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S17.E11: Michael's Santa Monica

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Tom makes his final decision from "Last Chance Kitchen" on who should return to the competition; the chefs take off in a Quickfire with Padma and Jonathan Waxman making a two-course business class dish for an airline.

Original air date: May 28, 2020

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It did look like Malarky was going to quit there, but I figured that really wouldn't happen.  Guess it didn't matter.  Tom's right, once the dish leaves the kitchen, you have no control over how people eat the dish.  

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Even though they telegraphed BM's demise last week I was still nervous that somehow Gregory was leaving, especially after he left the item off his dish....

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5 minutes ago, MerBearHou said:

That was crap that the servers took his food to the wrong table — I have never seen that in all my seasons watching Top Chef.

I'm not normally someone who thinks "producer shenanigans!!!" but this definitely seemed like producer shenanigans. Like the servers are fine the whole time except when it gets to Malarky? Seems suspect.

But of the people left, I think he was the right person to go. He's kind of annoying, but he's harmless and relatively positive, so I don't mind him too much.

I really like the final five. No matter who ultimately wins I'll be happy, but Melissa and Gregory are my favorites.

Edited by MerBearStare
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1 hour ago, MerBearStare said:

Melissa and Gregory are my favorites.

We MerBears think alike!  Melissa and Gregory are my faves too — both so lovely — followed by Bryan V.  

After plate-gate, I can only imagine how Kevin would have reacted if his dishes had not made it to the judges table.  

Edited by MerBearHou
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I am glad to see the back of Malarkey. Pretty sure Padma is too, since I get a definite vibe that she doesn’t like him. People who are on all the time like he is are exhausting for me to be around. Maybe it’s just his tv persona, but whatever it is, I’m glad he’s out.  I was a little afraid for Gregory. I really don’t like beets so I can’t say his dish looked appetizing at all. They mentioned how small the kitchen is, but I thought it was strange the way they were all in the plating area when Gregory’s food was going out. It’s not like they were all serving at once. 
I am rooting for Gregory or Melissa for the win, but I would bet that Kevin will win. I liked him a lot in the Las Vegas season, but now he seems sort of entitled and pompous.

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25 minutes ago, aquarian1 said:

It did look like Malarky was going to quit there, but I figured that really wouldn't happen.  Guess it didn't matter.  Tom's right, once the dish leaves the kitchen, you have no control over how people eat the dish.  

And they were being kind, because it also sounds like they weren't happy with the "45" different ingredients.

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29 minutes ago, Miss chi chi said:

GREGORY! You scared me. This is the point in your season that you lost your footing. I love you! Get it together!

I continue to love Stephanie and her sense of humor! Champagne Padma Forever!

Melissa is a bad ass! Melissa? Gregory? I'm almost ok with Melissa.

I loved Kevin is season 5. I have always said that his was the food I have most wanted to eat. I was thrilled he was on all stars. I'm totally cold on him now. Was it "I've got people do to this shit for me now"? Was it plate gate? It was certainly "plantation food" I don't see an avenue for me to root for him anymore.

It seemed like everyone was throwing shade at the restaurant they were honoring.

Thank you! I loved Kevin too. But I've grown colder and colder about him as it's progressed. I hadn't added all of that up. But my subconscious had.

I'm glad Malarkey is out. He's slid through the season. Yes, the plating was awful, but it was fixed. The problem they had with his food, was his food. Then his temper tantrum about how they are supposed to be eaten. It's a suo dude, not separate entre's.

Overall I'm happy with the lineup though.

Just now, ShawnaLanne said:

 

 

Edited by ShawnaLanne
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Nice to see some things never change... the phone call back home to wife and kids told me Malarkey was v likely going home.  At some point, editors need to throw us off course and keep the Phone Home-r for the next round.  

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I too do not remember any instance of a server simply bringing a Top Chef dish to someone else's table other than in Restaurant Wars for which effed up service is par for the course. There's first time for everything.

I think Tom over the years has articulated the folly of doing duos and trios. You're essentially competing against yourself and if one part is better than the other, the judges will ask "Well, why even do the bad part?" The mixing thing is a bit of a new issue. Sometimes people do things "wrong".  But if they don't taste good together why plate them together?

Another thing I saw more of this episode than I can ever remember: Rubbernecking patrons! The people sitting behind the judging table during Malarkey's service couldn't help turning their heads back to see what was on camera. I imagine these had to be real patrons because extras you could instruct to mind their own business.

I'm glad that no matter what happens from here on out, Stephanie has had a season to be proud of.

I never knew about this restaurant in which dozens of big names wandered in and out, Zelig like.

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7 minutes ago, ALittleShelfish said:

At some point, editors need to throw us off course and keep the Phone Home-r for the next round.

Actually the phone call home calls attention to the chef, so if they're eliminated you remember that call, but a call doesn't always mean they'll be eliminated. Just an example from this season, Leanne had a phone call home and wasn't eliminated.

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8 minutes ago, ALittleShelfish said:

Nice to see some things never change... the phone call back home to wife and kids told me Malarkey was v likely going home.  At some point, editors need to throw us off course and keep the Phone Home-r for the next round.  

No kidding. And the "dreaded duo" as he even called out.   I'm going to miss Malarkey.  He was OTT but whatever, I liked the energy I brought. And I liked that his final regret was that the day he left didn't have enough laughter.

I would love for Stephanie, Melissa or Gregory to win which means Voltaggio or Kevin likely will.

I didn't enjoy this episode because it all felt very produced starting with Last Chance Kitchen. I feel like "you must beat two out of three to WIN" usually means that person will beat the first, lose the second and win the third.

Then there was the shenanigans with the waiters sending half of the dishes to the wrong tables. 

Then there was Malarkey's almost quitting which was, in many respects, basically giving them permission/making it easy to boot him. Interestingly, just before he goes further away from his family and many restaurants, he leaves.  (They do have phones and things in Italy but I imagine the time difference would make it harder.)

 

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I didn't think it would be possible, but I actually felt bad for Malarkey. I can't blame him for freaking out that his plates didn't make it to the judges' table. How come Gail got a plate? Then the judges told him that the fact that the plates never made it to them made no difference in the way they judged him. That's crazy. How could one plate provide enough of each component to feed all four? Did each of the judges actually get to taste the components that supposedly didn't work together? If this truly was producer shenanigans, shame on them for doing something like this in the lead-up to the finale.

It was quite surprising that there are five cheftestants going to the finale. I doubt I'm the only viewer who was expecting the final four to be Bryan, Kevin, Melissa and Gregory. That they decided to take five judges to Italy and that Stephanie is a finalist, is a great bonus. She has been cooking brilliantly the past couple of episodes.

From the shallow end of the pool: Roy Yamaguchi is extremely attractive! I've eaten at one of his restaurants, and it was one of my favorite dining experiences, but I don't remember ever having seen him before. I'd say that Eric Ripert is still #1 on my "Sexy Chefs" list, but Roy just made his way to my #2 slot. 

On to Tuscany!

 

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The whole plate debacle was weird. You could see that one judge (Brooke?) handed Malarkey’s dish back to the server! 🤨 Why would a judge give back a dish of something that she did not already have?

Did they have to serve everyone in the restaurant or just make enough for the judges? If they had to serve everyone, wouldn’t there be more plates? And if they only served the judges, why would the servers have even gone to other tables!? It makes no sense!

For some reason, part two of last week’s Last Chance Kitchen is not available On Demand. I watched part one last week, but the second half where Kevin has to cook against three chefs is not there. Wtf Bravo!?

Edited by Cotypubby
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19 minutes ago, Cotypubby said:

For some reason, part two of last week’s Last Chance Kitchen is not available On Demand. I watched part one last week, but the second half where Kevin has to cook against three chefs is not there. Wtf Bravo!?

It's on You Tube:

 

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Bye, Malarkey. Your plate had the dreaded deadly duo with 45 freaking ingredients--your desire to go home was telegraphed by your decision about what to make. Leave Gregory the hell out of it and you thinking you could disrespect him says it all. None of it good. A little part of me wondered what he'd said to the servers that resulted in those plates going to another table.

I feel that I'm watching Tom telegraph that he wants a Kevin win. I'd be much happier with Melissa, as I would be with her food. His doesn't appeal to me and he is insufferable this season. Sorry, I'm never going to be over plantation food.

Very happy for everyone (except "your rules don't apply to my meatballs" Kevin) who's going to Italy. Voltaggio, Italy! Gregory is going to love the vegetables. And brava, Stephanie, the most surprised chef there. I'd love to eat her food. I watched her poor face during LCK when she was afraid Kevin would pick her so he could beat her.

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3 hours ago, MerBearStare said:

I'm not normally someone who thinks "producer shenanigans!!!" but this definitely seemed like producer shenanigans. Like the servers are fine the whole time except when it gets to Malarky? Seems suspect.

 

2 hours ago, Fukui San said:

I too do not remember any instance of a server simply bringing a Top Chef dish to someone else's table other than in Restaurant Wars for which effed up service is par for the course.

I absolutely think it's "producer shenanigans", there's no way I believe that after all this time they still can't find competent servers. They're either telling them to do things wrong, or they're deliberately hiring inexperienced people so that they are more likely to screw up.

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I’ve been thinking for weeks that Malarkey never meant to go to the finals.  I think he was on because (1) the producers wanted him for entertainment value and (2) he enjoys bringing attention to chefs, cooking, and restaurants in general.  So I suspect that was the agreement to get him to participate, i.e. let him leave before the finals.  I think a lot of the drama has been, if not actually scripted, at least planned in some way.

He obviously knew that plating two unrelated dishes would be a problem - it sounded like either one on its own was a great dish; but they didn’t invoke the original, and they didn’t go together.  So unless someone else blew it, he knew it would make sense for him to be sent packing.  I think he might really have been concerned that the missing prosciutto could unexpectedly send Eric home, which is why he was thrown.  It was almost like he was saying, hey guys, remember our deal? Did you see his fist pump when Parma said “Malarkey”?  (And yes, she doesn’t seem to like him - maybe some history?)

The misdirected plates could have been a production ploy, or a true error.  Either way, it makes sense that as a very experienced restaurateur, Malarkey would be upset.

I like everyone else except Kevin; learning about his father’s career helps explain his sense of entitlement.  Delighted to see Melissa and Stephanie do so well!

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I know that they had to find an older photo of Brooke - but wow, that was awful. I didn't recognize her.

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3 hours ago, Fukui San said:

Another thing I saw more of this episode than I can ever remember: Rubbernecking patrons! The people sitting behind the judging table during Malarkey's service couldn't help turning their heads back to see what was on camera. I imagine these had to be real patrons because extras you could instruct to mind their own business.

Those were not random patrons.  While the judges and "honored" chefs were at a long straight table, there were other people who have been judges on past shows that were at smaller, round tables as well.  Several of them had talking heads, and they obviously had the same dishes.  So it made the possibility of misdirected plates more likely. 

Kevin's croquette looked like a dried up turd sitting on the plate.  I was astonished that everyone seemed to like it. 

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[checks Malarkey's burn book] Well, that wasn't supposed to happen!

I mean, I can't help kind of liking him even though I don't know how long I could stand being in the same room with him, but of the six remaining, he was unquestionably the one I was readiest to jettison. I'm sure he's crying himself to sleep on a mattress stuffed with money anyway.

1 hour ago, CatWarmer said:

I think he might really have been concerned that the missing prosciutto could unexpectedly send Eric home, which is why he was thrown.

Eric went home weeks ago, in the pre-Restaurant Wars challenge.

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3 hours ago, ProudMary said:

I didn't think it would be possible, but I actually felt bad for Malarkey. I can't blame him for freaking out that his plates didn't make it to the judges' table. How come Gail got a plate? Then the judges told him that the fact that the plates never made it to them made no difference in the way they judged him. That's crazy. How could one plate provide enough of each component to feed all four? Did each of the judges actually get to taste the components that supposedly didn't work together? If this truly was producer shenanigans, shame on them for doing something like this in the lead-up to the finale.

I don’t think it was just the one plate, but that there were several missing from the whole table. Tom was seated on one end, Gail was closer to the other Padma somewhere between, so I think there was sharing, but not one plate among all four. Plus, I’m sure the other chefs made sure the judges partook of what was on the table.

The dishes I really wanted to eat were Stephanie's, Melissa's, and Kevin's, but then I love all their ingredients and their interpretations looked better to me than the original dishes, especially Stephanie's pasta.

Edited by caitmcg
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51 minutes ago, PhoneCop said:

 

Eric went home weeks ago, in the pre-Restaurant Wars challenge.

Sorry, meant Gregory of course.

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I'm sure others will disagree, but I'm rather cynical.     I thought Malarkey's whole, "I'm withdrawing" speech was because he knew he was going home, and now he can say that he volunteered.    Now instead of saying he was eliminated, he will say he went so Gregory wouldn't get the boot. 

If the diners all had the same dishes, then there might have been too many plates at a table, and I'm sure the diners would have corrected that quickly.    I think Malarkey miscounted.   

 

I think Brooke gave her plate back, so the other judges could get another portion to split.  If the other diners sitting at other tables close to the judges table had the same food, then I'm sure someone shared with her.   I imagine that others at the judges' table shared.   

I think Malarkey just miscounted, and I don't think the wait staff did anything wrong.   

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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9 hours ago, MerBearHou said:

I’m just cranky about Kevin in general.

When Kevin had to choose 3 of the 5 chefs to cook (in LCK) against he first chose the two white men and finally the third man, Gregory. This tells me that he either 1) doesn't consider the women to be a threat to him or 2.) he figured he'd lose and wanted to lose to a man and not an icky girl. (Actually I think both are true.) I think he couldn't handle the idea of possibly being eliminated by a girl chef.

Kevin lost me with the plantation food episode but I was also thrown by his "we always traveled first class because grandpa was an executive" blather.

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6 hours ago, GaT said:

 

I absolutely think it's "producer shenanigans", there's no way I believe that after all this time they still can't find competent servers. They're either telling them to do things wrong, or they're deliberately hiring inexperienced people so that they are more likely to screw up.

I believe Top Chef only hires servers for Restaurant Wars, the rest of the time they use the restaurant's regular wait staffs. It's hard to believe that an iconic restaurant that's been open for 40 years would have incompetent servers, so there's that. Then if he didn't want the duos mixed together, why didn't he just say so? There have been plenty of times where the chefs give instructions on how the meal is to be eaten. This whole elimination seemed like a bunch of, for lack of a better word.. Malarkey.

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10 hours ago, Bastet said:

Ha:  “Champagne Padma is my favorite of all Padmas.”  I love Stephanie, and I am SO HAPPY for her going to the finals (not to mention to Italy)...

Like Kevin, I grew up flying first class (thanks to my dad’s frequent flyer miles upgrading us on family vacations) and after flying coach once as an adult, I went immediately and permanently back to my “airplane diva” roots.  And I’ve had some good food on airplanes (and never had bad food, that I recall).  But I don’t think the QF parameters really covered what would be necessary to create a dish that would reheat, plate, and eat well in that specific environment.  Oh, well – it’s just a QF.

Everything looked great, though; I would have been deliriously happy to have been there that night.  (It’s funny how much smaller than the original’s everyone’s dishes were.)

Tom’s “Here’s to 40, and may you see 50” toast takes on a whole new meaning given the decimation of the restaurant industry since this was filmed.  Last time I was at Michael's was probably ten years ago, and we just did the "happy hour" (which lasts the entire evening) menu - which is delicious.  So I'm certainly not a frequent customer.  But it would be weird for it not to be there; hopefully it rebounds (they haven't been doing take-out during the closure).

@Bastet sorry I chopped up your post, but I am not adept at quoting only the portions I want to respond to. So, without further ado:

Stephanie: SO happy that she made it to the finale in Italy. I had a little moment when Padma asked which of the chefs have been to Italy and everyone but Stephanie raised their hands. I felt like during the service the editors held back the positive commentary on Stephanie's dish, because it was a surprise (to me, anyway) that she was a very close second to Melissa at Judge's Table.

And yeah, Padma was wasted during the quickfire.

Airplane food: a few seasons back, there was a real challenge involving creating airplane meals and the cheftestants did have to take into account the containers, the reheating method, ease of eating, etc. If I recall correctly, the service actually took place on a flight. Like some others, I have a steadily decreasing tolerance for Kevin. I disliked his arrogant attitude about fitting his meal into the prescribed container and disliked even more that his lack of meeting the challenge was dismissed by Waxman and Padma (who may have been too drunk to really notice).

I also noticed how tiny the "entrees" were as opposed to the originals. I thought it was interesting that Michael and the judges commented that the restaurant has apparently remained sort of frozen in time in the '80's. Or at least that was my takeaway. Maybe they were only talking about the small kitchen space.

Tom's toast did indeed take on a new meaning given our current pandemic. 😢

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Musings:

well I was a little worried for Gregory! but very happy he made it through. He does seem to get scattered at times so I hope he can pull it together!

No surprise with Kevin making it through. I think he should cook more talk less because every time he talks I do get a hint of white male privilege's that isn't a good look. I do think he his a great chef. His interpretation of the Michaels dish looked really good. Tom clearly loves his food. I will give him a little leeway because he has been through a lot but dude!  I rolled my eyes tonight! (only fly first class)

Champagne Padma is a riot! Thank you Stephanie! She is so funny. Love Stephanie's attitude.  Her interpretation of Waxman's dish was perfect! Imaginative and updated and tasty per judges. 

Melissa is a Rockstar! Perfect combination of Imagination and restraint! Michelin star talent! 

Tale of Two Brians:

Malarky is just too much everything all the time and it shows in his food..has a great imagination but no restraint. his dish was a hot mess. As far as the nonsense at the restaurant? Michael's a needs to check their wait staff. I do think he wanted to quit because he knew he was toast...glad he didn't . 

Bryan V. : too much restraint. When the parameters of the competition are tight he generally excels.. minus quick-fires because I think he needs more time. His execution is nearly always flawless. HIs dish looked very good but a little dated to me.

I think this competition is between Melissa and Kevin... my guess is Bryan V rounds out the top three.

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Ashforth said:

I also noticed how tiny the "entrees" were as opposed to the originals.

Since the judges were eating 6 entrees it made sense that they weren't the larger portions that the restaurant normally serves.

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17 minutes ago, Ashforth said:

Airplane food: a few seasons back, there was a real challenge involving creating airplane meals and the cheftestants did have to take into account the containers, the reheating method, ease of eating, etc. If I recall correctly, the service actually took place on a flight. Like some others, I have a steadily decreasing tolerance for Kevin. I disliked his arrogant attitude about fitting his meal into the prescribed container and disliked even more that his lack of meeting the challenge was dismissed by Waxman and Padma (who may have been too drunk to really notice).

 

Yes, that episode involved Anthony Bourdain as the guest judge and CJ going home for his broccolini.  There are some episodes of Top Chef that have gotten stuck in my brain and that was one of them.  I usually remember the OTT elimination challenges like the bike tour in San Antonio.

This challenge bothered me with the obvious producer shenanigans with Malarkey.  How could the judges table not get all of the entrees.  It was a set menu with a set number of diners.  The servers could get the other 5 chefs' plates out correctly, but not this one time especially to the most important table.  

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9 hours ago, Cotypubby said:

Did they have to serve everyone in the restaurant or just make enough for the judges? If they had to serve everyone, wouldn’t there be more plates? And if they only served the judges, why would the servers have even gone to other tables!? It makes no sense!

I'm with you on that! It certainly seemed that they were not doing a restaurant-wide service, so how on earth did they go astray?

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6 minutes ago, Impromptu said:

What is awesome about Bryan V is how he always seems to nerd out over the challenge, if its not something in his skill set, it always seems to be something he's interested in trying to do, and he's great at the talking head section explaining what about the challenge is specifically challenging. 

He reminds of those Amazing Race racers who no matter where the race sends them, are, "Awesome! Serbia!  I've always wanted to go there! Oooh! Nova Scotia! I've can't wait to see it! Far out! Viet Nam! It's been a dream of mine to travel there."

I noticed he was the only chef actively taking notes during their dinner.  He probably could have done any of the dishes well.

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44 minutes ago, Ashforth said:

I thought it was interesting that Michael and the judges commented that the restaurant has apparently remained sort of frozen in time in the '80's. Or at least that was my takeaway. Maybe they were only talking about the small kitchen space.

I think they were just talking about the kitchen-- I don't think most of those "sample" entrees shown are still on the menu-- those were throwbacks to "the way we did it back then." Brooke's pink risotto was particularly unappealing, and I think she knows it with her "sorry" apology to Gregory.

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35 minutes ago, SweetSable said:

Since the judges were eating 6 entrees it made sense that they weren't the larger portions that the restaurant normally serves.

The producers also purposely assign them food budgets at Whole Foods that would make it impossible for them to serve large entrees. They don't want to see a lot of food go to waste, and the small portions are so attractively displayed. 

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1 hour ago, zibnchy said:

When Kevin had to choose 3 of the 5 chefs to cook (in LCK) against he first chose the two white men and finally the third man, Gregory. This tells me that he either 1) doesn't consider the women to be a threat to him or 2.) he figured he'd lose and wanted to lose to a man and not an icky girl. (Actually I think both are true.) I think he couldn't handle the idea of possibly being eliminated by a girl chef.

Kevin lost me with the plantation food episode but I was also thrown by his "we always traveled first class because grandpa was an executive" blather.

I think Kevin picked Malarkey because he was sure he was going to beat Malarkey. He picked Bryan because he wanted to go head to head with him and this might have been the last chance to do that. Gregory volunteered to be the third opponent.

Kevin also described Jenn Carroll as the queen of seafood and picked her to be in his team in the first episode.So, no, I don't see  him being some chauvinist pig.

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Is there someplace online where I can get Melissa's recipe for the cold tofu salad from the QF challenge? Or can someone recommend something similar?

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4 minutes ago, gorgy said:

I've been side-eying Kevin since the first quick-fire in episode one where me mentioned PFTS, which stands for "people for that shit."

could you clue me in on what that means? My quick try at googling did not help me.

27 minutes ago, FinnishViewer said:

He picked Bryan because he wanted to go head to head with him and this might have been the last chance to do that.

I thought he picked Bryan because Bryan has (famously) never won a QF.

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The PFTS means, Kevin doesn't do his own preliminary chopping, and prepping, he has people in the kitchen that do anything he doesn't want to bother doing, because he's so important now.   In other words, he's too good to do his own work, and has people to serve him. 

I know that being the executive chef or owner means you don't do your own work.     I found the way Kevin put it meaning that he's too good to do the work, not that he hasn't done it in a long time,  I found his comment to be mean, especially the way he said it.  

I'm sorry Kevin had cancer, and other challenges, but that doesn't entitle him to be clueless about "Plantation food", and his other obnoxious comments.    He also seems to be a rather cranky person, and I don't know if that's because of his issues, or if he just hid it better before.  

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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I call shenanigans with Malarkey! 

Before, his competitors just somehow managed not to allot him a cooking station. Now, the experienced servers just somehow happened to deliver to the wrong table---unique in TC history, no?--- the dishes Malarkey plated for the judges.

Yeah, they said the duo didn't mesh, and yeah, the chef oughtnt't direct the consumption**. Nonetheless, all the judges' remarks, Padma's disclaimer's notwithstanding, came after that snafu and Brian's upset reaction. 

** Really, Gail? We've never seen a chef-competitor say things like, "You pour the sauce on (x) first, then..."? Or, "You put the fixings into the taco shell..."?  Whatever.

 

 

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