Let's do a quick recap. The Elimination Challenge had our six remaining chefs drawing knives to each pick a Las Vegas themed casino to visit and draw inspiration from so that they can create a dish for 175 party guests. This type of challenge works much better in Project Runway than it does for Top Chef but here we are. The bottom three were Robin, Eli and Jennifer. This episode's Judges were Tom, Padma, Toby and Nigella Lawson. Not a bad foursome to tell us truthfully what tastes good and doesn't taste good. The race for Elimination is seemingly between Eli and Robin. I say seemingly because generally when a judge says it takes all her self control not to spit your dish out of her mouth, that's a surefire sign you are out of there.So we have 3 judges at the party who definitely say they don't like the dish and the fourth finding fault but not throwing it under the bus just yet.Over at Robin's table no judge wants to spit out her dish or never eat it again. She gets dinged for the over firmness of her Panna Cotta and for not putting the sugar glass on her dish. Fair enough criticisms since Robin, yet again, chose to make a dish she's never attempted to make before and hasn't done sugar work.
At Judges Table, Eli has to face Tom's conviction that Eli's dish was and I quote here "The dish was a failure." Nigella was confused and Padma hated the flavors. Robin, now making her fourth appearance at the losing Judge's Table gets to deal with Tom and his little idiosyncrasies. Such as when to serve or not serve part of a dish. I don't know how many times we've heard Tom bitch and moan about if something is a failure, don't put it on the plate. Even as recent as Ashley and Eli's salty gnocchi dish back in Episode 7. Now apparently Robin should have used the failed sugar panes. She is also criticized for her stiff Panna Cotta. Once the chefs leave the room, judging continues. Nigella, when faced with a choice between eating sawdust and Eli's dish, would chose sawdust. Tom hammers Eli's textures and execution. Toby points out the obvious, the distinctly unappetizing appearance of Eli's soup. Robin gets penalized again for not putting the sugar panes on the plate. Tom also points out her failure to make Panna Cotta as soft as it should have been, because it's a dish that's so simple to make. Actually in Tom's world everything is much easier when Tom is doing it but I didn't hear him saying Eli should have been able to make soup since soup is so easy to make. As we head into the Elimination I thought Robin had slipped past again and the clueless Eli would finally be packing his knives. I was wrong.Does it bother me that Robin was eliminated? Not really, she was never in my top four contestants. What does really bother me is past performance. Not of the chefs but of the judges or I should say Judge Tom Colicchio. During past seasons, when someone's favorite chef was auffed Tom would always proclaim that the worst tasting dish is the bottom line judgment that counts. That trumps everything else. Can anyone honestly say Robin's dish was the worst tasting, according to what we saw and heard? It gets worse. It turns out that Tom didn't hate Eli's dish. Oh no. Here's an excerpt from his blog on Bravo's website.
Between you and me, I kind of liked Eli’s dish. It was not successful by a long shot, and I understand why my fellow judges truly did not, but I enjoyed it. I think the raspberry dome should have topped the other elements (circuses happen under the big top, right?) — it would have been fun in a way befitting the circus theme to break through that to find what surprises awaited beneath. Even so, the theme was better realized than in Robin’s dish, where she just never translated the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture from the lobby of the Bellagio to her dish. The colors of the flowers in that handblown glass sculpture are so vivid, the texture so striking, and yet we were handed a piece of white panna cotta in a pale purple sauce with a pice of amber sugar on top (which, incidentally, made the photo taken for the episode, but didn’t make it to our plates). Right now every pastry chef who watched the program is thinking, “Ohmigod, there are SO many ways to pull this off!” If you know how to work with sugars, you cold make little translucent flowers in a host of colors, using dyes. Even if you’re not proficient enough to work in sugars, there are myriad ways to work with the colors and the idea of flowers. Panna cotta is basic, simple fare, but Robin’s wasn’t well done; the texture was wrong. And the sauce was terrible. What can I say? At the end of the day, every element of her dish failed. Eli’s dish was less bad. And so it was Robin’s turn to go.
There you have it. If anyone has suggestions for Tom's replacement, now's the time. My vote? Nigella Lawson or Michelle Bernstein. And please bring back Gail full time. The Top Chef world would be a much better place for it.