Top Chef New York: Super Bowl Showdown

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We're going to try to resist all of the football puns swimming around in our minds right now and just tell you that we thought last night's Top Chef was fun. And we actually learned a few things about food. (Imagine that.) Have you ever crusted something with oatmeal?

Note: We reveal the winner and loser, below...

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For once, the advertiser-sponsored quickfire was a success. Here are our thoughts on that, plus the head-to-head competition against former contestants...

1. We are so coating something in oatmeal soon. The Quaker Oatmeal challenge was actually enlightening. Jamie's oatmeal-and-coconut-coated shrimp and Hosea's oatmeal-coated wiener schnitzel both looked crunchy and tasty.

2. Best quote of the night was... "Jeff is a good chef, but he can't quiet the creative monkeys." --Carla. Hilarious and true (and prophetic, given the end of the episode).

3. Dessert is the new black. Stefan won the quickfire with desserts, in the same way he saved his team last week with desserts. And they say Top Chefs never know how to make dessert...

4. We're guessing Fabio's never been to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Poor guy. He went up against Spike from Season 4, with ingredients based on the Green Bay packers: venison and cheddar cheese. He seemed so defeated, so frustrated that the gimmicks of the show were getting in the way of his cooking, and we felt for him. At the same time, blaming overcooked venison on the wait time was no excuse. If you know there will be downtime before the judges eat it, cook it less.

5. Neither Jeff nor Josie made ceviche. Josie's hot shrimp dish looked good, but why call it ceviche? And Jeff got all uppity about his technique and craftsmanship, but he poached his shrimp before he tossed it with the vinaigrette.

6. 20-minute gumbo!? Carla won—and beat crazy (and yet talented) Andrew, no less—with a gumbo that she made in 20 minutes. Gumbo is usually something that takes a while, especially to get a nice, dark roux. She infused her broth with crawfish bodies, which was smart, and we loved her confidence, tackling that dish. So maybe she is the dark horse?

7. Cioppino is now on our radar. We learned something! We weren't familiar with this fish stew, but Jamie's version with olives, basil, and a big piece of toasted sourdough bread looked really fresh and yummy. Plus, we applaud her for doing a dish other than a seared something over a bed of something involving corn.

8. Can we replace Toby Young with Scott Conant? Conant was such a good judge. He was thoughtful, complimentary, and yet stern. Whereas Toby Young said basically nothing about food for the whole episode. There was something about dispensing with utensils while watching football...

9. Flavorful trumps pretty every time. Jeff cared a lot about presentation and precision, which is nice when you sit down in a restaurant and want your food to look delightful. But artfulness doesn't make up for blandness, which is why he went home. We'll take a bowl of gumbo over a sangria sorbet anytime.

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What did you think of last night's episode?

Related:
Episode 1: Ethnic Foods Galore
Episode 2: Hot Dogs and Angry Chefs
Episode 4: Lights, Camera, Kathie Lee Gifford
Episode 5: Make Your Own Sushi at a Bridal Shower?
Episode 6: And a Martha in a Pear Tree
Episode 7: Pop, Pop, Fizz, Fizzle
Episode 8: E-I-E-I-O (and Really Good Chicken)
Episode 9: Restaurant Wars!

(Images: Bravo)

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