Top Chef: Forbidden Love and Uncooked Cod


Not So Sweet Treat: Stefan

Ohmygod Restaurant Wars!!! Still missing Gail and Ariane, we tried to summon enthusiasm for the classic Top Chef challenge that nearly assures televised failure and mayhem. Said failure and mayhem were totally cemented when Leah and Radhika, the most passive female chef-testants left, won the Quickfire and were crowned Restaurant War team leaders. Oh god this is going to be awkward, we thought, and then Leah and Hosea had a late night make-out session and woke-up to some big time regret. Even more awkward. Thankfully, alpha-Euros Baldie and Italian dude were there to save the team, with Stefan taking his anti-hero thing to new heights. More after the jump…

It’s too bad Jamie doesn’t like dudes because we’re sort of falling in love with Stefan and we wonder if she might too given a different sexual orientation. He’s the conniving, take no bullshit, Blair Waldorf of this season. Does that make Fabio the Serena to his Blair? Not quite. But now that we’ve lost Ariane, the two are the only ones keeping this mediocre-food season going. Cases in point:

Stefan wore an “I make good babies” t-shirt for much of the episode and we was intent on winning Restaurant Wars (just as Blair declared war on Gossip Girl this week), which is apparently an even bigger deal in Finland than it is here. At Pier 1, he looked to past Restaurant War mishaps and made sure all candles were scentless. When he was picked last for a team, he said “I could give a shit” and we believed him. We only fault him for coming up with the super cheesy restaurant name, “Sunset Lounge,” which sounds like one of the places they would go on Laguna Beach.
Fabio barely cooked last night, save for a lackluster amuse bouche, but he satisfied us in other ways. As teams raced around Pier 1 on a $5,000 shopping spree, he said “I start to go around and grab everything and this is the feeling that my wife have all the time.” Cute. Later, as he modeled an off-white suit he cried “I run the front-of-the-house. We can serve monkey ass in empty clamshell and we win this one.” Sunset Lounge didn’t serve monkey ass but they did serve some cod that Leah couldn’t bring herself to cook completely, so traumatized was she by her cuddlefest with Hosea. Padma sent it back. Oh the horror! Luckily, the Italian charmed, admittedly turning on the accent extra thick for the occasion, and Stefan saved the day with two desserts that Tom called “easily the best.” He then sent Fabio out with a final treat of a frozen mango, bitter chocolate, and mint lollipop to secure the win.

It was a narrow win though. Jamie took charge of Team Radhika, kept the servers in line, and did some good cooking. For the most part, their team’s food looked more interesting, especially Jamie’s curry carrot soup and Jeff’s scallop on a chickpea cake. (How kind of Jamie to let Jeff work with her beloved scallops!) But Carla blew it with a dessert mess of melting fro-yo, despite her pastry triumph at Stone Barns, while Radhika’s angry wallflower act didn’t serve her well at the front of the house. We know Carla has pastry experience and not a ton of restaurant experience, but really, wouldn’t she have been a better choice for front of the house? Her kooky big bird thing might of worked; she was blabbering on and on about serving food with love and good energy at judge’s table. Radhika looked so uncomfortable with the customers; she really belonged in the kitchen for this one since they were focusing on the spices she knows best. It was a tough call as to who deserved to go home more, but in the end team-non-leader Radhika got the boot.The judge’s decision made sense, but we couldn’t help thinking that, in general, kooky Carla has been skating by all season while Radhika has often done some interesting dishes.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 22, 2009

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