Thursday, January 04, 2007

Top Chef -- Then There Were Six

Well, all bets off on Betty. Gumption, guts and a good personality can only take you so far and Betty was eliminated last night for her "chunky" and oddly flavored pureed soups. Now that the Top Chef competitons (as opposed to the program itself) are focusing on the food, not the gimmicks, formal culinary training might have been the missing ingredient for Betty.

The biggest surprise of the night -- and the biggest mystery -- was Michael. Battered and bruised and obviously drugged up, he ends up cooking his most sophisticated and presentable dishes so far and wins the quick fire AND the elimination challenge. He appears first with his face swollen and looking woozy. Later we learn he is on painkillers and has had an emergency wisdom tooth extraction. His altered state must have helped him focus, or maybe, he finally brought his A game to play. He had hoped to win the quick fire and then just coast through the elimination challenge, but, alas for him, the quick fire no longer brings immunity. It did give him the right to switch his elimination challenge assignment (the challenge was a seven course meal based on the seven deadly sins) sin from lust to envy. He created a trout and salmon dish with the explanation that the trout envies the much larger and more powerful trout. As one judge exclaimed after taking a bite: "Our Michael cooked this?"

Also praised last night was Elia's roast chicken and vegetables carved tableside (pride) and Sam's spicy cerviche with chili popcorn (anger). Betty's trio of slow roasted soups were sloth. Marcel and Elan's desserts (both in the bottom three) were lust and greed. Cliff's seafood packed thai stew was gluttony.

Anger was a prevailing emotion of the episode as one by one the contestents got ticked off by Marcel.

Once again, focus was on the dynamics between contestents with the food emphasis mostly on cooking failures (Elan's funnel cakes) or oddities (Marcel's foam) rather than seeing how Elia got her chicken so juicy or Sam created the very popular popcorn.

Was Michael's pulling it together an exception, or will we see more Top Chef worthy cooking from him? Will they find a way to bring the popular and popularist Betty back in some capacity? On the reunion show will anyone sit next to Marcel?

Stay tuned.

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