Watch What We Say: Top Chef

Episode 5

By Jason Lee

December 12, 2008

I really thought the dishes were good.

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This week on Watch What We Say: Top Chef meets Bride Wars.

Gail has always been my favorite judge on Top Chef. She's smart, she's pretty, she's witty, she doesn't put on airs . . . you have no doubt that Gail knows her stuff and wants each week to objectively and accurately assess the dishes by each chef and send the right person home. It's this combination of intellect, attractiveness and integrity that first drew me in and it continues to make me excited whenever I see her on the judging panel.

For this reason, I was extremely eager to watch this week's episode, as it centers primarily around Gail.

But I'm getting ahead of myself (you really shouldn't let me do that so often!). The show opens with Jaime and a little doll that's wearing pants made out of a Calphalon Cookware towel.

Apparently (and seemingly supported by a couple of interviews seen later in the show) Stefan, our favorite Finn, has a crush on Jaime, our favorite lesbian. It is the most recent of five gifts that Stefan has made and given to Jaime, who is not impressed (also not impressed, I would imagine, is Calphalon Cookware, who is a frequent sponsor of the show).

It's an interesting tidbit about the cast dynamic but I'm not sure where this straight-crush is going. Will Stefan and Jaime hook up down the line? Not likely. Will they get into a big argument later in the season? Quite possible. Will the duo end up as the two finalists for the Top Chef title? Hrmmmm . . . . that's an interesting possibility.

But no time to ponder that because the Quickfire Challenge is underway. In a twist on a Quickfire Challenge that we've seen in seasons past, the chefs will be paired up in a playoff-bracket style (NCAA Football commissioners should take notice for BCS replacement) in a test of their palates. They will each sample a sauce and à la Name That Tune, they will take turns saying how many ingredients they can name from that sauce. I must say, combining culinary knowledge with a challenge that requires Survivor-like interpersonal strategy (guessing how far you can push your opponent and how many ingredients they'd really be able to identify) is fascinating.


The entire thing comes down to big-eyed Carla, bald-Finnish Stefan and bald-but-not-Finnish Hosea. Carla takes herself out of the running on her first try with a bad guess and it's down to Stefan and Hosea. At this point in the episode, Stefan has been so unbearably egotistical that it's both probable to imagine Stefan losing (I think to myself, "He might throw a fit!") and Stefan winning (I think to myself, "Then I'd hate him more!"). Either way, it's great reality TV.

Hosea wins and Stefan immediately adopts an expression that's eerily reminiscent of John McCain's on election night . . .

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