Top Chef Recap: Guess Who’s Back In The [email protected]#kin’ House…
…with some Asian cooking for your [email protected]#kin’ mouth?
That’s right. Beverly Kim’s power of positive thinking has put her in the same category as cockroaches and the gangs of L.A.. She’ll never die. Given the option, she’d probably multiply. For now, one Bev is enough to outcook Grayson in the Last Chance Kitchen, earning her a spot back in the Regular Chance Kitchen, and costing Gummy G a pack of smokes, a banana, and early onset wrinkles from making “please die” faces at the annoying little wood sprite.
In between these hateful twitches and snarls, we get a rare Quickfire visit from Colicchio (this year’s contract gets him out of 6 A.M. tapings), who will be judging dishes made with blindly chosen ingredients. After getting the Guantanamo treatment, the cheftestants muddle through the pantry in search of something that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes. The winner of the challenge gets a choice: a shiny new Prius V and a shitload of taxes, or a guaranteed spot in the finale and the loss of respect from your cheftestant peers. It’s a tough choice. On the one hand, there’s only one challenge standing in between you and the final. On the other, there’s still one challenge standing between you and the final. It’s enough to inspire the chefs to finally cook with reckless abandon, which is Paul Qui on a normal day. This time around, however, he undercooks his shrimp and forfeits his chance at a win. I guess when there isn’t cash on the line, he’s not in his zone. Beverly undercooks her fish as well, putting a sinister smile on Sarah’s face. Linsday’s fish with bulgur wheat, mascarpone, and broccoli rabe impresses Tom, but not as much as Ed’s use of pork casing to flavor his vegetable “udon” broth. Colicchio’s other favorite was Sarah’s combination of mushrooms and peaches in her corn soup with onion and red chili. He ultimately prefers this dish, and she opts for the guaranteed spot in the finale (sellout).
Since it’s the last episode before the finale, Bravo alleviates some of the chefs’ homesickness with a visit from their mentors–a group that includes Top Chef Masters alum Tony Mantuano and former Top Chef guest judge Michelle Bernstein. After a whole mess of tears and inspirational speeches (Paul loses it like a little bitch), the Elimination Challenge is introduced, and it’s a simple one: impress your mentor. Sarah’s win gets her a pass, and she’s sent to lunch with mentor Tony, where we learn how deep their mentor-mentee relationship goes when Sarah proclaims, “Is that tequila? Now the juices are gonna start flowing.” I suppose they’re doing their part to grow the manatee population.
The rest of the chefs do the Whole Foods/prep thing, and the final five regroup at the house for a dinner full of awkward silences and dirty looks–all directed at Beverly, of course. Everybody but Paul is terrified of losing to her in this week’s challenge, and doing so in front of their old bosses has them shook. Lindsay admits to second-guessing every decision she makes, and although her seafood was cooked perfectly, a last minute addition of dried herbs to her cioppino sets her up for elimination. You could see the disappointment on Michelle Bernstein’s face. Ed makes a monster plate of pork belly, oyster crema, and pickled vegetables. It’s a monstrosity that looks more like Ty-Lor and/or Grayson, but his mentor, Frank Crispo, says it’s all Ed. Too bad he also pulled a Keith (remember that lovable ex-con?) and used smoked oysters in lieu of fresh, skewing the flavors enough to put a bad tastes in the judges’ mouths, and he also winds up on the bottom.
And now, some good news. Building on the momentum from her Last Chance Kitchen win, Beverly executes her Singapore noodles flawlessly, and the judges are impressed with her risky decision to use a wok. Still, it’s not good enough to beat Paul (nobody can beat this guy) who shows a remarkable amount of restraint and confidence (which leads to some seriously backhanded compliments from Colicchio) by doing nothing more than a simple, cold(!) sunchoke and dashi soup with fresh vegetables. It’s a totally ballsy move, playing counter to what every other cheftestant still standing attempted, and for this display of massive cojones he walks away with the Prius V that probably should have been his after the Quickfire.
For Ed and Lindsay, it’s the end of the line, and it was pretty obvious that Ed would be sent packing. He does so humbly, but I’m pretty sure he’s pissed that Beverly weaseled her way back into the competition, taking his spot in the finale.
I know I am.