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Past Seasons Talk: The Stew Room

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A place to discuss particular episodes, arcs, and moments from the past seasons (before this season 12).  Please remember this isn't a complete catch-all topic, check out the forum for chef's topics, seasons 12+, and other show related talk.

 

Grab a beer and spend 2-5 hours sweating it out in here while the panel deliberates.

Edited by aquarian1 · Reason: Added Past Seasons description

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Anyone watching the Monday season-replays on the Esquire Channel? They do blocks of ~8 episodes of a different season each Monday morning. I didn't get into Top Chef until about season 5, and though I haven't caught an earlier season yet, it's still fun to revisit some seasons now that I'm a little better versed in these culinary challenges. It's also interesting to see whether my old favorites are still likable upon replay (Carla!) or who still grates on my nerves (Blaise! The inescapable Mike Isabella!) and comparing the quality of chefs season to season.

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Thanks for that information.  I didn't know that I could catch the seasons I missed somewhere. 

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Hi mlp! Yep, I randomly caught that one Monday recently. They're running the seasons out of order (this week was s5), so hopefully they'll keep replaying them. It's a nice way to wait for the next season to start.

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I've seen quite a few of the season reruns & pretty much enjoy them, but would really LOVE to see Season 1 again as I had only discovered the show part way through the season and missed the first few episodes. This past season was definitely a low point - but still not as bad as the Texas season. And I really wish they would make a change with the finale episodes. I guess I can understand wanting to have the finale in a different venue, but I'd kinda like to see the season end where it began - it actually seems like a bit of an insult to pack up and go elsewhere for the high point of the season. Looks like they're doing the Las Vegas season today - another season I was pretty unhappy with. I really hope Bravo steps it up with the next TC season, cuz so many of their other 'reality' shows simply suck raw eggs.

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Do we know where the next season is going to be located? One thing I don't get is the contestants not trying to prepare for the location, especially with NOLA. If I was to be a cheftestant, and I knew the show was going to New Orleans, I would be sure to try to learn to cook some of the signature dishes. Think that's one of the cardinal rules for the chefs going in. 

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I agree with you, Veruca. However, I'm wondering how much information the contestants have before they leave. They must know when they'll be taking off in order to inform their employers, but when do they find out the location. I could see them being told only to bring clothing for a temperature range of 50-80 degrees, for example, then following instructions to pick up a reserved ticket at the airport, at which point they finally learn where they're going. I could be wrong, but this example scenario could explain why they don't prepare better.

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You're probably right, Bella, but I know before Seattle it was heavily rumored that's where they were headed. I think part of it may also be process of elimination. At least try to maybe get some regional skills lined up- if they haven't been to New Orleans yet, try to figure out how to cook crawfish. 

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Damn that's a good screenname, Veruca Assault.  I might be the only one here old enough to get it.

I agree that once you know where you're going -- and I don't think they go to the airport not knowing their destination -- then spend some serious time with local dishes and local proteins.  When someone goes to New Orleans and declares that they've never even tasted gumbo (made-up example, but I just can't recall the real ones.  There were some, though, I do remember that), it reminds me of people who sign up for Survivor, go to an island, and then announce they can't swim or paddle a canoe or start a fire.

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...it reminds me of people who sign up for Survivor, go to an island, and then announce they can't swim or paddle a canoe or start a fire.

Or go on The Amazing Race and can't drive a stick-shift car or are afraid of flying (I still shake my head over that one).

I was listening to Entertainment Weekly radio this morning on my way to work and they said that Bravo announced 15 new shows recently, including: 

Top Chef Duels – The 18 most memorable contestants from previous Top Chef seasons return to the kitchen to compete with each other one-on-one as celebrity chef Curtis Stone hosts.

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Top Chef Duels – The 18 most memorable contestants from previous Top Chef seasons return to the kitchen to compete with each other one-on-one as celebrity chef Curtis Stone hosts.

 

Good grief, Bravo is now milking the Top Chef concept the way they did the Real Housewives concept. Granted, I like Top Chef and the variations, but it speaks to a lack of originality at the network.

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Yes.MMLesq!  The stick-shift thing kills me.  Mr Washables goes nuts every time it happens.  Remember the woman who was afraid of water?  And there are always contestants afraid of heights.  

Back to topic -- sorry, Moderators -- Top Chef Duels could go either way.  Curtis Stone is not a good omen.  I think he's condescending and I'm not sure that he's a top chef himself.  If memorable means good chefs who didn't win, then I'm excited to watch.  If memorable means contestants like Josie, they can keep it.

Edited by FineWashables
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This is the Off-Topic thread, so we can talk about whatever we want here.

Didn't Josie do something awful the last time she was on Top Chef? Like something bannable? Other than being her obnoxious self, of course.

Curtis Stone probably cooks better than I do and would probably improve about half the restaurants that DH and I regularly visit, but I don't like him as a host and share your skepticism about him as a "top chef," FineWashables.

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I don't think Josie did anything bannable, Bella, other than -- as you so aptly put it -- be her usual obnoxious self.  But on the Texas season, Beverly was bullied unmercifully by a number of other contestants including Heather Terhune and Sarah Gruneberg -- you know, the one who told Emeril to "fuck off" when she didn't win.  So I imagine they'll bring back the odious Josie and the controversial Heather because TPTB think viewers are more intrigued by bitchiness than by cooking, but they won't bring back Sarah, because hey: you don't fuck with Emeril.

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Josie also gave Kristen Kish a very hard time, IIRC, and led her to elimination, although Kristen then dominated Last Chance Kitchen to come back for the win. Josie then tried to buddy up to her at the finale. Lovely person. A season full of folks like that ... no, no way.

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Some more information from Bravo's website:

Set to premiere this Summer, our latest cooking competition show pits 18 past Top Chef and Top Chef Masters stars in three rounds of extreme culinary challenges, with each being given the chance to up the ante and challenge the other's culinary skills. The winners of each battle will compete in the season finale—and one lucky Chef will walk away with a $100,000 grand prize.

Two of those competitors are David Burke and Tiffani Faison—and the Cheftestants are thrilled to get in the culinary ring. "I think one-on-ones are fun!" Burke tells the Dish. "The timing, the execution, anything can happen."

That's not to say the pair aren't sweating the pressure. But they've already got strategies in place to potentially earn them a victory—and to please the palates of judges Curtis Stone, Gail Simmons, Wolfgang Puck and Hugh Acheson. "It's kind of like the Olympics," Burke says. Adds Tiffani: "Anyone can have a good day and anyone can have a bad day," she says. "You can't have that mindset of like, 'I got this.' Because you can spiral out of control quickly."

 

And, another new Bravo show, Best New Restaurant, featuring Tom Colicchio:

A new out-of-studio culinary competition series that tackles the food world from a fresh direction: the restaurant. Acclaimed restaurateur and host, Tom Colicchio, along with his trusted team of experts, pit 16 of the nation's hottest new restaurants against each other in a series of challenges aimed at determining who provides the best all-around, top-to-bottom experience. Tom will travel across the nation in search of only one restaurant that deserves a cash prize and to be crowned "Best New Restaurant." The series is modeled after the UK hit "Ramsay's Best Restaurant" from executive producer Gordon Ramsay.

 

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Thanks so much for the info, MMLEsq!  Both of these sound really intriguing, especially if their returning contestants are along the line of David Burke rather than -- did I mention Josie?  Tiffani Faison redeemed herself in her second season from the oven temperature incident in her first season, and clearly she can cook.  Glad to see this isn't going to look like stunt casting after all.

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Glad to see this isn't going to look like stunt casting after all.

 

They have a pretty deep talent pool now, especially when you throw in TC Masters. Lots of Beard nominees have been told to PPYKAG, so there are some pretty good chefs who want a shot at redemption....and attention.

Not surprised David Burke is back for extreme challenges since he really seemed to enjoy jumping out of that plane and then cooking in the most recent season of TC Master, which lead to that hilarious talking head with Lynn about "next thing I know David Burke is gone".

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I'm fine with the idea as long as it's the good chefs and not the train wreck ones (Josie). Also like that Hugh Acheson is involved. He's my favorite TC judge. If anyone else is a Hugh fan, he did a episode of Alton Brown's podcast that's really good. All about how when he was on TC Masters (?) he saw there wasn't a chef out there that was funny and sarcastic and made lots of comments, so he decided to step up and be that guy. It ended up working out for him as he kept getting asked back because of it.

100% agree on the reality tv rules-swim for survivor, stick shift (and also swim) for Amazing Race, local foods for Top Chef, and I'll add, learn to put in a zipper if going on Project Runway.

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learn to put in a zipper if going on Project Runway

Ooh, good one.  Crazy how many people think they're designers but seem to know nothing about basics like zippers and manipulating different fabrics.

Another rule for Top Chef: learn to clean and break down a fish.  (Can I use the term "butcher" here?  Is that right?  Do we butcher fish or just meat?)

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Hmmm.  If the butcher is the one that breaks down meat, and the fishmonger is the one that breaks down fish...then maybe one "mongs" a fish??

No, that couldn't be right :)

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Monger means a person who sells something, meat monger, fish monger, rumor monger:)

Breaking down a fish falls under butchery but a person with no skill in butchery can really butcher a fish.

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Last night, we went to a kind of run-down Chinese restaurant that has been off of our list for a while but which we try now and then to see if it's improved. The menu listed some "Cajun-Asian" specials, so we ordered an appetizer to see how that played out. It was quite delicious. Then the chef came out to talk to us, and we spoke with him at length. He's from Louisiana and has been running a catering company. The owners of the restaurant are friends of his who asked him to come in and brighten up the menu, which he certainly did. They're going to be rolling out more Cajun-Asian fusion items over the summer. This made me think of Shirley on the TC:NO season. I'm looking forward to seeing where he goes with the new menu.

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Cajun-Asian Fusion is really hard to say in my mind. I'm afraid to try to say it out loud.  If that combination catches on, somebody needs to give it a better name.

It makes me think about certain people who have been on my TV in one form or Top Chef and another, and it makes me realize how very rare it is to find somebody who has all three of the skills he or she needs to become a super successful restauranteur.

We've seen lots of people who had the cooking part down. We've seen a few who also seem to have the leadership skills that would allow them to run a staff. (Note: This year's winner was not one of them. I'm not sure about last year's either, for completely different reasons.) And we've seen a few who get the business/marketing/promotion side of it.  Even on Top Chef Masters there are very few who clearly master all three. I can remember a few Masters who commented that it has been a while since they cooked like they were on the show, because they were so busy running the business.

It's a hell of a hard business.

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Anyone watching the Monday season-replays on the Esquire Channel? They do blocks of ~8 episodes of a different season each Monday morning. I didn't get into Top Chef until about season 5, and though I haven't caught an earlier season yet, it's still fun to revisit some seasons now that I'm a little better versed in these culinary challenges. It's also interesting to see whether my old favorites are still likable upon replay (Carla!) or who still grates on my nerves (Blaise! The inescapable Mike Isabella!) and comparing the quality of chefs season to season.

 

They're showing Season 2 this morning on Esquire.  One of my least favorite seasons....but, still, it's been a while since I've rewatched it, so I'll probably keep it on while I do work.

Edited by MMLEsq

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That spoiler location makes a lot of sense. I would be shocked at this point if it's not true. Sorry Chattygal.

Since I "liked" Top Chef on Facebooka while back, I get stuff from them posted in my News Feed.  There was a post this morning that the spoiler location mentioned above is the location for Season 12.

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Besh has a new restaurant makeover show show on Spike with Tiffany Derry from S7-8, who I also really liked, and Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue, who does the alpha male posturing so the other two can act like grownups. It's been good dumb summer fun so far.

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When you said "on Spike" I read it as "with Spike" - the Season 4 Spike.  That does sound like a good show!

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So, when the season begins, will there be separate threads for each cheftestant in addition to episode threads? I hope to keep the creative juices going with naming the titles of their threads.

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So, when the season begins, will there be separate threads for each cheftestant in addition to episode threads? I hope to keep the creative juices going with naming the titles of their threads.

 

I think it depends. I doubt we'll come in and create a separate thread for each cheftestant before there's anything to discuss about them. But if a poster wants to discuss a particular cheftestant, they can start the thread when they have something to say. That may result in a thread for each cheftestant, or there may just be a few such threads.

 

While we do have certain conventions, like season and episode threads, we're also trying to keep this place organic and not set up a structure where it isn't needed.

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The dessert sounds like kheer, stewedsquash, and is often made with vermicelli. I majored in Asian Studies in college, and whenever I took an Indian history class, the professor would have us over at the end of the term and we'd all make an Indian meal. I remember stirring the vermicelli in sweetened milk until it dissolved, which was long past the point where it felt like my arm would fall off. It also has Indian spices (cardamom, cloves, maybe cinnamon?) - kind of like a solid version of chai. You can find recipes on the Internet, but I think I might be able to find the one we made. If so, I'll start a recipes topic and post it there.

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I think a recipes thread would be fine if you want to create one.

 

I go through cooking phases. Right now, I'm getting over the relative trauma of not having a functioning refrigerator for 3 weeks. Fortunately, it looks like the repair took the second time around, but I'm still using mostly pantry foods, plus DH (who doesn't cook; it's his area of greatest ineptitude) is always happy to go out to eat. So maybe recipes would inspire me to return to normal-ish behavior in the kitchen.

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Recipe found (minor miracle since I haven't made it for decades) and posted in the new Recipes thread, stewedsquash!

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Hulu added the previous seasons. I had no idea that Padma wasn't the original host. That Katie (?) lady was awful. Did she audition before?

The first season was pretty good although Tiffany was insufferable.

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Katie Lee was, briefly, Mrs. Billy Joel. There's a popular theory that was how she got the job.

FWIW, the young woman who hosted the first two seasons of Top Chef Masters was arguably worse.

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Ah. Makes sense. It couldn't have been her ability to read a script.

I think I skipped most of the first 2 seasons of TCM.

Edited by corinne

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Katie Lee is now on Food Network's weekly answer to The Chew called The Kitchen.

Edited by Gilmel

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Season 2 questions. Were people just real, really  ridiculously harsh towards Marcel or am I just being sensitive. It seemed like they just decided not to like him at the beginning and just ran with it.

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