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October 4, 2015

Top Chef: Show Your Craft

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 20th 2008 10:08AM
Tom Colicchio(S05E02) And as the contest resumes, the 17 chefs have now been whittled down to 15 as episode two unfolds. After watching the second installment of Top Chef New York, it's clear this is going to be a good season.

Tough competitors, great location -- and they're using it effectively -- and at least so far, realistic challenges that are testing their mettle.

Interestingly, the chefs haven't figured out that there's strength in numbers. Instead of playing it smart through this week's episode, a couple were downright suicidal in their approach. More on that after the jump.

Back in the suite, Euro-boys Stefan and Fabio have become brothers in arms. Or is the bromance more of a love story? It's hard to tell, but Stefan eyes Fabio as his main competition and they seem to have bonded over the fact that they are the two chefs with accents.

Quick fire challenge
New York delicacy was the bill of fare as the cooks were asked to create a signature hot dog. I instantly flashed back to season one when Lee Anne made a hot dog out of seafood and won the quick fire. This group played it more traditional. Even Radhika's hot dog was typical, but thanks to her Indian inspired flavoring, a clear winner. Fabio was in the running with a Mediterranean frank, again sticking to his cultural strengths. Overall, there wasn't one hot dog I would have ordered though. Still, it was great to see Stefan go down in flames, only because he's so damn cocky, and he expressed such disappointment in himself. Geez, guy, get over it. It was only a quick fire. The other shocker was seeing Jamie was in the weeds when her sausage dog had a bone in it -- ew. That's not good eats (sorry, Alton, I know you're on the other network!)

Elimination challenge
Now this was fun. The contestants were thrown in the deep end of the pool and asked to swim. They had to create a three-course new American lunch. After everyone ran around for a few minutes, the blonde surfer dude, Jeff, asserted himself, getting everybody to break down into three teams, five chefs each, for appetizer, entree and dessert.

Onto Whole Foods to shop. This is always interesting because you can see who knows what he/she is doing, and who's flailing wildly. That's Jill. She grabs ostrich eggs, which look like small white bowling balls, and decides to make quiche. Hello? Is that new American cuisine? Maybe in 1980, but now?

Even if quiche didn't seem a passe choice, I couldn't help but wonder: if I were in a competition like this, would I choose an ingredient I've never tried before? Poor Jill didn't even know how to crack open the ostrich egg when she got it back in the kitchen. Aye, carumba!

The other dead chef walking is Arianne. She chooses to do dessert -- a lemon meringue martini -- even though she says that it's not her thing. Why then did she choose that course? What, is she trying to lose?

Here comes Tom
Oh, goody. Tom comes in with a few twists. The lunch will be served at Tom's signature restaurant -- Craft. He will expedite the service. Alrighty! But, wait, that's not all. The people who'll be partaking of this lunch will be the rejected applicants for this edition of Top Chef. Snap! They are not going to be a crowd that wants to like the vittles.

The appetizers produce two finalists: Fabio's carpaccio -- with the very cool olive preparation called spherical olives -- and Jamie's cold, sweet corn soup. Not surprisingly, Fabio won. His fancy cooking of the olives reminded me of Marcel and Richard from previous seasons. That high tech cooking stuff is always impressive. Is this a glimpse of what Fabio's bringing in future episodes?

The bottom three were Hosea with the slimy crab salad, Arianne with the sickly-sweet lemon curd, and Jill's completely bland ostrich egg quiche. Under grilling from the judges, Jill had a really lame excuse. She sure didn't justify keeping her there. Even Gail said it was the lamest excuse ever on the show. Lame was the word and considering how hard it was to get into Top Chef, why on earth was she so unable to defend herself?

Overall, all three were horrible. But Arianne's dish was so bad that Padma spit it out into her napkin. That's cold.

The Verdict
The judges' decision was to send Jill home. The lesson here, use some strategy. If you're in a group of 15, with just one being sent home, you can't play is safe, but you should play it smart. That's just common sense. Jamie understood that. Cold corn soup might seem simple, but she knew what she was doing. Also Carla's apple pastry. Not a reach, but nearly a winner. Hosea should have changed his thinking when he couldn't get the crab he wanted and substituted something from a can. It nearly cost him.

Finally, I'm a little surprised Arianne survived -- and I think she was surprised, too, judging by her tears -- but if she doesn't shape up soon, she'll be a goner. She may be the oldest contestant, but her experience is not helping her. Not yet anyway.

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Spherical olives... I guess Fabio has been reading the El Bulli books. I'm curious as to how he got the solution from whole foods, mine doesnt have much agar or other additives.

November 22 2008 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with GL, canned crab? He should have created a different dish, Whole Foods has everything. Arianne will be going home next week I think...

November 21 2008 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jill lost it with the quickfire, 45m's and everyone else made something from scratch while she just rolled some premade hotdogs up. Reminded me of the Charlie Sheen on SNL spoofing Iron Chef in it's early days on Food Network. Then with the gluey dogfood, from the comments, it was a twofer night.

November 21 2008 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Has Jill ever seen previous seasons of this show? When a chef decides to work with an ingredient that they are unfamiliar with on this show, they should just start packing their knives already.

Also, with Stefan, it would be one thing if the guy could not cook himself out of a paper bag but he is overly-confident because he CAN cook. He definitely is going to be on this show for the long run.

November 20 2008 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I couldn't believe Hosea went for the canned crab.

November 20 2008 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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