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Top Chef Chicago: Week Eleven Reflections

Alright, alright. I am really late on this. I did watch on Wednesday, but a combination of factors (laptop at service center, really busy, needing to – gasp – sleep) prevented me from finishing in a timely manner.

Regardless, here’s what I thought. As always, I cannot wait to hear what you all thought too. We are coming down to the wire on the competition. Looks like my prediction of a Dale, Richard, Antonia finale missed the mark . . . I still think Richard and Antonia will be in the finale, but who else? Stephanie perhaps? She excelled this week, but hasn’t been memorable in past weeks. She’s probably the strongest of the other remaining chefs.

Anyway, onto the episode. The Quick Fire was really interesting, albeit unusual. To see these Top Chef contenders stumble through eggs over easy and fret about egg white filled pots of poaching eggs was a trip . . . There is nothing highbrow about that. It was no surprise — to me at least — that Antonia did well at the challenge. She has proved throughout the series that she is not only a great chef, but a regular home cook too. Good to know that she can handle both sides of the cooking equation.

I was really excited to see Tom so early in the show . . . but to have him absent for the rest of it was disappointing. And putting Anthony Bourdain to fill in for him was a shame. Bourdain’s usual arrogance and frankness was really restrained when he took the slot of main judge. He is far better when he’s the witty guy on the end, offset by the other judges and particularly Tom. Top Chef should never do that again.

For the elimination challenge, it was restaurant wars this week. Funny, since last week Padma said there wouldn’t be any restaurant wars this season . . . apparently she meant just for that one week. Because blanket statements like that belong in the final cut. Right? Right? Don’t think about it too much — it will make your head hurt.

The group divided into teams — Dale, Lisa and Spike against Richard, Antonia and Stephanie. Can you guess who won?

On Dale’s team, they chose an Asian theme since they all have backgrounds in Asian cooking . . . or so they say. It’s a wonder that Miss Sunshine herself, Lisa, lived to fight another week. Her dishes were disasters this week and didn’t exhibit any sort of mastery of Asian cooking. Hey hun, choose dishes you know how to make instead of letting others choose for you and complaining . . . seriously. I particularly loved the description of her sticky rice, “Baby vomit with wood chips.” So appetizing.

I have to hand it to Spike. Like the judges said — it was an ingenious move to take the front of the house duties and leave Lisa and Dale to battle it out in the kitchen.

I didn’t want to jump to the conclusion, but the signs were there throughout the show that Dale was going to be told to pack his knives. Did anyone else notice his red-rimmed eyes throughout in the confessionals? It was obvious that he’d been teary-eyed. He behaved awfully in this episode, but I am still sorry to see him go.

And Lordy, Richard was sporting the headband again. In public this time. Dude. Not a flattering look . . .

Next week: Guest judge is Rick Tramonto. The challenge will involve butchering a slab of meat. Let’s see who really knows their stuff (Richard) and who doesn’t (Lisa).

Toddler Picks: Three Things We Love
Perfect Party Drink: Easy Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

Sarah Caron

Thursday 29th of May 2008

Tonia, I am right with you on Lisa leaving and someone finally mentioning that attitude!

Austin, you are so right.


Sunday 25th of May 2008

OMG!!! I can't believe Dale got sent home!! I agree with you, all the signs were pointing to him going home, so I think that's where the coin flip between him and Lisa on who would be exec. chef backfired.

I don't care what happens, I just want Lisa to go home. I haven't like her since about the 3rd episode, and I'm freaking surprised every time her name isn't called whenever she's been at judge's table. I was just glad Bourdain pointed out her negative body language to the other judges... I could've told them that like 5 episodes ago.


Saturday 24th of May 2008

I was sorry to see Dale go & really thought he would end up in the final three. I don't know how much longer Lisa can last & can't wait to see her go. I was so glad one of the judges finally commented on her confrontational attitude. I'm definitely rooting for Richard or Antonia.