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Did Amanda deserve the heave-ho instead of Alex?

As is our habit when we watch Top Chef, Carrie and I placed informal bets on who’d get the boot during last night’s “Covert Affairs” episode. I figured the judges would finally send Alex packing, given his controversial history this season and the fact that he looks like a space alien love child (never good for TV). Besides, Unca Tom told Alex that he’s eaten better food at street fairs after sampling the chef’s veal Parmesan “disguised” as tortellini. Not Top Chef material there.

Carrie, however, had the more cogent argument: She said Amanda deserved the heave-ho because she failed on two counts. Her French onion soup was not only nasty (I believe one judge compared it to dishwater) but it was not even cleverly disguised, as the challenged called for. Hell, it wasn’t disguised at all. Amanda concealed the identity of her soup by transforming it into…a soup.

Carol Blymire over at the Washingtonian agreed with Carrie on this point: Amanda should have been shown the door.

So when Padma wet her precious lips and told Alex to pack his knives and go, I figured it was yet another example of Top Chef producers futzing with the results. They couldn’t bare the idea of losing semi-eye-candy like Amanda or Angelo. Alex was the easy sacrifice: He was unpopular and a lousy cook to boot.

Which then reminded me of a passage in Anthony Bourdain‘s new book, Medium Raw, in which he claims the judging results are on the up-and-up. Consider this passage:

What I can assure you — without hesitation or qualification — is that the judging I’ve been witness to or part of, in five appearances as a judge, has always been straight. Meaning, no matter how much the producers of the show may want the contestant with the heartbreakingly tragic personal story (and amazing chesticles) to survive until next week, the worst cook that particular week goes home. On Top Chef — as long as Tom Colicchio is head judge — the best food that week gets you the win. The worst gets you the loss. It’s the “what have you done for me lately” criterion at the judges’ table. Due to the fact that guest judges can’t and haven’t been witness to a contestant’s previous efforts, past works do NOT factor into the final judgment. I feel sorry for the producers sometimes, imagining their silent screams as Tom reluctantly decides that the all-around better contestant, with the movie-star looks and the huge popularity with viewers, just fucked up too bad to make it to next week and has to go home.

I don’t know, Tony. I have a sneaking suspicion that the producers won the battle last night.