Review: Top Chef - Restaurant Wars
by Kona Gallagher, posted Oct 22nd 2009 10:29AM
(S06E09) The thing that sets Top Chef apart from similar shows such as Project Runway or Hell's Kitchen, is the level of professionalism on display. While both of those shows have strong contestants, on the whole, the pool seems more amateurish than those on Top Chef. This was clearly evident in this week's episode with the Quickfire Challenge.
The challenge, in which the contestants had to go in blind and complete a dish in ten-minute segments was amazing. I was thoroughly impressed with not only the fact that they could do this in the first place, but with how cool and calm everyone stayed. There wasn't a single contestant who didn't seem completely professional-- a fact that was evident when you saw how impressed guest judge Rick Moonen was with everyone.
That is why it was so surprising to see the Blue team go off the rails in such a spectacular fashion. I fully expect the top four to be Kevin, Jen, and the Voltaggio brothers-- and the Blue team had two of those people. Jen especially seems like one of the better-organized chefs, so I really expected her to take the lead and make sure everything was going smoothly in the kitchen. Instead, she ended up in the weeds along with everyone else.
In the end, a lot of things contributed to the Blue team's defeat: no solid leadership, bad timing (especially with Jen steaming the seafood to order) and the fact that they completely omitted deserts from the menu. I understand the thought process behind this; I believe it was Mike I. who said that Kevin's meat would be way more impressive (heh) than any dessert they could throw together. I get where he's coming from: Kevin has proven over the course of the competition that he is the go-to guy for pork dishes. However, who has a restaurant with no desserts? Come on.
The Voltaggio brothers are machines in the kitchen, and it was fascinating to watch them in this episode. It's clear who's older and who's younger out of this pair. I can understand why Brian is tired of Michael's crap-- he has, after all, been dealing with it for the past 30 years or so, but man. I have never seen someone so upset by a win before in my life. He's tired of Michael getting rewarded for what he deems to be unprofessional behavior, which I get, but Michael's gesture of splitting the money between his team was quite thoughtful and the mark of a good leader.
In the end, it was Laurine who was eliminated. This was the best possible choice, mainly because I constantly forget that she's still in the competition. Beyond that though, she was completely ineffectual during the challenge and sent out sub par food. With everyone on her team having a bad night, the judges really have to look at who has the most long-term potential for the competition, and everyone, including Laurine, knew that it wasn't her.
In fact, in Laurine's exit interview, she talks about why she knew it was time for her to be eliminated, as well as the factors that contributed to her team's downfall. It's pretty interesting and shows a good amount of self-awareness, something that is generally missing from reality show contestants.
[Watch clips and episodes of Top Chef on SlashControl.]