Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Top Chef Blogging

I'm a political junkie, but I have to admit, I'm getting pretty tired of the health care debate.  Yes, I know, most of you were there 6-8 months ago.  Anyway, rather than another blog about health care, here's more Top Chef blogging.

One of the things that struck me about this season is the intensity of the competition.  One of the favorites, Kevin, said in last night's show that he was happy to be remaking a mole because the judges didn't like his last mole.  He also said that he needed to cook his food, and be more focused. 

Now, these are the sort of things I hear a lot from competitors, particularly those who rise from the bottom to the top (in this case, Ashley, the lesbian who desperately needs to wash her hair, fits the bill).  But Kevin wasn't on the bottom at all.  He was consistently one of the top performers in this competition, and the judges have consistently liked his dishes.  Its just that in the past episode, the judges liked some of the other dishes more.  In other words, Kevin appears to equate not being in the top 3-4 to losing.

And that's a level of competitiveness that hasn't been part of Top Chef in past seasons.  Usually, there are more than a few chefs who skate - trying to do enough to keep them in the competition rather then trying to win every Elimination Challenge - and at some point, the Head Judge berates them for it (particularly last season).  This season, everyone is pushing themselves very, very hard.  I think there's a couple of reasons for this:

1) Sibling Rivaly: Two of the top competitors, Bryan and Mike, are brothers.  Both men are highly regarded chefs, and run excellent restaurants (Mike has a Michelin star).  Its also clear that they are keeping score as to who wins what, with each man pushing the other.  Together, the brothers Voltaggio have been in the top of every Elimination Challenge from the get-go.  That level of competition has pushed everyone else to step up their game, and fast.  One of the increasingly stronger competitor, the aforementioned Ashley, was almost kicked out early because it took her a couple of challenges to get her sealegs.

2) Better Equipment: In season 2, I believe, Marcel complained about not being able to use a specialized cooking apparatus, and thus overcooked his turkey roulade.  In season 6, the chefs are regularly using liquid nitrogen, the circulator-thingee that Marcel complained of not having, and other high tech gadgets.  As a result, the creative chefs are able to be more creative. 

Lastly, as far as who was forced out - Ron reminds me of Mikey from Season 2 (but without the dickish attitude).  He was clearly outmatched by this competition, but didn't necessarily embarrass himself (unlike Eve and Jennifer). 

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