It was great to see everyone, including my friends from Season 1, and old judges and new during the 4 Star All Star challenge. Ironically, during the show I told the new contestants not to read the blogs, and here I am writing one. It's hard to read what people say about you after they've only seen 60 minutes of an edited show, especially without being able to defend it and to tell the whole story. So I'm going to try to look at the episodes with what I know: 1. There's a lot I'm not seeing due to editing; 2. I can't actually know what people's dishes taste like, and 3. All of the contestants are brave for going out there and taking risks in front of a national audience. That said, let's jump right in.
Bourdain. Bourdain. Bourdain. You are the man. I wish I could say something profound, witty, and clever about you, but that's your department. "Badass" is the best I can do. I was a little surprised to see how much bravado was being thrown around so early on. I thought at least for the first few challenges, the new chefs would have put their heads down and let their cooking do the talking. I felt bad when they found out they had to do a Quickfire. We had a night to get settled in, get to know everyone, get some nerves out. Probably the minute they started to relax and get comfortable it was game on. That had to suck.
Micah: Girl, when I saw your plate, I got a little warm inside. It looked great and was a super cool idea. And I knew Tom was going to pick it as the winner. My first impression: I like your style. I like your attitude. Onto other things... A penthouse at the Fountainbleu? Are you kidding me?
Walking into that room and seeing those proteins, they had to be thinking "#$@*!" Brian, I feel for you -- first challenge and you get a bad knife draw. But when I saw that big kettle (the big vat of eel and rattlesnake), I got excited -- I thought you were going to pull it off with something you've never made before. It looked right-on. Howie's idea was great. Too bad it didn't make it on the plate.
The thing about judges' table is that there's no set criteria. How many times have they said, "If it's not what you'd serve in a restaurant, leave it off the plate"? But if you leave it off the plate, you could wind up packing your knives for not finishing the challenge. I think Howie was right in his gut decision to want to put out the best product, and he also showed a lot of character at the judges' table.
Clay said something that really hit home with me -- if he went home, who would be around to make them laugh? And he's right about that. Mikey being there for me made all of the difference in the world. Sorry you had to be the first to go, Clay. I was looking forward to some Southern-style flavors. Best of luck with everything.
Overall, I know it's too early to tell, but I'm really liking the women this season. Micah's amuse, Sara's claw, Camille's kangaroo...so far they're bringin' it. Can't wait to see what they do next week.