There was a moment during last night's episode of "Top Chef" when I thought everything was falling into place. Karma would rule over the kitchen, and Leah, the evil witch from the East Coast, would be banished from the premises for her undercooked cod. She would suffer for her cheating lips and verbal indiscretions toward Queen Ariane, and all the townsfolk would rejoice.
Unfortunately, "Top Chef" is a reality show and real life doesn't play out that neatly. The moment passed, and all was not made right. Or at least not in the way I initially hoped.
The restaurant wars episode of "Top Chef" is always one of my favorites. It is, in essence, "do or die" time for the cheftestants, and as such, the drama increases exponentially. While this season has been decidedly less entertaining than previous seasons, the episode did hold my attention -- and not just because I got to watch an impeccably dressed Fabio work his magic in the front of his team's restaurant, the ineptly named Sunset Lounge.
After Radhika and Leah were named the winners of the Quickfire challenge that required them to present a dish representative of a restaurant they would like to open, they were charged to pick their teams for the execution of those restaurant concepts. In an instance of glee-inducing serendipity, European dynamos Fabio and Stefan landed on the same team as lovebirds Hosea and Leah. The pairing couldn't have been better if it had been staged by the producers. Radhika's team included whiny Jamie, googly eyes Carla, and "Top Chef" pretty boy, Jeff. It was clear from this lackluster grouping that the only sparks flying would be in the Sunset Lounge kitchen -- aside, of course, from the love that Carla gave to her disastrous chocolate spice cake.
The action proceeded fairly predictably from there. Stefan did his whole "my way or the highway" bit; Leah pouted and finally made out with Hosea; and Fabio ran around saying things like, "we could serve monkey ass in an empty clam shell, and we'll still win because I'm in the front of the house." In contrast, team Sahana kept their antics confined to the pots and pans (I guess this really is a cooking show?), while Radhika had a panic attack because she doesn't know how to lead or interact with people. The only drama to be found in that kitchen came while watching Tom Collichio's face contort with disbelief when Carla proudly declared that she sent her woeful desserts out "with love." The exchange led to the second best quote of the night from guest judge Steven Starr. "Keep the love in the kitchen, send out good desserts."
Ironically, that statement proved true for the Sunset Lounge team that was saved by European duo Stefan and Fabio. Hosea and Leah shared love (and regret) in their kitchen, Stefan sent out good desserts, and Fabio flitted about the dining room, a charming knight in a sharp grey suit. The team of odd couples won the challenge, and Radhika was sent packing for the greatest transgression of all in reality television -- a weak personality.
While I didn't get the fairy tale ending I hoped for, justice did prevail in the "Top Chef" kingdom. Despite my disappointment that the evil Leah was saved by two European knights, ultimately, a chef who can't take the lead in the kitchen should not be in contention for the crown. Paint the roses red, it's off with Radhika's head. Long live Sir Fabio and his homemade ravioli.