To say that we've been underwhelmed by this season of Top Chef (or should we say "Top Caterer") would certainly be an understatement. Despite early claims of the superior skills of this set of chefs over past seasons chefs, we just haven't been too impressed.
Chicago is nice but we just haven't been seeing the "location vibe" showing up in the food like we did in Miami. Oh sure we had deep dish pizza as a quickfire and the Tailgate episode with the Bears but sadly Chicago's depth as a serious foodie town just hasn't been plumbed. I mean, here we are, the last episode before uprooting the finalists and what is the big hubbub? Frozen scallops in a steak joint's walk-in. And not just the joyous Hallelujah chorus that was heard in at least two dark dank basements last Wednesday. Nope, apparently just the mere appearance of frozen scallops within the hallowed confines of Rick Tramonto's restaurant is the story of the moment. Bah!
On a side note, I must applaud the producers for the smartest move they could have ever made, namely the hiring of Lee Anne Wong as their Food Wrangler. She is fiendishly clever at the twists the chefs must deal with when it comes to what's available to them, as well as how the challenges are set up. While she hasn't posted a blog entry for this episode I wouldn't be surprised at all if she had something to do with frozen scallops showing up as a possible boneheaded choice to trip up a not so astute chef. Thank you Lee Anne if it was you, thank you from the bottom of my dark, dank basement of a heart.The other thing that has been so disappointing this season is the lack of Anthony Bourdain's blog on Top Chef. It's no secret that we openly adore the man and his take on all things Top Chef. Imagine our glee when he popped back up on the Top Chef blogolicious radar over on his normal Travel Channel blog proving that the man is just as much as a Top Chef crack monkey as we are.
His take on why Dale was auffed during Restaurant Wars is sublime. I love his thought process on judging - who would he want to hire and the evaluation of the dish set before him. He skates the thin ice of inconsistent judging by stating "Judging on Top Chef -- as has been pointed out repeatedly (most recently and succinctly by my learned colleague, Ted Allen) is on a "What Have You Cooked For Me Lately" basis. We are not supposed to care what has been achieved previously." It's that "supposed" that leads me to believe that while he might not state it out loud, our dear Father Tony might not be convinced that the "regular" judges don't take into account the wins and losses of the chefs before them. Not that he really cares. Give him the task of Head Judge for a week then yes, he's wearing the blue jacket and crunching down on all the fun that goes with it. I'd say he was even polite in his criticism of Dale at judges table of what is now known as the Worst Dish Ever on Top Chef (Dale, those butterscotch scallops replaced CJ's brocolini on line one - we're sure he gives you his deep, deep thanks).
No, Father Tony is just having too much fun. So, gnash your teeth, tear at your hair and spout conspiracy theories until the Tomahawk Beef comes home, Tony says you are wrong. Since the man has been there as a guest judge, a head judge and most importantly, an avid fan of the show, I'll take him at his word. All of his words. Just as long as he keeps writing them