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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February 15, 2012

Top Chef - S9E15 Postmortem

Yeah, I got nothing.

Rankings Monday if I can summon the will. If not, catch you next Wednesday.

Comments

Silly

Ridiculous. Thank God Paul made it though (sorry, Ally!).

was that honestly the worst episode of all time?

Annoying. At least Paul got through.

dumb dumb episode. Bev was a spaz and deserved to go, but wtf

sarah is a fake faker

I was getting a rage stroke watching this episode. What. Was. That??? Absolutely ridiculous- not to mention dangerous!

Agreed on all points. And Sarah was so hateful I had to start fast forwarding through her. She just took the mantle from Heather and ran off.

I live in fear Paul will be eliminated early next week. I don't know if I'd even want to watch and Sarah Lindsay finale.

Now I know what a jumping shark sounds like.

Absolutely stupid episode.

Oh did I want Sarah to go home. When Tom said Bev's fish was under-seasoned, I knew I would be disappointed.

Agree with all the previous comments.

I did not mind the gondola challenge too much. But the other 2 were crap. I thought Bev was going to stab herself with the ice pick.

And shocker, Sheila D won the most votes for her chef this week...again...

"Bev was a spaz and deserved to go"

What? She out-cooked Sarah in two of the three rounds, and out-shot her.

Are they making them cater next episode? Really? REALLY? For another elimination before the "real" finale?

Tonight was horrible.

At least Paul got through. He seems to be the only one thinking it's supposed to be about the food now. (As opposed to revenge, redemption, or ratings.)

This whole episode was BS. I've never been this underwhelmed headed into a finale. I can't even comment on the food because, frankly, I didn't give a damn about the food in this episode.

I feel like the producers just took a dump all over a show I used to enjoy. If I want to watch people falling down, I'll watch Wipeout. None of those "challenges" tested their ability to work with food and none of them allowed interesting cooking. Why fucking bother? And next week we get catering again? Why?!? This season had good chefs and the show never let them cook.

Let's reflect on the silliness:

1. TX State trooper on the highway w/crackers as the winner.
2. Steak and potatoes team challenge for Cattle Baron's Ball.
3. Highland Park progressive dinner with a love of "gummy bears."
4. All night BBQ challenge @ Salt Lick (bleh).
5. Outdoor challenge in San Antonio (chicken salad vs. meatball).
6. Ride a bike through San Antonio and beg for cooking privileges in "foreign" kitchens. Oh, and cook for the super chef Paul Ruben.
7. Chop a block of ice to make it into the final 3. Then ski and shoot your way into a cooking competition.

I am missing a couple but really? Really? No wonder the contestants are annoyed. The only one truly good episode was the Charlize Theron challenge and a few of the quick fires.

It seemed to me tonight that even Tom was embarrassed, but hell, he is utterly complicit in this charade. Bleh.

I hate that a competitor like Paul (sorry Ally) wins with an asterisk.

Well, it can only get better from here...I hope?

Like the rest of you, I'm incredibly irritated by the gimmicks, and dispirited by Sara and Lindsey's continued nastiness. I could get past their horrific personalities because they wouldn't be around next season...but these trained seal challenges this season are really eroding my interest in seasons to come.

I don't think "travesty" is an exaggeration. Do the producers have no understanding of what made TC popular in the first place?

No point in doing a power rankings Dom. There was absolutely nothing in this episode to indicate if a chef warrants a bump in either direction. Entire ep was a gimmick, and everyone knows it.

On a side note, based on the preview for next week's ep, does it seem like this season TC stands for Top Caterer? Granted, it rolls in the dough, but we're in the finals, man. Give them a theme and some fresh product and let them at it.

I have lost most of my respect for the show. I can't help but think that Ed and Bev are gone while Lindsay and Sarah remain. Lindsay and Sarah's mentors are long time TC participants. While I said that did not help Jen, I am now doubting the integrity of the show. A Paul win will help me think otherwise, but I just don't know how Sarah is still there.

Also, I am amazed no one tore a knee up while on the skis. Some of the twists they took when falling looked pretty bad.

It has gotten so bad that Tom C. has not blogged for the last three episodes. Gail's blog is mistakenly put under Tom's name this week.

And.....Sarah should have been eliminated immediately for mistaking a rifle for a shotgun. When she said her father took her to shoot at cans with a shotgun ----- eliminated. No one plunks cans with a shotgun. They use a rifle - probably a .22, although I would bet on it being a bb gun.

Bring on MasterChef.

All this, plus a "coming up" teaser halfway through that was edited to suggest that Bev SHOT Sarah. I almost spit my wine all over the TV.

Catering challenges are staples of one finale episode, we've had catering challenges in Hawaii, Aspen, New Orleans, Napa, and Bahamas. Most of them worked out well to my recollection.

This episode was terrible though.

Awful. One silly challenge would have been fine, but three?

The editors are getting sloppy again. The interview cut to Beverly at the 20 minute mark made it clear that she was out. She wasn't just unhappy about the gondola, clearly.

Kudos to Paul for not only helping the others break ice but also give them extra ingredients, to his own detriment when his demi failed.

They were all silly, but the silliest, the gondola, was probably the most redeemable. It seemed to be the only one where cooking skill was all you needed. Sure it was a bit too "Kitchen Impossible" for us foodie types, but at least it didn't depend on ice breaking skill or biathlon ability to be able to complete.

The only redeeming thing is that it appears we get the extra episode this season so we get a true mano a mano final for the first time in awhile. That's a nice way to mix it up.

"On a side note, based on the preview for next week's ep, does it seem like this season TC stands for Top Caterer? Granted, it rolls in the dough, but we're in the finals, man. Give them a theme and some fresh product and let them at it."

Top sCallop

No one is happier than me that Paul made it (sorry Kathy).

This was stupid and I had the same thought as Anne, do I want to even watch the final if Paul is eliminated during a catering challenge? Probably not. And it was so painful to hear Olympic athletes do stilted intros and try to sound like they knew the first thing about food.

Sarah is a terrible person, and now she has replaced Edward as contestant most in need of a haircut.

I agree with comments above; it was a really ridiculous episode.

Not sure about kitchen etiquette with the electrical outlet on Sarah's station but I also do not care. Am tired of the whole Bev v. Sarah/Lindsay conflict regardless of who was right to begin with.

Can we agree to boycott the finale if Paul doesn't make it? Hit them where it matters... the ratings. Maybe the majority of the viewers watch it for the drama? I guess I figured people watched it because it WAS one of the better cooking shows on television.

Would it have been so bad if they just made them cook crap that was frozen in round 2 and skip with the ski part in round 3? Or just round 2 make them dig through a pile of snow or something stupid like that?

Honestly, a catering challenge seems like a nice change of pace. This did seem rigged to make sure the LCK winner did not make it whomever it was.

>No point in doing a power rankings Dom.

Al, speak for yourself!

I just don't feel like these final challenges should come down to who is stronger or more athletic or who happened to spend every winter skiing. Paul had such a clear advantage over the women in the second challenge because he's strong--one he recognized and thus helped them. (Now, he has a clear advantage over them because he's a better chef, too, but that's what the show is supposed to be about.) The gondola challenge was at least on a level playing field, but the other ones weren't and that bugged me.

"Can we agree to boycott the finale if Paul doesn't make it? Hit them where it matters... the ratings. Maybe the majority of the viewers watch it for the drama? I guess I figured people watched it because it WAS one of the better cooking shows on television."

I will not be watching the final. This show has become a joke, sadly.

So, at this point in the season, I couldn't care less about the actual TV show.

I go here, see who got booted off and if the show was worth watching. If so, over to Amazon for the online version. If not, then straight to the Bravo site to read Acheson's blog, which has been the highlight of the season for me. It's an utter bleeding shame they haven't given him more screen time.

I've been watching since season one and I've never been less interested in who was winning. This time last season I was tuning in with baited breath, hoping, praying Blaze was going to take the day.

Now, yeah, I want to see Paul win, but not enough to watch this crap.

Here's hoping next season is better!

I'm mostly a lurker here, but had to add my agreement. What a terrible, bad, no good episode!!!
Chopping through ice? Trying to ski, and then shoot their "food"? The show has always had silly gimmicks, but this was just the worst. boo to all who had a hand in designing and producing this show. I'm looking at you, Tom!

Now that I've calmed down a bit, I have a few thoughts:

1. I suppose the gondola was the *least* ridiculous of the 3 challenges. Still silly, but at least their ingredients and cooking supplies were readily available (and, you know, not trapped in huge blocks of ice).

2. Of course Paul blamed himself, not the swinging gondola, cold or motion sickness, on his dish's failures. I've always thought Kevin G was the most humble, likable contestant, but Paul is giving him a run for his money.

3. I thought Bev was going to lose a finger with that ice pick. I literally covered my eyes. I think she was using a pan at one point because the producers smelled an impending lawsuit and took the pick away from her.

4. If they wanted to incorporate the Olympics, why not have the chefs prepare food for athletes, like they previously did in the US Open challenge? They could even have certain proteins/ingredients assigned to each event, and if the gondola challenge had been a QF, they could have determined the selection of event/ingredients based on the QF rankings.

5. I'm not one to make "I"ll never watch the show again if x does/doesn't happen", but I really don't know if I would continue watching if Paul had been eliminated.

Overall: ugh.

One other thing: the bravo's version of power rankings had a thing that was like "first thing the person should buy if they win." That was actually funny and incredibly accurate.

Of the three remaining:
Paul-- buy an ego. (The lack of which I think endears him to many.)
Lindsay -- a consistent accent (The drawl came out when the chips were down.)
Sarah -- a Map to find somewhere other than Italy to draw inspiration.

I'm watching the finals, of course. Most of us will. But where I think this kind of garabage hurts them is the spin off shows. I've watched Just Desserts and Masters in the past, but I'm sort of burned out on the franchise. I would rather watch Master Chef or Worst Chef in America (maybe) than the spinoffs of TC.

Do the producers have no understanding of what made TC popular in the first place?

You know what worries me? What if they're right - what if they have a better understanding of what makes it popular than we do, and ratings spike because of this crap?

@gilmore, I noticed that too. Basically, Tom hasn't blogged since the finale was shot.

"I just don't feel like these final challenges should come down to who is stronger or more athletic or who happened to spend every winter skiing."

100% yes. I wanted Bev to beat Sarah but not if it was because she was in better shape than Sarah -- that would've just been cruel in all the wrong ways. Also, it meant we spent tons of time watching them try to ski and chop ice rather than cook.

I also hate (1) that the person who cooked the second best dish in all three rounds was eliminated, (2) that there was no advantage in the next round for order of finish in the round before; (3) that Bravo showed us Beverly sobbing in a TH halfway in, (4) that the previews showed her shooting a gun so we knew each of the first 2 rounds that she couldn't win; (5) that, in the finale, someone was eliminated for a quickfire; (6) that ... ah, screw it

I'm glad everyone else here feels the way I do.

Worst episode ever, which is sad because they've got great talent to work with.

By comparison to the others, the Goldola challenge was fine. Gimmicky, a bad choice for a finale - but relatively tame.

We've had arbitrary challenges before with unfair advantages. We've even had challenges with unrelated physical components that could trip up the chefs (All-Stars had the diving challenge in the finale, for instance).

But we've never had one where the physical component was so obviously slanted the way the Ice Block challenge was. Paul had an absurd advantage there - the sexism in the design of the challenge was OVERWHELMING. We need Lee Anne back.

To his great credit, Paul recognized the unfairness of the situation and helped his competitors. With $10k and a shot at $125k on the line, I can't say I would have done the same. If I learned anything this episode, it's that Paul is a classy dude even in the most stressful situations.

... still, amazingly, as bad as that challenge was, it was better than the worst challenge in the history of Top Chef, which followed it.

Look, contestants on Top Chef have embarrassed themselves before. But they've embarrassed themselves by cooking poorly or behaving poorly. Never before have the producers gone out of their way to humiliate the chefs on national TV the way they did in that challenge. Asking two people who have never been on skis to navigate a slightly technical Cross Country course while wearing inappropriate clothing, and then make a gag reel of them falling and struggling, is simply cruel. I'd like to think that this show is better than that, but well, maybe it isn't. I've never wanted to hit the fast forward button during live air before on Top Chef, but I very nearly did there.

Setting that aside, there's the whole question of what happens if someone craps out with the gun. I assume that the shooting challenge was tricked up such that a relatively unathletic person with no shooting experience still had a decent chance of hitting targets. Still, both of them missed 6/10 shots. What if one of them had only hit 2/10 or 1/10? Are we sending someone home from the finale of Top Chef because they can't shoot an air rifle??

The only good thing about the final challenge was that they did give them both a set amount of time in a fully equipped kitchen to actually prepare the meal. And thanks to that (and good luck with the rifles) both of them did produce good dishes. Still, that doesn't excuse what came before.

Just a disaster - bad enough that it changes my whole perception of the show.

TxGriff, I thought PAUL was going to lose a finger, compliments of Bev, when Bev got to the giant crabsicle a split second after Paul did. I flinched because it looked to me like she came very close to stabbing his hand.

IG, I doubt the ratings would improve because of this. It seems as if they're trying to pump up flagging ratings by making the show more appealing to its bread-and-butter Real Housewives crowd, but I can't fathom this would work. Hmm...Maybe in next week's episode, all the contestants will be required to wear weaves, and whoever pulls the other contestants' out first gets a "significant advantage" in the finale.

I'm like Keryl. I read here to see who won and what the general comments are. I watch judges table (always last 15 minutes) & skip the rest.

Sadly, the producers obviously are trying to appeal to a larger, non-cooking audience. So now Top Chef is just another game show where the actual topic bears little resemblence to contestants skills.

I think the ice pick did not have a point. I think they were using what amounted to a knife sharpener. Lets not get carried away.

Still, both of them missed 6/10 shots. What if one of them had only hit 2/10 or 1/10? Are we sending someone home from the finale of Top Chef because they can't shoot an air rifle??
I agree, what if Bev or Sarah took a bad fall and broke a leg? She'd be disqualified because she couldn't ski??
What the hell?
Has Top Chef bought into the full sleeve of tats,macho kitchen beast, bad ass fallacy that cooking is athletic? Tell that to Jonathan Waxman.
Gawd, how I hated this episode.

Jumped the shark and did a massive belly flop.

Dom - I'm glad I found you through TC. Your main blog is far better than the crap that Bravo's been putting out.

"Asking two people who have never been on skis to navigate a slightly technical Cross Country course while wearing inappropriate clothing, and then make a gag reel of them falling and struggling, is simply cruel." Yes to this, and to everyone's comments.

And the little teaser they do before going to commercial, this time showing Bev firing the rifle and then cutting to Sarah falling down on her skies. Har har har HAR! Get it? Bev shot Sarah! And the thing is, I laughed, it tickled me in that ol' Three Stooges kind of way. And then I felt sad that I laughed. I'm not embarrassed by being tickled by obvious humor, but in this context I felt sad. Sad for me and sadder for the show. (As long as I'm confessing I'll admit that I also laughed when Sarah tripped on her skis as she tried to pass by Beverly. Did Bev take a little poke at her as she went by?)

And the shabby, underutilized treatment of the guest judges (which is pretty low on the list of problems with this episode, but still.) Gretchen Bleiler got to speak all of, what, 2 sentences on camera? Most of the celebrities who've made appearances have clearly been TC fans and have some interest in food. So to come onto the show as a fan (and also as, yes, a public figure looking to get TV time) and getting to say 2 lines about a meal prepared in a gondola... eh, it makes me glum.

Gail's blog is good, among other things she speculates that maybe the producers didn't realize how tough it would be to hack the ingredients out of the ice blocks. Umm, wouldn't that be a BASIC thing that should occur to a TV producer beforehand? Doing a dry run of everything well before filming? Sigh, it just makes me glum.

Ludicrous...I couldn't wait for it to end last night. Why or why can it not be just about the cooking. Sarah and Lindsay were ugly. When Sarah asked Bev about Last Chance Kitchen and then as Bev started to explain, she interrupted to say "look at the trees"..was unbelievably rude. I have zero interest in watching those two in a final and zero interest in eating in any of their restaurants.

Man, that [Kyle Rovinsky] is a real [troll].

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