Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Chef Season 5, Episode 9: An Almost Fairy Tale

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.


Ashley said...

Thank you. When they said that Sunset Lounge was a killer name, I thought I was going to die. Sunset Lounge?! It sounds like the name of a soap opera!

While I felt oddly sad for Carla when she was on the chopping block last night (?? who knows what came over me...), I'm still shocked by the fact that she's able to stay in the game without ever really producing anything good.

TROLL said...

Inventive recap. Kudos. I might be the only person in the blogosphere who thought Ariane was weak and whiny and richly deserved her fate. And that the Lovebird's comments had NOTHING to do with Tom's decision to axe her.

Heather said...

i always enjoy your recaps ;) leah and hosea were so annoying last night - but my love for fabio didn't waiver. stefan is so arrogant, but his desserts did sound good. i was hoping they'd send home radhika and carla. no luck, though :(

Diana said...

Ashley - I so agree about the name! It sounds like some sketchy club in Hollywood - yuck!

Troll - I liked Ariane, but didn't think who food was good enough to get her through to the final rounds. Her time would have been up sooner or later -- I just wish Leah would have gone first!

Heather - I know, Stefan's desserts did look good! I wanted a mango chocolate lollipop! And I was totally hoping they'd chop both Radhika and Carla! I thought they might for a moment, but it was clearly a pipe dream. Sigh.

Esi said...

Sunset Lounge sounds like the name of the place across the street from where I work...that strip club that burned down! Fabio's monkey ass line was my favorite thing about the episode, but I got quite a few giggles in. Carla sending out her food with love??? Wow!

Leah is stupid...she needs to be the next to go.

Esi said...

Oh and PS, Max Silvestri does a hilarious review on Eater LA :)

Kirby! said...

Yeah, I used to think Carla was cute when she talked about putting love in her food, but when she used the concept to defend herself, it made her look........ uh totally insane. She probably should have gone home, as this is a cooking show, and not a personality show (or at least it's supposed to be).

Diana said...

Esi - So agree about Leah - she makes boring food and her personality is boring too!

Kirby - Yahoo! Glad you have jumped on the anti-Carla wagon now too! With all our forces combined, she is bound to get sent home soon!