My Impression of Top Chef

For this Bravo TV Quick Fire Challenge you’ll use your Kenmore stoves in your Kenmore kitchens to turn this Kraft mayo into a tasty snack for Queer Eye’s Ted Allen whose new book, “The Food You Want To Eat,” is available at Borders Book Store in the Time Warner Center in Mike Bloomberg’s New York City. The losers will take a RAV4 to Chucky Cheese’s where Chef Anthony Bourdain awaits with Oscar Meyer Bologna which you must transform, using Kitchenaid mixers, Calphalon knives and Victoria’s Secret lingerie, into NASA approved astronaut ice cream. Ben and Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s will judge on Alvar Aalto chairs available at the MOMA store, also in Bloomberg’s New York City, where the winner will be flown by Delta to enjoy an Olive Garden dinner beneath the Panasonic sign. Who will be this week’s TOP CHEF (TM)?

32 comments

  1. Seriously, I can’t agree more. I simultaneously laughed out loud and groaned when I saw this week’s quick fire challenge revolved around three XXX brand (no need to further the brand) products that fine-dining chefs would NEVER use.

    I recently rewatched much of last season, and it seems frankly more authentic (whatever that means in today’s world of “reality” tv). The Chefs were given more freedom to show their skills and, especially towards the end, were putting out food that I’d want to eat. After tonight’s fiasco of an episode, I’m just waiting for Cliff or Ilan to remind Tom Collichio at the judges table that “It’s called ‘Top Chef’ — not ‘Top Spokesperson’ (or waiter)”.

  2. Well said AG (but did you really have to bring Bourdain into it??)

    I thought I could actually sense, through the cathode tube array of TV magneto-ethers, the various Top Chef contestants cringe at the sheer product-placement-sell-out vibe of that quick challenge. Jesus Christ, what is this world coming to. Can’t we cook (and watch cooking) in peace? Does every nano-second of broadcast “reality” need to be chock full-o-ads? It’s reprehensible, at best.

    From beyond the light spectrum,

    Zeep

  3. I too was shocked at the product placement in the show. The quickfire challenges are terrible…kraft products, vending machine food.

    I was disappointed in all of the chefs last night. Here is your big chance to shine. You can make and serve whatever you want and you come up with a fancy burger and some linguini and mushrooms? Here is where Marcel should have been pumping out his foams. Speaking of Marcel, Ilan has got to get over his trying to mock Marcel. It cost him in the quickfire and really it just makes him look like an ass. Sam’s assertion that if Wylie Dufresne or Super Mario came up with watermelon gnocchi with blue cheese that it would be a hit was pretty weak.

    From the product placement to another dull (though very attractive) host this whole season has been a disappointment. Tom has not been as present as he was in the first season and I think the show suffers from it. You really aren’t getting the footage of the chefs interacting outside the kitchen…maybe a couple of minutes but nothing like before. You could sense the comraderie in the last season but this season there is none.

  4. While I appreciate the construct of having these “fine dining” chefs use common ingredients, it is quite condesening to those of us that actually have BBQ sauce and mayo in the frig. Sorry, I’m fresh out of foam and gelee in my kitchen! “Le Mayo and BBQ? Why, theeze ees ridiculous that I must work een theeze conditions!” (spoken with a sterotypical French chef snooty accent for is that not the stereotype that they are trying to deliver? That these haughty chefs are somehow above using Mayo and BBQ but won’t it be fun to watch them struggle through it and by gum, they’re gonna do it and like it if we’re going to pay the bills to keep Padma in her low cut dresses and what’s up with Gail anyway?).

    Yes, I watch this show too much. Can you tell?

  5. ah, yes, this reminds me of Rocco di Spirito’s placement-paved slide into infamy… if the producers are not careful, audiences will start losing interest (although so far this season’s ratings are higher)like, say, with Queer Eye. don’t shove product down our throats.

    it makes me miss Hell’s Kitchen.

    and, christ, get a host with some spunk, some life in them.

    by the way, scott, you’d be surprised at what lowly ingredients you might find in well-respected, serious chefs’ kitchens, including Bouley, Jean Georges, Daniel. sometimes Hellman’s is best – ever had Pearl Oyster Bar’s lobster roll?

  6. they gotta make money right? as far as the vending machines, it just seems like it’s good tv. 1. it throws the contestants off guard. 2. levels the playing field. anyway, supposedly there’s a fine line between just enough product placement that we won’t notice, and way too much. i just wonder where that line would be… plus when it comes down to it, the kind of people who read food blogs and tivos top chef would watch as long as there’s a semblance of food competition (unless a better show comes along).

  7. Along with the egregious and just plain annoying product placement, they’d do well to eliminate the egregious and just plain annoying Gail. That chick is a whiny, ugly ball of bitchiness, and adds NOTHING to the show. Not to say that Padma’s not bitchy or whiny (she slurs her words like she’s pumped full of morphine and she’s pretty much a robot), but Gail has never said one positive thing about anyone without a backhanded insult. She’s useless and irritating. She deserves to wake up one day and find that suddenly, she’s a line cook in the grossest diner ever, and has to wash dishes and eat watermelon with bleu cheese for the rest of her life.

  8. The backlash against Gail is confusing, especially as concerns her looks. Is Tom Colicchio any more or less qualified to host because he is puffy and bald? Gail has a job to do, and knows food inside and out.

  9. I gotta believe that Gail is on point. Esp, since we can’t taste it.

    I do agree with feedme. While Padma is slightly less robotic than Mrs. Billy Joel, a Stepford wife is a Stepford wife.

    Elia is teh hotness tho. *sigh*

  10. If someone could take pity and point me in the right direction to find the square wine glasses my friend sees while the Top Chef credits are rolling ? He’s been searching for a while and you guys seem very knowledgeable about this show..any suggestions? Finding them would upgrade me to supergirl status…. :))

  11. This season of Top Chef is a complete disappointment to me. Not only do I not have a favorite chef, I can barely tell them apart. The challenges aren’t interesting, and the chefs seem to fall down on every challenge. Is it time for Project Runway yet?

  12. The thing about the product placement is that without it, the show wouldn’t be made. Per the reports from those involved, NBC/Universal, which owns Bravo, is making all of these competition shows (Project Runway, Top Chef, Top Designer) on the cheap. There are numerous reports about how this relates to Project Runway (not paying the models, going cheap in the contract negotiation with Tim Gunn who is still unsigned for the next season) and there’s no reason to believe that they’re not similarly skinflinty with Top Chef. It sucks to be constantly advertised at, but it’s the cost of having this show on this network, and no one else (including Food Network) was interested.

    That said, I’m still trying to figure out how a couple of these jackasses have made it as far as they have while others are gone, and I’m kind of over it. I’m only watching half-heartedly now, and in the midst of doing other things, so I may be less sensitive to the intensity of the product placement.

  13. I miss ‘Cooking Under Fire’ with Ming Tsai on PBS. They should have done a second season. As far as Top Chef, last season was oooooh so much better. These chefs are not nearly as skilled as they should be.

  14. If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were trying to pull in a lot of search engine hits!?

    But alas, I do know better, and couldn’t agree with you more. Although I would think that the LOSER would be forced to eat at the Olive Garden!

  15. I disagree with Marriel, I think that with the exception of Mikey lasting as long as he did, the people that I thought would and should be there are still standing. I think most people figured that Cliff and Sam would be there at the end and Ilan Marcel and Elia are all pretty solid. People hate Marcel and mock his foams but you don’t get a job as a Master Cook at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion by being a crappy chef. He obvioulsy has skills, he is just stubborn and egotistical.

  16. I just want to see Anthony Bourdain in the Victoria’s Secret lingerie…holding the bologna, of course. But that’s just my wet dream.

  17. I’d like a PADMA Sammich – OOOH!

    Tom COLICKIO needs to spend more time in that overpriced steak farce craftsteak than pushing aspiring chefs to strut their stuff w kraft mayo. any self respecting Fukhed knows that Hellmann’s REAL Mayo is where its at…..

  18. I actually enjoyed the beginning of the season, but it has become so petty and contrived…and the contestants need to give Marcel a break…Betty’s behavior could be just as nasty (and it is a miracle she lasted, or even qualified; the stuff she put together was disastrous), and Sam and Cliff have shown themselves to be major prima donnas as of late…Cliff in particular needs to be knocked down a peg or two. He has acted in the past few episodes as if his you know what doesn’t stink, yet his performance has been less than illustrious.

    When does American Idol begin???

  19. This is my first season watching Top Chef. I met (and blogged about) Betty and her restaurant GRUB last summer so that is what got me interested in the show in the first place. I admit I’m addicted to the show and although I get sick of the product placement, I understand that’s the way advertising will now be done. TiVo has made sure of that. But I digress…

    I thought I was the only one wondering why Padma sounds like she has something stashed in her cheeks when she talks. Gail does appear to know her stuff, I just wish she’d not be SO negative. I do like Chef Tom Colicchio though. As for the chefs themselves, I like Elia. She is surprisingly mature for someone SO young, and she’s quite talented. Marcel is also a sharp young talent and he’s bold, which I respect.

    I am liking Ilan and Cliff less and less for some reason that I can’t really put my finger on. I still respect Sam and think he has a good shot to win. My prediction for final three will be Sam, Marcel and Elia.

  20. We are really disappointed in this years show and have even stopped watching. When we left , we were half expecting the show to ask the chefs to make a 20 course meal for 50 from vending machines with thier hands tied . It seems to be more about cattle proding the the chefs into melt down than about food.

  21. this years program has revealed the disfunctional personalities of the chefs.most of the food we would never order;anyway as its just unappealing.whats really disturbing is the fighting and i think Tom & Gail should have stepped in much earlier and made stronger sanctions for their totally unprofessional behavior. particularly towards Marcel;ending in acompletely unprovoked and dispicable assault and battery. at which point all the contestants did not immediately get cliff to stop his criminal behavior. he belongs in jail not a kitchen; and his behavior will have concequences on his career.but back to the kitchen; pretty lackluster stuff.liver and chocolate? id fire that guy.didnt clean the table and i have a olive pit?id fire that guy.and the head shaving?i just dont get it….

    franklyn

  22. The Cliff thing was stupid, not quite criminal. Chicken liver inside of a chocolate truffle is criminal. I doubt if Cliff’s lack of judgment will have a negative impact on his career because most restaurateurs don’t care if their chef is nuts–as long as the food is great! Plus Marcel is uber-annoying!

  23. I think Sam is gonna win, he should, Elia is a good cook, she just doesn’t have everything needed to be a leader.

    Come on!!! The show is not bad!!!

  24. Cliff Crook’s behavior was totally inexcusable. It was amazing to see Cliff managed to abdicate responsibility by characterizing it as a prank that “took on a life of its’ own”, as if he hadn’t made a conscious decision to act on his hostility towards Marcel. Cliff said: “ I shouldn’t have touched Marcel.” He didn’t “touch” Marcel, he attacked him. The aggression I witnessed was extremely disturbing, to see a man of Cliff’s size pressing Marcel’s face into the floor. As Marcel was being attacked, it couldn’t have been clear to him that Cliff did not intend to become even more violent.

    But even more appalling than Cliff’s behavior is how other cast members and producers have basically responded very empathetically towards him. Gail Simmons patted him on the back and felt compelled to remind the viewers what a talented chef he is. The consensus of opinion seems to be that it’s a real shame that his prank got the best of him, again as if he had no control over his actions. Despite expelling him from the competition, no one seems to be taking him to task for his self-serving explanation or acknowledging the gravity of what took place.

    What the producers of Top Chef allow to take place is appalling. In another episode, contestant Frank Terzolzi threatened to mess up Marcel’s face so bad that his mother wouldn’t recognize him. Why wasn’t Frank Terzolzi kicked off the show for threatening extreme physical violence? Permitting Terzolzi to remain after that was absolutely inexcusable. However annoying Marcel’s personality was to other cast members, he hardly deserved to be vilified as he was and certainly not threatened. He wasn’t nearly as offensive as some of the others.

    The real blame ultimately belongs to the producers and top executives of this program. Top Chef, like so many other “reality” shows, really showcases obnoxious behavior, rather than talent or professionalism. These ugly displays are the real basis of the show, providing the drama so many viewers tune in to see. Television executives are not going to risk alienating the lowest common denominator.

  25. Top Chef… Hmmmm.

    The most obnoxious show on TV. I don’t know who I can’t stand the most, the egomaniacal Chefs or the snobby judges who couldn’t cut it on the Food Network.

  26. Agree. Plus, from what I have seen of Marcel,he is the only adult among the bunch. Thought there was hope for Elia, but she joined the frat boys on the Jan 24 episode and lost her credibility. A number of the other cast members including Ilan have spewed hate and then sat back and watched the result. In case these outbursts of violence and hatred against Marcel are arranged by the Top Chef writers and the contestants don’t mean them, then I still have lost respect for them agreeing to say such things about someone else on TV. Marcel appears really talented in so many ways and it is his food I would go to a restaurant to eat.

  27. @ James, of course it started out as a prank, but when a prank results in you physically assaulting someone it’s no longer a prank. The Jock(cliff) took it too far, and the others that went along with it should have been booted off with him for encouraging him to do it.

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