Top Chef
Sunny Delights

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Keckler: B | Grade It Now!
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Bye, Bye Birdsong

Meanwhile, the judges have decided that they have a tough task in front of them. Gail even notes that she thinks it's going to be tough from here on in. Okay it's only the second episode, and while I do think that this crop of cheftestants seems more experienced than last year, I can't help but wonder if Gail's comment isn't simply to keep pushing the charade that this season is supposed to be so much better than last season's mess on toast. Colicchio repeats the idea of upscale barbecue and we go over all the stuff we've already heard. NORM! says, "There's three words that go with barbecue: 'low' and 'slow.'" Yes, and that's all fine and dandy, but dude, NO ONE was doing low and slow in two hours of cooking. Real "low and slow" barbecue takes way more time than two hours. Plus, it's usually all about the wood smoke and chimney and not about the product-placed Kingsford and lighter fluid. I wish they had just called this a grilling challenge, which is really what they were doing, and not tried to call it barbecue. I know parts of the U.S. as well as the U.K. and even Australia have decided that "barbecue" is interchangeable with "grilling," but get people from Texas, Tennessee, Kansas City, North Carolina, and even Oklahoma on it, and you'll find out that real barbecue is NOT done with coals and it's NOT done in two hours. Of course, they're dinging Sandee for doing even less barbecuing/grilling than anyone else, Joey From New York for giving them the same stuff he ate as a kid, Tre for not being "barbecue enough," and Howie for his dried out pork. NORM! says, "The bar has been raised here very early on in this contest. There's no one going home tonight and sleeping well, not even the winners."

After the commercials, the four bottom feeders are brought back to the Judges' Table and retold what the challenge criteria was and how exactly they all failed to achieve the objective. Colicchio does admit that none of them were terrible. Padma tells Sandee to pack her knives and go. In the back, the waiting cheftestants greet Sandee (with Howie close on her heels) with cheers and clapping. I'm not sure what they were expecting here, that this was Project Runway where Heidi painstakingly winnows it down to two potentials and sends the safe ones to the back, one by one? Sandee, her lips clamped and her hands stuffed in her pockets, shakes her head at them. Micah stops short with her smile, as Sandee says, "No, I didn't do a barbecue dish, you guys." Someone bursts, "What?" Sandee, her hands up shruggingly, says, "They say mine wasn't barbecue." Hung's face visibly falls and his shoulders slump sadly and he's the first one to hug her. He tells us, "Everyone was shocked -- we all thought that she was not going to go home. Sandee is a really cool girl and we hated to see her go home." I know he's got an ego meatier than an entire side of beef, but he seems to have a good heart. Brian (MALARKEY!) has his hands frozen in cheer mode, but when Sandee's words sink in, he places one hand dramatically against his chest. Everyone moves in to hug Sandee. Sandee tells us she's really shocked but she knew from the first day that she wasn't going to be in the upper echelon of the competition. The cheftestants applaud her out of the room. "You may not see me on TV, but you'll definitely see me in the kitchen," Sandee finishes.

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