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Chillin' and Grillin': Sandee Goes Up In Flames On "Top Chef"

Hello Televisionary readers. Christine Fortune here filling in as Top Chef fan/reviewer for Jace while he’s across the pond in London. So, while he's enjoying tea and biscuits what did Jace miss on Top Chef ?

This week's quickfire challenge was a fruity affair focusing on Florida's most important ingredient...citrus (or "sunshine" as Padma called it). Guest judge Norman Van Aken, the "Godfather of Florida," was tough to please. He was most put off by Micah's avocado soup which turned out more like avocado pudding and was also annoyed at Sarah for not even being able to describe her dish (she mumbled something about shrimp). Sarah was not only confused about her dish but also seemed bewildered by the fact that Norman Van Aken was "so critical with his critique." Um, isn't that what critique is? The top three competitors were CJ (in spite of seeds in his dish), Tre, and Hung. Tre's hot and cold salmon looked delicious but it was Hung's slow roasted sea bass with citrus crumble that marked him the winner of the challenge, keeping him and Tre in stiff competition.

A champagne barbecue hosted by Lee Shrager was the brief for this week's elimination challenge. Most of the contestants went into the challenge feeling confident except for Micah who was missing her daughter (or moping about losing the quickfire challenge as Hung suggested) and Sarah who almost spent all of her money on meat at the store and then, during prep, burned her hands on scotch bonnet peppers, clueless to the fact that they're one of the hottest peppers in existence. Once at the challenge, Sarah continued to have problems, this time with the amount of charcoal she was using (a mountain-sized pile), prompting Sandee to name her the "Queen of Charcoal."

Surprisingly enough, both Micah and Sarah came out on top for this challenge. Sarah's Korean BBQ was a smash, partially due to her decision to serve her food in easy bite size pieces. And it was Micah's creativity with her dish, lamb with grilled halloumi and pomegranate sauce, which drew the attention of the judges. But it was Brian who came in first with his seafood sausage which perfectly fit the brief of upscale barbecue and gave him a chance to redeem himself after last week's snake and eel catastrophe.

On the bottom of the list were Joey and his boring BBQ chicken, Sandee and her poached lobster, Howie and his dry pork, and, shockingly, Tre, last week's winner. The judges complained that his dish, a peach glazed salmon, was either too salty or too bland. At the judging table, Joey and Howie criticized each other's dishes which escalated into an argument about who was more of a man which was funny because they were both acting like bratty little boys. I kind of hoped that they would both be booted but it was Sandee who came up short. Her decision to poach the lobster and then just heat it on the grill did not impress the judges who were looking for a real barbecue dish. All of the judges agreed, though, that the level of food was excellent this round and the bar had been raised high early, which means it's only going to get tougher. Howie and Joey better dry their little baby tears and get cooking.

Next week on Top Chef ("Family Favorites"), the chefs are tasked with working with some exotic shellfish, CJ makes a muddy mess out of tuna, and the contestants get themselves into hot the jacuzzi.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Pirate Master (CBS); The Office/The Office (NBC; 8-9:25 pm); Smallville (CW); Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (FOX)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office (NBC; 9:25-10 pm); Supernatural (CW); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)

10 pm: Shark (CBS); Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Pirate Master.

On tonight's episode ("Death by Coconuts"), flirting between shipmates could turn into full-blown romance, Jay must deal with the fact that Sean went against their deal, and the latest treasure brings a twist in the game: a Royal Pardon.

8 pm: The Office.

It's the first of three super-sized installments of The Office tonight. Up first is "Casino Night," the Season Two finale, in which Michael hosts a casino-themed charity fundraiser in the Dunder-Mifflin warehouse and, oh, yeah, there's that kiss.

8:41-9:25 pm: The Office.

It's one of my favorite episodes from this past season ("Branch Closing"), in which Michael tries to keep the employees of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton upbeat after he learns that their branch will be shutting down, leading everyone (especially Stanley) to imagine how their lives would be better if they DIDN'T work there anymore.

9:25 pm: The Office.

It's the final of three episodes tonight on The Office ("The Merger"), in which the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin are merged together, causing a few reunions (ahem, Jim and Pam) and some new faces around the old office (Karen and Andy).


Jace Lacob said…
What, no comments? Consider me irked. Thanks to "Christine Fortune" for filling in for me; I thought she did a great job at recapping last week's Top Chef and perfectly captured the essence of the episode.

I couldn't believe that Sandee thought she would get away with reheated vanilla butter-poached lobster on the grill and missed the point of the brief completely, as did Joey (who irritates me to no end) for cooking barbeque chicken that his family makes. What part of upscale barbecue did he miss?

I'm a little concerned by Sarah's lack of verbal skills--and apparently math, to boot--after she couldn't sum up her dish to guest judge Norman Van Aiken. If you can't even stand behind your dish enough to make up some name for it, how do you expect to win this competion? At least she redeemed herself with the Vietnamese BBQ, which looked delcious and perfectly matched the brief. Though I am shocked, shocked, SHOCKED that a trained chef wouldn't know what a Scotch Bonnet is nor that it is quite literally hellfire incarnate.

Still, these chefs easily run circles around the Hell's Kitchen "cooks" any day of the week in their sleep.

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