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Top Chef Review: A Night at the Museum

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After such a great start to Season 8 of Top Chef last week, I was mildly disappointed by "Night at the Museum." 

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love children, I just don’t think Top Chef should be about catering food to children.  Previous seasons have featured kids as their target diners and it was often about whose team was the most fun or whose team had the most sugary dish.

Making Final Touches

On this episode, the combined power of a sugar rush from the chefs trying to please the kids - albeit with delicious sounding treats - with the presence of Joe Jonas, was overwhelming.  The singer is a fan of Top Chef... who knew?!? Anyway, on to the food!

The Quickfire Challenge
The challenge was twofold: please Jonas and please the children spending the night at the National History Museum.  Many of the chefs take the sweet route, incorporating candy, chocolate and cookies in a gourmet way to appeal to kids and adults alike.  Jonas picks Tiffani F. (with her chocolate rice krispie treats with malted milk and graham crackers) and Spike (with his carrot chip and marshmallow dip).

For the second half of the challenge, Spike and Tiffani pick partners to make 150 versions of their desserts.  My poor Fabio is picked last!  Predictably, Tiffani’s rice krispie, chocolate, and graham cracker dish wins by a huge landslide.  The best part of the Quickfire is the chef’s reaction to the children... who none of them seem to like. 

Jaime, who I enjoyed on Season 5, is kind of a bitch this time around and treats kids with the same apprehension as a giant snake.

The Elimination Challenge
Our exhausted chefs are forced to begin their elimination challenge immediately after the Quickfire, as Tom announces the contestants are trapped in the museum with the children for the night and must make breakfast for the sleepover crew.

Tiffani takes the T-Rex meat team, while Spike gets the Brontosaurus vegetable team.  As a sidenote, the cots that the chefs sleep on look pretty cool!  At least they’re not forced into a pile with the children.

It’s a pretty low challenge in general; I feel that Top Chef’s best moments come when there are fewer restrictions on ingredients, and splitting into teams that can only use meat and dairy or only vegetables and grain produces subpar food.  Spirits are definitely affected as Jen, the consummate professional, gets progressively more frazzled. 

Meanwhile, Jaime, who’s beginning to emerge as my least favorite of Season 8, practically slices open her own hand to get out of the challenge.

Casey at Work

Elimination
It’s a rough elimination this time around; Team Brontosaurus prevails as the underdogs, while Tiffani tries to rationalize picking Team T-Rex. 

Team Brontosaurus wins with Marcel, Richard, and Angelo’s banana parfait with a gorgeous array of seasonal fruit.  And, no, Marcel, you are not the king of the world; Richard and Angelo are probably stronger chefs than you and deserve it just as much as you do.

Jen came off as a negative person during elimination as she desperately tries to defend herself.  She’s argumentative and refutes every one of the judges’ criticisms.  Tom, who’s usually one of the more blunt critics, glosses over Jen’s blow-up and looks very disappointed that she has to leave.  His reaction is echoed by the shocked looks of her contestants.

I believe that Jen’s a great chef - she has Eric Ripert’s approval! - but it’s clear that she doesn’t do so well with Top Chef challenges.  I like her no-nonsense attitude and it’s generous of her to not blame Jaime.  I’m sad to see her go, I really thought she would go further this season.

Highlights

  • How hilarious is it when Dale T. doesn’t know who Joe Jonas is and assumes that he’s a pastry chef?
  • Richard Blais as a husky kid (who ate heavy cream instead of milk): cute and resembles our present-day Richard!
  • Tiffany, the abrasive bitch from Season 1, is pretty cool and upbeat this season!  I like!
  • Team Tiffani: Spice Girls and their bodyguard (adorable Dale L!).
  • Team Spike: All the cool guys+Carla.
  • Tre looks hot shirtless.
  • Casey adorably bases her knowledge of T-Rexes on Jurassic Park.h Hey, I’m with her!
  • The return of Katie Lee as the gorgeous android: more of a lowlight than a highlight.
  • Vote for Fabio!  Fabio the car salesman!  Fabio the mayor! 
  • Utter silence as Jamie says, “I feel like I let you guys down.” 

 How did you feel about Jen’s unexpected elimination?  Did you think it was a fair challenge?  Sound off now!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
  • 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (7 Votes)
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Every episode without Bourdain is gonna go down in ratings.
That´s a fact.
The man is a genious!
Jen is probably a better chef than Fabio(for example), so I can´t help but feeling a bit "Oliver Stoneish" with the conspiracy theories and the eliminations.
The producers of Top chef sit on the "grassy knoll" targeting down the ppl not making entertainment?

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I agree with the reviewer pretty much on all bases. Joe Jonas made a crappy guest and ofcourse the children were going to choose the chocolate. And more over I didn't like the fact that we spent more than half the episode with the quickfire. It's just not that interesting especially with the conditions as mentioned above. I'm happy for Fabio and Stephen though, making up for their previous mistakes. And the winners ofcourse, well deserved!