Spoiler Alert: If you haven't yet watched last night's episode of Top Chef Chicago, don't read on. Also, if you don't really care about this show, you probably don't want to read on either.
So, last week my current favorite television show hit me pretty hard. I wasn't quite ready to see Dale go, though I suppose it was inevitable the moment he became the executive chef for the obviously weaker "Restaurant Wars" team. I still contend that making two poor dishes and being a jerk who can't take either direction or criticism should have sent Lisa home before Dale. Am I wrong to think that the judges would normally think something like butterscotch scallops was exciting and different? And can he really be expected to show "leadership" with someone who so clearly disdains everyone and everything besides herself? Why is it that the executive chef of the losing team automatically has to go home? Anyway, I didn't see Dale as the troublemaker/difficult character the edit tried to make him into, and I think he is far more talented than either Spike or Lisa. I guess the lesson is you've got to figure out how to work with anyone if you want to be the Top Chef. Too bad it was the nicer of the two cheftestants that had to learn the lesson.
Speaking of the edit, I spent much of last week's episode trying to talk myself out of the fact that Dale would in fact be going home because he was so clearly upset in the interview portions of the show. I thought "no way is he the one going home, because they wouldn't give that away by showing him a little teary; they're just trying to yank my chain." But no, much of his commentary throughout the episode clearly came from a post-elimination interview in which he teared up in what I thought was a quite endearing way. Like, he really was just trying to cook the best way he knew how, and didn't want to deal with the drama some of the other 'cheftestants' were bringing into the kitchen. Maybe not the best strategy, but it won me over.
And then THIS week, the interviews were all about Richard not wanting to go home at this stage of the game, how it would be so sad for him to have been away from his wife this long and come home with nothing. I know all the chefs said some version of this at one point or another during the episode, but it seemed that Richard got at least five interviews along that line, and then there was the promo scene of Tom yelling at Richard to hurry up on his plating. It was cringeworthy, indeed. I know he's all about the smoker and the foams and the food that's a "riff" on thus and so. All that stuff I find pretentious and unintelligible, like talking about jazz. But it seems he's tried to rise above that lately, and mostly just make food that's good AND witty. So, let's give him a chance to prove that there's something more to this molecular gastronomy than whatever Marcel was "rapping" about.
The editing has been more than a little leading this season, when you also consider the huge buildup of Andrew's overconfidence the week he went home. But no, they were just messing with me this week, and thankfully, Spike and his frozen scallops went home. Don't you think these people would learn to just stay away from the scallops? There just seem to be too many ways to truly screw them up, or make them just ho-hum. I am glad to see both Andrew and Spike gone, as truly, I had a harder time telling them apart than made sense. I am not looking forward to having to look at Lisa's studied bitchface in Puerto Rico. I'm officially rooting for Stephanie hardcore, because I think she might want to be my friend and drink wine with me.
While I'm on the Top Chef topic, I just wanted to note that not long ago, I mused on my friend MEP's blog that a challenge with children as sous chefs rather than just diners was something that I'd really like to see. Those Bravo producers must be big NTB fans like me and picked up on the shout out. This being a kinder, gentler season of Top Chef, the children might as well have been seasoned line cooks for all the drama this added to the episode. Make them hold an infant and cook one handed, I tell you. There's the real quickfire.