This look pretty much sums up the way I felt this week after viewing the latest efforts of Top Chef. Confused and frustrated. It sucks when one of your favorite chefs is jettisoned from the herd. But this season more than any other I can't say I understand a lot of what's going on with the "judging".
I certainly understand the concept of the viewer not being able to taste the dish to make us rely on the judges as to whether a dish tastes good or bad. I could understand why other factors come into play when judging a dish such as leadership, adhering to the "challenge" (improvising, tailgating, dessert, ect.), presentation and so on. However even that has dropped by the wayside and left me in the valley of despair. It's time to call the judging what it is, superficial and capricious.
I'm trying to follow the logic. The elimination challenge was simple enough, make a dish of the things called out by the audience at the Second City Comedy Night. A color, an emotion and an ingredient. Now because it's Top Chef, I don't have a clue what the rules really are but ONE would think that the specific ingredient was important, the color also but to a lesser extent and the emotion element and improvising your dish factor would allow some wiggle room. Now I'm not even going to get into all the other bullshit tricks that were thrown into the mix because in my opinion they were stupid reality TV show twists that add very little to determining a good top chef.
This was the winning dish, Green Tofu Perplexed. This dish should have won. It used the ingredient, it used the color and it even used the emotion, perplexed which apparently the diners were when they tasted the beef flavor of the tofu. It was nicely improvised by Dale and Richard. Thank goodness because the other choice was the Asshat's long awaited Squash Soup he's been dying to make for apparently the entire season. Team Asshat had Yellow Love Vanilla. So we got an orange squash soup with a Crème fraîche dollop sprinkled with vanilla. It wasn't yellow, it didn't really give off the emotion of love and the ingredient was a sprinkling and it certainly wasn't improvised. Oh well.
Our two losing teams are sweating bullets. Why? I guess because one team didn't use the ingredient, used the wrong color and took the emotion and applied it only to themselves. They did improvise but you would think that one of the two members of that team would be going home. You would think that because the other team used the ingredient, sort of used the color, and applied the emotion to the dish that this would be a no-brainer sort of decision. When you're supposed to use polish sausage and you decide to use sea bass? Seems like the sort of judging criteria that would send someone home for not cooking tailgate food at a Bears game. You would be very wrong in that assumption. Because Jen had to pack her knives. Poor Jen fell into the trap of partnering with Stephanie who has done so well in the early rounds that she now brings the all important "Benefit of the Doubt" factor with her whenever she might appear at a losing judges table.
I know I was just as shocked as Jen. I don't know why. After Richard slipping by with his scaly mushy salmon I should have known anything was possible. What's also possible is that I'm finding that the judging is sloppy, badly seasoned and has absolutely no direction or cohesion. I suggest the judges clean up their act or they will be packing their mics and going home.