Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Judge's Table for the Ages



WELCOME TO JEN ALL STARS - too bad she only lasted two episodes.

The girl just can't win. Before you start hammering me, hear me out. Was her dish one of the bottom three? Yes. Was it the worst? Of course, without tasting, don't know. But I will say this I actually thought Tre was going home last night. I listened closely to how Jen was defending her dish and what she was saying was the pork belly was seasoned the way she wanted. She never said the texture was what she was shooting for and frankly in what we were allowed to see, editing-wise, no one challenged her on that. This sounds like a basic difference in how Jen tastes something and how Tom tastes something and try as she might, Jen cannot consistently make Tom happy. She lost out on her season because one of her last dishes was too salty. So she comes here determined to cut back on her seasoning and WHAM! Gets auffed for her egg being too mild. Was her dish all that?



Check out Team Dallas's faces as Jen defends the flavors of her dish. Did her team mates help her out? Producing the dish, yes, evaluating the dish....not so much and here's where it gets tricky. Casey is not going to tell you it does not taste good because the last time she tried to help someone win Top Chef she had the flesh ripped from her bones because Carla took her advice. No way Casey steps into that ring of fire again and frankly I doubt Jen would have listened to her anyway. What about Jamie? Her removal from the kitchen ultimately doomed Jen. Jamie would have had more credibility on flavors of a dish since they would both be on the line for producing it. By the time she gets back, there's nothing that can be done thereby making it all Jen's dish.

I have to admit her anger seemed well placed at times. Tom's question about why they didn't plate each dish separately seemed incredibly stupid. So you want kids and their parents walking around while juggling multiple dishes? Let's face it had they plated it on many small plates, Tom would have pinged them on why they didn't just put it all on one plate so I say score one Jen. I also thought she was correct in being angry about the just exactly what they had to cook with. Adaptability is fun but not to the point where it's so restrictive that you fail to put out food that 1) Tastes good 2) Follows the parameters of the challenge as they are set up (make breakfast for parents and kids) and 3) makes the judges happy. Jen turns out to be right in her Stew Room Testifying. Make food that has the most appeal to the judges because I doubt the judges really care what the parents and the kids thought about any of those dishes. Katie seemed satisfied to get her one cruise ship/buffet line comment about the mini fritatas seeming to forget that the winning team made grits, pudding and pasta, staples of buffet lines all over the world and there by looking superior and snide for her brief time on camera. So yeah, Jen had some good reasons to be pissed. I just wish she has nailed that pork belly because it's about time somebody smarted off to Tom at Judges Table. I quite enjoyed the look on his face that not everyone thinks he's all that and can of Diet Coke.



BONUS


Jen lets it all hang out in her exit interview on Bravo. Thanks Cap'n.
(Perhaps auditioning for the next Top Chef Hostess job)

19 comments:

froggy said...

I agree, the challenge was unnecessarily restrictive. It is fun to see them challenged but not boxed into a corner.

Big Shamu said...

And I'm sorry, gnocci for breakfast is not inventive. I mean what else did you expect Fabio to do? He fell back on pasta. Not to mention, how is it that you've got the three most inventive guys on the show on one team and all they could come up with was banana pudding parfaits???

MakingSpace said...

This may sound cynical, but so far it seems like they're getting rid of whoever gets angriest at them at judges' table.

I'm not sure why Jamie wasn't up for elimination - somehow her absence preserved her? I don't really get that.

Who's the food challenge creator this season? I'd be interested to know...

K9 said...

while i am glad that jen raged on tom, i started to wish she would shut up - do that under the radar thing. i have to say her dish plated is not appetizing to me. i think tre was a good candidate for the axe as all he had to do was make a sauce! Fabio is seriously annoying. he campaigns just like the other chefs said. i think it could blow back on him later.

hate to see jen go. I like a lot of them this round so its a fun contest. grrrrrrrhahahaha to the banana parfait comment.

Buzz Kill said...

Jen sort of cut her own throat when she said Jamies not being there didn't affect the dish. Of course it did. I like Jamie (did you hear her comments on kids?) but she bailed on her team mate and for that, she should be gone.

The other thing to consider with the Jen tirade is the fatigue factor. She only had 45 minutes of sleep. That'll make you cranky. She's not a morning person (she always looks hung over). I would have liked to have heard what she said after she left the stew room. There were so many bleeps I couldn't make it out.

And even though he'll never admit it, Tom can be vindictive. Two pissed off and perceived disrespectful chefs eliminated. Let's see if the other chefs get the message.

Big Shamu said...

Buzz, if you go to the interview I linked above, you can hear the longer version of Jen's explosion upon exit from the stew room. It's still bleeped but you can pretty much figure out what she says.

moi said...

Obviously, Jen has containment problems all the way around.

MakingSpace said...

Moi!!!!!!!!!!!! ROFL

Troll said...

Great still picture! Always liked Jen although I think she's an functional alcoholic and the forced time away from booze may have led to her downfall.

You have quite a good memory for things that happened in prior seasons.

Sort of surprised that blonde ghey guy and Asian guy and Jamie are in All-Stars. Guess they made it further than I remember.

LaDivaCucina said...

I thought she got eliminated because her food was mushy and bland? Did I remember incorrectly? And to my knowledge, there is nothing more gross than pig fat that is not crispy. And that is not Jamie's fault. Just sayin'.

And contrary to belief that Jen made the judges mad so that is why they aufed her, that couldn't be further from the truth. According to Anthony Bourdain from his latest book, he quotes:

"What I can assure you-without hesitation or qualification, is that the judging I've been witness to or part of, in five appearances as a judge, has always been straight. Meaning, no matter how much the producers of the show may want the contestant with the heartbreaking tragic personal story (and amazing chesticles) to survive until next week, the worst cook that particular week goes home. On Top Chef- as long as Tom Colicchio is head judge-the best food that week gets you the win. The worst gets you the loss." And I don't imagine Tony would fib about this.

I'm lovin' Chicago Dale and his comments.

Big Shamu said...

Normally La Diva, I would agree with you but unfortunately the Las Vegas season really keeps me from believeing that. It was the stupid challenge of making the 6 remaining chefs make a dish inspired by whatever casino they visited. The two worst dishes were from Robin and Eli, who hated Robin. There is not anything in the world that can convince me that Robin's dish was worse than Eli's. Nothing. But it's my opinion that Tom advanced Eli because he just couldn't advance Robin, a caterer over a more classically trained chef AND knowing that Tom didn't want to be embarrassed by having Robin in the next challenge (Bocuse D'ors) where she would be vastly unprepared for.

Let me ask everyone this. We've all known folks with extremely strong egos and I think everyone would agree that Tom C. is one of those folks. When those Ego-driven folks have their knowledge and expertise challenged, what happens? Do they calmly evaluate the situation dispassionately, making a decision concerning the person challenging them with a Solomon-like wisdom? Or do they bring the hammer down on the challenger?
I am a bit skeptical that Tom didn't let Jen's confrontational attitude color his judgement. Tony Bourdain notwithstanding.

LaDivaCucina said...

Tom hardly seemed flustered by it. The other contestants were more upset. He seemed pretty dispassionate to me....I think he's the kind of chef/judge that would respect people that would challenge him WITH GOOD REASON (as opposed to challenging to be uppity, cocky, etc. just to be defensive, if that makes sense.)

Do you think Tom would have been embarrassed by Robin advancing fo real? If she made it that far, she made it that far and if she was going to crumble for the Bocuse D'ors don't you think THAT would have made great TV? I can't say that I remember the dishes like you with your amazing steel trap memory... But to be honest, knowing what people do behind the scenes and how TV industry people think, nothing would surprise me.

Big Shamu said...

I was looking at the beginning of Season One. Tom has a little clip in the first episode introducing himself, putting forth all the awards he had won, his young age at heading a restuarant and explaining to most of the viewing audience at the time who didn't have a clue who Tom was, that yes, he was certainly more than qualified to be the head judge of a food competition. Tom comes from the restaurant world, not the tv world. Saying Tom knows what would make great tv is like me knowing what the best sauce would be for wild boar. And yes, I do believe he wants his show to stand apart from the dreck that is Hell's Kitchen or the sadly unremarkable Chopped or the just silly Next Food Network Star. Right now Top Chef and it's food efforts have no real peer except maybe Next Iron Chef. Top Chef and Top Chef Masters kicks ass of every food competition show out there. I will give credit to Tom that sometimes he has a hand in choosing who competes. So yes, I believe he cares a great deal because I believe his personal relationships with some freaking incredible chefs gets them to show up as guest judges. You don't get those kinds of chefs if you've got a bunch of 1st year out of the CIA and no restuarant experience cooks throwing down crap on a plate. Tom has tied his overall rep to this show and hell yes I believe he will protect it.

LaDivaCucina said...

Tom might come from the restaurant world but he's been in the TV world for quite a while now, I'm sure as a smart guy he's learned what works and what doesn't.

By the way, did you get MY email about the Next Food Network? I never got a reply....

Big Shamu said...

Snort! Tom's been in the tv world all of 4 years. He has cameras pointed at him while he eats food and talks about it. This does not make him well versed in the making of the good, the bad and the ugly of TV.

Aunty Belle said...

moi cracked me up...

Shamy, a treat --scroll down at the link below for the BACON WRAPPED PEAR with Chevre an' walnuts. Moan....

http://frenchkitcheninamerica.
blogspot.com/

LaDivaCucina said...

Again, did you get my email about the Food Network?

Captain Obvious said...

Captain Obvious agrees with what Eric Ripert said.

Ripert said that there were worse offenses.

-Raw eggs in the frittata

-Over salty reduced sauce that the chef knew had problems and could have fixed.

Both, inedible.

Jen's dish was edible, but not that great looking or tasting from judges comments.

or

A chef that wasn't even in the kitchen.

Captain Obvious thought that Tre(or possibly Jamie) was going home because Tre clearly knew there was a problem but didn't fix it.

Big Shamu said...

Oh geez, Cap'n, there go all my straight women readers running off to stare into Eric deep blue eyes and fantasize about those lips. They won't be back for ages.