I've avoided the inevitable Top Chef blog posts this season because, well, there hasn't been much to talk about. The crew of Bravo's chef competition — set in Chicago this year — has got to be the blandest of the show's four-year run, with challenges to match. I still watch the mild culinary drama, if only to see that evil-Lisa gets knocked out or to ponder how the three best chefs (Richard, Stephanie and Antonia) continue to be so darn upbeat, pleasant and polite. Curse them!
Last week, though, saw a teensy bit of controversy. The elimination challenge was held at Rick Tramonto's high-end Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, where cheftestants were supposed to create an appetizer and entree from what they found in the pantry and coolers. Eventual eliminee Spike (he's from Clearwater!) had the ill-conceived notion of utilizing a bag of frozen scallops he found in the freezer. That's a no-no, since frozen scallops almost inevitably turn out dry, rubbery and odd. These were no exception.
At the judges table, Spike continued his poor decision-making by calling out Tramonto for having the bag of scallopscicles in his kitchen in the first place. That'll be good for your future job prospects, Spike.
Still, not a bad question. And Tramonto didn't have a good explanation handy. Until now. Both he and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio recently blogged explanations (Tom, Rick), claiming that some of the food was brought in just for the show. That sounds about right, wouldn't want a reality TV competition to have to deal with a real restaurant kitchen, would we?
Coming up this week on Top Chef: someone wins! Don't know who and — as long as it is not Lisa — don't really care.