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The Quickfire was a strange one, and some people just get thrown by strangeness. Brian understood it. He knew he was criticized for doing only fish, so he went for meat. Those are the kinds of risks he took as a Top Chef. Casey also did a fabulous job. And in the bottom, we have (not surprisingly) Hung. It's one thing to have fun cooking, but people have to know what you're doing. I saw him crushing cereal and making something that bordered on Frank's Mushroom Wonderland fantasy from the TGIF challenge last season, and I too said "WTF is he doing?"
When it came to the elimination challenge, I have mixed feelings about Brian. He was the Team Leader of the challenge, but he didn't feel as though he was an executive chef. Personally, I believe him. At this point in the challenge, the chefs have proven themselves enough, they don't need to be babyed. They are not sous-chefs or line cooks, as Brian said. They need to be able to impress the judges. He may have seemed more like a cheerleader, but a cheerleader was more necessary then an executive chef in a challenge like this.
Though I've never catered events, I stretch my budget everytime I shop, which is often. So I can appreciate this challenge for that aspect the most. I was really upset at the decision making of some chefs to make two dishes. Okay, if Howie wants to redeem himself, that's fine. But making two dishes is not the way to do it. You redeem yourself through a quality product. And dividing your time among two things is going to hurt the quality.
Sara's dish was excellent, and I appreciated her concern to go vegetarian because fashionistas are weird when it comes to eating. CJ also impressed me by doing something solid and good. I don't think Casey deserved to win, but her dish was not bad and certianly not bottom worthy. The other two just put out a better product.
When it comes to the low-end, we've got everyone else. Brian and Hung were stuck in mediocre land, but went down to the bottom for other reasons. Tom criticized Brian's leadership and drew ire when Brian defended himself (to be fair, everyone would do that) and Hung, whose dish was nothing special, was criticized because bland uninspired "X numbers of years old" dishes are not going to win this challenge. Hung said he could have done better, so what the hell was he doing. Maybe he just doesn't want this enough.
If Howie had done only one dish, he might have had a better one then Dale. But he divided his time and made the uninspired phyllo-wrapped cigar and didn't remove the gills from his mushrooms, which is how they turned brown. Dale's dish was just awful. Yogurt would make those things soggy. He needed that cheese more then anything.
I'll probably draw fire from this, but I didn't think Brian was worthy of going home. I think that editor of Food & Wine needs to think a little more about where she is and what she is doing. Hors d'ouevres are one-bite things and they are eaten without utensils and cannot be sloppy. Putting them on crostinis makes it easier for the guests. Seeing her on this show made me beg for Gail to return.