I know that I keep predicting losers and my predictions never come through.  However, my prediction from last week came too frighteningly close for one Mr. Miguel.  Considered one of the bigger hitters of the show (at least by me), he came way too close to getting kicked to the curb during last night’s episode of Top Chef.  I, much like Tom Colicchio, wondered what in the world he was doing by letting Ms. Icareaboutpoop (Andrea) run the show for their main challenge: street food.  This alone was a tragic decision, let alone the fact that Andrea had obtained immunity in the quick-fire challenge (which was a mildly interesting but funny asian food taste-testing).  Holy crap, what the hell was Miguel thinking?  I know he was trying to be nice and inclusive, but…you know what?… when your life on the show is on the line, such as it was last night, you don’t leave it in the hands of a flitty light-weight.  More on this later…

Before I get into details about episode #5, I want to share with you the meat and potatoes of a discussion I had with my wife earlier tonight concerning Top Chef.  At the onset, the show led us on that the challenge was to win and -whammo- you’re Top Chef.  So, cook your ass off, show some effort and creativity, then you’re golden.  As each of the last episodes has unfolded, we’ve come to discover that the challenge does not lie in skill alone, but in the ability to cook for all kinds of people.  This show is ultimately about the judging panel, but the heart and influence come straight from the consumers of the food.  These have ranged from neighborhood club kids to people wandering down the streets in the Mission district of San Francisco.  It seems as though the judges have tried, in sometimes not so subtle a manner, to explain that they are not the ones to impress and that the people, whomever they may be, are the ones to impress.  To do this, you must, must, must be flexible and adjust to the clientele.  It’s both foolish and senseless to run around calling yourself a four-star chef if you can’t make decent diner food as well.

Having said this, last night’s challenge was to fuse Latin cuisine with one of a varied choices drawn from the knife block.  A team of two, with matching cuisines, would have to tackle serving this food in a manner suited for street food served in a cart.  This was one of the best ideas that they could come up with.  There are far too many snobby chefs on Top Chef and they need to be knocked down to the every day lives and food that most people consume.  Yes, they must inject their gourmet sensibilities, but it could not be forgotten that what they were serving was street food (i.e. portable).  Knowing this, then, why in the hell did Harold and Lisa, Miguel and Andrea, and Stephen and Lee Anne make food that was more suited for a seated venue?!?!?!  The worst was Harold and Lisa with their seared tuna and avocado salad (Japanese and Latin) served in a freaking BOWL!  Yes, it was in a bowl!  Yeah, I want to carry a bowl, a drink, and any other amount of things in my hands as I walk through the city.  In addition, they both forgot to get the jicama that was chopped and was to be used to give their very unportable salad some crunch.  Not a good plan.  Miguel and Andrea?  They were right on with their curried chicken and lentil burrito (Indian and Latin) except they served it on a PLATE open-faced!  What in flying-Jesus’ name were they thinking?!?  They had it (albeit, it was a little on the boring side thanks to Andrea and her poop-worried brown rice) until they displayed it like a floppy pizza!  Lee Anne’s and Stephen’s (that little shit is still around, yes) corn sope with char siu pork (Chinese with Latin) came close to being decent street food, but it was still open faced, although they did provide a carrying vessel in the guise of nori, I think?  It was a good idea and it did look good (guest judge Mike Yakura from Le Colonial drooled over the apparently delicious char siu pork), but it still wasn’t that functional.  It seemed a bit messy.  As compared to everyone else, Dave and Tiffani ran circles around the challenge and took it by storm.  They created an absolutely delicious looking Moroccan Cubano pork sandwich (Latin and Moroccan).  It was portable, for Pete’s sake, too!  Be still my beating heart!  They did clearly win the challenge judging by the reaction of the people who decided to walk past the decidedly uncomfortable-looing and freakish Stephen (who deemed the people of the Mission as “not their target demographic” – will someone please sabotage this jackass’ next dish PLEASE).  The judges truly loved their dish as well.  Good job, Dave and Tiffani (although I still am not totally warmed up to you Tiffani).  I like Dave, though.  He cries all the time when peole get axed.  It’s nice.

Who got the boot?  Well, in all truthfulness, Miguel should have been taken out to the curb for allowing himself to be led by Andrea, but, alas, Lisa got it.  Her dish created with Harold was truly just an atrocious idea that was not even executed properly.  Since Lisa has always seemed half out of the show anyway and didn’t have the confidence to compete against the others, this was not a surprise (and was Miguel’s ONLY saving grace), which is too bad because she had some decent skills for a home chef.  Adios, Lisa!

So, now we’re down to a manageable few and this is when it will get just hairy.  Throats shall be cut in the coming episodes, my friends.  Will Stephen survive?  I think not, due to his overly inflated ego and the self-destruction it will bring.  Will Harold carry on?  I think he will ultimately get kicked off because of his refusal to step down to the common folks.  Miguel?  He needs to step back up and stand up!  Tiffani?  Possible winner.  Dave?  Possible winner, but he seems too inconsistent and not confident enough to carry on through.  Lee Anne?  Definite chance for Top Chef.  Andrea?  Next goner.

Bon appetit!

For bios on the chefs and judges, please check out this link.

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