Top Chef Season 5, Episode 11: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give Leah a fish and she’ll give up.

We’re going to dive right into the action this week because I sprained my wrist and am typing one-handed (har har).  But I can’t let this first paragraph go without some kind of tangential comment, so I’ll mention that fried avocado tacos are freakin awesome.



This was a tough one, no doubt.  And much has been made around the blogosphere of Leah’s giving up on the challenge.  I am not calling for her head on a spike like alot of people are, but only because I am not really that surprised.  She gives up, to one degree or another, quite a bit.  We saw it during restaurant wars, and her head has just never seemed that much in the game.   Even when she is on top in a challenge, she looks uninspired. 

Stefan got lucky with eel as the last challenge, I mean why not throw in some fugu for cryin’ out loud.  It was a niche kinda deal, but a niche Stefan excelled in, and he wouldn’t have gotten to the final test if he hadn’t aced the first two, more pedestrian fish.  Well as much as fish can be pedestrian without feet.



Hey it’s a nice day-off lunch with Eric Ripert!  And we are having fish, just like the challenge!  Wow that’s a coincidence!  And there are 6 dishes!  And 6 chefs left!!  That is a wild and totally unrelated fact!!  Seriously?  Congratulations, you guys have become the stupid girl in the scary movie that the audience yells at.  “DON’T GO IN THAT HOUSE!!!  ASK ERIC WHAT”S IN THE REDUCTION!!!”

Now this was a serious challenge, even if you were paying attention.  Stefan really got the most out of his quickfire win advantage by picking the one dish that most Top Chef viewers could have figured out.  We probably would have broken the hollandaise, or overcooked the lobster, but still, we would have had a shot.

Jamie’s cardinal sin, and it’s too bad because I like Jamie, was not “having time” to ask Ripert about her dish in the practice session.  Again, seriously?  You have a chance to get your dish graded before the test and you don’t take it??  Hell I would have done it just to talk to him face to face again.   I mean he’s no Fabio (mi amore… be still my heart) but he’s still pretty damn cool.

So the thought experiment question for the episode, is it better to know what you did wrong and not fix it (Jamie)?  Or be clueless but not mess up as badly (Leah)?  My heart says the former, but as was so eloquently expressed last week, intentions are meaningless.  You are judged by your food and your food alone.  And I still take some comfort in that.


~Citizen Chef

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