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Watch What We Say: Top Chef

By Jason Lee

January 23, 2009

We really liked Radhika, but her performance in the last two episodes was brutal.

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This week on Top Chef: Trials of a bewitching banshee

Top Chef finally has something that it's lacked since Season 1. A villain.

Sure, there have been some intensely aggravating, hateful, despicable chefs. I intensely disliked Marcel (runner up from Season 2) and couldn't wait for him to go home. I despised Hung (winner of Season 3) and his arrogant, near-intolerable-and-insufferable cocky attitude that led him to exploit every opportunity to show off the fact that he had (at least in his own mind) more talent and skill than his fellow chefs. I literally yelled out in anger when he won this competition two years ago.

But for me, neither one of those chefs incited the same brand of blind fury, the same level of teeth-gnashing malevolence, the same sort of all-encompassing malice and pure repulsion as Season 1 Stephen -- vile, evil Stephen. Stephen is the type if contestant that if I saw him walking down the street, I would rip my arm off so that I would have something to hit him with. He's not the type of person that you love to hate. You just hate him. And hate I did.




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Now, to be fair, this season's villain, the cruel and depraved Leah, is not on par with Stephen... rather, my comparison to him is meant to demonstrate the depth of my disdain for the harlot Leah. "What did she do?" you might ask. Well, gentle readers, I still have not forgiven her (nor will I ever) for the way she despicably let my beautiful, beloved Ariane flounder and fail at cooking her lamb - withholding any real assistance and refusing to take any responsibilty for the portion of the dish that she did complete. Instead, she was willing to stare blissfully into Hosea's eyes, immersed in a sea of sin and infidelity, purposefully ignorant of what was going on in the kitchen.

"But enough with last week," you might be saying. "Jason, we're wondering what happened on Top Chef THIS week!" You are right, I would be remiss not to delve into the machinations of this week's episode so in transitioning, I will only say that I tuned to Bravo on Wednesday, hoping only that I would see one thing: Padma turning to Leah and saying, "Pack your knives, biotch, it's your turn to go!"

But of course, before that can happen, we have the Quickfire Challenge. Our guest judge for this week is a high-profile, highly successful restaurateur, Stephen Starr, who's responsible for such fantastic restaurants like Budokan and Morimoto (I've been to neither but I hope to some day). In preparation for the highly anticipated Restaurant Wars Elimination Challenge (Yippee!), they have to prepare a tasting of one dish that communicates their concept for a new restaurant. The two winners will not get immunity, but instead, they get to choose their team and open their own restaurant using that concept.

Immediately, I think that the chefs with the best hopes for winning this challenge will be the chefs with a clear concept of a cuisine and a skilled hand at cooking it - in my mind, the chefs are Jeff (South Florida cuisine), Radhika (Indian) and Fabio (Italian). Jeff and Radhika seem to be proving me correct, cooking a sunchoke puree and salmon and a pan-seared cod with butter braised corn respectively, but Fabio has gone off the deep end, cooking a full on lunch course with
an appetizer, salad and sandwich.


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