Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fantasy Top Chef Update Week 4: Whatever, Whatever

Last week Top Chef decided to have this "special" with chefs of the last five seasons cooking and whinging at each other, which they obviously did since I hadn't written up a summary of the Fantasy Top Chef action. Let's amend that, shall we?

Quick Fire Challenge

As part of the corporate tie-ins (this week: TV Guide), each chef drew knives for the name of a TV show, for which they had to produce a spin on "TV Dinner" for Padma and guest chef Paul Bartalotta.

The chefs were as follows: Robin (Sesame Street), Michael V. (Cheers), Jen (The Flintstones), Eli (Gilligan's Island), Bryan (M.A.S.H), Mike I. (Seinfeld). Somehow Mike I. claims to have never seen Seinfeld, which he really should have been instantly eliminated for. Foreshadowing?

I kind of wish they had The Wire in here. What would be your TV dinner then? A fifth of cheap scotch and some crack?

QF Losers

Robin (Garthmeister J., -0.5): At this stage I should just pencil in Robin's name until she gets eliminated. Her burger is dry, and that's the element of fail for this most annoying chef. Garth once again can't believe he didn't pick Ash.

Jennifer (Saunter, -0.5): Jennifer strikes out again in a Quick Fire. Right now we don't know whether Jen is going to get her act together, or end up being eliminated on any given challenge. She's been adrift for a few weeks now, as have Saunter's chances of taking out the league.

QF Winners

Bryan (Daddy, +1): Daddy snares another point from his sole remaining horse, Bryan, who scores with his meatloaf, mashed potato, asparagus, and apple tarte tatin. Though Daddy needs Bryan to hang around, he also needs the big man to score.

Overall QF Winner: Kevin (Garthmeister J., +3): Domination. To be fair, I think whoever drew "The Sopranos" had a leg up on the competition, but his meatballs with polenta, roasted cauliflower, and roasted pear scored big time.

Elimination Challenge

The Elimination Challenge was a classic bait and switch. The chefs were told that they were going to use Tom Colicchio's restaurant, Craftsteak, so naturally they all get psyched about what meat they are going to cook. Which is then squashed by guest judge Natalie Portman, who is extremely hot, and also a Vegetarian.

Cue the sad horns.

Elimination Winners

Michael V. (Garthmeister J., +2): Michael again goes with the craziness, serving asparagus salad, Japanese tomato sashimi, and banana polenta. His dish confuses, yet delights, and someone refers to him as "Picasso", bringing the "someone-refers-to-Michael-Volt-as-Picasso" count to 2. This guy is genuinely pissed he didn't win outright though, and is definitely shaping up as this season's villain.

Eli (Saunter, +2): Eli continues to blossom, serving confit of eggplant, creamed lentils, spring garlic puree, and radish salad with wild herbs. He won an important coinflip with Jen and got to use the eggplant he wanted, which definitely paid off. The question for Saunter is whether Eli is starting to edge Jen as the top chef in her stable?

Overall EC Winner: Kevin (Garthmeister J., +6): Yes, it's Kevin, once again. This time he wins for a non-meat dish, but apparently he and his wife go meat-free every Lent. Religion, paying off for the big man! To be honest, his duo of mushrooms (morel and Hen of the Woods), smoked kale, candied garlic, and turnip puree looked pretty unappetizing, but he hit a home run with the taste. Kevin is singlehandedly ruunning away with this competition for Garth.

Elimination Challenge Losers:

Robin (Garthmeister J., -1): Cue Garth shaking his fist at the sky and yelling "Robin!" Once again this chef is bad enough to be in the bottom three, but not bad enough to be eliminated. This time her key failure was getting over-excited about all the produce, not knowing what direction to go in, and deciding to do things she had never decided to do before. OK, maybe that's three things. What can I tell you, she sucks.

Jen (Saunter, -1): Jen continues her death-spiral, serving charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, tomato coins with wild coriander and verjus nage, which appears to be more of a side dish than a main meal. Saunter has to be panicking now.

Eliminated: Mike I. (Saunter, -1): In something of a shock, Mike I. gets the boot for his whole roasted leeks with onion jus, baby carrot puree, and fingerling potatoes with fresh radish and dill. He clearly screwed up his leeks, and it probably wasn't a good idea to begin with.

League Table

Garthmeister J.: 28.5 (+9.5)
Saunter: 11.5 (-0.5)
Daddy: 8.0 (+2)

Garth continues to ride Kevin's momentum, despite the ballast of Robin. All of a sudden Saunter's stable of steady contributors has been torpedoed, with her relying on Jen to turn it around and for Eli to continue his emergence. And Daddy? All Bryan, all the time, though he needs some big points and a deep run from his main man.


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