Okay. I am now about to ruin the suspense built up about last night’s episode of Top Chef for those who have not seen it. This is fair warning. Do not read beyond this point if you’ve TIVO-ed the show or if you plan to watch a repeat this weekend. Ready?
Okay. You’re still with me?
Can you EVEN believe that Lisa was not eliminated? Tom, Padma and Gayle (who I think is quite possibly rum fortified prior to filming every show), all I can say is, “WHAT were you thinking?” Come on! She was in the bottom 2 six stinking times, people.
Let’s break this down a little further. Lisa is surly. Her food is subpar and grasping for originality; peanut butter mashed potatoes ring a bell? Instead of listening to judges’ criticisms she stands with her arms folded and her eyes half closed and looks like she’s going to sucker punch Padma.
Instead of improving her food based on the almost-always negative feedback she gets, she soldiers on with her half-baked attempts at Asian fusion cuisine. The only notable success she had on the show was her mirin glazed bacon. That was about the third episode.
Anyone else remember Anthony Bourdain’s reaction to Lisa’s Laksa on the Restaurant Wars episode? Priceless! Also, in the previous episode, she managed not only to throw Andrew under the bus, but to act like she was the victim after the fact.
And one final bit of rant about Lisa. She has alienated nearly everyone on the show. She effectively stabbed Andrew with her “he didn’t use a whole grain” tattle-tail moment. She fought numerous times with Dale- who incidentally did have a bad attitude but was far and away the superior chef. She fought with Spike- again, bad attitude. Who was worse of the two? It’s a coin toss. She annoyed everyone else with her prophetess of potty-mouthed doom Cassandra act in the kitchen. And oh, last night.
When Antonia (who I loved) was eliminated and Stephanie and Richard sat for a moment in stunned disappointment to see their friend go she provided her biggest aggressive martyr moment ever. She actually said, “I know you wanted Antonia in the finals and you’re sad to see her go, but it’d be really nice if you’d congratulate me for making the finals.” Whatever.
To their credit, Stephanie and Richard both said, “Oh. Sorry. Congratulations” and really rallied themselves to say it. Neither of them shot a knowing look to each other or rose to the fight-bait Miss Happypants was dangling. They dropped it. Blaise did, in the post show interview, say something funny about it but nothing mean.
Now for something completely different. My thoughts on Antonia are this. She was always a collected person in the kitchen. She had my total respect for that. If you haven’t worked a busy station in a kitchen during the dinner rush you might not know how difficult it is to remain calm like that. Stephanie and Richard also have that ability.
Sidebar: To my mind, that is a crucial trait for an executive chef to have in order to keep things running smoothly. Perpetual emotional crises and neediness in the kitchen do nothing to improve the mood in an already kinetic and stressful environment. I’ve worked with chefs of both stripes and I would not work with a Gordon Ramsay-type executive chef again for love nor money.
I will always appreciate Antonia for one line she had in the show. When Dale or Spike or Andrew or Lisa or whoever had the fit that week pitched a real lu-lu of a hypie she said, “He had a tantrum. We changed his diaper, gave him a hug and got him back to work.” Fabulous! She was undoubtedly a better chef than Lisa in both palate and leadership abilities. I was sad to see her go.
Now for my picks. I have said Stephanie would win from the first episode on. I see no reason to change that prediction now. Richard is a close second. He could possibly pull off a win if Stephanie has an off day. Lisa? Please. She shouldn’t even be there. My guess is the producers put her there for conflict because it’s oh-so-good for ratings. If she wins it’ll be because Blaise passes out and falls after inhaling too much smoke from his cool little smoking gadget and Stephanie has catastrophic food poisoning.