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Top Chef Season 5


Reignking
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Melissa looked stoned most of the time. Glad she's gone.

Ariane is managing to play to her level of competance. As soon as they strech her she'll do something bad. And then, at last, she'll be gone.

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I like Fabio, but I don't see him lasting too much longer.  The taste of his food evidently is not up to par with his confidence level.  Too bad, though.  Instead of taking the criticism about his elimination challenge dish, he just shrugged it off saying something like, In Europe it's all about Italy vs France, then said something about Italy beating them in a sports event, therefore, this guy's comment was just to put Italy down.  What a cop out.  He's still a very likable guy.

I thought that was from the Quickfire. Also, I think he was trying to be funny by noting the Italy vs France thing; he wasn't ignoring the criticism. In fact, I think he takes criticism better than most of the contestants.

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I was just able to see the most recent episode. I can't believe that they implied that sugar was the major source of calories in desserts, and that removing it somehow made desserts diet food. I also can't believe that they allowed honey and agave nectar as substitutes, since both are close on the glycemic index and close in calories to sugar.

Face it, most adults have a 'fat-tooth' not really a sweet tooth. -How many people choose a hard candy over a chocolate bar? How well does fat-free sorbet sell compared to full-fat chocolate ice cream, cake, pastry or pie?

And, fat has a lot more calories than sugar; about 40 calories per teaspoon compared to just 16 per teaspoon for sugar. A fat-free sugary treat like hard candy or sorbet has a lot fewer calories than cheesecake or frozen custard.

And, most of my cheesecake recipes have just a couple of tablespoons of sugar in them for the whole cake. Eliminating the sugar would result in a reduction of maybe 10 calories per serving -which is nothing when that slice starts out at around 750 calories.

As I watched people grab nuts (walnuts are approx. 185 calories per ounce), mascarpone cheese (130 calories per ounce), and cream (103 calories per ounce), I wondered how those dishes could be considered 'diet food' by anyone. Sugar has 96 calories per ounce, but is a secondary ingredient to fats in many pastry recipes.

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My trifecta is Stefan, Fabio, and Top Scallop Jamie....dark horse undecided...rooting for Radhika, perhaps Leah.  Annoyed that Ariane is still there....just bugs the snot out of me.  Like an itch you can't scratch.

I felt the same way about Brian Malarkey in season 3 and Lisa in season 4. Wanted them to go but each of them lingered to the end, despite frequent trips to the chopping block. I'm not bothered by Ariane as much because she presents food that at least appears to taste good. Also, I think her frequent wins with dull food are an indicator of a weaker playing field.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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As I watched people grab nuts (walnuts are approx. 185 calories per ounce), mascarpone cheese (130 calories per ounce), and cream (103 calories per ounce), I wondered how those dishes could be considered 'diet food' by anyone. Sugar has 96 calories per ounce, but is a secondary ingredient to fats in many pastry recipes.

Yep... but the only thing they took out of the kitchen was the sugar so the rest was fair game. It's a lot easier to compensate for sugar in a dessert than fat. Despite the pretense at the challenge being about low calorie desserts, the only criteria for the judging was taste and appearance. No attempt at calculating calorie and fat content played into it. With that being the case, loading up on the fat helps distract attention from the missing sugar. So knowing that adding 2000 fat calories wouldn't count against me as long as I left out the sugar, I'd have piled it on as well.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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For all the emphasis in recent seasons about making certain that when a chef calls something paella, it had better be paella with a crust, this quickfire seemed oddly lacking in standards.

I recognize that they had to do something to satisfy the sponsor, but this was a mess.

They had 45 minutes, which is a long time by quickfire standards. I would have been happier if the challenge was to make a satisfying dessert for 200 calories, without sugar.

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For all the emphasis in recent seasons about making certain that when a chef calls something paella, it had better be paella with a crust, this quickfire seemed oddly lacking in standards.

I'm with you on that one. Oh well, it was still an interesting episode compared to some this season. We got a look into what the contestants will do when they can do whatever they want... for better or worse.

I'm undecided on the new judge at this point. I was fine with his style, I'd much rather someone be brutally honest than condescending when critiquing me, and one episode really isn't enough to see what he's about. I'm sure he was prompted to come in with guns blazing for his first appearance.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It was odd that so many people stumbled in the main challenge, it was so similar to what has been the final challenge of most seasons, that you'd think they'd have been dreaming of this moment from the time they first auditioned.

Sure, there might be minor roadblocks, like the market not carrying an ingredient, but some of these people had really basic problems with conceptualizing their dishes...

I just watch the show, but I have procedure/timeline for two complete 5-course meals memorized and ready to go.

The new judge seems to have a penchant for movie references.

I thought it was kind of interesting when the table disagreed with each other. I really wish they'd make the show longer so we could see more in-depth coverage of the cooking, and more descriptions of all the dishes.

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If I see the new catch-phrase bald Johnny on the Spot promo one more time, something along the lines of "When I see a nice slab of meat I want to have full-blown sex," I think my innards will explode.

Seriously, the catch-phrases by this Young guy are gag-inducing.

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It was odd that so many people stumbled in the main challenge, it was so similar to what has been the final challenge of most seasons, that you'd think they'd have been dreaming of this moment from the time they first auditioned.

Sure, there might be minor roadblocks, like the market not carrying an ingredient, but some of these people had really basic problems with conceptualizing their dishes...

This is why it seems like an extremely weak field this season.

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I agree with most of the above comments, Lisa and Gene both really needed to go. I think the comparison of Adrianne to Brian Malarkey is an apt one, and I think her future on the show will mirrior his: I think she will hand around, hitting singles, until the field narrows down to 5 or 6 and then she will just get outclassed by some of the other contstants.

I'm pulling for Stefan and Fabio, although I am now pessemistic about Fabio's future he seems to have fallen back since his elimination win in the second episode.

Anyone else think that they might want to encourage the chef's to cook a little more adventurously in the elimination challenge by offering some more substantial prize than a copy of the guest judge's latest cook book?

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Anyone else think that they might want to encourage the chef's to cook a little more adventurously in the elimination challenge by offering some more substantial prize than a copy of the guest judge's latest cook book?

Like Diet Dr. Pepper?

You may be on to something; people may be cooking "just well enough" to get by. They probably don't want to showcase their best dish in the beginning.

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Anyone catch Padma's reference to the guest Chef's new series on Bravo?

Here is what his website bio says:

"Jean-Christophe signed a deal in 2008 with Mentorn USA for an exclusive series for BRAVO. "Chef Academy" is a nine part series that chronicles his move to Los Angeles as he opens a cooking school. Ten chefs with varying levels of cooking ability are set to be trained by Novelli, all of whom want to improve their skills, some to a professional standard. The series will be aired on US TV in early 2009."

Could be interesting...

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Anyone else think that they might want to encourage the chef's to cook a little more adventurously in the elimination challenge by offering some more substantial prize than a copy of the guest judge's latest cook book?

Like Diet Dr. Pepper?

You may be on to something; people may be cooking "just well enough" to get by. They probably don't want to showcase their best dish in the beginning.

Hear me out on this. Mostly because this is the only place people will listen to me when I talk about game theory on Top Chef.

My experience with reality shows, and sadly I watch a number of them, is that the shows are best on the first couple of seasons before people figure out that they aren't really trying to meet the person of their dreams or start a new civilization on a tropical island. After that, people start to approach the show as a contest, and usually act based upon the most efficient strategy to get the most possible for themselves out of the experience.

If you win the quickfire (rather than finishing in second place) you get immunity or get an advantage that gives you a pretty good chance of not being the one sent home. Given that the "title of Top Chef," comes with 100,000 and that there are sixteen contestants this is worth about 6,000. It's worth less in the begining and more towards the end, but 6,000 is about the median value. So you cook to win, rather than just finish in the middle of the pack.

If you win the elimination (rather than finish second) you get a copy of Padma's book. This is worth 24.99. So most folks, even later in the game, seem not to take risks in the elimination round.

I only mention this because I noticed Colicchio and some of the other judges complaining about the chefs not cooking to win. I don't think the show would be hurt if the winners of the elimination consistently won a somewhat valuable prize, like the trip to Italy they gave away or the gas grill.

Thoughts? Other folks feel it would hurt the show somehow?

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Hear me out on this.  Mostly because this is the only place people will listen to me when I talk about game theory on Top Chef.

My experience with reality shows, and sadly I watch a number of them, is that the shows are best on the first couple of seasons before people figure out that they aren't really trying to meet the person of their dreams or start a new civilization on a tropical island.  After that, people start to approach the show as a contest, and usually act based upon the most efficient strategy to get the most possible for themselves out of the experience.

If you win the quickfire (rather than finishing in second place) you get immunity or get an advantage that gives you a pretty good chance of not being the one sent home.  Given that the "title of Top Chef," comes with 100,000 and that there are sixteen contestants this is worth about 6,000.  It's worth less in the begining and more towards the end, but 6,000 is about the median value.  So you cook to win, rather than just finish in the middle of the pack.

If you win the elimination (rather than finish second) you get a copy of Padma's book.  This is worth 24.99.  So most folks, even later in the game, seem not to take risks in the elimination round. 

I only mention this because I noticed Colicchio and some of the other judges complaining about the chefs not cooking to win.  I don't think the show would be hurt if the winners of the elimination consistently won a somewhat valuable prize, like the trip to Italy they gave away or the gas grill.

Thoughts?  Other folks feel it would hurt the show somehow?

I see some of these points, but I still think this group just isn't all that talented this season. This is probably due to "casting" decisions by the producers to try to encourage conflict, drama and to develop more interesting inter-personal dynamics. They don't seem to be looking for the most highly skilled chefs to compete and unfortunately (for the producers) there isn't any interesting drama this season, so far.

The one thing the contestants can never know is how well any other contestant is going to perform. That is the essence of competition and should be enough motivation to the contestants to try to blow the judges away every single time.

I just can't believe, based on what I've seen, that any of them can possibly feel confident enough in their skills to "hold back" until the end. I don't think risk aversion is the issue; I just don't think this group can live up to the standards set by their predecessors.

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I only mention this because I noticed Colicchio and some of the other judges complaining about the chefs not cooking to win. I don't think the show would be hurt if the winners of the elimination consistently won a somewhat valuable prize, like the trip to Italy they gave away or the gas grill.

Thoughts? Other folks feel it would hurt the show somehow?

I agree with you and I could have sworn they gave out better EC prizes in past seasons, although they were sometimes inconsistent episode to episode.

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I agree that playing to avoid elimination is the best strategy. I would argue that a win is worth much more that $100K in terms of opportunities, and that making it to the top 3 is also worth a lot. Even coming in fourth has done well for Lee Ann Wong. People who last a while also get brought back for more specials and so on. If I were a contestant, almost no individual prize would be worth risking too much and getting booted early on. I think there have been a few prizes like getting to do a demo or otherwise cook with someone famous or appear at an event? Maybe some of those would be tempting but they announce them all after the competition, no?

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Being a DC girl, I was initially rooting for Carla but my money is on her to get the boot, and soon. I think her free-spirited, goofy but lovable routine is about to bite the dust. I would have thought that being a caterer would be an advantage in that you are always working under pressure and often thrown curveballs, but not in her case I guess. Perhaps if one is constantly working with a tried and true set menu for their clients, creativity may tend to suffer. Of course I'm sure there are many innovative caterers out there, but I just wonder if what should have been an advantage has actually been a liability for her.

What no one has yet mentioned is that how come we keep seeing the same main ingredients? It's always chicken or beef filet or tuna or, for goodness' sake, SCALLOPS, SCALLOPS, SCALLOPS. I really don't want to see them cooking stuff that I've cooked at home. How about some offal or live seafood? I'd love to see them tackle a live octopus like they did on Iron Chef Japan!

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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While I think Carla seems like a good and fun person, you can't tell me part of the reason they cast her isn't because she has wonderfully television-friendly cartoon eyes.

Oh well, yes there's that too and her oingy-boingy curly hair! :laugh:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Caterers don't win these things.

It is weird how repetitive they are with the ingredients, but honestly, if their WF is like the ones in Chicago they may feel like sticking to something they know is going to be good. Not a great selection there.

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I too am happy Melissa and Gene got the boot. I had given Gene some props early on for rigging up that grill (but then again, didn't Michael Symon do something similar on the Next Iron Chef?), but the daikon noodles with tomato and basil sounded disgusting even before they were paired with over-cooked fish.

I am conflicted about Ariane - I think some of her wins have been cheap and she doesn't seem very creative or inspired overall, but her skate dish was the only one that I'm curious about.

If caterers don't win, doesn't that mean Stefan is without hope as well? I think he's going to be in the finals, myself.

Fabio has disappointed of late, but the judges did say that his pasta dish would have been perfect if he'd left off the lamb. Hopefully, he'll learn from that and make a comeback.

Looks like next week, we get a visit from Hung.....I wonder how he and Toby would've gotten along? :laugh:

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