leave your inhibitions at the door
With this blog being a few grunts above completely lowbrow, I’m sure it’ll come as a surprise to many of you that I have an MBA. I got it years ago and it’s a tough call whether it was worth it. On one hand, I don’t use ANY of the skills I learned there in my present job. On the other hand, just having it got me an interview for a job that led down my current career path. At very least, it gives an illusion of credibility when I talk about the team challenges on Top Chef.
There are two MBA lessons that I’ve seen displayed several times a season:
Lesson 1 – Good culture = good teamwork = good product. Teams that work well together, display respect, and use everyone’s unique talents put out good products. Those final products are often better than the sum of the individual parts.
Lesson 2 – Never admit your mistakes. Ok, that wasn’t something a Professor taught me, it was something I learned from classmates.
Last week’s Top Chef was no exception. Aaron and KerriAnn were at each other’s throats the whole time. They argued in the planning phase, second-guessed each other while cooking, and backstabbed each other in front of the judges. Here’s what they said in front of the judges and the dinner guests:
Padma: how was the challenge of working together as a team?
KerriAnn: I think we came together pretty good in the kitchen
Aaron: Kerriann and I see food much differently, towards the end it got a little panicky, I feel like Kerriann was pretty erratic, made some bad moves, made some bad decisions…
This devolved into ripping on each other’s work on the dish. Then later, as they returned to the kitchen:
Kerriann: so Aaron’s a lying sack of shit, but other than that…
So it’s no surprise they’re dish was a shitshow. As uncomfortable as it is to watch that kind of stuff, it really does make for good television.
Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge
In celebration of the Boston Tea Party, each contestant has to cook a dish that features one of thirteen varieties of tea. Winner gets immunity in the Elimination Challenge, the loser faces elimination.
Favorites: Melissa, Gregory, Ron
Winner: Gregory’s tuna crudo with strawberry white tea and young coconut. WOW! How could I not notice until now, that Gregory:
Least Favorites: James, Aaron, Rebecca
Worst: Aaron, with his overcooked monkfish cheeks. This meant that he had to go head-to-head against another chef of his choosing. In one of their arguments, he said to KerriAnn,”I’ll cook you under the table.”
So, he chose Katie.
Not too bad a choice, because she hasn’t shown any kind of talent so far. They had to make a dish using only the heat from a few pots of boiling water. Aaron made a spring roll that had a wrapper made of shrimp. Katie made a saffron hand-cut pappardelle with some tomatoes and smoked cheese. Aaron won, so got to stay in the game.
The challenge was to cook a dish for a small dinner party at Fenway Park – the oldest stadium in baseball. They had to use one of several ballpark snacks as ingredients in a fine dining dish – peanuts, pretzels, cotton candy, popcorn, cracker jack.
Favorites: Gregory, Melissa, Katie
Winner: Gregory’s Roasted duck, peanut nam prik pao, peanut brittle, crispy shallots, and fresh herb salad
Least Favorites: Ron, KerriAnn, Katsuji
Gone: Ron’s popcorn soup, breaded fish croquette, dill pickled celery, sun gold tomatoes. As the judges mentioned in their discussions, it just wasn’t fine dining.
– When they started cooking for the elimination, I heard Ron say fish croquette. I immediately thought, “This guy’s gone.”
– Ron kept making the point that he was and old-school, down-home chef who cooked big portions. Hasn’t he watched this show before? How could he think that dish would win?
– Katie, too, deserves a special slap for her pasta in that cook-off with Aaron. Simple pasta? C’mon, that’s not Top Chef-worthy.
– Gregory’s been kicking ass since the first episode. All his dishes have been high concept with perfect execution, almost in a class by himself. Assuming he doesn’t mess up colossally, he’s going to be in it in the end. He’s kind of like Paul from TC Texas, who was far and above the others. Like Paul, it feels like he’s just toying with us; like he’s only shown a hint of what he can do.
– Dear Top Chef Producers, last week you brought out all the clichés to talk about the firemen and cops. This time, we got “swung for the fences, but struck out.” Stop this. Please.