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Top Chef: Leah Leaves After a Lacking Latin Luncheon

Leah
I think Leah showed some talent (hell, she won last week, that must have been one hell of a roller coaster for her) and just needed to come out of her shell. This seemed to be taking awhile, too long apparently. When they focused on her and Casey’s ‘lifelong friendship’ I knew one of them was getting the ax.

Maybe it was residual angst over Camille’s exit last week, but I had a hard time getting into tonight’s episode. I found myself faltering for a new contestant to endorse. I think I’ve found him, but first lets talk about the people I take issue with since that’s more fun.

Hung
I found myself thinking today that it’s odd Hung is so thin, considering he seems to cook food only for himself. Speaking Spanish wasn’t enough to cover up a mediocre Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice). I guess he gets some credit for being an arrogant, defensive prick directly to the face of Chef Collichio, a master of the diminutive glare. It was when he started jumping to defend his choices before Padme and guest judge Maria Frumkin even finished their sentences that my eyes glazed over. You can believe that the judges won’t forget. One thing I’ll say for Top Chef, the judges put as much stock into how the chefs present themselves as they do their food. Anthony Bourdain said it best about Hung in his guest blog at Bravotv.com last week:

For a guy with technique as good as his — as fast on his feet, as versatile and creative as he is — he’s not winning these challenges as often as he should. A little humility; a willingness to accommodate what people are likely to enjoy and appreciate, instead of pursuing that which honors only his own perceived genius, would be a good adjustment.

That same sentiment proved true this week. I don’t care if he’s from my home town, I think Hung’s in trouble.

Joey
Joey. Joey, Joey, Joey, Joey, Joey. What are we to think of him? One minute he’s selling out Howie’s pork that he never tasted, the next he’s ditching a dessert course one week and revealing he has pastry experience the next (enough to give him a victory in the quick fire challenge). Either way, at least he’s stopped referencing New York in every sentence. I was ready to write Joey off after what I felt was an underhanded quick fire win today. By the end of the episode I realized that “underhanded” probably meant “smart”, especially after watching Hung self-destruct with arrogance. Joey’s dedication of his dish to the Spanish cooks that work in his kitchen back home was a nice touch, the first sincerity we’ve seen come from him this season (besides some authentic tears at Camille’s departure last week).

Howie
As I said, I’ve found a new contestant to support and his name is Howie. He doesn’t have a personality that shines on television, but with food that good, he doesn’t need to. He comes off as authentic, sincere, and humble, traits many of the others could benefit from. He also wins Best in Show for the grace with which he took the win tonight. After having received a bottle of wine as prize for winning, he immediately handed it over to Joey because, to him, Joey’s was the superior dish. I guess he already had the week at The Gotham to look forward to so the wine was easier to depart with. I may be wrong, but he’s quietly become the leader as the only chef to have won two elimination challenges. If he can get over his timing hang ups, we’ve got a contender.

P.S. I want to know what’s happened to Tre. An early favorite, he demonstrated a good amount of swagger and talent but has now been reduced to bedazzling a fruit tart. What’s up with that?

Padma
Collichio
P.P.S. Padma was looking good tonight. I dug the double tank top with the racer back and the tight braids, very complementary for her lithe figure. She wasn’t sexy enough to win the viewer poll for the “sexiest judge” however. When the results were tallied, Tom Collichio won with a decisive 48% lead over Gail and Padma, the Bravo version of Marianne and Ginger.

Photos via Bravotv.com

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Justin Dickinson

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5 Responses to “Top Chef: Leah Leaves After a Lacking Latin Luncheon”

  1. Lee Says:

    Ok, so I’m definitely with you on your assessment of the evening. Hung was really getting on my nerves last night. His arrogance is getting overbearing. And I like how Howie & Joey are friends now. I was irritated that Joey played dumb during the quickfire. And his dish must have tasted REALLY good because his presentation left a lot to be desired. Even though Tre’s little stars were corny. I thought that was really odd.

    And even though she didn’t say it this week, haven’t you noticed that Padma acts like Tom’s puppet? She either repeats what he says, or gives her five-year-old critique of, “Mmmm, it’s yummy.” I remember one episode she said after each dish she tasted! So annoying.

  2. Justin Says:

    I just like when she goes out on a limb and says a dish is ‘inedible’ and Tom makes her look foolish. I wonder if they’re friends off camera. I really think Collichio keeps an even temper and gives everyone a fair assessment, he’s a good judge.

  3. Lee Says:

    I do have to say I love Tom. He seems so soft spoken, I wonder what he’s really like in the hustle & bustle of his own kitchens. Would he be somebody great to work for? My guess would be yes, but you never know.

  4. Justin Says:

    He’s got enough restaurants so he must be doing something right. I did like how they focused on his opinion that Howie should have roasted his pork, that it would come out better than the planned briase, then Howie went on to wow everyone and win the competition. Can’t be right all the time I guess.

  5. Elizabeth Says:

    Speaking of bedazzling, it was insulting that this “feminizing” touch was supposed to impress the professional female judge! Padma thought it was pretty, so I guess that’s how stereotypes are born.

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