Each season it seems that Bravo creates one scenario that pushes the contestants too far. The chefs become belligerent. The first season, it was the wedding challenge. The second season, it was…well, actually they were belligerent most of the time. Tonight, it was the catering challenge.
The chefs, eager to impress even with their tiny budget ($350 total), each took on more than one hors d’oeuvre. The judges slammed them for it. The group leader decided to let each chef pursue his or her own muse. The judges slammed him for it. Some of them made old classics instead of taking risks. The judges slammed them for it.
Of course, it’s easy to envision them making the opposite decisions and getting slammed for those. Howie, you had all that time and you only made one dish! Brian, you were too autocratic and didn’t listen to your teammates! Hung, your appetizer was too outlandish and crazy for a boat party! We’ve heard them send chefs home on previous episodes for those exact reasons.
It reminded me very much of playing chess. King pawn or queen pawn? Calculation or intuition? Risk or safety? Defense or counterattack? The center or the wing? The king rook or the queen rook? It would be easy to spend hours puzzling through, weighing the variables, examining the consequences. But you can’t.
Just as it does on Top Chef, the ever-ticking clock always casts its shadow over the chessboard, compressing and rushing every decision. You must make your move, and bear the consequences.