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Past Seasons Talk: The Stew Room

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I agree.  I always thought Marcel was annoying but so many others were annoying, too. Somehow all the other annoying people banded together to single him out and couldn't let it go.  I kept forgetting how old these people actually were (i.e. all adults).  It all seemed to high school.

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On 7/6/2020 at 12:00 AM, aquarian1 said:

I agree.  I always thought Marcel was annoying but so many others were annoying, too. Somehow all the other annoying people banded together to single him out and couldn't let it go.  I kept forgetting how old these people actually were (i.e. all adults).  It all seemed to high school.

yeah exactly. Like Marcel was a total douche but...so were many of the others! And some of those people also had a temper and tried to smear campaign him, which is a line Marcel did not cross. I mean you had Ilan pretty much explicitly telling Elia to throw her team under the bus so they could get rid of Marcel and then he also got her involved in the weird finale cheating accusation. I can't believe this guy won.

honestly I felt almost bad for Cliff, cause while he did physically assault Marcel, he actually was a lot calmer throughout the show in his attitude towards him than people like Betty, Frank, Sam and freaking Ilan. Like Cliff found Marcel annoying but Ilan HATED him. For Ilan, it was personal and he did everything he could to get Marcel off the show, including some really questionable attempts. And Ilan's the guy behind the camera egging the others on, yet he gets off scot-free (and wins!) while Cliff who was far less of a bully is eliminated.

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7 hours ago, buttersister said:

The Shameful Season. Almost put me off the show for good.

I think Season Two was a crossroads for the producers. What did they want the show to be? Big Brother or some other shitty reality show with shitty people that just happened to have some cooking on the side? Or a serious cooking competition between serious chef competitors with serious judges? My guess is that Tom Colicchio (and maybe Padma, but she didn't have the influence at that point) said cut that bullshit or I am out of here.

IMO, they took the right path. There have certainly been cheftestants after S2 with atrocious attributes (looking at you, Mike Isabella, one among many) but for the most part, the focus has been on the food, with no physical assaults (that we know of).

To be sure, sexism, racism, and other awful behaviors have long been the norm in "professional" restaurant kitchens.  TC does show us the personalities, attitudes and to an extent, ethics of the cheftestants. These things should not be glossed over - let the chefs show us who they are and let the viewers judge.

I think that TC has generally gotten better and better over the years.

@buttersister there could not be a better name for S2 of TC than The Shameful Season.

Edited by Ashforth · Reason: giving props to Buttersister
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On 7/5/2020 at 3:00 PM, aquarian1 said:

I agree.  I always thought Marcel was annoying but so many others were annoying, too. Somehow all the other annoying people banded together to single him out and couldn't let it go.  I kept forgetting how old these people actually were (i.e. all adults).  It all seemed to high school.

Betty and her over-acting made me cringe.

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There's one episode where Betty makes soup, and she pronounces it "sewwp" and purses her lips together in a way that just makes me want to smack her.

I feel better getting that off my chest.

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2 hours ago, aquarian1 said:

I remember on the TWOP boards Betty  being referred to as "Shrill Harpy".

Holy sexism, Batman; has either word, let alone the combination of the two, ever been used to insult a man based on his actions?

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On 12/12/2016 at 11:57 AM, aquarian1 said:

I never understood why no one found Betty as annoying as Marcel, if not more so.  That season had so many annoying people, but somehow they came together and singled Marcel out.

I just rewatched Season Two and Betty bugged me no end,  I really felt sorry for Marcel this time around.  He really was the victim, doesn't matter that he was a little full of himself and annoying,  nobody deserves the treatment he got.   

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On 12/16/2016 at 4:41 PM, HunterHunted said:

When I saw Sam pop up on the current season, I went back and rewatched season 2.

The one thing I noticed was that Marcel did talk a lot, but he did a lot of extemporaneous talking to the camera and none of the other cheftestants did that. Now the show expects all of the chefs to do that. Back in season 2, Marcel must have seemed like a loon to the rest of the cheftestants. He intuitively understood aspects of reality TV that the other chefs failed to get.

The other season 2 chefs can say that Marcel was worse than depicted, but I've never heard one of them give specifics. Was Marcel any worse than Dale, Lisa Fernandes, Blais, Spike, Mike Isabella, or those gorgons in Texas? This show has had some loud, bragadocious, rude, sour, and really fucking obnoxious contestants. Marcel is annoying and cocky. But those assholes in season 2 act like he was the antichrist. If he hadn't had some skills, we and the season 2 chefs would be laughing how Marcel couldn't live up to his own hype.

The problem with Marcel is that he was annoying and the right people (Betty and Ilan) hated him. Unfortunately, Betty and Ilan were some of the most malicious contestants the show has ever had. They both went about making sure that everyone else hated Marcel too. Betty also started floating this myth that Marcel didn't help the other chefs, which is hilarious because you can see Marcel helping other chefs plate after he'd sent his dish to the judges as she says it. I also find it ironic that Ilan would say anything about any other chefs when it became apparent to viewers that he was cooking Mario Batali's menu at Casa Mono for nearly every dish in the competition. Furthermore, there is a lot of evidence that the head shaving scene was edited and shown out of order to make Sam, Elia, and Ilan less complicit. We see a scene where the others contemplate shaving their heads. They then shave off Elia's and Ilan's hair and announce that they all should shave their heads and we cut to Cliff and Marcel. When Cliff drags Marcel out of bed, both Elia and Ilan have all of their hair. And Marcel is actually really generous when Cliff is disqualified. Marcel worries that the incident might negatively impact Cliff's career.

I think a lot of the season 2 chefs decided to keep their heads down and cook after the show because they know they came across like the biggest assholes this show has ever seen. They wanted Robin gone in season 6 and all they did was ignore her and wear red scarves. These season 2 dickbags threatened to and actually assaulted Marcel.

I just finished watching Season 2 and really wish that Marcel had won that season,  Ilan and Elia should been disqualified along with Cliff. 

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On 10/3/2020 at 9:57 AM, jrzy said:

I just finished watching Season 2 and really wish that Marcel had won that season,  Ilan and Elia should been disqualified along with Cliff. 

Tom wanted to disqualify the whole lot and give Marcel the title and money, but he was overruled by the producers. One of the travesties of the head shaving expulsion is that Cliff was actually the least obnoxious of those 4. I've seen somewhat recent interviews with Ilan and Sam and they're both still insufferable.

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8 hours ago, HunterHunted said:

Tom wanted to disqualify the whole lot and give Marcel the title and money, but he was overruled by the producers. One of the travesties of the head shaving expulsion is that Cliff was actually the least obnoxious of those 4. I've seen somewhat recent interviews with Ilan and Sam and they're both still insufferable.

for real, Cliff was the only one there who could act like a professional for the most part, he clearly disliked Marcel (the guy was obnoxious as hell, let's be real) but he kept it professional until and even after that incident. It sucks that he let himself be egged on by Ilan (come on, Ilan was totally the instigator of that episode) and ended up being disqualified while freaking Ilan, who made that fight petty and personal pretty much straight out the gate and tried to convince others to get rid of Marcel in increasingly illegal ways, went on to WIN the damn season. The ending of that season was really the terrible cherry on top of all the S2 awfulness.

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Yeah, to this day, I still have the most tolerance for Cliff over the other bullies (although his behavior toward Mia certainly was pretty awful). Sam nowadays seems to be doing this forced cheerfulness act that feels like overcompensation, and I can't even look at Ilan, he just triggers such an awful vibe and reaction.

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My first season watching "live" was Season 4-Chicago, and I am now watching Season 3 (Thank You Peacock). Amazing how much they show and the judges have evolved, especially Padma-she was much less assured in what was then her 2nd season as host. By the way, I like Ted Allen as a judge and of course, it reminded me of how much I miss Anthony Bourdain.

However, what made me laugh was when Dale Levitski made a dish in an elimination challenge using rotisserie chicken and boxed mashed potatoes and almost won! He didn't hide it from anyone and in fact told Tom, who thought it was smart. After Waffle-Gate  Sarah in the Kentucky season, and the shame that Tom cast upon her,  all I could do was marvel at it and be amazed at how things change. I know that he couldnt have gotten it cooked in the allowed time, but it was startling

Edited by AriAu
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Any thoughts as to why Cliff got the worst edit in that whole situation?  It was after that season that Top Chef became hit or miss for me when after Season 1 I thought it would be must see TV for me.  I like the seasons best that they don't have a lot of drama. 

 

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I think Cliff got the worst edit/blame because he was the one who actually touched Marcel. Which is kinda BS because the others were just as bad with their instigation and encouragement. It's a stupid line to draw, but it's the one they chose, I guess.

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7 hours ago, Rai said:

I think Cliff got the worst edit/blame because he was the one who actually touched Marcel. Which is kinda BS because the others were just as bad with their instigation and encouragement. It's a stupid line to draw, but it's the one they chose, I guess.

IIRC, Tom wanted them ALL gone. 

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Tom did want them all gone. 
 

I did (and still do) feel bad for Cliff and his edit.  It would be interesting to find out if Cliff and Marcel ever talked.  
 

TC would be so much better if they cut out their desired ‘storylines.’  

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6 hours ago, Ellee said:

TC would be so much better if they cut out their desired ‘storylines.’  

I actually think that is not true. It’s all shaped by storylines and it mostly for good.

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21 hours ago, biakbiak said:

I actually think that is not true. It’s all shaped by storylines and it mostly for good.

I think it's good to learn about the chefs as people. I just don't want manipulative shit.

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I just finished a rewatch up through season 4. I am so fascinated by Lisa, and in particular by the Lisa-Dale dynamic. Watching the episode where Dale was eliminated, it was just so apparent that they couldn't get out of each other's way and there was always a power struggle. Initially I was sympathetic to Dale because, in that first episode where they cooked together, he was dead right that Lisa was creating a very negative atmosphere in the kitchen and it was contagious. But his outburst in the stew room was embarrassing and hostile, and then in subsequent episodes their toxic rivalry just would not let go.

I definitely had the impression that Lisa did not have any awareness of how she was perceived by others or how her attitude affected the group. She seemed oblivious to the feelings of others and I suspect that she's just wired that way. Also it seems like she was not comfortable taking a back seat to anyone. When she worked with April Bloomfield they seemed to get along like a house on fire, and I bet that was because there was no doubt who was in charge—Lisa was Chef and April was sous. 

In the years since I've never heard Lisa reflect with any insight about her role in the bad dynamics, whereas Dale definitely was mortified by his behavior. 

I definitely understand why Lisa felt slighted when Richard and Stephanie did not congratulate her--I would love to hear from them what they were feeling. Their treatment of Lisa was always professional, unlike the Season 2 disaster with Marcel. But it definitely seemed as if they did not really enjoy her company.

Stephanie and Antonia were both models of what a chef should be, in my mind. Especially Antonia always seemed so in command of herself in the kitchen--she exudes confidence.

Looking forward to rewatching the other seasons! 

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5 hours ago, lovinbob said:

I definitely understand why Lisa felt slighted when Richard and Stephanie did not congratulate her--I would love to hear from them what they were feeling. Their treatment of Lisa was always professional, unlike the Season 2 disaster with Marcel. But it definitely seemed as if they did not really enjoy her company.

Ya know, now that I think about it, Lisa and her time on Top Chef reminds me a lot of Wendy Pepper on the first season of Project Runway (although, as unpleasant as Lisa was, she wasn't scheming or manipulative like Wendy was). Both got through the competition by always being only the second worst in any given challenge - and even doing well in one or two challenges. Then in the second to last challenge, they beat a well-liked and more talented contestant (Antonia/Austin Scarlett). I can't really blame Stephanie and Richard for being shocked by it and I thought it showed a real lack of self-awareness for Lisa to be like, "You guys could at least congratulate me," or whatever it was she said. But Lisa at least had a good showing in the finale and did way better than she had the entire competition.

There seem to be fewer and fewer hotheads and dicks each season, which I'm grateful for. I remember watching season 4 when it aired and, because it was still so close to season 2, no one seemed that bad. But looking back, Lisa, Dale (who has done a lot of self-improvement), Spike, the one guy whose name might have been Andrew, I don't remember, but he reminded me of a squirrel, all of them really sucked. This season, the "villain" is Gabe and even he's not that bad.

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I am still salty of how Marcel was treated in season 2. Perhaps his best revenge is being more famous and successful than the others. 
Has anyone read any interviews that Marcel gave a few years ago? There seems to be some legal or contract implications. Wondering if Marcel could have sued, or talked more than he did, but didn’t in exchange for something, not sure what. Thoughts?

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Marcel and Spike are two of my all-time favorite cheftestants. I like to think they would have been buds if they'd been on the same season.

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@The Solution I liked those two also but Hung is without a doubt my favorite contestant of all time. I saw him within the last year on Sara's Weeknight Meals (pbs) and it was a great show. It wasn't a new episode and he has been on several times. So has Dale Talde and another TC chef that I am blanking on now.

I would compare Hung and this year's Gabriel in terms of they aren't bad guys but the other chefs didn't mesh with them. 

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I don’t picture Gabriel doing a Smurf Village for a Quickfire Challenge.

Hung was awesome.

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1 hour ago, stewedsquash said:

@The Solution I liked those two also but Hung is without a doubt my favorite contestant of all time. I saw him within the last year on Sara's Weeknight Meals (pbs) and it was a great show. It wasn't a new episode and he has been on several times. So has Dale Talde and another TC chef that I am blanking on now.

I would compare Hung and this year's Gabriel in terms of they aren't bad guys but the other chefs didn't mesh with them. 

Hung was awesome too! He could have been part of a trifecta of awesomeness! (Maybe I should go to the track this weekend.)

 

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1 hour ago, bosawks said:

I don’t picture Gabriel doing a Smurf Village for a Quickfire Challenge.

Hung was awesome.

If he knew Tom liked Hung's I bet he would have done a Smurf Village! haha j/k at his expense.

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On 5/14/2021 at 9:29 AM, lovinbob said:

I just finished a rewatch up through season 4. I am so fascinated by Lisa, and in particular by the Lisa-Dale dynamic. Watching the episode where Dale was eliminated, it was just so apparent that they couldn't get out of each other's way and there was always a power struggle. Initially I was sympathetic to Dale because, in that first episode where they cooked together, he was dead right that Lisa was creating a very negative atmosphere in the kitchen and it was contagious. But his outburst in the stew room was embarrassing and hostile, and then in subsequent episodes their toxic rivalry just would not let go.

I definitely had the impression that Lisa did not have any awareness of how she was perceived by others or how her attitude affected the group. She seemed oblivious to the feelings of others and I suspect that she's just wired that way. Also it seems like she was not comfortable taking a back seat to anyone. When she worked with April Bloomfield they seemed to get along like a house on fire, and I bet that was because there was no doubt who was in charge—Lisa was Chef and April was sous. 

 

I was fascinated by how Steph managed to not lose her mind when she was on the same team with Dale and Lisa in the elements challenge.  Also, the fact that was the only time Dale and Lisa did well when they were on a team together.  Steph must have done a good job in somehow balancing the conflict.  Because Dale and Lisa were total hot messes in the other team challenges.

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On 5/16/2021 at 2:14 PM, The Solution said:

Marcel and Spike are two of my all-time favorite cheftestants. I like to think they would have been buds if they'd been on the same season.

I vaguely recall them being buds on the Next Iron Chef! Maybe someone can verify. It was a long time ago but I'm pretty sure they were working together for some reason and got along really well.

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Stephanie is that person who is chill in any storm. Am I remembering correctly that Lisa's girlfriend was on during that season? They were a couple before the show, not a fling established on the show. I think that screwed with Lisa's head and was part of her problem because Lisa was the protector in that relationship and made decisions based on that. I liked Lisa during her season because I was able to see what her issues were and I wanted to have some way of being on her shoulder quietly saying "you are reacting like this because... so do this instead". I also wanted to have Dale and Lisa in platonic couples therapy because there was potential for a great friendship between them. 

@Mellowyellow Spike and Marcel were together on something after the show. Spike is like Malarky in that they both, loss of the word here that I want, smoozed? the challenges but weren't jerks to people. I don't think either of them, actually the three of them, have a mean bone in their body. I agree that Spike and Marcel would have been buddies if on the same season.

Instead of having all-stars, I would love to have a group of the "misfits" for a season and have them just come together like the Bad News Bears and be the best season ever.

 

Edited by stewedsquash
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Jen and Zoi were the couple on Top Chef 4, not Lisa. Lisa talked about her partner a few times, but she flew solo in the competition. I always did think Jen got kinda robbed on that season. She seemed way more talented than her elimination placing might rank her.

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Oh, gosh yes! I had that wrong! I forgot about Jen and Zoi being the couple. My brain is transmorgifying that season. I do remember there was a dominant partner in the relationship. I think I want to re-watch this season and the Miami season. I do remember correctly all the rest of what I remembered in my post though, haha. I think I was the lone Lisa fan way back at TWOP. 

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I had no beef with Lisa. I can see how she got exhausting, but her villainous reputation always seemed way overblown. Like, how is she a villain compared to Ilan, who I still can barely look at, I dislike him so much?

The Miami season might actually be one of my favorites. The challenges were good, the cast was good, most of the food was good, and Hung was amazing to watch cook.

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Ugh, Ilan. On the season he was horrible. I was watching some traveling restaurant show and they went to a place and said the name of the chef. It wasn't until halfway through that I went Wait? Huh? Rewind and yep, it was Ilan. I hate to admit it but he wasn't horrible in his segment. I can't remember if he was just the chef or if he was the owner also. I think owner also. 

 

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I am trying to do a demographic breakdown because despite a lot of criticism.  I feel like Top Chef casting is extremely diverse and should be given way more credit than people give the show for.  Even with early seasons.  However, I ran into a problem with people like Gabe Erales.  I can't tell if a person is a white Hispanics.  If anyone is rewatching old seasons and stumble upon a person that is racially ambivalent by look, let me know because I can't watch all 17 seasons just for this project.  I just want definite proof to defend this show integrity. 

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In some seasons, chefs usually openly talk about whether they are cooking for the judges or for the regular people that they had to serve for that challenge. And many of them very honest about they are trying to please the judge more. I would think good food is good food, and the opinions would be relatively consistent. But lol, no. Not the case at all. Which is why I am very glad that this season including a panel of very different chefs.

In season 14 Charleston, in which i am rewatching. There is an episode where the superfans were able to give a score. Of 7 matches, he disagree with the superfans 4 times. 2 of those 4, the fans were overwhemingly favored on candidate. In this episode, all 14 chefs cook extremely well. There were no bad dishes. And even when all 4 judges had to share their opinion to break the tie due to the superfans score first. The judges were dead even. 4 of the 7 matches, the judges break 2 to 2.

5 matches Padma was able to judge, of which 4 times she agree with Tom. Richard Blais also in this episode. 6 matches he was able to judge, and he agree with Tom 1 TIME OUT OF 5. That is ridiculous. Of those 6 matches, he agree with the superfans 50% of the time.

On one match, the fans prefer one contestant.  But that contestant lost all 4 judge votes.

Edited by weixiaobao

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So with the whole forgetting on the whole missing things on the plate controversy.  I am trying to recall all the times contestants forgot things on their plate and got eliminated or not.  Feel free to add others, as I don't remember all top chef.

not eliminated:
S1 LeeAnne-Forgot to sauce her plate in the gas station (yes its a quickfire so no one got eliminated), but she actually won the quickfire.

S2 Elia and Carlos- Carlos forgot to add (forgot what it was) to two of the plates.  Josie/Marissa got eliminated instead.

S3 Howie-Forgot frog legs in his surf and turf dish. (So 50% of his dish was missing).  They thought Clay's dish was worse (even though Clay had both components) and eliminated him instead.

S3 Dale-In the airplane challenge, actually forgot to give a steak (or 2?) to one of the diners.  Ended up in the top 3.  CJ got sent home instead.

S6 Robin-Forgot to sauce her plate in the first elimination.  She had immunity (but in all honesty doesn't seem like she would have been in the bottom anyways)

S11 Nina-F4 challenge.  Forgot to put italian dumplings on her plate (and this was advertised on her dish).  Didn't get eliminated, but was actually got in the top 2.  Which is surprising because everyone in the top 4 had pretty solid dishes.

Eliminated

S1 Dave-For only giving 2 plates and not 3 plates in the F3 challenge.

S13 Angelica-Sudden death quickfire.  Didn't plate anything.

S17 Brian Malarkey.  One of the diners didn't get a component.  But it seemed like he got eliminated for the weakest dish.  Also I listened to RHAP and it sounded like according to Brooke it was of the waiters fault?

So it just seems like as long as you don't forget a completely important component (like an entire dish), you won't get axed as long as you have good food.  Like Howie specifically was surprising that he stayed in episode 1.

Edited by seltzer3
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To add onto the Dave thing in season 1, it wasn't just that he forgot a plate, it was they had to make three different dishes, and he only made two. But his food apparently tasted better than Tiffani's. That was a case that didn't feel entirely fair because it was clear by then that Tom preferred Tiffani's cooking to Dave's, so it seemed a little arbitrary to chop Dave for that. But also it was the first season, so I consider early seasons to be still sorting things out as is.

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Wow, thanks for putting all that together, @seltzer3

So Dale Talde managed to still land in the top 3 despite not plating a protein?!?! He's got some nerve coming for Dawn with that on his own Top Chef resume. Get off my screen, Dale.

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42 minutes ago, ProudMary said:

So Dale Talde managed to still land in the top 3 despite not plating a protein?!?! He's got some nerve coming for Dawn with that on his own Top Chef resume. Get off my screen, Dale.

That was a different Dale in season 3 (Miami). The blonde guy with the short mohawk, I think. Dale Talde was in season 4 (Chicago). He's still a dick, but not a hypocritical dick in this instance.

Edited by MerBearStare
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9 hours ago, MerBearStare said:

That was a different Dale in season 3 (Miami). The blonde guy with the short mohawk, I think. Dale Talde was in season 4 (Chicago). He's still a dick, but not a hypocritical dick in this instance.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I do remember Dale Levitski. 

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On 6/19/2021 at 6:24 PM, Rai said:

To add onto the Dave thing in season 1, it wasn't just that he forgot a plate, it was they had to make three different dishes, and he only made two. But his food apparently tasted better than Tiffani's. That was a case that didn't feel entirely fair because it was clear by then that Tom preferred Tiffani's cooking to Dave's, so it seemed a little arbitrary to chop Dave for that. But also it was the first season, so I consider early seasons to be still sorting things out as is.

I felt so bad for Dave in that one, since he made good food for the cast, but completely didn't understand the directions... So not like he ran out of time, but misheard the directive for the challenge. I really liked Dave in the 1st season.

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