Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Old Cold Leftovers

Sometimes a post is not a dish best served cold. Happy Bohrer Day seemed much farther off when I said I would start posting again. I thought I could whip this into something entertaining. Instead I found that I had waited so long that I no longer remembered details, and I was left with these sketchy notes. You may still find something tasty in there, or you may pop the lid and be sent fleeing from the moldy remains.

Your milage may vary.

First, the recap:

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong! Bad Judges! Bad!
We're in Aspen! Hung thinks the lift passes are movie tickets, they ride to the top of the mountain, and they're presented with a ton of ingredients. They're told that there will be no wacky challenges, they just have to present the best three-course meal they've ever made. Have they seen the show?

So they cooked and stuff... Oh, and there were some celebrity sous chefs and they brought back some of the last chefs to be eliminated. Hi, Second Sara, we love you! Brian, well, he got to eat with the judges, so he had that goin' for him.

The Producers' M. Night Shamalamadingdong Tweest was that halfway through prep, the judges revealed that the chefs would have to come up with and prepare a fourth course and get it ready within the hour they had remaining. How will they handle the pressure?

Hung won the first course. Mohawk won the second. Hung won the third course. Mohawk won the last. Yeah, Casey got shut out completely. Ouch. Sucks to be her.

The judges deliberated. Then they revealed on National Television that they can't follow their own criteria.

Here's why:

If they're comparing the results of the rounds, head to head, like they said they were, Mohawk won it. Radicchio said that the two best dishes were equally good. In their comments on the two second-best dishes, they had complaints about Hung's, but not Mohawk's. So if their best dishes were equally good, and Mohawk's second winning dish was better than Hung's second winning dish, it seems clear that in the head to head, they tied on the quantity of winning dishes, but Mohawk won on the quality of the dishes.

So how about the challenge they tossed out? If it's important enough to give the challenge, it should be important enough to judge the challenge. How did they do under pressure? Mohawk improvised on the spot and pulled off one of the best dishes of the night with his Scallops and Purslane. Hung pulled out a recipe that he'd brought for some crappy ass Applebee's dessert and nobody was all that excited about it. Hey, Hung, your monkey can make chocolate cake and whipped cream. My mom can make chocolate cake and whipped cream.

So by my reckoning, Mohawk wins the the head to head and the challenge. Why are they still deliberating?

Instead of relying on the best dishes, head to head, and instead of relying on the challenge results as a tie breaker, they looked at the worst dishes of the night... or at least, the worst dishes of the night not prepared by Casey. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they say over and over through the season that it was not enough to not be the worst chef? In any case, they decided that Mohawk's worst dish was worse than Hung's worst dish, so Hung won it.

They're the judges, I guess. Even though they're wrong.

The biggest issue is this: They said that it doesn't come down to a more fundamental question than "Would you hire this person to run your kitchen?" Hands down, Hung fails that test. Except for technical expertise, he never displayed the qualities they said they were looking for. He was wildly inconsistent, he never took an ounce of responsibility, and the only time he ever displayed an ability to work as a part of a team was when Second Sara took charge and made everyone toe the line in Restaurant Wars. This isn't Top Sous Chef, and there's no way in hell I'd let him run my kitchen.

And finally, Hung served up not one, but two dishes garnished with cat spit in the final. Enough with the fucking foam already. Can we get an automatic disqualification for foam in Season 4?

But you know... I'm not bitter or anything.

On to the reunion!

Reunited and it Feels So Good

"What was your favorite challenge? Clay?"

I laughed so hard at that. Too bad Clay didn't get the joke. Thanks for playing, Clay. There are some bagels in the Green Room. Help yourself to the leftovers on the way out. I thought that was definitely the highlight of the show.

A close second was when Padma told Howie he didn't get to have an opinion about the Grocery Aisle challenge because he didn't actually make anything.

Aside from the quote I led off with, Mohawk had the best lines of the night: "I've always wanted a montage!" and "It's Chicken Cordon Blow!"

Hung tried to say that the person acting like a dick week after week was not you. All I'm sayin' is, that guy bore a strong resemblance to Hung. The distinction between the kind of person who is a dick to try and make a few bucks, and one who acts like a dick to try and make a few bucks may make sense to Jesuits and Republicans, but not to me.

The love connection movie was amusing.

It was nice to see Sassy Lia again.

The dancing was amusingly bad, but not amusingly bad enough.

I'm sure there was other stuff I enjoyed... but I'm drawing a blank. I should have served this when it was fresh.

What am I missing? What did I lose to freezer burn?


vikkitikkitavi said...

Near the end of the season, when the judges were pretty sure that Hung was going to be a finalist, they told him that his cooking "had no soul," and that it was a serious flaw.

From then on, in every challenge and in his final speech to the judges, Hung always lead with "I cook from my soul." As if repeating it every day to the judges would counteract what they thought about his cooking.

But apparently his strategy worked, because he definitely got a soul reversal from the judges.

I just think they thought Mohawk was too flaky to win. He had too many huge flaming disasters. But which would you rather have, an ambitious dish that fails in a spectacular and interesting way, or cold salmon mousse piped onto a cucumber slice?


Natalie said...

I was torn between Dale and Hung so I was okay with the decision. Poor Casey, she was just so horrible. I missed the reunion show and was real sad about it. Oh well.

Hot Lemon said...


deadspot said...

You may be right about their rationale, Vikki. Over the course of the season, he had some really spectacular failures of flavor, but not many. It seemed like he was just stuck in the middle for most of the season. The most obvious meltdowns Dale had were the kind that would be caught in a real kitchen. "Whoops, don't forget the sauce before you take that to table 4," or "Didn't table 6 order one more filet?"

On the other hand, when Hung messed up, it was almost always because his food was just bad. I haven't gone back and looked at it, but it seemed like he was in the bottom more than he was in the top, and he never accepted criticism or learned from his mistakes. (In fact, their complaint about his first course was exactly the same as the complaint about the final Quickfire: No acid on the seafood.)

And you're right on the money with your last point. I'd much rather that they go down swinging than bore me.

I was rooting for Dale from the beginning, Natalie, originally because I didn't know any of them and he was our hometown boy. I just never really expected him to win it. That's what made it such a disappointment when he came so close. When he started doing so well at the end, I thought he really had a shot. In the final episode, listening to the judges comments, I really thought he'd won it.

Heya, Lemon, careful in the kitchen... Hung will probably forget you're there, but Brian is all about the seafood.

BeckEye said...

Vikki's comment is on the money. I mentioned the same thing to my roommate - how all of a sudden Hung decided to hop on the "soul" train.

I was surprised that Casey won the fan favorite prize. I thought Paul Bunyan would snag it.

deadspot said...

I totally forgot about that. Apparently, all it takes to be fan favorite is to look like Jennifer Aniston.

I thought it would go to Tre, considering all the outrage when he got sent home.

Dale said...

I finally saw the big show and read your Top Chef posts, how untimely of me huh? They had just finished telling Hung they didn't see him in food at all and then gave him the big prize. Ridiculous. Great recaps though! More entertaining than the outcome. One of my favourite moments was when Mohawk said Cowboys - what do I know about cowboys? Well, I've slept with a few...