PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING!!!
As usual, there's a lot of sneaky intel out there, but I'm endeavoring to keep this blog a spoiler-free zone. This isn't just for the readers, but for me, too -- I don't want to know what happens! As such, anything that's already been broadcast or has been posted on the official Bravo site is fair game for discussion. I will, for example, discuss the preview of next week's show at the end of the post. But if you've heard rumors that one chef has been hosting a lot of dinner parties, or that another chef was spotted boarding a plane to an exotic locale, please keep them to yourself.

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August 11, 2010

Top Chef - S7E9 Postmortem

There it is... routinely one of the best episodes every season.

First off, I'm not shocked by Kenny's ouster, though it could be only because I accidentally saw the result before I saw the show, so there was no JT surprise for me. I definitely don't buy that he was jobbed, whether or not I agree with sending him home rather than Amanda (I'm more interested than usual in the judges' blogs this week). But while all of these other things -- FOH, organization, leadership, etc. -- are important, they've still always treated it primarily as a food competition, so I think it's a little hard to claim that somebody who botched two dishes got screwed.

You know what else? I don't feel the competition is lessened by his departure. Not because I don't think he was a strong contender, but because this incredibly evenly-matched field means that excellence can come from anywhere at any time. At this point, I'm not especially invested in seeing anybody in particular make the finale. I'm just very, very curious to see how it all shakes out.

Don't want to dwell on it too much, but I share others' disgust with the pile-on that's happening with Alex. His own team taking the food out of his hands is weak, but understandable. The blue team lashing out at him, however, just struck me as horribly classless. Almost all of your dishes had significant problems. Take responsibility for that.

Lots to break down this week. Hopefully the supplementary materials will add a little more daylight.

Comments

Oh my God, they killed Kenny!!!

Sorry. Analysis later. I've just been dying to say that.

Wow.

WOW.

Did NOT see that coming.

I bet you Tom's blog will say that Kenny went home for the cheese dish (makes me think of Dale Talde and his disaster - what was it, peanut butter scallops or something equally ridiculous?).

But, Kenny DEFINITELY had his kitchen much more organized than the other kitchen. Then again, if your kitchen is that organized, and all you need to do is cook - even then, you can't successfully pull off your dishes, that's a bit worrying, no? That doesn't bode well for Amanda. At least Kenny was distracted by organizing the restaurant.

Still in shock - I really thought Amanda was going home.

Frank Bruni was a good guest judge, I thought. Perhaps a little harsh, but we expected that. And was it any surprise that Nancy Pelosi chose the blue team? ;-)

What else? Good Kevin showed up this episode. Tiffany got major props. Ed should get a nice bump in the ratings. But Kenny gone? Ouch. This is worse than losing Dale Talde.

I have no words

Two observations:

I really hated the way the other team threw Alex under the bus; yeah they want to win and yeah he didn't do a whole lot. However, he was on the best team and did do prep work and was all over the wait staff. That was cheap on their part.

Kenny really has been off and on. "The beast is gone"? Seriously? He was never the beast in my opinion. Obviously Angelo is #1 again after this week - he ran a kitchen (non Asian!) that put out a good menu and he had good food. The guy knows what he's doing. By far the most interesting food wise.

Who called Kenny as the Out during RW WEEKS ago? I owe that poster a few rounds of drinks.

Falls in with a long line of better level chefs whose downfall has been in this spot: the aforementioned Dale Talde and, of course, Tre Wilcox.

Ok, right after I leave a comment about the importance of organization and planning, the team that plans & organizes their restaurant best flops because they forgot how to cook. Typical.

I really hated the piling on towards Alex. I feel like he was set up to be the sacrificial lamb - they stuck him in the FOH even though his biggest weakness is organization, knowing it would weaken the team effort as a whole, precisely so he could take the heat for it. I feel like they also denied him a dish partly so they could say he did nothing if they were on the bottom. It's to their credit that they still placed on top, but I thought the whole thing was terribly unfair.

I feel that Kenny really got hurt by placing in the middle the last few weeks. The common theme in all those dishes was that he put too much on the plate and needed to self-edit; but because he was in the middle, he never heard any of that. He would have been better off placing in the bottom just so he could get some feedback. Not knowing what was wrong, he decided to ramp it up instead of settling down.

The irony of the 'Executive Chef Curse' in this instance is that Kenny actually thrived in the role. He just screwed up his dishes.

I always thought Kenny was a bit overrated...but this was too early for him to go. However...I can't justify anyone else on that team leaving.

I mean...they despised that cheese dish. And his other dish didn't really help matters. So I think that combination weighed more than his handling of the kitchen and Amanda's botching of the beef.

Bruni is awesome. Hamburger helper...hehe.

Very sad for Kenny. As we weren't there, obviously we wonder how the judges could choose him over Amanda. Kenny at least held the kitchen together, but then he let Kelly and Amanda serve mediocre or worse food. And then he cooked one horrible and one mediocre dish himself. Kelly compensated with the ganache and her command of the FOH. So it must have been between Kenny and Amanda. Would've given Kenny the benefit of the doubt. But, oh well.

Surprised that since Kenny went home, the real "Beast", Angelo, did not win. He raked everyone over the coals to make sure everything was as good as it could be. That was an achievement under the circumstances - a heavy load.

Alex got a bum rap for not cooking. He prepped and "conceived" his dish. That was all that was required, right? "Conceiving" a dish? He couldn't cook it since he was FOH.

Thought they made the right choice. I would have been surprised if it was someone else.
I also don't like the way they pile on Alex.

While I really thought they were going to can Amanda, I'm not at all shocked or saddened that Kenny is gone. He killed it in the mise en place challenge, but really has put forth a really poor showing ever since. He's been on the bottom a lot, the judges constantly note that his dishes are overworked and need editing but Kenny never seemed to get the message. I get that people loved him because he's a big cuddly robe-wearing teddy bear, but his talent turned out to be overrated.

I agree with gdis that it was poor form for Team 2121 to throw Alex under the bus like that. He was on the winning team! They're not going to cut him! Get over it! The judges just sat there and told you your food was bad...show some accountability.

That being said, Alex is cooking on borrowed time here on Top Chef. I totally get the frustration of his teammates given that he was tasked with butchering proteins which had to then be redone because he screwed it up. Did anyone doubt that he would screw up FOTH too? He managed to be douchey and awkward all at the same time. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was just getting the villain edit, but now I'm convinced that he's just a train wreck.

@potty, I believe that is nomnomnom. He might be unbearable until next week. But, when you're right, you're right. Dom also gets props for noting that he was waiting for the call out at JT with "why 94509 ingredients in that ______". Kenny's food sounded bad. So, probably the right call. But, I thought he was a legit challenger with Angelo, both in food and ego, so now the season got a little less interesting. Hamburger helper? Dagger.

Cooked cheese: We'll call it the Jen Biestly and Kenny curse.

Pelosi was about as interesting as the other Pol judges. Nice things about both dishes, and a gentle negative. But, really, no worse than any other non-chef judge.

The Alex didn't cook thing might have seemed untoward, but I saw it as the last gasp of some contenders (Good Kevin, Kelly, Kenny) who knew one was going home. Best way to dodge a bullet is get someone else in front of you. Bruni's take was right: Team wins, you're safe; them the rules.

Heading out for the SoCal homeland for two weeks, so I'll probably miss much of the banter over next week's episode. Catch you guys for the round of 6.

Kenny's ego was not checked, as we thought he had done so the past few weeks. He was overconfident. And finally, worse yet, he got it into his head that others were at fault, not his cooking, for his showing.

Wow! Very surprised!

I'm trying to decide how I'd keep score. Kenny does something wrong (2 bad dishes) and something right (ran a good kitchen). Amanda had only one thing to do and she did it poorly - no good to balance it. With that thinking, Amanda goes home. BUT, Kenny made two bad dishes. One bad dish and you could say someone had an off night. Two bad dishes...I don't know.

And I have to disagree with this:

This is worse than losing Dale Talde

Kenny talked a big game but, in my opinion, he didn't produce food that was consistently as good as Dale's.

Great episode -- so much drama! Yes, Alex is the worst chef left (and an ass to waiters!) but this only buys him another week or so. He'll get his dues. And if Kenny did such a poor job with TWO dishes, he deserves to go home. A bit early for a middle-of-the-packer, but hopefully one of the stronger chefs will prevail. I don't really have a favorite this season, but it's been fun to watch. So wasn't it hilarious that Alex's dish had a pea puree?!?! Though did Angelo or Ed recommend it -- maybe as a dig?

Zoiks! A fast post-game posting!
That means I'm upping my (timely albeit used) commentary up, too.
(Sorry for being gauche! But no one else is even touching what needs a real throttling:)
------------------------------namely (slightly edited):
I am hoping against hope that Top Chef has not just Jumped the Shark.

The editing (leading-on) contained in this RW episode was (in over-emotional teevee parlance) borderline criminal. What we saw is Not what we got.

When the ending is not illumined by what has been portrayed, then the entire construct must be questioned by Serious People.

NEVERTHELESS! I must cling to native Optimism in the face of an otherwise barren teevee schedule, and await with bated breath the expert appraisal of Dom du Skilletdoux, who I imagine is pissed.
-------------------the end.

Addenda: 1) Kenny got screwed. No two ways about it.

2) The "throw the jew Alex down the well" BS is becoming pathological. Even a pro-Palestinian USMC pinko grunt like me is getting worn out by the feral spectacle of it. Is this season being monitored by some university sociology department? Homeland Security? B'ah!

I also thought Amanda was going home. Shocking. There have been many Kenny doubters, and I was not the person who predicted Kenny was going home during RW but ...

S7E6 power rankings, Ally sez...

"One problem I'm having with Kenny is that its important that the cheftestants take criticism on board and address issues that the judges have with their food. He's been lucky in the sense that he's been on the bottom and heard the criticism that he has too much going on with his dishes. Unfortunately, he seems to be too egotistical to re-think this approach and simplify a little. That's why I think he has the biggest potential to flame out and soon. But now that I've said that, I've just anti-jinxed him and he'll probably win the whole thing ;)"

My take-home message? I jinxed my anti-jinx!

surprise surprise, another restaurant wars, another upset. alex really didn't complete a dish and I'm surprised the fairies didn't call him out on it. It's getting perplexing as to why the rules are never enforced on this show as to "build drama." Also, This is akin to Tre going home.

Don't forget, Alex really screwed up with salting the fish early in the quickfire too.

I particularly hated the elves this week. I'm not sure what purpose vilifying Alex so thoroughly served; it certainly doesn't make me want to tune in next week to watch him even more. While I can imagine how his abrasive personality could be biasing the chefs' opinions, he did seem to make a lot of legitimately terrible mistakes, and that's just not fun to watch.

I disagree with the comments that criticize EVOO's decision to put him out front. It's not throwing him under the bus; it's putting your team's greatest liability in a position where he can't do too much harm. And that's exactly what happened: despite the poorer FOH on their side, they won, because the food was better. The alternative would be to trust Alex with the quality of their food, and I can understand why they didn't want to do that.

Tiffany continues to be the only truly likable person left. Angelo continues to be consistently not bad. Amanda continues to show her cooking inexperience. Kenny leaves well after I stopped rooting for him. Blah.

Although the "Mission" team lost in RW last year, and tonight "EVOO" won, wasn't Laurine in a similar situation to Alex? She prepped a lamb dish that Kevin cooked and it was considered a failure. Both she and Alex were FOH. I don't remember if Laurine contributed another dish. Sure, the red team tonight probably did a lot more with Alex's dish than Kevin did with Laurine's dish (wink, wink) but I don't think the situation was remarkably different, so the indignation expressed by Kenny and Kevin tonight seemed disproportionate considering past RW history. Help me out here, TC fans, if I'm remembering wrong!

No issues with Frank Bruni as judge for me. He's getting trashed on another forum. I enjoyed his reviews in the NYT and especially the excerpts from his book. More judges like him and fewer like Art Smith is fine by me!

Amanda clearly thought she was going home.

Dom's comments about Kenny in the rankings this week were right on. Tonight's episode was the culmination of Kenny doing lesa and less with more and more.

One thing my writing teacher stressed over and over was that a successful story was not what was included, but what was edited out. KISS principle. I think the same can be true for food.

Simple food well prepared or rescontructed with a novel viewpoint should always outperform "busy" food or ill-prepared food.

Ed finally pulling out a win just confirms comments from many in previous weeks' posts. The field is so even, anyone can win, and anyone can lose. Even Tiffany, who blew everyone else out of the water last week, stumbled a bit this week.

Are we ready to start talking finalists yet? Not me. I think just about anyone can go up or down next week.

Tonight's episode really illustrated for me some of the misconceptions of what constitutes a functional team vs. a dysfunctional team.

We had one team that consistently through the episode got along beautifully and was well organized. This seemed like an extremely functional team.

We had another team that was disorganized, angry, and rife with tension. This seemed like an extremely dysfunctional team.

Now, barring F.O.T.H. performance, at judges' table, it turned out that things were exactly the opposite. The functional team was dysfunctional, the dysfunctional team functional.

Part of the reason for this apparent 'switch' was the editing, of course - we were led to believe that one team was doing great while the other was doing poorly...but I think it goes deeper than that, and in ways that we've seen before. Kenny's team looked functional because they weren't arguing, and they seemed organized - and yes, those can both be important attributes of a well-functioning team.

And yet...no one told Kenny his beets were overworked or that his cheese dish was disgusting - and I find it very difficult to believe that none of his teammates felt that way; No one advised Amanda on how to properly cut her beef; No one criticized Kelly on the flavors of her soup - the team might have gotten along, but that doesn't mean they were functioning well, or functioning as a team.

Angelo's team might have been disorganized, they might have been unpleasant, but they were also checking each others' work: Alex's butchering was fixed. Alex's dish was completed, and completed with care; And while Tiffany might have messed up her crudo, she couldn't have messed it up very much since the judges didn't mention it to her. The team dynamic might have been horrific, but based on their output, they did, in fact, function well as a team.

We've seen this in prior seasons as well, and it certainly isn't limited to the show. One of the greatest potential advantages to a team exercise is the ability to get timely and incisive criticism...yet this advantage is often lost when team members are more concerned with a pleasant process than a proper outcome.

Arghhhhhh my horse is out of the race!!!

Daniel, I think your comments about the team dynamics and how they affected the outcome are right on! Too much group-think and not enough atmosphere that engenders free exchange of ideas, including criticism, is a killer to a successful product or project. Thank you!

Three thoughts: 1. Should have been Alex. I have lost any respect for him and it makes me re-think Peagate. I get that the judges don't get into what happened behind the curtain, and I knew when they did not bring the "winning" team out again that the dye had been cast, but come on!
2. Are you kidding me?? Amanda should have gone home rather than Kenny. Kenny kept that operation running smoothly and is deserving of respect for the entire operation. 3. Kenny outsmarted himself. Again. He seems to understand food, but felt the need to overproduce when simple flavors would have won the day.

Aaaargh!!!!

Check out Tom Colichio's twitter account. He claims at least three contestants saw Alex MAKE the pea puree, not steal it.

P.S. Why is religion (Judaism) even brought up in this conversation? This blog is about FOOD and tangentially Top Chef. No one to my knowledge even brought up that particular Briar Patch, BryanD, with all due respect. Let's leave that kettle of fish unopened, just as we would Nancy Pelosi's appearance. Per Dom's request.

Bryan: Agree with Kathy - at one point this episode, Alex's Star of David was shown. It was probably pretty prominent to those of us who are Jewish, and perhaps noticeable on some level even to those who aren't.

Alex is sloppy. Alex is a little awkward. Alex looks a little bit like a horrified ostrich. Alex is unreliable as a chef, and his teammates are irritated as hell by that. Alex was also an utter douche to the waitstaff. But I don't think the viewing public could give a crap whether or not Alex is Jewish, and I can't imagine any of his fellow chefs do either.

So let's fix your 2):

"The "throw Alex down the well" BS is becoming pathological."

Agreed :)

In terms of fixing your 1)...well,

Kenny put out a mediocre dish (the beets), a horrific dish (the cheese), and failed as EC (as pleasant a kitchen as he might have run, it was a failing kitchen). So I'm not sure how he got screwed. He had a lousy day, but that's not him getting screwed. And while he's most certainly a far better chef than Amanda, he wasn't a better chef today. Doing more only helps if you do one of them successfully, and unfortunately, his low (the cheese) was lower than her low (the beef). It sucks that he went home before she did, but honestly, how on earth could the judges have legitimately decided differently?

garik16: Check out Tom Colichio's twitter account. He claims at least three contestants saw Alex MAKE the pea puree, not steal it.

Thanks for pointing it out. So now we can be sure that Alex did not steal Ed's puree. Yes, the elves love casting Alex as a bad guy. Me, I just think that it's cool to have someone around with a lot of personality. Aside from Tiffany, the others would put me to sleep.

Amanda dish was not all bad. Her sauce was very good (as usual). The problem was overdone meat, with at least one customer return. She knew she was struggling with the wood grill, and working with grass fed beef.

Alex got piled on by the house. Not sure why his prep was so problem, does he not do any prep, has never done protein prep?. .

Props to nomnomnom. He called the loser and the winner. The man knows his Restaurant Wars. I was impressed by Angelo this week. When the group mugged Alex and he sputtered back a response, Angelo said, "You don't have to justify yourself," which I inferred to mean, "You were on the winning team. You did the jobs we asked you to do. That's fine." I thought that was a good approach and it made me see Angelo as a force of Top Chef goodness.

Dach: Alex's prep produced nothing but problems. It had to all be repaired: fish with bones and scales (he later claimed that in fact was his badge of honor). In point of fact, Tiffiny as we witnessed had to get scales and bones from the fish prior to serving; he cut the lamb improperly and required Angelo's help; his choice in frozen lamb to begin with was a detriment; where does it end? Every step of the way the other chefs had to step in to correct his errors. At that point, his job was prep work which he performed poorly, to say the least. At his singular task he failed miserably. Name a high point, please. Front of house, perhaps??

Kathy...

If I may be so bold as to speak for Dach, I don't think (s)he was suggesting that Alex's prep wasn't a problem, but rather wondering why a chef in his position was having so much trouble.

Yes, of course and I remain respectful of those who have a much greater understanding of cooking and chefery than myself. But my questions still remains: how could Alex have left his team so woefully unprepared??

Kenny upset and Alex pile-on aside, I wanted to note that Frank Bruni was exactly the judge Toby Young should have been. Sure, Bruni was vicious, but it was in a way that painted a precise picture of his experience. Hamburger helper? Wow, that cut through the bone, but what a visceral image of the beet salad. Great shoes, bad suit? Way harsh, but the analogy was perfect. I wouldn't mind a repeat showing.

@Dom and Kathy,
Yes. That's what I was trying to say in too few words.

Here's my expanded view on the Alex pile-on:
I now see why Ed keeps bashing Alex basic skills. I absolutely agree Alex is surprisingly incompetent in butchering meats/fish, and probably other prep. But those things I don't do either, I have fishmonger and butcher do it. So on the job he must have others doing all the butchering, which isn't a crime. And he was a bit rough with waitstaff. Even though it looked bad on TV edit, I wasn't too bothered by how he treated waitstaff, I think he just treated them like the executive chef of a busy kitchen, who has to be demanding and decisive, and sometimes *beep* captain of the ship in stormy water. And he was clearly not comfortable being tasked with FOH duties, and knew his team would throw him under if they where at the bottom.

As to Blue teams accusations, Alex was doing something in the kitchen (pea puree perhaps?) leading to Angelo almost blowing a fuse. So even if Alex did nothing well, he must have met the minimum requirements of creating a dish. We know Alex can conceive successful dishes, so it is quite a stretch and insulting for 2121 to assert Alex did not even come up with the recipe ... I mean, he only has one EC bottom and he is an executive chef of a large restaurant (referring to Dom's pre-season bios).

I'm disappointed the episode really heavy on Alex and cut out the restaurant planning, food logistics, menu conception, like why did team kenny decide on dessert course, which really hurt them, when team ed just went with 4 main dishes, 2 appetizers -- one of which was a fish that looked like another entree. They pretty much ignored 3 course menu standard of appetizer, entree, dessert and got away with it.

The one thing I can't understand is why EVOO (um, gross. Way to Ray Ray) served two fish dishes as their main courses. That seems like a major restaurant misstep to me. Some people just don't like fish, or don't want to eat it on any given day. At least "21 21" had a meat dish, even if it was anemic looking and overcooked.

I was feeling kind of bad for Alex at the beginning because the other chefs were really hating on him, and then I stopped feeling bad for him when he was so brusque with the staff, and then I went right back to feeling bad for him when the 21 21 team went at him guns blazing both at Judge's Table AND back in the stew room. That was just so unnecessary and nasty. Why do it? It's bad enough you try to knife him in front of the judges, which is pretty classless. But what do you gain by going back into the stew room and being nasty to his face, especially in such an aggressive manner? It really made like everyone on 21 21 less, especially Kevin who was ridiculous.

Based on his cooking, Kenny seemed like the obvious and fair choice to go. Based on how he did solely as an executive chef, I'm not so sure, because his team was pretty well organized, even if their cooking wasn't up to snuff. I actually didn't think his goat cheese dish looked disgusting, but it was universally panned. I would have liked to have tried it.

@Kathy and Daniel, To bryan's defense, "Throw the Jew down the well" is a Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) Song. You can find it on Youtube.

Pretty sure that's what he's referencing with that comment.

I agree with the comments on the disorganized vs organized. Angelo was an a**h***, but he made the kitchen produce winning dishes. That's what's needed to make sure they're successful. Think back to last year's when the Volt brothers put out the "most successful restaurant wars ever." They were yelling at each other and at Robin. They did what was needed to win. I'm sure Alex did the bare minimum, which is frustrating, but he did the bare minimum. I also agree that Angelo handled the situation well by saying "you don't have to explain yourself" - I think that was a classy way to handle it (of course it's easy to be classy when you win). Kenny claims he's "the beast." If that were true he would have been all over the bad dishes - he put out 2 bad dishes and allowed other bad dishes to go out. I think his talents have been in question quite a bit recently, and although I'd rather see Amanda go, I think Angelo/Ed/Tiffany/Kelly going would have been far more disappointing and detrimental to the season.

I think Daniel's commentary is exactly right. It also seems consistent with prior iterations of RW.

S3: Bickering between Hung & Howie didn't matter as the team got the job done; Tre's team got along, but put out lousy food.

S4: The winning team behaved professionally throughout, but I distinctly remember Antonia asking a surprised Richard to re-rinse his clams because they were gritty. Clearly she wasn't afraid to speak her mind, and Richard wasn't averse to constructive feedback.

S5: I honestly don't remember much, except that Radhika specifically avoided picking Steffan even though he was strong because she didn't want the conflict.

S6: Kevin, Jennifer, Laurine, & MikeI got along so well that nobody spoke up to voice objections to their poor planning. Meanwhile, MikeV was annoying the crap out of everybody, but constructively, and got a good effort out of the team.

I'm usually just a lurker (albeit a very frequent one), but I had to jump in today to add my 2¢- Kenny 100% deserved to go home.

I liked him a lot from episode 1, but the shine wore off more and more each episode. As other people here have said before, when you're constantly stating you're the Alpha Dog, chances are you're really not.

If it wasn't last night, it would have been soon enough, he's just not capable of hearing criticism and making adjustments. Almost every time he didn't win, or had a dish criticized, he was always "shocked", or "blown away", because he "knew the flavors were there". Yeah, too many flavors Kenny.

How many previous chefs have been sent home because they foolishly defended a dish to the death even though 4 experts were sitting there telling them the problems with it?

Sigh. Flight delayed...

Evooo. What an awful, awful name. They should have all been tossed for that idea on general principle. "Olives" might have been better, but I think that's a Todd English place. Also, as Bruni touched on: Why come out and say "Welcome to ____, we serve ________ food." Why not say "Welcome to _______, what do you want?" and wait for them to ask why the name.

Kenny = two (not just bad) horrible dishes
Amanda = slightly overdone steak with a praiseworthy sauce. Based on the steak they showed I suspect a lot of people would want it cooked exactly like that.
Kelly = terrible soup but did well at foh
That fact that his team didn't commit mutiny and everyone did their jobs isn't enough to save him in my opinion.
Also; Tom tweeted last night that three of the chefs said they saw Alex making the pea puree.

I'm not especially fond of Frank Bruni, either his written work or last night's appearance. A lot of restaurant critics remind me of a lot of sports reporters - people fundamentally envious of the 'stars' that they cover, and feel a pathological need to take them down a notch (at least, when they're not kissing ass to gain access and bask in reflected glory). He's not as bad as Toby Young, but I always got the sense he cared more about asserting his own importance than he did about communicating information to the public.

I predicted this in my comments on the Power Rankings this week. Bottom line is that Kenny was convinced that he knew best and didn't listen to what the judges kept telling him.....too much stuff on the plate. As I wrote a few days ago, it doesn't matter if you think the judges are right or wrong. If you hear the same comments from the judges several times then it behooves you to listen to them and react to what they are saying.

What Kenny's team did to Alex - they knew he wasn't going to be eliminated - was disgraceful. It was pointless trashing and if his own team did not call Alex out at the JT, what the heck is the other team doing criticizing? I swear, if Alex and Robin opened a restaurant together I'd be there opening night.

Angelo's defense of Alex may have been self-interested as well. If Alex's failure to "conceive" (or whatever) a dish was a violation, then the fault does not necessarily fall on Alex if he was not really allowed to conceive a dish. You could debate whether he should have spoken up more (this is all assuming he failed to conceive a dish), but you could also debate whether the others, especially Angelo, were equally or more at fault for not giving him an opportunity. It's at least an open question of who should have gone home if that was a violation.

The episode does suggest that Alex's horrendous prep skills and state of disorganization is probably a huge factor in his poor quickfire performances.

My two cents, Kenny has skated out of the bottom a couple of times already. He has been repeatedly critiqued for too much on the plate; but as I read some comments I got the feeling I may be remembering the judges table chat and not what he heard. But I could swear he had direct comments on that at least once, when he was in the bottom.
I find without tasting it, you have to go on what they say. Stephen wasn't a surprise last week, and Alex's time will come. But Kenny had that leading contender vibe, but lots of it was out of his mouth and not in the wins per se.

I agree, the finalists seem like a wide open field. Kevin could get it together, heck, Alex could surprise me. Who knows?!

Where was Tom's customary walk through the kitchen? Was this omitted on purpose?

I have a personal aversion to anything more than tiny accents of goat cheese so as soon as I heard that Kenny had chosen goat cheese I could not see how that could possibly taste good ...

I was not bothered by 2121's attack on Alex. They had worked well together and were happy with their collective performance. Attacking Alex was at least better than savaging each other. It wasn't likely to save them but it was worth a shot.

But two thing really bothered me: (1) Restaurant wars normally gets more than an hour -- once it was even 2 full episodes. Cramming it all into just an hour didn't let the events breathe. (2) They didn't request comment cards from the diners (or didn't show it) and I do wonder whether the "VIP" table at EVOO got better food than everyone else. From what little we saw, it looked like EVOO's kitchen was adjusting for Alex's timing screw-ups throughout the night and seemed to put the judges ahead of other orders that came in first ...

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