Last night’s penultimate Top Chef featured two enormously entertaining challenges. First, the cheftestants were whisked away to a river in Colorado, where they had to cook trout on tree stumps for Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. Then they were called upon to cook elk for a rodeo. Brian’s bombastic, revoltingly amateurish meal, and his interminable description of it, doomed him, but the real beauty of the episode lay in Hung’s efforts to reposition himself as the dutiful son of immigrant parents, rather than a heartless technician. Once the show ended, these and other topics were much on the minds of Adam Platt and ourselves during our usual IM chat.
Ozersky: That was a good one!
Platt: It was good because it was so god-awful bad. Am I wrong in thinking the quality of cooking is actually getting worse as this show reaches its grim conclusion?
Ozersky: You’re not wrong. The Ripper looked like he was going to retch when he got Casey’s raw elk.
Ozersky: Were you moved by Dale’s speech? I am not ashamed to say I was.
Platt: Dale’s disarmingly honest. He admitted that he was unemployed prior to the show. He’s frank about how disastrous his dishes are going to be. And he doesn’t talk endlessly about the nobility of his craft like the tiresome Hung.
Ozersky: Hung was as on message as Mitt Romney tonight. It’s like he heard everyone say how soulless his cooking was, whatever that means, and so tried to drag his old immigrant mom in. Tom looked like he was going to start laughing in the middle of Hung’s speech.
Platt: I thought the last one was much, much better. I miss André Soltner. I miss cooking real food. I miss New York. What is this Kubrick-like Hotel Jerome?! And who were all those startled-looking cowpokes?! And who the hell eats elk anyway?!?!
Ozersky: Cool your jets there, Platty! The cowboys are who eats this kind of food. They’re not Fifth Avenue feinshmeckers like you.
Platt: There’s a reason they don’t eat elk on Fifth Avenue, Cutty. It’s bad.
Ozersky: So? Who’s winning next week?
Platt: They can’t give Hung the mitten. He’s so obviously the best chef. They’re setting him up for the fall, however. My money’s still on cuddly Casey. Dale, as he so readily admits, is a fluke.
Ozersky: Yes, but America is a nation of mediocrities, Platty. Casey’s looks and Hung’s knife skills will disqualify them from the love of the masses, which will inevitably devolve onto the biggest scrub.
Platt: So your money’s on Dale?
Ozersky: If I had to bet, maybe. Let’s say a hamburger.
Platt: So to summarize: You bet Dale. I bet Casey or Hung.
The bet is a cheeseburger. And you’ll never pay.
Ozersky: You’re right, I won’t.