Adam Platt Wonders How a Watermelon and Tomato Salad Could Wow the Top Chef Judges

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Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

We kinda loved last week’s episode of Top Chef, in which the cheftestants went up against natural disaster and vegetarian bassists while cooking for the Foo Fighters — even if Dave Grohl didn’t put on a faux Euro accent like he once did while celebrating Brie and melba toast. There were curveballs in last night’s episode, too: The cheftestants had to try their luck first with breakfast and then with cooking demos, eventually to be judged by the Today Show team (“a bunch of ladies with unsophisticated palates,” as Jeff so charmingly put it). Naturally we wondered what our esteemed restaurant critic made of it all, so we got onto IM and asked him.

Maurer: How bout that Thanksgiving extravaganza?

Platt: I was sad to see the poor rainbow coalition giant ushered off to the glue factory. The producers are getting all the nice people out of the way, so we can focus on all the odious train wrecks.

Maurer: You know, the Hell’s Kitchen reruns I watched over the break almost made this show look doddering and toothless. The most drama this episode could muster was Jamie “recoiling in anger.” Come on! Less recoiling in, more boiling in!

Platt: Maybe the judges are being too friendly. There was Rocco smiling his elfin smile. There was Don Colicchio dressed all in black. There was Gail, looking radiant in yet another strangely colored outfit.

Maurer: Were they praising Rocco faintly when they introduced him as “recognizable”? And did he really have to plug his cookbook a week after doing so on The Biggest Loser? I'm watching its Amazon rank to see whether it jumps ahead of the four Rachael Ray books that are ahead of it in the Quick & Easy category. [It jumped past two of them!]

Platt: How did Ariane from Jersey manage to resurrect herself? I was sure she was doomed once she started grappling with that giant watermelon.

Maurer: That was a sight to behold. I think she’s riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave that’s about to break.

Platt: These challenges were very New York–y. They were too much about the show, and not enough about the pleasure of cooking or good food. Who gives a crap about making a breakfast amuse-bouche?!

Maurer: Or amuse douche in Daniel's case. There’s no elegant way to put it: His cornflake concoction looked like a congealed dog turd.

Platt: Yes it did, my cutting friend!

Maurer: There was a cannibalistic moment too, when Stefan cut into the top of that egg — it was like he was trephinating his own perfectly ovular head.

Platt: Stefan's just lying in the weeds. He has already won this dreary competition. My question is, how did a watermelon and tomato salad win such a grand TV tasting competition?! And what kind of lunacy will the devious producers think of next, so that we don’t nod asleep on our couches, like a bunch of elderly, overfed restaurant critics…

Maurer: Maybe they’ll get the judges to spit out more food! Have you ever done such a thing?

Platt: I spat out a really gristly squid-risotto concoction in Japan. I did it politely and delicately, though, like a geisha sneezing into a napkin.

Maurer: Anyway, you can’t say the producers aren’t trying. This episode was like “Dali from the Back Painting Gala from the Back” — we were watching a TV show in which chefs watched other chefs cook for another TV show. Meanwhile I just want Gordon Ramsay spouting obscenities. And chef cameos from actual New Yorkers!

Platt: Maybe they’ll haul out that snarling Scot for a later episode, though I doubt it. He probably has contractual obligations to yell imprecations on other networks. So who's next for the chopping block?

Maurer: Well, it’s a bad sign that Melissa a.k.a. Marge Simpson is the one person whose name I still can’t remember (Alex was the other). Although, it’d be pretty perfect if Daniel went down in the bridal shower episode.

Platt: I think it’ll be the nice gangly lady from D.C., Carla. She seems like a friendly, normal person, which is a big loser on reality TV. I'm vaguely looking forward to Gail’s bridal shower, though. Padma looked like she donned one of her freakishly strange Greek goddess outfits for the occasion.

Maurer: Ooo, can’t wait! To hell with Gordon Ramsay!