Back of the House

Adam Platt Is Willing to Bet Against Howie on ‘Top Chef’

How is a chef supposed to be able to cook under these conditions?
How is a chef supposed to be able to cook under these conditions?

Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t resist getting wrapped up in the ubiquitous Top Chef hype. Immediately after every episode this season, we’re rushing to the computer for a breathless instant-message chat with one of our compatriots. This week’s episode was especially entertaining. After a spot challenge which left only early favorite Hung immune to ejection, the already-stressed chefs were charged with cooking “gourmet barbecue,” a seemingly simple challenge that flummoxed nearly everybody, including the ultraconfident Tre, a native Texan who announced that he “could do this in his sleep.” At the end, it was the mohawked Sandee, an obvious weak link, who got the boot. Afterward, we got online right away with New York’s curmudgeonly restaurant critic, Adam Platt.

Platt: Okay, let me begin by saying that Sandee got robbed!

Ozersky: Please! That stuff she made was a mindless burlesque of barbecue. It’s too bad they couldn’t kick her out twice.

Platt: True. But her twirling, skunk-dyed hairstyle was very original. And I’d be willing to bet that that dreckish lobster satay she made tasted better than Joey’s dung-colored chicken dish.

Ozersky: That stuff did look bad.

Platt: I thought possibly some of the fruit-addled dishes in the first section of the show looked vaguely palatable. What they were precisely, I can’t remember.

Ozersky: I think the reason for that is that all the dishes look so similar. They’re all contemporary restaurant clichés — the tiny, painterly portions, the one Asian ingredient, the feminized, fatless piece of protein …

Platt: I’m in agreement with you on that. But then these are all trained, or semi-trained, restaurant chefs. They’re doing what comes naturally. But we’re only going by how it looked. Trey’s neon-colored salmon BBQ might not have tasted bad.

Ozersky: Whatever! It was great to see that smug Trey taken down a peg. Yeah, he’s so Texas — that’s why he made a piece of glazed salmon.

Ozersky: But forget the chefs — what did you think of the judges? I mean, isn’t what they’re doing kind of a parody of your job? Can you imagine yourself on that panel?

Platt: Hey, it’s tough being a critic! I actually liked the lady from Food & Wine. I thought her comments were very precise and to the point. I thought her tropical-accented outfit was very nice too.

Ozersky: They showed it enough. Colicchio is the boss, but you see how much the camera dwells on Padma and Gail. What a genius move it was to pair them. They’re like the Ginger and Mary-Ann of the food world.

Platt: It’s TV, Cutty! Of course they’re going to dwell on them. But who’s your favorite so far among the chef contestants?

Ozersky: Oh, obviously Howie, if only because he’s so full of hostility. I’d love to see him come back.

Platt: Howie’s got spunk. But if I were a betting man (which I am), I’d say Howie’s doomed.

Ozersky: Do you want to lay some money on this issue, Platt? I’ll bet you dinner at the restaurant of my choice that Howie makes it to the final five.

Platt: Yes, I will lay money on the issue. Howie is doomed. Though his bulldog character (and looks) may see him through.

Ozersky: The same could be said of you, Platt. You’re on.

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