An Irreverent Look at Top Chef

Fidel_LogoWe’re back doing Top Chef recaps with the help of one of our favorite bloggers and eater of unfortunate things, Fidel Gastro. Fidel will be taking an irreverent no-holds-barred look each week of Bravo’s hit series.

Take it away, Fidel!

Two Weeks Late and a High Stakes Challenge Short

It’s probably safe to say that you didn’t miss much if you missed the first two episodes. I think I was pretty drunk for episode two, perhaps as drunk as the kids who were fed sherry braised chicken thighs from someone who this week shares her checkered past of cocaine, pills, and whatever else she could get her hands on. I guess Amanda failed to read Kitchen Confidential before signing up to be a cook, or maybe she figured she could pull a Bourdain and parlay the addiction and subsequent recovery into a lucrative television career? Whatever the case, she finds comfort in the bottle once again for this week’s Quickfire, which is to make a pie for Johnny Iuzzini, a skinnier, rockabillier, and less fireworkier version of Duff Goldman who has quite the resume and enough accolades to warrant his pastry elitism.

To promote the upcoming Top Chef: Just Desserts (everybody goes home on the first episode), Mr. Iuzzini admonishes the cheftestants by calling them unorganized, then tells them to make a pie, how patriotic. With too many pies to list, I’ll mention that ol’ Boozy Cokeface’s pie was apple with rosemary & bourbon, which wasn’t as bad as Alex’s white chocolate tapioca and chevre “quiche”, Ed’s grandmother’s banana cream pie with celery spuma and a bunch of other shit, or Tracey’s trailer park-inspired blueberry almond pie. The other boozy pie, Stephen’s curried apple whiskey pie (apples and booze, not just for appletinis anymore), winds up in the top 3 alongside Kelly’s chocolate ganache pie and Kenny’s bananas foster with Chinese five spice pie, which takes the cake (wow, that’s bad), not that this guy needs immunity.

After dealing with their inadequacies as pastry chefs, the elimination challenge is literally a breath of fresh air, as the cheftestants must prepare a picnic for the interns of Capitol Hill at the Mount Vernon Estate. For Alex, this proves exciting, because “he’s never taken advantage of an intern.” If someone can explain how you deduce such an inappropriate comment from “picnic,” please do so. Arnold’s grumpy about the challenge because “grilling clogs pores.” I’m assuming zits don’t fly in the front of the house. Timothy’s got some “grill skills,” so he’s not worried.

Cue the frantic running in Whole Foods. Next season will surely have a sneaker sponsor. Meat counter, checkout, then cut to the kitchen, where Trailer Park Tracey is simultaneously talking to herself and having sausage problems, Cokey Boozeface is declaring prison rules on the ovens, and Colicchio is making Ed nervous with his furtive looks.

The next day, Arnold makes his flame go poof, Jonathan Waxman floats in from Tatooine, and the judges get down to judging. Angelo serves P.F. Chang’s most popular appetizer—lettuce wraps—and Waxman calls it a “magazine cover” dish. Alex takes advantage of the interns with his pork butt, then proceeds to get even creepier by proclaiming that he would “eat the ass out of this pig all day.” Seriously Alex? Dude, you’re just weird. Timothy’s pork two ways put his grill skills slightly above those of a vegetarian, Lynne emulates Dicky Blais with a ras el hanout rubbed lamb, and the rest of the pack’s food is about as memorable as a shower you took 3 months ago.

In the end, Angelo—who looks like Sal from Mad Men—was the only ringer at the top. The others, Arnold, Ed, and Amanda, were a surprise, but it’s still early in the competition. Arnold’s sesame lamb wins, clogged pores and all.

At the other end of the spectrum, Stephen’s overconfidence was a surefire indicator that he would be on the bottom, where he stands arms akimbo next to Grill Skills, Trailer Park, and Kevin. Apparently, the bacon-wrapped bass didn’t translate well to the Weber. Grill Skills was a placeholder, in my opinion. Any of the others could have been there in his stead. Kevin’s flank steak wasn’t Puerto Rican enough. He should have adorned the dish with some flags and blasted some reggaeton. But the worst was Trailer Park-Tracey, whose sausage patties could have been made by Waxman’s 10-year-old. Then again, Waxman’s kids probably have a leg up when it comes to cooking.

With a serious lack of twins, tattoos, and a mean looking dude named ‘ector, Season 7’s got some big shoes to fill. We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes.