eliminated.

Of course you know that Tom Colicchio keeps telling the contestants that he's not their mentor or their mom. We finally learned what he is this week: their babysitter. He decided he had to stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the teams during service. I don't really know why, because he's never felt like he had to watch them before, and he didn't really do much tattling - that we saw - to the rest of the judges about what the chefs did in the kitchen. However, staying in the kitchen did mean that Tom had to sample the teams' dishes alone, sitting in a corner. We couldn't hear it, but I'm sure that there was a single violin playing very sadly just for him as he ate.

Just like in every sports movie ever, the misfit band of underdogs – in this case, the chefs of The Garage, now Quatre – won. Sara, the executive chef, was the individual winner, with the judges praising her decisiveness. She did do one thing I've seen executive chefs do on TV before, sending back meat that she considered rare (although without yelling "It's raw! You're going to [bleep]ing kill someone!" as Gordon Ramsay likes to do). Restaurant April, on the other hand, got dinged for not taking enough of the criticism from their soft opening to heart and thereby doing worse the second time around.

Sent home, for poor leadership skills and sub-par dishes (and, I'm sure, especially for a salmon dish that incurred Ted Allen's violent hatred), was Tre. Yes, Tre. I'm serious. It was a huge shock to me, because I had always just assumed that Tre was going to win the whole competition. He was a good chef and a cool competitor, and now who will take his place? Hung? CJ? I think, though, I'll root for Dale as long as I can, because I love his snarky interviews about everything.


David said...

CJ should have been fired, not Tre, but Tre brought it on himself with his martyr mentality.

I, too, am rooting for Dale, but am preparing emotionally for a Hung victory. So long as it isn't Howie.