Blog of an aspiring foodie

Top Chef Ep 5 – duo of losers

Posted by beer_chris on 18-November-2006

I don't really understand what a 'room service chef' is – I'm sure Elia has been professionally trained, has been to cooking school and so has all of the fundamental skills – she can cook circles around me. But the title of room service chef gives me visions of someone whose only real professional challenge is cutting a club sandwich into equal parts. Perhaps harping on Elia is unfair. A 'salad chef' won was runner-up in the last Hell's Kitchen (although I think that show is much more produced then Top Chef). I suppose my issue with Elia is my issue with the season 2 contestants in general – there just doesn't seem to be a lot of creativity – certainly not as much as was on season 1. Where is the cutting edge food? The default response seems to be to 'survive', and so most everyone is cooking what they know – not going with the ingredients and making something really great. Sam, my previous fave, is an exception, as is Cliff and Ilan, and probably Marcel. But that's it. Michael and Carlos seem clearly overmatched, Betty and Mia seem totally focused on cooking dishes they already know no matter the challenge, and Elia, well, as I said I just don't get it.

In Season 1 there was one really massive screw up – the salt for sugar incident that cost Miguel his spot. 5 eps into season 2 and there have already been 2 mistakes that strike me as completely boneheaded. Betty trying to use Splenda in meringue was madness – and speaks volumes about a fundamental lack of knowledge about how eggs 'work' in cooking. This week's mess up – Elia forgetting (or simply not knowing) to soak kidney to remove the residual waste material. I've never cooked kidney and I knew that had to be done.

Her performance in the elimination put her in the bottom, and her and Carlos' choice to use the pomegranate concentrate instead of the fresh ingredients in the walk-in was another boneheaded move showing an utter lack of creativity. Although I agree that Marisa and Josie did poorly enough to be kicked off, I think Elia should have been sent home instead of Josie, who has some real talent.

At the bottom line, I'm glad to see Mike win – but he's still overmatched. Ilan is my new fave – not only because I think he has the best balance of solid skill and creativity of the bunch, but also because he's taking Mike with him to Miami – he is a classy, solid competitor. I like him.

Really curious about next week – looks like the producers are really going to kick the 'getting Marcel under our skin' machine into high gear. I still am giving him the benefit of the doubt – but he is no Stephen Asporino – Stephen could back up his talk with extremely solid cooking. Marcel hasn't really shown much of a flair for executing against all his talk.

– thanks Brendan for the correction on last season's Hell's Kitchen

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