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S18.E11: Blind Ambitions

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In teams of two, the chefs each take a turn entering the box where they blindly taste a dish created by guest judge Gabriel Rucker and then must try to re-create it.

Original air date: June 10, 2021

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What a missed opportunity, they should’ve sent them both packing. 🤷🏻‍♂️

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Words cannot express how much I love Brooke.

I did get all verklempt when Kristen was giving Maria all the positive reinforcement and when Jamie thought about giving up her spot for Maria. This is an amazing team this season!

 

I just didn't think any of the food was especially compelling this episode....

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3 minutes ago, ProudMary said:

In all the seasons of Top Chef, I can't recall ever seeing this emotional level of homesickness. I have to think that the limitations placed on all cast and crew of the show, compounded the normal into something above and beyond.

I agree, and also that prior to coming on the show, many had been isolating with their families.  So they went from way more time together than normal to nothing.

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When  I saw the black boxes, my first thought was Let's Make A Deal.  LOL  It was a great challenge - difficult and fascinating - but sort of pointless because there was no reward of any kind.  Maybe the rationale is that it gives the judges more insight.  Dunno.

I haven't liked Maria since the first episode so I wasn't sorry to see her go.  However, her behavior and comments at the very end redeemed her a lot for me.  Jamie meant well but I doubt she did herself any favors in the long run.

If I'd had to pick a dish based upon what I could see on TV, I would have picked Gabe's.  Shota did great but I was glad that Gabe won.

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Good lord, that was painful. I was hoping that Maria would be eliminated and I was afraid for a minute that the judges would give Jamie her way. I felt terrible for Maria being put in that situation. I felt less terrible when she called Jamie an asshole. And then I remembered that she blamed her wife and son for causing her to cook bad food because of the ingredients they lovingly sent her, and I was back to feeling happy.

 I am worried for Dawn. She needs to focus and not leave components off the plate.

Gabe’s dish looked so good. He is peaking at the right time.
 

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I loved the look Shota had when they announced Dawn/Brooke as the QF winner.  I have never liked Brooke but darn if pairing her with Dawn made me wish I had liked her all along! I finally see what the Brooke people have seen. I haven't watched any other TC show so I wasn't aware of the famous black box challenge. I guess this was finally the test their palette challenge ( I missed having the mise en place and palate QF's this season) and Dawn/Gabe had the best palates this time. Gabe looked like a rabbit or a rat eating, it was weird and I wish there was a better way to see them eat in the box.  I do not think that I would have liked the guest chef's plate of food. I wish Padma and the chef had asked about Shota's slab of beef? It was interesting that he knew there was another protein and that Gabe finally figured out that fancy name of the sauce that had the eggs/protein that Shota was picking up. I am assuming that the eggs where what was throwing off Shota in his protein quest. 

Whatever Maria. Ugh, I have little patience for people who play do the mind games that she does. She did it to her son during the previous episode call home and she has done it to the cheftestants all along. It has nothing to do on my part with anything about her abilities or who she is other than I hate mind fuckers who put their crap on people around them. She is a manipulator. Worse, a passive aggressive manipulator with defensiveness thrown in for good measure.

 I guess Jamie thought that since there wasn't a LCK comeback that there was still a chance for an opening for Maria to stay? I love that she really just wanted a second chance for her, not that she wanted to quit in her place. 

Shota and Dawn had the EC meals I wanted to taste. Being from the south, I related to everything on Dawn's plate and I understood what she was shooting towards. Shota just killed me with his It's steak and mushrooms...with (insert his cheesy grin) fruit salad. Ha, I wanted to taste it since I love fruit with a meal (not for the dessert). I am the one who loves it when the old ladies bring their half pear/mayo/cheddar cheese/maraschino cherry thing to eat with the covered dish meal.

Is Padma wearing wigs this season? She goes from long/bangs/bob/shoulder each episode. 

I can't believe I like Brooke now. Thanks Dawn!

 

 

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I love how this group helps one another.  Did Dawn’s helping _______ (forgot who it was ) give her less time to get her food ready?

Wasn’t paying enough attention to the QF challenge.

Didn’t realize Maria did not have the LCK option.  I think Maria grew up in this season.

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1 hour ago, Lassus said:

I hate to be cold, but jesus christ, fucking spare me.

WORD x infinity

Neither Jamie nor Maria are my favorite contestants (#TeamShota all the way!) but I'm with the poster above who said send them both packing. This is a competition people, not a sorority weekend.  Get off the cross, you'll need the wood for your next challenge. I'm hoping Jamie is eliminated next week, I can't stand the sound effects she makes (ease up, you're not that guy from the Police Academy movies). 

I'm glad Maria left and took her inferiority complex with her. I don't have a lot of patience for her woe is me act. You made it this far into the competition - that means you are good enough. Good grief! I do give her credit for not letting Jamie fall on her kitchen knife for her. I wouldn't feel good about staying if it wasn't on my own merit. 

I dislike Gabe because of his sketch background but I absolutely wanted to try his winning dish. That looked amazing. 

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I could only think of OG Miss Alli, "This isn't The Amazing Top Montessori School".

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Did I misunderstand what Jamie did? I thought she was begging them to give Maria a second chance, not volunteering to go instead. Even when Padma asked Are you quitting? Jamie said I got a second chance and I want Maria to have a second chance but she didn't say let her have my spot. 

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9 minutes ago, stewedsquash said:

Did I misunderstand what Jamie did? I thought she was begging them to give Maria a second chance, not volunteering to go instead. Even when Padma asked Are you quitting? Jamie said I got a second chance and I want Maria to have a second chance but she didn't say let her have my spot. 

That was my understanding too, which was weird because somebody has PYKAG.

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That's the difference between Padma, and the cheftestants.     As Padma said when Jamie tried to quit, and let Maria continue, and Padma referred to Top Chef as a game.    To Maria and Jamie, and the other cheftestants,  it's their professional life, and not a game. 

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I’m also cold-hearted but I’m sick of Jamie and her schtick.  Even tonight’s PYKAG was highjacked by attention-seeking, not cute look-at-me noises Jamie.  Lordy, I find her tiresome — I can’t wait till she’s gone.

Edited by MerBearHou
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I think Padma has always had wigs at different times on the shows, and I'm betting extensions sometimes too.  

My interpretation was Jamie was volunteering to go home if they wouldn't let Maria stay, but she wanted Maria to stay. I bet that the cheftestants, and everyone else on the cast and crew, had to quarantine for a couple of weeks after arriving in Portland, and everything that goes with the timeline of the show.  So, they've been away from home longer than usual. 

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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1 hour ago, Msample said:

Please pack your mole and finally go.

Gabe didn't go.  In fact, he won.

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Didn't love the setup for the EC. The families were told to get together a care package, which many of them interpreted as favorites or comfort food for the chef to consume themselves. Like Jamie got matzo ball soup and challah. Then the chefs had to cook with at least some of what they were given. This isn't Chopped. The Quickfire was more interesting. Has anyone seen TC France?

Gabe's arm tattoos look to be Mayan glyphs.

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17 minutes ago, Vermicious Knid said:

Didn't love the setup for the EC. The families were told to get together a care package, which many of them interpreted as favorites or comfort food for the chef to consume themselves. Like Jamie got matzo ball soup and challah. Then the chefs had to cook with at least some of what they were given. This isn't Chopped. The Quickfire was more interesting. Has anyone seen TC France?

Gabe's arm tattoos look to be Mayan glyphs.

I didn’t mind it. They were sent 10 ingredients and didn’t have to use all or even most of them and were supplemented with a full pantry. This was not a challenge in which they were hamstrung by the challenge parameters. Jamie served bad rice, and Maria dressed salad badly. 

I thought they were going to do a Mike Isabella on Dawn: put her on the top AND bottom for forgetting plate components. I’m sure the guys from the Pack Your Knives Podcast will point out again that Dawn has yet to put out a single bad component of food on a plate all season. She's omitted a few to be sure.

I found that everyone’s heart was in the right place at the end and wasn’t quite touched. 

 

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3 minutes ago, Fukui San said:

I didn’t mind it. They were sent 10 ingredients and didn’t have to use all or even most of them and were supplemented with a full pantry. This was not a challenge in which they were hamstrung by the challenge parameters. Jamie served bad rice, and Maria dressed salad badly. 

Yeah, they’ve been given tougher ingredient challenges, even this season, like the coffee/beer challenge where they had to use really disparate components and make a cohesive dish. This was a process of elimination, not one of addition.

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Y’all, I’m not gonna lie: I spent pretty much the entire elimination challenge (that ending, good god) saying “I’m not crying, you’re crying!“ to a very confused puppy.

“This is like a Mexican novella” made me giggle, though. Word. 

I didn’t love Maria at first but she really grew on me and I’m sorry to see her go. Honestly, I probably would have been bawling over anyone’s departure on such a personal challenge. 

...Does anyone else hear Padma saying “John” all the time instead of “Dawn?” Every episode I have a confused moment of wondering who the hell John is....

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2 hours ago, CrazyInAlabama said:

Padma referred to Top Chef as a game.    To Maria and Jamie, and the other cheftestants,  it's their professional life, and not a game. 

But Padma isn’t wrong, it is a game and amazing chefs haven’t won which was all of their point. Tom also reenforced that she lost the competition it didn’t reflect that it made Maria a worse chef than Jamie.

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7 hours ago, Msample said:

Please pack your mole and finally go.

I loved Maria. 

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Once again, this show was utterly boring to me, the little I could stomach, haha. 

Gimmicks. That's Guy Fieri territory. 

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In the black box challenge, I thought Gabe (I think it was) running out of the box after the final 5 minute "investigation" should NOT have yelled "I'll make the Gribiche!!!". Man you just told the other two groups what that thing was! However I don't think either of the other teams took advantage of the huge hint.

All I could think when watching Gabe deal with the ghost pepper was that I sure was glad he was wearing gloves. Anyone who's made the mistake of touching their eye (or other sensitive body parts) after handling hot peppers sure doesn't forget it.

As for who left-- either would have satisfied me. I don't think either one has the level of skill of the other three. Gabe seems to have the judges enthralled, that's all I'll say. I think it's his to lose.

Edited by dleighg
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10 hours ago, mlp said:

When  I saw the black boxes, my first thought was Let's Make A Deal.  LOL  It was a great challenge - difficult and fascinating - but sort of pointless because there was no reward of any kind.  Maybe the rationale is that it gives the judges more insight.  Dunno.

I wonder if the lack of advantage was due to there being no "comeback chef" from LCK. I imagine they planned this challenge in advance and hoped to have 6 chefs. Adding Brooke in as a pinch-hitter might have made it seem unfair for the chef that got her if there was going to be an advantage.

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I feel that when you pair the chef who has won the most challenges with a past Tournament of Champions winner, it becomes rather obvious who is going to win the quickfire. I just wish they had done this quickfire when they had an even number of chefs left.

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2 hours ago, Macbeth said:

I don't understand it either.  It's just really, really sad to see.  The chefs are exhausted and homesick.  With Covid they appear to be a very tight knit group.  Jamie offering to take Maria's place was a lovely gesture.  

Count me in on this train. I thought it was a lovely gesture. I got teary more than once this episode. I loved the quick fire and thought the elimination challenge was good too -- the only thing I didn't like was that they told the chefs they had the night off... which every cheftestant should know means there is a challenge coming (Project runway is guilty of this too!).

I'm not the biggest fan of Jamie or Maria, but I don't hate them either. They have both annoyed me and also made me smile at times. This is a good group. I'd love a Shota or Dawn win. 

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I disl87ftgriked the quickfire and thought Dawn getting paired with Brooke was ridiculous.  Pair the past winner with the person who has had the least wins, not with the one who has had the most.  But Gabe and Shota stepping back and partnering up was hilarious.

Not a big fan of the box from home that you have to cook from.  What if someone's family had sent an assortment of snacks or candy?  

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4 hours ago, dleighg said:

In the black box challenge, I thought Gabe (I think it was) running out of the box after the final 5 minute "investigation" should NOT have yelled "I'll make the Gribiche!!!". Man you just told the other two groups what that thing was! However I don't think either of the other teams took advantage of the huge hint.

I was surprised as well, but we had already seen several instances during the 1st 15 min period of chefs asking/telling the others what the ingredients might be.  The only time that was absolutely prohibited was between team members during the second 15 min period (when Brooke was just dying to tell Dawn that there were already carrots cooking on the stove).   

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1 hour ago, meep.meep said:

 

Not a big fan of the box from home that you have to cook from.  What if someone's family had sent an assortment of snacks or candy?  

I think it’s really underestimating the families to think they didn’t realize that the chefs were going to have to cook with this stuff.

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Also regarding the contents of the care packages: Every one of them contained a protein, which I'd have to assume was a requirement requested of the families by the producers. I mean, when was the last time you sent a care package to a distant loved one that contained a few pounds of brisket? 😄 I'm also assuming that the proteins weren't shipped directly but were specifically requested by the family and then filled from the TC pantry. 

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I guess I am also cold-hearted, because Jaime pleading for Maria to stay annoyed me. I mean, is Jaime not familiar with the rules of Top Chef? Someone has to leave each week until they get down to one winner. That's it, that's the show they signed up for. Many great chefs are eliminated every season because only one person can win. If Jaime was so convinced that Maria deserved to stay, she should have volunteered to leave in her place. If she wasn't willing to do that, IMO, she had no business begging for Maria to stay. Maria lost the 5-chef round, it would have been unfair to Dawn, Shota and Gabe if they would have to compete in a 5-chef round again next week.

Edited by absolutelyido
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I don't hate Maria or Jamie. I dislike Maria and adore Jamie. I find Maria to be exhausting on an emotional level and Jamie to have found a coping mechanism that works for herself, and allows people around her to not be emotionally exhausted. I think Tom connected to Maria's lack of confidence and put forth a lot of effort into helping her see that she deserved to be there based on her cooking abilities. And when he realized that she, as he stated it kindly, had hit the wall emotionally, he knew that it was her time to move on, that she was getting in the way of her own self. 

Unless there is an upset I don't see this happening but I hope that Gabe is the next to leave. I have developed a soft spot for Jamie and think that while the judges might not agree, she cooks food from a better viewpoint than Gabe. I think she is more like Shota, in that she can bring a little something that isn't defined to a plate of food.  

Having said that, I hope Dawn takes the whole thing home and wins, and then comes back for an All Stars season. I have grown to like her way of working, getting inside herself while winging it effortlessly and plowing through. I think it relates back having to do that in her sports background in that her chosen sport is done on an individual basis, not as a team. I can't recall if she has been dinged for anything at all for what she has put on a plate. 

I just remembered this is the second time Jamie has used a strategy to try to save another cheftestant. She did the same thing with Kiki, volunteering to sacrifice herself if it came down to her or Kiki. 

 

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I thought the food this episode wasn't super exciting (outside Dawn), or at least it took a back seat to the emotional resolution of Maria/Jamie, both of whom I like, and Jamie especially made me and Tom laugh when she explained how she makes it for her family "we just throw it in a pot like TSSSH" and Tom was trying hard not to LOL.  What to make your rice, like BOOM? I did figure Maria was next to go, but I think Byron was totally jobbed in LCK. Like why have this whole show built on the idea of getting back in and at the last minute be like PSYCHE it's just  a CHANCE to get back in. WUT, no. 

I have to say this season has been season of the underhanded chicken wing, I've never seen so many chefs fuck up CHICKEN wings, Maria is now the second chef to essentially make boiled skin chicken (after Shota). WHY, if you are not frying or grilling them? Don't make em, and if you do fry  or grill them, don't douse them in sauce that makes them soggy again. Dawn is going to triumph purely on the ability to not fuck up chicken wings.

I really really hope that Gabe goes before Jamie, because I think he's more consistent, but her highs are better than his, and her food is more interesting, he is firmly firmly rooted in his wheelhouse and has pretty much never stepped out of it.  This episode leads me to believe Jamie's run out of the emotional juice to keep fighting at her actual weight, so she is probably next to go.

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54 minutes ago, absolutelyido said:

I guess I am also cold-hearted, because Jaime pleading for Maria to stay annoyed me. I mean, is Jaime not familiar with the rules of Top Chef? Someone has to leave each week until they get down to one winner. That's it, that's the show they signed up for. Many great chefs are eliminated every season because only one person can win. If Jaime was so convinced that Maria deserved to stay, she should have volunteered to leave in her place. If she wasn't willing to do that, IMO, she had no business begging for Maria to stay. Maria lost the 5-chef round, it would have been unfair to Dawn, Shota and Gabe if they would have to compete in a 5-chef round again next week.

My understanding of the moment was that Jamie was volunteering to go instead of Maria. Everyone there understood that. However, when the judges forced Jamie to say “I’m quitting” Jamie backed down from the offer, with Maria telling her that she wanted to leave with grace. Jamie had seen her offer as sacrificing herself for Maria, the judges reframed it to quitting and that made Jamie see the light.

It was a lovely moment.

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I agree that when the judges reworded Jaime's offer of "sacrifice" to quitting she immediately realized what she was really willing to do and decided that she wasn't so willing to do that.  I think she really wanted the judges to just make an emotional decision to keep both of them but when it was really clear that one of them would be eliminated she decided that it was better for it to be Maria than her.

However, I don't think Maria needed to ask Jaime to just let her leave as the judges eliminated Maria and she could have just left instead of engaging with Jaime.  A simple "thanks so much for trying to save me, but I'll see you on the outside" would have sufficed.  

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5 hours ago, jackjill89 said:

Count me in on this train. I thought it was a lovely gesture. I got teary more than once this episode. I loved the quick fire and thought the elimination challenge was good too -- the only thing I didn't like was that they told the chefs they had the night off... which every cheftestant should know means there is a challenge coming (Project runway is guilty of this too!).

It's never a party!

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