Top Chef, Season 9, Episode 7: Game On

I found this a resoundly disappointing episode. I’m dismayed that the chefs aren’t bringing it. They’re not goading one another to do amazing things. There aren’t enough super chefs blowing people away that everyone feels like they have to raise their game. I’m definitely pining for season 6, when the Voltaggio brothers, Kevin, and Jennifer just blew people away.

Oh well.

The quickfire was so dominated by the discussion of tequila that they pretty much for got to talk about the food. And when Tim Love grinned, it blinded my eyes with all the pearly white.

The elimination challenge was a train wreck. Heather, she of the villain edit, just digs herself deeper and deeper. It’s pretty clear that she’s at best a mediocre chef (at least in this crowd), but she clearly thinks she can do no wrong. I’ve worked with people who, when the shit starts hitting the fan, all they do is point fingers elsewhere, and refuse to accept any blame. Her belief that the reason she was picked out for elimination was because the contestants feared her after her previous win was the height of self-delusion.

And I haven’t even gotten to her bizarre treatment of Beverly throughout the episode. She clearly had so little confidence in Beverly from the start that she never got herself into a place where she could actually work with her. And Heather’s whole “I do rustic farm-to-table and all she does is Asian” smacks of incompetence–no great chef blathers on about supposed styles like this. They just cook great food.

And it doesn’t help, as I’ve mentioned before, that Bev is pretty much a tightly wound bundle of nerves. There couldn’t have been a worse pairing for a team, and it makes you wonder if it was truly random. Though, oddly enough (and it’s easy to forget in all the drama), they didn’t lose! In fact, they might have been on the top of the bottom.

Poor Grayson, paired with crazy Chris J. Poor Nyesha, paired with Dakota’s underdone venison. Grayson continues to be a crowd-pleaser (and it’s not just me, judging by the voting), and I’m happy she’s still cooking.

It’s unfortunate that I’m enjoying Last Chance Kitchen perhaps more than the main show. I like that the focus in not on the bullshit, but the food, and I love the emerging Greek chorus of ousted chefs (all dudes… until next time!). Nyesha is clearly so much more talented that the others that it wasn’t a fair fight. I expect her to win quite a few of these.

I have to say, I’m thrilled they’re getting out of the open-air pit that is Dallas, and heading to one of America’s best cities, Austin. I hope those environs coax quality performances that Dallas just couldn’t inspire.

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