Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top Chef: The Story of the Martyr of Restaurant Wars



I know Top Chef Restaurant Wars aired on Wednesday and today is Saturday, but hey I DVR everything and watch it at least two days later, so I'm just now posting. I know all the hoopla surrounding the elimination has died down, but since I just watched it it's time I spouted my highly volatile thoughts! 

If you've read any of my posts you know my love for the Emmy Nominated Top Chef. (I don't only watch garbage shows like the Housewives!) I love that the show truly concentrates on food, rather than the debauchery of the contestants. (Maybe a little debauchery, but not like network sponsored alcohol parties which lead to all things bad. Ahem, The Real World. It's been 20 years, enough with that show.)  They did go a little off track in season five by filming the tete-a-tete between Hosea and Leah, but I think they realized the show did not pick up in ratings over that romance if anything it lost a little credibility  but all was brought back with Stefan's lollipop concoction in the finale. 

And if you're wondering, no I don't plan to write about Top Chef Recaps, there are enough blogs that have that covered, but after watching Wednesdays episode I need to express my thoughts regarding the elimination heard round the world. 

In respect of those who haven't watched the episode, click below to take you to my thoughts.

Top Chef restaurant wars is is like hazing. The judges throw on you the harshest situations to produce a restaurant in 24 hours and if you survive, better yet if you get a compliment from a judge, you've made it in the culinary world. And if you are acting executive chef or front of the house hold on to your aprons because one olive pit left on the table from a previous diner, making Laksa for Tony Bourdain that tastes like wood chips or attempt to serve watermelon gnocchi you're going home. (Gail still claims that to be the worst dish she's had on Top Chef). Seriously, people rarely do well in Restaurant Wars and even if a team does win it's not necessarily that they were good, it was like picking a President, trying to weed out the lesser of the two evils.

This season of Restaurant Wars was not different. You had Sheldon's Filipino restaurant versus Kristen's nouveau French Cuisine. At first you think Sheldon's done for since Stefan and Oklahoma have never even eaten Filipino food. (Oklahoma probably couldn't even decipher the Philippinnes from Indonesia!) But then Kristen has Josie on her team and your thinking that she's going to be dead weight, and surprise surprise she was.





Josie was usual Josie. Loud mouthed, laughing, acting like the class clown in school. Has all the ego, but unlike the Beyonce song  she can't back it up. As she did in every challenge she talked more game than she brought. She was boisterous and never had enough time to get her work done.

It all started when she didn't make the broth for the bouillabaisse on the prep day but instead waited for the actual service day. You could see Kristen cringe, but rather than start an argument with the highly flammable Josie, she just trusted her and obviously this is what she went home for.

I was extremely surprised that at judges table Kristen never threw Josie under the proverbial Top Chef bus. It's a staple act at the judges' table!  Josie should have had track marks all over her face and possibly a broken limb! The dish went wrong because of her. Granted, Kristen did plate the dish and the judges wanted more broth, and asked where the gel was, but Kristen said not to use it since the broth did not have enough time to cool since Josie didn't make it the day before! Kristen was just trying to fix Josie's botched job (According to Emeril some of the fish was overcooked and the scallops were undercooked) and that is what she went home for. 

And what did Josie do? Just cry. Cried because she was told how to plate the dish and thinks she's going home for following the commands of Kristen. And what happened? Kristen went home. Kristen. Kristen!. KRISTEN!! What? But how?

So it begs the question on what grounds are cheftestants eliminated during Restaurant Wars? It's all so complicated. If a dish is bad it falls on the person who made that dish, no? But then the executive chef is the one that set the tone of the restaurant so they are ultimately responsible. But if that's the case then as long as you are not executive chef you are safe? Bravo is claiming this to being the biggest upset since season three where Tre was sent home for CJ's bad lobster dish. But according to judges Tre was executive chef and CJ's bad food fell back on him, similarly to Josie's bad food falling back on Kristen.

Now, Josie has needed to go home since the beginning but I don't think that is the reason she should go home on restaurant wars, every challenge is set apart from another so essentially you start fresh every day. But I still believe she deserved to go home over Kristen.

Dale Talde, former cheftestant and bartender on Watch What Happens Live Wednesday night said it best. "She was reaching." Kristen was reaching too hard for a menu which wasn't executed properly. From what she was set out to do, it didn't come across in her food. But then again, she didn't make the food. but I guess it is her job to ensure the food is carried out as she envisioned it, but then only she would be responsible? This is like the chicken and egg argument! The dish she made also didn't receive high remarks either, and thus she put that comforter and the extra, fluffy pillows on her bed and it's bedtime. 

When the show ended I was completely appalled with the judges' decision, but when Padma explained on WWHL that she would much rather eat Kristen's food as opposed to Josie's and that Kristen went home because she never spoke up to Josie to tell her shut up and get to work, it made a little more sense to me. (Ok, maybe not in those words.)  She also mentioned that she didn't have to speak badly about Josie because it was nothing they couldn't figure out on their own.

And thus it appears that Josie is blatantly not Top Chef material and her doom is inevitably around the corner. Yay! But that's neither here nor there.

Ultimately, I think the judges should better explain to the viewers how they are judging each competition. Normally, this is well explained, but with Restaurant Wars it's all  blurry and we never get to see the full deliberation of the judges, which infuriates me! I wish they had an after show of the all that goes on at judges table, something tells me there is a lot we are missing. We could all do without the closeups of the judges and contestants where it's complete silence and they're all looking around the room like someone tooted, and they can smell it but no one wants to change the tone and call it out. And thus we're left with no answers. 

Well, the results are in and there's no changing that Kristen went home. So lets all take a moment of silence for Kristen Kish. With 45G in her pocket and the title of the third highest-winning Top Chef contestants on Top Chef she wears her head up high and her pockets full.


Fingers crossed she beats Ceej in Top Chef Kitchen!


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