What you missed on Top Chef this week: Paula Deen stopped by, and a “chef law” violation occurred.
Side note: At least everyone expected Tiffany to go home, so I wasn’t that off on my prediction that she would go before Angelo.
As the chefs enter the kitchen, I imagine that I will hear Paula Deen’s laughter in my nightmares. She announces that the chef’s QuickFire challenge will be to create a deep fried dish. $5,000 will go to the winner. As a northerner, I don’t have much of an appreciation for Paula Deen or deep fried food in general, so this challenge mostly grosses me out. For example, Richard deep fries mayonnaise. Sick. Also, at this point, I feel like Carla really needs to go. I don’t know how she is a chef in her real life. She is always so scatterbrained and nervous. I bite my nails just watching her.
In the end, Mike Isabella wins the QuickFire, but there’s some debate about the legitimacy. First, Antonia made the best dish, but she didn’t follow the rules when she neglected to plate two plates for the judges, so she was disqualified. Second, and more importantly, the dish Mike creates is a stolen idea. At the beginning of this episode, we see Richard and Mike chatting and we’re introduced to Richard’s planning notebook. Apparently, the dish Mike prepares is “inspired” by one of Richard’s planned dishes. Mike thinks it’s ok – he says Richard should have cooked the dish himself, but he didn’t, so, no problem.
At this point in the show, I’m much more interested in the ethical dilemma presented when Mike “steals” Richard’s dish. I teach English, so I believe that, at the very least, you have to give credit where credit is due. Here’s where Mike crosses the line for me: he profits from this plagiarism. In a world where information is increasingly available, can we expect that anyone has new, fresh ideas, or is everything recycled? I hate to see someone like Richard who is legitimately trying to be creative end up being ripped off by someone slimy like Mike Isabella.
The Elimination Challenge is for chefs to make “gulf” seafood for a dinner benefiting fishermen who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, through the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Six chefs who had already been voted out of the kitchen are back to pair up with our six remaining chefs. There is, of course, a dilemma for each chef as they must choose a protein which is attached to a specific departed chef. The chefs struggle to make the best protein decision and the best sous chef decision. I just keep thinking that the past weeks have been leading up to a Richard vs. Dale showdown, which is what I’m waiting to see. In other words, none of this matters. I hope.
While the chefs serve at the benefit dinner, Richard struggles. Then, Dale struggles. Then, Tiffany plates food that Marcel made and she has not tasted. Yikes. At Judges’ Table, Antonia, Richard, and Mike end up on top. Maybe I’ll be seeing a Mike vs. Richard battle, instead. Thankfully, Richard wins the Elimination Challenge and a great trip!
Tiffany ends up in the bottom because of Marcel. She takes his advice and lets him cook the shrimp and he screws it up. She admits that it’s her dish, no matter what, and takes responsibility. Dale admits he felt overwhelmed but doesn’t make excuses. Carla knows her dish wasn’t great and takes the judges’ criticism.
I have to admit that I am shocked by Dale’s departure. I believe that in a season where I’ve questioned the judges many, many times, this is the most absurd judge’s table. Dale deserved to make it to the end, and now I’m frustrated about the rest of the season. The fact that Dale takes it so well only makes it marginally better. As pleased as I was with last week’s episode, I am extremely disappointed with this ending.
Shout out to the Greater New Orleans Foundation: According to the organization’s website, “The Greater New Orleans Foundation is one of the oldest and largest philanthropic organizations in the region. Every day, the Foundation joins other foundations, nonprofit organizations, community leaders, and government officials to address the needs of the community and build consensus for solutions. Together with our family of donors, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in our region since it opened its doors over 25 years ago to respond to community needs.” Please visit their website to learn more: http://www.gnof.org/
My Elimination Predictions (which are still just so, SO wrong):
Tre Wilcox (1)
Fabio Viviani (2)
Angelo Sosa (3)
Dale Talde (4)
Theme – “If you can eat it, you can fry it” – Paula Deen
Controversies – Is there such a thing as chef plagiarism?
Elimination Challenge winner – Richard Blais
Departing chef – Dale Talde