Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Top Chef loses top talent
We're not spoiling the episode when we tell you Dallas chef Josh is safe.
Raise your hand if your favorite person on a reality TV show has been voted off long before he or she should have left.
You’re not going to like this week’s episode of Top Chef.
In the infamous "Restaurant Wars" installment, the men vs. the women created a restaurant concept, menu, and design in 48 hours. It’s a make or break moment for some chefs, and many Restaurant Wars episodes on Top Chef are riddled with drama. This season’s iteration was low on commotion, other than a few drummed-up storylines that, thankfully, didn't overshadow the food.
Team leader Kristen Kish and her three chefs created a French restaurant called Atelier Kwan – “a twisted version of a classic French restaurant,” as Brooke Williamson explained to the judges after she assumed front-of-the-house duties.
The men were led by Sheldon Simeon, who took a Filipino spin on his restaurant called Urbano, which certainly suited Sheldon’s abilities and was a stretch for his sidekicks, Stefan Richter and Josh Valentine (of Dallas restaurant FT33).
Two bits of drama sustained a relatively tame show:
1. Josie Smith-Malave is slow and annoying. Kristen asked her several times to start the bouillabaisse, which was great foreshadowing to what you guessed would happen: It wasn’t finished early enough, and the team had to cut corners when the clock ran out and it was time to serve.
2. Stefan assumed front-of-the-house duties but is in fact a curt, cranky server who forgot to introduce an entire dish to the judges, leaving them to guess what it was they were eating. (It was miki, made by Sheldon, which was later deemed delicious.)
Both camps made good food, said head judge Tom Colicchio, but some of the items on Kristen’s menu didn’t shine – a surprise, given her total domination of previous challenges. Sheldon’s concept was picked as the winning restaurant, leaving him and his two chefs safe. Stefan was very lucky.
That meant someone from Kristen's team would go home. Brooke and Lizzie Binder were quickly declared safe, and it seemed all but certain that Josie get the ax for her bouillabaisse with overcooked halibut. However, the judges really took issue with the sauce, which Kristen handled after Josie took far too long with her dish.
In an serious twist, Kristen was blamed for the shortcomings in Josie’s dish since the menu was her concept. Brooke nailed Kristen’s greatest weakness: “… She’s not used to running the whole show.” Kristen was a master at winning single-dish challenges, but she's never opened her own restaurant in the real world, and Restaurant Wars was a cruel place to start.
Kristen gracefully accepted the news. It was us at home who took it a little harder.
Our two cents: With Kristen gone, there isn’t a superstar chef left. Our money’s on Brooke.