Two episodes ago at judges' table, Danyele McPherson confessed that this reality-based cooking competition isn't for everyone. Her admission could've cost her (instead it was Eliza Gavin who got sent packing). But in the following episode, Danyele did get sent home for a less than flavorful chicken terrine and a blueberry mostarda that the judges deemed not to have enough blueberries. On the phone yesterday, the Dallas chef told me she didn't think it was that bad and some other dishes might have been worse. But she seemed happy to no longer have cameras constantly in her face. Reality TV isn't for everyone—and a good thing at that.
Back at The Grape Restaurant in Dallas, Danyele says she is in full control. Not so on Top Chef, where she can't necessarily make a phone call to the outside world. Trying to find a room without a cameraman in your face was challenging—"I just want to dry my hair!"—and you're living and sharing sleep space with strangers. Although Danyele did build friendships, she says she couldn't exactly spill all her thoughts and concerns to these other chefs who are out to win. In the kitchen, "I couldn't just cook," she explains. "It was hard to overcome my being nervous," though she did eventually learn to tolerate the cameras.
Danyele actually wasn't too familiar with her fellow Texas chef John Tesar, whom D Magazine called "the most hated chef in Dallas." She figured she would judge him not by what others have said but how he was in the competition. So is he really that outspoken and abrasive? Danyele says his portrayal on Top Chef was accurate. "I can see why he's so divisive."
Unfortunately Danyele lost to C.J. Jacobson in Last Chance Kitchen—her turkey-bacon-avocado was edged out by C.J.'s riff on the Vietnamese sandwich known as a Banh Mi. As far as trends go, expect the Banh Mi to become the next Pad Thai. Everyone's going to have it.
The Quickfire Challenge involved cooking something up using only Reynolds Wrap (a Top Chef sponsor) as a cooking platform—no pots or pans—and all the ingredients were wrapped in foil. Whatever you unwrapped had to be used. Yes, it's a clever way to incorporate a sponsor. But it sort of reminded me of The Truman Show. Why don't you let me fix you some of this new Mococoa drink?
And finally, move over WEEKLY STANDARD—Top Chef has a cruise! Yes, join Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons and other chefs on the high seas. So does this make Bill Kristol our Colicchio? Is Fred our Gail Simmons? Is Steve Hayes our Padma Lakshmi?