Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a great Thanksgiving! Jumping into another Top Chef episode recap.

Quickfire challenge: Can you can can

Any decent cook has a stockpile of canned staples, and the contestants were allowed to use any of the fresh ingredients in the pantry as usual, so the only difficult thing about the canned food challenge was the 15 minute time limit. The fact that five contestants were chosen as the winners was the big twist in this episode. All five of the winning dishes looked good enough, though the one that really stood out for me was Ilan's dish. I mean, Vienna sausage, one of the all time great guilty pleasures! It just looked great.

topchef_ilan-viennasausage.jpg

I'm a bit surprised that Chef Tom got so enthusiastic about Sam frying his anchovies - like he'd never encountered fried anchovies? Still, the combination of chick peas and beets with the anchovies sounded great.

topchef_sambeanbeets.jpg

(If you noticed, three contestants - Sam, Betty and Mia - used garbanzos (chick peas). Canned chick peas are almost the same as ones you cook from dry, as long as you rinse off the liquid it's in which tends to have a sort of tinny flavor sometimes.)

Whiny Elia's dish looked like crap on a plate:

topchef_eliacrap.jpg

...while Cliff's dish, which she said she had to spit out, looked neat and clean and appetizing, though I am skeptical about those canned potatoes. Canned or frozen potatoes are usually pretty horrible.

topchef_cliff-potatosalad.jpg

Elia is passively-aggressively annoying to the extreme, and the chocolate facial thing was totally odd. I'm sure Tom colicchio's palate is so much worse than hers...sheesh.

Elimination challenge: Thanksgiving!

If you happen to be reading this on Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. you are probably sick of anything to do with Thanksgiving food. But anyway we push ahead.

This part just went horribly wrong. There was very little cooperation or teamwork, people trying to shout each other down (especially the increasingly annoying Betty), and no one except for Marcel following the instructions and trying to create a 'new twist' on Thanksgiving food. Even if his turkey was overcooked, I think he should have won, not Elia - what is innovative about cream of mushroom soup? Adding walnuts makes it innovative? And while Marcel is a rather annoying little brat, I feel bad for him this time with the big bullies Betty and Frank and almost everyone else ganging up on him. I am positive that that whole Frank confronting Marcel thing was a show for the cameras, and it was ridiculous to see a 39 year old man threatening someone playground-style. I am not sure if the season 1 contestants were ever so nasty to Stephen. But anyway, Marcel's cranberry gelee thing with foam really looked nice (though perhaps there was too much of it in relation to the turkey roulade)...and yeah he overcooked his turkey. But at least he tried.

topchef_marcel-turkey.jpg

Betty it seems is a lady that cannot deal well with adversity. She lashes out at people, blames them, gets all hysterical, etc. It's not a pretty sight. I used to think she might be a frontrunner but unless she has a drastic change of attitude she probably won't last long.

And Michael...well watching him is so uncomfortable. He keeps up the front that he doesn't care too much but underneath that perpetual smile you can see the insecurity and slight desperation. Watching Anthony Bourdain sort of bond with him was interesting though. Did he really see something special in that guy? Maybe it's a male bonding thing? With at least three much stronger contestants in there in Ilan, Cliff and Sam, and he probably has no chance anyway.

Oh yeah, and Carlos got kicked. He was quite luckluster to me from the start, so I'm not sorry to see him go.

I'm sort of wondering if they need to get rid of the beer in the waiting room...or maybe the producers put it there so that the contestants will act extra-stupidly.

Bonus: Anchovy recipes from the archives

Sam and Cliff both used anchovies in their winning Quickfire challenges. Anchovies are a must in my pantry, always great for a quick meal.

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Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

Thanks for the great Top Chef posts. I'm a Bravo reality fan and am constantly (it seems) watching re-runs of Runway, Housewives of OC, the work-out thing, you name it. It's 8:45 PM in North Carolina on Thanksgiving night, the episode at Social is playing for the 5th? time in my house. Anyway, yes, Betty and Frank are losing their appeal at light speed, and Marcel is endearing himself to me more each episode (my two favorites are turning out to be the two guys with the Fauxhawks - Marcel and Ilan).

Johnny

Johnny | 24 November, 2006 - 03:54

Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

Don't you find all of these chefs this time a little lacking? Last season seemed so much better. There isn't really anyone who is standing out to me and I haven't seen them cook anything yet that I was even tempted to recreate.

Betty is getting on my last nerve! I still can't believe they let her stay after she cheated in that weight camp episode. Especially after Otto left when his offence didn't seem nearly as serious to me.

Dana | 24 November, 2006 - 20:09

Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

Everyone is right that this group doesn't seem nearly as strong as season 1's, both talent-wise and personality wise. Betty is getting increasingly annoying and shrill to a near fingers-on-a-blackboard level...

I really can't wait until this show becomes the three way cooking showdown between Cliff, Ilan, and Sam that we all know it's going to be...

Oh, and poor Marcel. Everyone seems to be slamming him because he seems to be the only guy going for the jugular wanting to win this thing. If he had more sheer talent, he might be blowing everyone away.

Garris | 25 November, 2006 - 06:46

Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

O_o I didn't know about this series. Must get hands on it >_

Zelnox | 12 December, 2006 - 19:51

Top Chef Season 2, Episode 6

I have to agree with Dana. The chefs this time are unpleasant and uninteresting. The challenges are flat-out ridiculous. They should have them do things that a real chef-in-training would do. Also - they don't show enough of the creative process -- and way too much of these unpleasant people whining and moaning. I keep wanting to like this show but it's hard to do this season. What's her name who "hosts" the show is as boring as her predecessor.

Jenny | 7 January, 2007 - 05:50

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