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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Top Chef Texas: Thank God It's Time for Restaurant Wars

In past food tv posts I've done on this blog I've compared almost every other cooking competition show to Top Chef because I believe that over the last few years it has by far been the gold standard (No reason to get excited Ron Paul fans it's just a turn of phrase).  Top Chef has consistently had the most difficult and innovative challenges with by far the most talented competitors.  That doesn't even take into account so many of the interesting personalities they've had on the show as both judges and cheftestants.  However, it pains me to say that this season of Top Chef has been less than stellar. 

I can't really put my finger on what's different or what's missing (not enough Tony Bourdain!) but something about Top Chef: Texas just isn't the same.  It might just be a function of following last season's superior Top Chef: Allstars and we're just returning to the mean.  I think it's more than that though.   Every Top Chef season seems to struggle a little bit through the first few episodes where there are honestly too many contestants.  It's hard for anyone to stand out, and the show suffers from weaker competitors that really don't belong  in the upper echelon that have a chance to win.  However, we're far enough into the Texas season that this should not be an issue and still not a single competitor is sticking out in my mind as being particularly impressive the way Richard Blais and Angelo Sosa have been in the past.  Instead this season seems to have cheftestants that are more memorable for their appearance (the Chrises) or their grating personalities (Heather, Bev).  I'm honestly beginning to wonder if the producers have just struck out this season, or if the last few episodes are going to turn it around.

If there is going to be a turnaround this season for Top Chef I believe that has to start tonight with the obligatory restaurant wars challenge.  For fans of Top Chef restaurant wars is the one week we all look forward to.  The chefs divide up into two teams and come up with a menu and restaurant concept top to bottom.  It holds all the potential for what ABC Sports used to call "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat".  For every successful restaurant concept there has been, there has also been one that is the culinary equivalent of that ski jumper biting it in the most horrendous fashion imaginable.  I believe one season both teams did so poorly they were embarassingly offered a do-over the next day.  I don't know if we're going to be in store for that much excitement tonight (or last night for you readers late to the party), but I'm hoping for an old familar challenge brings some some old familiar feelings of viewing enjoyment.

P.S. Wild guess, but I'll say the person who does dessert has a good chance to go home tonight.

image courtesy


Anonymous said...

Did you watch Tom's face through the first part of the season? He may not have come right out and said so, but he seemed pretty disgusted with the quality of chefs this season. I think you're right, no one is standing out because no one's that good.

There are too many team challenges this season, too. They used to be much more rare. Apart from restaurant wars (which I look forward to, along with everyone else) I would really rather not watch team challenges. They especially focus more on the personalities than the food and the chef's skills. Like you say, that focus is what has always set Top Chef above the other cooking competitions. I find myself not really caring this season, and that makes me sad. :(

Also: Texas.

(No spoilers, please. I haven't seen this week's episode yet.)

Brent said...

Ha I specifically wrote this before the episode to avoid spoilers. I wont have any here either but I will say I thought it was the best episode of the season thus far.