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One problem I have always had with Top Chef comes from the judging. I understand that no dish is perfect and that most deserve their fair share of criticism. That being said, there is a fine line between critical and pretentious. We as the viewers should love the judges wit and knowledge as much as the contestants heart and perseverance, if you’ll forgive me the cliche. But when judges like Tom Colicchio continuously harp on seemingly insignificant and uppity matters, that connection is lost. Regardless of the showmanship of judging in Top Chef, in this episode a fan favorite was lost, and I can’t help but wonder if this was in an effort to save a season long rivalry from disappearing too early.

For the most part, Top Chef has managed to stick with a central theme: America. However, this Quickfire Challenge deviated from America the Beautiful and instead focused on... babies? The challenge: Create a dish for an adult and their young offspring. This comes about because of the newborns wriggling around the houses of head judge, Tom Colicchio, and host, Padma Lakshmi. No, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but with ten thousand dollars on the line the chefs went all out. I don’t know if it’s anything you’ll find mass produced by Gerber any time soon, but Angelo’s Poached Tuna looked fantastic, even if Tamesha’s Salmon and Kenny’s Curried Chicken walked away with the money.

The dual winners of the Quickfire Challenge was a precursor of things to come. In the Elimination Challenge, the cheftestants were placed into teams of two and tasked with creating a meal fit for room service at a Hilton Hotel. If nothing else, this challenge reminded me why I changed majors; hotel and restaurant managers scare the hell out of me.

To make it interesting, the Elimination Challenge had three rounds: one for each meal. The top two teams for breakfast got to relax for the rest of the challenge, and the same for the winning lunch teams. It all came down to the dinner dish between last week’s winner Arnold, who was paired with Lynne; Kenny (Angelo’s arch rival - Angelo escaped in the lunch round with Tamesha) who was paired with Kevin; and Kelly, paired with Andrea.

Jacob’s Pick: Arnold and Lynne

Arnold has a great personality, and he makes great food. Thus, I would have seen him go on to the top five, if not the top three in this competition. His elimination this week is a huge loss to the chemistry of the show, although I can say much less for his partner, Lynne. Arnold’s dish was gutsy. Pairing pasta with an ink squid sauce is probably not something I would try out if I was looking over a room service menu, but here’s the catch: It wasn’t just another short rib dish, which is what his competitors put out. I always admired Top Chef for being a show in which originality is celebrated, but this week it appears to have been punished. What they say is true: big business squashes creativity.

Judge’s Pick: Kelly and Andrea

Words can not explain how disappointed I am with the judge’s decision this week. Andrea and Kelly are not only two of the most irritating contestants on this show (seriously, they give Tracey a run for her money), they are also completely unremarkable chefs. They may have won this challenge (well, the consolation prize anyway), but I do not expect this trend to continue. In fact, I am predicting that one of these two chefs will be packing her knives come next week.

Top Chef is like a roller coaster of emotions and as such, weeks like this happen. The best and the boldest are not always rewarded, such is the way of reality television. Next week’s episode is being hyped as a massive showdown between Angelo and Kenny; let’s hope this turns into more than a twenty second sound-byte. These two need to duke it out, and soon. Otherwise, this rivalry risks running out of gas in the middle of the freeway. Or turnpike. Whatever they call the roads you drive fast on in D.C.

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