Top Chef is back and the honeymoon is over!!! Well, except for Gail Simmons, whose honeymoon was just beginning. Lucky her. Meanwhile the cheftestants were stuck with some hard-ass guest judges, starting with French studmuffin Jean-Christophe Novelli, who oversaw the diet-soda Quickfire challenge (ah, if only Governor Paterson had been able to tax every damn mention of that stuff). Then there was catty cat-food-eater Toby Young, who admits on his blog that Novelli once banned him from his restaurants for judging him harshly during the British version of Hell’s Kitchen. And of course the cheftestants got to judge each other. After the double elimination, we turned to the sternest judge of them all, Mr. Adam Platt.
Platt: Well, that was a scintillating hour of television. I miss Gail.
Maurer: You mean the French Johnny Iuzzini wasn’t a suitable replacement? Meanwhile, Toby Young was like a pull-string doll — his lines were as rehearsed as the dishes were.
Platt: The ninja Frenchman was an authoritative figure. It was like watching Napoleon judge a toy-soldier contest. And Mr. Young was doing a desperate impersonation of a baldheaded Londoner trying to be Don Colicchio. It's not an easy task.
Maurer: He so clearly rubbed Colicchio the wrong way. Though Tom’s blog assures us he’ll get better.
Platt: They disagreed on which two of those poor doomed saps to send to the glue factory. Toby fought gamely for Eugene of Tattoos, and he got slapped down. Eugene took his fate like a man: “When the booze is gone, it’s time to move on.”
Maurer: And who can forget: “I don’t think any of the chefs here would have the balls to do daikon fettuccine with tomato-basil sauce.” He got a raw deal — you have to give him props for one of the more original dishes during the Diet Fizzy Lizzy Quickfire challenge — the burger-and-fries-like mini blini with banana lupias. And Melissa's dish (the faux burrito, with yogurt for sour cream) also seemed creative, even if it didn’t look all that appetizing.
Platt: Melissa wasn’t any good. Eugene wasn’t any good either. And the winners weren’t particularly good. Jamie, of the insipid scallop preparations, is becoming increasingly insufferable.
Maurer: Carla also went for the scallop, after she “heard her intuition” at Whole Foods.
Platt: Carla seemed like a nice person — I’ll miss her. Who’s left to root for? Don Colicchio clearly wants to throw them all off the balcony of that Williamsburg condo.
Maurer: Leah the Local seems humble and capable.
Platt: She’s okay. The big giant from Colorado is genial in an earnest, goofy way. Things might perk up if a couple of the cheftestants get in a knife fight, but I’m not hopeful. On that note, who’s next for the crapper?
Maurer: Ariane may fall on the “go home” side of the “go big or go home” equation next time.
Platt: It has to be poor Carla. She can’t keep cooking that crap and survive.
Maurer: She really should’ve gone this time around since her Fizzy Lizzy Quickfire dish was also a wreck.
Platt: She’s surviving on her geniality. I also have a feeling that Fabio is teetering on the edge. I have a sneaking suspicion that he can’t cook. If he gets in the wrong situation, he’ll find himself on the chopping block.
Maurer: Apparently vacuum packing is his Achilles heel. But he spoke the show’s truest words: "Life is ugly, and on television it’s even uglier.”
Platt: It promises to be a horror of ham-fisted product placements, insipid background music, and forced bon mots by my colleague, Mr. Young!