Top Chef: Dinner Party
by Kona Gallagher, posted Oct 8th 2009 10:25AM
(S06E07) Here's what I love about this episode of Top Chef: Jen and her illness. Yes, it was lovely how she triumphed over adversity and made a kick-ass dish, but mainly, I like the way that it didn't change her at all. She had the exact same dead-eyed expression and monotone that we've all come to know and love. Sick Jen or well Jen, they're both pretty much dead inside-- and I find her hilarious.
This week's Quickfire Challenge involves a slot machine (as all good challenges in life do). I really enjoyed seeing what the chefs came up with, based solely on three random words that came up on the machine. Even when they pulled words that would seem to make it easy, like Ashley's "Blue Cheesy Middle Eastern," they still don't go in the expected direction: there was no blue cheese in her dish.
Unfortunately, her innovation didn't end up doing a whole lot for her. Kevin, however, is proving to be somewhat of a dark horse in this competition. He's not as flashy as the Voltaggio brothers, but has racked up quite a nice pile of wins for himself. He even wins this challenge with an Asian dish, having never cooked Asian food before. His general force of awesomeness just carried him through.
Also awesome is his decision after he wins the High Stakes Quickfire. Kevin can choose between immunity or $15,000 (at first, I thought it was $50,000, because that's what Padma made it sound like; at which point, I would have taken that money and run right out of the competition). Kevin chooses the $15,000 over immunity, which is absolutely the right decision. He wagers that he probably doesn't need immunity, which he turns out to be correct about, and who doesn't want 15 grand?
It seems that taking the money over immunity is also about respect. In a competition full of alpha dogs (except for Ash and Robin), taking immunity over cash is going to be seen as a sign of weakness. It's a competition, and if you take immunity over $15,000, then it's a sign that you probably shouldn't be there in the first place. So Kevin's decision definitely helped keep him on everyone's good side.
The Elimination Challenge was interesting, mainly because it was done under less than ideal circumstances. Sure, there was more than a chuck wagon, but Michael and Ash were cooking in what appeared to be a dining room, using plug-in woks. Unfortunately for them, these circumstances led to them ending up in the bottom two.
So let's talk about elimination real quick: were you guys as surprised as I was? One, Ash's effusive praise of Michael's skills was definitely uncomfortable, and I'm kind of surprised that didn't get him sent home. Luckily for him, the judges thought that Eli and Ashley's dish was the weaker of the two, so it was one of them who was going to be eliminated. One of the judges main problems though was the fact that the gnocchi was too salty, which I'm pretty sure was Eli's fault, so I was expecting him to be the one to have to pack up his knives.
However, I guess the fact that there was gnocchi in the dish at all, coupled with undercooked prawns really spelled Ashley's doom. Plus, this isn't her first time in the bottom. I just really expected her to last longer though. I didn't expect Ashley to win, but I definitely thought that others, including Ash and/or Robin would go before her. According to her exit interview, she was surprised to go home as well.
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