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August 27, 2014

Top Chef: Foo Fighters

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 27th 2008 11:35AM
Foo and Padma(S05E03) Three episodes in and while Top Chef has been fun with really good challenges and interesting food, something is missing. Or maybe it just hasn't simmered to the surface yet. I'm talking about conflict, drama, hatred. Everybody is just too damn happy with each other.

I mean, last night the only nasty interaction was one chef flipping a finger at the other -- which Bravo actually blurred out, give me a break -- and Jamie commenting that she's fed up with Dave. Compared to previous seasons, that's pretty tame. Turn up the heat, guys and gals. Let's see that "too many cooks spoil the broth" energy.

On the food front, fortunately, the action is super. Having Foo Fighters as guest judges was an inspired notion. By the way, Foo Fighters is not Food Fighters without the 'd.' It's a term from World War II pilots that means unidentified flying objects. Interesting, hmm? Well, there was no UFOs or food flying last night. The musicians, though, were looking for Thanksgiving dinner.

Top Chef has done the Thanksgiving challenge before -- remember Marcel making a turkey roulade and Mike offering stuffed baked potatoes to Anthony Bourdain? -- but the twists here were really good.

After dividing the group into two teams and making them schlep to a Rochester arena to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the Foos and their entourage of 60, there turned out to be no kitchen! Cooking on a single burner with nothing but microwaves and toaster ovens outdoors was like swimming upstream with only one arm. Turkey is not really suited for microwaving, so that meant toaster ovens only. Kudos to Arianne -- queen of the cougars -- for knowing that she could use the hot box for the turkey. She finally got something done right. Her bird was the top protein of the night. Eugene deserved special props for creating a grill out of the supplies provided and some stuff from the supermarket. His pork looked delicious.

The sides were a mixed lot, but what the heck was going on with Dave's potatoes? Crunchy creamed spuds put him in the bottom three, but I think it might have been a fire-able offense. On the other hand, has anybody ever gone wrong with putting bacon into a dish? The macaroni and cheese with bacon made the grade. About the vegan stuffing, isn't that just vegetable stuffing? I've been making that for years and never knew it. Still, it got high points from the Foos so it's probably tastier than mine.

The stumbling point for both teams was dessert. Honestly, one of these seasons Top Chef contestants are going to figure out that if they simply spend time mastering some desserts, they're going to go far in the competition. This course takes them by surprise every single year! It's not a surprise anymore. It's a fact; learn it.

Sure enough, Richard's attempt at banana s'mores was a disaster. One Foo described the vanilla foam on top as spit. Yeah, really appetizing. Ironically, Fabio's pumpkin tiramisu -- which would have been perfect in Season 2's new style Thanksgiving -- sounded awful to me, but the judges loved it. Fabio, by the way, is emerging as a star. He's personable and funny. Also he wasn't paired with Stefan.

The s'mores was the end for Richard. Sad to see you go, Rich, but you would have been better off making a s'mores banana pie with pudding filling.

There was something different in this Top Chef episode, too. Perhaps a nod to Gordon Ramsay and Hell's Kitchen. The winners were given great seats at the Foo Fighters concerts and the pleasure of watching the show. The losers had to do the dishes and bitch about not winning. That was harsh; I don't recall that in previous seasons of the Bravo food show -- do you?

I'm still sticking with Jamie for the finals. She once again succeeded with her dishes -- although when the quick fire turned into a soup challenge it was right in her wheelhouse -- and seems like she's in it for the long haul. Eugene, Stefan and Fabio, too, are strong. Jeff may be in over his head, and Leah -- who did win the quick fire despite her antipathy for white asparagus -- was totally lucky.

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Joyce N.

It was kind of neat to see this episode take place in my hometown of Rochester. Familiar shots of the airport, Blue Cross Arena and Hegedorn's Market. Must have been a while back, they looked warm.

Wasn't bad looking at Dave Grohl, either!

November 27 2008 at 9:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony

If you want manufactured drama, watch Hell's Kitchen and turn Top Chef off. TC is more focused on the cooks and their cooking skills, not on overdramatic conflicts within the group.

November 27 2008 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patrick R

I think there are a few inaccuracies here. There's nobody on the show called Mario. The mac and cheese was made by Alex. I'm not sure what Dave you're referring to that Jamie was fed up with... Grohl? Danny's potatoes weren't mashed -- they were roasted, but they were undercooked.

And there are a few differences between a vegan stuffing and a vegetable stuffing. The vegan stuffing would not use butter or any kind of meat-based stock, whereas a vegetable stuffing certainly could.

November 27 2008 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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