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'Top Chef': The problem with Robin (and Ash and Laurine and Ron)

September 24, 2009 | 10:33 am


And in the last episode of "Jennifer, Kevin and the Brothers Voltagio Will Be the Final Four, So Who Will be Picked Off This Week?" ...

Don't get me wrong, "Top Chef" fans, this season is top-heavy with standout talent. The Las Vegas contestants would eat last season's New York chefs for lunch. But it has also become all too clear who the finalists will be. It's a smackdown I'm awaiting with as much excitement as I am with the smackdown that will happen during the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" reunion.

Could Mike I., Ashley or Eli still snag a spot? These guys are judged on a case-by-case basis, so in theory, it's possible. I just don't think it's likely. Even when Jennifer for the time time appeared to be shaken by an elimination challenge, she still got raves. (And may I just say, while she was griping about her presentation of deconstructed meat lasagna, I thought her plate looked delicious.)

So although I love watching the Final Four (as I'll call them until I'm proved wrong) work their magic in the kitchen, the show for me has really become more about guessing whose dish is really the worst. 

And that brings me to Robin. 

I won't get into the whole Quickfire bit in which the contestants complained that Robin used her cancer story to clinch a win. Eli already explained his take on the situation quite eloquently on Bravo's website. Suffice it to say, Robin's win, however achieved, earned her immunity and another episode. 

My problem with Robin (and Ron and Ash and Laurine, for that matter) is that they're not good TV either. I said after the first episode that Robin could be this season's Ariane -- I couldn't have been more wrong. Ariane was a feisty New Jersey mom with her own restaurant and skills that emerged over the course of the competition. Did she stand a chance of winning? No way. But her fellow contestants adored her, and her insecurity turned into confident tough talk over time. You rooted for her as an underdog, even when she was clearly not as skilled as Stefan or even Hosea. 

But Robin is just sort of irritating. Which irritates the other contestants, which makes for no fun on screen. Laurine's already sleepwalking through most of her interviews -- it's called coffee, Laurine! -- and when you add Robin into her world, you get sleepy griping. Ash is sometimes funny, but so -- I hate to say -- pathetic in the kitchen that it hardly matters. His stories always go something like, "I planned on making X, but X wouldn't set up, and I thought, 'Oh no!'" 

Then there's Ron, who got the chop this week. Poor Ron. Ron frustrated me because I never understood how he made it onto the show in the first place. Sure, he has that great story about coming to the States on a boat, but other than that, I'm not sure what the casting people saw. 

What's more, I don't think he ever actually understood a challenge -- from failing to know the meaning of the word "vice" to this week's botching of a "deconstructed paella." Ron didn't deconstruct paella, he just made a really bad one. 

Now, we wait for Robin, then Laurine, then Ash to go home. 

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: NBC Universal