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Top Chef : Season 8 - All Stars


KristiB50
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Yep, I buy it completely. Lemme see if I can find one of our past discussions on it, hang on...

ETA: Here is one from last season.

I tend to agree. I know several people seem to think that the producers have a hand in who gets eliminated, but I think past decisions suggest that this is not the case (the Kenny/Angelo situation being the most obvious).

We were watching last night and I said to the spouse that I believed that I'd read somewhere that past performance can only come into play in situations of a tie that needed to be broken, or that the producers can help with decisions in the same way, and I thought last night might be one of those times, given that they all seemed equal in this challenge.

As much as I thought it would have been fair to eliminate Tiffany because she had been on the bottom several times recently, and she has been showing less interesting food overall, I do think it's probably better that they chose to allow 5 people to go to the finals, because it seemed like everyone's food was just that good. I'm not jaded enough, or perhaps savvy enough, to think otherwise, I suppose.

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I think that keeping all five was a clever strategic decision for TC as a whole: it is an interesting twist that doesn't harm the competition, and since this is "All Stars" I could see them wanting to encourage the notion going into the finals that all of these people really deserve to be there. I'd be very curious to know if this was the plan all along, or if it actually did come to pass at Judge's table that night.

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I think that keeping all five was a clever strategic decision for TC as a whole: it is an interesting twist that doesn't harm the competition, and since this is "All Stars" I could see them wanting to encourage the notion going into the finals that all of these people really deserve to be there. I'd be very curious to know if this was the plan all along, or if it actually did come to pass at Judge's table that night.

Based on what I've seen, keeping all of them was the correct decision. Outside of finales, I don't think I've seen many episodes where someone didn't put a foot wrong. So I tend to think that it couldn't have been planned. Regardless of intent, someone could've choked in many different ways.

Conversely, for all the evil editing elves, I think the result actually played against the producer's goals. A happy ending doesn't really stoke any flames. Even Bourdain's blog post is unusually brief. Despite the sillyness of the quickfire, we got to see the chefs do what they do with few constraints (although Mike's return to the Italian kitchen is worthy of note in its own way). They all did well, we saw good food, and it left us, well, without much to talk about.

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I don't think keeping all five was planned. On her Bravo blog and in an EW interview, Gail refers to arguing with the producers to keep everyone, and that it took over an hour until they allowed it. Tom also makes reference to this. I don't think they would both make this up after the fact just to create the pretense that it was unplanned.

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The thing is, there was something fishy about this challenge. Usually challenges have that wacky twist, short time frame, surprise puppets or a blindfold. In this episode, not including the quick fire oc, nobody was crazy behind before their dish went out, everyone knew what they wanted to cook... They were given the time to plan and make perfect whatever went on the plate.

I often wonder if all the dishes in other challenges would be this good if people didn't have the stress, the time factor or whatever. And many do have conceptual issues, but for the ones where execution is the main flaw? These are talented trained professionals. They should be able to do this kind of fabulous thing all the time. Maybe.

On the one hand, I realize that I am vaguely and not at all clearly proposing a tripple-secret-agent type conspiracy, which (concept wise) i wouldn't necessarily put past some TV producers. But I cannot think of another episode where so much food went so right. On the other hand, statistically speaking, this day was bound to come. On the other hand, everything was good?

On my fourth hand, I realize that really, I am just bitter because I wanted to be at that table. They need to invent a TV with sensory output.

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And here I thought we were actually going to make it through one season without someone accusing the producers of cooking the books.

I implied much the same about the undue influence of the producers several years ago in one of these threads, when I thought the show was similar in philosophy to the Next Food Network Star with its broader criteria for winning. Tom said a few seasons ago in an article from somewhere which I apologize I can't find that the disclaimer was there to allow the producers to participate if necessary to resolve any issues that might arise at judges table. His example was the Marcel head shaving incident, where Tom wanted to send several chefs home for their participation in it, but after discussions with the producers did not do so. There was a restaurant wars do-over in Miami, and this weeks no loser decision which also surely involved producer input. I think its reasonable to have a clause that allows the producers to be involved in changes in circumstances and on the fly decision making when putting together a season of TV. I've seen nothing since then that would lead me to believe that contestants are advancing who should not only becuase the producers told Tom, "Hey, you know what would be some good TV?...."

Edited by Dignan (log)
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Pondering the evil magical elves. I wonder if they conjured up the distant relation of Mike and what's her name.

Of all the conspiracy theories, surely this is the most absurd. Most genealogical data is freely researchable by anyone. If you're going to make something up, don't do it in a field where it can be so easily disproven.

I thought it very coincidental that the judges couldn’t come up with a loser on family night even though it all did look pretty good.

By my count, this is the third time on Top Chef that they decided to send no one home, so there is a precedent (albeit rare). If the food looked that good, maybe it was.

Tho I was a little peeved how much praise Isabella received for that fregin simplistic gnocchi.

Bear in mind that Colicchio is the High Priest of cooking simple things well. Whether or not you agree with that philosophy, it's no surprise that it would dominate a show on which he is head judge.

The thing with a "simple" dish like that, is you really can't tell how good it is on a TV screen. On TV, good gnocchi and bad gnocchi look about the same. But if you've ordered much gnocchi, you'll know that plenty of restaurants screw it up. It's not an easy dish to get right.

Btw, has it been discussed that the final credits state (at almost subliminal message speed) that challenge winners and losers are chosen by the judges in conjunction with the producers?

It's worth noting that there have been A LOT of elimination decisions this season that the producers surely couldn't have been happy with. Jennifer Carroll was a favorite with many of the fans, and she was sent home in Week 2. Fabio and Angelo got sent home much earlier than a lot of people expected. I think Spike is a mediocre chef, but there's no question he adds to the drama, and yet he went home in Week 4.

If the producers had been determined to influence the proceedings, there are a lot of things that could have gone differently.

The thing is, there was something fishy about this challenge. Usually challenges have that wacky twist, short time frame, surprise puppets or a blindfold. In this episode, not including the quick fire oc, nobody was crazy behind before their dish went out, everyone knew what they wanted to cook... They were given the time to plan and make perfect whatever went on the plate.

Although most challenges have a twist, sometimes they really DO just let the chefs cook; that tends to happen later in the season. These are all Top Chef veterans, who know by now how to manage these challenges. And they were cooking food from their "family heritage," which presumably they're amply familiar with. So it doesn't surprise me that we had a challenge without any obvious screw-ups.

I often wonder if all the dishes in other challenges would be this good if people didn't have the stress, the time factor or whatever. And many do have conceptual issues, but for the ones where execution is the main flaw? These are talented trained professionals. They should be able to do this kind of fabulous thing all the time.

Although they are all trained professionals, most of the challenges force them out of their comfort zone, often with absurd constraints you'd never find in real life. Any dish you eat in a restaurant is likely to have been tested many times before it is ever served to a paying customer, and restaurant chefs don't have to adhere strictly to a countdown clock. I mean, even on Top Chef Masters, some pretty impressive chefs have fallen to pieces when confronted with a contrived challenge.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I guess that all makes sense. (thanks oakapple!) I'd be curious to know when were the more lenient challenges, when they were in the season, etc. Also...

By my count, this is the third time on Top Chef that they decided to send no one home, so there is a precedent (albeit rare).

Could anyone tell me when were the other two times? Or even challenges where most of the contestants did very well, even if someone did get sent home. I can't remember them.

Edited by rebecca (log)
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I guess that all makes sense. (thanks oakapple!) I'd be curious to know when were the more lenient challenges, when they were in the season, etc.

Lenient isn't the word I'd use, only that it was relatively gimmick-free. I don't have time to look up all of the past challenges, but there are usually at least one or two per season that are reasonably straightforward.

By my count, this is the third time on Top Chef that they decided to send no one home, so there is a precedent (albeit rare).

Could anyone tell me when were the other two times?

The first time was in Season 3 (Miami). After the Restaurant Wars episode, the judges couldn't pick a loser, and they actually repeated the identical challenge the following week.

The second time was in Season 5 (New York). The chefs had to make a dish suggested by one of the 12 days of Christmas. But two of the chefs lost their prep work due to a refrigerator malfunction, which created an uneven playing field. The judges felt most of the dishes were underwhelming, but didn't want to pick a loser.

Or even challenges where most of the contestants did very well, even if someone did get sent home. I can't remember them.

It's a tough line to draw: there have certainly been times when the eliminated chef seemed to have made only a relatively small technical error.

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Wikipedia has an article for each season, and they are quite detailed. There's info on the challenges and the outcomes, etc.

I was just looking at this as you posted this. Then I hit my back button and lost my notes in the quick reply. But there have been three prior cases of no one being eliminated. One was the restaurant wars tie, another involved refrigeration failures, and the other was a calorie team challenge where there were allegations of cheating levied against both camps, so all contestents continued on 'on probation'.

But it doesn't look like, other than perhaps finales, that there's been a previous case of no one being eliminated because of the lack of any flaws.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, fine. The elimination was warranted. But I am still very sad about it.

Also, what is going on with Blais? All stressed up and nowhere to go? He made a comment, something like "I hate everything I cook." I am starting to be worried. Not that it is at all helpable, but he has too many big things going on in his life right now... probably isn't in the best mindset.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Okay, fine. The elimination was warranted. But I am still very sad about it.

I feel the same way. It was totally warranted but I'm still saddened. I knew the minute I saw the raw center on Gail's plate (or even the prior shot of the raw pork) that Carla was going home.

OT, I don't think Hosea will ever do anything that will convince me he deserved the title of "Top Chef." Nothing. Ever.

And that plate of lamb curry looked like throw-up to me. Just a big huge regurgitation on the plate and one of the most unappetizing plates I've seen in a long while on Top Chef. Not to mention, it seemed like a combination of ingredients and/or flavours that really didn't seem to go well together. Lamb, goat cheese, mint, red chili broth, olives, rosemary.... Too much. Maybe someone like Mike Voltaggio or Blais could pull off such a list and combination of ingredients but not Hosea (in my opinion). Carla's under-cooked rice really saved him.

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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Well, that episode didn't go the way I thought it would.... Mike Isabella's "greasy" fish (with butter that they repeatedly said "didn't go") won out over Blais' cleverly creative dish that they thought was delicious but included one serving of slightly undercooked lobster? Hm.

I think that, at this point in the competition, they should show a bit more of the judges' deliberations. Because I really don't understand the decision, especially after having read Tom C's blog. There, he commented on Mike Isabella's savory pineapple but, at the table, only Gail seemed very enthused about it. *He* seemed utterly nonchalent and, perhaps, even slightly unconvinced. In the blog, there was nothing about the butter or greasiness of Mike's fish, only further comments on the "mysterious" smoky flavour imbued by the banana leaf.

On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

Edited by Kafka Zola (log)

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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I thought I had landed on a "Survivor" episode by accident.

Ha - so did I!! Rewatched the episode in it's entirety when it repeated at in the next hour to catch what I missed. While I have been fed up with the poor sportsmanship the "boys" have been showing thruout the season when they don't win, I will give them kudos for practicing with conch in anticipation of the location.

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On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

As ridiculous as they are, the “challenges” are an integral part of TC. And last night’s was ridiculous: “Go catch some conch we planted in the ocean for you!”

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Last week, I happened to catch the last bit of the previous weeks re-aired episode and noticed they re-edited the Padma/Blais exchange. Makes you wonder just how much they are messing with the contestants that doesn't make it to air?

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

As ridiculous as they are, the “challenges” are an integral part of TC.

Of course they are. My point was that *at this point in the competition,* I'd prefer for there not to be such ridiculous limitations. We saw how the chefs had a chance to excel and show the food they're capable of in the "Personal History" challenges. There, the chefs were essentially left alone to cook the food that best showcased their talents, without any crazy twist. I'd like to see more of that given the title at hand.

"There are dogs, and then there are German Shepherds.... "- Unknown

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Last week, I happened to catch the last bit of the previous weeks re-aired episode and noticed they re-edited the Padma/Blais exchange. Makes you wonder just how much they are messing with the contestants that doesn't make it to air?

I expect you could re-edit each episode and tell a different story. As far as this re-edit for the re-air, sometimes the first run of an episode goes an hour and 15 minutes, but the re-airs are edited back down to an hour to make them more schedule friendly. That's a moment they should have kept though.

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On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

Yeah, I miss that good ole day (singular) in Season 1 where two chefs were asked to serve "the best meal of their life." No strings, no twists, no sharing meal times... If the Wikipedia article is to be believed, then that is what this seasons two finalists are in for. (Also, remember when there weren't five of them?) I really really hope the last challenge is just that simple.

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On a separate note, at this point in the competition, I wish they would just let the chefs cook their food without all these damn twists. Swimming for your conch, cooking on a beach, minimal equipment, gusty winds and iffy flames? Enough already.

As ridiculous as they are, the “challenges” are an integral part of TC.

Of course they are. My point was that *at this point in the competition,* I'd prefer for there not to be such ridiculous limitations. We saw how the chefs had a chance to excel and show the food they're capable of in the "Personal History" challenges. There, the chefs were essentially left alone to cook the food that best showcased their talents, without any crazy twist. I'd like to see more of that given the title at hand.

So you want a show more like Iron Chef? Might I suggest Iron Chef?

TC is reality tv and the chefs know what they're getting into when they sign up for it. It's fine the way it is. Hell, I'd say it even manages to exceed the exceedingly low quality standards set for every other program on Bravo.

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Well, that episode didn't go the way I thought it would.... Mike Isabella's "greasy" fish (with butter that they repeatedly said "didn't go") won out over Blais' cleverly creative dish that they thought was delicious but included one serving of slightly undercooked lobster? Hm.

I think that, at this point in the competition, they should show a bit more of the judges' deliberations. Because I really don't understand the decision, especially after having read Tom C's blog. There, he commented on Mike Isabella's savory pineapple but, at the table, only Gail seemed very enthused about it. *He* seemed utterly nonchalent and, perhaps, even slightly unconvinced. In the blog, there was nothing about the butter or greasiness of Mike's fish, only further comments on the "mysterious" smoky flavour imbued by the banana leaf.

It seems to me that "slightly undercooked" is ok where it involves Blais. In other shows, people have gone home for food that should not be served; be it undercooked pork, undercooked rice, undercooked potatoes, whatever.

But they (the "judges")didn't want to go so far as to give a win to a chef serving something "undercooked," so Isabella got the W.

I also think it's fairly obvious they want Blais in the final. He should be one big bag of twitches by then.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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